At last night’s Pack Meeting our Scouts taught us that the word “have” means to “own,” but to “earn” means to “get it after you do something” — and they’re right. The words “have” and “earn” mean two different things, and the difference is important in Scouting and in life.
Why Do We Earn Patches at All?
What’s the difference between “I have that patch” and “I earned that patch”? With a quick search on eBay for “Arrow of Light patch” you’ll find you can buy one for a few dollars. If we could have one so easily, why earn the Arrow of Light at all? Pack 55 explored why last night.
If we go back to what those words mean, the difference is clear. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells us that “earn” means “to receive as return for effort”, while “have” is “to hold or maintain as a possession”. This means that:
- If you have an Arrow of Light patch that you bought on eBay, you can’t wear it and all we know is that you once had $4.99 and an eBay account, but
- If you earn the Arrow of Light patch you can honestly and proudly wear the award now and when you’re a Boy Scout and beyond — and we know you spent the effort and the time to successfully achieve the highest award in Cub Scouting.
This is why we want to earn our awards, and why there’s no reason to have them if we didn’t earn them.
Proudly Display What You’ve Earned
You should be proud of what you have earned — the Cub Scout Method relies on the uniform to showcase your accomplishments:
Cub Scout uniforms serve a dual purpose, demonstrating membership in the group (everyone is dressed alike) and individual achievement (boys wear the badges they’ve earned).
So are there patches we can have that we didn’t earn? Sure. While you shouldn’t trade away (or trade for) badges you have earned, exchanging other patches can be fun, and Bryan on Scouting agrees:
Council shoulder strips, district camporee patches, and pins from your hometown are perfect trinkets to trade at national Scout jamborees or other major Scouting events.
Yes, if you meet a Scout from a faraway place and trade council strips or neckerchief slides, you can have them, but you didn’t earn them — and now you know the difference.
Image credit Pack 1, Warwick, Rhode Island