The evolution of Scouting's badges

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Think Scouting is stuck in the past? Think again! Take a look at how our badges have evolved to reflect young people’s needs.

AMBULANCE MAN 1912/ EMERGENCY AID STAGED ACTIVITY BADGE
Back in 1912, Scouts hoping to earn the Ambulance Man Badge needed to know how to drag an insensible man with ropes, improvise a stretcher and diagnose a fractured limb. The badge covered skills as serious as stopping bleeding from a vein to understanding the dangers of poor hygiene. Today’s badge requires Scouts to know how to treat someone having a stroke, an asthma attack and a seizure. Each part of the staged badge asks for Scouts to explain the procedure of calling 999 and covers supportive reassurance and physical assistance. These life-saving skills remain as important as they were over a hundred years ago. 

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BUGLER 1912/COMMUNICATOR ACTIVITY BADGE
Effective communication is an important Scouting skill. In the past Scouts were required to use the instrument to sound army calls for the Bugler Badge. Calls included an alarm, charge, orders and lights out. Now the Communicator Activity Badge asks Scouts to send texts and manage an email address book.

RABBIT KEEPER 1938/ANGLER ACTIVITY BADGE
Rationing made rabbit-keeping a useful skill to have during the Second World War. The skills learnt by completing this badge kept many mouths fed. The Angler Activity Badge recognises Scouts’ ability to fish, although nowadays they learn to handle and release the fish they catch.

BASKET WORKER 1913/CRAFT ACTIVITY BADGE
To earn the Basket Worker Badge, Scouts needed knowledge of the raw material used, had to prepare it for working and produce an article of practical use. This badge has transformed into a craft badge, allowing Scouts to also try their hand at glass blowing, woodturning and jewellery making. 

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ARTIST 1917/ARTIST ACTIVITY BADGE
Scouts can still gain their Artist Badge, just as they could 100 years ago. While the requirements used to ask young people to draw subjects from memory, sight and the imagination, Scouts now have the option to discuss art and visit places of interest connected to their chosen art form– whether it be sculpture, painting, theatre or break dancing – instead. 

AIR NAVIGATOR 1945/AIR NAVIGATION ACTIVITY BADGE
To earn this badge in 1945, Scouts had to keep a daily record of the weather for two months, and be able to point out the Plough, Pegasus, Orion, the Northern Star and Cassiopeia. Today, Scouts have additional tasks to fulfil and must show that they know about the latest developments in electronic navigation technology. 

MASTER AT ARMS 1912/MASTER AT ARMS ACTIVITY BADGE
The Master At Arms Badge still exists today, but there have been a few changes. In 1912, Scouts had to be proficient in two skills, and could choose from singlestick, quarterstaff, fencing, boxing, ju-jitsu, gymnastics or wrestling. These days, Scouts can specialise in just one, but are required to take part in an offcial contest. 

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MINER 1913/CAVER ACTIVITY BADGE
The mining badge required Scouts to have good knowledge of one branch of the mining industry, such as coal or iron. They needed to be aware of the dangers involved and have worked underground for at least six months. With the decline of the mining industry, Scouts now go underground to explore cave systems. The Caver Activity Badge focuses on environmental knowledge and fun rather than a career underground. It also requires Scouts to have taken part in at least four trips to at least two cave systems, and show understanding of environmental issues around caving. 

These badges are part of the Heritage Collection held at Gilwell Park. 

 

Read more Scouting stories in Scouting magazine.

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