BSA Basics

The Boy Scout Emblem

        1. The three points of the trefoil stand for the three parts of the Scout Oath.
        2. The shape of the Scout badge means that a Scout can point the right way in life as truly as does a compass in the field.
        3. There are two stars on the badge. They symbolize truth and knowledge.
        4. The eagle and shield stand for freedom and a Scout's readiness to defend that freedom.
        5. The scroll bearing the Scout motto is turned up at the ends as a reminder that a Scout smiles as he does his duty.
        6. The knot at the bottom of the scroll serves as a reminder of the Scout slogan, Do a Good Turn Daily.
 

Origin of the World Scouting Symbol "Fleur-de-Lis"

In Scouting's early years, critics accused Baden-Powell of trying to turn boys into soldiers, holding up as evidence the Scout symbol, which they called "a spear-head, the emblem of battle and bloodshed". The Founder quickly replied, The crest is the "Fleur-de-Lis", a lily, the emblem of peace and purity.

In truth, he had chosen as Scouting's emblem the sign for the North Point, universally shown on maps, charts and compass cards, because "it points in the right direction (and upwards), turning neither to the right nor left, since these lead backward again..." Lady Baden-Powell added later, "It shows the true way to go."

Baden-Powell explained the origins of this sign. In the Middle Ages, mariner Flavio Gioja designed it to make the seaman's compass more reliable. In Italian, North was "Tramontana". Gioja used a capital "T" to mark it, and in deference to King Charles of Naples, whose crest was the Fleur-de-Lis, combined the letter with that emblem.

To explain the meaning of the Scout emblem, Baden-Powell said, "The two stars on the two side arms stand for the two eyes of the Wolf Cub having been opened before he became a Scout... The three points of the Fleur-de-Lis remind the Scout of the three points of the Scout's Promise..."


In the World Scout emblem, the Fleur-de-Lis is surrounded by a circle of rope tied with a reef knot to symbolize the strength and unity of the world brotherhood of Scouting: "Even as one cannot undo a reef knot, no matter how hard one pulls on it, so as it expands, the movement remains united."

The three tips of the Fleur-de-Lis represent the three main parts of the Scout promise: duty to God, obedience to the Scout Law, and service to others. The two five-point stars stand for truth and knowledge, and the 10 points on the stars remind us of the 10 points of the [original] Scout law. The ring holding the emblem together represents the bond of brotherhood.

The symbol is white on a royal purple background, colors Baden-Powell chose because, in heraldry, white stands for purity and purple for leadership and helping others.
Since Scouting began, over 200 million Scouts have worn the Scout symbol, making it one of the more highly recognized emblems in the world. Today, over 150 World Scouting countries and territories, more than 16 million members continue to wear it with pride.

 

Boy Scout Left Handshake

Our Scout salute and handshake are ancient signs of bravery and respect. During the colonial period of our country, many men carried weapons for Sprotection.

Sometimes when they met one another, there was an uneasy moment as each man watched the others right hand. If it went to his sword or his gun, there might be a fight. But if it went to his hat, it was a salute of friendship and respect.

The left handshake comes to us from the Ashanti warriors whom Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, knew almost 100 years ago in West Africa. He saluted them with his right hand, but the Ashanti chiefs offered their left hands and said, "In our land only the bravest of the brave shake hands with the left hand, because to do so we must drop our shields and our protection."

The Ashantis knew of Baden-Powell's bravery because they had fought against him and with him, and they were proud to offer the left hand of bravery.

When you use the Scout salute and handshake, remember that they are signs of respect and courage.

The left hand is also closer to the heart...

Boy Scout Sign

The Scout sign shows you are a Scout. Give it each time you recite the Scout Oath and Law. When a Scout or Scouter raises the Scout sign, all Scouts should make the sign, too, and come to silent attention.

To give the Scout sign, cover the nail of the little finger of your right hand with your right thumb, then raise your right arm, bent in a 90-degree angle, and hold the three middle fingers of your hand upward. Those fingers stand for the three parts of the Scout Oath. Your thumb and little finger touch to represent the bond that unites Scouts throughout the world.

 

Boy Scout Salute

The Scout salute shows respect. Use it to salute the flag of the United States of America. You may also salute a Scout leader or another Scout.

Give the Scout salute by forming the Scout sign with your right hand and then bringing that hand upward until your forefinger touches the brim of your hat or the arch of your right eyebrow. The palm of your hand should not show.