HOME—International Scouting—Highest Rank/Award/Badge
First, we'd better define what we mean by 'highest rank'. Most national Scout associations have various awards for adults and Scouts. These can include awards that are bestowed, such as a medal for bravery or saving life. And they can include other awards that can be earned, such as those for training or service. But by 'highest rank' (award/badge), we are referring to the highest award for advancement (achievement) that a boy or girl (under age 18) can earn.
Baden-Powell created the original system of Scout advancement, starting with Tenderfoot (basically a new or inexperienced Scout), followed by Second Class, and culminating with First Class. B-P's Scouting for Boys explains general requirements for these awards, which are often called 'ranks' or 'awards' (and sometimes 'badges') in English-speaking countries. In 1909, Britain's King Edward VII authorized a new top rank, King's Scout (called Queen's Scout since approval by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953). This is available to Scouts in countries that are members of the UK Commonwealth. A similar Queen's Guide award is authorized for Girl Guides. Many national Scout associations have since created similar highest awards.
Some national Scout associations do not have an advancement system, and hence do not have a highest level of advancement/achievement/rank that a Scout can earn. For those associations that have an advancement system, they often have a highest award for each program section (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, Rovers, etc). But the highest award, and the one with the most prestige (and carryover value into the adult world) is typically the top award available to a Scout in the association's program for older Scouts (typically aged about 14 until 18, although some associations that have Rovers allow earning their top award up to about age 25, and some have a separate top award for adult Rovers).
So far, we've found 50 Scout/Guide Associations in 43 countries where there is a highest rank or advancement award. We'd be delighted if you would email us with addtional information, as we have certainly missed many, and we have not found images of all the top badges. A website that has information and photos of top ranks in many countries is ATAS595, sponsored by ATAS (Association of Top Achiever Scouts), an international Scouting organization for recipients of the top Scouting award in the Asia/Pacific Region of WOSM/WAGGGS.
It's interesting that the name of the highest rank typically falls into one of four categories
(1) Named after the Chief of State (King, Queen, President, Sultan)
(2) Named after an animal (sometimes mythical or religious) (condor, dolphin, dragon, eagle, garuda, lion, quetzal, sable, springbok, tiger)
(3) A name with national pride or religious significance
(4) Named after the top Scouting official (usually 'Chief Scout's Award')
Prestige. The highest award in some countries carries significant prestige and value beyond Scouting. But in those countries where they have a highest award for each program section, each with an identical name, we doubt there is much recognition outside of Scouting for such awards. For example, the Eagle Scout award in the US is well-known outside of Scouting, tends to 'open doors' in job or university applications, and even gains the recipient an early rank advancement in the US military forces. We would be curious to hear from you about the prestige (or lack thereof) of the highest awards in other countries.
|Picture of Top Award||Scout / Venturer Advancement Progression|
|A Scout in Australia can earn a number of awards,|
starting with the Scoutcraft badge, then Pioneer(red)/
Explorer(blue)/Adventurer(green) target badges,
followed by similar colored cords with additional
requirements, and culminating in the Australian Scout
A Venturer can earn 4 awards: Venturing Skills Award,
The Venturer Award, Endeavour Award, and Queen's
(Girl Guides Australia)
(The Scout Association of Belize)
(União dos Escoteiros do Brasil)
Escoteiro da Pátria
(Scout of the Fatherland)
|A Scout or Guide (Escoteiro/Escoteira) in Brazil can|
earn the Lis de Ouro (Gold Badge).
A Senior Scout or Guide (Sênior/Guia) can earn the
Escoteiro da Pátria award.
(Persekutuan Pengakap Negara Brunei
Prix Aventurier de la Reine
|A Scout in Canada can earn 4 advancement awards:|
Pioneer Scout, Voyageur Scout [the top half circle],
Pathfinder Scout [the bottom half circle], and Chief
A Venturer can earn 2 awards: Venturer Award and
the Queen's Venturer Award.
(Girl Guides of Canada /
Guides du Canada)
Chief Commissioner's Gold Award
Prix d'or de la commissaire générale
|The highest achievement for a Pathfinder (ages 12-15)|
is the Canada Cord.
A Ranger (ages 15-17) can earn various awards,
culminating in the Chief Commissioner's Bronze, Silver,
and Gold Awards.
(Asociación de Guías y Scouts de Chile)
|China / Hong Kong
(The Scout Association of Hong Kong)
(Cyprus Scouts Association)
(Junák-Svaz Skautu a Skautek)
(three eagle feathers)
(Soma Ellinon Proskopon)
(Scout of the Nation)
(Asociación de Scouts de Guatemala)
(the resplendent quetzal is the
(Asociación de Scouts de Honduras)
Caballero Scout Lempira
(Knight Scout Lempira; refers to a
16th Century leader who fought
against the Spanish conquistadors)
(Bandalag Islenskra Skáta)
(The Bharat Scouts and Guides)
Rashtrapati Scout / Guide
(President's Scout / Guide)
|A Scout or Guide in India can earn 5 advancement|
awards after passing the Pravesh (Entry) requirements:
Pratham Sopan (First Level), Dwitiya Sopan (Second
Level), Tritiya Sopan (Third Level), Rajya Puraskar (State
Award), and Rashtrapati Puraskar (President Award).