Flag waving to flag burning

Thanks to Rebecca Booth for this blog post!

On Saturday 16th of April, guide leaders from Wiltshire North, met at Chilton Farm Campsite to take part in some adult leader activities.  Astronomy, camp cooking, geocaching, slacklining and kayaking.  After lunch Pam Penney called us all down to the campfire to take part in a small ceremony.  After assembling in a small horseshoe around the fire an ancient Union flag, covered with darns and patches where it had been lovingly mended over the years, and a flag for the 1st Malmsbury unit, that no longer exists, which was also old and filled with small holes after years of storage.

To end the life of a flag we do not leave it alone to decay in a corner.  Its duty finished, the finality is to reduce it to ashes, as we do here.  Keep the ashes and perpetuate the memories through a campfire with friends and likeminded groups.

What are flags? What are they for?

Flags or umbrellas say “follow me! I will lead you” flags flying mean loyalty at a sporting challenge. Flags for identification of an area, or group of people.  Flags send messages, semaphore.  Flags in front of cars used to warn of their approach and show they do not travel at more than four miles an hour The Queen’s flag flies to show she is in residence.

Flags send out messages in times of war, or at times of truce to end fighting. To lead the soldiers to war and to escape when the going gets tough.  Our Union Flag depicts the union of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We carry it, or fly it as a sign of union.

Our world flag is a union of guiding around the world. It is a constant when everything around us is changing, for whatever reason.

The trefoil for our threefold promise.  Blue and yellow for the sun, sea, and sky which joins us together.  The breaks in the trefoil to show we let others join our ever increasing numbers in guiding.


The flags were added to the fire one at a time and we stood over them until they had burned to ashes.  Some of the ashes from the flag were added to the ash box in the camp hut to be added to new fires in the future, connecting the fires the guides make today with the fires of the guides who have gone before them.

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