Test your knowledge of Scout gear, uniforms, patches and more. Perhaps you own one or two of these items yourself or have seen some in the National Scouting Museum. In any case, have fun with a quick trip into the BSA’s past.
1. This design for a medal was never produced. What is it?
a. Air Scouts Airman Award design
b. First Explorer Scout Honor Medal
c. Original Eagle Scout Pin design
d. 1920 World Jamboree participation emblem
2. It revolutionized hiking in the 1920s. What is it?
a. Charles L. Sommers pack
b. Trapper Nelson pack
c. Waite Phillips pack
d. Daniel Carter Beard pack
3. This started a traditional Scouting image. What is it?
a. BSA stocking garter
b. Scout bugle decorative tassels
c. Campaign hat hatband
d. Capture the Flag red team wristband
4. The sky was the limit for this set of patches. What is it?
a. Scouts of New Zealand Achievement Awards
b. Advancement sleeve stripes worn before the introduction of merit badges
c. Lone Scout recognitions
d. Air Scout Specialist badges
5. Quiet most of the time, this item could raise a ruckus. What is it?
a. 1930s camp tea kettle whistle attachment
b. BSA bugle mouthpiece
c. Official Boy Scout whistle
d. BSA S.O.S. emergency signal
6. A famous felt emblem charges over a shoulder. What is it?
a. 1960s Personal Management Merit Badge Bull Market Award
b. National Rodeo Association BSA Appreciation Patch
c. Philmont Bull emblem
d. Large Animals Specialty Pin for Veterinary Medicine Merit Badge
Scroll down for the answers …
- Answer: C. Original Eagle Scout Pin design. At the dawn of Scouting, the 1911 Handbook for Boys announced that “Any First Class Scout qualifying for 21 merit badges will be entitled to wear the highest Scout merit badge. This is an eagle’s head in silver and represents the all-round perfect Scout.” Editors included a sketch of a proposed award featuring an eagle in flight. The following year, Arthur Rose Eldred of Long Island, N.Y., became the BSA’s first Eagle Scout. The pin he was presented was much different from that shown in the handbook. Even so, the final design has proven to be an all-around perfect emblem for the more than 2.5 million Eagle Scouts following in Arthur Eldred’s footsteps.
- Answer: B. Trapper Nelson pack. Many early Scouts toted grub and gear in leather or cloth rucksacks hanging heavily from their shoulders. Lloyd Nelson, a Pacific Northwest outdoorsman, drew on his knowledge of traditional Alaskan Inuit wood and sealskin packs to invent something great. With a rectangular canvas bag attached to a sturdy wooden frame, his Trapper Nelson pack became the choice of Scouts for several decades until aluminum frames and hip belts appeared as the next greatest thing in backpack development.
- Answer: A. BSA stocking garter. Paired with BSA uniform shorts, old-fashioned cotton knee socks had a habit of sliding down around a wearer’s ankles. The solution was a pair elastic garters that went around socks just below a Scout’s knee, buckling in place with an adjustable metal clip. The top of the sock folded over the gaiter to hide it from view. A decorative fringed tab threaded onto each gaiter was green for Boy Scouts, red for Explorers or yellow for Cub Scouts. More recent Scout knee socks have had enough elastic in the fabric to stay up by themselves, though many have featured a red or green band woven into them as a reminder of the garter tabs of long ago.
- Answer: D. Air Scout Specialist badges. Intense interest in aviation in the 1940s led to the creation of the BSA’s Air Scouts. Formed into squadrons, Air Scouts had their own uniforms, ranks, emblems and books. Among the leadership positions were Squadron Leader, Squadron Pilot and Air Scout Observer. Air Scouts mastering skills related to aviation could earn specialist badges. While actual flying was out of reach for most Air Scouts, the experiences they had on the ground encouraged many to seek out hobbies and careers aloft.
- Answer: C. Official Boy Scout whistle. Blowing three blasts on a whistle is a universal distress signal. That was true when this Boy Scout brass whistle was made in England about the time Robert Baden-Powell launched the Scouting movement. Whistles have been with Scouting through the years, made from different designs and materials but always ready to send a loud message.
- Answer: C. Philmont Bull emblem. Staff at Philmont Scout Ranch began wearing red wool jackets in the 1940s. The silhouette of a black bull stitched just in front of the left shoulder seam transformed the jacket into a Philmont icon. Apollo astronauts at Philmont for a 1964 geology training mission all wore red jackets with the Philmont bull insignia. Seventh from the left is Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong, who would become the first to walk on the moon. Philmont programs were originally open only to men. As women became involved at the Philmont Training Center, they could wear red jackets with a white bull. The white bull has since been retired. Today, women bring strength and equality to Philmont as staff and as participants, just as they do throughout all of Scouting.
Robert Birkby is author of three editions of The Boy Scout Handbook, two editions of the BSA’s Fieldbook and the latest edition of the Conservation Handbook. Find him at robertbirkby.com.