I find flags to be fascinating almost-art objects. And the storytelling aspects of rare American flags, typically used to express unity or victory or passion, are part of the same symbolic lineage as merit badges we all lust after at camp. Lots of geometric shapes, bold colors and iconography.
These days, merit badges still tell a story — of a struggle, or a victory — and serve to express commitment to a group or cause, such as environmentalism or organic farming. And the visual stories they tell are as important to campers as these early flags were to revolutionaries and idealists.
We made merit badges for our wedding guests at our summer camp wedding. “A fun tschotske,” we thought. But no. These tiny emblems of victory, or at least participation (better luck next time Jim) drove people mad for collecting them. They brought out the kid, and the revolutionary spirit, behind us all.
Flag images from: http://n-e-w-w-o-r-l-d.tumblr.com/
Merit badge photo from: http://www.troop24news.com/
Eco Explorer badge photo from: http://www.girlscoutshop.com/gsusaonline/GSProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=ECO+EXPLORER+BROWNIE+TRY-IT
Archery images from our wedding from: http://www.stevenmichaelphoto.com/