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Adult Uniform Help ~


Keep in mind, the authorization to wear more than one strip has not yet made it into the official literature either. The strip has consistently been identified in the singular. So, one could take the view that you are waiting for something to be banned when it has never been authorized in the first place.

I have no interest in what you or anyone else wears on his or her uniform. My primary opinion of you is one of appreciation for what you do for your Scouts. However, this thread was started by an 18-year-old new adult who wants to make sure he is wearing his uniform correctly. Our discussion of interpreter strips has provided him a vast amount of resources that he can track down, and that will help him form his own opinion. That’s what is most important to me.

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Huzzah! Today, a random blog; tomorrow, Oxford’s lexicon!

@PeterHopkins, that was a Scouting Magizine Article, not Bryan’s Blog that spelled out the one-strip-only rule and garnered negative comments. I agree that I think is a very narrow-minded decision, and that is why it has not made it into the Insignia Guide. I could imagine some districts where polyglots are essential, and finding the scouter with the strip matching the language you’re looking for is more important than leaving space above the right pocket for a Jamboree patch.

I would not dock points from a tri-lingual scout who puts all his/her languages to use at gatherings of scouts and scouters who may only speak one of three languages. Helpful trumps neat.


As my daughter (not a GS, former Venturer) says: adults ruin everything.


@Qwazse , I think the reason for the one-strip rule is simple: There has to be some limit. Why not one? The one that is most relevant or the one in which you feel most comfortable.

My wife is not registered with the BSA. If she were, here’s what she speaks:

  1. Indonesian - native
  2. Padangnese - native
  3. Javanese - dad’s tribal language; not awesome, but certainly more than enough to earn an interpreter strip
  4. English - fluent
  5. Sundanese - fluent; studied for 12 years in school; isn’t Sundanese, but grew up in a Sundanese area where everybody took it in school
  6. German - near fluent; was planning to attend grad school in Germany; has high level certification in German language ability and meets the criteria for immigrating to Germany; could easily earn an interpreter strip
  7. French - excellent; took it for four years in high school; very good chance at meeting interpreter strip criteria, but might struggle with translating the speech
  8. Betawi - never studied formally, but has tons of friends who speak this as their first language; dad grew up speaking it; could definitely pass interpreter strip requirements
  9. Arabic - can read it, but vocabulary is too weak to earn interpreter strip.

So, if my wife registered, she would be walking around with at least six interpreter strips on her uniform shirt. Seven if she could pass French. I’m not convinced that is how the uniform is supposed to be worn.

As I said above, I don’t think this is a recent rule change. Rather, it is a clarification. There has never been authorization to wear more than one interpreter strip that I have found. The phrase has always been presented in the singular when describing uniforming. People have simply assumed that because no limit has been explicitly stated in insignia guides that it there is no limit. If that’s the case, then six or seven are fine, and that doesn’t seem right.

I have seen people wearing multiple interpreter strips on the same shirt in the past. I have also seen people wearing Brooklynese and Klingon interpreter strips. I have not shamed or complained to any of these people. I appreciate what they do for the Scouts in their units. If they asked, like the young man who started this thread did, I would have let them know.

I do not contest your point about a Scout who is identified as trilingual by interpreter strips. Uniforming rules are not an absolute. It is one thing to know what they are and another to put them into practice. There are three with which I disagree, and I let my Scouts and parents know the rule and what I feel is the best way to handle the situation to provide a positive outcome for the Scout. In the scenario you described (which would be uncommon), there is a better outcome for everyone, if the Scout or Scouter departs from the uniform rule. So, one could say that in such a situation wearing two interpreter strips is improper uniforming but still the best choice to make.

As you said, helpful trumps neat. Common sense trumps rules.


At least in our area, it does not seem uncommon for Wood Badge graduates to use their critter where a patrol patch goes. It’s a nice reminder of that camaraderie and serves as a good ice break. I’ve also seen adults put patch under the patrol patch in the right sleeve to designate a qualification such as LNT trainer, Paddle Craft safety, etc.

FYI, yes I do have a critter patrol patch, but I am also using velcro so it’s easy to remove if ever someone asks me too.


Hi all. My first post and I’m glad to be here.

I wear two interpreter strips – French and Dari (Persian). I wear the Dari one due to the fact that we have two families who joined who speak it and we wanted them to feel welcome. I am the Unit Chaplain. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the kindness and courtesy, Scouters.


“Just as you have not found anything in the Guide that says no more than one interpreter strip may be worn, you will also not find anywhere in the Guide something that says MORE than one interpreter strip may be worn.”

Rule interpretation dork here…

While it is not stated explicitly, one can draw an inference from the way the the rules are written. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066/33066_Universal_and_Nonunit_Insignia_WEB.pdf

In official guide to insignia, the writers are clear when they intend that “only one” of a type of award be on the uniform. Look at Emergency Preparedness, Journey to Excellence, Supernova bar, and Jamboree patches [edited to add: There are two types of Jamboree patches (i.e., National and World), but a scout may only wear one of each type)]. Other awards are “only one” because they are temporary patches, and the “only one” rule for temporary patches is stated elsewhere.

In contrast, if one scrolls down, one sees an instance where the Guide does not explicitly say multiples can be worn, but everyone knows they can. The Nova Award pi pin (singular) says it is “pinned to the Nova emblem for second and subsequent Nova awards.” It does not explicitly say “A scout may wear multiple pi pins – the scout does not need to remove pi pin #1 when #2 is received.” People just know that.

Because the “only one” language appears when it applies, and the “multiples are OK” language does not appear when it applies, the logical inference from rule construction is that multiple interpreter strips are OK.


There is a flaw in this. You can wear more than one jamboree patch. If you go to world and national jamborees you can wear one above and on the correct pocket.

this implies that you can wear multiples.

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The “only one” language does appear in the rule. It specifies only one of each type:
One current national jamboree patch above the right pocket and one current world jamboree patch on the right pocket.”

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but as you quoted it beforehand that was not the case. In the post it was written in a way that only one jamboree patch could be worn. If it would have said only one national or world jamboree patch could be worn I would have agreed with the statement. and as you saw in my reply I stated that you could wear one of each on each position. Again this conversation is getting into semantics.

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@SaraJeanPetite, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Your argument is well reasoned, but it has no convinced me. Even in the link you provided, why does it say that the nameplate is worn

either above BSA strip or above interpreter strip.

Why doesn’t it say above “highest interpreter strip”? Or above “interpreter strip(s)”?

With decades having passed and not a single reference to interpreter strip in the plural being made in any Insignia Guide or uniform inspection sheet, it is hard to believe that more than one is proper uniforming.

Further, Bryan on Scouting is not a final authority and not perfect. But shouldn’t there be compelling evidence before a conclusion is drawn that something written there is wrong? He does work for the National Council, and Bryan on Scouting is an official BSA publication. Doesn’t that entitle Bryan on Scouting to some sort of deference?

Finally, if the limit is not one, it is definitely not two either. In fact, if the limit is not one, then there is no limit. If you read my post above, how ridiculous would my wife’s uniform look with six interpreter strips?

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In my opinion not ridiculous at all.

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The single interpreter strip rule existed when I was a scout in the mid 70s to mid 80s. I think it has to do with space. And one issue is that if allowed to wear all allowed then someone would also place their jamboree patch on above the 29 strips they wear pushing said patch down the back so far it was partially obscured by the belt.

I think it would be great if they made a strip to indicate multi-lingual abilities. If known, then people could ask said person. I would find it shocking if someone wearing such was bothered by the question. They are already advertising interpreter services.


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