This site is designed to answer some of the basic and many "advanced questions" dealing with the BSA's many pieces of insignia, their many uniforms, and the flags and other items used by its members, units and local Councils.
It is by no means complete. Every week, questions are raised in various Scouting forums which prompt me and other Scouters to answer them based on research and ability to gather information to answer those questions. That's where these pages come from. Most of them come from the questions and consolidated answers and opinions from the Scouts-L youth programs discussion list; but there's an equal number of questions which have come from personal postings to me, from the USENET Rec.scouting.usa and rec.scouting boards, and from America Online(tm).
The first source of answers about uniforming and insignia items are found in the BSA publication called the Insignia (Control) Guide. This booklet is updated every other year, and still there are quite a number of items which are listed inaccurately or not at all. But the booklet forms the basis for this website as well as for the questions and answers...that's the best source to get a quick answer. You can obtain this booklet through your local Council, your local Scout Shop(tm), or through the BSA's National Distribution Center in North Carolina.
The second source of answers about uniforming and insignia items are through the volunteers and professionals in YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL. As stated several times on this site, local Councils have the authority to take the Insignia Guide and say "that's nice, but this is how WE ARE GOING TO WEAR IT." In doing so, the local Council takes the "hit" from National when they are telling Scouters and Scouts to wear things in direct contradiction to the National Uniform and Insignia Committee's information. By far the most frequent example of this is found when Scouters write me about "how to earn my square knots". Scouters do not earn "square knots", they earn training or religious emblems and are awarded service and personal achievement awards. The "square knot" is the emblem which goes on the uniform to represent that ACTUAL award which was presented. "But that's how our Council does it...they don't give out the medals or plaques...just the knot." "They make us pay for the award and give us the knot and sometimes a certificate."
The BSA's Associate Director of the Supply Division, the person that manages the National Uniform and Insignia Committee, has sent the word out to local Councils that "the AWARD consists of three items: the actual award itself - which may be a medal, pendant-type medal, plaque, or patch (and in the case of the Sea Badge and the Professional Training Award as well as a few other awards, a lapel pin); a CERTIFICATE; and a knot emblem for informal wear on the uniform. That constitutes a FULL AWARD and those Councils that are informing their volunteers and youth members that the only award is the knot emblem are misleading their volunteers whom we have worked so hard to recruit, train, coach and allowed to do their important roles. Therefore, the practice of only presenting the knot emblem must cease and those Councils must budget appropriately for the presentation of ALL elements of those special awards..."
The third source of answers about uniforming and insignia items (or confusions between what a volunteer or good-intentioned professional Scouter states and the Insignia Guide) is this website. I have taken much personal pains to make it as accurate as I can given the fact that I'm working a fulltime job which takes me out of the United States frequently and with little warning. I try as much as possible to poll local Councils all over the nation to see what they are doing as far as uniforming, insignia usage and displaying of items. Also, I keep my ears to the ground to hear for new changes to the BSA's insignia policies as well as to talk with old-timers whom remember some of the old stuff that I just have a book on which doesn't explain how and where and when it was to be worn. Still, this site is FAR from perfect, and I encourage you to "bounce off" what I or others state here with what your Council states. You can reach me through this address. I will do my best to answer your question within 48 hours but if you post me on a Friday, I may not be able to get back with you until that following Monday. I try to answer those questions during my brief lunch time and after work, so you may get an interim answer and once I do some more research at home, a more indepth answer.
As with any human, I do occassionally, get things incorrect. If you feel that a page or content is incorrect or incomplete, please also let me know. I will be happy to share the spotlight with you, and even credit you or your Council for the additional information. I have never considered this project to be a "one person show," and the feedback and critiques are what in a large part has made this site better and better and more responsive to Scouters!
Finally, if you think we're ALL WET!!, you can contact the National Uniform and Insignia Committee through the BSA's National Office address in Irving, Texas. Remember that this office is basically a two-person operation, and may not quickly respond to your inquiry right away. I'm STILL waiting on a couple of inquiries myself! (*smiling*) But if you have a suggestion or idea, or a question which you CAN NOT GET AN ANSWER FROM THE COUNCIL NOR ME, please write...and please provide a copy to your Council's Scout Executive so that you're not "blind siding" him or her with your inquiry. The folks at National are REQUIRED to provide local Councils with copies of all correspondence to insure consistancy of the responses. This isn't a new thing, gang....it's been this way for DECADES!
National Uniform and Insignia Committee
National Office, Boy Scouts of America SUM 210
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75061-2079
Remember, while the information contained here may reflect current BSA uniforming and insignia policies and procedures, this site is NOT maintained, reviewed nor "sanctioned" by the BSA nor the BSA's National Uniform and Insignia Committee. The content here is given to you on the same basis as if you called me on the phone or ran into me at a Roundtable meeting and asked those same questions. Please don't use this site as a sole source in arguing "this is what National says" with your fellow Scouters or the local Council; the official guide as to what "National says" is the Insignia Guide. Every unit should have a copy and definately, every Commissioner should make it a part of their "personal Scouting notebook or binder!"
Here's hoping you and your unit have a great Scouting experience!
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