Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip — Discontinued


The BSA’s National Awards, Insignia, and Uniforms Committee has advised us that the Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip has been discontinued. Here’s the message from John Duncan, Volunteer Chair:

The BSA recognizes that our uniform remains an important method in our program delivery.  It follows that we must be good stewards of the limited space available on the uniform.  It is wonderful that there are so many organizations, certifications, ratings, and professional credentials that are so well aligned with Scouting’s core values, as evidenced by a high volume and continuing flow of similar requests for uniform pieces to identify current military, military veterans, civil servants, doctors and other medical professionals, EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement, clergy/faith leaders, environmental professionals, and others.  The view of the committee is that while all such professions, certifications and ratings are laudable, the BSA uniform is not a proper way to recognize any of these.  Instead, guidance in response to such proposals is generally what the ARRL has already done — creation of a national-level Award for Service to Scouting, approved for inclusion as part of the community organization knot.

While this is disappointing news, we can take consolation that we had a good run with the rating strip. Moreover, the existing rating strips can continue to be worn on the uniform. Here’s the information shared by the Awards, Insignia, and Uniforms Committee:

All discontinued Boy Scouts of America uniforms and insignia may be worn in keeping with the applicable uniform and insignia guidelines as of the time of their production, so long as condition of original insignia does not detract from the neatness of the uniform.  Exact reproductions or “private issue” insignia are not authorized for uniform wear.  Furthermore, existing supply will continue to be sold until exhausted, so for the passionate followers, consider buying a lifetime supply now!  Although the diagrams errantly created and communicated broadly via Bryan on Scouting never made it into a Guide to Awards and Insignia, existing awards may continue to be worn as depicted in those diagrams, in keeping with this guidance.

Given this information, it’s probably time to stock up on the patches from BSA Supply. It’s order number 617431.

The details for uniform placement and requirements can be found at

October 2020

The BSA Scout Shop no longer has the patches in stock. So, we have published a listing of alternative patches including noting that official patches are available on eBay. You can find more at 


  1. Hate to sound negative, but I often times get the impression that BSA is run by the supply division. Doubt they sell a significant volume of these patches.

    • Bummer.. as a radio merit badge counselor and HAM that teaches at all the WeBeLoS Woods/Camporee events it was an excellent selling point.

  2. Disappointing. Especially since it’s needed more than ever in our country. Not really understanding the path BSA is traveling

  3. So interesting point.. the youth can’t be any of those other things mentioned. I could see it for adults, that reasoning.. but the youth?

  4. Nick posted this on a Facebook page that he runs for his council’s amateur radio group, and now I’m here after we had a dialogue.

    Considering most special insignia are worn by youth, especially, this makes no sense, as you can’t be ANY OF THOSE OTHER THINGS below the age of 18 anyway (excluding Venturers, who are technically youth members till age 21)

    And even then, I don’t see an issue with multiple. Just limit uniform code to one. You want active duty or retired military? Cool. Police? Fire? Medic? Great. Radio operator? Wonderful.

    The adult leaders would have fewer patches than the youth membership, and I’d like to think that their skills would benefit their units. Why not promote them?

    • Matt, you’re correct they can’t be doctors or other professionals.. but there is no age requirement for Amateur Radio Operators. I have known several under the age of 10.

  5. this is wrong. As an other here commented, amateur radio is needed MORE than ever. ex.- distruction aftermath recovery of harricane, tornados. this is where they start and learn and develope their interest in radio, electornics. It is VERY important! I looked up the placement of the badge on the right arm. requires VERY LITTLE SPACE. I don’t see a problem with its placement on the scouts sash either.

    an amateur radio operator, and VERY PROUD of it.

    J Kerr, N3VKN

  6. The quote from BSA Volunteer Chair John Duncan gives the impression that the ARO strip is worn mostly by leaders therefore it should be removed for all. How about the youth? I would gladly give up the strip on my uniform to a scout who earned their license so that they could get the recognition they deserve.

    K Chen, K2TRW

  7. This is sad to see such patches be phased out. I suppose I’ll order a second for when my current one gets tattered.
    It’s funny they reference the space on the uniform. This stripe is so low profile. Yet at Mass Jam this past weekend, I saw a council level adult with 12! knots above his left shirt pocket…

  8. What happens to the Morse Interpreter tab? Does it go away too? Seems that these two items go hand in hand. Not a very well thought out idea.

  9. I can understand why they want to remove it for adults, because other professions/volunteer orgs want a strip also (easier to eliminate than make several), but I agree with the others that this should be instead reserved for YOUTH, since this is something they can earn and is world wide. Several World Scouting orgs offer youth lic. uniform patches.

    Amateur radio is not a profession, it’s a licensed and unpaid skill.
    Another adult strip that could compete would be CPR/AED but youth already have that on merit badge sash. My vote is for youth to keep it, adults just need to learn they can’t advertise their other professions on the BSA uniform. (I’m former Mil but know it has no place or connection with the BSA.)

  10. I just bought two additional strips from the Scout Shop after reading this and then something dawned on me. I was rocking my K2BSA hat at the University of Scouting on Saturday with my call-sign on the back. That credential can be displayed on hats, Class-B t-shirts and temporary badges. On an optimistic note, at least the Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip will become a collectors item.

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