Senior Scout Universal Emblem, SRS-05

Senior Scouts (1935-1949)

Senior Scout Emblem (1947-1949), SSO-01

In 1935, National established a new program for older boys in the BSA which they called Senior Scouts. What had been the Sea Scouts Service became the Senior Scouts Service. After researching the needs and interests of older boys since 1927, they concluded they needed unique opportunities for them to keep them in the Scouting program.  Under the Senior Scouting program. once a boy turned 15, he was automatically considered a Senior Scout, and could participate in any one of several programs.  Senior Scouts was not so much as a program, but a collection of programs.  Under one umbrella, they brought together several existing programs along with several new programs.  It took awhile for some of these programs to really get going, and some that didn't were dropped.

These programs included:

  • Sea Scouting
  • Explorer Scouting
  • Air Scouting
  • Rover Scouting
  • Troop Alumni
  • Senior Scouting in the Troop
  • Press Club
  • Order of the Arrow
  • Knights of Dunamis
  • Senior Degree Honor Society

Sea Scouting was established in 1912, based upon the work done by B-P and his older brother with the Boy Scout program in England.  This program fit well with the rest of the Senior Scouting programs, and would serve as the model and inspiration for many of the others.  Its earlier years are unclear.  It was in 1924 that the Sea Scout program that most are familiar with came into being.  Go to the Seascouts (1912-24) page for the earlier years, and to the Sea Scouts (1924-49) page for the later period.

Explorer Scouting was developed in the west as parallel program to Sea Scouts starting around 1922.  Its emphasis was on advanced outdoor work in camping, hiking, and exploring.  Early years the program did not have a good focus, but in later years it became better organized as a program.  Go to the Explorer Scouts page for the full story.

Air Scouting was established later on, in 1941.  With the advent of World War II, aircraft became more prominent, and to tie into this, the Air Scout program was created.  It took its inspiration from the Air Force, much in the same way the Sea Scouts were inspired by Naval tradition.  Go to the Air Scouts page to learn more.

Rover Scouting is one of the lesser known programs of the Senior Scout programs.  It is based on a program created by B-P for the oldest of boys, and sprang up within the BSA by 1928.  It is a service and leadership based program for boys 17 and older.  National gave this program little support, and so it was always fairly small.  Eventually it would end after a couple of decades.  To find out what little is know, go to the Rover Scouts page.

Troop Alumni was a loose way to keep past members of a troop together and to help support the troop in leadership, sponsorship, and financially, much like college alumni.  This was never a very well defined program, and so was eventually dropped.  This idea lives on in the loose concept of Scouting Alumni programs with National.

Senior Scouting in the Troop allowed for the use of Senior Scout programs (Sea, Air, Explorer Scouting) within a Troop structure to keep older boys involved in a troop, rather then pull them away to separate units.  In various forms, this basic idea would continue to this day.  The Senior Scouting in the Troop page begins this story, and links it to those programs that followed it.

Press Clubs was not a widespread or very organized program.  It came about from the inclusion of the Lone Scouts of America organization and its use of journalistic activities of its members to keep the program going.  Press Clubs officially existed from 1930 to 1956.  The program was aimed at those boys who were interested in journalism and writing, to help serve their units and councils with their articles and writings. An insignia pin was available.

Order of the Arrow was established in 1915 in the Philadelphia Council as a summer camp honor society.  The OA would grow to be one of the largest of such groups (there were many all across the council, some only existing in one council, but a handful existed in many).  The OA was dedicated to promoting camping and supporting council camp properties, and instilling in its membership the principles of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service.  The National office approved the OA as part of the program in 1935, but didn't make it an official part of the BSA until 1948.  Today it serves as the BSA's National Honor Society.  To learn more about the OA, go to their official web site.  To learn more about the other honor societies, go here.

Knights of Dunamis was established in 1925 in San Francisco.  It was basically a fraternal service organization limited to Eagle Scouts, but later allowed those who had earned the Quartermaster, Ace, Ranger, or Silver Awards to join.  Chapters soon spread across the country.  In 1934, in came under the Senior program, and in 1967 it became part of the BSA program.  In 1971, it became the National Eagle Scout Association, loosing its fraternal character.  To learn more about NESA and the Knights, go to the official NESA page at National's web site.

Senior Degree Honor Society is probably one of the least known of all the programs within the Senior Scouting programs.  It was a fraternal scouting honor society aimed at developing leadership among older boys.  It was established in 1917 in New Jersey, and chapters spread to a few other councils.  It came under the auspices of the National office when it became part of the Senior Scouting programs.  To find out what little is know about it, go to the Senior Degree Honor Society page.

Scouting Group
The  idea of the Senior Scout programs also tied into the idea of creating a progression for boys going through the overall scouting program.  In some countries each of these programs are called sections.  In the BSA this was viewed as the Scouting Group, but was not emphasized as much.  The progression went something like this:

Cub Scouts (10-11)
Boy Scouts (11-17)
Senior Scouts (15-17)
Rover Scouts (17-25)
Troop Alumni (25-on)

But this idea really didn't catch on as hoped.  It part it could have been caused by the overlapping of ages.  In most countries, a boy at 15 had little choice but to move over to their equivalent of our Senior Scouting programs.  They could not stay in Boy Scouts.  Then when they became 17, they would move into Rovers.  In the BSA, the overlapping of ages meant the boys didn't necessarily have to move over.

Due to research conducted by National, in September 1949, the Senior Scout programs became the Explorer programs.  Explorer Scouts became Explorers.  Sea Scouts became Sea Explorers. Air Scouts became Air Explorers.  Some of the other Senior Scout programs continued, others were changed or eventually dropped.

Senior Scout Uniforms
Each program within Senior Scouts had their own uniform.  At first, Senior Scouts would wear the standard Boy Scout khaki uniforms, but with ties and different shirt strips.  Only adults wore ties, youth wore neckerchiefs, so having Senior Scouts wear ties set them off from other youth. Adult Scouters wore tan ties, whereas Explorers Scouts wore maroon ties.  I assume this was true for any Senior Scout in a troop. For Senior Scouts in troops, there was a Senior Scout shirt strip on khaki.

Around 1941 a Senior Scout fatigue uniform was developed.  It consisted of blue dungarees (jeans), a white T-shirt with the Senior Scout logo, blue fatigue cap and blue zipper jacket with a Senior Scouting strip.    This fatigue uniform continued for awhile under the Explorer program after 1949.

Senior Scouts, BSA shirt strip, SRS-02

Senior Scout Titles
For the most part, each of the Senior Scout programs had their own program of advancement.  The closest things to an overall advancement program for all the Senior Scout programs were Senior Scout Titles.  The purpose of the Titles was to go beyond the idea of merit badges for something aimed at the needs and interests of the older boy.  The concept was to get the boy to specialize in an area that may lead to a lifetime interest or career.

To earn a title, the Senior Scout would develop a plan that involved earned at least 5 merit badges for the title's field, doing advanced work in one or more of those merit badge subjects beyond the Merit Badge Requirements, and plan and carry out a service project in that field involving the skills learning in earning the merit badges.  For detailed requirements and merit badge fields, go here.

Initially 10 titles were created: Artisan, Artist, Citizen, Craftsman, Woodsman (later called Forester), Journalist, Naturalist, Radioman, Seaman, and Sportsman.  In 1942, six additional titles in rural fields were added: Conservartionalist, Dairyman, Farm Manager, Gardener, Livestockman, and Poultryman. In 1943, the Airman title was added with the Air Scout program's introduction.

These titles would be worn around the Senior Scouting program emblems (Senior Scout, Explorer Scout, Sea Scout, Air Scout, Rover Scout) worn on the right sleeve.  Initially, they were made on khaki green twill and navy blue felt for the uniform colors used (khaki for Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Senior Scouts at the time, navy blue for Sea Scouts)  With the introduction of the forest green Explorer Scout uniform in 1946, some titles were issued on forest green twill, but only 6 are known to exist.  The Airman title was issued on sky blue twill, the only one so issued.

16 senior titles around explorer scout medallion


Senior Titles (1938-49)

Scout Airman, SRS-14Airman

Scout Artisan, SRS-18AScout Artisan on navy blue, SRS-18C

Scout Artist on green, SRS-15AArtist

Scout Citizen, SRS-23AScout Citizen on forest green, SRS-23BScout Citizen on navy blue, SRS-23C

Scout Conservationist, SRS-27A

Scout Craftsman on green, SRS-24AScout Craftsman on navy blue, SRS-24CCraftsman

Scout Dairyman on green, SRS-29ADairyman

Farm Manager

Scout Forester, SRS-25AScout Forester on forest green, SRS-25BScout Forester on navy blue, SRS-25C
Forester (Woodsman)


Scout Journalist, SRS-21A


Scout Naturalist on green, SRS-17ANaturalist

Scout Poutlryman on green, SRS-30APoultryman

Scout Radioman on green, SRS-22ARadioman

Scout Seaman on green, SRS-16AScout Seaman on navy blue, SRS-16CSeaman

Scout Sportsman, SRS-19AScout Sportsman on navy blue, SRS-19C




Senior Scouting Advancement
Each of the main 3 Senior Scouting programs had their own advancement program.  One interesting feature was that boys in any of the 3 programs could earn advancement in any of the other programs.  Thus a Sea Scout could earn Explorer Scout ranks if he wanted.  Each of the 4 levels in the various Senior Scout programs were considered equivalent such that a Woodsman Explorer Scout could then earn the Explorer Scout Frontiersman award, or the Sea Scout Able award or Air Scout Craftsman award.  See the below table for more. With the replacement of the Senior Scout program with the Explorer program in 1949, no longer could boys in one program earn advancement in another.

Also, Senior Scouts could also work on the upper level Boy Scout ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle.  They had to have earned First Class in a Boy Scout Troop, then they could continue toward Eagle in a Senior Scout unit.  Supposedly, those boys who earned certain Senior Scout advancements could progress to earning Star-Life-Eagle without having earned First Class, but I can find no evidence of this except for Sea Scouting, until the 1950's Explorer programs.

Comparison of Senior Scout Advancement Programs

Explorer Scout

Sea Scout

Air Scout













Senior Scout Outfit
In 1946, a new scouting unit was created, the Senior Scout Outfit.  The purpose of this unit was to allow for those boy who wanted to be involved in a Senior Scout program, but where there was not enough boys interested in forming an Explorer Scout Post, Sea Scout Ship, or Air Scout Squadron, to form their own group.  Within a Senior Scout Outfit, boys could participate in the Senior Scout program they were interested in (Air, Sea, Explorer).  Thus the Senior Scout Outfit could have a Crew of Sea Scouts, a Crew of Air Scouts, and a Crew of Explorer Scouts. This also allowed for the boys to go back and forth between the programs as their interests changed.

For this, a new emblem was created, combining the compass of Explorer Scouts with the anchor of Sea Scouts and the wings of Air Scouts.  Most refer to this emblem as the "CAW", for Compass-Anchor-Wings.  This emblem is superimposed over the tenderfoot symbol of Scouting.  This emblem would later be used as the symbol of Explorers in the 50s.

The uniform that would be worn by the Senior Scout Outfit was up to the members of the unit.  National was unclear on whether they wanted everyone in the Senior Scout Outfit to wear the same uniform regardless of the Senior Scout program they were participating in, or whether they allowed for each member or crew to wear the uniform of their particular program. In the literature both ways are mentioned as being acceptable.

According the articles in Scouting magazine, the Senior Scout Outfit became one of the most popular units in the Senior Scouting program, seeing an increase greater then the other programs.  Also, at this time, National started to see the phenomenon of 'specialty units', Senior Scout units that would focus on a particular specialty.  This specialty focus would continue and expand in the later years of Explorers and Exploring.  In September of 1949, with the demise of the Senior Scouting program to be replaced with the Explorer program, Senior Scout Outfits had to pick which of the 3 Explorer programs they would go to.

Senior Scout Outfit Office Insignia (1946-49)

Outfit Advisor, SSO-07Outfit Advisor

Assistant Advisor, SSO-08Assistant Outfit Advisor

Outfit Guide, SSO-06Outfit Guide

Assistant Outfit Guide, NO PICTURE

Crew Leader, SSO-03Crew Leader

Assistant Crew Leader, SSO-02Assistant Crew Leader

Outfit Secretary, SSO-06Outfit Secretary


Taking its inspiration from the Sea Scout program, National added the use of "Standard Senior Scout Unit" awards.  These awards were given to any Senior Scout unit which meet certain criteria at the local, regional, or national levels.  The Sea Scouts started this around 1939, and I think National picked it up for all the Senior Scout units around 1947.  In that year, the three Unit Awards said "1947" on them, afterwards the year was dropped.

These awards would continue for some time, at least in the Sea Scouts/Sea Explorers.  The latter day Honor Units/Quality Units for Cub, Boy Scout, and Explorer units got its start in many way with this program.

Standard Unit Award

1947 National Standard Senior Scout Unit

1947 Regional Standard Senior Scout Unit, SSO-14

1947 Local Standard Senior Scout Unit

National Standard Senior Scout Unit, SSO-11

Regional Standard Senior Scout Unit

Local Standard Senior Scout Unit

Not alot of literature was produced on the Senior Scouting program. The two Guidebooks on Senior Scouting were basically pamphlets on the programs.  The Guide Book of Senior Scouting gives a decent overview of the Explorer Scout, Rover Scout, and Sea Scout programs, with some nice detail on the early programs. The later Senior Scouting Guidebook gives a very brief overview of the programs.

The Adventuring for Senior Scouts is the closest to a handbook for the Senior Scouting programs.  However, its main focus is on the Explorer Scout program.  It gives a very brief explanation of some of the other programs, but leaves those programs to their own manuals (Sea Scouts, Air Scouts, and supposedly Rover Scouts).

Program Notebooks were started I think in 1943, for all programs, including Senior Scouting. (Anyone have data on when they really started??).

The Hints on Senior Scout Leadership gives a brief intro to leadership in these programs, aimed at both youth and adults.  They never produced something along the lines of the Scoutmaster Handbook for these programs, and the Hints are no replacement for it.

No National newsletter or magazine was produced for Senior Scouting programs.

The Senior Program Guide Book (#3442)
early 1935?
Guide Book of Senior Scouting (#3442)
1935, Oct 
1938, January    3000 

1939, January    5000
1941, March      3000 

pamphlet, 72-76pg

The Senior Program Guide BookThe Guide Book of Senior Scouting

Senior Scouting Guidebook (#3471)
1942, May       25000 
1946, Jan
1946, Dec        15000
1947, May

pamphlet, 62pg

Senior Scouting Guidebook, 1946 coverSenior Scouting Guidebook, 1947 cover

Adventuring for Senior Scouts (#3639)
Proof  1938 
1st      1938          639p+10p 
2nd    1939,Apr                        10000439 
3rd     1942,May 
4th     1942,Jun     692p        [revised 2nd printing] 
5th     1944,Jun     687p 
6th     1945,Apr    687p+8p  [Air Scout added to cover] 
7th     1946,Jan     686p+8p     5000146 

hardcover book.  edited by W.H. Hurt

Adventures for Senior ScoutsAdventures for Senior Scouts, Revised cover

Senior Scouting Program Notebook
1943 (shown)
1945 (shown)
1946 (shown)          10000
1946-47 (shown)
1948-49 (shown)
1949-50 (shown)    18000

booklet, 128pg

Senior Scouting Program Notebook, 1943Senior Scouting Program Notebook, 1945Senior Scouting Program Notebook, 1946Senior Scouting Program Notebook, 1946-47Senior Scout Program Notebook, 1948-49Senior Scouting Program Notebook, 1949-50

Hints on Senior Scout Leadership (#3482)
1947   15000647

booklet, 94pg

Hints on Senior Scout Leadership

Updated: 02/11/2005mrb