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Question about GSUSA Service/Awards

I’m fairly new to Cub Scouting (my son is in first grade and just completed his Tiger advancements to move to Wolf in the fall). I just have some quick questions that I haven’t been able to find the answer to via my council or Google:

I was an extremely active Girl Scout in the 80s and 90s and earned my Gold Award as well as all of my religious awards. (seriously…if I could earn it, I pretty much did it…I was one of those kids!) I’m sure I’ve misunderstood the documentation that I’ve read, but am I allowed to wear the religious knot on my adult uniform as recognition of my past accomplishments? I realize that, currently, the only way I can recognize my Gold Award is limited to Venture scouting, but I thought I read somewhere that religious awards (since they are based on the same curriculum) are applicable as adults?

Also, I had the honor of representing my council on a (Wider-Ops) trip to England and Ireland as a Girl Scout. While there, we toured (and earned) the Robert Baden Powell House neckerchief slide and patch. While I believe the patch doesn’t qualify for transfer, could I wear my slide? At the time (before eBay and the like), you could only wear the slide if you had been to the site in person.

Thanks everyone! Yes, I’m very proud of what I accomplished in GSUSA, but, obviously, my son can’t join, so I’m very proud to now be a Scouts BSA leader!


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I recently watched the videos on My Scouting or read something that answered the question that you asked. I can’t find the BSA document (It might have been on the PRAY website) but any member of the BSA that has earned a religious emblem is entitled to wear it, no matter where or when it was earned. You, as an adult member of BSA, would be allowed to wear the square knot on your uniform (and the medal on formal occasions).

This wikipedia section confirms it:

“Members of the Boy Scouts of America who earned a religious emblem through another youth agency such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire USA or a Sunday school group may wear the emblem on their BSA uniform. They may also wear the square knot insignia without a device.[13]


In regards to the slides, I don’t know the answer to that. In my opinion, I think it would be perfectly acceptable since handmade slides are allowed to be worn.


You might find the Guide to Awards and Insignia helpful:

The medal is worn pinned immediately above
the seam of the left shirt pocket of the uniform.
The square knot, silver on purple, No. 5007,
may be worn above the left pocket by a youth
member or an adult member who earned the
knot as a youth.

Here is a reference from a BSA source: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066/33066_Religious_Emblems_WEB.pdf


–You can wear a neckerchief slide made out of a twisted spoon if you like. Do it!


IMHO, this is a no brainer. Wear the knot with pride. This is one of several authorized awards that are from outside organizations. If you earned it (regardless of the method or organization you were in at the time), you earned it. Wear it


Here’s the official policy from Section 1 (page 9) of the Guide to Awards & Insignia.

The BSA recognizes the religious emblems programs that belong to each faith group. Anyone (youth or adult) who, as a member of another youth agency (e.g., Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire USA, a Sunday school class, etc.), has earned the religious emblem of their faith is eligible to wear the approved religious emblem on their respective uniform.

Individuals would also be eligible to wear the religious square knot, without any device. Female Venturers and Sea Scouts who have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award may wear the pin on their Venturing uniform shirt’s left pocket flap.

As for the patch and neckerchief slide, as others have noted, you can wear whatever slide you like, and you also have the option to put any “temporary” patch you like centered over your right pocket (see page 12).


@LauraChytka - I’m actually currently serving as both a Cubmaster and a GSUSA troop treasurer.

As was quoted from the Guide to Awards and Insignia in one of the responses above, you are entitled to wear the youth religious emblem square knot. However, I want to emphasize that you may not wear any devices on the knot, even though you appear to have earned several. Those devices may only be worn by those who earned the emblem while registered as a youth in the BSA.

A mom of a female Venturer asked me several months ago how this works. Her daughter was working on the older youth religious emblem and had already earned three as a Girl Scout. She asked whether she could wear four devices after she earned her knot. She was delighted to find out that she had already earned the knot with the first emblem she earned as a Girl Scout. But she was disappointed to learn that when she completed her fourth emblem, the only device she would be permitted to wear would be the Venturing device. So, it would look like she had earned one emblem instead of four.

As for the actual religious emblems you earned, you may wear them pinned in a single row above the left pocket seam. It is not expected that adults would wear these on other than formal occasions. No more than five medals should be worn at one time. The width of those medals usually means no more than three will fit.

From page 9 of the 2018 printing of the Guide to Awards and Insignia:

The BSA recognizes the religious emblems programs that belong to each faith group. Anyone (youth or adult) who, as a member of another youth agency (e.g., Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire USA, a Sunday school class, etc.), has earned the religious emblem of their faith is eligible to wear the approved religious emblem on their respective uniform.

Individuals would also be eligible to wear the religious square knot, without any device. Female Venturers and Sea Scouts who have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award may wear the pin on their Venturing uniform shirt’s left pocket flap.

From page 49 of the 2018 printing of the Guide to Awards and Insignia:

Scouts BSA/Girl Scout Advancement. See page 47 for Scouts BSA advancement awards that may be worn on the Venturing uniform. A Venturer may also wear the Arrow of Light rank if earned as a Webelos Scout. A female Venturer or adult leader may wear the Girl Scout Gold Award if earned in Girl Scouting. The award should be worn centered on the location of the right pocket flap.

So, I’m not sure anyone knows where the Gold Award was supposed to be worn. The left pocket flap makes more sense, since the award would be impossible for a female adult Venturing leader to wear with an OA lodge flap.

Adult Venturing leaders are mentioned only on page 49, not on page 9. The Sea Scout section of the Guide does not address the Gold Award at all.

I don’t see how a female adult Venturing leader could be allowed to wear her Gold Award but a female Scoutmaster or den leader cannot, and I would not dispute a female adult’s conclusion that she may wear the Gold Award based on Venturing adults being allowed to wear it.

However, here’s what it says on page 9 of the 2019 printing of the Guide to Awards and Insignia:

The BSA recognizes the religious emblems programs that belong to each faith group.
Anyone (youth or adult) who, as a member of another youth agency (e.g., Camp Fire USA, a Sunday school class, etc.), has earned the religious emblem of their faith is eligible to wear the approved religious emblem on their respective uniform. Individuals would also be eligible to wear the religious square knot, without any device.

Here is page 49 of the 2019 printing of the Guide to Awards and Insignia:

Scouts BSA Advancement. See page 47 for Scouts BSA advancement awards that may be worn on the Venturing uniform. A Venturer may also wear the Arrow of Light rank if earned as a Webelos Scout.

Conspicuous by its absence is the Gold Award. My guess (with no inside knowledge) is that the Gold Award was dropped from the Guide, because no one wanted to address whether female youth Scouts BSA members should be allowed to wear it. There could be other reasons as well. Perhaps it is related to the current litigation involving the BSA and GSUSA. It’s all speculation. Nevertheless, the reference was dropped in two places and does not appear to be an editing error. So, it is my opinion that current uniforming rules do not allow the Gold Award to be worn on any BSA uniform.

The entirety of the rule about neckerchief slides is found on page 13 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia:

Neckerchief slides. Several official slides are available from www.scoutshop.org.
Handicraft slides made by youth may also be worn.

While it mentions several official slides being available, it does not say that these are the only ones that may be worn. With no prohibition against slides other than official ones sold by National Supply, I think the choice is left to the Scout or Scouter, provided the slide is in good taste. Without a doubt, a slide earned at the B-P House is in very good taste!

The B-P House patch is certainly temporary insignia that may be worn on the right pocket of the uniform shirt. Years ago, the rule on the ladies’ yellow Cub Scout leader blouse was that there was a choice between putting the temporary insignia on the right pocket or above the program strip. This originated out of modesty concerns. The way the shirt and insignia fall on a woman’s body varies from one to another, and some women may feel more comfortable wearing a patch above the pocket rather than on it. The rule continues to survive and is no longer gender restricted as there are no longer separate male and female uniform inspection sheets for Cub Scout and Scouts BSA leaders. See the current Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Adult Leader Uniform Inspection Sheet.

As you may know, working in the opposite direction, GSUSA adult leaders do not wear religious emblems earned as a youth while serving girls, and there is no way to indicate this accomplishment for GSUSA adults. Further, religious emblems earned as a member of another youth program may not be worn by girls on their Girl Scout tunics, vests or sashes. They may only wear those earned while they were Girl Scouts. For example, a Buddhist Brownie who is also a Wolf Cub Scout may earn both the Brownie version of the Padma Award and the Cub Scout Metta Award. She may only wear the Padma Award on her Brownie uniform. She may wear both medals on her Cub Scout uniform. She can also wear the youth religious emblem square knot with a single Cub Scout device representing the Metta Award. Girl Scouts wear their religious emblems on their tunics, vests or sashes immediately below their membership stars. Girl Scouts do not wear their youth uniforms after the September 30 of the year they graduate high school expect when attending a ceremony at which an award (like the Gold Award) they earned as a youth is being presented to them.


Ok, that’s annoying. You’ve clearly found a discrepancy on the GAI page.

The link to the full Section 1 apparently is from the 2018 version, while the link to the Special Regulations subsection is clearly different, but undated. I guess you can only verify that it’s from the 2019 version if you have the printed version, since that’s not currently linked on the site. Gah.

It’s interesting they made these changes, but certainly understandable.

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Traditionally, the Gold Award has been a welcome addition to Sea Scout, Venturing, and Exploring uniforms. I have no official wording on that. I “think” recipients of the Gold Award can wear the Exploring rank knot (the ol’ “Exploring Silver Award”) … check me?

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I had heard that as well. I don’t think I have seen that in writing. There is a Scouter who makes “private issue” GSUSA Gold Award (and GSUSA Silver) knots.

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Thanks to everyone for the insightful comments! I actually dragged out my old GSUSA uniforms to take a “walk down memory lane” so to speak. Besides the obvious “wish I could still fit into those uniforms” thoughts that crossed my mind, it was pretty interesting to see what I could (and probably shouldn’t) have worn on my sashes. Apparently, if it could be sewn to my uniform, I pretty much squeezed it on there!

I will definitely look at the resources you’ve shared. I wonder if uniform rules will subtly change as “family scouting” becomes more of the norm. Again, I greatly appreciate all of the resources you’ve shared, as this is a new experience for me. Take care and stay safe!

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@PaulMcDonald - I’ve never seen anything saying that Gold Award recipients can wear the Explorer Silver knot. That knot has been authorized for wear for a host of older Scout program awards.

Up until 1941, the only older Scout highest rank or award that existed was the Quatermaster rank in Sea Scouts. That year, Air Scouts was introduced and had an advancement regime with the highest rank being Ace.

Explorer Scouts (as they were called) came into existence in 1933. There was no real advancement program specific to Explorer Scouts. However, there were titles they could earn for completing five merit badges within a group. For example, a Scout could work on the Dairyman title by completing five of Conservation, Corn Farming, Dairy Farming, Farm Home and Its Planning, Farm Layout and Building Arrangement, First Aid to Animals, Forestry, Landscape Gardening, Public Health, Small Grains and Cereal Foods, Soil Management and Weather merit badges. In addition to the badges, there was an expectation that advanced work beyond the merit badge requirements agreed between the Scout and the unit leader would be completed along with a community service project related to the field. Oddly, the Eagle Scout rank did not yet require a community service project at the time. These titles were also available to Senior Scouts, a program that existed within troops from 1933 to 1949. Explorer Scouts could also earn First Honors and Second Honors, but these were not considered advancement. To earn Second (the higher of the two) Honors, an Explorer Scout must have earned at least one title among other requirements. Of course, both Explorer Scouts and Senior Scouts could earn the Eagle Scout rank.

Explorer Scouts got their own advancement programs in 1946, with the introduction of the Ranger Award. The four ranks were Apprentice, Woodsman, Frontiersman and Ranger. A knot was introduced in 1950, for adults who had earned the Ranger award.

Oddly, the sunset of the Ranger program began in 1949, before there was even a knot for it. Explorers (as they began being called in 1949) could not start working on Ranger after 1949, and had to complete the requirements by the end of 1951. Ranger was replaced with a new four-rank advancement regime that went Apprentice, Bronze, Gold and Silver. There were medals for the Silver, Gold and Bronze Awards. Since this was considered such a radical change from the Ranger program, a new knot for Explorer Silver became available in 1950. Along with the Ranger and Silver knots, another new knot was also released in 1950 for the Ace rank, which had already been in existence for nine years. While Air Scouts became Air Explorers in 1949, there was not a significant change to their advancement regime. Also in 1949, Sea Scouts became Sea Explorers.

In 1954, the Explorer rank requirements were completely rewritten and the designs of the badges of rank were changed, but the names of the ranks remained the same. Gold and Bronze medals were dropped, and the Silver medal got a completely new design. The Air Explorer Ace program came to an end, and Air Explorers would now work on the new Silver Award.

With another major refresh of the older Scout programs in 1954, and an end to the Ace program, the Silver Award square knot got a redesign and became the familiar silver knot on a red, white and blue background that would endure for decades. The BSA had previously stopped manufacturing the Ranger knot and now stopped making the Ace knot. So, from its inception, the Silver Award knot was designed to be an older Scout catch all. It could be worn to represent Ranger, Ace, old Silver or new Silver.

Starting at the beginning of 1959, Explorers lost their advancement regime, and nothing like it would reappear until the launch of Venturing in 1998. They could no longer earn the Silver Award. However, the Silver Award advancement regime remained available to Air Explorers. In 1959, the youth leadership position that had been called senior crew leader was renamed president, and the youth leadership position names found today in Venturing came into use.

Between 1949 and 1958, Explorers could work on the Silver Award (whichever version existed at the time) while registered only in a Boy Scout troop. They did not have to be registered in a post. Effectively, all older Boy Scouts were also Explorers.

In the fall of 1965, Air Explorer squadrons became Aviation Exploring posts. Squadron leaders (SPL equivalents) became post presidents. Air/Aviation Explorers were given until the end of 1966 to complete the Silver Award. No one could begin working on it after October 1965.

The 1978 Insignia Control Guide confirms that the Silver Award knot may be worn by holders of Ranger, Ace or either Silver Award.

The Young American Award was created by the US Department of Justice in 1954. In 1968, the BSA began assisting in identifying candidates and worthy recipients. In 1971, the government transferred control over the award to the BSA, and this became a significant award available to Explorers. It was not a rank; one was nominated for it.

After 23 years with no real advancement regime or highest award, the Explorer Achievement Award was introduced in 1981. The award focused on leadership and personal development and requirements were meant to be tailored to the specialty of the Explorer’s own post. The requirements were developed by youth. The 1986 Insignia Control Guide lists the Explorer Achievement Award as an award for which the Silver Award knot may be worn. During the time the Explorer Achievement Award (and its successor) existed, the Young American Award was clearly more prestigious, but the Explorer Achievement Award looked more like a highest “rank” or award, since it involved defined requirements and goal setting. So, it was the Explorer Achievement Award that got knot status.

In 1995, the Explorer Achievement Award was renamed and got a much nicer design. It became the Explorer G.O.L.D. Award with G.O.L.D. standing for Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development. The requirements for G.O.L.D. were more tightly described than they had been for the EAA, and there needed to be six personal growth goals as opposed to two. The tenure requirement was reduced from 18 to 12 months, but the requirements were more difficult to complete.

The 1995 Insignia Guide lists the G.O.L.D. Award as an award for which the Silver Award knot may be worn. It also lists the Young American Award as the seventh award for which that knot may be worn, finally according the respect the Young American Award deserves.

While they existed, the Explorer Achievement Award and the G.O.L.D. Award were available to all Explorers, including Sea Explorers.

With the launch of Venturing in 1998, the G.O.L.D. Award was discontinued. (Of course, there was a new Venturing Gold Award that had no relationship to the G.O.L.D. Award.) However, the Young American Award remained in existence. It is no longer administered nationally, and councils have the option to present it, if they wish. Insignia Guides during the decade of the 2000s that listed the Silver Award knot contained a statement that said, "All awards must have been earned prior to August, 1998.” This clearly targets the Young American Award and means a knot may be worn to represent it only if it was earned while Exploring was a traditional Scouting (i.e. not Learning for Life) program. It also gives a clue that we should consider ourselves done with adding awards to the list of things this knot represents. It is not meant for anything after August 1998. To summarize, the knot may be worn for:

  1. Explorer Ranger
  2. Explorer Silver (1949-1954 version)
  3. Ace
  4. Explorer Silver (1954-1965 version)
  5. Young American Award earned prior to August 1998
  6. Explorer Achievement Award
  7. Explorer G.O.L.D Award

I have not seen the Silver Award square knot authorized for wear to represent any other award including the Girl Scout Gold Award or any of its predecessors. I know there are people who insist that it could/should be worn by those who received the Explorer Leadership Award, which existed from 1982 to 1998. However, this isn’t in writing anywhere, and this award was much more like today’s Venturing and Sea Scout Leadership Awards than anything else. Personally, I think recipients of the Explorer Leadership Award should be permitted to wear the Venturing/Sea Scout Leadership Award square knot. Sea Explorers during that era would have been eligible for the Explorer Leadership Award. There were council, regional/area (green only, no silver) and national versions, but no area version. The award was redesigned in 1995, and the ribbons look identical to those used for Venturers and Sea Scouts today. In fact, the medallion looked much like the one one the Venturing award with a different logo. The redesign coincided with a change in policy making the awards available to adults. They had previously been presented to youth only. See Scouting magazine, October 1995, p. 56.

I hope this helps. It was fun.

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@LauraChytka - From my limited experience, GSUSA uniforming rules change frequently and are not easy to figure out or discern. There is no equivalent of the Guide to Awards and Insignia. However, just about any patch you received at a Girl Scout event you attended could have been worn on the back of your sashes, if you were a Girl Scout in the 1980s and 1990s. You’re probably fine as long as you have no Cub Scout medals pinned to the sash.

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Congratulations on your new journey. I am a Gold Award Girl Scout turned BSA mom myself. I am currently an Asst Scoutmaster. When I joined as a Cub Scout leader, I found a reference to the appropriateness of wearing my Gold Award on the lapel of my uniform shirt. I confirmed this information with my council office. I bought a new Gold Award pin and proudly wore it. Few people saw it because my hair often fell over my shoulders covering my pin but I knew it was there. A few months later, I realized the pin had come apart and was long gone. My original pin is in a box in the attic. I haven’t replaced the uniform pin since the first one broke so easily. That being said, we can add that piece of GSUSA bling to our uniform now.


@WendyGale - Please see my comment above that concludes the Gold Award is no longer authorized for wear on BSA uniforms, a decision with which I disagree. It’s even more disturbing that the change was made silently. No Bryan on Scouting article telling people to take the pin off the shirt.

Thank you for your insight.

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