A blast from the past—in code

Get ready to dot-dot your I’s and dash your T’s.

Today, the Boy Scouts of America released the Morse Code Interpreter Strip, an official patch for Scouts and Scouters who can demonstrate their ability to “speak” this special language.

Morse Code joins languages like Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Sign Language, and several others as interpreter strips available for wear on Scout uniforms (above the right pocket).

To get a typical interpreter strip, you must carry on a five-minute conversation, translate a two-minute speech, write a letter in the language, and translate 200 words from the written word.

But Morse Code, a vital communications tool during World War II, doesn’t really work with those requirements. So Jim Wilson and the BSA team crafted new ones:

Morse Code Interpreter Strip requirements

  • The patch design spells out “M-O-R-S-E”

    Carry on a five-minute conversation in Morse Code at a speed of at least five words per minute.

  • Copy correctly a two-minute message sent in Morse Code at a minimum of five words per minute. Copying means writing the message down as it is received.
  • Send a 25-word written document in Morse Code at a minimum of five words per minute.

How to order

Call BSA Supply toll-free at 800-323-0736 and ask for Supply No. 615120.

Official requirements

Find them here (PDF).

Decode this

In closing, I’ll leave you with my thoughts on this news:

—   ••••   ••   •••   /   ••   •••   /   —•—•   ———   ———   •—•• !

Can you read that?

What do you think?

Will you or one of your Scouts try to earn this interpreter strip? Do you wear any interpreter strips now? Leave a comment below.

About Bryan Wendell 2818 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.