Adult Recognition Philosophies
Sun, 24 Jul 1994 15:09:37 EDT
On Sat, 23 Jul 1994 16:55:30 +100 Ian Ford <ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK> wrote:
>IMHO the issue with adult uniform is setting an example for the boys, so
>the uniform should be correct. Personally I can't see the point in
>wearing " antique " uniforms or outdated awards unless for a very special
>occasion, e.g. a pageant or show to commemorate a special anniversary. By
>all means keep them as souvenirs.
Ian, I think that if you re-read my posting on the old khaki uniforms, you
will find that I do keep these old uniforms for only special occasions, such
as scout shows, Eagle Courts and District/Council dinners. The former allow
me to provide a little history to the boys, while the latter are adults-only
events, usually made up of veterans of many years in Scouting, who share an
appreciation for the history. Considering the high sentimental, as well as
monetary, value of these shirts (actually the patches on them in the US), I
would be foolish to do otherwise. Yes, they do make great souvenirs, and
what went behind them will always be dear in my heart.
>Likewise, why wear all those knots ? I can understand that a Scouter may
>wish to wear the Eagle Scout knot, but the Arrow of Light gained at
>eleven ... is that <really> relevant ? Likewise, why not wear the
>highest award in each category rather than the whole string ?
>I guess what I am saying is who are we trying to impress here ?
On Sat, 23 Jul 1994 22:13:23 -0400 "Michael F. Bowman" <mfbowman@CAP.GWU.EDU>
wrote on the same subject:
>You questioned why the interest in wearing so many knots, especially the
>ones earned as a youth. If I were restricted to three knots, those youth
>awards would be the ones I would pick; e.g. Eagle, Religious Emblem, and
>Arrow of Light. Why? Because it encourages the Scouts to want to earn
>the same award. When they see an adult wearing the award and realize that
>they too can wear the same award (and there are only a few instances where
>achievement awards are worn on both youth and adult uniforms), they seem
>to strive for them. Over the years I've observed many Scouts express the
>most joy over an award that allows them to wear a knot. To them it
>signals a step towards adulthood and recognition of their progress in
>moving from adolescence to adult status.
I would echo that sentiment. I attended a troop meeting in my role as Unit
Commissioner, and was stopped by a boy who wanted to know what some of the
items on it meant. He was impressed by three items: the OA flap, the
Commissioner's Arrowhead, and the knots for awards earned when I was a youth.
He was quite pleased to know that there were little pieces of cloth which
denoted something the man standing before him earned as a boy - it made me
more reachable to him, because he realized that I had experiences similar to
his when I was young. I would therefore say that something as simple as a
piece of embroidered cloth can be the very bridge needed between a boy and
>As to the other knots, I think if we're honest we all like a little
>recognition and that tends to lead to longer tenured leaders. If wearing
>knots helps, I'm all for it. In my own case, I'm a trainer in several BSA
>program areas and they kind of serve as a set of credentials and often an
>introduction to adult recognition that new leaders are not familiar with.
>So long as it helps either with encouraging youth advancement and
>achievement or in building tenured leaders, I'm all for it.
In the US, most of us feel like we need the "pat on the back", as it were,
to let someone know that they are doing a good job. If someone is trained,
has the appropriate tenure in a job, and their performance has been
measured and found to pass muster, then by all means recognize that
effort by giving the deserved recognition! The knots (and the appendant
medals) let other scouters know that the wearer has experienced the
same effrorts and pains they themselves are suffering within the tasks
they are trying to carry out. It can open a dialog between a less
experienced Scouter and his/her more experienced counterpart.
>Do we do it to impress people? I can't speak for the group, but in our
>area the answer is more often than not a simple "no." Many veteran
>Scouters in our area don the knots only after encouragement to promote
>advancement, tenure, awareness of recognition awards in units, etc. Some
>of these same Scouters are a bit embarrassed at first to wear them,
>because they came into the program to help youth and weren't looking to
>glorify themselves. Usually they only wear the knots when they realize
>that it can help the program, not out of self-esteem.
Yeah, I remember my Dad being a little self-conscious when he first wore
his Scouter's Key knot - he felt the program was for the boys. After he
got into Cub Scout Leader training, this changed somewhat, because the
new trainees saw his "resume" on his chest - most had been in long
enough to realize those little patches meant something.
I think that most of us wear those knots for that reason as well - they
tend to be our "Scouting resumes". It lets others know of our
experience and performance, and should also be an advertisement to
those less experienced Scouters that here is an available resource for
ideas to help the program in their own units, from someone who is willing
to dish out those ideas, once asked.
IMHBCO, the last point is the most important - the wearer of the knot is
obligated to share his/her experiences when asked. This point is too
often missed in the great knot debate.
>As an sideline we also wear them because others want us to impress other
>Scouts and Scouters. I've been invited to participate in Eagle Courts of
>Honor and other ceremonies and many times requested to wear a uniform with
>all the badges legal to wear instead of a working uniform less bedecked.
>Usually this comment is followed with something along the lines of we want
>a really decorated Scouter to do this part of the program to emphasize
>just how important this or that is.
>For my part it would be a lot simpler to assemble a uniform with only the
>minimum of insignia, because I'm the one with needle punctures in my
>fingers from trying to sew it on. If I thought the only purpose for
>wearing knots was to impress others, I'd start pulling the threads and
>take 'em off.
My most treasured uniform shirt is now my Gilwell shirt, and it is as
as is possible, while still being correct. I would also be stripping badges,
the only thing they meant to me was the inflation of my ego, whether I was
impressed with myself, or was trying to lord over others that I knew more
than they, how dare they ask me. The badges on my shirt reflects my training
and experience in Scouting, and if anyone wants me to share with them what
I know, then these badges are my offer to them.
I think that most of us who are active in local events are guilty of
like the leather loops and other things - heck, at OA functions I wear a
aluminum Vigil triangle inset with a totem of my name. It has no place on my
uniform, it would be officially proscribed, but I only wear it to OA
(where the symbolism is not lost, and uniform inspections would probably
get the inspector thrown in the nearest body of water :->). Again, a great
conversation piece, but not kosher to wear at a Council Recognition Dinner
(although a group of us in my old home Council who had them did just that!).
I think Iwould be more tolerant of something like these "incorrect" items in
a camp setting, as long as it was uniform within the troop or patrol, was not
in bad taste, and in the spirit of having fun. I think that anyone who went
through Wood Badge training would appreciate that sentiment!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City