2009-08-14

Arrow of Light Ceremony Box

I was called as the Cubmaster for the Cub Scout pack sponsored by our Church, and last month, I had the opportunity to award the Arrow of Light to one of our boys. I looked up some various ceremony ideas online, and I remembered seeing a couple where the Cubmaster would identify seven virtues with the seven rays coming from the sun on the award. I figured that would be a decent idea to go with, and I found a ceremony that had those seven virtues. But I needed something visual to go with it, something that would make it special and memorable for the Cub instead of just some old guy standing in front of him reading a speech.

I had seen the ceremony before where there was a model of the Arrow of Light, and seven lightbulbs or some other electrical contraption wired up so that each of the rays could light up with each of the seven virtues. The only problem was, I never saw one actually working. Seems like there was always something wrong — a loose wire, a lack of lightbulbs, no access to a power outlet — that it ended up just being some old guy standing in front of the model reading a speech anyway.

I decided to do the same concept, but simplify it quite a bit. I have zero electrical engineering talent anyway, so I doubted I'd be able to wire anything up, but I figured something that wasn't wired at all would stand a greater chance of actually working when called for. My concept was simple: create a box large enough to hold a battery-powered lantern inside, cut out the Arrow of Light in one face, and cover the rays of the sun with something that could be revealed one at a time as the virtues are announced.

I decided to start with a cardboard box, and a Pampers diaper box fit the bill nicely. It was sturdy, had a nice rectangular shape, and was just tall enough to accommodate the Coleman battery-powered lantern I had handy. I removed the top flaps completely, and pried open one of the bottom flaps as an access panel to inside the box. I then covered most of the outside surfaces with black construction paper, using black electrical tape to attach it. (I considered lining the inside of the box with aluminum foil to enhance the lighting effect, but I didn't think about that until the end and decided it wasn't worth the effort.)

Making the Arrow of Light front panel was, naturally, the hard part. I originally thought I would make it out of scrap wood, but my wife, who is far more craft-wise, suggested sheets of ¼" foam core instead. We found an outline picture of the Arrow of Light badge, enlarged it, and printed it out for a guide. The proportions weren't exactly right, but it worked out with only minor adjustments. The rays on the top of the sun obviously don't hit the border of the panel, either; rather, we made them all approximately the same size and shape.

Foam core cuts fairly easily with an exacto-knife, although by the end of the cutting, my arm was good and tired. I cut out the arrow and the sun, and the ray pieces I cut and kept, numbering them so I would know exactly which one went back where for a "perfect fit". I also cut thin strips to create the border.

Next came painting. It took two or three coats of blue craft paint to turn the whole panel blue, but the hard part was painting the ¼" seam inside the cuts (so as not to have a really ugly white border around every opening). Foam core doesn't make a clean cut on the inside, and it involved a lot of jabbing the paint brush into bits of styrofoam to turn it all blue. The border sticks, on the other hand, just took a quick brushing of yellow.

To turn the inside yellow, I used yellow tissue paper and covered the interior side of the panel. My wife suggested using a layer of clear vinyl first, to protect the tissue paper from being destroyed by curious fingers, but I was afraid it would be too shiny and would distract from the effect. I thought it was a good idea, though, so I thought I'd mention it here.

I then put the panel on the box. It actually fit quite snugly on its own, but I secured it from the inside with duct tape. (I don't know how well the tape will hold, though; because I lined the inside side with tissue paper, the duct tape is only holding on to tissue paper glued to the foam core, not the foam core itself.)

I took the ray pieces and tried putting them in and taking them out, using the exacto-knife to shave around the edges until I could take them out easily. I then took staples, stuck them into the top of the rays, and bent them out to create handles for removal. (This turned out to be futile, however, as the staples came out of the ray before the ray came out of the sun. Fortunately, the bottom of the ray is accessible to fingers and very easy to remove.)

I don't know if the kids were really in "awe" of it or not. It didn't light up too much in the light of the gymnasium — although I did leave it on for the rest of the evening. Later, we had a "crossing over" ceremony for a Cub (the same scout, as it happens) who was graduating to the Boy Scouts, and part of that ceremony included turning off the lights; and the Arrow of Light was glowing very nicely during that time. :)

I posted some more pictures of the box from various angles over on Flickr; click either of the thumbnails or this link.

1 comment:

AB said...

Awesome, thanks for sharing. I'm going to get working on mine right now.