This Ceremony is written for Webelos Graduation to Boy Scouts. With slight modification, it can be used for any level rank advancement. It is written assuming several scouts, but with minor changes could be used for a single scout.
Neckerchief (if using Webelos neckerchief, the Webelos patch must be removed - it holds too much acetone, and will result in burning the part of the neckerchief above the patch)
2 coat hangers and 2 safety pins
1 large mouth Peanut butter jar with lid Acetone
A lighted candle or advancement log with lighted candles Fire extinguisher
Stretch out the hangers, attach one safety pin to each.
Mix the "Magic Water" in the jar. This should be done outside with good ventilation. Keep the lid tightly closed except when dipping the neckerchief. Magic water consists of EXACTLY 40% Acetone and 60% Water (2 parts Acetone to 3 parts Water)
You will need an assistant for lights, one for handling the dipping of the neckerchief, and one off-stage with the fire extinguisher (just in case)..
When it is time to dip and burn the neckerchief, use the following procedure:
1. Attach the corners of the neckerchief to the hangers with the safety pins.
2. Lightly shake the jar of Magic Water to remix the components. Tightly wad the neckerchief and dip it completely into the jar containing the Magic Water. The whole neckerchief must be wet or the dry part will burn.
3. Squeeze out the neckerchief and quickly extend it, holding the hangers. While this is being done, the lid must be replaced for fire safety.
4. Pass the neckerchief over the flame. Make certain the neckerchief is spread between the wire holders. It cannot be rolled or folded in any part.
Make certain that the neckerchief is well in front, or off to the side of you. We used an old broom stick, with the hangars attached to it so that no one had to be real close. If you work quick enough, the whole neckerchief will appear to be engulfed in flames, and the flames will extend several inches above the top of the neckerchief.
5. Shake gently when just the edges remain burning. This will extinguish the flames along the hems, which hold more acetone than the body, due to the additional fabric here.
You must move very quickly through steps 2, 3 and 4, or the acetone will evaporate before it can be ignited. The jar of acetone must be kept away from the flame, and be covered at all times except when actually dipping the neckerchief. Acetone is highly flammable. You might want an additional assistant or two to help with this.
Practice the steps above outside, before the meeting to make sure that you can get it right when the time comes. It will be embarrassing if the wet neckerchief doesn't burn due to evaporation of the acetone. This trick works because the acetone burns, while the water keeps the neckerchief from burning. Remember that the acetone will evaporate pretty quickly, or you will miss the effect.
(Dim house lights gradually while calling forward the graduating cub scouts and their parents. Leave only the lights in front on while telling the story.)
Tonight Webelos Scouts _____________________ are graduating to boy scouts. Will they come forward with their parents.
These young men have completed their Cub Scouting activities. There remains but one test before they may cross the bridge into Boy Scouts.
"Have they done everything they can to BE PREPARED?"
Deep in the heart of the mountains and deserts of New Mexico, there is an Indian village along side a small stream. The village and the area around it are very green and lush. This is very unusual, for the village is in the middle of a very harsh desert land.
While hiking in the area several years ago, I came across this village and stopped by the stream for a rest. There was an old Chief sitting in the sun by the stream, and I asked him:
"Why is this area so green and your people so healthy?"
The old Chief replied:
"The waters of this stream are magical. They assist all who come, by telling the people if they have done everything they need, to be prepared. By hard work with the assistance of these magical waters, my people have done the things needed to be prepared and prosper in life."
I thought for a while and said:
"I too could use these magical waters, for I know of many young men who are working hard to be prepared for life. Could I take some of these magical waters with me?"
The old Chief smiled and nodded.
"It is for the youth that these waters are most special."
"Take something special from one of the young men who are to be tested and dip it in the water. Pass the special item over the flame, and if the special item burns, but is not consumed, then they have done everything needed to be prepared."
(Turn out the lights.)
From one of the cub scouts before us, we take the Webelos Neckerchief.
(Clip the neckerchief to wire holders at corners. Be careful not to twist or fold the fabric. It must be smooth.)
And dip it in the Magic Water.
(Have the assistant dip the neckerchief while you hold the wire holders. Quickly take the neckerchief from the jar and spread it tightly between the wire holders. Your assistant covers the jar before you put the neckerchief over the candle, but you cannot wait too long. This part must be done quickly.)
Then pass it over the flame of the Spirit of Scouting.
Scouts, you have passed the test and are prepared to cross over into Boy Scouting. May the Great Spirit of Akela go with you throughout your scouting days.
(At this point, it's not a bad idea to bring up the fire safety issue, and "Don't try this at home - only trained Cubmasters are allowed to perform this ceremony!" )