The World Crest, also known as the World Membership Badge is a badge or patch worn by Scouts and Scouters around the world to indicate their membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Each national organization may determine where on their Scout uniform this emblem is worn.
The current patch design was introduced with the 8th World Scout Jamboree in 1955, although the arrowhead, or fleur-de-lis, had already been a symbol of the Scout Movement since it was founded in 1907. The use of the arrowhead has led to some controversy, with critics citing its military symbolism. However, Robert Baden-Powell himself denied this link, writing and speaking about the various other meanings of the symbol.
Origins of the design
Baden-Powell began awarding a brass arrowhead to Army Scouts whom he had trained whilst serving in India in 1897. He went on to issue a copper arrowhead badge to all participants of the experimental camp on Brownsea Island in 1907.
Baden-Powell included a design for the Scout's badge in his work, Scouting for Boys, which was a simple arrowhead with the motto "Be Prepared" on a scroll below it. He reasoned that the arrowhead was commonly used as the symbol for north on maps, and a Boy Scout was to show the way in doing his duty and helping others.
The plumes of the arrowhead became symbols for Service to Others, Duty to God, and Obedience to the Scout Law. These three principles form the Scout Promise which is made by new Scouts as they join the movement. The arrowhead was modified shortly after, to include the two five-pointed stars, which symbolise Knowledge and Truth. A "bond" was also added tying the three plumes together to symbolise the family of Scouting.
The final design which is now worn on the uniforms of all Scouts around the world includes a rope which encircles the arrowhead and is tied in a reef knot at the bottom of the badge. The rope is there to symbolise the family of the World Scout Movement, and the knot symbolises the strength of the unity of the World Scout Movement. The colours chosen have heraldic significance, with the white of the arrowhead and rope reprsenting purity, and the royal purple denoting leadership and service.
Originally, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) presented the World Crest as an award to Scouts and Scouters who had participated in an international Scouting event. It became available on a limited basis in the early 1950s and from 1957 was available from local BSA council offices, together with a specific set of requirements for earning the badge.
In 1991, the BSA changed their policy and allowed all members to wear it as part of the standard uniform, without the obligation to meet specific requirements beyond membership, thus bringing them in-line with most other National Scout Organizations. The patch is worn over the left pocket of the uniform shirt, centered horizontally over the pocket and vertically between the left shoulder seam and the top of the pocket. 
The BSA has another patch, the International Activity Badge, which councils can award to Scouts and Scouters who participate in international events. Requirements are set by the local councils. The patch is worn as a temporary insignia on the right pocket, not in the location for the World Crest.
- Walton, Mike (1999). "The World Crest Badge...(and why do we *all* wear it?)". http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle/crest.htm. Retrieved 21 December.
- Walker, "Johnny" (2006). "The Fleur-de-lis and the Swastika". Scout Milestones. http://www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk/badges.htm. Retrieved 21-02-07.
- Baden-Powell, Robert (2005). Scouting for Boys. Oxford University Press. p. 34.
- "The World Membership Badge" (pdf). The Scout Association. http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs260016.pdf. Retrieved 21-02-07.
- "Boy Scout/Varsity Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet". Boy Scouts of America. 2000. #34283. http://www.scouting.org/forms/34283.pdf. Retrieved 21 December.
- "International Division Recognitions". The International Division, Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts of America. http://www.scouting.org/international/recognitions.html#iap. Retrieved 21 December.