While you wouldn’t know it today, semaphore was a regular part of Scouting for decades. Indeed, not only was there a Signaling merit badge, but First Class had a requirement for “Getting a Message Through,” which involved signal flags. As a both merit badge and a rank requirement, Signaling was taught at Boxwell as part of the Activity Yard.
The signaling rank requirement is dropped for the first time in 1972, but re-added as part of the Communications Skill Award in 1979. It is dropped permanently in 1990. Signaling Merit Badge died a slow, painful death, with small numbers at Boxwell for years. It is final killed off as a merit badge in early 1992, returning for one year at Scouting’s Centennial in 2010.
Seen here is Richard Britnell (we think) around 1970 or 1971, teaching Signaling at Camp Parnell. Note the small number of Scouts…
This is a picture of Richard Britnell teaching First Class Scout Signaling Requirement using semaphore flags. The letter being displayed in the photo is S. This photo was taken in 1970 in the Activity Yard at Camp Parnell. Most scouts wanted to learn Semaphore to pass this first class requirement instead of Morse Code as Semaphore was easier to learn. The First Class requirement was number 9 on the First Class Scout scorecard. The requirement was – “Send and receive a message of at least 20 words, using either international Morse or semaphore codes and necessary procedure signals.”