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In Scoutmaster patch poem, an ode to the men who wore it well

A troop’s tradition of passing the same position patch from one Scoutmaster to the next has been forever encapsulated in a beautifully written poem.

The piece, from the pen of Troop 159 Assistant Scoutmaster Nick Dorosheff, ponders the Scouting magic stored in that “small circle of tan cloth.”

I’ve become a believer in the power of poetry over the past few years as my wife completed her MFA in writing, and so this submission comes at the perfect time.

Thanks to Nick for agreeing to let me post his piece and to Troop 159 Activity Chairwoman Karen Browning for sending it to me in the first place.

Enough prose from me. It’s Nick’s poetry you should read, after the jump. Enjoy.

The Scoutmaster Patch

By Nick Dorosheff

A small circle of tan cloth caught my eye

In a shoebox of odds and ends on its way

To a dumpster behind the resale shop.

Along the top edge and in the center

An embroidered eagle spread its wings

Upon a golden fluer-de-lis.


I turned it over and on the back in faded ink

The names of Scouters who must have worn this badge

Or so I thought. Dimmed by time and laundry

Names like Dennis Robertson, Tom Gustine, Craig Reichow,

Robert Carter, Jr., and Drew Mehan and

In slightly darker ink the name Vince Woo.

I did not recognize the names. They were from long ago,

But as I held this tattered piece of cloth

I imagined the hikes, the campouts,

The one pot meals they had eaten,

The Scoutmaster conferences and Scoutmaster Minutes.

Did they agonize over what words of wisdom

They would speak at the end of troop meetings?

Did they wonder if any of the Scouts would remember

One word of what they said? Probably not,

Since example is so much more powerful

Than mere words and they knew that truth.


I started to toss the old badge back into the shoebox,

But I stopped. After all don’t we have a way

To retire with honor Old Glory once she’s waved her last?

So, I made a small log-cabin-style box of twigs

And laid the Scoutmaster patch upon it

And lit a match.

16 Comments on In Scoutmaster patch poem, an ode to the men who wore it well

  1. What a great Scouting tradition, and I’ve never heard of it. Never too late to start this tradition however. On Scout Sunday, our Troop will call out and honor the Scoutmasters from the past. One of which was the Scoutmaster back in the 1960’s.
    I will ask all former Scoutmasters to sign the back of SM patch. Thank you for this article.

  2. A tradition I will start within my Troop. I am the first Scoutmaster of Troop 727 and look forward to having many names on the back of that patch. Thanks for helping leave a legacy.

    • Nice! I thought it was a cool idea, too.

  3. May I copy this and put it on my Scoutmaster page of the Troop 459 website

  4. Just beautiful! As the first scoutmaster of a new Troop, I will definitely be doing this.

  5. Nice. I was Scoutmaster for Troop Chartered in 1952 and have often thought about the SM’s before me and the ones to come after…..if “Patches” could talk!!!!

  6. if you can find a old patch without the iron on junk that never works this would be cool. The fact that all BSA patches now have that stuff that doesn’t actually work would make it hard to start today

  7. Andreas Wesemann // January 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm // Reply

    The back is for stiffening the patch, not to iron on. I still hand sew all my patches (actually, my position patch is on Velcro, since I have multiple positions and move so often with my job…).

  8. Yesterday's Scout // January 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm // Reply

    I would not have burned the patch.

  9. That is not where I thought that poem was going. It is a tradition that I have seen to pass the patch on but to retire it in that way just blows my mind. Why would you burn such history? Why did it stop and not get passed down further. Wow.

  10. In our Troop, Troop 463 Sandy Springs, GA, the Scoutmaster wears the old style, green background, patch that has been in use for over 35 years. It is handed over to each new Scoutmaster at the swearing-in ceremony.

  11. I like the new tradition of retiring the old Scoutmaster’s patch! Fresh starts with a new patch and a new Scoutmaster. Wonderful.

  12. This is great. Now let’s give full credit. Which Troop 159? Probably every one of the 300+ councils in the BSA has a Troop 159.

  13. Adrian Karver // January 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm // Reply

    Beautiful poem. Our Pack started handing down the Cubmaster and Committee Chair patches the last time we had a transition but we did not have the names on the back. We will when the next transition comes around. Tradition and history are important to Troops and Packs and are easily lost with the constant turnover that is typically present. The poem speaks of the mystery that these traditions can create – mystery that connects us to the past and lets us realize how important that connection is. Question is, what are we all doing to build the mystery for our units?

  14. Bryan, you might want to change the title to include, “…the ode to the men AND women who wore it well”. Let’s not forget we have both.

    • Bryan Wendell // January 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm // Reply


      I’m always sensitive to this fact and am sure to recognize the outstanding female Scoutmasters in our movement in other posts about Scoutmasters. But in this case, I’m referring to the specific patch belonging to the Scoutmasters of that specific troop. And those all happened to be men.

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