"There are three classes of scouts among the Boy Scouts of America, the tenderfoot, second-class scout, and first-class scout." A first-class scout must be both proficient in scoutcraft and able to "furnish satisfactory evidence that he has put into practice in his daily life the principles of the scout oath and law." (Handbook for Boys, 1911) (When scouting began and for many years, this non-scoutcraft requirement was only a first-class requirement. Today, it is a requirement of all ranks second-class and higher.)
"To lead through example and encouragement - that is what is expected of the Scoutmaster." (Handbook for Scoutmasters, 1936) By his own example, he was expected to build character and provide citizenship training. What better manner to set this example than by putting to practice in his daily life the principles of the scout oath and law. In other words, living the non-scoutcraft requirement of a first-class scout.
"By this leadership is meant not only that provided by the Scoutmaster, but also that leadership which is provided by adult Assistants, Junior Leaders and boy leaders, besides the guidance which may be obtained from those men who stand behind the Troop, the members of the Troop Committee." (Handbook for Scoutmasters, 1936) For these reasons, the Scoutmaster (1911-1969), Assistant Scoutmasters (1911-1969), Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (1934-1969), the Senior Patrol Leader (1934-1971 and 1989-present) and Troop Committee members (1915-1969) wore emblems of a first-class scout.
First Class Emblems of the Scoutmaster
and Assistant Scoutmaster
- Type 1 1911 - 1920
The Scoutmaster badge is a green first-class emblem with a brown eagle. The Assistant Scoutmaster badge is a red first-class emblem with a brown eagle.
- Type 2 1920 - 1937
The Scoutmaster badge is a green first-class emblem with a white or silver badge outline and white or silver eagle. The Assistant Scoutmaster badge is a green first-class emblem with a gold badge outline and gold eagle.
- Type 3 1937 - 1938
This is the same as the type 2 with a silver line added to the crown for the Scoutmaster and a gold line for the Assistant Scoutmaster.
- Type 4 1938 - 1963
A round cut edge badge. The Scoutmaster's badge has a green background with a white eagle, white border and white lettering "BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA." The Assistant Scoutmaster's badge is the same except all white was replaced with gold.
- Type 5 1963 - 1969
A round rolled edge badge. Except for the rolled edge, the badges are the same as the type 4.
(I have usually seen as the date change from the type 4 to the type 5 listed as 1966, 1967. However, on my youth boy scout uniform is a rolled edge Junior Assistant Scoutmaster badge. I received this badge at the end of 1963 or possibly the beginning of 1964. In 1964, I did little if any scouting and my uniform was put away until I began scouting again in 1987. For this reason, I have used 1963 as the change year.)
In 1970, all adult badge emblems were changed to a Tenderfoot design. I understand that this change was to be consistent with the world badge emblem, the World Crest.
First Class Scoutmaster Collar Pins
For many years, adult leaders wore position pins on their uniform coat collars or lapels. The pins closely matched the cloth badges. I have identified four types worn by Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters. View the four types here. There may be an earlier type, but I do not have supporting information.
- Type 1 - The pin was probably first made in 1920 and continued until the mid-1930's. It has a squatty crown with the two stars pointing up. The Scoutmaster pin is a green first-class emblem with a silver outline and silver eagle. On the Assistant Scoutmaster pin, the silver is replaced with gold.
- Type 2 - The second pin was probably only made for a year or two in the mid to late-1930's. It has a "wide shoulder" version of the first-class emblem with the two stars at an angle. The coloring of the pins are the same as the type 1.
- Type 3 - The third pin was a relatively recent discovery for me. I have only seen the Assistant Scoutmaster pin. It appears to be a transition pin because of the similarity of the first class design with the fourth pin. I believe that it was likely only made in 1938.
- Type 4 - The last collar pin was made from 1938 until the mid 1960's. It has a tall narrow crown with the stars pointing down. The Scoutmaster pin has a green background with an all silver eagle, silver lettering and a silver border. The Assistant Scoutmaster pin has gold in place of silver.
First Class Scoutmaster's Key
In 1926, the Scoutmaster's Key was created to recognize the hard work of a Scoutmaster. The requirements were similar to today's requirements with the exception of the time requirement which was five years. The Scoutmaster's Key was a gold first-class emblem superimposed on a symbolic key, suspended on a green, white and green ribbon.
The first-class emblem was used through 1946. In 1947, the emblem was changed to tenderfoot. It is likely that at that time, the tenure was changed from five years to three years.
Ribbon bars were introduced in 1934 to represent awards earned. The Scoutmaster's Key ribbon bar matched the ribbon used for the metal, green, white, and green. The ribbon bar was discontinued in 1946 with the creation of square knots.
Today, this key is called the Scouter's Key. It is most commonly represented by the green and white square knot with a tan background.
A full page of all the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster badges and pins with first-class emblems can be seen here.
Most if not all Scoutmaster handbooks during this "first-class" period listed the "Ten Essentials of Scoutmastership." I have put it on a special page for those interested.
This is not an official site of the Boy Scouts of America. The position badges and pins are scanned images of Ron Vinatieri's collection and the scanned images are copyright. You are welcome to print these pages for your reference. However, if you would like to use the images in any other manner, you must receive permission from Craig Murray.