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Girl Scout Traditions: Ash Ceremonies

Campfires and ceremonies are both iconic Girl Scout activities and we love combining them into one amazing memory maker:  the Ash Ceremony. What’s an Ash Ceremony?  We’re so glad you asked! An Ash Ceremony involves taking ashes from one campfire to another and is a ceremony conducted by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all around the world.

Wondering what’s the purpose of carting around all those ashes?  The main purpose of these ashes is to bring to the attention of all Girl Scouts and Guides the global sisterhood of Girl Scouts and remind girls that Girl Scouts has an enduring legacy passed down from member to member going back over 100 years. The ashes taken from their campfire are to be sprinkled into the flames of the next campfire.  When that campfire has gone out and the ashes are cold (generally the next morning), they are stirred and each Girl Scout/Guide present at the ceremony takes some with them to mix with their next campfire. Then the same happens at the next campfire where multiple troops and girls are in attendance and this continues on across the girls’ years in Girl Scouts.

Each Girl Scout/Guide keeps a list of all of the campfires in which they have sprinkled their ashes.  If more than one Girl Scout/Guide brings ashes to the campfire, the lists are combined; the dates and places of all campfires are recorded and passed on.  As Girl Scouts and Girl Guides participate in these ceremonies around the world, the ashes travel across the globe.  It is a tradition that only those actually present at the campfire can receive ashes from the ceremony to carry on to another campfire.

Some troops even add to the ceremony the Charge of the Ashes, saying “may the spirits of past campfires be here with us tonight, carrying fellowship in these ashes from other campfires, thus uniting us with friends and comrades in other lands”. Then sprinkling the saved ashes over the fire, they conclude the ceremony with “may the joining of the dead fires with the leaping flames of our campfire tonight symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. Fond greetings to Girl Guides and Girl Scouts of all nations, everywhere.”

What a wonderful tradition to include in your next Girl Scout camp-out or bridging ceremony! How far will your ashes travel? The world’s the limit, but no matter where they end up we know the bright light of sisterhood will glow within the hearts of those Girl Scouts and Girl Guides gathered around the campfire.