Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Scout Handshake
Re: Scout Handshake
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 19:41:05 -0600
George Hamilton <geham@BLAZENETME.NET> wrote and asked:
>I'd be curious to know these things too. I've been told several
>different things about when to use it. The version that I like
>best is whenever two Boy Scouts or their leaders are in uniform
>and shake hands, whether as a greeting or ceremoniously. However,
>just because I like that theory doesn't mean it's the right
>I was told recently, (not officially) that the intertwining of the
>fingers was dropped because it is considered too difficult for the
>boys. I don't buy that one. Are we really saying that this
>generation of boys is less adept and intelligent than previous
>generations who all managed to learn it?
It's lazyness that killed the Scout Handclasp, guys. Here's what I
could find in my SHORT roundup of information about the handshake:
The Scout Handshake, according to the Scout Handbook, is a token of
friendship. It's always done with the LEFT hand, the hand closest
to the heart, the "hand of friendship".
That's the way, according to the book, that's its done all over the
world (and that part is true; I've been to eleven foriegn countries
since childhood and in all cases, except for us Arrowmen whom shake
hands weirdly, we all shook hands with our left hands, no
It's done with ALL fingers separated from the thumb just like you
do in shaking hands.
When did it change?? With the "improved Scouting program" in
1972, that's when. Why? Because "Scouting has to work in cities,
country, suburbia, and rural depressed areas -- in South Side
Chicago, Oklahoma, and Appalachia. America itself is becoming more
varied, and if the program is to succeed it must fit as much of
America as it can."
(those words come back and haunt the BSA for years; they finally
had to admit that "Scouting is not for every boy...")
The first mention of the "present handshake" is found in the Eighth
Edition, first printing of the BSA's Scout Handbook (the one with
the sylized "Scout Handbook" on the spine in two tone). It
*specifically states* that the handshake is done with all fingers
together and with no separation between the little finger and the
rest of the fingers.
No, it wasn't a "dumbing down" of the BSA ideals, but rather an
acceptance that a simplier way of showing friendship had to be
made. In that process, we lost a bit of Scouting history.
We just collectively got lazy and wanted to "go the easy route."
Now, what can be done about it?? Pull out those Scout Handbooks
before 1972 and teach your Scouts how to shake hands using the
"traditional BSA handshake" since we're the only country it seems
that shakes hands with the pinky separated from the other three
fingers. Impress upon them that for years, that's how Scouts
greeted each other informally (not just in getting awards at a
ceremony, but a "special way" of acknowledging each other as
Scouts!)...the same with that "showing the Scout Sign in a downtown
street in a new community" thing.
Hope this all helps!
(c) 1999 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle Burnsville, MN 55306-7130 (612) 435-3068
privately at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
---- FORWARD in service to youth ----
Claim YOUR BINDER(s), ready for the BSA's new 8x11" pubs, at my website NOW!