Scout sign and salute

Scout sign and salute

The three-finger salute is used by members of Scout and Guide organizations around the world when greeting other Scouts and in respect of a national flag at ceremonies. In most situations, the salute is made with the palm face out, the thumb holding down the little finger, and with the fingertips on the brow of the head. There are some variations of the salute between national Scouting organisations and also within some programme sections.

A "half-salute", known as the Scout Sign, is also used in certain situations. The hand is still held palm facing out, and the thumb holding the little finger, but the hand is held at the shoulder instead.

Meaning of the three fingers

In his book, "Scouting for Boys", Robert Baden-Powell chose the three-finger salute for Scouts to represent the three aspects of the Scout Promise::1. Honour God and the King:2. Help Others:3. Obey the Scout Lawcite book | first = Robert | last = Baden-Powell | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | title = Scouting for Boys | year = 2005 | publisher = Oxford | pages = page 37]

Cub Scouts' two-finger salute

Cub Scout sections can use a two-finger salute, depending on the national Scouting organization they belong to. This is done to represent the two rules of the original Cub Scout / Wolf Cub law. It was also sometimes said to represent the two ears of a wolf (cub).

Salute or sign?

Originally, Baden-Powell intended for Scouts to salute each other in greeting when they first saw each other for the first time using the "secret sign", or half-salute. This was regardless of whether the Scouts knew each other or not. Officers, such as Patrol Leaders, Scoutmasters, or members of the armed forces, were to be saluted with a full-salute.

Full-salutes were also required at the hoisting of the Union Flag, the playing of the national anthem, or at funerals.cite book | first = Robert | last = Baden-Powell | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | title = Scouting for Boys | year = 2005 | publisher = Oxford | pages = page 37]


In Scouts Canada the Salute is rendered vertically, palm out similar to British Army/Commonwealth salutes, except if the member is in the way of a Sea Scout unit he is persecuted where it is palm in/angled down. (Traditionally, to hide your 'dirty hands' from the ship's captain).

United Kingdom

The three-fingered salute is used by all sections, including Cub Scouts. The half-salute is used when reciting the Scout Promise when joining the meeting.

United States of America

Boy Scouts of America

Salutes are rendered in the American style with the palm in. Cub Scouts use the two finger Scout sign and salute; the sign is presented with the fingers apart to represent the ears of Akela the wolf. Boy Scouts use the three finger sign and salute. Venturers use a full hand sign and salute; the sign is formed with the fingers together and the thumb spread to form a "V".

Scouts salute only when in uniform and salutes are presented only to the flag of the United States. Early BSA protocol did require Scouts to salute each other, but this was discontinued in 1972.

Girl Scouts of the USA

As a member of WAGGGS, the Girl Scouts of the USA use the three-fingered sign at shoulder height. The three fingers represent the person's own spiritual beliefs, other people and the Girl Scout Law. This differs very slightly from the 1913 version where the first finger represented God and Country. [cite book| title =Cadette Girl Scout Handbook | publisher =Girl Scouts of the United States of America | date =1995 | location =United States of America | isbn =0-88441-283-0]

Girls Scouting World Wide

All World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts members share the three fingered sign, with the palm facing out held at shoulder height, elbow by the side and the thumb holding the little finger. This is used in numerous situations of respect including when making or reciting the Promise, receiving awards, honouring a flag, honouring the dead and meeting other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In the latter case, it may be used in conjunction with the left handshake.

ee also


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