Patches Made Perfect



I’m not a member of the uniform police, nor do I play one on TV. That said, I do think it’s only right for Scouts and Scouters to wear the right patches in more or less the right spots on their uniforms. Right?

But what are those right spots? Sometimes, the answer seems less than clear. And so you see Totin’ Chip patches on pocket flaps or camporee patches where jamboree patches should go or badges of office in the spot reserved for patrol patches.

For years, the BSA has offered a guide to awards and insignia. Called the Guide to Awards and Insignia–how’s that for a catchy title?–it seems to be a pretty well kept secret, at least in my neck of the woods.

The guide is full of handy diagrams like the one shown above, but that’s just part of what makes it useful. It includes the catalog number for each patch, pin, and medal it describes, for example. And the introduction includes a wealth of information on such questions as whether you can wear two badges with the same meaning and whether it’s possible to wear too much insignia. And on page 61, you’ll learn which was is up when it comes to leader knots.

You can purchase the guide for $6.99 from But you can also download it as a PDF–well, a series of PDFs– at the BSA website for free.


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