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Boy Scout Uniform Right Side Leadership Corps

Leadership Corps

(There is a discussion about the usage of the "Leadership Corps" cross-posted to Leaders' Online (tm). While dated, the content is still valid with program notations. Much of the information and images here came from Michael Brown's excellent description of the Leadership Corps as part of his Older Youth Programs History website and is used with his permission.)

In 1972 as part of the overall "Improved Scouting Program", the BSA replaced the "Senior" Boy Scout option with something called the Leadership Corps. The Leadership Corps was for boys 14 and older who were at least First Class, who would be organized into a group (not a patrol, more on that in a bit) of older, more experienced scouts, where they could serve the troop as leaders and instructors and be able to doing things on their own.

In 1989, the BSA restructured the Boy Scout Troop, introducing the in-troop "Venture/Varsity" program and in the process "retired" the Leadership Corps. But it seems some units still use the program to this very day.

The program was to bring together the older boys of a troop as a group. Membership was limited to those boys 14 and older and First Class Scout. Initially the age was limited to 14-15, with the expectation that at 16 the boy would either be made a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, or look at moving over to Exploring. The Senior Patrol Leader served as the leader of the group, but could appoint an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader to run the Corps instead. Those who held the positions of Quartermaster, Scribe, Librarian, etc., would most likely be members of the Corps. Patrol Leaders would not be included, but it was expected that they be included in Leadership Corps activities. In general, the group existed to provide leadership to the troop as needed, while also giving the older boys the opportunity to do things on their own.

That was the idea and concept. Reality set in early, as many Scoutmasters viewed the Leadership Corps as more or less a "super patrol", led by the senior members of the Troop. It became the center of mass of the Troop operation instead of the Senior Patrol Leader and the members of the Patrol Leaders' Council. They were supposed to experience additional leadership training experiences outside the Troop; could organize their own activities on their own; and even invited Girl Scouts to camp, hike or participate in community activities or projects subject to the approval of the Scoutmaster and the Girl Scouts' adult leadership.

The Leadership Corps was designed to be "out of business" as the Scouts turned 16 and therefore eligible to become Junior Assistant Scoutmasters. That did not occur as many Scoutmasters wanted to keep the older youth as "Corps members" so that they could lead the Troop instead of coaching junior leaders. The Leadership Corps did not work as planned.

The most distinctive reason why youth wanted to be Leadership Corps members centered around the red beret, the forest green uniform shirt, and the distinctive Leadership Corps patch, shown below:

First Leadership Corps emblem
Leadership Corps patch used from 1972 to 1987 (left) and Leadership Corps patch used from 1988 officially until 1990 (some Troops still use one or the other)

Originally, only members of the Leadership Corps were allowed to wear the red beret; eventually all Boy Scouts were allowed to use it as a Troop headgear option. Leadership Corps members were permitted to wear the forest green shirt worn by Explorers but a special strip was made available to be worn on the shirt stating "SCOUT BSA" as shown below instead of "Explorer".

SCOUT BSA strip used in the place of the Explorer strip on Leadership Corps members' uniforms
SCOUT BSA strip used in the place of the Explorer strip on Leadership Corps members' uniforms.

Here is an example of a Leadership Corps shirt worn by a Scout (thanks Stephen Everson!):

SCOUT BSA strip worn on Leadership Corps members' uniform (provided by Stephen Everson)
SCOUT BSA strip worn on Leadership Corps members' uniform (provided by Stephen Everson)

The special Leadership Corps patch was created to be worn on the right sleeve in place of the patrol medallion. The patch may also be worn centered on the left pocket of the red jac-shirt or in a similiar location on the lighter weight jackets and windbreakers. When the forest green shirt was dropped in 1979, its use by the Leadership Corps was also dropped. When the BSA brought the shirt back in 1994 as a part of revamping their Exploring program, its use by the Leadership Corps was not re-instated.

Many adults and some youth are still wearing the green shirt, including the current version featuring the "Boy Scouts of America" strip with red shoulder loops which were discontinued in 2004. This is improper uniforming. Only Venturing youth may wear the forest green shirt, not Boy Scouts; and only with GREEN shoulder loops. In 2009, the Venturing Task Force approved the wearing of the green Venturing shirt by adult volunteers and professionals working with Venturing units or programs with the appropriate shoulder loops.


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(Thanks again to Mike Brown for his information and images used for this entry; and to Stephen Everson for usage of the image featuring his Leadership Corps uniform shirt.)

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