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Is Scout Sunday a formal occasion (wearing medals)

I know that medals are only to be worn on the uniform for formal occasions, but the guide to uniform and insignia different seen to spell out what those actually are.

So far, CoH, and B&G seem to be obvious occasions, but would you say Scout Sunday as well? If you’re wearing your uniform in place of Sunday finest, it seems like it might be, but I’m not totally sure.

What else would you consider formal occasions?

I think Scout Sunday / Sabbath / Juma is a great opportunity to wear your religious emblems in particular, or any other religious/scout is reverent related patch or something.

I think on this occasion an adult scouter could limit themselves to a religious award earned as an adult, and maybe a temporary patch related to religious themes. Scouts could wear whichever religious emblems they have earned.

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I believe that BSA chose to not define what constitutes a formal occasion to allow local decisions to match cultural norms.

Given the nature of the Scout Services I think wearing medals is fine. And I would not attempt to tell any scout or scouter which ones. The thing is hat often this is the charter org “showing off” their scout units.


What do you all think about non-religious award medals from youth and scouters (Eagle medal, message of merit, special award pendants for scouters, etc.). Aside from eagle, this is now largely rhetorical for my unit’s purposes, but I’m curious.

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The event is either formal or it isnt. If it is formal wear your medals.

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Wear the medals. Eagle. Faith-based. Quartermaster. Summit. Ranger. Honor. Jimmy Stewart. You name it. Wear it.


We leave all of that up to the scout. I didn’t see any wearing medals this weekend.

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I’m of the opinion that the Scouts should be able to decide if they wish to wear them or not. Personally I leave off the trail medals and just wear my ‘Pro Deo Et Patria’ and my ‘Eagle’ with the appropriate Palm. .

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Your answer piqued my interest. Just as a matter of curiosity, Why would an adult scouter not wear a religious medal earned as a Scout? Not being confrontational, just curious. I earned my ‘Pro Deo Et Patria’ many years ago and since I wear the Square Knot patch on my uniform I didn’t think twice about wearing the medal. Am I missing something? BTW - Welcome to the “finger cramp” club! grin

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@MatthewWalters1, adults wear the Eagle Scout medal only at formal Eagle occasions. In my opinion, Scout Sunday does not fit that.

I do think Scout Sunday is a formal occasion. Obviously, anyone holding the National Duty to God Award should wear it, particularly since there is no square knot cloth emblem for it. I haven’t known of any restrictions on adults wearing religious emblems earned as a youth since the late 1980s. At that time, the thinking was rebooted. Youth and adults became eligible for the youth religious square knot for emblems earned as a Cub Scout. Prior to that time, Boy Scouts could not wear Cub Scout religious emblems on their uniforms. The medal was removed from the bar on which it hung, and only the bar was worn. When this all got erased, I believe there was clarity that adults could wear the emblems they earned in their youth.

In recent years, the Guide to Awards and Insignia has indicated that religious emblems earned through membership in another organization such as Girl Scouts of the USA or Campfire USA could also be worn on BSA uniforms. So, some adults (and maybe even some youth) may have these and should be encouraged to wear them.

I would encourage anyone (youth or adult) with the Venturing Trust Award to wear it on Scout Sunday. Other Venturing awards such as Ranger and Quest may also be worn by adults. When they last appeared in the Guide, the Venturing Gold and Varsity Denali Awards were to be worn only by youth. Similarly, the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement is only for youth.

The highest awards/ranks in older youth programs: Quartermaster, Venturing Summit, Venturing Silver, Explorer G.O.L.D., Air Scout Ace, Explorer Silver and Explorer Ranger are appropriate for wear at any formal occasion. The Young American Award (if earned before August 1998) is in this category as well, but it is a pendant worn on a ribbon hanging around the neck, so your modesty must allow for it to be worn. The Explorer Achievement Award is the final award in this category, and it is a small round lapel pin that goes directly through the shirt and should be fine to wear above the left pocket seam on any occasion. Starting in August 1998, the Young American Award was decoupled from the traditional Scouting program, and should no longer be regarded as an award appropriate for wear on a BSA uniform.

Of course, training awards and special awards earned by adults and worn around the neck are appropriate for formal occasions like Scout Sunday. For awards earned by youth and worn around the neck, if something can also be earned as an adult, like the Venturing Leadership Award or the Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award, this should be fine for an adult to wear, even if it was earned as a youth. Supernova around the neck awards are not worn by adults, The only Supernova award worn by adults is the gold bar representing the Einstein Gold Award.

As has been stated above, whether Scout Sunday is a formal occasion is a judgement call. However, it appears to me to be so more often than not.

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@MatthewWalters1, here’s what I consider formal occasions:

  • Courts of honor and bridges of honor
  • Boards of review and bridges of review
  • Parades
  • Pack meetings
  • Crossover ceremonies
  • Scout Sunday, Scout Shabbat and Scout Junuah services
  • Religious emblem presentation ceremonies
  • District, council, regional and national award ceremonies (includes District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, and even council awards such as like Whitney Young and Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service awards)
  • Wood Badge beading ceremonies
  • Order of the Arrow banquets

Here are things I regard as formal Eagle occasions during which adults may wear their Eagle Scout medals:

  • Eagle courts of honor
  • Eagle boards of review
  • Distinguished Eagle Scout Award presentations
  • NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award presentations
  • NESA formal dinners (including those held by NESA chapters)
  • Eagle Scout reunion dinners held by councils

My lists are off the top of my head, so they may not be complete. Any event at which an award of significance will be presented is a formal occasion in my reckoning. Currently, I serve as a Cubmaster, and I treat every monthly pack meeting as a formal occasion. My Scouts see my in uniform every week, and I have a nametag pinned on and my Order of the arrow Founder’s Award ribbon with a Vigil Honor pin on it. I also wear my Wood Badge beads every week. However, for pack meetings, I wear my Eagle palms pinned through the knot, three devices pinned through my youth religious emblem knot, my Scouter’s Key medal, my Scouter’s Training Award medal and my Den Leader Award hanging around my neck. I also pin my service stars onto my shirt. The Scouts can see the trouble I went to for the event, and they react accordingly.


You typically are very on with your uniform stuff. Where does this come from?

Also, I will say that I don’t think enough of myself to decide what is or isn’t formal for a troop that I don’t even know. I have been to church services where very few men were not in a suit. I have been in others where a troop in uniform would be a noticeable mass of formality.

@KirkWood, Please see page 34 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia.

As I said,

So, I agree with your remark that it might not be. The Scout Sundays I’ve attended as a youth and as an adult have all been treated as significant events. Of course, there is no rule that says that must always be the case.

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Thanks for the reference. I try to be a “clandestine member of the uniform police”. That is, I notice infractions, but never issue any “tickets”. Well, maybe if a Scout in my troop had something odd, I would talk to them about it, but in general, I try to be up on “all of the minutia”. Last month I debated about wearing my eagle to my troop’s “normal” court of honor. I decided it would be “too much”. I guess I made the right call without knowing it. Without your very specific reference, though, I would not have know. Thanks for taking the time to share.


I find it interesting that you include board of review and pack meetings in you list of formal occasions.

@MatthewWalters1, it may not always be the case that pack meetings are formal occasions. Our pack meets weekly, opens together, breaks into dens and then comes back together for a game or other activity and a closing. That’s not what I’m including as a pack meeting.

Once a month from September to June, excluding May, we have a traditional pack meeting to present awards. The rank badge presentation ceremonies are carefully planned and vary from month to month except for Bobcat and the Arrow of Light. We use the same script for those two. We aim to make the rank advancement ceremonies solemn and formal while keeping the pack meetings fun and engaging. I think we do well. My daughter says the the pack meetings are like a YouTube video that she feels like she’s a part of. As Cubmaster, that’s pretty much how I want these meetings to come off in the eyes of the Scouts.

Since fall recruiting ended, our pack’s weekly attendance has been 90% or 95% every week. We meet on Mondays, and because so many holidays fall on Monday, we met on MLK Day and we’ll meet on President’s Day. We figured that if we didn’t meet on days school was closed, we’d lose a whole month of meetings. Every den meets every week, including the Lions.

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@Matt.Johnson, I don’t point out uniform infractions unsolicited, and that includes those my Scouts commit. I have one Scout (a Tiger) whose mother treats the uniform shirt as a patch blanket. He has a row of temporary badges running down from the right pocket all the way to the bottom of the shirt and then making a turn along the seam, and he wears the shirt untucked. We have custom pack numerals which he proudly wears below the American flag on the right sleeve. I honestly don’t know whether this is a protest, ignorance, carelessness or a combination. His mother is the Tiger den leader, and the other Scouts in the den are well uniformed. It drives me nuts, but I stay silent.

When I see uniforming misinformation in a forum or a Facebook group, I do try to correct it, because it is usually the case that people want to know the right answer. If someone asks me a uniforming question in person, I’ll answer it. If they mention a “rule” that’s incorrect, I’ll engage in the conversation.

I don’t agree with every uniforming rule, and in such cases, I suggest alternatives. There are three that I find particularly troublesome.

  1. It makes no sense at all for a Cub Scout whose blue shirt fits to be forced to buy a tan shirt immediately upon becoming a Webelos Scout. This puts an unreasonable financial burden on families, and there is no real benefit to the rule. Roughly 35 years ago, when the tan shirt became an option for Webelos, the idea was that when the boy outgrew his blue shirt, the next shirt he should buy ought to be the tan one, so he’d be all set when he crossed over. This ended the silliness of Webelos wearing blue uniforms that were too small until they crossed over. Now, the 2018 change in the rule has put Bears into that same undesirable situation.

  2. The prohibition against Webelos wearing their current rank on their uniform shirt is absurd. The guidance available indicates that the only ranks Webelos wear on their tan shirts are Webelos, Arrow of Light and Bobcat if earned as a Webelos Scout. If they want only one badge of rank worn on the center of the pocket on that shirt, I’m fine with that. It should include the Bear rank, if that’s the Scout’s current rank. Last fall’s Bryan on Scouting article announcing the change with respect to Bobcat said that the Guide to Awards and Insignia would be updated to reflect it, but that hasn’t happened yet.

  3. The limit of one temporary patch on the right pocket is problematic to me. In the old days, Cub Scouts wore a temporary patch sewn on and a Progress Toward Ranks device or a Webelos Compass Point emblem, and maybe that was a violation, but no one thought it didn’t make sense. Now, there are lots of earned patches that dangle from the button: Cyber Chip, Shooting Sports, ScoutStrong Healthy Unit, etc. It just makes more sense for Scouts to be permitted to wear one temporary insignia sewn onto the pocket and other dangling.

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In my view, unless there is a safety issue (such as Sea Scouts underway on a vessel) or a policy issue (such as giving a political speech at a political rally) a full uniform or dress uniform is always appropriate for wear.


I don’t think that you can wear your eagle medal to too many Scouting events. There is a value in parading the medal around, don’t underestimate the impact that it has.

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Or other events!
I’ve worn BSA medals at suit-and-tie gatherings of other organizations where the wearing of medals was the norm.

@MatthewWalters1, I would say this is where we should direct our focus: getting our scout parents who might not have a uniform to pull their religious award and maybe another medal on their church clothes.
There are probably a few religions/subcultures where this would be inappropriate, but might as well ask and learn.

It might not hurt to ask parents and alumni to do the same at B&G’s and CoH’s as well.