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> updated 21/11/15

> updated 22/10/09
BSA seal found on items

The seal of the Boy Scouts of America (as shown above; older items have the First Class emblem in the center instead of the Tenderfoot "Universal emblem" as shown here) certifies that the item is an OFFICIAL UNIFORM ITEM. Look for it when you purchase items for wear or usage. It's on everything, to include the packagaing used to market items.


All Programs Uniform Policy Policy

Uniform and Insignia Policy

The official policy relating to the usage, wear and insignia placement on the BSA's uniforms and flags are found within a BSA publication currently called the "BSA Guide to Uniforming and Insignia (GUI)" Previous versions were called the "BSA Insignia Guide" and before that, the "Insignia (Control) Guide". It is a 8x11 booklet which is published bi-annaully by the BSA and contains most (but not ALL) of the national policies and controls placed upon its uniforms and flags, the badges, cords, and other items which goes on them, who wears, orders and uses them.

An electronic version of this publication is linked to this website for those who want to utilize the electronic version. The electronic version is updated yearly, typically around late October/early November each year.

(The reason why the word "Control" was used is because the guide originally started out as a "control" or directive document. It has been back and forth between a control document and a guidance document. It currently provides both: guidance to the volunteer Scouter and directives to local Councils and their Scout Executives as to what the BSA says is "proper uniforming").

Excerpts from the Guide are found within the basic manuals for each program; within leaders and Commissioner manuals for each program; and within the BSA's Scout Executive's Manual and it's Administration Guide which is a manual and guide for professionals. The Administration Guide contains additional information concerning background and utilization of various uniform/insignia/flag items which are not found in the Insignia (Control) Guide nor the basic manuals. Your Scout Executive has a copy of the latest version of the Adminstration Guide; all professionals at the Council level have copies of the Scout Executive Manual.

The official policies have not change much over time and most of the items are common ("Scouter") sense type items. Obtain a copy of the Guide and use it when you have questions or concerns about the most "typical" BSA insignia used.

A question comes up from time to time asking why ALL of the various policies and guidelines concerning ALL of the BSA's insignia is NOT covered within the pages of the Guide. The BSA works on the "most common uniforming, insignia and flag items". Placing information about every piece of insignia would create a document of a massive size, of usage to mainly collectors and the occasional interested party. Additionally, the Guide does not "cover" local Council adaptations or usage of national insignia.

The BSA has some control over what can be worn where on their official uniforms. As a member of the world Scouting community, the BSA has to also adhear to international policies as decided upon by the World Organization of Scouting Movements with regard to what can be worn on specific locations on member nation's uniforms. For instance, Jamboree and international encampment insignia -- no matter what nation you go to -- are always worn on the upper right side of a uniform shirt; the World Crest emblem, again no matter what member nation one goes to, is always worn on the left side of the uniform shirt either as a central emblem (of nations with no advancement program) or above the left pocket (as it is with the BSA and other nations with advancement programs).

This site addresses various policies and uniforming in a more in-depth manner, answering the questions "why" or "why not" with regard to BSA uniforming, flags, and most commonly insignia pieces. Much of what was placed here over the years have found its way inside the BSA's Insignia (Control) Guide or as directives to the field from the BSA's Supply Group (the forerunner to the previous Supply Division -- a "group" is several Divisions; in 2006, the BSA created the Supply Group to include elements other than supply).

The most common questions center around what can be worn on the right side of the uniform shirt -- it seemed that everyone wants to wear everything possible on that side of the shirt -- and the BSA has some strong policies which have been in place in many cases since the BSA developed uniforms for its movement in the United States.

Individual pages explain each element found here:

Wearing the World Crest emblem
Policies on wearing Jamboree insignia
Wearing Scouting uniforms as Costumes
Can't Find that RIGHT sized uniform?
Why is the US Flag emblem "backwards"
The "Patch Police"
Why Can't I make our own "Troop Flag?"
Wearing "rainbow colored" insignia

If you have a policy question which is not addressed here, please first ask your Council's Scout Executive. He or she should be able to get you an answer. If not, by all means please post me and ask - I'll "use my resources" to find the answer for you and if it of a general nature, will post it here giving you credit for the question. Settummanque!

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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton

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Leaders' Online ™ Copyright 2009 Rose Walton. All rights reserved
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