This page indexes questions and answers, as well as displays of current and past
The basic rule of thumb is that ONLY BOY SCOUTS/VARSITY SCOUTS WEAR MERIT BADGE
SASHES; AND ONLY ARROWMEN WEAR SASHES.
In the BSA today, two types of sashes are worn by youth members; one set of sashes are
worn by adults involved primarily in the Boy or Varsity Scouting programs.
Merit badge sash:
The merit badge sash is a particular item exclusive to the Boy Scout/Varsity Scout part of the
BSA. In the past, male Explorers also wore special merit badge sashes. Today,
only Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts wear merit badge sashes; MALE Venturers and
Sea Scouts may HAVE a merit badge sash but they are NOT permitted to be worn
with the Venturing kelly green nor Sea Scout white or blue uniforms. Adults do not earn
merit badges; hence, they do not wear merit badge sashes. Adults who are former Boy Scouts
or Explorers should display their merit badge sashes at home - DO NOT wear them. The merit
badge program is for the youth of Boy Scouting. More on merit badge sashes.
Order of the Arrow (OA) sashes:
The Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouting's national honorary camping and service
society, has three sashes which are worn during formal Order of the Arrow events,
ceremonies, and activities and when PERFORMING SERVICE FOR OTHERS. The OA
sash is NOT worn nor suspended from a belt during regular meetings, activities or
unit/district/council camping events. Adult Arrowmen may wear their OA sash during OA activities
or events like youth members may. More on OA sashes.
Perhaps the most frequently asked question dealing with sashes is the "wearing
or suspending them from the belt" question. It goes typically like this:
I remember when I was a Scout (Explorer), that we got to wear our merit badge
sashes suspended from the left hip side of the belt and the OA sash from our right
hip side of the belt. I was told that "national doesn't do this any more". Is anything
sacred any more?? Next thing they'll gonna tell me is that Scouts don't wear the
50-Miler patch on the uniform shirt!"
(As a point of clarification, no, the 50-Miler patch is NEVER worn on the uniform shirt; it's
an equipment decoration -- always has been)
The BSA NEVER AUTHORIZED the wearing of either the OA sash nor the merit badge
sash from a belt. The sashes are intended to be WORN only during FORMAL EVENTS
and ACTIVITIES, or in the case of the Order of the Arrow sash, only while participating
in clearly Order of the Arrow activities or service.
The "wearing of the sash on the belt" thing was something handed down from older
Scouters who couldn't catch the clue that the merit badge sash wasn't something
to slug around week to week at the Troop meetings nor out in the wilderness; and
that the carrying of the OA sash around everywhere takes some of the "mystique"
out of the OA program.
If you have a few minutes, please visit the BSA's
Order of the Arrow website for more information and background on the OA
sashes and how they are to be worn.
Individual pages explain each element found here:
Order of the Arrow sashes
Merit Badge sashes
Where to Place Merit Badges
"Sashbacks" and OA Sashes
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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton
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