Shaking hands using your left hand can feel a bit awkward for the first few times, but it becomes second nature after a while. So why we as Scouts shake hands with our left hand?

The left-handed handshake unites two Scouts from anywhere on the planet.

“But why is this greeting done with the left hand?”

Scout left hand shake

It’s a question that gets asked quite often even by ventron Leader’s

It comes from Ashanti warriors Baden-Powell met in West Africa.

“The left handshake comes to us from the Ashanti warriors whom Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, knew over 70 years ago in West Africa. He saluted them with his right hand, but the Ashanti chiefs offered their left hands and said, ‘In our land only the bravest of the brave shake hands with the left hand, because to do so we must drop our shields and our protection.’

Left handed handshake

“The Ashanti knew of Baden-Powell’s bravery for they had fought against him and with him, and were proud to offer him the left hand of bravery.


By agreement of the Scout Leaders throughout the world, Scouts greet Scouts with a left-hand clasp. This means of greeting is also used in connection with all Scout gatherings. It is intended to have this different method serve to remind Scouts that they belong to a world-wide brotherhood and that everywhere throughout the world, Scouts are following this method of extending greetings as evidence of their interest in Scouts in all parts of the world.

Also it’s the hand nearest to your heart. This is the explanation offered in the the Boy Scout Handbook:-

“Extend your left hand to another Scout and firmly grasp his left hand. Made with the hand nearest your heart, the Scout handshake signifies friendship. Because only Scouts and Scouters know the Scout handshake, use the regular right-handed handshake when greeting people outside of Scouting.”

So why the 3 finger hand salute?


In BP’s book, Scouting for Boys, he chose the three-finger salute for Scouts to represent the three aspects of the Scout Promise:

  • Honor God and Country
    Help Others
    Obey the Scout Law

The three fingered sign is made by the palm facing out held at shoulder height, elbow by the side and the thumb holding the little finger.