University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension
4-H Ceremonies


A signature, as we commonly use the term, is a closing. We write a signature when closing a letter. An example often used is sincerely yours, or yours truly. Then we sign our name. Thus, a signature at a meeting is used at the closing of the day's activities. It is usually given following the last activity on the agenda when the meeting adjourns and prior to when the members are dismissed to go home.

The purpose of the signature is to reflect upon the day's activities, the making of new friends, learning new skills, and the contributions each member made to the 4-H meeting. The people responsible for the signature might include an inspirational message, a song, poem or something similar about which the members can think, meditate and be stimulated, both mentally and spiritually.

As mentioned above, a signature at camp is the closing of the meeting. Depending upon the last activity on the agenda, the signature may take place:

  • After adjournment of the meeting
  • After recreation
  • In a friendship circle in the recreation hall

When using a signature at your club meeting, the following guidelines may be of assistance in planning and presenting it to the members:

  • Those responsible for the signature need to know about it at least one day in advance in order to prepare properly.
  • The signature should not be longer than five minutes in length.
  • Those taking part in the signature need to give leadership by telling the members what to do and how to respond.
  • Those speaking need to do so clearly, distinctly and slowly enough to be understood.
  • Practicing with the participants before time for the signature gives the members self-confidence.
  • The mood or tempo of the meeting needs to be wound down and the members need to be quiet and in a formation conducive to a reverent attitude, such as a friendship circle, concentric circle, or close group.
  • Don't forget to thank and praise those who help conduct the signature. Let them know if they have done a good job.

Following are a number of items that may be used as signature material. You will want to add you programs to the list and share them with your fellow members. The library is a good source of signature material.

A Smile

A smile costs nothing, but gives so much. It enriches those who receive it, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet, it cannot be bought, betted, borrowed, or stolen for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as one needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.

Author Unknown

Wreckers or Builders

I watched them tearing a building down
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman "Are these men skilled,
As the men you'd hire if you had to build?"
He gave a laugh and said, "No indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day to two
What builders have taken a year to do."
And I tho't to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Author Unknown

The Way to Success

Wishing never did a job -
But only sweat and toil -
There's no use to sit and hope
For someone else to till your soil.
The world is full of wishing-folks,
Who sit and dream and smile,
And never seem to get around
To doing things worthwhile.

They all would like the praise that goes,
With reputations grand -
But do not care to pay the price,
To earn such praise from man.
And yet - there's no way else to win,
Success and worthwhile praise,
Than rolling up the sleeves - and then,
To toil through endless days.

Edward V. Wood

The Art of Giving The art of giving encompasses many areas. Emerson said it well; "Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself."
We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the heart; love, kindness, joy, understanding, sympathy, forgiveness.
We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the mind; ideas, dreams, purposes, ideals, principles, plans, inventions, projects, poetry.
We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the spirit; prayer, attention, consideration.
We give of ourselves when we give the gifts of words; encouragement, inspiration, guidance.
The finest gift that man can give to his age and time is the gift of a constructive and creative life.

Priceless Privileges

Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common folk like you and me,
Are builders for eternity?
To each is given a bag of tolls,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules,
And each must fashion ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or stepping stone.

A Little Fellow
Follows Me

A careful man I ought to be,
A little fellow follows me.
I dare not go astray,
For fear he'll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whatever he sees me do, he tries.
Like me, he says, he's going to be,
The little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every work of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
That little fellow who follows me.
I must remember as I go,
Through summers' sun and winters' snow.
I am building for the years to be,
In the little chap who follows me.

Author Unknown

Rights, Opportunities
and Realizations

Lawrence Appley writing in Management News, published by AMA, on the popular subject of "rights," says there are distinct differences between "rights," "opportunities" and "realization." In a democratic society the existence of the right to own a home or fly to the moon does not obligate the society to see that everyone does actually own a home or fly to the moon. Opportunities are created, earned or provided. If an individual doesn't take advantage of an opportunity, he has no justified reason to expect the same results as one who takes advantage of the same opportunity. The right to an education does not guarantee an educated person. The opportunity must be created, but the education must be earned by individual effort. He concludes by saying, "A right does not and never will guarantee a result. People must continue to fight for "rights," be alert to "opportunities" and work for desired results.

The six most important words: I admit I made a mistake.
The five most important words: You did a good job.
The four most important words: What is your opinion?
The three most important words: If you please.
The two most important words: Thank you
The one most important word: We
The least important word: I

United Business Service Inc.


Setting - on a cardtable covered with a white or white and green tablecloth is a clock ticking away with a kerosene lamp or candles to light the scene for the campers.

Another clock (travel alarm) or metronome is set near a microphone so the ticking can be heard often during the speaking parts. This, along with the speakers, should be out of sight or at least in the background where the campers cannot see them.
The following needs to be read with fairly long pauses in between each line so that the loud ticking or the clock may be heard.

The Value of Time

Take time to work --- it is the price of success.
Take time to think --- it is the source of power.
Take time to play --- it is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to read --- it is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to be friendly --- it is the road to happiness.
Take time to worship --- it is the highway to reverence.
Take time to dream --- it is hitching your wagon to a star.
Take time to love and be loved --- it is the privilege of the gods.
Take time to look around --- the day is too short to be selfish.
Take time to laugh --- it is the music of the soul.
We have the chance --- living as free Americans in a free economy and in the best place on earth --- to make wise use of all the great resources at our disposal as we chart a course that will help us to develop into better citizens for tomorrow.
If it's to be --- it's up to me!

The Meaning of Love

Love, as we have come to understand and use the word, is almost infinite in its degree and meaning. It can range from the love of the parent for the child, to the love of a gourmet for food; from the love of a boy for his pet, to the love of the sports-car buff for his automobile. But it is to a story I came across in the Christian Herald that I am indebted for an insight into a love of uncommon depth and meaning.

"Five-year-old Mary underwent an operation and lost so much blood that it became necessary to resort to a blood transfusion. Samples of the blood of all the adults in the family were taken, but none was found to match Mary's. Then a test was made of her older brother's blood and it was found to match. Jimmy, a husky boy of thirteen years, was known to be fond of little Mary. 'Will you give your sister some of your blood, Jim?'' asked the doctor. The need was desperate, so the boy prepared for the transfusion. In the midst of the drawing of the blood, the doctor observed Jimmy growing paler and paler. There was no apparent reason for this. 'Are you ill, Jim?' the doctor asked of the youngster. 'No sir, but I'm wondering just when I'll die.'

The doctor looked at him in amazement. 'Die? Do you think people give their lives when they give blood?' 'Yes sir,' replied Jimmy. 'And you were giving your life for Mary's?' 'Yes sir,' replied the boy, simply."

A Regard for Others

Few things can bring us greater personal satisfaction than the realization we have been responsible for providing happiness, and or a sense of well-being to others. Yet, each day of our lives, the chances are good that we pass up at least one opportunity to show a warm sense of regard for someone --- not because we lack the desire to do so, but because we are not really looking for such an opportunity.

In order to maintain an awareness of people and how we might show our regard for them, it is necessary to try to look at the world through their viewpoint. The interests and needs of the elderly, for example, are different from those of the young. So, too, will the person who is timid, introverted or perhaps even physically challenged not see things in the same light as someone who is healthy and aggressive in his dealings with people.

In this when we are able to direct our acts of kindness in a way that best meets the needs of their recipients that we will discover the greatest sense of personal satisfaction.

The action taken by the pastor of the parochial grade school in a small Montana town provides us with a good example of regard at work. One year, when a deaf and mute boy enrolled in one of his classes, the pastor feared that the child's affliction would lead to his being lonely and shy with the other pupils. To prevent this, the pastor had an instructor teach sign language to all of the children in the boy's class. As a result, the child enjoyed a normal school-boy's life.

Brad Stevens

To Give the Best

I had been only half-listening to the young man who sat across the table from me, nodding every now and then in a show of interest. It was in the middle of one of these condescending nods that the thought suddenly struck me that I was being deliberately dishonest --- to a fellow human being whose problem I had offered to hear, and to myself.

There I was, having promised to give whatever good advice I could to a troubled individual, but really only going through the motions. Instead, I had been permitting a hundred-and one other thoughts, all of a personal nature, to flit in and out of my mind. How much kinder, and better, it would have been for me to have merely turned the young man away with any of a dozen excuses.

For when we give something away --- be it our advice, our appreciation, our respect, our encouragement or our understanding --- that gift carries with it a little bit of ourself. And, since we are often remembered, and sometimes even judged, by what we give away, it is a good idea to make certain that the quality of our gift is all that we would have it be. The beauty of giving is to be found, in a large part, in the fact that it is a voluntary act. As such, it should both achieve its desired objective and do so in a way that will leave no doubt in the mind of the recipient as to our sincerity of intention.

In the giving of ourself to others, therefore, we must be willing to do much more than go through the surface motions of giving --- we must be willing to care enough to give our very best.
Brad Stevens

The fact that we live in a land of opportunity can be misleading. The opportunity is there, all right. But not to the degree that it's going to be presented to us on a silver platter. We've got to get out and look for opportunity; and, once we've found it, we usually have to work like crazy to make it pay off.

Now everyone realizes this. Many people, in fact, think of opportunity in terms of a "break" --- some mysterious course of events that will some day crystallize to provide them with a golden chance to succeed in a big way. Until then, well, they're content to relax and conserve their energy for that big moment.

The ability to locate and take advantage of opportunity involves a number of factors. Ambition, certainly, is one. But ambition, in itself, is not enough to bring about a fulfillment of our goals in life. Anyone can aspire to be a great doctor, an outstanding secretary or a successful businessman; but only those who add the vital ingredient of work to their aspirations will achieve their goals.

Another factor is creativity. Many of us are blessed with the ability to come up with excellent plans and ideas, but some of us never put them into effect. We worry so much about the actual merit of our idea that it either dies of old age, or is thought of and sold successfully by someone else. As for those of us who find it difficult to develop new and creative ideas, we need only apply a little imagination to figure out how we can profit from ideas that are already in existence.

The third, and sometimes most important factor, is initiative. We can't afford to sit back and wait for a "break." We need to take stock of our talents, determine how to utilize them to the fullest; then set out to obtain our objectives. Nor can we look to anyone else to inspire initiative within us. This is something we must provide for ourself at the right time.

Grant Mitchell

A Blessing in

How often have we heard people complain about problems they are having, engage in self-pity because of setbacks they have suffered, or express conscience-stricken regret over mistakes they have made? More than likely, such occasions have been frequent. For it is common for a person to view his problems, setbacks and mistakes as incidents of grave, personal misfortune --- and to seek the sympathy and understanding of other people.

In reality, however, such apparent negative circumstances are often a blessing in disguise. Problems, for example, force us to stretch our mental faculties, to develop creative solutions, to put forth added energy and effort. They keep our days from becoming routine or dull. And they prevent us from slipping into the oblivion of complacency.

Setbacks, too, can benefit us, provided we accept them with the proper attitude. We are always at our best when we are in the process of rising to challenge, and setbacks are among the greatest challenges a person can face. Herein lies the opportunity to prove --- to ourselves as well as to others--- that we have the courage, determination and enthusiasm that is needed to overcome obstacles and to win when the odds are against us.

And, in mistakes, we have the finest instructor of all. We can learn only so much from the experience and suggestions of others; the balance of our knowledge must come through trial and error on our part. No one expects us to be perfect, and we will almost always be forgiven an honest mistake. But it is up to us to profit from our mistakes, and to make a more valuable contribution because of them.

Brad Stevens

The Waste in Worry

If we were to keep a record of all of the things we worried about during a given period of time, we would discover --- in reviewing them --- that the great majority of our anticipated problems or troubles never come to pass. This means that most of the time we devote to worrying, even the constructive kind that prompts us to try to come up with a solution to what is troubling us, is wasted. Thus, we not only caused ourself unnecessary mental anguish, but also took up valuable minutes and hours that could have been spent elsewhere.

To avoid this, it is often necessary to subject potential sources of worry to the coldly objective and analytical light of reason. Once, shortly before a major concert before a standing-room-only audience, a member of Arturo Toscanini's orchestra approached the great Italian conductor with an expression of sheer terror on his face. "Maestro," the musician fretted, "my instrument is not working properly. I cannot reach the note of e-flat. Whatever will I do? We are to begin in a few moments."

Toscanini looked at the man with utter amazement. Then he smiled kindly and placed an arm around his shoulders. "My friend," the maestro replied, "do not worry about it. The note of e-flat does not appear anywhere in the music that you will be playing this evening."

Brad Stevens

Two Heads

The next time we find ourself in the middle of worrying about some matter, we might be wise to stop and ask ourself what the odds are of the problem really coming to pass. We may be able to go on to something more constructive.

A psychology professor at a midwestern university has a unique experiment that he conducts in his class whenever the time comes for him to lecture on the topic of cooperation. "If I may," he'll begin, "I will now attempt to demonstrate why I believe so strongly in the old saying that two heads are, at least in many instances, better than one."

The professor will then draw a line on his blackboard with a piece of chalk, and ask each person in his class to make a guess as to the exact length of the line. The day I attended this lecture, we had estimates ranging from 83 to 11-inches. He then totaled all of the answers received, and divided this figure by the number of students in his class. The result was 51-1/2 inches. Measuring the line he had drawn on the blackboard, we found it to be exactly 51-1/2 inches!

With this as his springboard, the professor was in an excellent position to discuss with us the advantages of having man seek out the help and cooperation of his fellow man in working out the solution to certain problems and objectives.

Strangely, some people will not do this. They prefer to rely solely on their own evaluation of a situation and, should their efforts be successful, to assume all the credit. In reality, however, simple logic will tell us that the more experience and the greater the variety in point of view, that is brought to bear on a problem, the better our chance will be to solve it. The really successful people in every field are ones who not only know how to give cooperation, but how to ask for and use it as well.

Brad Stevens

The Little Things

The record we achieved in scholastic and athletic competition. The progress we have made to date in our own particular field of work. The home we have provided for our loved ones. The savings we have managed to set aside over the years. The awards we have earned for excellence in a hobby, or for outstanding effort on behalf of some civic or charitable cause. These are a few of the big things that help to show the world what we can do when we set our mind to it. They are important things, worthy of the time and attention we have given them, and we can be justly proud of them.

But what of the little things, equally important, that serve to show the world what we are? Little things such as a respect for other people -- for their rights, their property, their feelings, their reputations. The desire to be of real service to others whenever possible. The willingness to sacrifice our own comfort to bring comfort to a friend. A sense of justice that acknowledges right and wrong regardless of the consequences involved.

Little things such as the depth of our integrity, the infallibility of our honesty, the strength of our loyalty. Little things like giving credit where credit is due, or accepting our share of responsibility or blame when something goes wrong. Little things such as courtesy, kindness, reliability, thoughtfulness and consideration. Little things like bringing to others a smile, a word of encouragement, or a compliment for a job well done.

Little things that are not really so little when placed in perspective. Little things, worth working toward, that are the real measure of a man.

Brad Stevens

Beyond the Surface

On her retirement, a highly successful woman salesman was honored with a banquet given by the top executives of the steel company for which she worked. Her ability to distinguish herself in an industry that is considered to be highly masculine in nature had always fascinated her associates; and, after dinner, she was called upon to explain the secret of her way with her customers.

She reached into her purse and withdrew a large stone. "If I were to pinpoint one thing," she said, "it would probably be this stone I always carry with me and use whenever I meet a prospect who is reluctant to grant me a meeting, it is called a geode --- and, as you may know, it has an unattractive, worthless appearance on one side while, on the other side, it contains a number of beautiful and quite valuable gems.

"After showing my geode to a difficult prospect, I reminded him that because his initial reaction to my visit is negative and he is inclined not to spend the few minutes needed to hear what I have to say, he may be overlooking a valuable proposal for his company."

What proved to be an effective selling tool for a usual woman is also an important philosophy each of us would be wise to follow. Too often, we are guided in our evaluation of people by the first impressions they make on us. We forget that the real substance of a person comes from within and often takes time, patience and understanding to cultivate. As with the geode, we must often look beyond the surface to discover the real beauty of a person.

Brad Stevens

Forget Your Best

Unless we are careful, an unexpected success can do us more harm than good. I experienced this somewhat strange fact of life for the first time way back when I was running the mile on our high school track team. During the second meet of my senior year, everything worked perfectly for me, and I crossed the finish line in an elapsed time that was nearly 20 seconds better than I had ever achieved before. I was, of course, delighted; but I was also baffled as to the reason for my exceptionally good time. I couldn't believe I had improved that substantially, so I chalked it up to being a fluke -- a once-in-a-lifetime best effort.

In subsequent races, no matter how good my start, I failed even to come close to beating my earlier performance. In the final laps, the belief that I had already achieved the best time of which I was capable always came back to haunt me and to slow me down. I knew, because I had convinced myself that it was true, that even if I were to continue running track for years to come, I had already experienced my greatest day.

When we permit the best we have done in a given field to become the standard for our future performance, we do ourselves a real injustice. How much better it is to say to ourself; "Fine! I have today accomplished a memorable success. But tomorrow, I will do even greater things." Having performed at our best, we are in a wonderful position to take advantage of the power of momentum -- and we should not let the opportunity escape us. We should forget our best and go on to do even better.

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