Taking ashes from the cooled embers of a campfire has been a tradition dating even before Girl Scouts began. Legend has it that Lord Baden Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, began this tradition as early as 1907. Scouts could take ashes from one campfire, to add to the next, to share the spirit of scouting.
I’d heard of collecting the ashes from campouts, but never had really thought about it much. In the past, we only had a few girls from our troop attending service unit campouts, or had wet, mushy weather to contend with.
But this weekend, we blended an old tradition with a new tradition. We held our first county Older Girl Scouts Campout at one of our area Girl Scout camps. After the embers had cooled, our girls collected the ashes in test tubes from our local recycled items “store” and labeled them with the date of our camping trip.
My hope? These ashes will continue the spirit of scouting and follow them through the remainder of their middle school and high school years.
Looking for a formal campfire ash ceremony? I saw this wonderful ceremony from a retired site, Scoutingweb.com.
The Campfire Ash Ceremony
Ashes of Friendship
Taking ashes from one campfire to another is a ceremony conducted by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all around the world. The main purpose of these ashes is to bring to all Girl Scouts and Guides the international aspect of the world sisterhood. Ashes taken from a campfire are sprinkled into the flames of the next campfire. The next morning, when the ashes are cold, they are stirred and each Girl Scout/Guide present at the ceremony takes some to mix with the next campfire. 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, the ashes circle 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.
THE CEREMONY: We carry our friendships with us in these ashes from other campfires with girls in other lands. May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Girl Scouts and Girl Guides of all nations together.
With greetings from our sisters around the world, I will add these ashes and the sisterhood therein, to our campfire. Will anyone with campfire ashes please come forward and join me.
(Wait for others)
The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to <year>
I will now charge these ashes to the campfire. (sprinkle ashes)
So that you may pass these ashes on and share them with others at your next campfire, you will be given a history of where these ashes have been.