Tuesday Talkback: What do you do when a Scout has a patch sewn on wrong?

Tuesday-TalkbackYou’ll notice it right away, of course.

You’ll see Tristan across the room at your pack or troop meeting this week and instantly spot the unit numerals on the wrong sleeve, the rank patch on the wrong pocket or the World Crest way too low on his field uniform shirt.

What do you do? Call Tristan out in front of the group so other Scouts learn from his mistake? Hand him a needle and some thread and send him out of the room? Email his parents after the meeting? Something else?

Leave a comment below with your answer, and let’s have a discussion about the best way to handle this common concern. This is the first of a recurring series of posts I’m calling Tuesday Talkback

15 years ago…

Look back in time with answers to a similar question from the September 1998 issue of Scouting magazine.

See also

For an excellent look at sewing on Scout patches, including tips you can send to parents, check out the rundown on Clarke Green’s unofficial blog.

Note: Just so we’re clear, the Life rank patch is on the wrong pocket in the image I used for this post!

109 thoughts on “Tuesday Talkback: What do you do when a Scout has a patch sewn on wrong?

  1. My two cents: I always try to run by the “Praise in public, criticize in private.” If you notice something glaring (i.e. NYLT patch in the Jambo participant emblem position), and feel it necessary to inform a Scout (for purposes of the rest of my comment, Scout also refers to Scouter), take the Scout aside at and inform him of the correction. Always make sure you have whatever it is in writing.

    The only exception to this in my mind is the PLC during a uniform inspection. But even then, it is crucial to be concerned about the Scout.

    Also, regardless of how well-intentioned you are, you should never attempt to remove a patch from a uniform without the Scout’s consent. If I were a Scoutmaster, I’d carry a few spare sets of shoulder loops in case someone comes into a meeting with the wrong set, but that’s about as far as it should go.

    To those concerned about “Where does this patch go? I can’t find anything about it” scenarios, resource A should be the BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia. Resource B should be your Scout Executive. Resource C should be the Program Impact department (program [dot] content [at] scouting [dot] org)

    • There is another patch that is wrong. I ask why and they just tell me that is the way they are made. I am talking about the American flag . There are left and right sleeve flags. Look up the rules for flags. A flag is to be flown as you are walking forward. So the stars are in the front. This shows that you are always going forward.If it is the opposite way that means that you and your flag are running away .That is the way the Boy Scouts have their Flag. (Left and Right flags.)It is wrong LOOK IT UP.

      • Correct me if I am wrong, but the Marine Corps used to orient the flag the same way, and when I say used to I mean until a few years ago, and it was because they viewed it as the proper way. It was along time ago that I herd that, so I am not positive, but it sticks in me head.

  2. All things done in the spirit of learning. The Cub Scout felt board uniform relay race is a great idea.
    Sewing machines at meetings help those who don’t sew and can’t afford to have a taylor shop sew them on. But Boy Scouts should learn a new skill. A couple of times a year – like at the meeting just after the post summer camp Court of Honor – have a patch sewing night. (hand stitch) Good life lesson.

    Also for Boy Scouts have the boys, within their own patrol, determine who has the best looking uniform, recognize them at the end of the meeting just before the SM minute. Let the Scouts do the critiquing.

    Direct corrections should be done in private.

    Scouters with shirttails hanging out is also a pet peeve of mine. Not a good example.

    • If, for some reason you have purchased a uniform without the flag, the flag ALWAYS is mounted with the star field in the upper left corner, no matter where it is, which on the uniform it belongs on the right sleeve. As for how a flag is displayed, across with the star field in the upper left corner, hanging in the upper right corner.

  3. At Eagle Court Of Honor when one of five have the merit badge sash on the wrong side! I have seen this TWICE! what was the SM paying attention to?
    this cam be adjusted by moving sash to right shoulder an turning the bottom inside out – not as noticeable.

  4. Bryan wrote and asked us: “You’ll notice it right away, of course.

    You’ll see Tristan across the room at your pack or troop meeting this week and instantly spot the unit numerals on the wrong sleeve, the rank patch on the wrong pocket or the World Crest way too low on his field uniform shirt.”

    All which I’ve answered so many times…and there’s um…17 of those questions in my email box *this morning* (Tuesday, 17 Sep 13).

    I average about 25 a day of those kind of questions. There’s a stock answer I provide:

    “You know, as long as he’s having a great time in Scouting, I wouldn’t sweat over the small detail like patches not being in the right places, or they are upside down (like with square knots or other items hard to distinguish a “right side up” from), or the fact that his year pin doesn’t have a backing!

    However, there is a place for each item and because we’re talking a uniform, there’s also a “right side up” for each item also. That’s why I created the Badge and Uniform Site and provide full-color, most times full sized illustrations of all of the various insignia. And I show *exactly where they should be worn* for best uniforming. Here’s the link to the Badge and Uniform Site – http://www.scoutinsignia.com and keep in mind that while I rely on a LOT of people more expert than I with providing the answers — many of them BSA employees/professionals, the site isn’t official. The official word as to where things go is found within the BSA’s Insignia (Control) Guide. Unfortunately the Guide isn’t in color, and doesn’t show things the way they are SUPPOSED to be worn (editorial problems, and some people not caring that parents and Scouters are actually USING THE GUIDE and therefore they should try to “get it right side up” or “in the right places” or explain more than a couple of words where things go AND WHY) and that should be used.”

    Now to answer the bigger questions:

    “What do you do?”

    First acknowledge that Tristan is wearing the insignia on the uniform (you know, we have a LOT of Scouts who don’t even WEAR the uniform, let alone the various insignia pieces to it!) Then ask to speak to Tristan after the meeting or activity’s over and let it drop until then. Whatever YOU or SOMEONE ELSE thinks, they can’t fix it during the meeting or activity and nobody should attempt to try to fix it. This is Tristan’s uniform — let him take it home after the meeting or activity and together with his parents, he fixes it. It is a part of being a Scout!! If someone comes up to you and makes comment about it, politely tell them that you’ve already talked with Tristan and he’ll get it worked out.

    Next, during your meeting with Tristan (keeping in mind the BSA’s youth protection guidance), calmly explain and illustrate the error(s). Whatever it is, let him know that it should be corrected before he wears it again. No yelling, no belittling, no teasing. Offer to show him or provide a link to someplace where it is worn correctly (another good reason why as the people who “set the positive example”, WE Scouters should be wearing OUR UNIFORMS as correctly and completely as possible — to avoid the “kettle calling the pot black”). It’s NOT his fault unless he actually sewn or attached the items to his shirt (and yes, I’m firmly in the NO BADGE MAGIC camp, sorry BSA — that stuff is nasty and should be taken off the market!!).

    Follow up the conversation with a phone call to Tristan’s parent, explaining what you and he talked about and asking for compliance. Again, no yelling, no belittling and no teasing. You’re talking with a parent of a Scout who “wants to get it right”, NOT to a Soldier or Sailor in the military!!

    One of the things I’m doing with the Badge and Uniform Site is providing full color PDFs of youth and adult insignia placement. The BSA has a great black and white uniform inspection sheet, but to be honest, people see things in color, not black and white, and understand better where the “purple thing” goes better than a black and white illustration of that “purple thing.”

    I also address this, for the sake of Commissioners and other volunteers and professionals, on the page dealing with “the Uniform Police” (http://www.scoutinsignia.com/police.htm)

    Finally, when you see Tristan again with the things in place, acknoweldge to him that you’re glad that he took your advice and had the items placed in the right places (or upside right or whatever).

    I always purchase a couple of those plastic “backings” (circles which go on the backside of the year pins) and either hand them to the Scout who “lost” or “misplaced” his or ask to place the year pin in the correct place. The backings don’t break my coffee purchasing; Scouts (and Scouters!) do appreciate having the “other part” of the pin, and everyone looks a little bit better as a result.

    Great question. I’ll post a followup when the new PDFs (the ones on there are about 11 years old and I need to update them!) are posted. With my work schedule, it should take about a month. In the meantime, Bryan, can you please nudge the Editorial folk and remind them that when they should things upside down or in the wrong places, that’s *exactly where a lot of people will wear them*.

  5. I used to carry a handful of those single sheet pages that could be used for uniform inspections. I would quietly give one to the adult with a Cub Scout or to a Boy Scout himself, pointing to the pertinent part of the page. For Cub Scout neckerchiefs which were often worn more like Grandma’s shawl, I would smile at the boy and ask if I could help him adjust it. Then I showed him how to roll or fold it.

  6. I’ll usually call him out to the middle of the room, point at him and start laughing and publicly ridicule him. Call them a bad Scout and rip the patches from their uniform like they are being drummed out of the service.

    NOT! No one is perfect and mistakes happen.

    Every year at our first meeting I will make sure that all the Scouts understand what the uniform means and that every patch has a place on the uniform. I show them that the patch layout chart on the inside of their Scout Handbooks. I also send a copy of the uniform inspection sheet home with each Scout for their parents (Mom usually) to see where patches go. If there is a mistake, show them the correct way and that is the end of it.

    The other side of the coin is when patches are placed on the uniforn that are not to there (temporary patches, eg: camp-o-ree, wint-o-ree, etc…) Again, the Scout is usually not the one doing the sewing, but as many have said “Praise publicly, correct privately”

    Just a quick word (and a copy of a uniform inspection sheet) to the parents usually will suffice.

  7. These are some great suggestions posted!
    I think it’s great that there are so many leaders who care enough about their scouts to correct the problem in such a way as to make it constructive, and help the boy without causing problems in itself..
    There are too many who blow it off, or the opposite who embarass the scout so much he dosen’t want to come back..
    Both are wrong.

  8. As Advancement Chair of my troop I always seem to be the one who notices this kind of thing, probably because I’m on the lookout for it. I either ask the scout to come see me, and when he does quietly mention that he’s got the patch position incorrect and show him where it’s supposed to go, and ask him to fix it when he can. No big fuss or anything. I will sometimes go mention it to the Scoutmaster and ask him to handle it, which he does in much the same manner. Then, if I happen to see a parent at pick up time, I’ll go over and mention it to them too. Everyone wants to see these scouts succeed and not be embarrassed by a little thing like this.

  9. Our troop is pretty good, and for the most part, the patches are on right. One thing we’ve seen a bit of is Scouts with their jambo numerals on still. I don’t necessarily pull them aside, but I do as them quietly what Troop they are in, and then ask them what their shirt says. I then go on to tell them how proud we that they participated in jambo, and how we hope they will share those stories with the younger Scouts, so they will want to go to the next one. Lastly, I ask them to try to get their shirts back to normal as soon as possible.

  10. When the Webelos bridged over one of the boys did this – had the wrong patch in the wrong place. During games my 10 year old just said, “Your patch is wrong, you are a boy scout not a Webelos, and the patch is on the wrong side.” My son told me that he told the other boy in a quiet matter so that the boys would not be embarrassed The boy must have gotten upset because this resulted in 14 unpleasant e-mail about how my son was mean from the boy’s dad.. I went to talk to the other boys and they did not hear the conversation. I had to put my son in a new patrol because of this and I am serious.

  11. In a related topic.
    What about Adults?
    Its one thing for an adult leader to wear someting out of place, but when it is blanetent, like wearing youth awards. Thats just not right. Talk about a bad example.
    Eagle badges are the most common, but my son’s pack handed out Cub World Conservation Badges out to the leaders too and one of the Den Leaders wears it now.

    I had a conversation with an ASM during a visit (I’m a Commissioner) and noticed he was wearing his Eagle badge. I did not confront him directly, but asked if he was a member of NESA. He replied that he was,” a life member in fact”. I then told him about the new NESA Eagle knot for lifetime members. Also I added that the rank patches are for the boys and we adults wear knots. No problems there at all.

    However with a similar situation, different adult leader. He announced loudly that he never got to wear his Eagle badge (he turned 18 soon after earning it) so now was “my time” to do so, since it was “his troop”. I just smiled and walked away. Better to keep a good relationship to help the boys of the unit, then to get frozen out of a unit.

    • Know what you mean, Ron…as a former District and Unit Commissioner, I had to deal with several of those men who “didn’t get to wear their Eagle Badge because they turned 18…” and now decide to wear it and ignore anyone else who would advise them otherwise. The only thing to solve this is personal example, I’m afraid. Take a look at the “Uniform Police” page on the Badge and Uniform Site and you’ll get a couple of ideas I’m sure as to how to approach this guy and anyone else.

      • Mike,

        My only exception to this is when an Eagle Scout is still in high school and will still be attending troop meetings. I think it’s important that the younger Scouts see the embroidered patch and what it symbolizes. They will notice that before they will a knot.

        I think those that wear the embroidered patch when they are in their 20′s, 30′s, and beyond (I’ve seen men in their 50′s wearing it), are the back side of a horse. Now here’s the other extreme.

        Some years back I was at the council office, in the Scout Shop, and keeping in character I was not minding my own business. A woman came in and she was totally flustered and frantic; stating that she had to have an Eagle Knot because a Scout just turned 18 and was told by one of the unit leaders not to show up at the next meeting wearing the embroidered patch or he’ll be asked to leave. Can you imagine this?

        I asked her what troop this was and she became more flustered and would not tell me. I told her I wanted to attend the meeting and inspect this jackass’s uniform and make sure EVERYTHING is in perfect order, and I will even bring a ruler so I could measure the proper distance between patches and so forth.

        Do we really need people like him in the program?

        • Regarding the patch or the square knot. We try to recognize immediately, so our Eagle Scouts receive their patch at the next troop meeting – and the rest at their Court of Honor.

          Scouts who’ve turned 18 before then, and we’ve had a few Scoutmaster Conferences on the day before the birthday, know they’re going to get some good natured ribbing about being given a patch they won’t get to wear, and that they’ll also be handed an Asst Scoutmaster patch and square knot.

        • Bob,
          I agree with you having the 18 year-old who is still active in the troop wear the patch. My son also earned Eagle just before turning 18 in the middle of his senior year of high school, last November. So, he was 18 when the patch was awarded in early January. I thought it was important that he get to wear it for a little while at the meetings and in fact I left it on his uniform that he wore to Philmont this past summer. Even though he is technically an adult in the troop and forced to be an Assistant Scoutmaster by registration (A whole nuther topic, by the way) he is in that grey area between Scout and Leader that we never seem to quite know what to do about, especially on campouts and high adventure trips. Also, several of his classmates in the troop earned the rank right before and after he did and we really wanted it on for pictures with them, and because he was a significant participant in Eagle cermonies after his. Yes, I know that’s what the medal is for…

          The other reason is that when I took his Life patch off, there was that ugly smear of crud from the badge magic I used… (I know, I know… covered elsewhere here) so I had to put the Eagle badge there to cover it. :-)

          I will be removing the eagle patch from his shirt now that he is off to college.

        • One more note… we are forming a Venture Crew and my 18 year-old son will be part of that crew. According to the rules he can wear his Eagle patch on his Venture uniform until he is 21.

        • you mention scouters that are in their twenties, but it is important to remember too, that I have always been told that venturers and such can wear the eagle badge until they turn 21 since they are considered youth in that program.

    • Adults should be setting the example. If I see an adult wearing a non-Jamboree patch above the right pocket or some other out of place or non-uniform patch, I’ll find a time to tactfully remind him. Then there are the adults who wear the Eagle Scout Dad or Eagle Scout Mentor pins on the left side pocket or on the collar like officer insignia . . .

  12. The first thing I do when I attend an Eagle Scout Court of Honor is seek out the new Eagle Scout and see which way he’s wearing his sash, and if it’s over his left shoulder I ask to take it off and place it over his belt because his mother is going to have a hard time pinning the badge on his left pocket. I do this with the concurrence of the Scoutmaster.

    When I see a Scout, and it’s usually a young one, with his neckerchief in a square knot instead using a slide, I ask him if he’s in the Sea Scouts. This usually elicits a bewildered look on his face and I explain that Sea Scouts wear a square knot and Boy Scouts use a slide. We then go and look to improvise a slide: rubber band, paperclip, etc. I make a joke out of it.

    Unfortunately I’ve seen photos in the newspaper of Eagle Scouts standing by their service projects while in uniform, and their neckerchief is tied in a square knot and the ends, instead of hanging, down are sticking out at right angles. It looks totally ridiculous. Sometimes I wish I could screen all Boy Scout photos before they are sent to the newspapers, because some are really embarrassing.

    If I see a Scout with something obviously out of place I take him aside and explain it to him in private. The usual response is that he didn’t know where the proper location was or where to find it; which I then take his Scout Handbook and show him the inside of the front and back covers. The response to that is usually, “Oh”.

    Unfortunately, no where in the Scout Handbook does it show the proper way to wear the sash, It is in the Insignia Guide, but I don’t expect a Scout to have one of them.

    • Great comments, Bob!!! There IS an illustration of a Scout wearing his merit badge sash in the Handbook; but I agree with you that there should be a written explaination of how and when the merit badge sash should be worn in the Handbook.

      But please don’t ask Scouts to wear the sash over their belt. He should wear it the right way…take a look at this Scout on the following page: http://www.scoutinsignia.com/sash.htm

      There’s no reason why Mom cannot pin his Eagle onto the uniform in the right place if the Scout is wearing a merit badge sash!!

    • If a Scout loses their neckerchief slide, they should tie their neckerchief using a “friendship knot”. Many Scout programs around the world tie their neckerchief with this knot & do not use a slide. I am on our Council’s International Committee & have a special Purple neckerchief to wear. The International Representative tells us to tie it using the friendship knot instead of using a slide.

    • A lot of my cubbies wear a slide and then knot the kerchief under it so they don’t lose the slide. My Wolf has lost two slides so far.

      • Attention Den Leaders!!!

        Make your own slide (especially in the Tiger Year) just for your den. There’s plenty of ideas online. Make sure you buy extra materials for a) lost slides and b) new den members in the future. And make sure you create a slide that will stay on.

        This will
        a) save you money in the future: you won’t have to buy a new slide for every rank
        b) bother you when the official slide is lost
        c) create den/pack unity.

        The Scout Shop slides are notorious for sliding off, getting lost and most parents end up putting a knot underneath it which makes the ends poke out and therefor unattractive.

        MAKE YOUR OWN SLIDES!!!! Great pack or den project.

  13. This is something I see in Cub Scouts, as well. In a uniform inspection, I write out where the patch should be placed and point to the handbook inside back cover for reference. In private, I always engage the parent with the Scout and – in as friendly way as possible – point to the shirt what is out of place and reference the book. I usually mention the ScoutStuff.org website as a reference, too. Mind, I don’t go out of my way to point out misaligned pack numbers or if a den number bar is crooked. But it’s surprising how many times I find the den number on the wrong sleeve or a rank badge on the wrong pocket.

  14. As noted earlier, “Praise in public, criticize in private”. Moreover, if a comment is to be made, keep it light hearted. A reminder at the start of the year on placement is good. An observation that the handbook shows placement is good.

    All that being said, it should be observed that the smaller sized scout shirts make correct or accurate placement difficult or impossible. Some allowance is going to have to be made in any event.

    But, if you really want to get wound up, think of adult Scouters who have 4, 5 or 6 rows of knots on their uniform. If they have done that much training they should know what the uniforming guide says.

    • Hi Stephen!

      As one of the many who *contributed* to the current (and the last four) Insignia (Control) Guides, I know *exactly* what it says in reference to your comment:

      “But, if you really want to get wound up, think of adult Scouters who have 4, 5 or 6 rows of knots on their uniform. If they have done that much training they should know what the uniforming guide says”

      Keep in mind that only EIGHT of the current 34 square knot insignia has anything to do with *training*. The rest have little or *nothing* to do with training…they are service or personal achievement awards.

      The comment about the number of “square knot insignia” has been addressed here and elsewhere; so I don’t want to restart that line of conversation. However, keep in mind that the entire Guide is just that — a GUIDE. Not policy This makes enforcement of anything hard to do, because a local Council can and have implemented their *own policy* using the Insignia Guide as the basis for their policy.

      To bring this back to the topic at hand: whether the shirt is small or large, the pockets and shoulders are basically cut in about the same size. We’re not pulling out rulers or tape measures to determine that a patch is two centimeters off. Common “Scouter” sense works best in all situations.

  15. I once saw a boy in my son’s troop wearing both the correct AOL patch under his right pocket as well as the adult AOL knot over his pocket. Since I really didnt know the boy, I decided to mention it in private to the SM. I was a bit annoyed that the SM didnt know which patch was appropriate for a Boy Scout, but I did what I could without calling out the boy.

    Since I have had Tiger dens for many years (6sons) I deal with patch misplacement all the time, so we just go over it with the parents when we see a problem. I don’t penalize the Tiger for misplaced patches the first few uniform inspections,as I know the Tiger himself didnt sew them on. It’s just a learning experience for a few weeks!

  16. Having spent 42 years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, 3 of those years as a member a District Inspection Team, the correct placement of insignia is important. I would have been “out of uniform” if the order of precedence of my ribbons was not correct. It really bothers me when Scouters that have been in the program for years do not know how to “set the example” by wearing the uniform correctly. There is a correct way to position square knots, and I do not like to see them upside down. I have commented to an Assistant Chief Scout Executive that his Eagle Square Knot was upside down. His comment to me was I will have the rule changed.

    With that said, I will walk up to anyone that is not wearing the uniform correctly and politely tell them what is wrong and that as a Scouter you should be setting the example and wear all of the insignia correctly.

    I do not like to see all of the pins and extraneous “stuff” on a Scout uniform. We should all take pride in the uniform and wear it correctly so that we are setting the example for everyone in the Scouting program.

  17. For the boys lucky enough to have uniforms….Just pull them to one side and show them in the book where it shows patch placement.

    Council says there is a uniform for boys in need…..I apply for them every year and every year the request go unfulfilled.

    • Bob, it’s not always like that. I have several low-income scouts (including my own) in my troop and crew. The district ScoutReach program has provided uniforms and books for all of them without hesitation.

      Sorry to hear this is not a universal phenomenon :(

      • So what you bring the hammer down on my DE and DD and then they will find away to revoke my membership……

        That is how my council rolls

        • Hey Bob!!

          Nobody’s trying to place blame here; I needed to know what local Council you belong to so I can arrange to have the number and kinds of uniforms to send your way…and also so I am not duplicating efforts of your Council in getting uniforms for your Scouts.

          Sometimes your District Director (DD) and District Executive (DE) does things behind the scenes and don’t let you know until it’s done.

          I don’t work for the BSA professionally — I’m a volunteer, just like you.

          So the ball’s in your court. You can continue to bad mouth the fact that you’re not getting any support from your local Council; or as Doug Young and I’ve said several times in this forum, what you may perceive as happening is not happening in other locations. I’ve been able to get uniform shirts, neckerchiefs, and books from several Councils — without so much as a “why”. The fact that a Scout is going to be using the uniform and book is more important.

          And my email address is listed above.

    • But since you’ve hijacked this thread with your own topic, at least tell us what you’ll do in Trail Life when a boy doesn’t have the patches on his shirt correctly. Or will Trail Life not use patches so they don’t have to address the issue? :)

  18. Our Troop Committee does a uniform inspection when a Scout comes for a Star or Life BoR. Unless there is a really glaring problem we do the board and remind him about the discrepancies which are to be corrected before the next Troop meeting. The most common thing is improper wearing of service stars – no green backing, wearing on the pocket, etc. I wish that National Supply would sell uniform shirts with the purple Fleur-de-lis already sewn on the shirt.

  19. “Hey Tristan, I know how you can help your patrol win more points on their next uniform inspection, your mom and dad and I can talk about it after the meeting …”

  20. One thing to be aware of is if a select group of Scouts all wearing a particular patch incorrectly. I saw this occur in a Troop and mentioned it to the Scoutmaster who ignored it. It turned out that these ‘Scouts’ were a part of a clique that met during school, planning bullying and harassment of other Scouts in their Troop. The Scoutmaster could no longer ignore this when the local Police department (not the patch police) became involved.

  21. The troop is supposed to be boy-lead.

    This is something I would bring up to either the patrol leader or the senior patrol leader and let them take care of it since it is part of their job. I would ensure they understand the standard. If I can, I would observe and see how they handle it.

    Then I would pass the idea for a uniform inspection. I will be a resource- I will teach but I’m not going to usurp their position.

  22. I particularly like the weekly/monthly uniform inspection, especially when there is a scheduled uniform inspection by the unit commissioner. Yes if there are any errors the scout should be made aware of the problem in a one on one situation and NEVER ridiculed in front of anyone. It was not doubt an error or not knowing the proper placement of other patches, such as Jamboree, OA, etc.

  23. Funny… after this discussion started I spent some time looking over uniforms of our scouts as they played a game this past Tuesday night. Many variations but most of the shortcomings were lack of patch rather than misplaced patch in nature. The most glaring one was the Scout who was within about 10 minutes of having his Eagle Scoutmaster Conference.. He was missing troop numbers on his shirt! Needless to say I DID point it out and he was surprised to see that as well. Apparently it was a fairly new shirt and his mother had done the transferring/sewing of patches.

    Well, we did not delay the SMC due to looming deadlines, but I DID make it very clear (as did SM during their conference) that by golly he better have them on at the BOR!

    All done in a positive vein, no hurt feelings… lesson accepted and learned.


    • A while back, I had one boy call me in a panic before his Eagle SMC in a panic because he couldn’t find his scout belt and didn’t know what to do. He was willing to drive over and borrow my son’s, but I told him to use a leather belt. It was more important to arrive on time than it was to have a web belt with a BSA buckle! If everything else was in order they’d never notice. He thanked me and went to a fruitful conference.

      It was all I could do to keep myself from calling the SM and telling him to make a point of noticing the boy’s belt during the conference. :)

  24. Nick from the UK here.

    In my County (inner City London), I have Leaders who deal with kids who have what we might politely term ‘issues’. Poverty, lack of parental involvment, drug and alcohol problems, abuse (of every kind), etc etc. Some of them are pretty hard cases. Its pretty moving to me that these boys and girls still turn up to Scouts week in week out. Now I think uniform seves a purpose; its a great leveler, and it instills a sense of belonging; and I also think there is value in getting kids to understand that its good do do things right. But frankly these kids could turn up with every badge upside down, back to front, or pinned to their behinds, and it really wouldn’t be a priority to me.

    At very short notice, I recently supported a Troop evening , and had to come straight from work, all suit and tie, and not a Scouting tag in site. I apologised to the Scouter in charge, who simply said, “Its the man inside the uniform that counts”.

    Wise man.

  25. The main two things I do are preventative:
    1) I try to lead by example and make sure my uniform is a good example
    2) We give each new family a Troop Handbook with very detailed guidance on patch placement.

    We have very few issues in the troop as a result. On the rare occasions, I pull the boy aside and explain the misunderstandings. I also let them know they can have a parent call me if there are any questions or concerns.

    I situations where I am dealing with Scouts from other units, such as during OA Chapter events, I keep it low key. Unless I have developed a relationship with the Scout, I will limit comments to significant issues and come at it from a point f sharing my understanding, giving them guidance on where they can get the “right answer,” and make sure they understand I am only doing it to help them present a good example to others.

    I also agree with Mike Walton – I HATE Badge Magic, especially when a patch is placed incorrectly. There always seems to be crude left behind when the patch is removed.

    Unfortunately, it is Scouter uniforms that seem to have the most errors and some of them are Commissioners! Professional and volunteer leadership need to work to make sure adults are setting the correct example.

    I think the patch that is most commonly misplaced is the World Scouting Crest. BSA deserves the bulk of the blame because, in the interest of space, the official diagrams never show it properly centered between the pocket and the shoulder. I would really like to see the shirts come with the World Crest already sewn on – just like the flag. I know that a portion of each Word Crest patch sale goes to WOSM, but I think that modern POS and inventory systems could handle this.

    • Hey Mike!!

      The BSA “tried” to attach the World Crest to uniforms and nobody liked it. For one, the Crest was incorrectly sewn and many times was in the wrong place. The other problem was that the BSA did not know if the shirt would be worn by a youth or adult, male or female, and the Crest would not be “in the right place” for that person. So that’s why a few years back, the BSA abandoned the idea of pre-sewing the World Crest to the field uniform.

      You’ll still find some shirts with the Crest pre-sewn however….

      The Supply Group says that the World Crest should be worn four inches above the center of the left uniform pocket button; or one inch below the shoulder seam on the left shoulder for “best uniforming”. This allows for any “square knot insignia” to be safely worn along with year pins and any other items which the BSA has developed (the old 50th and 75th Anniversary Achievement Award strips; the Centennial “ring” around the World Crest).

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