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Indian Waters Council - Boy Scouts of America - Columbia, South Carolina
Interpreter Strip - How to earn and wear it

How to Earn a Foreign Language Interpreter Strip


The Interpreter Strip is an important communications award for Scouts, Scouters and Explorers. For many, it represents a closer tie with their family and heritage. It gives an additional form of service at the local council and national levels. Often interpreters are invited to serve at community service agencies, and to work at special BSA events, encampments and programs. It is an award that is earned by meeting the requirements specified below. Each person wearing the strip should be proud of it.


Youth and Adult members (Cub and Webelos Scouts, Boy and Varsity Scouts, and Venturers and Sea Scouts, plus Scouters in all programs) may wear the interpreter’s strip, if they show their knowledge of a foreign language or the sign language for the hearing impaired by:

  • 1     Carrying on a 5 ­minute conversation in this language.
  • 2     Translating a 2­ minute speech or address.
  • 3     Writing a letter in the language (Does not apply for sign language)
  • 4     Translating 200 words or more from the written word.

Morse Code Interpreter's Strip

Special requirements exist for the special Interpreter's Strip for Morse code.

The Morse Code interpreter strip designates those who are proficient in Morse Code and denotes their availability for emergency communications and other types of supporting communication for Scouting and the community.

Youth and adults may wear this strip if they show their knowledge of Morse Code by:

  1. Carrying on a five-minute conversation in Morse Code at a speed of at least five words per minute.
  2. Copying correctly a two-minute message sent in Morse Code at a minimum of five words per minute.
  3. Copying means writing the message down as it is received.
  4. Sending a 25-word written document in Morse Code at a minimum of five words per minute.


The requirements are verified by the unit leader, after receiving sufficient evidence of the Scout’s ability to read, write, speak, and understand the language. The Scout or Venturer should bring a letter or the completed Worksheet  from his or her language teacher at school certifying he/she has passed the requirements for the Interpreter’s Strip.

Most Scouts earn an interpreter's strip in one of three ways: Their parents speak a language in addition to or other than American English; they learn how to speak a language in school or how to use American Sign Language; or they have lived in a foreign country for several years and had to learn the language on their own.

The unit leader or representative should note the personal achievement on the BSA Advancement Report for youth or on the BSA Training Report for adults and submit to the local Council for posting.


The strip is worn on the right side of the Scout uniform above the "Boy Scouts of America" strip. In the case of Explorers wearing a "Distinctive Dress Identity" (DDI), it is worn as prescribed by the Post or Ship bylaws.

Additionally, Scouts may wear more than one strip, however, good uniforming suggests that Scouts keep the number of strips worn to no more than three on a uniform shirt

For a list of Interpreter Strips available please see http://usscouts.org/advance/interpreters.asp

            If you have questions about the earning or wearing of an Interpreter Strip,
please contact  Lorie McGraw,
Indian Waters International Representative,
at internationalscouts@gmail.com

For Application Please See the File Download Information Below



IWC Interpreter Strip Application.pdf (49 KB)

Updates by: IWC Staff and Volunteers | © Indian Waters Council, BSA 2013