scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: Patrol Leader Patch
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Wed Mar 17 1993 - 18:34:17 CST
I had some more time on my hands this evening before Jessi picked me up from
work. So I had time to fully explain what it was I was trying to describe:
Candy and Dave asked us to explain for Dave what significance the two bars
are on his Patrol Leaders' badge of office. I explained that originally,
back in the first days of BSA Scouting, the bars were green, not silver.
The bars were green to contrast the color of the old khaki uniform and to
allow them to stand out. That was the only reason why green was chosen for
the Boy Scout patrol leader bars.
Just like in the military, the more bars a person wore, the "higher" he was
in the troop's organization. I've seen an illustration whereby Junior
Assistant Scoutmasters at one time had three complete green bars, with the
First Class rank superimposed over those bars. This to me explains why the
Senior Patrol Leader had two full and one "half bar" with that same First
Class emblem; and why the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader emblem was two full
bars with the First Class emblem.
In 1972, the BSA redesigned its uniforms and insignia. One of the things
that the BSA found out was that many Scouters didn't know what the various
Troop and District positions were without consulting a manual or booklet.
So the BSA created patches with not only the design, but wording which
explained that the Senior Patrol Leader wore this and the Patrol Leader wore
There was also a color scheme which went along with this move; primary
leaders had patches with silver borders and assistants and staff members had
ones with gold (yellow) borders. Those on committees or boards had patches
with bronze (brown) borders and other officers wore badges of offices with
blue, white or red borders depending on who they were and their relationship
to the program.
This is why, Nathan, you're correct that the Silver bars replaced the green
bars (to Green Bar Bill's (and other Scouters!!) disappointment. But
Hillcourt went along with the change, and "Go Silver Bars!" was the chant in
the 70s and early 80s.
It goes a little bit further....in the late 80s, the BSA once again
"tinkered with success" and created the tan insignia that we have today.
The tan insignia was supposed to allow the badge of office to "blend into"
the current khakitan shirts we wear today (from a distance, you can't really
see the border and only the center insignia...which is supposed to be the
idea. It doesn't translate over very well, though, because of the color of
the material and the color of the tan patches). This design also brought
back the green color of the bars on all of the insignia.
As part of the new designs, the three bars originally designed for the
Junior Assistant Scoutmaster was given back to the Senior Patrol Leader, and
the two and a half bars for the Senior Patrol Leader was given to the
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. The Patrol Leader bars remained the same
way they have been since 1912:
two bars. The Assistant Patrol Leader bar also remained the same.
>At the same time the PL bars became silver, and the APL bars became gold,
>the Tenderfoot emblem was added on top. In fact, (oddly enough), on
>green-backed patches, the ASPL and SPL patches also have the Tenderfoot
All LEADERS had the Tenderfoot (the BSA calls it the "universal") emblem
>On the (current) tan-backed patches, the APL and PL are back to
>having no emblem, while the ASPL and SPL have the First Class Emblem in
>gold and silver respectively. And, FWIW, the Troop Guide also wears two
>green bars like a PL, except the TG's are "lower". (Imagine the three
>bars of the SPL patch. A PL wear the upper two. A TG wears the lower
>two.) The TG also wears a First Class Emblem on his badge in red.
>So, to answer the original question: That's just the way it is.
Since the BSA was based upon the British Scouting movement, and the British
Scouting movement was based upon the British military, then it's safe to say
that the reason why we have the bars is because they are held over from the
British military and later B-P's organization of a Troop.
>Coffee is the most important meal of the day.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
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