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!


  1. Flogging? No, that doesn’t seem right. Probably something about that in the GtSS. 🙂

    I’d take him aside, mention it, and give him a week to fix it.
    Mom probably sewed it on for him and didn’t know. Getting the mirror image thing correct in one’s mind is sometimes tough if you’re challenged in that department.

    • And after browsing Clarke’s blog, I must disagree. For the love of everything good in the universe, DO NOT USE BADGE MAGIC! It’s evil.
      It will ruin the fabric and eventually fall off after several years.


      • I TOTALLY agree. My husband still uses it sometimes, much to my aggravation but he is not the fan he used to be. It wasn’t until he saw some uniforms where the patches had been removed that he changed his mind. Dry cleaning instead of washing can help get it off though.

        • We use badge magic for convenience, since no one in the house really sews. We use patch magic to place new patches then take them to our dry cleaner who has a seamstress on staff. She’ll sew the patches on for us then they will dry clean the shirts to remove the badge magic. Take note though, it has to be a dry cleaners that uses the PERC method. The PERC method desolves all of the glue from patch magic without any residue or discoloration.

      • If you don’t like Badge Magic, which I agree, use velcro on the rank patch and the position patch. That way as the Scout or Scouter advances or changes positions in the troop all you have is sewing the velcro on the patch. you can get this done for about $2 per patch. There is tan velcro that is nearly invisible on the Scout shirts. Do not use the sticky back velcro, sew the velcro to the shirt.

      • We use badge magic but just enough to hold it on, then either break out the needle and thread or take it to the taylor to be properly sewn.

    • Flogging, no. But we have uniform inspections the first meeting of the month. Every scout is shown where he can find information on proper placement of badges and awards when they join the troop. One point for each item that’s correct, two for rank, position and deductions for missing or improper placement. For new scouts, there are no points taken away for there first inspection, but a patrol leader may lose a handful for a misplaced rank badge. The patrol with the most points is rewarded with advantages on the next camping trip or patrol competition.

      What’s happened is that they now have mock inspections at patrol meetings and the troop looks sharp whenever they’re in the field uniform. Most patrols now have perfect scores, and when they don’t it’s usually because someone forgot and wore a Class B.

  2. Bryan,

    If one Scout has it wrong, chances are others do as well. It’s not fair to single out a Scout, especially when they may have not made the mistake themselves. As a Pack Committee Chair, I will email the entire Pack with guides such as the one you linked, or directly to bsauniforms.org. It’s just a friendly way to let parents know and you don’t embarrass a Scout in front of his friends.

  3. I would definitely not be in favor of making his mistake public among the den. It would be embarrassing to the Scout, which is contrary to our goal for Scouting to be a safe place. I lead Cub Scouts, so their parents are probably ones showing the badges on. I would mention it to the parents only after I had the exact guidelines ready to cite to them (and perhaps an example to show them, such as an excerpt from the Insignia Guide).

      • Pushback comes in at least two forms here. I’ve seen both. The first is the parents give an excuse of some type, “Well, that’s the best I can do and it’s staying.” The other common one is simply to agree to make the change – then do nothing about it. I’d personally rather deal with the first. That’s a statement I can address with a solution. The latter is a passive-aggressive battle that I’d just assume not enter into (although to be fair that hasn’t been a common response).

        • I feel sorry for the scouter in both these cases. It says that “I don’t care if I get my son’s uniform correct.” I then try to point out to the parents the uniform should be a point of pride for the Scouter and that eventually the other Scouters are going to notice. Then the uniform becomes an item of embarassment for the Scouter.

      • Brian, How about those scouts that should know better.
        Like at a BOR (or even a EBOR).
        All to often you get the tired “cop out” of, “well a uniform is not required” (this said of the scout with $150 shoes and the latest I-phone).
        National should put a big * next to that notation (uniforms not required) and say that it was never intended to have the uniform an optional, just that the cost (financial hardship) should not discourage/prohibit a boy from scouting.

  4. Regular uniform inspections using uniform inspection sheets will avoid singling out individuals and help prevent mistakes in the future.

    • One of the things I show my parents (I’m a Tiger Leader) is my own shirt. I explain where the basic patches go and what each of them means. This goes along with explaining where the patches go for their advancement. I have also given out patch sheets that show where the patches go on the uniform.

  5. I tell the parents, off to the side, of each my cubs what is in the wrong place. I encourage correct placement but as long as it is neat (not crooked) I’ll live with it. I never single out anyone.

  6. I’ll pull the scout aside and mention the mistake. I have copies of the uniform inspection guides with at the meetings and I’ll send a copy home with the scout and ask him to correct it for the next meeting.

  7. Uniform inspections.

    At the troop level, it’s how we fix uniform deficiencies. If the uniform isn’t worn correctly, then the SPL or the Inspector (always a youth Scout leader, never an adult) can point out the errors. For example, on any given week, the SPL or Inspector will point out one particular part of the uniform that he sees wrong on a Scout’s uniform (upside-down patch, lack of patch, no necker) and use that as a learning tool.

    If Timmy has his rank patch wrong, the SPL/Inspector will say “OK, I am looking for correct Rank patches, patrol patches, and socks tonight” Then a point system for those who are all in uniform correctly.

    It works for us.

    • As an SPL of my troop this is exactly what we do.

      If I see something out of place I will go up to them before opening and ask them what is wrong with their uniform. Also we have a 6 point system for every meeting.

      A point for hat, shirt, neckerchief(with slide), pants/shorts and belt (if shorts must have socks otherwise you don’t get the point), and being there.

      If you get all of that the scout gets 6 points with a minimum of 1 point. Although give new scouts at least 3-4 meetings to get a uniform before questioning them to much, as long as they know they need it their fine.

  8. Regarding the badge magic issue…yes it makes it easier to just stick the badges on, but to get the glue removed we have been told to take the shirts to the drycleaners and that they can get the glue removed. Haven’t tried it myself…but others said this works.
    As a leader, when any new scout joined my den I always gave the parents the handout with the badge placement on it. And when they moved up to Webelos and switched to the tan shirt…I did a refresher course for my parents…..so that they wouldn’t put all the cub scout badges on the tan shirt. Bringing in an actual shirt with the proper placement is helpful for the parents…especially when they are first starting out.

    • I took mine to to the cleaners and had them use the “perc” solvent on it while cleaning. It removed every trace of Badge Magic from the shirt and the patches were completely reusable afterwards. I found that tip on the Badge Magic website.

  9. A public flogging is warranted. (Just kidding). There certainly is no need to make a mountain out of a mole hill or embarass the scout publicly. However, it is important that “Uniforming” is one of the tools of the BSA and should be given importance as well. If the situation involves a Cub Scout Pack, I would recommend making a discrete mention of the situation to the applicable Den Leader. If it is a Boy Scout Troop, that same discrete mention to the Patrol Leader or possibly the SPL. Bring the applicable individuals who should be making these observations/corrections into the process without hoopla. One other point to consider would be uniform inspections conducted on a regular (annual or semi-annual) basis. That not only emphasizes the importance of uniforming, it literally forces scouts and parents to look at uniform requirements, including patches and placement. A close look at the BSA Uniform Guide would amaze most readers that it even contains an inspection checklist for scouts, parents and units to use. Who ‘da thunk it?

  10. BSA has been selling plastic “Oval Emblem Holder” that use the button that is no longer on the Centennial uniform. They use the button that is on the right pocket instead. We heard a lot about that.

    • I personally have a strong dislike for those plastic hangars on any uniform. They give the impression, “Hey, just passing through here. This is not important enough to commit the time and effort.” They send the wrong signal to the scout and everyone around him.

      • I recommend their use especially for patches that are worn on the Right pocket, the “Temp” position. In that case,the patch is “just passing through”. Many patches have loops/dangles to hang on the pocket button, however, the newer uniforms either do not have this or the button is not secure enough to prevent the patch from being lost.
        Lost patches, create another problem in itself, the scout not wearing it afraid of losing it and the difficulty of replacing it.

    • Stormadvisor: the reason why the button on the left pocket was removed is because the insignia on that pocket is designed to be WORN on the left pocket, not dangled from the pocket. The items on the right pocket are TEMPORARY IN NATURE, and therefore the button to allow a temporary patch to be hung from that button was appropriate.

  11. When I was a scout, i had seen all of the above including run laps and being asked to leave for not having it right. I had one scoutmaster who had been a drill instructor and was very serious about the uniform My eldest is a cub now and I see so many kids who don’t have anything sewn on but multiple things safety pinned on.

    • We had a Cubmaster that actually STAPLED his patches on. I have no idea why and he just made a joke and said he didn’t have time. He is no longer in scouting.

  12. Treat Tristan with respect. Don’t dress him down, but build him up — groom his leadership by example. At an inconspicuous moment, quietly and discreetly pull Tristan and one if his buddies aside and have them inspect each other’s uniforms. Leave them to identify similarities and differences. Allow them to discuss and resolve to take action they believe appropriate. (Wood badge, 1989)

  13. We occasionally have uniform inspections at meetings and we use that as an opportunity to point out items such as incorrect patch placement. They lose a point or two in the inspection if the patch is not in the correct location, but still get some credit for having the patch. I also remind them in a SM conference if I notice things and ask them to get it updated when they can. We are a full uniform Troop (seems oddly rare these days in lots of places) so we do a fairly good job with uniforming.

  14. Love Clarke Green’s unofficial blog! Unfortunately his pdf didn’t include the ‘Centennial’ sleeve pocket which places the ‘trained’ patch ABOVE one’s position patch, on the pocket flap instead of under. It got pointed out to me during summer camp by another leader that I was wearing it incorrectly. It worse when the person sitting at the next table over is incorrect so I had to find another way. Should be in the Camp Scout Shop or the staff should know, you would think. Never saw a staff get so worked up over a patch! Their reference was the Scout handbook which is also incorrect. I exited out of that conversation as there really is no need for heated discussions. Ended up having to google and print the pages. Delivered those pages quietly to the other leader and the Scout shop to prove I had done my homework before placing.

    Patch placement can take on a life of its own and become a heated discussion as rightness needs to be proven for some. I think a quiet approach is best while having a copy of the pdfs of both the centennial pocket sleeve uniform and the old standard uniform. One needs to point out that even when ones is different that one needs to take it a step further in researching since not all Scout stuff is correctly updated. (Hopefully the new handbooks editions will be.)

    • Many times it is not just patch placement. Often if a patch is wrong there are other issues with the uniform. How do you wear your merit badge sash? When can you wear your OA sash? Should you wear your hat indoors (Cubs)? As has been noted, even leaders have trouble with their patch placement sometimes.

  15. “Praise in public, criticize in private.” Don’t single out the scout in public.

    Usually it just takes a casual mention when there’s a quiet moment, but I’d prefer to have the SPL do it.

  16. Public flogging of any time is never recommended, but it all depends on the magnitude of the transgression if it should even be mentioned. We all know the uniform police in our units, districts, councils, OA lodges, etc. Some measure to the millimeter and are not shy about mentioning any vistage of transgression. If the uniform is blatantly wrong, some coaching is warranted, by the youth leadership if possible. We have to keep in mind that in some cases, Timmy Cub Scout has to affix his own emblems to his uniform and it may take him quite some time to do so. Moving a rank to the correct pocket is probably warranted, but moving it 1/4 inch to the right is probably not. As several posters have mentioned, semi-regular troop/pack uniform inspections help to point boys in the right direction early.

  17. Doing a troop inspection as a UC, I saw that one of the Scouts had the MBs on the wrong side of the sash–because he was wearing it over the wrong shoulder. I asked him if it was correct. “It’s what the SM said.” So we asked the SM: “It’s wrong?” So we looked in the BSHB and discovered that, if the BSHB is the only reference, there was no way to tell which shoulder. So we caucused with the mom, apologized profusely, but explained that it really needed to be done correctly. All done with good humor. Fortunately, it was a young Scout with only about 8 MBs. Ended up ok.

    • My mother sewed on my son’s merit badges on to his sash on the wrong side, she thought it was supposed to be on left shoulder. What I did, other than take them off and sew them on again, I cut the end and sewed it back together the correct way. So far, no one has noticed that is is a tad shorter.

  18. This is handled in our Troop through regular inspections. Our Inspections are conducted by the SPL. He inspects the Patrol Leaders and the Patrol Leaders inspect the patrol. The Scoutmaster inspects the SPL.

  19. I would pull aside the SPL and have him address it with the scout on the side, no way I would have it done in front of everybody else.

  20. My husband created a uniform game a few years ago for our Cubs – felt board uniform and felt emblems. We divide the boys into teams and have them race to get the emblems on and in the correct locations. It helps everyone know where items belong in a fun way so there are fewer errors to correct.

  21. Along these lines, I have my own troop under control, but what do you do when you see other scouts with problems with their uniforms. My biggest problem is when I see camp staffers wearing their eagle medal around at summer camp.

    • Can someone provide an official BSA link that describes the protocol for wearing the Eagle Medal? All I can find is information on the proper placement of the medal but not the protocol of wearing the Eagle medal.

      • Tara wrote and asked:  “Can someone provide an official BSA link that describes the protocol for wearing the Eagle Medal? All I can find is information on the proper placement of the medal but not the protocol of wearing the Eagle medal.” Tara!! There is no official “protocol” for the Eagle medal, except that it is worn formally and the cloth patch (for youth under 18) or square knot emblem (for those older than 17) should be worn.  However, go to http://www.scoutinsignia.com/eagmedal.htm for information on how and when to wear it.

          Hope this helps!   Settummanque!


      • Tara wrote and asked:

        “Can someone provide an official BSA link that describes the protocol for wearing the Eagle Medal? All I can find is information on the proper placement of the medal but not the protocol of wearing the Eagle medal.”

        Hi Tara!! There is no official “protocol” for the Eagle medal, except that it is worn formally and the cloth patch (for youth under 18) or square knot emblem (for those older than 17) should be worn. However, go to http://www.scoutinsignia.com/eagmedal.htm for information on how and when to wear it.

        Hope this helps!

        • Thank you Mike! That is the information I wanted…the how and the when to wear it. This site is a great resource. Thank you everyone.

  22. I have sent out the information on proper badge placement. Each family gets a troop handbook with the information in it when he joins. I try to remind the newer scouts that the information is there on occasion. Most parents sew them where they think they go because they don’t know. If we get the information to them and remind them on occasion it should work. I occasionally mention in a joking manner “you know that badge doesn’t belong on the uniform”. The older scouts sometimes say they will fix it or I don’t care. Usually they get nervous about it when Eagle Board time comes but mostly nobody ever says anything to them so it stays incorrect. Personally I’d like to see the World Crest come already sewn on the shirt. It would also help if the Totin’ Chip and Firem n’ chit were not shaped like pocket flaps. Everyone thinks they go on the flaps and they don’t.

  23. Most of the comments show we have great people out there as Scout Masters. When my son first started Boy Scouts, I sewed his badges on but made sure he had to tell e wear they went. If the boys are reading their books, they should know were they go. In JROTC now and Senior Patrol Leader, he and the older scouts go over the uniform with new scouts. They learn together and help each other look good. It’s all a learning process as any good Scout lead troop should be.

  24. The one time I saw it happen was when a scout appeared before me for his Eagle Board of Review. I am the District Eagle Coordinator. I requested he stand in front of a mirror and look at his uniform and see if there was anything wrong. The mirror was already in the room. He looked for about 30 seconds and said there was nothing wrong. I pointed out that his rank insignia was on the wrong pocket and upside down. He said oh and explained that he stood in front of a mirror at home and put the patch on then looked down turned it around so it was right side up for him looking at it and sewed it on. We got quite a laugh about it. He did great on everything else and is now and Eagle Scout. We still laugh about it.

  25. It’s easier to correct this ‘problem’ before it becomes a problem. All incoming Scouts parents (or guardians, to be politically correct) are handed a copy of the uniform sheet, page 2 that lists proper placement of patches. Also, a cover letter explaining that there are two meanings to the word uniform. First, the uniform itself, but more important ‘THE SAME.’ The push-back parents will push back on almost anything you tell them, uniforms, behavior, preparation for trips, events, etc. The proper placement of patches can also be handled at the Patrol meeting level. There’s nothing wrong with the boys learning how to sew on patches correctly. Yes, they may be a bit off-center, but they are in the proper location. Many, many years ago, a local tailor / cleaning shop offered a discounted price to sew the patches onto new uniforms (council strip, troop number, patrol insignia, etc.)

    As another poster said, ‘Praise in public, correct in private’

    Steve E. Long Island, NY

  26. Proper patch placement is all important the main reason that mistakes are made is lack of communication. Uniform inspections are all important and when a new scout is given his registration form they should receive an printout of where to place their patches at the same time along with the local source for uniforms and guidence, a Boy Scout Council. My biggest peeve is scouts who do not tuck their class A’ shirts inside their pants. It stands out more to me than a misplaced patch this includes some adult leaders. When I see a scout or adult leader with their class A’s outside of their pants I ask them to tuck it in no matter where we are at . A scout who follows proper uniform protocol will more likely to have great success in scouting.

  27. Scouts? Heck no (unless they are an Eagle Scout). Kids make mistakes, kids learn from mistakes.

    Scouters? That’s something different; they KNOW better.

  28. 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.

        • The BSA follows the United States Flag Code, not military insignia protocol. The flag is correct per the flag code.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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*.

      • What’s wrong with a sewing machine? I sew on my son’s badges. We tried Badge Magic and it ruined his Cub shirt – and my daughter’s Cadette GS uniform sash. It doesn’t take any longer to run the sewing machine than to use that nasty Badge Magic.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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 . . .

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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!

  43. 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.

  44. 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? 🙂

  45. 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.

  46. “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 …”

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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. 🙂

  51. 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.

  52. 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).

  53. I just got back into scouting and had my son crossover last week. I have properly applied his patches to his uniform and properly have attached them to my leadership shirt. (I am registering to at our council to be a leader as well) My question is that can me and my new boy scout wear the centennial ring around the World Crest even though neither of us were registered scouts in 2010? I have purchased 4 centennial rings from ebay since our council store was out of them for our four uniforms, but the boy scout troop “sewing lady” mentioned the “ring” was ONLY for scouts who were actually boy scouts in 2010. From what I have read and searched on internet I have not found this as a restriction just a supply problem. I am in St. Louis Area Council in Mo. Could the council have its own ruling with its own stipulation that may be contrary to others? Yes I know I could call them in the morning but wasn’t just going to rely on the receptionist answering the phone.

  54. When you notice a patch on wrong or in the wrong spot, remember that the chance that the boy is the one that put it there is very slim. Friendly, courteous, and kind take precidence here. A great method is to have your scout book and show the sower of the patch the inside cover, chances are they never knew there was a specific place. Also do the best you can to have all your leader patches in the correct location.

    As far as the centenial ring, it was originally a limited time item but was brought back by popular demand. There is no restriciton that I am aware of regarding the wearing of this ring. I is simply a anniversary reminder of 100 years of scouting.

  55. R.D….there are TWO (three if one includes BOTH versions of the Centennial Ring patch; and FOUR if one includes the Jamboree ring patch — but I’m not going to even talk about that emblem because it’s not supposed to be worn any more…)

    The Messengers of Peace ring patch goes around the World Crest and may be worn by anyone — youth or adult — who have participated in a Messenger of Peace project. More about the Messengers of Peace world wide project can be obtained at

    There are TWO Centennial Ring emblems. The first version was created in connection with the Centennial of the BSA in 2010. This one has the wording “Boy Scouts of America”, “1910”, “2010” and “100 Years”. Wear it if you desire; it is designed for PERMANENT WEAR and does not depend upon whether a person was registered with the BSA in 2010 (the original idea), went to the Jamboree, or other silliness. If you were alive and a registered part of the Boy Scouts of America in 2010, you can wear that ring over (on top of) your World Crest emblem.

    The second version was released in 2013 because many people were “told” that the only people who got to wear the Centennial ring were those individuals who were actually *registered with the BSA* in 2010; or who went to the Jamboree; or some other silliness. The current version, which also can be worn by youth and adults, is IDENTICAL to the first version except for the removal of the “1910” and “2010” wording, replaced by stars; and the wording at the bottom “Since 1910”.

    You have to make a choice as to which one you want to wear. Personally, I like the second version — more permanent than the first version.

    I’ll update the Badge and Uniform Site with images of ALL FOUR “rings” so you can tell the difference between them. All of the rings (except for the Jamboree one, which was supposed to be removed by those who attended the Jamboree back at the end of Feburary 2011 and saved with your other Jamboree items) may be worn, ONE AT A TIME as a PERMANENT ITEM on your field uniform.

    (http://www.scoutinsignia.com/jambo100.htm is a page showing as many of the Centennial Jamboree items as I have)

  56. As far as I am concerned, boys older enough to be in boy scouts should be sewing their own patches. I would rather it look a little messy and done on their own, than look perfect by someone else’s effort.

  57. Regarding Badge Magic, I sew for many of our cub scouts who do not have access to a machine whose parents used the stuff to apply patches prior to asking for my help. We also purchase second hand uniforms for our scout closet that often have the patches glued on. I despise the stuff too, but I’ve learned that Goof Off and Goo Gone applied repeatedly work wonders! I scrub with the grains of the fabric using a tooth brush and also a plastic, party knife. Of course, several washings occur in all of this, but I LOVE being able to hand “my” scouts a uniform that I’ve taken pride in. I reminded a mom not too long ago as she was complaining about sewing patches on that these little things are SO important! They are marking our sons’ growth and accomplishments. I know that they take pride, too, in their uniform when we, as leaders and parents, show them how much we respect what it means! (And yes, I’m the mom who will say to the kiddo whose patches have been pinned on for weeks after they’ve earned them, with the parent present of course, “why don’t you let me take that home afterwards and sew them on for you so that you don’t lose your pins? I have lots of sewing to do this week and adding this would be an honor and privilege.” Usually it’s the super busy working parents and they have no problem handing the uniform over then! They almost seem relieved. I love helping the boys & their families on their journey even if it’s as simple as sewing a patch on.)

  58. My solution is to head the problem off at the pass: when the badge is presented to the scout, before I place it in his hand, I tell him–and all the others present–where it goes (and why if necessary) and hold it over the proper place on his uniform while I tell him. I have found it greatly reduces the number of instances of this sort. Combine that with regular uniform inspections and the trouble disappears.

  59. Very simple, actually. Email the entire troop a link to the proper placement of all the stuff. Hand out a flyer of proper placement to entire troop at a meeting. Have a uniform meeting where different scouts bring in old shirts and teach others where to place insignia. Have a fun contest with prizes for proper placement.

  60. My son who is a scout is usually the first one to notice and he asks if he can speak to off to the side for a moment. When they are out of earshot of others he will inform the scout of the problem.

  61. Every 4-6 weeks my sewing machine would magically follow me to a meeting. If they needed a patch sewn they were advised to wear a troop T shirt under the uniform one. Some of the other Moms would unsew patches. The boy was instructed to wash the shirt before the next meeting.
    Never, never ever patch glue or heat and nondescript on a shirt.

  62. Why are we having this conversation anyway? If you’re using the Patrol Method, then the Patrol Leaders should be addressing this with their Scouts. Otherwise, the SPL and ASPL will take this up with their Pstrol Leaders (and the troop as a whole) with regular uniform inspections and recognitions for those scouts with “squared away” uniforms.

    Let the Scouts lead on this topic.

  63. As a Cub Scout leader, I am CONSTANTLY seeing uniform errors, typically because mom didn’t listen when told where everything goes. I always simply find the parent at some point, lean over and say, ” Hey, when you have a chance, abc, xyz is wrong, this is how it needs to be changed. Not the end of the world tonight, but when you have a chance. Let me know if you get confuzzled, I’ll help you out.” Or, depending on what the issue is, I’ll refer them to the lady the Scout Shop has a sewing contract with, as I consider her the “expert on all things sewing on Scout uniforms.” Once I’ve brought it to the parent’s attention, I leave it at that. I do the same thing for the Boy Scouts, the rare time I see something that I KNOW is wrong (I’m a cubbie leader, I’m not 100% confident about the older boys’ uniforms), with a point out to the Scout, and a back up to the parent, in case the Scout forgets or gets confused. No big scene, and once I catch one parent, they tend to update the other parents they know making the same error.

  64. I will take him aside and ask him to fix it before the next inspection night. No need to say anything broadly. If it’s still a problem at the next inspection, then I will drop his parents an email and let them know that the scout and I had a conversation and suggest they ask their son if his uniform patches are correct. That way, the boy still owns getting it fixed even if I do have to involve the parents – especially for younger boys.

    I will also make mention of it when we circle up at the end of the meeting as a general comment for all boys to be responsible for their uniforms and to make sure their patches are up to date and correct on their uniforms.

  65. When I was a scoutmaster this is what I did. I had become SM by default of a troop in decline after a nasty split. Most of the handful of boys were from broken homes, rebelious, hurt, angry etc… I discussed with them that apperarence matters because for most folks perception is reality… They didn’t like how folks looked down on them as individuals and as a troop. If they wanted folks to respect them they would need to make some changes in their attitudes, appearance and conduct. I told them that for now on their uniforms needed to be perfect each week. If they showed without shirt they would be sent home. I gave them a uniform guide and walked through the guide and showed them one of my shirts. I got the moms to agree to my tough love stance and to not do any of the sewing for them. (My grandmother taught me to sew my patches, repair a hem and replace buttons in the 6th grade). I also told them that if they came to meeting with patches in wrong position that they would have to sit out the meeting w a seam ripper, needle and thread to fix it. The plan worked. Within the 3 week deadline to full implementation of policy every boys shirt was perfect, clean and pressed. I made other changes and the troop grew from 7 to 66 in just 4 years (it was one of the largest in council when I stepped down). As new Scouts joined, troop leaders would talk with them about what was expected concerning uniforms. I personally explained to parents the importance of uniforms and that boys need to learn to do for themselves if they are to become men of character. It was easy getting dads to support fully, moms took some work but after hearing from the original set of moms about the positive changes they had seen they signed on.

  66. I typically don’t see patches in the wrong place as much as I see the results of the youth doing it themselves, badge magic, gorilla glue, super glue etc. Doing it themselves isn’t a bad thing but using glue doesn’t really work out well. I will usually help them sew patches on by either providing material and showing them how to do it or by offering to sew them on with a machine. I worked for my Council’s summer camp this past summer as the Trading Post manager and I had my sewing machine set up in the backroom.

  67. We usually shun the kids in my unit that perform deliberate acts of shame against the unit. Sometimes we’ll resort to more simple tactics like peer pressure (getting the youth to get their wayward peer in line) or we just mock him until he quits the program. We can’t have bad examples, lazy minded kids or the weak infesting the troop.

  68. When this happens, I take the Scout *and their parent* aside to explain what is out of place. I compare it to a sports uniform. What would a team do if you showed up without the right pants or if the league emblems weren’t placed properly? That usually illustrates the point. Common sense is more influential than the 100 manual.

  69. Just hand the offending scout a uniform inspection checklist/form… let him know there are discrepancies and let it go (off to the side of course!)

  70. The uniform is an integral part of the scout program. The handbook has enough information regarding patch placement. The Insignia Guide should be part of the troop library. This issue needs to be part of the troop’s program. This is an issue that can be handled by the SPL and Patrol Leaders with a bit of guidance regarding how to approach the subject. The troop can have a uniform presentation at a meeting. Parents can be advised not only to buy a uniform but where they can find the information as to proper patch placement. Your local Scout Shop can be engaged in being helpful with patch placement. A gentle comment at a court of honor, “this Tenderfoot patch will look great on your left pocket” will go a long way. And my favorite, our committee taught the boys to sew their own patches. I have given this much thought since I saw an ASM was seething during the service at a Scout Sunday waiting for the program to be over so he could pounce on a scout in public for having his name tag upside down.

  71. We created a ‘uniform inspection station’ at every pack meeting. An adult leader and/or den chief runs scouts through with a stack of blank uniform inspection sheets which are scored accurately and sent home with Mon and Dad. The inspection is completely voluntary and each scout who participates gets his name entered into a drawing for a small prize. Eligibility for the prize drawing is tied to participation in the inspection and NOT the number of points received. It’s a non-threatening way to teach the boys the importance of a proper uniform. Names stay in the bucket all year so odds of winning increase based on him many inspections they take part in. Slowly, we’ve seen an increase in proper patch placement and a huge number of boys wearing the pants, socks, belts, etc. Most improper uniforms are due to lack of knowledge on the parent’s part.

  72. Workplace, scouting, classroom it shouldn’t matter. Praise in Public, Correct and Criticize in Private. During uniform inspections let the adult leaders or senior scouts address uniform changes individually but bring bring one or two of the shining stars forward as an example.

  73. I personally would just take the scout aside and let him know about the proper placement. Also possible refer them to the resources available to show proper placement of patches and insignia. There are more than one site that makes this information available.
    I did see someone talking about the evils of badge magic! We had been handed down a nice veteran uniform shirt for my son. Unfortunately it was covered in badge magic spots. Our Cubmaster (my son is a Webelo) told me to use Goof Off. Any hardware store should have it. I used a cotton ball and surprisingly t came right off. Just in case there was any chance for greasy spots I used Simple Green Degreaser sprayed on the areas where I removed the spots. Worked perfectly! Thought I might pass that on in case someone else needed it!

  74. Well truthfully this should never happen and if it does then the leader did not inform the new scout or any scout that in the books it shows how things are to be placed on the uniform. But should the problem arise then wait till after the opening and take the scout aside and talk to them about it and re-show them in the book about the uniform patch placement diagrams.

  75. This is an easy question. Just ask yourself how you would like a colleague treat you in a similar instance. You would expect the courtesy and kindness of being taken aside discretely and advised of the problem. Take a boy and embarrass him — intentionally or unintentionally — in front of his peers? What kind of young men do we expect to turn out if that is how we show them how to treat people?

    As to who sews on the patch and how — what is wrong with a boy learning how to sew on a patch or replace a button? Again, what kind of young men do we expect to turn our if they can’t take care of themselves?

  76. Go over Uniform Guide in a parent meeting – and have the adults check their son’s uniforms before the next meeting. Also at the same time have the SPL and ASPL or Instructors go over placement of the patches with all of the boys. That way you are covering both ends and everyone is on the same page.

  77. This is a wonderful quote used in Eagle Ceremonies by our troop. The growth of the scout means so much more than proper patch placement.

    “​We have just presented an Eagle badge. The badge is a mark of identity. It is a thing of beauty. Yet, it is only a combination of cloth and metal that will fade into the dim distance in the light of the ideals for which it stands.”

  78. As a first time Cubmaster I would not single the scout out. I would mention it to the entire Pack. Giving the right sight to go to and get it corrected. It’s a simple mistake easily correctable.

  79. Maybe put Velcro on the rank place on a youth shirt, and make patches with Velcro backs – you would never have to sew on a rank!

  80. I’d be happy if I could get some of my parents to sew anything on anywhere. We pin ranks on upside down until the scout does a good turn. I have at least 2 boys who have had there Bobcat pinned to there shirt for 6 months now.

    On a side note, how does a scout make it to Life without knowing where the rank sewn on?

  81. Ok, now, how do you motivate the boys to actually care about having the uniform in the correct placement? I’ve pointed it out to boys, and they simply don’t care. They like the patches where they’re at.

    Parents now a days seem not to really care much either.

    Why doesn’t the BSA make/sell uniforms with velcro in the patch locations, much like military uniforms? Then sell velcro insignia so that they’re easy to swap out?

  82. we all err, someone please point out when I do, the same goes for them just let them know about it and pass along to parent nicely. No need to make an example unless it isn’t fixed promptly.

  83. I would do the following (at least at the first court of honor):
    1. Tell the recipients and the parents what it is their son is receiving and where it goes on the uniform.
    2. I would send a uniform inspection sheet home with the recipients to show where the patch goes on the uniform.
    3. I would also let them know about the products out there that they should avoid (Badge Magic or Patch Magic) and why I do NOT recommend these products. The glue destroys the fabric on the uniform.
    4. If there are people in the district or council who provide a service to sew patches on the uniform, I would definitely let them know who does this and how to get in touch with them.

    I might do this at more than the first court of honor (especially if I notice badges in the incorrect place on the uniform).

  84. When I was a scout one of the reasons I quit scouting was regular uniform inspections and car camping. I was looking for canoeing, backpacking and adventure. I got standing in line being judged and s’mores.

  85. No way would I ever call the scout out in public.

    I would find a way to let them know where nobody else would hear, and ask them to get it fixed. If I see it a third time still not fixed, I will drop a parent a quick email that says “Please ask your son if there’s anything on his uniform that needs to be fixed” so that the parents don’t come down on the Scout but just reminds him that he needed to say something to them.

    Remember that at least half of what a Scout is told at a troop meeting goes in one ear and out the other.

  86. The next Troop meeting after a CoH is our sewing meeting. Parents bring in sewing machines and Scouts learn how to use the machine and to sew by hand. This time allows the Scouts to remember the events it took to earn the patch they are sewing on. And it’s a good skill to know.
    Scouts learn the appropriate placement.

  87. I try to head the problem off at the pass by telling them where on the uniform the badge goes as part of the presentation of the award at the Court of Honor or Pack Meeting, and I hold it up to that place on their uniform before I hand it to them for all the audience to see.

    When I run into a scouter or scout from another unit with insignia in the wrong place, I just ask them if they would be interested in a little tip about their uniform, to which they have universally replied in the affirmative so far. Then I just smile and tell them that the ‘X’ badge, properly worn, ought to be where ever it goes. To date they have always thanked me for the correction, though some have never bothered to change it. I figure at point at least they know.

  88. Good grief, The Boy Scouts are just kids. This isn’t the military. It doesn’t really matter where they put the patches. As long as they get them. All they are really is ornaments to show that they were at a place with the group. So what if they put their Scouting for food patch on the back of their shirt, or place their Eagle merit badge on their shoulder. So what does it matter if they place their community patch over their pocket. At least it shows where they’re from.

  89. What is the BSA stance on using the Velcro for patches on uniforms. At our scout store, they said that it is not authorized on the scout uniform. My response was, ” but you guys sell the Black Magic stuff that ruins a uniform.” I was told again, It is not Authorized! Is there anything in writing that says it is not authorized? I use it for my son’s rank and position patches and you can not tell. Looks good and a lot better than using the sticky stuff and you only have to take a patch in to be sewn.

  90. I tell everyone to stay clear of “Badge Tragic” if they have any desire to re-sell the uniform later. I recommend using white “school glue;” it is water soluble, and the patches can be loosened and re-positioned with a steam iron.

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