Re: What all the awards?/A Different Perspective (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Wed, 31 May 1995 19:18:18 PDT
>In the US, BSA specifically, training is _not_ mandatory. The attitudes
>that prevail in the UK as regards volunteer service would not be tolerated
>here, IMO. So we encourage training with a plethora of awards and badges to
>earn. Americans seem to like recognition, so we give plenty of it. If, in
>an effort to earn all those knots, the Scouter gets some good training --
Part of this is another facet of the old "purist vs. pragmatist" debate in
world Scouting of which we have spoken in the past. Mr. Ken Schneider and
most European Scouters fall squarely in the purist camp, whereas most BSA
Scouters fall squarely into the camp of the Scouting pragmatists.
Both sides have traditionally had a marked tendency to see the other as
somehow lacking the true spirit of Scouting. Both the purists and the
pragmatists are good Scouters, and both think that their approach to
Scouting is the only correct one. These limited viewpoints continue to
fuel a good deal of rancor and misunderstanding in international Scouting,
as they have for the better part of a century.
I refer you to the discussion of this issue in the book, "250 Million Scouts"
by Lazlo Nagy, the former executive director of the World Organization of the
Scout Movement (WOSM).
I have found that the training and other requirements for the training
awards I have received have been invaluable as a tool for alerting me to
opportunities to actively pursue available training that I might otherwise
not have known known existed. I believe that as a result of this, my Scouts
have received a better program than they might otherwise have received at my
hands. Thus, the training programs of which the square knots are the visible
manifestation can serve to improve the quality of Scouting program that our
Scouts receive. Mere possession of a square knot by a Scouter, of course, does
not in and of itself mean that the youth members received the improved quality
of adult leadership and improved quality of Scouting program that these
training programs are intended to foster.
"So, what else is new?"
>As an aside, you can tell from the knots one wears his experience and
>"credentials." You can also gauge what their point of view may be based
>upon the awards they have earned.
>Personally, I take special notice of a few of the awards: the red, white
>and blue knot of an Eagle Scout, the red and green knot of an Arrow of Light
I have spent almost 29 of my 44 years in Scouting, 2 of which were as a Cub
Scout and three of which were as a Scout. Up until two weeks ago, I had only
three square knots to wear on my uniform. These were:
1) Arrow of Light (from my Cub Scout days), 1961
2) Scouter's Training Award (as Assistant Scoutmaster), 1974
3) Commissioner's Key (as Unit and later, Asst. District Commisssioner), 1977
Two weeks ago, at our District Recognition Dinner, I received:
1) Scoutmaster Award of Merit
2) Scouter's Key (Scoutmaster)
3) District Award of Merit
The first two of these fell into place by themselves as a natural result of
my training my Scouts to run a good troop program. The District Award of Merit
seeks out the Scouter, not the other way around.
I did not become a Scouter so as to earn square knots. There are many Scouters
in my council with far fewer years in Scouting who have earned more square
knots than I. I'll continue in Scouting so long as I am able and do whatever I
can to improve the program the boys receive, whether or not I ever receive
another square knot. Nevertheless, the knots do serve as mementos of many
happy times and a few "times that try mens' souls", to quote Thomas Paine in
his pamphlet entitled "Common Sense".
;-) <WINK WITH BIG GRIN>
As a side issue, I stopped wearing my square knots about 1978 and I didn't
resume wearing them until about a year ago. At that time, I asked one of
my Scouts (I was a Scoutmaster until January of this year when I resigned
owing to a health problem known as "severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome")
why he was not wearing his First Class Scout badge of rank. His answer was to
ask me if it was true that I had earned awards that I didn't wear, as
prescribed by the BSA uniform regulations. When I admitted to the truth of
this, he said, "Well, I'm just following your example. If you don't wear
your awards, why should I wear mine?"
Well, he had me neatly "outranged, outgunned and trapped between wind and
water" as the old U.S. Navy saying handed down to us from the English Royal
Navy goes. I realized immediately that I couldn't expect him to wear his
awards if I didn't wear mine, so I promised to sew on my square knots if he
would sew on his First Class Scout badge. He sewed on his badge and I did
likewise with my square knots.
To summarize: The square knots serve a useful purpose. The beneficial intent
of the program sometimes does not come to fruition. No human institution is
Yet another side issue. In 1984, the Association of Scouts de Espana (ASDE)
presented me with their "Insignia de Honor", which was one step down from
their highest award for Scouters, the "Lobo de Plata" (Silver Wolf). At that
time, I was told by the Comisario de Zona (Zone Commissioner) that I was the
only American to ever receive this award in the history of the ASDE. Typically,
one Insignia de Honor was presented per year in each of the 25 zones the ASDE
had at that time. I do not wear it, in part because I don't believe that the
BSA allows one to wear awards conferred by other Scout associations on the
This award came as a total surprise to me, since I didn't even know that the
"Insignia de Honor" existed, and I now know only that small amount which I was
told by the ASDE Zone Commissioner.
I may be going back to Spain to visit some of my old Spanish Scouting friends
in 1996 or 1997. Perhaps Mike Walton or somebody else out there on SCOUTS-L can
tell me if and under what circumstances it would be appropriate to wear this
small metal insignia. If it is appropriate to wear it on ceremonial occasions,
where on the BSA uniform should one wear it?
I thank you in advance for your help in re this matter.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris, email@example.com
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council (CA), BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City