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> updated 1/07/10

National Rifle Association (NRA) Medals can indeed be worn with the BSA uniform; and patches earned at summer camp or Council/national outdoor adventure ("High Adventure") bases can be worn as a temporary insignia piece on the uniform or on a jacket or vest.

example of NRA medal and patch

The BSA has set a limit of five medals which can be worn on the pocket of the uniform shirt; personal modesty suggests (but is NOT a BSA policy or guideline) that you wear no more than five "necklace-type" medallions (not including the Wood Badge) at one time.

illustration of medals on a uniform shirt

All Insignia Left Front Wearing Medals

Wearing Medals

This page addresses wearing trail medals, religious emblems/medals, National Rifle Association medals, and medals awarded by other organizations (American Legion, for instance) whom are partners with the BSA.

A separate page addresses wearing military award medals, with specific pages addressing the wearing of the Eagle Scout Medal on military uniforms and the wearing of the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM) on Scouting uniforms.

As a general rule, medals and other awards (patches, pins, belt loops) given or awarded to Cubs, Scouts, Venturers/Sea Scouts and their adult leaders (volunteer and professional) by organizations/groups outside of the BSA should not be worn until consulting with your Council's Scout Executive (no, your "DE" or local executive will NOT work -- they don't have authority to let you wear those items -- only the Council Scout Executive has that authority and he or she cannot delegate it to anyone else per BSA regulations and policy).

Even so, medals and medallions are worn only during formal events or activities and is always worn when officials or leaders of that organization is present. For instance, if you are a holder of a labor union award in addition to the Meany Labor Relationships Award, you should wear both awards at union conferences or meetings whereby you are there as a BSA member. Other times, you should only wear the Meany Award square knot emblem with your uniform.

Trail medals:

David Sanderson wrote and asked:

I've read /skimmed the Insignia Guide and Mike Walton's fantastic web pages, but I still have some questions about medals.

Thanks for the compliment!!

Back in the late 60's and early 70's I belonged to a Troop that went on quite a few Historic Trails hikes, mostly in Illinois and Iowa. example of trail medalBack then, we received or simply bought a patch and a medal for the applicable hike. I still have all of my medals and I used to wear all of them on my uniform as a youth. I didn't see anything in the insignia guide stating that only training, religious, or meritorius service type medals can be worn. As such, can my Eagle Award, Scouter's Key, and hike medals, for a max total of five, be worn on my adult uniform (for "formal" occasions of course)?

Yes. The only reason why I don't have any trail medals displayed on my Insignia site is because when I left for college, my nine trail medals (along with my Certificate of Heroism and some other nice, great stuff I would love to show my kids today!) are sitting in a landfill somewhere under dirt I'm sure, and have more than likely deteriorated to a point where the only things they would be good for is to sprinkle on new plant growth. Mom tossed them because "I'm grown up now, and I don't need that old Boy Scout stuff..."

I have managed to get one of my trail medals back, at a substantial cost, along with one of the medals I received from the American Legion. The BSA sent me a Heroism Award when they upgraded the Certificate; but I would have rather had the Certificate because it was signed by the Scout Executive that I thought an awful lot of, Halsey Cory Jr.

example of trail medal(sorry about the detour there...it still bothers me... sour face But I have been able to get some of those items back, thanks to exceptional Scouters like retired Scout Executive Hal Cory and others who were able to do some archival searches on my behalf. Some of those items have been restored...thanks for asking to assist me!)

Back to your question: yes, those FIVE MEDALS can be five medals of YOUR OWN CHOOSING, considering that they are NOT military medals. Military award medals cannot be worn on the BSA uniform any more.

I haven't heard of any local Troops attending such hikes so I don't know if these hikes still exist or if patches and medals are still available. Are these patches and medals still available to hikers?

Yep. As a matter of fact, David, at Fort Snelling, where I work, is a eight-mile trail which goes around the park area and some of the earlier parts of the old base. There's a medal and patch which are available from the Northern Star Council as well as from the visitors' center at Fort Snelling State Park.

Religious emblems/medals:

Medals earned as a Cub Scout, Boy/Varsity Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout may be worn with the official field uniform with the same five medal restriction as other awards. If a Cub Scout earns a religious emblem or medal as a Cub or WEBELOS Cub Scout, he may wear the medal(s) on his Boy Scout or Venturing/Sea Scouting uniform during formal occasions. Likewise, if he earns a religious emblem as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, he may wear this medal/emblem as a Venturer on the field uniform. Adults may wear any youth religious emblems earned as a youth member -- regardless of program -- with the field uniform, subject to the five medal limit.

All medals are worn suspended from the left pocket top seam during formal events and occasions. At ALL OTHER TIMES, the appropriate square knot insignia (with devices denoting phase of program(s) in which a youth religious emblem was awarded or earned centered on the square knot insignia) is worn. More on the wearing of the youth religious emblem square knot is found on this page.

Military Medals:

National Rifle Association (NRA) Medals:

Someone wrote and asked me: At summer camp this year some of the boys earned the Rifle Shooting Merit badge. Some of them also earned the NRA Provisional Marksman and Marksman medals. example of NRA medalThe trading post says that the NRA shooting medals are authorized for wear on the Scout uniform. Has anyone heard about these medals and how to properly wear them? The Insignia Guide is silent about them.

That's because the insignia belongs to the NRA and not the BSA...but yes, ONE such medal may be worn with the official uniform on the same row as other medals. The NRA has a formalized rifle marksmanship program leading to some nice medals for Scouts to wear on the uniform, and the BSA at that time permitted them to be worn. That permission has not went away, because some Councils still use the NRA's program (although they don't like to yell it out very loudly that they do!) as part of their marksmanship program at camp.

There are two answers to the question:

On the bottom of page 7-12 and the top of 7-13 within the BSA Administration Guide, there is guidance about other organization's awards. Basically it states that medals can be issued, used and worn. The BSA has an agreement with NRA, American Archery Assocation, American Bowling Congress, Crossman Arms, and American Red Cross to allow their insignia to be worn on the BSA's uniform as temporary insignia (and medals, if received, to be worn like religious and trail medals).

An more immediate reference is found within the BSA's Insignia (Control) Guide:

"Clause 11. Local councils are authorized to adopt special badges and insignia as awards for particular purposes in harmony with national policies and to permit their use upon the official uniform in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Corporation, but such awards must be approved as to purpose and design by the Corporation in advance." The BSA has had agreements with those above organizations since 1948.

BSA Training Award and other medals:

On Pendant-type Awards:

Mike Walton's web page, http://www.scoutinsignia.com/trngamdl.htm, nicely shows, among others, the Scouter's Key and Scouter Training Awards, which are represented as "pocket" medals. As it turns out, these appear to be the only BSA medals, besides Eagle Award (Religious Medals are not BSA awarded). Can anyone tell us why BSA chose to use pocket medals for the Scouter's Key and Scouter Training Awards, but not for others, such as the Den Leader, Cubmaster, which are neck medallions?

(Thanks for the plug!)

You haven't been around Scouting long enough to remember that the old Den Mother's Training Award (which was later renamed the Den Leader Training Award) and the Den Leader Coach Training Award were both medals the same size of the Scouters' Key and Scouters' Training Award medals. I earned both awards in my Cub Scouting days, but I received the Den Leader Award because the award converted during the time period I earned the old training award (I later bought a Den Leader Training Award for display in my officeroom.)

[note: the Badge and Uniform Site has color scans of many of the old and current medals/medallions alongside their associated square knot insignia.]

The Cub Scout Division decided that in order to prevent females from being embarrassed every time they would formally wear the Key or Training Award(s), that ALL of their Cub Scouting training and service recognitions be of the pendant type, suspended from various colored ribbon and worn around the neck of the Cub Scouter. It was universal and very attractive. The Cub Scout Division tried to get the Boy Scout Division to go along with it, and the Boy Scout Division Director said "forget it."

(for most females, the bustline crosses where the pockets are, forcing some women to wear the medals above and some below the bustline. It *does* bring undue attention to that part of the body when medals are worn)

The problem was that first, the actual medallions were MORE EXPENSIVE than the older smaller medals. The other problem was that many Scouters, having earned two or three of the necklace-type training awards, were beginning to feel like the actor "Mr. T" (from "The "A" Team") or one of those hip-hop music stars by wearing so much "bling" around their necks. They stopped wearing them, opting only to receive the square knot insignia. A backlog of the medallions formed, and the BSA Supply Group made a decision to stop producing the necklace-type awards and only to produce a certificate and the square knot insignia instead.

Exploring used the same Scouters' Training Award and Scouters' Key until 1976, when new lapel pins for the Advisor's Key and the Exploring Leader Training Award was made available, at the insistance of many Exploring leaders whom did not own a "boy scout uniform" and did not want to wear a "boy scout medal" on their DDI (Distinctive Dress Idenity).

Venturing leaders use the same medals for the Scouters' Key and Scouters' Training Award as Boy Scouters do.

I've been told, although I've seen no corroborative evidence in my Insignia Guide, that only two neck medallions can be worn at any given time. Is this true and why?

It's NOT true. You should wear as MANY "pendant-type awards" as your neck and personal modesty will allow, David. Some Cub Scouters have earned all six Awards, and will choose to wear all six at the same time; other Scouters will wear one, two or three such necklace-type awards. I personally "swap out" my five, choosing to wear one or two at formal occassions along with my Wood Badge. Sometimes, I don't wear ANY of them, opting only for the Wood Badge training award.

IMHO, wearing any neck medallions hides other "awards" worn around the neck, such as Wood Badge Beads.

Not if you wear your Wood Badge the RIGHT WAY, they don't. *smiling*


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