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Scout traditions

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Learning why and wherefore the reasons scouts have become to what hey are


Woggle, Nekka, world member badge


The Scouting movement makes the neckerchief part of its uniform. A generally ceremonial item, the neckerchief is taught to be a practical wilderness item in the Scouting tradition. The neckerchief, unrolled, is designed to be the perfect size for use as a triangular bandage for first aid.

The origin of the Scouting neckerchief seems to be in Robert Baden-Powell's participation in the Second Matabele War in 1896; where he worked with Frederick Russell Burnham, an American-born scout employed by the British Army. Baden-Powell copied Burnham's practical style of dress, including "a grey-coloured handkerchief, loosely tied around the neck to prevent sunburn".[3] When Baden-Powell launched the Scout Movement with the book Scouting for Boys in 1908, he prescribed a neckerchief or scarf as part of the Scout uniform, which he stated was "very like the uniform worn by my men when I commanded the South African Constabulary". He continued; "Every Troop has its own scarf colour, since the honour of your Troop is bound up in the scarf, you must be very careful to keep it tidy and clean."[4] Initially, Scout neckerchiefs were tied with a variety of knots, but the use of a "woggle" or slide, originated in the United States in the early 1920s and quickly spread around the Scouting world.[5]

In most countries each Scout Troop uses its own colour neckerchief. The colours are usually the "Troop Colours" which may have a particular historical significance to the troop or to the local community.

Lord Baden-Powell began awarding a brass badge in the shape of the fleur-de-lis arrowhead to army scouts whom he had trained while serving in India in 1897. He later issued a copper fleur-de-lis badge to all participants of the experimental camp on Brownsea Island in 1907.[1]

Baden-Powell included a design for the Scout's badge in his work, Scouting for Boys, which was a simple fleur-de-lis with the motto "Be Prepared" on a scroll below it. He reasoned that the fleur-de-lis was commonly used as the symbol for north on maps, and a Boy Scout was to show the way in doing his duty and helping others.[2]

The plumes of the fleur-de-lis became symbols for Service to Others, Duty to God, and Obedience to the Scout Law. These three principles form the Scout Promise which is made by new Scouts as they join the movement. The fleur-de-lis was modified shortly after, to include the two five-pointed stars, which symbolize knowledge and truth. A "bond" was also added tying the three plumes together to symbolize the family of Scouting.

J. S. Wilson introduced an international Scout badge in 1939-a silver fleur-de-lis on a purple background surrounded by the names of the five continents in silver within a circular frame. The wearing of it was not universal, but was confined to past and present members of the International Committee and staff of the Bureau. A flag of similar design followed, the flying of which was restricted to international Scout gatherings.

The current emblem design was introduced at the 8th World Scout Jamboree in 1955 by former Boy Scouts of Greece National Commissioner Demetrios Alexatos.[citation needed] The final design which is now worn on the uniforms of Scouts around the world includes a rope which encircles the fleur-de-lis and is tied in a reef knot at the bottom of the badge. The rope is there to symbolize the family of the World Scout Movement and the knot symbolizes the strength of the unity of the World Scout Movement. The colors chosen have heraldic significance, with the white of the arrowhead and rope representing purity, and the royal purple denoting leadership and service.[3]

The use of the fleur-de-lis has led to some controversy, with critics citing its military symbolism. However, Robert Baden-Powell himself denied this link, writing and speaking about the various other meanings of the symbol


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