Honor Guard patch now available for Boy Scouts

honor-guard-patchIf you want a ceremony done right, call the Boy Scouts.

For more than a century, Boy Scout Honor Guards have added reverence, dignity and patriotism to events like baseball games, camporees, parades, inaugurations, funerals and more.

And now, for the first time, there’s an official Honor Guard patch to recognize Scouts who take on this important role.

The patch, which goes on the right sleeve, is being shipped out to Scout shops (Supply No. 621029) now. It’s also available for shipment from ScoutStuff.org. Before driving to your Scout shop, be sure to call to make sure it has the patch in stock.

Here’s what else you need to know about this new patch. 

It’s worn on the right sleeve (not left).

Unlike position patches (senior patrol leader, scribe, patrol leader, etc.), which are worn on the left sleeve, the Honor Guard patch goes on the right sleeve. It goes in one of two places, depending on which other patches the Scout is wearing:

  • A half-inch under the patrol emblem (aka “position 3”)
    OR
  • Right under (and touching) the Journey to Excellence unit award.

In this way, it’s just like the Musician badge for members of troop bands or drum corps.

honor-guard-placement-2 honor-guard-placement-1

Honor Guard members may wear it at any time.

Boy Scouts who are members of an Honor Guard may wear this patch at any time, even if they aren’t serving an Honor Guard role at that exact moment. In other words, there’s no need to remove this patch when attending a troop event that doesn’t require Honor Guard services.

And because the patch goes on the right sleeve, a Boy Scout can wear his Honor Guard patch and his regular position of responsibility patch simultaneously.

The idea started with a troop in Baltimore.

The new patch was created with help from Troop 944 of the Baltimore Area Council. Nice job, guys!

Honor Guard does not count for advancement purposes.

As is the case with the Musician patch/role, serving in the Honor Guard doesn’t count as a position of responsibility needed for advancement. What does count?

For Boy Scout troops, it’s: Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, Venture patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, troop Webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer.


Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Garfield Murden for the blog post idea.

152 Comments

    • I certainly hope the BSA will reconsider the Troop Only aspect AND consider adding requirements for wear of this patch. For years I have noted, as others have, the improper performance of a flag ceremony by Scouts. This patch should be one of honor to wear as it will signify to others by it mere appearance that the individual knows how to properly do a flag ceremony. This should be across our programs. As such, some sort of requirements need to accompany the wearing of this patch, in this Scouter’s humble opinion. Being Troop Only on helps further separate our program and especially sends a poor message of equality to our Venturers, Explorers, and Sea Scouts. ( I confess I am not certain whether this would apply to Varsity Scouts or not since they are chartered separately from a Troop and utilize different rank structure but follow the same basic Boy Scout program)

      On New Years day this year I ran a Color Guard Boot Camp and with the help of some other Scouters, taught some basic drill moves, flag etiquette, and basic presentation rules to allow for proper flag presentation in different situations. We evaluated the Scouting participants and selected 5 to participate in the flag ceremony at an NBA game that evening along with a Venturer who sang the National Anthem.

      We had a Cub Scout, 2 Boy Scouts, a Venturer, and a Sea Scout representing the Scouting program that night. Having been through this Boot Camp each, I believe, should be allowed to wear the Honor Guard patch, along with others who successfully completed the Boot Camp.

      I am working with these other youth and adult Scouters to put together a curriculum from our research, execution and lessons learned from the Color Guard Boot Camp, and feedback from others. The challenge however is that you must remember, there is no right way to do a flag ceremony (remember we are not the military – only our tradition stems from military roots) however there is a wrong way of doing things. As such we are taking an approach to develop the curriculum to show the right way of doing certain things based off of the wrong things we see. I.e. Flag always to the right, height of US Flag, not crossing other flags in front of the US Flag, pledge, oath, law (when done) are done BEFORE posting colors, etc.

      We would love to hear other points to consider that we may have missed.

      • I would appreciate getting a copy down here in Houston (Sugar Land, actually) of materials used from your Boot Camp. I’ll send you a copy of my “It’s a Grand Old Flag” powerpoing in return…my email is chs4106@aol.com

      • I would love to have a copy of your material as well. I work very to make sure our scouts understand our history and flag etiquette. I have seen so many scouts and youth who don’t have a clue about what they are doing and some that don’t understand it’s importance. Thank you for your efforts in working with these scouts.

      • I agree! I would love to see some display of basic competency required for those who are permitted to wear this honor; but even if the BSA doesn’t take that step, scout leaders still can in their own units–assuming the leaders aren’t as clueless as many of the color guards we’ve witnessed.

        I would also be interested in any info from your Bootcamp program that you might be inclined to share. I once did some comparison of flag ceremonies done by various Scout units, girl scout troops and high school ROTC color guards, and came up with what I hope is a fairly comprehensive but generic list of what to do and not to do that I use to teach flag etiquette in our district and council.

      • Bryan Wendell,

        looks like a lot of interest in sharing and comparing resources for Honor Guard boot camps, would it be possible for you to have scouting Magazine compile and present this information so that it’s readily available for everyone?

        YIS

        • The Honor Guard patch is for youth scouts only. The Honor Guard patch is available to all levels of Scouting. Unit Packs and Troops can select to have scouts perform as Honor Guard members. Districts and Councils can also select scouts to represent them as Honor Guard scouts. This is also available to other areas of scouting such as venture scouts. As far as guilde lines it’s best to select scouts that are fine examples of scouting. Scouts that are examples of the oath, law and motto of scouting. It would be best to practice and study flag etiquette and common drills. We have performed several high profile ceremonies with scouts. At each event the look of spectators watching scouts perform a flawless ceremony is priceless. These scouts represent the scout movement in front of the public.

      • SM Bucky, I would love to be able to get a copy of any of your training! I am just staring a new Cub Scout pack and want to incorporate an honor guard program within it to be able to take them to special ceremonies throughout our community. If you have something, would you mind sending it to pack313belair@gmail.com ? Thanks for your consideration!

      • SM Bucky,
        As part of my WB Ticket, I am creating a formal Honor Guard (HG) for our Troop. I too would be interested in your boot camp information, as well as any other information you have to share. Our HG has been working to learn marching steps, flag etiquette, etc. Perhaps, an HG competition is in the future. 🙂 If anyone else would like to share, you may contact me at hcbsbiz@gmail.com. Katy, TX

      • We just had our first COH as a new troop (BSA policy change had our old CO back out). My self and a couple parents were talking about training the boys the right way to do color guard and forming an official troop color guard. If you could forward any information on to bsatroop8385@gmial.com it would be very appreciated.
        Also, I stumbled across this article looking to see if there is any additional uniform items (aggullets or ascots) that can be worn for color guards.
        Thanks

      • As the SM of a smaller Troop, I’ve been considering getting together with the two other Troops in the area and forming a “Area Honor Gard” unit. I’d would really like to see your “Boot Camp” program. Please forward a copy to eaglescout.rowcliffe@gmail.com.
        Thanking you in Advance.

        R.L. Rowcliffe

      • scoutmaster Bucky thank you for doing this. I am a Cub Scout den leader and want to make sure I teach proper Flag Ceremony etiquette to my Cub Scouts. It would be nice that honor guard was for Cub Scouts as well so they could take it more seriously. Right now our current committee and cubmaster do a very run-down basic approach I think because they think the younger Scouts can’t understand it correctly. However this led to a lot of confusion when my oldest joined Boy Scouts and not knowing any of the proper formalities. While trying to find correct information so I could teach the Pack I discovered there is no real set guides online maybe because like you indicated there is no actual formal ceremony, but having something that’s understandable and relatable would be awesome thank you again.

      • Scoutmaster Bucky,

        It appears you have gone to great length and expend much effort to develop your drill program – congragulations on an effort and job well done.

        Here in Alaska, many of us would like to standardize our flag ceremony programs. If you are agreeable to share, please forward a copy of what you have developed. My goal is to develop a program including drill, flag ceremonies.

        Thanks,

        Bart Saunders

    • I agree, Robert “Popcorn Guy.”

      This is a good consideration. I know that Donovan “The Popcorn Scout” is in a Venturing Crew and we would love to offer Honor Guard as a service to the local Chamber of Commerce events, etc. doing it RIGHT would be very important and adding this to the Venturing Uniform would be an added bonus. Our Cub Scouts are doing Honor Guard for the Harlem Globetrotters in March as well. (Hopefully correctly.)

    • I, too, was upset to see so many flag ceremonies performed in an uncaring, lackadaisical manner. I have developed for our troop (hope to get a scout to present it, since I think the boys will pay more attention to a peer) a presentation on respect for the flag, flag ceremonies, folding the flag, flag retirement. I will also be making this presentation at Sam Houston Area Council’s University of Scouting event in the Houston area. I would be happy to share this with anyone who sends a note to me at chs4106@aol.com – it’s not the final word, nor is it BSA policy, but it is a start.

      The flag, which, according to the Pledge of Allegiance, stands for our republic, is deserving of respect and honor. There are standards in place to show this respect. We, as the premier organization for youth, have an example to uphold.

      In my research, I found the following links, among others, useful.
      Text of the U.S. Flag Codle [laws relating to the flag]
      http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf
      with additional comments as well, at
      http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagcode.htm
      The official citation is: United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1 §8
      The purpose of the code is to set standards as to how the flag is displayed, and how it is treated. While there are no penalties attached to the violation of the code, a Scout or Scouter respecting his Duty to Country should be expected to follow the standards contained therein.

      Additionally, more information is available at
      Flag Etiquette
      http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html
      Flag Rules and Regulations
      http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagetiq.html
      History of the U.S. Flag
      http://www.usflag.org/history.html

      It would be good if BSA developed something beyond its flag booklet on this.

      • Carey,

        This is good information on flag ediquette and proper ways to display the flag.

        My concerns come what is actually said by the “caller” when presenting the flags at an event and the movements of the Color Guard.

        My point of reference comes largely from ROTC and Military background. While I understand Scouting is not and should not be a miliary organization, the proper calling for flag ceremonies should be consistent.

        I have a couple of ‘pet peeves’ when it comes to what I have seen done at Scout flag ceremonies.

        1. The caller should not ‘instruct’ the color guard where to go. There should not be instructions like telling the Color Guard to ‘halt’, ‘cross colors’, or ‘about face’. These instructions are given by the leader inside the color guard at a low voice. Watch the upcoming Super Bowl to see an example of this.

        2. The color gaurd should never salute the flag unless the flag is posted or the flag is secured on a flag pole. The Color Guard IS the flag. They should never salute themselves. Once the flag is in its final resting position then saluting may be appropriate. However, a person in the Color Guard should not salute when giving the Pleage of Allegiance.

        3. The word ‘Retreat’ should never be used in a U.S. flag ceremony. This is a long standing tradition of the military and, in my opinion, should be duplicated in Scouting.

        I understand Units have their own way of doing things in their Unit. I am not saying I am correct in my pet peeves listed above. I am going off of military and Color Guard competition experience. However, I believe there should be some guidance provided on the proper way to do a flag ceremony in Scouting. Mike Watson mentions “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills”. This is not a book I have heard about before so I will try to find this somewhere.

        If anyone else has a reference for the specifics on what they say and how a Color Guard functions, feel free to share.

        On a separate note, Color Guards have a long standing tradition of using Shoulder Cords. Since, Cub Scouts use them for Denner and Assistant Denner, it would not be much of a stretch to have gone win Shoulder Cords versus a patch. I am certain cost was a deciding factor, but it would have avoided the confusion of position patch or not. Cords also look good in a ceremony when everyone where’s them.

      • You are absolutely correct about the flag etiquette. There are two levels of flag presentations, one would be just a color guard and the other would be your honor guard. Scouts have been performing color guard ceremonies for countries. The BSA has finally approved an Honor Guard thanks to Troop 944 out of Baltimore. As far as proper procedures most units have adopted the military or ROTC guidelines. As far as uniform items we hear you. Can scouts ware ascots, shoulder cords and other items. The answer is that scouts can only ware what has been approved by the BSA. National can approve items on a large scale, a scout executive can approve within a council. When a scout is performing and representing the BSA that scout should be squared away. The scout should have his uniform pressed and all awards in their proper place. Wearing of unauthorized items does not reflect the BSA very well or that scout. Training is key, regardless of additional items you want the scouts to know how to perform a flawless event. Most are done in silence with very confident scouts that know exactly what to do. The caller does not call direction to the scouts in flag formation. Anyone wishing to have scouts as an Honor Guard should seek the help of a leader that has a military background.

    • There’s an excellent out of print (and dated…it was made in the late 40s) book called “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills”. I have a copy on my shelf in my office; I use and refer to it a lot to answer some Scouting uniforming and customs questions. I would say that half of the book (the back half) has drills and ceremonies, largely adapted from military usage, which are designed for Scouts to use.

      • The Scout Handbook does not give instruction for a Color Guard. It only gives instructions for the audience and how to display the flag.

        In addition, I disagree with the section on saluting while raising or lowering the flag. At a USS Arizona flag raising ceremony I observed, the Color Guard saluted after the flag was secured when raising and when lowering they saluted the flag before unsecuring the lanyard from the pole not while it is being lowered as the Scout Handbook states.

        Again, Scouts are not military and this may be one way the ceremony is different. However, I think what was done at the USS Arizona looks better.

    • There really isn’t a wrong way to perform a Flag ceremony. What counts most is what is in the heart of the Scouts performing it. There are many many ways to do anyone thing. Your view isn’t the only way.

  1. Is there any clarification as to the requirements for a Scout to earn this distinction? Honor Guard should be more than just serving as Color Guard. Honor Guards in the military normally serve in ceremonies for fallen comrades or guardians of the colors at official state functions. Being part of the Color Guard for a quarterly Court of Honor, Camporee, School Ceremony, or Baseball Game seems to fall short of what I would consider as an Honor Guard. I would hate to see every Scout running around with this patch just because they participated in a Flag Ceremony. Without some type of reason, every Second Class Scout could qualify.

    • A color guard was established in our troop for use at special ceremonies. The boys practiced very hard and each got a uniform that they kept specifically for this use. They wore red, white, and blue neckerchiefs specifically for them and a special patrol patch. They were “Eagle Patrol” when doing their color guard duties. One of the best things they got to do was bring out the flag at a hockey game. They were only allowed about 6 feet, if that, onto the ice on a mat. Most people couldn’t even see them but it was still a thrill for them to do something like that at a professional sports game.

      After several presentations we were told that we couldn’t do it any more. Our council said that it had to be able to include boys from the entire council, not just our troop. We had asked other troops in our district to see if other boys would like to participate and got no takers so we proceeded on our own. (Yes, the boys had to apply and be approved by their Scoutmaster before they could participate.) What could we do?

      I love this patch.

      • Seriously, your council told you it had to include scouts from the entire council? Did they give a reason for that? Maybe I’m missing something here, but when did councils get the right to tell units what the units should or shouldn’t do, provided no BSA rules or regulations are being violated? Your council actually thinks it has the right to override a program your troop’s scouts created? Was the volunteer side or the professional side of your council that came up with this? I’d hate to think “professional” people are being paid to make such bad decisions. It’s good to see that your troop ignored your council’s poor guidance and proceeded with the program. Sounds like this council is just looking for units to come up with programs council can take credit for.

    • My question too. We have a lot of past military in our troops who regularly assist the boys in preparing for flag ceremonies to make sure they do it ‘right’.

      Like someone else said…what are the guidelines for this patch? Both for adults and the boys. And I believe Bryan said it was for troops only. Why? Seems like the other parts of scouting should be involved as well. Cubbies might be a tad young for an honor guard? They would be thrilled to get this…I know my youngest would be, but not sure if it’s appropriate for the cubs. Not saying it’s not, just holding reservation until I learn more what the requirements are.

    • I can check on that, but my guess is no. Personally, I feel the Honor Guard is more impressive if it’s made up solely of Scouts.

    • Just would like to say that the amateur radio operator strip does not go above the right pocket. That patch goes on the right sleeve. Once you become an amateur radio operator you can take the test for morse code. Once you pass that test there is a langue strip and that goes above the right pocket. Hope this helps.

  2. Being a position patch, I don’t think there are any requirements. Nor should there be.
    But, the responsibility should involve improving skills. (E.g., a musician who keeps his instrument on the shelf isn’t really deserving of a Musician patch, is he?)

    That’s where good mentoring comes in. It would be nice to have a list of the responsibilities of the honor guard. One of which should involve reading US flag code. (After all, referencing is one of the first steps in the ideal method of teaching/learning a scout skill.)

    • “Leave No Trace Trainer” is a position patch as well….and it has requirements, specifically a course that must be attended.

  3. In that case, maybe there should be an Honor Guard Adviser…..
    As a Veteran, it really does irk me when a ceremony isn’t done properly, or only done halfheartedly…
    I don’t yell at the youth, of course, but I have been know to take a HG detail aside and make suggestions on what might look better.
    Some listen, some don’t… and, of course, Scouting is not the military.
    I just remember in my old Troop, when we were in a parade, we marched… we didn’t walk; and we practiced for a couple of meetings before so we were all in-step with one another.
    It DOES look impressive when you have a Troop of 20+ Scouts, all in Uniform and ALL in step….

  4. If improving the quality of flag ceremonies is your goal, this patch can help you get there. The kids take great pride in participating, but need to be coached properly to do them well. If a boy needs to reach a certain skill/knowledge level to qualify to wear the patch, he will do his best to earn it. I agree the comment about ‘flair’ however…I wish the patch was clean and simple like an ‘interpreter’ patch, instead of another ‘billboard’ on the sleeve. Remember the old patrol leader ‘green bars’ from years ago? Clean and simple.

    • Joe, the emblem was designed to as “clean” as we could do it, by placing it on the tan background so that it would more or less “blend in” with the shirt — and from a distance, one can only see clearly the silver First Class outline and the words “Honor Guard” in green.

      The intent was also to make it interchangeable with the Musician emblem, which is similar in design and worn in the same position on the shirt.

      It is left to the unit as to “requirements” or “circumstances” in wearing it. Eventually, a standard will be met and communicated back to the National Center and in the future there will be some definitive guidance as to who wears it, how do they “qualify” to wear it, who does the “qualification” (my personal hope is that an experienced adult honor guard — like those within our veteran organizations, the military, collegiate drill team organizations like the Pershing Rifles and JROTC/NDCC units at high schools would do the “training and qualifications”) and length of wear.

  5. To answer some questions:

    “Why is this only for Troops?” The simplest answer is “because our Troops are most frequently requested to serve in that capacity”. Not to say that a Cub Scout Pack or a Venturing Crew do not ask to serve as a honor guard, just that the majority of the organizations request a “Scout Troop” to perform this honor.

    “What’s the guidelines — do we just give them a patch and say “congratulations!” or is there any training which goes along with this before we give it out?”

    The emblem is not designed to be anything but a recognition and identification piece. It was not designed to be a “Troop leadership position” (hence, where the emblem is located on the shirt). Units are responsible for training and coaching anyone wearing the emblem — and as someone else noted here on the blog, that training may take the form of a formalized training session by “someone experienced in conducting flag ceremonies” or just a review of the US Code and other documents dealing with flag ceremonies (like the Boy Scout handbook).

    “Will there be a book or manual for those serving on honor guards?”

    No. This is not a leadership position or position of responsibility; this is a voluntary unit commitment.

    Those who want a book or manual, I would point you to an excellent but OLD manual the BSA produced back in the 40s called “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills” which was part of the BSA’s “service library”. Half of the book deals with how to organize, staff and conduct various forms of honor guard service, including commands. You could probably find a copy on eBay or one of those auction sites.

    “Why can’t adults wear this?”

    Two reasons. One, because adults are not asked to serve as honor guards for community or social events; and two, because this emblem is intended to recognize SCOUTS who serve in this capacity on a routine basis.

    “When a Scout no longer serves as a honor guard member, can he keep the patch on his shirt as a recognition item?”

    That’s a unit answer and responsibility. Like with Musicians, if one no longer is serving actively in that role, the patch should be removed and retained by the Scout as a memento of his experience and service. Some units may choose to have Scouts to keep it on their shirts (and to call upon them when their services are needed).

    “Why was this emblem created if it can be awarded in such a vague manner?”

    The short answer is because we hope that over time, you — those who use the emblem in the field — will provide enough feedback to the Task Force as to its utilization; and that you will provide some suggestions on how specifically it should be worn. Once again — this is NOT AN AWARD — like the Musician’s emblem, it is a recognition and service emblem.

    Hope this adds to the conversation….if you have suggestions on it’s usage, please send them to program.content@scouting.org — they’ll be forwarded to the insignia and uniform task force.

    • I recently saw these at our local scout shop, and not having seen this article yet, I didn’t know what they were for or why and neither did our usually well-informed scout shop staff. Of course, we all guessed at something similar. So, my first question is: why is there such a large disconnect between BSA’s programs content, and communication of that content with scouts around the country? I’ll admit there was a period of my life between earning Eagle and my current participation as a Scouter and I’m learning OLD information every day because it is not well publicized. Another example: Ready and Prepared has been around since 2005, but I’ve never seen a badge or communication until last weekend (again I was rummaging around the local Scout Shop).

      Regarding the “Honor Guard” patch itself. I don’t care for the right-sleeve location. With JtE, Amateur Radio, and now Honor Guard, the right sleeve is starting to feel like a dumping ground for things for which we don’t have another good location. I’d rather they got moved to the right pocket (where JtE and Amateur Radio could get a redesign).

      • Scott wrote and asked:

        “I recently saw these at our local scout shop, and not having seen this article yet, I didn’t know what they were for or why and neither did our usually well-informed scout shop staff. Of course, we all guessed at something similar. So, my first question is: why is there such a large disconnect between BSA’s programs content, and communication of that content with scouts around the country?”

        Um…how would you want to know about new things? We have local Councils, which should be your first source as to what new things are coming out (because they get a heads up before most of us do). They post them (or should be, that’s an entirely different story!) within their newsletters, websites and social media outlets. Our publications do explain new items and blogs like Bryan’s explains new things as soon as they are made aware of them. New items are also introduced on the BSA’s Facebook and other social media forums; and people like myself share those announcements over on unofficial forums like the U.S. Scouting Service Project Inc.’s website and through groups like Scouts-L.

        What am I missing?

        (I used to accuse “National” of some of the same things you’re saying…until I was afforded a tour of the old National headquarters building in New Jersey; and a short tour/visit at the current National Center before the expansion. I understood why there’s some disconnect — because simply the building’s just so large and getting everyone together to announce new things is really tough to do! This is why we have All Hands and the National Annual Meetings)

        To be honest, I normally get a Supply bulletin which announces new items for retail sales and items which are up for review and/or approval. I missed the announcement until my email box started exploding this morning with questions about this emblem.

        “I’ll admit there was a period of my life between earning Eagle and my current
        participation as a Scouter and I’m learning OLD information every day because it is not well publicized. Another example: Ready and Prepared has been around since 2005, but I’ve never seen a badge or communication until last weekend (again I was rummaging around the local Scout Shop).”

        Really? That’s a really old award. I remember putting together an educational session in 2006 and 2007 to let my Council’s volunteers know of the award, how it’s earned and how our Council was going to handle the “verification” (application) process.

        • Please understand, I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I’m just wondering what the process is, or should be.

          As for my desired method of communication, a “one-stop shop” would be, in my opinion, best. BSA’s official website is the one I go to for all of my information, however Scouting.org is, I find, often out of date, disorganized, or simply incomplete. (Specifically, I’m speaking about the “Awards Central” page.) And, without any sort of warning, Scouting.org currently has a lot of dead-end links to documents and information. I have to assume that this is due to upcoming changes and not that someone forgot to pay the webhost this month. Instead of Scouting.org, I might try to flip through the most recent insignia guide, the last printing I could find on Scouting.org is from 2012 (which appears to be the same issue available from Scoutstuff.org), which is still missing some insignia information. As for “unofficial” sources of information, there are also a LOT of unofficial badges out there with which to get confused.

          As for the Council’s responsibility in terms of communicating program updates, well I guess I haven’t seen that yet. My experience with councils is that they are generally concerned with recruitment numbers, FOS donations and an annual event or two.

          Yes, I understand Ready and Prepared is old (the application form online indicates it was created in 2005). But, I’ve seen no mention of it at unit, district, or council level for the last 3 years in one council (with frequent natural disasters). And, Ready and Prepared is missing from Scouting.org’s Awards Central page and the 2012 printing of the Insignia Guide.

          I suppose I would mention this: a lot of this information relies or “tribal” knowledge. That is, it seems like there is at least some information that is being communicated once or twice and BSA is relying on that information being passed down from scouter to scouter after that. This is critical for those awards that are not on the beaten path to Eagle as those awards and activities can get forgotten.

      • Scott wrote in part:

        “As for my desired method of communication, a “one-stop shop” would be, in my opinion, best. BSA’s official website is the one I go to for all of my information, however Scouting.org is, I find, often out of date, disorganized, or simply incomplete.”

        The BSA is getting there, Scott. As far as uniforming and insignia issues, announcements and information, it will get better over the next couple of years.

        “without any sort of warning, Scouting.org currently has a lot of dead-end links to documents and information. I have to assume that this is due to upcoming changes and not that someone forgot to pay the webhost this month.”

        You sure about that “nonpayment of webhosting this month” thing? *hehehehee* I’m beginning to think that also from time to time when I can’t find things.

        “Instead of Scouting.org, I might try to flip through the most recent insignia guide, the last printing I could find on Scouting.org is from 2012 (which appears to be the same issue available from Scoutstuff.org), which is still missing some insignia information.”

        Yep…and the 2015 edition of the Guide to Awards and Recognitions isn’t much better… we are still working adding and modifying many things before its release later this year. We have more full color illustrations, which will help some folks, and some discussion about what to do with “older insignia”. Things like that.

        “As for “unofficial” sources of information, there are also a LOT of unofficial badges out there with which to get confused.”

        (disclaimer: in addition to what I do for Scouting nationally and locally, I am the editor/webmaster of the unofficial Badge and Uniform Site, which is used by many local Councils as well as some folk at the National Center because it is based upon BSA national information and resources; and I’m also the VP of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. which has an information-sharing agreement with the BSA.)

        On most of those sites, Scott, people have been good about labeling some insignia as “not approved by the BSA” or “not official” but I hear ya….A lot of the questions I answer on a daily basis are based upon “what I’ve seen on X’s website…”

        Anytime I’m asked about the “favorite places” to go to get information about insignia and uniforming, I start right out with “my local Council’s site”. My Council does a good job (see disclaimer above) of interpreting and sharing insignia and badge stuff with our volunteers and others… I would go there way before going to the BSA’s or even my own site. More than likely, the Councils get and share the information as soon as the National Center sends it to them. Another of my favorites is the Order of the Arrow’s site and then the US Scouting Service Project Inc., site and my own…(if you want the link, you’ll have to send email to me off-list). But my Council (Transatlantic) gives me and lots of other volunteers lots of information!

        (note to self: make sure the Ready and Prepared Award is listed; if not ask Greg why not! *smiling*)

        • You have to admit, the Transatlantic Council is unique. I know, I was once a scout in Pack 283, and Troop 77. (I’m sure the troop is long gone.)

          I’m glad things are going to improve. In the mean time, there is a lot of research to be done by people in the “less organized” councils.

    • Mr Walton,

      With all due respect to your Scouting accomplishments and reputation, I must whole-heartedly and respectfully disagree with some of your points.

      Most prolific are the generalizations. Of course more Boy Scout Troops are asked to do Color Guard, look at the membership numbers we have. But on a per ratio basis I am confident to guess that the Venturers, Sea Scouts, and Explorers do far more than Boy Scout Troops; especially in general public settings.

      This Honor Guard Patch, when worn, will ultimately be viewed as a sign of accomplishment, similar to those who wear the Eagle award. A higher level of expectancy will be there and if improper presentation is done, will reflect on the Scouting program in general. How do we minimize this from happening, some outline, guidelines, or training program with at least a minimal expectation of all who wear this patch. I would have liked to have seen a little more attention to the aims and ideals of Scouting put forth in the creation of this. In particular, “The uniform is …a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.”

      Secondly, the majority of readers here understand that this is not a position patch, which is evident by its placement on the opposite sleeve. However, you state it is an identification and recognition…. of what? My point, and I believe others share this is that, it is disappointing that there are no criteria set forth as to minimum requirements, knowledge, or skill required to put this on one’s uniform.

      It IS an identifier, and without guidelines and requirements, we risk lenient and casual wear of this recognition. When I see a young man (or a young lady I hope soon in the future) wearing this Honor Guard patch I would like to think and know that they have gone through some sort of structured training where a minimum set of skills, knowledge, and understanding exists. Without that its a patch that carries little meaning and will turn my stomach even more when I seen it worn and poorly executed flag ceremony is performed by one or all of it wearers.

      What we forget is that while our adult think-tankers come up with great ideas, I feel we sometimes forget to think about it from a youth’s perspective. I can attest with my extensive involvement in the trenches with youth across all programs that, as this stands without guidelines, some will abuse its wear (patch hounds), others will wear it with minimal or improper guidance, and MANY will ignore it because it lacks integrity in how it can essentially be worn by anyone.

      • Hi Bucky!! You wrote in part:

        “Most prolific are the generalizations. Of course more Boy Scout Troops are asked to do Color Guard, look at the membership numbers we have. But on a per ratio basis I am confident to guess that the Venturers, Sea Scouts, and Explorers do far more than Boy Scout Troops; especially in general public settings.”

        Taking out Explorers, Bucky (because Exploring is not a part of the “uniformed side” of the BSA), there are many more requests coming into local Council offices and sent to Boy Scout Troops than there are requests coming to Venturing Crews or Sea Scouts (unless the activity involves something which Venturers and/or Sea Scouts participate or are traditionally associated with). The requests come in asking for a *Scouting unit* and to most Councils, honor guard equals Boy Scout Troop.

        As I wrote to someone else over on Facebook, given time, there will be a similar piece of insignia designed for Venturers to wear; but let’s get this insignia piece out the door first.

        “This Honor Guard Patch, when worn, will ultimately be viewed as a sign of accomplishment, similar to those who wear the Eagle award. A higher level of expectancy will be there and if improper presentation is done, will reflect on the Scouting program in general.”

        This is your opinion, Bucky. I wouldn’t even try to equate this to earning Eagle. The patch was designed as a recognition and identification piece first and foremost — not as any kind of “rank” or “award”. Like those who wear the Musician emblem, it represents some *practice and skill* in representing the BSA during such events.

        “How do we minimize this from happening, some outline, guidelines, or training program with at least a minimal expectation of all who wear this patch. I would have liked to have seen a little more attention to the aims and ideals of Scouting put forth in the creation of this. In particular, “The uniform is …a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.” ”

        We (the BSA) will leave this to you and others who choose to issue the emblem to Scouts to say what should or should not be the “guidelines or training” needed.

        Remember the BSA works in small towns as well as large metro centers. The same amount of “training” or “guidance” is not always needed in a smaller community, whereby the same Scouts perform flag raisings and lowerings at a community center whereby everyone knows everyone else. Of course, the more visable the event, the more need for some sort of training or coaching. In my comments about the emblem, I stated that units — like the ones in Baltimore — should seek out folks like yourself and others, experienced with performing such ceremonies and to ask for your assistance to train and coach those Scouts.

        We’ll see how this will work out.

        “Secondly, the majority of readers here understand that this is not a position patch, which is evident by its placement on the opposite sleeve. However, you state it is an identification and recognition…. of what?”

        I’ve been fielding now 83 emails this morning about this patch. It’s plain to ME that many of those folks cannot read bold text. Bryan clearly states in this blog entry that the emblem DOES NOT COUNT as a “position of responsibility” right shoulder or left shoulder. But they are asking “when are the Eagle positions of responsibility change to add this position?”

        They are NOT. This is NOT a position of responsibility. It IS however, a position of identification and (personal) recognition. Of what? Idenitification as a member of a unit, district or Council honor guard. Recognition of his personal service as a member of a unit, district or Council honor guard.

        “My point, and I believe others share this is that, it is disappointing that there are no criteria set forth as to minimum requirements, knowledge, or skill required to put this on one’s uniform.”

        I would agree with you, except that the BSA wants the “field” to come up with this. At the same time, Musicians just have to be a member of a unit, District or Council musical group, drum and bugle corps, or similar organization to wear the Musician patch. Honor Guard holders just have to be a member of a unit, District or Council honor guard. I agree…there’s some baseline training and coaching which should be done…but let’s give our units, Districts and Councils some credit, eh?

        “It IS an identifier, and without guidelines and requirements, we risk lenient and casual wear of this recognition. When I see a young man (or a young lady I hope soon in the future) wearing this Honor Guard patch I would like to think and know that they have gone through some sort of structured training where a minimum set of skills, knowledge, and understanding exists. Without that its a patch that carries little meaning and will turn my stomach even more when I seen it worn and poorly executed flag ceremony is performed by one or all of it wearers.”

        A lot of that “structured training”, Bucky, would probably take place within the unit, District or Council whereby the Scout will be executing honor guard roles within.

        Let’s let the field, over time, determine what specifics would need to be accomplished by those wearing the insignia.

        • Mike,

          One point I’d like to make. How many people outside of Scouting know the difference between a Pack, Troop, Crew, or Ship? I still have Cub Scout parents referring to the “troop” when talking about a pack. I didn’t know what Venturing or Sea Scouts were until I joined scouting years ago. I just know most call any type of scouts “Boy Scouts”.

        • The on-the-ground experiences of the units I am involved with support your rationale for focusing on Boy Scouts. Our troop gets many requests for assistance with flag ceremonies. One per month is not unusual and the boys recently did two in one week. For our crew and pack? In over seven years, neither unit has had a single request. Thanks for all you do for Scouting.

    • Hey Mike it’s Martin, in the understanding from what I read when the Honor Guard patch was first approved it’s for all units. Every unit can participate in this and in addition a district and a council may also create Honor Guard scouts. We talked about this in the phone in the beginning. My idea was to have representation from all levels of scouting at an event. Some say all levels of scouts can not be apart of the same group if at a unit level. At the district level this could be done but the issue of funding comes into play. So from what I understand a council can reach out to any level of scouts to be Honor Guards. Many times this does happen and scouts do show up from multiple units. We have seen events where it was a mix of different levels of scouts and turned out well. Let’s catch up and talk about this. Thanks Mike

  6. The excuse that usually Troops are asked is short sighted at best. A good reason venturing crews are not asked is because most of America doesn’t know they exist. Quit favoring one type of unit over another.

  7. SM Bucky: I second your comments. Just got the kitchen cleaned up and looking at the snow out my window, decided the email needed attention.
    As a Scout Skills person at CSDC, I teach the “general ” flag stuff to our Cubs. We have a set of :historic” flags and see a lot of energy. The Cubs want to do it right, often without thinking about it, many have a “feel” for what is right to do. I would favor some guidelines as to this patch’s awarding.
    Firstly, It is not like the multitude of patches that have a purpose (Blue and Gold, Hike, PWD, Boating, Fishing, Nature, etc.) but are not defined specifically that line the Cub shelves. We know what they are for, but not exactly. Lining the Boy Scout shelves are lots of patches that ARE defined. We have expectations as to what skill and knowledge they represent.
    Therefor, Secondly, such an award IS a recognition of SOMETHING, it implies a certain expertise, a certain knowledge, yes? What is that expertise? A Scout wears a FC badge and PL patch, I have an expectation of his skill set and experience. What should I expect with this one? I once asked some Scouts to help set a flagpole , asked “who has Toten’ Chip”? Hands went up. I ultimately had to teach these boys how to sharpen a peg with a hatchet. Not what I expected.
    Then too, the expectation may be varied, so a basic set might be good. I helped organize a flag ceremony at a 9-11 remembrance . The Scouts all had a different idea of how to proceed. I assigned a Scout “Color Captain” and let him set the scene. It went well, I thought, the Scouts looked sharp, no one tripped or missed his cue. The audience was suitably impressed, we had compliments after, except for one policeman, who came up to me afterward and told me “that wasn’t the way the Marines would’ve done it. ” We politely discussed what he thought had been mishandled. He wasn’t angry, just thought the Marine way was the best way. And Scouts aren’t Marines.
    Fourthly, this award should be available to Venture, Varsity, Cub, Sea and Explorer Scouts. We all do public ceremonies, if only because folks think we know how, and they are somehow afraid of “doing it wrong”. . One of the urban legends I disabuse often is that “only Boy Scouts” can do flag burning. Anyone else is a non-patriot (??!) . Yes, we do flag retirements, and I collect old flags for that purpose, but anyone can do a moving reminder of our duties as citizens, without burning old flags. One of those reminders is a color presentation.
    We might not even need a special booklet, maybe we could just review the Bear Cub requirements. And remember the difference between “Retrieving” and “Retiring”.

    • Geesh! You makes some good points, but I’ve been in Scouts 50 years and I don’t know what ‘CDSC’, ‘FC’ or ‘PWD’ stand for. How do you expect new people to know what you’re talking about? Please leave the acronyms and abbreviations for the military.

    • James, see my point below.

      By virtue of it’s placement on the uniform, this is neither an award or recognition … maybe recognizing a willingness to serve, but that’s it. You should expect zero skill or experience … just a desire to serve.

      Since it’s neither an award or recognition, it doesn’t exactly fit into the venturing experience. (Venturers aren’t fans of long lists of positions.) Although, to be honest flag protocol has always been one of my crew’s weak points. Maybe something like this would help a larger crew where some youth really want to be distinct in serving this way. But that is a very rare animal.

  8. I have several concerns;
    > Without some kind of specific criteria, anyone could buy this and put it on his uniform… whether or not he knows anything about a proper flag ceremony,
    > IF someone sees it, they are going to presume that the Scout is well-trained in ceremonies… and he could completely mess the whole thing up; which will not put a very good face on Scouting,
    > Without defined training, the ceremonies will not be uniform… most likely not even close,
    > Venturing Crews should have been the first this rolled-out to, they are, generally speaking, more mature than a Scout troop as they are, generally speaking, older youth.
    > Had this been for Cub Scouts, the “Do Your Best” motto would be appropriate and the expectation level would be lower. Boy Scouts are looked upon as being proficient and knowledgeable………
    A Scout is expected to “Be Prepared”, without the knowledge and expectations being set before them, how can they Prepare?
    >>>—————>
    Mr Walton,
    I it with ALL DUE RESPECT, I would submit; the BSA would have been better served if they had asked the “Field’s opinion” before releasing such a patch.
    This has the potential for a GREAT many in the Public to see improperly trained scouts performing the Honor guard duties completely improperly.
    There are a sufficient number of veterans who will know the ceremony is not correct and will most likely be very vocal about it…
    This has all the makings of being potentially damaging to the Scouting name.
    I hope I am wrong…

    • I missed this on the first pass, but I need to correct some assumptions underlying your concerns.
      – Although the patch is not a restricted item, not “anyone” could put it on his uniform. Well anyone can put anything on a uniform. This is after all a volunteer organization, so we politely confront people about patch placement and discuss what the should or shouldn’t sport. Firstly, adults shouldn’t. This is a youth position. Secondly, a youth who has no intention of drilling to be an honor guard shouldn’t.
      – If someone sees it, they should only presume that the boy has committed to be well trained. They should also presume that HE’s A BOY, HE WILL MESS UP, then be presently surprised when he does a wonderful job. If you see the boy with the patch just ask “How long have you been honor guard? What kind of ceremonies have you done? Are you any good at it?”
      – Ceremonies should not be uniform. Not even close. They should be tailored to the situation at hand and rehearsed, with some guidance from a member of the community in which the boy is serving.
      – Successful venturing crews have a large portion of their youth who have never been scouts. They may be more mature by virtue of their age (although with my crew, I sometimes wonder 😉 ), but they are not pushed to do advancement and may have never even learned basic flag protocol. They’d show less skill than your average 12 year old scout. Should that change? Yes. Would a patch like this help? Doubt it.
      – You presume that the patch qualifies the scout to do honor guard duties. It does not. Any first class scout should know protocol sufficiently well to serve in this capacity. They have to be willing to drill for the event at hand. They should do so.
      – You presume also that it’s bad if a local veteran approaches a scout and his leader (best talk to both the same time) about a ceremony and tell them what they wished they would have seen done differently. It is not. Please approach our boys, thank them for their efforts, and volunteer to help show them how to “up their game” for their next ceremony.

      I’m saying this last point from personal experience. I never felt prouder than when the fellas at the legion took taught me and my buddies some basic drills and decorum with both mock guns and flags.

    • Would “assistant scoutmaster” or “committee member” suffice? Really, if you are going the honor guard route, I’d prefer you to be informed on more than just ceremony. I want you trained in working with boys and scouting then I would like you to work yourself out of a job by teaching everyone on the committee an understanding of flag protocol. In which case a patch would be superfluous. 😉

      The same is true if you have a bunch of musicians. We don’t need a musician’s advisor. But the committee has to come to some consensus as to what is required of such boys. There might be one fella who “gets it” at first, but he should get his fellow MC’s and ASM’s up to speed, so that we can than coach the PL’s on how to best take advantage of that office.

      Mike, thanks for the old reference. Are any flag protocol/ceremony guidelines in MB requirements? That might be one way to guide adults who are looking for ways to start coaching effectively.

      • I looked through everything I have at my hotel room, q, to find other references. Other than the ones already mentioned here — the Boy Scout Handbook and the Scoutmasters’ Handbook — it seems to me that the largest collection of things are found in the old 1947 booklet I referred to (and sent eight copies of the extract to this morning).

        I realize that many of you are cussing me out with the 18 MB download from your email…for that I apologize but I didn’t want to (and don’t have the time today to) piecemeal it and send it to you. I’ll see if I can find some way to post it to my personal website or someplace else to allow you to view and/or download the “pieces” you need in order to train and coach those in Honor Guards.

  9. What we seem to have here is another Polar Bear Award. Each governing group/council sets up their own local criteria. I don’t disagree with having it, but when there are differing opinions on what constitutes it issuance, I have to ask myself if it is truly warranted. Florida (I was a Scout there and never heard of the Polar Bear Award – of course that was probably before it came out) doesn’t get as cold as Alaska -there are just some places that never get cold enough to warrant a Polar Bear Award. If there is going to be something added to the uniform (be it earned or issued) that distinguishes one Scout from another, there really should be a standard.

    I still harbor resentment over National changing the World Crest from a badge that was earned to a badge everyone gets. But that is for another time…

    • I’m not sure why everyone is thinking of this as an “award” rather than a position. Maybe because the word “honor” is in it?
      We really don’t want to be using National to meddle in the affairs of a troop. Give them resources, yes. Set requirements, no.

      The patch (by virtue of its location) should represent a commitment on the boys part to serve in a particular way. There should be zero check-boxes to earn it.

      The only thing *I* would require is that he practices and gets better at ceremonials while the patch is on his sleeve.

    • @ Gilson,

      “I still harbor resentment over National changing the World Crest from a badge that was earned to a badge everyone gets. But that is for another time…” I copy you on that. My old troop attended two international camp outs and was able to earn this batch. It seems that it would be fitting to do the requirements instead of watering down a badge.

        • Yes – there is an International Spirit Award – it is a temporary patch. The push is to participate in Jamboree on the Air or Internet (making it so that everyone can qualify) and then an emphasis on fundraising because at every level a Scout or Scouter must Organize a World Friendship Fund collection at a unit meeting or district roundtable. It is not the same.

  10. i think that is nice that they have it, but i think the patch could use a little more, honor guards usually deal with presenting the colors, i can easily see 2 flags crossed (US & BSA ) fitting in on the patch.

  11. I am the Scoutmaster of Troop 944 that suggested the concept and several versions of design. The patch idea was from our SPL and a number of Scouts in the Troop.

    The intent was and is for Scouts that are trained and regularly participate in community events as an Honor Guard. This would include ceremonies for Wounded Warriors, religious events, Flag ceremonies for organizations, etc. It was suggested that it is NOT for Scouts that only serve as color guards in Troop meetings.

    Our Troop has a pair of white ceremonial rifles with gold trim (wooden rifles) that can be used in such events.

    A person suggested that this has some rank equivalent – that is not the purpose. Hopefully every Council & District will use the Honor Guard patch concept to recognize both the organization being attributed as well as Scouts that serve conduct themselves following the Scout Law and Oath.

    • Thank you Chip for not only encouraging your youth to make the recommendation but to offer several “designs” for the Task Force to consider!!

      Also thanks for helping to outline why your Troop thought that such an emblem is needed and to help dispel some of the concerns about what this patch would “mean”.

    • “Our Troop has a pair of white ceremonial rifles with gold trim (wooden rifles) that can be used in such events.”

      A few years ago, our troop was asked by a veteran’s organization to present the colors at one of their dinners. The organization asked if our scouts would like to “guard the colors” using the organization’s parade rifles. Of course our scouts loved the idea. We checked with council and were told it was OK to use the rifles. A police officer from our village (a marine, and someone who had taken extensive color guard training) worked with our scouts. After the event, our scouts talked about doing a special fundraiser to buy ceremonial rifles for the troop.

      The adult leaders more or less let the idea quietly go away after reading an Ask Andy column a short time later. In Andy’s column, the question came up about the use of ceremonial rifles. Andy’s response disagreed with our council’s answer (he said no to ceremonial rifles). He went on to say scouts shouldn’t use the term “color guard”, but rather “flag detail.” I don’t think there was ever a mention of the phrase “honor guard.”

      Here is the series of questions and Andy’s responses:

      Q: Is it okay for a troop color guard to adopt the use of ceremonial (not real) rifles into their program? (Jim Patchen)

      A: First: Scouts aren’t “color guards”—they’re a Flag Detail. Second: Absolutely not, and that’s a longstanding BSA policy.

      Q: Hi again Andy, in the BSA Flag Handbook, it defines both a three-Scout “detail” and a four-Scout “color guard.” The color guard has the two outside scouts playing the role of “guards.” (Jim)

      A: I don’t have a copy (imagine that!) of a BSA Flag Handbook. I’ve already done significant online research on “color guards” vs. “flag details” and Scouts are definitely the latter. For written information on where the BSA permits firearms or simulated firearms for flag details (it absolutely doesn’t), get yourself a copy of the BSA’s GUIDE TO AWARDS AND INSIGNIA and check page 10.

      Here is the section from the insignia guide, page 10, that Andy refers to:

      Boy Scouts or Venturers who are members of bands, drill teams, or drum and bugle corps affiliated with a unit or a local council must wear the official uniform for their registration status. The wearing of special helmets, scarves, gloves, or unofficial leggings, and the carrying of ceremonial guns or swords by members of such organizations using the uniforms of the BSA is in violation of the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America.

      Honestly, I can’t tell if this says ceremonial guns are not allowed for Scout color guard (or whatever scouts presenting the colors should correctly be referred to as), or if it is saying no ceremonial guns just for “Boy Scouts or Venturers who are members of bands, drill teams, or drum and bugle corps affiliated with a unit or a local council.” I wouldn’t consider our scouts presenting the colors at a dinner, or other event to be “members of bands, drill teams, or drum and bugle corps.”

      After reading this “Bryan on Scouting” posting one thing is clear: it’s sad that BSA doesn’t provide better direction on the whole issue of presenting the colors. Presenting the colors (and retiring old flags, flag etiquette, and anything else you want to add about the flag) should be one of the more important areas a scout learns, certainly more important than some of the merit badges that are available, and yet there is no clear direction from National. Hmmm, maybe an idea for a new merit badge?

      • Hal (“Andy”) and I are going to disagree with terminology, COR. Here’s what that booklet I have been referring to says about the composition of a “Color Guard” (we’re using Honor Guard; basically we’re talking about the same thing here…):

        (p.71 at the bottom)

        “The Color Guard, should, of course, be completely and correctly uniformed, including the official hat. Usually there are four boys comprising the Color Guard (Honor Guard) in the following order:

        (1) With nothing in his hands except possibiily a Scout staff
        (2) Bearing The (National) Flag
        (3) Bearing Troop or Council Flag
        (4) With nothing in his hands like (1)

        One of the four serves as Senior Color Bearer.”

        I agree with “Andy” that there’s not a need for ceremonial rifles or swords — we have staffs to protect the “colors” (the purpose behind having “guards”, according to the Army’s field manual and my Pershing Rifles drill instruction a long time ago); the Scout Staff is a useful and yeah, protective item.

        Instead of creating a new merit badge, I would certainly roll this in as part of either Scouting Heritage or American Heritage merit badges.

  12. Well here is my take on this. The Honor Guard should not be considered a Position of Respect in relation to a Troop. This would be contrary to the BSA policy on exclusivity and rank privileges.

    However, it is a symbol of commitment by the Scout. Each of the members should be a volunteer.

    As for standards, well the BSA already has uniform guidelines. Each Troop should consider its own methods and procedures. Let nature take its course. I foresee Honor Guard Competitions coming to a District near you.

    This being said, there does need to be a set of guidelines to address Honor Guards. Namely, whether or not to carry sabers or parade rifles. I think both should not be used, but I may missing an actual policy. What about minor uniform modifications such as shoulder braiding, gloves, leggings, head wear, bibbings… I’ve seen Scout Honor Guards wear these before.

  13. SM Bucky — As District Training Chair (in “Popcorn Guy”‘s district!), I’d sure like to get a copy of your Color Guard Boot Camp syllabus. I’m retired military and often cringe at some of the flag ceremonies I see Scouts doing. It’s not their fault. Many of the adult leaders are clueless, so no one teaches the boys nor sets any expectations.

    Creating an Honor Guard patch with no standards or training will only make this worse, IMHO. There’s already too many patches and not enough emphasis on standards and expectations. Self-esteem comes from actual accomplishment not give-away awards (i.e., everyone gets a patch whether they know or do anything).

  14. I offered to send copies of the BSA “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills” booklet which address Honor Guards and the Flag to several of you today.

    I failed at this station.

    I could say that the multipurpose printer/fax/scanner failed, but it only failed in sending the completed PDF to my work computer account so I could send them onward to those who asked.

    I will (with some IT assistance) have that repaired in the morning and I’ll follow thru on your requests. If you sent me an email today, you will get the PDF in the morning.

    In the meantime (we don’t have a FedEx/Kinkos in the small town adjacent to the Air Base where I am stationed), I’ll see if I could try some other means to share the booklet’s information. Bryan, if you could get one of the editorial assistants there to find a copy of this booklet (1947 is the copyright date I believe), scan chapters 7, 8 and 9 and post them somewhere — that would help them also. Kind of like a mini “Honor Guard booklet” for those who insist on having some kind of “guidance” *smiling*

    To others — thanks for your input. Please, if you haven’t already, express your concerns and opinions to the volunteers managing our insignia and uniforming parts of our program. Send you comment or opinion to program.content@scouting.org

    Real people read your comments and will include them in whatever is worked out as the “final guidance or condition” to wear the patch.

  15. Flag handling is an honor bestowed upon the Scouting organization which not ought to be regarded as an entitlement or right. It comes with an element of responsibility and commitment to the quality standards worthy of the honor and expected that of individuals charged with handling and protecting our Nation’s Flag and all it stands for. To issue recognition of something like this has a far reaching impact in the community. Establishing no requirements brings no value to the meaning behind the patch and leaves on lookers puzzled as to what standards the Scouting program holds true. To leave it up to interpretation of everyone with no accountability for protocol is what has gotten the Scouting program into the situation described in the comments from the ‘Bryan on Scouting’ chat site.
    All involved adults and youth alike should be recognized for the training, understanding, and commitment to education of the youth in Flag etiquette and protocol. Adults who promote citizenship through the Flag program will be a recognized resource in adult training programs as well as among their peers in adult gatherings and meetings. The youth will of course take center stage when called upon, will develop pride and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from their performance. Ultimately the program wins as the community is not only educated from the example shown by the Scouts but also develops a sense of pride and appreciation for the respect the young Scouts have shown towards the Flag.
    To that end there needs to be governance established over the rite to have the patch and the standards associated with it.

    • John,

      Please note that the Honor Guard patch is not just recognition for being in a Flag program, but can be used for other activities such as escorting Wounded Warriors in a ceremony, or dedication of a new public building in a community, or opening ceremonies in a regligious retreat – all of which my Troop has participated in as examples.

      Yes the Scouts involved should be positive examples of the Scout Oath & Law.

      Chip

    • John, I would also add that no scout needs the ‘honor guard’ patch to be in an honor guard. Just like no scout needs a musician patch to form an orchestra of scouts. It is not an achievement patch, but a *commitment* patch.

      We should have every reason to expect every first class scout to be capable of performing this duty. The advancement track is where, in scouting, requirements are written.

      That said, once an honor guard or musician (with or without the patch), a scout should study and practice. The patch just tells us the boy’s specific willingness serve and instruct.

      Even without that role in our troop, I know we often find ourselves retraining boys in flag ceremonies. Sometimes that involves watching servicemen do it, and paying attention to how style may vary.

  16. Chip I agree completely. The conversation seems more about the Flag here and given the disrespect I see at summer camp and camporees I am a bit touchy about how Scouting organizations in my area regard the handling of the American Flag. I think the Flag protocol is the start but should also include other formal guard duties as well.

  17. To those asking for a book with the official “calls” — while there certainly are “wrong” ways to post the colors, there is no one “right” way to do the job. The key is simply respect.

    You can say “color guard advance the colors” or “Troop Honor Guard, please present the colors” or “color guard post the colors” or simply use a non-verbal cue. All are okay – it’s all situational. There is no single “official” sequence of words that needs to be said.

    You may need to ask the audience to rise; you may not. You may need to instruct them to remove the caps or salute or place their hands on their hearts; you may not. You may need to wait for a bugle call; you may not. You may want them to advance, wait, and then post the colors on your call; you may have them advance and post all in one move. You may say the Pledge of Allegiance afterwards; you may not. You may have 3 guards, you may have 2, you may have 12. The guards may give calls to themselves (such as “honor guard, halt”); or an additional caller might make such calls to them, or maybe no one does. Are you hoisting on a flagpole or posting a flag already on a stick/pole? Are there multiple flags to be raised/posted? Is there a bugle? How far is the guard advancing? There is no one single “official” way to do it. Your local troop or your district or a Scout camp or a school or a military branch may have their own customs, routines or standard practices (their style or set of calls and steps)…but there is no one single “right” way to do it.

    The key is to be respectful. It helps to look/sound/act sharp, but as long as you’re following the basic rules of flag etiquette you’re fine. Don’t worry if you’re saying “color guard present the colors” rather than “honor guard, please, advance the flag of our country” or “honor guard, post.” All are fine.

    • Excellent points. To borrow from the Cub Scout adage: “Keep it Simple, Make it Respectful”. The less memorization, the fewer rules the better.

  18. I am pretty impressed with both the concept and the Troop that came up with this.

    I recall serving as a youth on a color guard for community events (we had enough marching band members in our troop to provide the color guard members with white gloves. We wore long trousers, long sleeves and the red beret year round as well).

    The first troop I led as Scoutmaster put together a one-time Honor Guard for the dedication of a memorial to a local Life Scout who was killed in Operation Desert Storm. Our boys practiced for several hours, and the ceremony went off perfectly.

    Both of those groups of scouts would have no problems wearing this.

    My Cub Scouts were part of a color guard for Veterans Dat last November, but were expected to stand still, be quiet and salute when told….

  19. While I’m waiting for Mike to send me a copy of his 1940s manual (I emailed ya), here’s a link to a Sea Scout Drill Manual, based upon NAVMC 2691, That may be helpful.

  20. Our Council has an Honor Guard made up of Silver Beaver recipients for the funeral of fellow lodge members. This would be a cool patch for those that participate in that capacity, which would obviously only be adult scouters.

  21. This is all great. Color Guards can also be FUN… As long as respect for the flags are rendered. I have written many articles regarding flag etiquette. My main resource remains the U. S. Flag Code. The National VFW produces a veryy simple publication that they provide within each community. BTW and BSA have been partners for years. As a VFW Scouter, it is essential that the BSA take its time with this program and get it right. Convening some motivated Scouts and Scouters…could solidify the program avenues and direction. Rolling out a patch for patch hungry people will fester patch grabbers; the intent and professional aspect will get lost without some rules and requirements. So, just say I am wearing a patch and perform the worst I ever have at a community baseball game, several unit leaders are in attendance and note I really did a bad job at presenting the astonishing colors. What can be done? I contend that if I had to ” earn” the patch I may perform much better than being able to go buy one. I’m sure BSA would rather sell every scout and scouter a patch. I believe this patch needs a little more scrutiny than just being available for sale. Just so this effort doesn’t get a bad rap, I recommend the following: leave this patch as is and establish a bit of rhyme and reason to earn it. For those that attend formal Honor Guard training, they can be authorized to wear one with a GOLD border. Now we can still keep the initial intent in place and distinguish those with greater training.

    Equally, different colored borders could signify different scouting organizations. I agree with the basic design; possibly shift to a generic fleur-de-lis.

    Mike Ford
    VA Department, VFW Scouter
    COR for Troop and Crew 1919 and Pack 964
    bgwheels@Comcast.net

    • Love the gold border idea. And I think it would be awesome if every VFW could provide National Honor Guard training to any youth who would take it.

      I think you’re being cynical about patch-hungry scouts. It’s not like musician patches are flying off the shelves.

      Now about that ball-game. What can be done? Simply this: take a moment to go up to the boy and his leaders and say, “I have some ideas that would make you all look really sharp! Hike over to the lodge next week, and me and my buddies will drill with you all and give you some pointers!”

      (Hint: if gun salutes are involved I bet every Jr. High boy will show up in uniform!)

    • [Note Joe’s statement was not in reply to my last quip, but …]

      So, what should scout’s duties be when gun salutes are involved?
      I personally think that every troop is different, and in mine I would ask the veterans among us to actually fire rounds.
      But, it sounds like there is some general objections to mock rifles, etc …
      What are folks opinions? Especially those of you who have dedicated honor guards among your boys?

      • I’m a veteran, and I’ve always thought mock rifles look ridiculous.

        We can perhaps take a cue from the fire service here; they use (chrome) axes in their color guards, as the axe is a signature firefighting tool.

        Therefore, for Scouts perhaps some variant of the Scout staff would serve the same purpose.

      • I don’t see many scouts using a staff anytime, anywhere, at least in our area (greater Chicagoland). My guess is most people might not know what it is. And if the point is to “guard” the colors, does it make sense to use a staff for that? I’m not disagreeing with you, just asking quesitons. I agree with mock rifles looking less than great when they are the cheap ones. There are some pretty good looking ones available, the just cost more $.

  22. I find it crazy that bugler is a position that is credited toward leadership, yet color/honor guard is not. I really wish BSA would change that.

    • Honor Guard strikes me more as a specialized patrol (like a troop’s venture patrol), rather than a position that only one scout would hold for the operations of the troop.

      But, over the years it may become a PoR.

  23. Bugler is only a leadership position for Star and Life, but not Eagle. Troop Bugler, if done properly, is more of a “full time job.” He should be participating in opening and closing ceremonies at Troop meetings, signaling events on outings (e.g., reveille, meals, etc.), certain Honor Guard events, etc. On the other hand, an Honor Guard will only perform for special occasions.

  24. Honor Guard, properly trained and making a certain number of appearances in a year, SHOULD qualify for advancements. The boys (and adults) put in extra hours making sure uniform and equipment is tip top. They drive to where they need to be, they prepare and often wait for some time before doing their duties. Then they need to pack up and go back to headquarters. This is TRULY a time commitment and should be acknowledged with equal advancement privileges accorded. It is also voluntary more than just “showing up” to an event as a group of scouts.

  25. My Troop has an official Honor Guard that performs at Troop Courts of Honor, Eagle Courts of Honor, multiple professional sporting events (NHL, MLB, MLL) and multiple community events throughout the year.

    I am the adult honor guard leader but the scouts run the Honor Guard. I simply book events, purchase and clean gear (we wear white gloves, beret hats and hand carved flag woggles) and offer limited guidance when needed. But these guys practice drills all the time and perform with precision.

    Here’s a link to our “handbook” for anyone interested:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/bjfh3l6jnx5xlw5/T870HonorGuardManual31409-0.pdf?dl=0

  26. https://utahscouts.doubleknot.com/form/formjump.asp?bidx=0&orgkey=2196&surveyID=28650 Honor Guard in Utah…through National Parks Council. Is this available as a course in every state with a state park? Ie: In Utah: To complete the council-prescribed training course, an on-line video will soon be available to you, created by the BYU Air Force ROTC. Until that is available, please contact John Gailey at 801-437-6233 to obtain the Air Force ROTC contact for live training.

  27. A couple points…

    “The patch, which goes on the right sleeve, is being shipped out to Scout shops (Supply No. 621029) now.”

    “Now”?!? The Denver Scout Shop has had them for a month…

    Also, how many of you know that you *NEVER* perform an “about face” movement with the U.S. flag? If a color guard must turn around, you do two facing (“left/right, face”) movements.

  28. Mike, you stated that, “Musicians just have to be a member of a unit, District or Council musical group, drum and bugle corps, or similar organization to wear the Musician patch.”

    However the Guide to Insignia states nothing abousy a unit, District, or Council musical group. It states only that the Musician badge may only be worn by members of a drum & bugle corps…

    So where to you find the rest?

  29. This thread haas me very disappointed. My sons Eagle Scout project included an extensive program on Flag law and etiquette and I have become intimately familiar with it. Many of the “right way” to do things presented here are opinions and many I do not agree with like the color guard captain not calling commands. I was on base just a couple of weeks ago and that was precisely how it was done by the staff. Keep in mind that if it isn’t codified it is just your opinion and from where I am standing that is just wrong. Another example that is a Girl Scout standard and recently taught at a local Boy Scout leader training is to cut the Flag up before burning it. I inquired why and the explanation was that once cut up it is no longer a Flag. I said great then why burn them? You can save the pieces and use them to wash your car right? The point is not everyone will agree but don’t tell me I’m wrong and you’re right when it is an interpretation. The patch is a great idea and I can see value in other programs but recognize what the patch is for and what it represents. It should not be for somebody who did Flag that one time a few years ago. I feel it should be reserved for the boys who do Flags regularly, practice and train and provide exceptional service above and beyond what we expect from a regular Scout.

    • The flag code [ see https://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf ] should be the final word on how to handle the flag. If you google U S Flag Code, you will find several references as to the flag code, and to its meaning.

      Cutting of the flag (only into the red and white stripes, with the union [the star field] not cut up may be necessary if the flag is large. It also allows a number to take an active part in the retiring of the flag, rarther than just being spectators. I have seen a large cub scout pack maintain silence and reverence while retiring several flags, mainly because they were part of the ceremony and understood the significance of expressing respect for the flag.

      If the flag code does not detail what is to be don, and if BSA does not have a policy on how to retire of the flag, then the measure should be respect for the flag, period. If your method is not in violation, and shows respect, then those with a different opinion have just that – opinion. Respect for the flag is paramount.

      As far as the Honor Gard patch, BSA needs to issue a certain set of qualifications for the patch, Otherwise it is meaningful to some, a decoration to others.

    • As carey stated, the dividing of the flag prior to retirement is to ensure the safety of those involved. The standard 3×5 flag can be quite dangerous, particularly given the nylon and water proofing, often in question. Likewise, the larger flags pose an even greater danger. Now, Personally, I’ve always been a proponent of keeping the union in tact (not dividing the Union, as it were.) Again, when safety isn’t an issue.
      The U.S. flag code is very bear bones as it relates to flag retirement. But, I think the best part is “…should be done in a dignified way.”
      “United States Federal Law provides that ‘The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.’ (36 U.S.C. 176(k))”
      As for the idea of the Honor Guard being somehow special, they are. To don the patch, they must meet the criteria, which can be fund at Scouting.org. Simply search “Honor Guard”.
      Congrats on your family’s Eagle!!!

  30. I would have much rather seen a cord of some sort than a patch. It looks to much like a position patch and may confuse other types of units(varsity, venturer, cub) Plus it is geared to Boy Scouts and should be applicable for all unit types.

  31. Our Troop use to have an Honor Guard Unit and a Color Guard Unit. Our younger scouts had a hard time handling the guns & firing them, so they were placed into our Color Guard Unit. However, when the legion changed the type of guns the boys were using, we had to disband the Honor Guard as per the BSA rules.
    I am sure that everyone can agree that Cub Scouts are not age appropriate to use rifles & fire them. This is what an Honor Guard Unit does during a ceremony and is more than likely why it is only for Troops.
    A Color Guard Unit is for any age due to it only involves carrying all of the flags on their poles in a ceremony.
    There should be a Honor Guard Unit patch & a Color Guard Unit patch to signify the difference.

    • Please refer to page 53 in the Guide to Safe Scouting!
      Firearms are to only be used under our strict National Camp Standards on a certified range with certified range supervision.
      Also, the terms Color Guard and Honor Gaurd are, by defintion, interchangable. Though I thought differently for many years. The semantics are in whether or not they are solely carrying our colors (honoring our nation) vs honoring a person, place and/or event, be it joyful or somber.

  32. Hey there fellow Scouter’s, just to let you know this is NOT just a TROOP ONLY group program. There are several Districts and Councils that are selecting Scouts from all levels to form an Honor Guard team. There can be a mixture of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and Venture Scouts. I’ve yet to see just a Cub Scout Honor Guard only team. However I’ve seen Cub Scouts on a Honor Guard team via District and Council teams. Scouts selected should be your elite level scouts. They are representing the program and are a reflection of all Scouts. Train them and give them lots of practice.

  33. I too would love the compiled info on the honor guard training. Jkat66@me.com
    I feel that if anyone wears this patch they should be instructed specifically how to to respectfully carry out this service and bring respect upon our organization. I have witnessed many I felt that were not as respectable as they should have been. I know these are kids, but wearing this patch to non-scouters would indicate someone with specialized training or achievement. Thanks! ?

  34. i believe this to be a great step and a great way to recognize those that can perform as a color guard with honor to be able to where this patch. i to would be interested in your info on an honor guard training boot camp is there a way i can get my email to you with out everyone seeing it.

  35. My son was selected to lay the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns for his 8th grade trip to Washington DC. He was a Star Scout at the time (now an Eagle at 14 with a Bronze Palm). He wore his Scout uniform all day and was able to salute the Unknowns during Taps. He has served on the Honor Guard at a Cleveland Cavaliers game, participated in several flag retirement ceremonies and places the Flags at the Western Reserve National Cemetery for Memorial Day every year. There needs to be some requirements for this “Honor Guard” patch.

  36. As everyone before me has stated, great job in helping to define some methods and requirements.
    I would appreciate receiving a copy of everything that is mentioned. I am the Honor Guard director for my Council as well as a Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, and the the Lodge and local Chapter OA Adviser. I have been on many Honor Guards myself both in JROTC, ROTC, and the US Army. I want to be able to present this information to the scouts so they may be able to refine their skills and proficiency.
    We have been doing quite a few flag presentations and marching in parades and I know that if I provide the scouts with the tools to empower themselves, they will.
    Thank you very much.
    Yours in Scouting,
    Dr. Jacques Benoit
    sbboyscout@gmail.com

  37. I know this is an old post by Bryan missed ‘Scoutmaster appointed position of responsibility’. This works for all ranks below Eagle and for Palms after Eagle. My troop had a Color Guard patch made for this important role and it is worn on the left sleeve. Troops could have scouts wear this as a ‘Scoutmaster appointed position of responsibility’.

  38. i have spent a few hours ‘googling’ guidelines for rifles (wooden of course) being used with the Color Guard and have come up empty… do you have any instructions on this? Thank you.

  39. Am a newly appointed ASM with my son’s troop and I am tasked with the honor guard role. So my question for the group, and BSA professionals if they would chime in is, if you are going to create a patch for a position with no formal outlines or training to follow then do it? More so why do you make “don’t rules” like, do not use this as an office of leadership, don’t wear this on the left sleeve, etc? It sounds like this program is an idea that BSA wants to do but wants to use the volunteers in this forum as guinea pigs? My troop has decided to make this a position of leadership, is that a problem? Is BSA going to come out with official BSA white gloves and patrol cords? Maybe an honor guard white neckerchief? I am just not sure how BSA can stand to tell us what NOT to do if they do not have guidelines to teach us so we can teach our boys? I would love to share ideas with anyone on uniform attire and what to do. Sorry I am jumping into this forum 18 months late, LOL!

  40. My son has the microfiber uniform shirt. I mention this because the sleeve seems a little shorter than the regular uniform shirt. i am confused as to placement of the following patches and want to sew on correctly. He has Honor Guard, Patrol Patch, Journey to Excellence and American Flag. Can you please tell me the proper placement.

  41. @Lynn, if you Google images “honor guard” there is a great picture showing how the patch is to be placed. I removed the JTE patch because it was a pain to stitch on and off each year.

  42. I have to say this has been a long read today but a lot of good information and opinions. Clearly we have a lot of military folks here, while BSA is not military it is a strong leadership group and we can learn and take a lot from our military manuals. I started an honor guard unit after watching my police unit lay a brother to rest. My scouts have to WANT to do this, I am working on formal training now so all of what I read is good info. I then went to Vanguards website and bought awesome white shoulder cords and gloves to wear while doing flags and gold HONOR GUARD collar pins which the boys wear as part of the everyday uniform, I think taught them to tie their own white paracord woggle. We have done a flag retirement for a school and two cub scouts packs and we are asked to present the colors in Feb to City Council. I welcome anyone to send me your drills and ceremonies and I will share what I found too. BSA is 80% volunteers so together we can make this work. Send emails to: scouterdonn@gmail.com Now I am off to read up about Lion Cub Scouts, LOL!

  43. My two or three cents, since I teach flag etiquette for a veterans group and for local schools. An honor guard must be trained because if they do things wrong they will be criticized or worse, give the false impression what they did was correct, therefore misleading. Also, one comment was made that the Pledge, oath, law, etc is done before the flag is posted. That’s incorrect. How can the Pledge be offered when the US flag is not in position? In a similar manner, we say the Oath and Law to and facing the Troop flag, which must be in position. I urge leaders to become familiar with the US Flag Code. Your local American Legion Postcan provide you with flyers and booklets on the Flag Code and Flag Etiquette.

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