How do you honor a Scout leader who has died?

Tuesday-TalkbackHow can we best remember a Scout leader who has died?

That’s what a California Scoutmaster writing me last week wanted to know. For today’s Tuesday Talkback, please tell me what, if any, role Scouts and Scouters should play in a funeral or memorial service.

Here’s the questioner’s email: 

Please don’t think that I’m being morose or anything, but I have to ask: Is there any suggested or official way to honor Scouters who have passed away, either at a funeral or whenever?

I ask because two gentlemen from my troop passed away just a week apart from each other. Both men were in their 90s. Both were World War II veterans. Both were Scouters for more than 50 years. One of them had served as Scoutmaster well into his 70s. I just want to honor their service to Scouting in an appropriate fashion.

The ‘official’ recommendations

I put the word “official” in quotes because these recommendations from the BSA’s Manual for Chaplain Aides and Chaplains are a guide. You should modify these to respect the needs of your faith, the departed person’s family and your religious leader.

Funeral for Scout or Scouter

On occasion, a troop may experience the loss of a Scout or leader. It is a difficult time for everyone. At the request of the family or with the permission of the family and religious leader, Scouts may participate in the funeral and memorial service to celebrate the life of the Scout or leader. Some things that may be appropriate include:

  • Attending in uniform
  • Sitting together as a unit
  • Serving as honorary pallbearers or ushers.
  • Serving during the service by doing such things as reciting the Scout Oath or Scout Law.

The primary concern is for the family and its preferences. The involvement of the troop or Scouts in the troop is at the discretion of the family and its religious leaders.

Outline for the service

This outline is merely a guide. The wishes of the family and spiritual advisor take precedent.

  1. Processional
    • Color Guard brings in U.S. flag and troop flag
    • Pallbearers follow
    • Scouts and Scouters in uniform follow
  2. Opening Prayer: “Almighty Father, as we grieve the loss of (name of deceased), help us to remember his involvement with Scouting. Show us how he lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law. We ask that you comfort us as we will miss his friendship and fellowship.”
  3. Pastoral Comments (Highlights of the deceased’s life and Scouting accomplishments)
  4. Song: “On My Honor
  5. Readings: (Listed below are some suggestions.)
    • Psalms 23:1-6
    • Psalms 37:5
    • Jeremiah 29:11
    • I Corinthians 15:54-57
  6. Comments from friends.
  7. Song: “Scout Vespers
  8. Closing Benediction: “May the great Scoutmaster of all Scouts be with us until we meet again, and may our footsteps lead unto Him.”
  9. Song: “Taps”
  10. Recessional

Photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by Peter E. Lee