Badge of Office
Badges of Office
I've noticed something, maybe it's not new or something, but it seems to me that we have different border and background colors for different patches showing
what office you hold in Scouts. Was that on purpose or someone's idea of spicing up the uniform?
I've been fielding that line of questioning with regard to the various BSA position patches and badges of office for some time. Here's the specifics:
I have a lot of the old BSA position badges. Some of them are in the old light green color and some of them are in the tan background that matches the
uniform. I also have two District Commissioner badges of office...one of them with a medium blue background and the other with a red background. Does that
mean that one's for a Cub Scout District Commissioner and the other for a Boy Scout or Explorer Commissioner?? Finally, I have one patch that has a blue border
and the wording "Women's Reserve" on it. What's that for and why does it have a different background color than the rest of the BSA badges of office?? Have I
picked up a misprinted or rare patch? Thanks for the help!"
First, let's go backwards in history to about 1950 or so. Back then, EVERY badge of office for a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, or Exploring unit had a "logo" or
"emblem" associated with it. For instance, the Boy Scout Scribe emblem had a set of crossed quillpens with the "universal emblem" (the Tenderfoot badge, which
is called the "universal emblem" because it is the central item to many of the BSA's official badges and ranks). The Scribe position emblem looks like this:
The emblem was GREAT...however, you needed a special "decoder book", knowledge of Scouting, or one took a guess to fully understand what those crossed
quills meant...especially to those outside of the BSA. The BSA Scout and Scoutmaster handbooks of the day did have full-color illustrations of each badge of office
so that new Scouts and Scoutmasters could easily tell which badge meant what.
When the BSA changed their uniforms in 1972-74, they decided then to "code" and "title" ALL of the badges of position...this would make it easier to distinguish
the "leaders" from "the rest" and at the same time, put some order and some sense into the various badges that have been developed for various positions.
The way they decided to "show" what the "owner" of the uniform represent would be by COLOR:
It was NOT someone's attempt to "enhance the color" of the then-new (now the "legacy" uniform) uniform but simply to make things easier for anyone to know
from a distance as well as close-up "who does what" and "what do you do in Scouting". The Scribe's badge of office during that time period looked like this:
Today, all of the position badges for Boy Scout and Varsity Scout positions, and eventually all of the positions at the unit level, are on a khahi-tan background and
border with a basic design in the color of the position, using the older colors. Many would say that the badges look awful compared to the older position patches;
others would say that the patches were needed to "blend into" the fabric color of the uniform shirt
To answer your question about the "Womens' Reserve" badge of office here's a page which should help out a lot. The short answer is that it's a holdover from the
days in which women could not serve as Scouters in Boy Scout or Varsity Scout unit.
These pages will show the older - 70s era - badges of office because they are more plentiful and many units and local
Councils still use them. Either version is official as long as they are worn correctly and reflect current status in the movement.
These pages will also eventually show the current badges of office because they are the most common and what units
and local Councils should be using.
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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton
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