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Boy Scouts (U.S.)

Boy Scouts of America

Last modified: 2020-12-26 by rick wyatt
Keywords: scouts | boy scouts | merit badge | united states | vexillology |
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Vexillology Merit Badge

Editorial comment:
Considering that scouts are quite avid flag users, interest in creating a Vexillology Merit badge in the Boy Scouts of America has sprung up.

One such initiative is here.

Every scouting event has a flag ceremony. I just finished Wood Badge (high level adult training) where every day a different American flag is used for the opening ceremony. If there is any organization in the world that has a proven interest in flags and flag studies it is the Boy Scouts.
Nathan Bliss, 24 July 1999

Origin/Meaning of Symbols

I don't know anything about the origin of the flag or symbols per se. But from my sons' scout books:

The shape of the complete Scout badge, which is also on the First Class badge of rank, was adapted from the north point of an old maritime compass. The design is often called a trefoil - a flower with three leaves. It is also known by its French name, fleur-de-lis - lily or iris flower. The shape resembles an arrowhead.

With slight changes, the trefoil badge is used by Scouts around the world. The trefoil means that a Scout can point the right way in life as truly as a compass can in the field. The three points, like the fingers of the Scout sign, stand for the three parts of the Scout Oath: duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self.
Rick Wyatt, 21 February 1998


The Boy Scouts of America, its local affiliates (called local Councils), and all of its units have distinctive unit and council flags which are displayed. The same goes for the Girl Scouts of the USA, Campfire, and 4-H.

I have a site with these BSA flags at

Mike L. Walton

[Flag of BSA] image by Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000
BSA Flag

[Council Flag of BSA] image by Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000
Council Flag

[Troop Flag of BSA] image by Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000
Troop Flag

[Cub Pack Flag of BSA] image by Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000
Cub Scout Pack Flag

[Cub Den Flag of BSA] image by Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000
Cub Scout Den Flag

Troops are the basic unit of Boy Scouts in the Unites States. They are typically sponsored by a civic club, school Parent-Teacher Association, church, or the like. Troops are made up of patrols and grouped into districts and councils. A council may embrace several states; a district is typically part of a state. A good-sized town may have several troops. I believe troops are numbered within each council. The flag is red over white (reminiscent of the colors of U.S. Army cavalry guidons) with the basic BSA emblem on the center. I have seen versions with the badge in color, as shown in my GIF, or in yellow and green only. The badge is a fleur-de-lis, the traditional emblem of scouting worldwide, with the U.S. eagle and shield on the center. At a minimum, the troop flag has the troop designation in white on the upper half and the town and state where it is located in red on the lower. Some troops add the name of the sponsoring organization or the district or council to which the troop belongs.

Cub Scouts are younger than Boy Scouts. The pack is to Cub Scouting what the troop is to Boy Scouting. Cub Scout packs fall under the same districts and councils as Boy Scouts.

Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000