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> updated 23/03/14
> updated 23/03/11
Red Scout vest with patches

ANYTHING may be worn on the red "brag vest." Anything up to the Scout and of course his parents. So military activity patches may indeed be worn anywhere on the vest. There is absolutely NO POLICY (written or otherwise) on what could or could not be worn on the red vest. Likewise, if a Scout or Scouter is wearing a non-BSA vest or jacket, anything may be worn on it as well.


All Programs Uniforms Right Side Temporary Insignia

Temporary Insignia

Hey Steve!

You wrote and asked me for clarifiication:

Here is my question – What are examples of “Temporary insignia". One of my committee folks told me that the scouts could wear awards such as LNT (Leave No Trace) and Historic Trails on the back of their (merit badge) sash. Is this correct? From what I have been able to delve from your and other sites is that "Temporary insignia" seem to be items such as camporee patches. What’s your take?

ABSOLUTELY GREAT QUESTION and one which, if you don't mind, I will post on the Badge and Uniform Site so that everyone will get the idea of what is and what isn't "temporary insignia"! Thank you for asking!!

Actually, you and more than 200 other people have asked this question of me since 2000. What is confusing the issue is the fact that the BSA is now allowing "temporary insignia" to be worn on the backside of the Boy Scout/Varsity Scout merit badge sash as well as on the traditional red vest.

Here's what the BSA's National Uniform and Insignia Committee defines as "temporary insignia" (this is also found in the 2005 (and earlier versions) of the BSA Administration Guide). I have also included color examples of each kind of temporary insignia -- this is not all inclusive because there are so many thousands of badges and patches over the years -- and MOST (NOT ALL) of them would be catagorized as "temporary insignia."

(In the 2013 printing of the BSA's Guide to Awards and Insignia, the BSA refers to "temporary" insignia as "miscellenous" insignia. The terms are interchangable, and intended to widen the scope of the types of insignia which can be worn on a temporary -- not permanent -- basis on the right uniform pocket; on personal activity items like vests, jackets, or jac-shirts; on blankets or as equipment decoration. I have been told that subsequent guides will make this distinction clearer.)

"Temporary insignia: This consists of badges, pins or other items which does not fall into the advancement, position or title, Jamboree, unit, personal achievement, service, tenure, aquatics, or equipment decoration insignia catagories.

This insignia is worn, ONE piece at a time (see exceptions below) centered on the RIGHT pocket of the official Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer, Sea Scout or Scouter field uniform; or suspended from the right pocket button of the field uniform. Segments or additional add-on emblems are considered as part of the central piece of insignia, as long as the combined insignia piece DOES NOT EXCEED the dimensions of the right pocket.

Additionally, Boy/Varsity Scouts may choose to wear an unlimited number of temporary insignia items ONLY on the BACK of the merit badge sash starting from the top edge or seam of the sash or below merit badges if worn on the back of the sash.

All members may choose to display and/or all additional temporary insignia on a blanket, vest, or jacket at the option of the wearer.

a SMALL example of some temporary insignia

A SMALL sample of temporary insignia items

Temporary insignia is worn at the option of the wearer for as long as the wearer desires to wear that piece of temporary insignia. No local Council, District or individual unit may mandate the wearing of a specific Council, District or unit patch or other insignia item by all members of their Council, District or unit. The intent of the temporary insignia location is to provide space for that individual to show which recent activity or event he or she has participated in.


  • Cub Scouts and WEBELOS Cub Scouts may choose to wear TWO such temporary insignia items. If so, ONE must be the "Progress Toward Ranks" fob (a plastic or leather item which hangs from the right pocket and which has beads attached for Tiger, Wolf and Bear rank to chart individual progress toward those ranks)

    Progress Toward Ranks insignia

    Progress Toward Ranks fob/insignia

    OR the "WEBELOS Compass Badge" (a cloth badge with four directional arrows and the WEBELOS insignia which is suspended from the right pocket; WEBELOS Cub Scouts wear a small arrowhead on this emblem after completing five activity badges).

    WEBELOS Compass Badge insignia

    WEBELOS Compass Badge insignia (left) and Compass Badge with Arrow points (right)

    The other item can be any temporary insignia item they choose, and this is sewn to the center of the right pocket.

  • FEMALE Scouters wearing older female Cub Scout or Boy Scout uniforms (the blue Cub Scout dress, the yellow Cub Scout blouse or the older tan Boy Scout blouse) with one pocket may choose to wear their temporary insignia ABOVE the "Boy Scouts of America" strip as an exception since the dress and blouses were not designed with two pockets."

    Female Scouters and female Venturing youth and adults wearing the current "Centennial" tan uniform, the "legacy" (khaki) tan uniform shirt or the green Venturing uniform shirt must wear temporary insignia on the right pocket as well as all male youth and adults.

  • Examples of items which fall under the "temporary insignia" category include:

  • optional activity insignia ("Day Camp", "Uniform Inspection", "Conservation", "Scouting for Food", "Scout Sunday", etc.) which are designed for immediate recognition of those individuals participating in a unit or multiunit activity or event. These items are NOT considered advancement since they are not reported on the advancement report.

    Examples of optional activity insignia

    Examples of optional activity insignia

  • local council camp insignia, to include summer camps, district camporee or camps, Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturing, district or Council activities (Scout shows, Scoutoramas, Scouting for Food drives, Anniversary observance activities, etc.) conducted at the local Council or regional basis.
  • Examples of local council insignia

    Examples of local Council insignia

  • District insignia. All district insignia, to include identification insignia, are considered temporary as members associate with a local Council and not with a specific district. District insignia should not be worn on the right shoulder in the place of Regional or unit Den/Patrol insignia.

    Example of District insignia (1). The BSA discourages such insignia but many Councils do allow this type of insignia to be worn here.

    Example of District insignia. While officially, such insignia is not supposed to be worn on the right shoulder (1) (but instead centered on the right pocket), many Council Scout Executives have used their authority to allow the wearing of District insignia as in the case of this Scouter's District.

  • BSA National or Regional Meeting, Order of the Arrow, Venturing Association, or other program area badges or patches, generally given or received as part of participation in a program or activity. National, Regional and local Order of the Arrow and Venturing conference insignia are considered "temporary insignia".
  • local Council identification insignia, to include those with segmented patched (called "segments" or "rockers") which could, at the option of the wearer, be worn or not with the central insignia. If worn, such COMBINED insignia should NOT exceed the dimensions of the pocket.
  • BAD example of Council insignia with segments

    BAD example of Council insignia with segments!! Segments should NOT exceed the dimesions of the right pocket. A good place for these segments and its central patch would be centered on the backside of a vest or jacket, or as the central part of a blanket.

  • National event or activity insignia (Philmont or "High Adventure" (Outdoor Adventure) bases, National Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE), etc.) and training courses (eg. "Golden Eagle", "Green Bar", "Brownsea-22", etc.) conducted at the local Council; National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), National Camping School, and National Training Center courses offered at Philmont or other locations; and Order of the Arrow National Leadership Conference training courses. This insignia is considered "temporary" because the individual has the option of not wearing the insignia on the uniform or wearing the insignia only for the duration of the event or training. Staffers of these courses wear this insignia also as temporary insignia only.
  • Older version of National Junior Leader Training Course emblem

    Older version of National Junior Leader Training Course emblem. At the option of the wearer, this and other national or local Council training course emblems could also be worn centered on the RIGHT pocket of the red and blue jac-shirts.

  • conservation award emblems (Project SOAR, Conservation Good Turn Award, Leave No Trace Cub or Boy Scout emblem, and the World Conservation Award) are all considered "temporary insignia". The World Conservation Award DOES NOT replace the World Crest and is not worn beside or in the place of the World Crest over the left side of the uniform shirt. It is worn centered on the right pocket of the uniform shirt.

    Conservation Good Turn Award; it, along with the World Conservation Award, is considered temporary insignia.

    The Conservation Good Turn Award. This, along with the World Conservation Award is considered "temporary insignia" by the BSA. It is worn only centered on the right pocket of the uniform shirt. It is not a replacement for the World Crest or the World Conservation Awards. There is also a generic "Conservation Award" patch which is NOT the same as the World Conservation Award (this patch has a depiction of the world on it; the World Conservation Award has the emblem of the World Wildlife Fund on it).

  • religious encampment or participation insignia, generally received through participating in vigils, hikes, observances, pagents, or other events sponsored by a national or local church body or for participating in a religious awards program. Religious emblems (medals and medallions) are worn as explained on a separate page and are NOT "temporary insignia".
  • Non-BSA badges or patches (patches obtained, for instance, through local zoos or parks; through organizations which support Scouting - United Way, Community Appeal, Salvation Army, etc.); badges or patches given to Scouts or Venturers for participating in local activities (fairs, competitions, or as escorts or staff members of local or regional parades or observances); badges or patches given to Scouts or Venturers as gifts for attending or visiting a location or shrine (for instance, military crests, badges or insignia given for visiting a military base, display or installation); badges or awards from other Scouting movements, youth organizations, or member nations of the World Organization of Scouting Movements; badges or patches representing countries, states, or communities; and other insignia which is approved in advance for wear by the local Scout Executive. Such insignia items shall be general in nature, of good taste, and reflective of the experience the Scout, Venturer, volunteer or professional participated or provided support to.

    Leather badge example from WOSM member nation

    Leather badge example from WOSM member nation (Czech Republic). This is permitted to be worn with the BSA uniform as a temporary insignia item.

  • Two-piece Order of the Arrow insignia

    This is an example of a two-piece Order of the Arrow flap and patch. If worn, both may be worn together (recommended) or separately. Note that the patch must NOT exceed the dimesions of the uniform pocket.

    (new item from inserted flyer, approved 4/04: )

  • the National Scout Jamboree ATTENDANCE insignia (as distinguished from the official National Scout Jamboree PARTICIPATION insignia) is also designed for temporary wear by those individuals who visited but did not participate in the National Scout Jamboree. Consult the section on Jamboree insignia for more information.
  • the BSA Emergency Prepreness Award is worn centered on the right pocket as it is a temporary insignia item. The Emergency Preparness Award pin is worn on the left pocket if the emblem is not worn. Both badge and pin should NOT be worn together on the field uniform.
  • Other notes:

    The BSA allows for wearing of only ONE Jamboree emblem at a time. This could be the official World Jamboree insignia; the official BSA contingent World Jamboree emblem; an international encampment (AsiaCamp, Hands Across the Borders, EuroCamp, InterCamp, etc.) emblem approved by the BSA's International Office; or a BSA National Jamboree emblem with or without "segments" or "rockers" in the space above the "Boy Scouts of America", "Venturing BSA", or "Sea Scouts - BSA" strip (and above any interpreter strip(s) and/or nametag) above the right pocket. Additional like insignia may be worn centered on the right pocket as a temporary item. More information on the wearing of this type of insignia can be found on the Jamboree page.

    Aquatics emblems (Mile Swim, Aquatics Instructor, Boardsailing, SCUBA, BSA Llfeguard, etc.) are NOT worn with the uniform and are NOT "temporary insignia." They are worn on the swim trunks/outfit of the Scout/Venturer/Scouter.

    Equipment decoration (the large 4-6 inch emblems representing National High Adventure, training (National Camping School, Philmont Training Center, National Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE), National Junior Leader Training, etc.), including the 50-Miler and Historic Trails Awards, along with the Paul Bunyan Axman Award and others, may be worn either on the backside of the red (or blue) jac-shirt or on personal camping equipment or blankets. Those items are not "temporary insignia" and therefore cannot be worn on the back of the merit badge sash or anywhere on the uniform. .

    50-Miler and Historic Trail emblems (2) are NOT 'temporary insignia' items.

    Even though the BSA makes cloth versions, the 50-Miler, Historic Trails Award, and the Paul Bunyan Axman Awards are ALL "equipment decoration", designed for placement on backpacks, blankets, or on the backsides of the red (or blue) jac-shirt or their lighter jacket versions. They also may be worn on a blanket or vest. The reason why the cloth versions were created was so it could be easily sewn to backpacks, tent flaps or outdoor equipment. There are also leather versions of this insignia likewised designed for equipment usage only.

    "Temporary insignia is NEVER worn in the location designated for National or international Jamboree insignia, by agreement with and to provide consistancy with other member nations of the World Association of Scouting Movements (WOSM).

    The Boy Scout Requirements Book, the Insignia Guide, and several BSA publications all provide guidance as to which insignia is designed as temporary insignia and which is designed as aquatics or equipment decoration. Direct volunteers with questions about the wear of those items to the publications. All other insignia is considered "temporary" in nature and should be worn as such.

    Temporary insignia is just that -- items which were received, earned or given to a Scout, Venturer, Scouter or Venturing leader -- for participating in or service as part of a national, regional or local event or activity. It is always worn one at a time, may either be attached to or suspended from the right pocket, and the guidance is that each individual chooses which item goes there for the period he or she chooses."

    (Reference: BSA Administration Manual and inserts, "Uniform and Insignia" (section 23 in 2005 version of manual, starting at page 23-4)

    Hope this helps out...thank you very much for asking me! It's a great question!

    Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton.

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