Here's Part 1 All Them Knotty Knots
Steve Beluch (SBELUCH@DELPHI.COM)
Tue, 24 May 1994 21:48:59 -0400
All Them Knotty Knots (first in a two part series)
By Steve Beluch
This article is dedicated to those thousands of volunteer adult scouters who
were told when they signed a piece of paper with their son looking on,
"really...all we're talking here is an HOUR A WEEK".
How many times have you seen adults in scouting wearing colorful little knot
patches above their left pocket and wondered what they were for and how they
Even if you knew that they represented top awards in scouting, you may not know
which particular awards were being represented. An embroidered knot represents
a medal, pendant or certificate and is worn on the field uniform to informal
actual medal or pendant should be reserves for wear at formal functions such as
banquets or courts of honor.
Just as there are correct and incorrect occasions, there is a right and wrong
way to wear these multi-color gems. So, for the first time, here is the
complete information about Them Knotty Knots. But just as the sun glides
across the sky changing day to
night, so too does the BSA, things change, awards are added, changed and
dropped. If you have questions concerning specific awards that are not
answered here, check with the Insignia and uniform guide or National Boy Scouts
of America, Insignia and Uni
form Division, 1325 W. Walnut Hill Ln., Irving, Texas 75015-2079.
Currently there are 31 embroidered knot / medal awards recognized by the BSA in
five major areas; Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Professional, District/Council,
National. Some knots represent the basic award category while using miniature
pin devices to de
signate the program area, Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Explorer, Commissioner.
Most knots have either a distinguishing color or in the case where the strands
are the same color, the standing part of the loop that is in front (on top)
always points to the wearer's right. Please note that white is not the
There are no limits as to the number of knots worn on the uniform. You may wear
as many knots as awards you have earned. Likewise, there is no hard and fast
rule as to how the knots are positioned. They are to be in rows of three, but
the order is left
to the discretion of the wearer. Back in the mid 70's an effort was begun to
"rank" awards to establish a wearing sequence, more for uniformity rather than
importance, but it never got very far, though there are still some councils
around which follow
those guidelines. What did catch on and still remains today is that the higher
the knot was placed in the sequence, the more significance placed on it by the
wearer. If you have one knot, wear it centered, over the left pocket. If you
have two, again
centered with the knot having more significance to the wearer's right. As you
add rows, the top, rightmost position is the "most significant". Remember, its
the wearer's significance that's the deciding factor.
In talking with scouters from all over the country, I've found that the
majority have some confusion with a few of the most common awards so I'll
address those first. Next month I'll address some of the other less known
(Scout-silver knot, purple background) Used for ALL religious awards earned
by a youth in any of the program areas. Use the miniature pin device to specify
which program(s) the award(s) were earned. you may wear as many miniature pins
as programs you
earned the award in.
(Adults-purple knot, silver background) Used for ALL religious awards for
adult scouters. If you earned a religious award as a youth you may wear the
youth knot with the appropriate program pin(s).
As a Scout (to age 18) rank patches are worn, but once 18 is reached the youth
is considered an adult by the BSA and must remove all rank patches. Of all the
ranks earned as a youth, only four carry adult knot designations.
Arrow of Light:
(Green and red knot) For adults, who as a Cub Scout, earned the Arrow of
Light Award. Green braid is dominant and goes to wearer's right.
(Red, white & blue knot) For adults who attained the rank of Eagle as a
youth. If you also received the Distinguished Eagle Award than you may wear
the miniature Eagle pin centered on the knot.
(Blue knot on a white background) For adults who earned the Quartermaster
rank in Sea Explorer Scouting.
Explorer Achievement Award:
(Silver knot on a red, white & blue background) For adults who not only
earned the Achievement award, but also for adults who earned the Silver, Ranger
or Air Ace Award as a youth.
Next we'll look at the major unit leader awards. Believe it or knot these four
basic awards cause more confusion and combined, generate over 80% of all award
questions to councils and training teams across the country. The first two is
the Scouters Key
and the Scouters Training Award next comes the Scoutmaster Award of Merit
followed by the Cub Scouter Award.
One of the biggest causes of confusion seems to stem from the fact that the
Scouters Key and the Scouters Training Award may be earned in several programs.
This is compounded by some scouters calling this the Scoutmastership Key thus
making it sound like
there is more than one award.
So does that mean that if I earn these awards in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting,
Exploring and as a Commissioner, do I get to wear more than one of the same
type of knot? The answer is no. The first time the award is earned, it is
usually in the primary pr
ogram the adult is active. However, once the scouter becomes active in other
BSA programs a miniature pin is added to distinguish in which program the award
was earned. If and when subsequent awards are earned, only the miniature pin
reflecting that pr
ogram needs to be added to the existing knot.
The second point of confusion with all four of these awards is the cross use of
tenure required to earn the awards. We'll address this in a moment. First lets
look at the requirements for each of these awards individually.
Scouters Key Award:
(Green & white knot) Complete Fast Start and all phases of the program's
Basic Training. Conduct three junior leader training sessions and participate
as an adult in a junior leader course. Participate in a supplemental course
offered by your distri
ct, council or region beyond that of basic training. Earn the Scouter's
training award. Earn the Quality Unit Award for two years. With in a five year
period, (ok, here comes the time to pay attention), complete at least 3 years
as a registered:
Scoutmaster. --Scoutmastership Key
Coach. --Coach's Key
Advisor. --Advisor's Key
Sea Skipper --Skippers's Key
Commissioner--Commissioner's Key *(additional requirements)
For all programs: the applicant must also attend at least six roundtables,
huddles, or Masts
per year for the three year period registered in the leadership position.
It should be noted here that prior to 1988 Cubmasters were also eligible to earn
the Scouter's Key for Cub Scouting. But in 1988, Award recognitions for the
Cub Scout program were changed, adding the Cubmaster Award. While those
earning this award may
still wear the Key with a Cub Scout device, it is recommended that the Cubmaster
Award knot be worn.
Scouters Training Award:
(Green knot) This knot is also available for each of the different BSA
programs. Please note that there is no specific position required to be held to
earn this award. So take advantage and see that your committee people are aware
You must be a registered scouter for at least 2 years and have successfully
completed both Fast Start and Basic training appropriate to your program. To
earn the Scouter Award, in addition to meeting the above requirements you must
also complete fi
ve of the eleven electives below:
- Participate in five overnights with your unit.
- Participate in two SME / FOS enrollment campaigns.
- Participate as an active staff member at a council or district training
- Attend at least one additional supplemental training event.
- Participate in three parent nights or courts of honor.
- Supervise a unit fund raising event.
- Serve as a merit badge counselor to at least five scouts (need not be from
- Successfully complete Wood Badge Training.
- Successfully fulfill the requirements of your troop committee function.
- Assist with a Webelos Den for a period of six months.
- Participate in at least six of your district's Roundtables.
Remember, you choose five of the above eleven. Scouters earning this award
should add the miniature program device appropriate to that program.
Scoutmasters Award of Merit:
(White knot) This award is designed to recognize the active Scoutmaster
early in his position usually within 18 to 22 months. Unlike other leadership
awards, a Scoutmaster can not actively earn this award, rather, he is presented
it based on meeting
a set of requirements and nomination. It is an outgrowth of the old NESA
Scoutmaster Award and is based on a nomination procedure by the troop's
committee on behalf of the Patrol Leaders' Council and the troop committee.
Requirements: Registered and active as a Scoutmaster for at least 18 months
Achieve the Quality Unit Award at least once during this period.
Complete Fast Start and Basic Training and Youth protection courses.
Correctly use and document the BSA advancement procedures so that a
his scouts achieve the First Class Rank.
In addition, the prospective candidate must show; development of boy leadership,
positive relations with the troop's chartered organization, an extensive
outdoor program including strong summer camp attendance, a positive image in
the community and a str
ong troop program which attracts and retains Boy Scouts.
CUB SCOUTER AWARD:
(Blue & gold knot on blue background) This award was introduced in September of
1988 along with other Cub Scout award changes. The Cubmaster, Den Leader
Coach, Den Leader and Webelos Den Leader awards were also introduced in 1988.
These awards were ma
de program specific and in general, brought their requirements more in line with
the job requirements of the various Cub Scout positions. These awards require
specific position tenure requirements in addition to achievement and training
The Cub Scouter award is for those positions NOT directly related to youth at
the pack, district or council level and like the Scouters Key consist of
successful completion of both Fast Start, Basic training, attending pow wow or
roundtables during a min
imum of a two year tenure, and the completion of five out of fourteen
No you can't earn the Cub Scouter and the Cubmaster Award or any other position
award at the same time.
Questions on the tenure requirements for all of the above awards have given fits
to most training chairman and training teams over the past years. So here's
the bottom line. The Scoutmaster Award of Merit, and the Scouters Training
Award are designed t
o proceed the Scouters Key in the Boy Scout Program. Remember to earn the Key
you must have earned the Training Award. The Key also requires three out of
five years as a registered Scoutmaster. You following this so far? In other
words, as soon as an
adult joins the troop, he should be guided toward the Scouters Training Award
regardless of his position. Next, the new Scoutmaster should be directed
toward the Scoutmaster Award of Merit AND the Scouters Training Award AND the
Scouters Key, AND YES al
l these years cross and count. Here's how...Merit Award-18 months, Training
Award-24 months, Scouters Key 36 to 60 months.
That brings us to the end of part one. Next issue we will look at the awards
issued through the district, council and national as well as other recognized
awards in All Them Knotty Knots (part II). Here's a peek: Do you what the
Whitney M. Young, Jr.,
Award is for or how about a Silver Buffalo?
About the author: Steve Beluch has 30 continuous years in Scouting beginning as
a Cub Scout in 1960 with the Chicago Area Council and is a regular contributor
to Scouting Magazine. Though he has served in numerous leadership positions
including both Cu
b and Scoutmaster. His specialty is in the area of adult training and has
developed, directed and staffed numerous training courses at the council and
region levels and at Philmont. He is a free lance writer who owns and operates
his own Computer Consu
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City