Re: Adult Awards, Leader Knots
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Tue, 5 Sep 1995 12:24:00 CDT
This is an EXTREMELY LONG REPLY to Paul's posting and I doubt that I'll get it
all in in less than 200 lines; but I feel that it's important that he receives
a reply to his valid statements to all of us about the number and types of
awards presented to Scouters.
For those in our international side of Scouts-L, please excuse our "desire" to
express our emotions about this topic. To many of you, the only awards
available through your nation's Scouting program is for the youth members (and
then, those awards are less in number, less in color, and less in "personal
achievement orientation" than what we have in the United States). Rather than
to start another series of topics on this matter, may I state for the record
that yes, some of what we present to youth and adults can be somewhat excessive.
However, each of the special awards have a purpose: to recognize and thank
those volunteers (and *some* professionals) for their tenure and service to
the youth members and to the programs of Scouting.
Paul, I've taken your posting out of order only to reply to it. Your posting
reflects many Scouters' feelings that Scouting in the USA has somehow forgotten
the reason why it exists.
Paul Veltman <veltman@NETCOM.COM> writes:
>I read the posts regarding the above subject for the last week or so.
>I've only been on this list a short time, so please forgive me if I step
>on any toes here. There are probably a few of you reading this post who
>will think that it is a personal attack on your scouting careers, but, please
>trust me, it isn't. It's only an expression of my frustration with certain
>aspects of scouting that I believe do not serve the individual scouts and
When I served as a new Scoutmaster, there were only four awards that a
Scoutmaster -- any Scoutmaster -- could receive for service to the
movement and as recognition of doing a good job. There was the Scouter's
Key Award. There was also the District Award of Merit. In our Council,
we had the Presidents' Award, a piece of paper signed by the District
Commissioner and Executive. And there was the Silver Beaver for service to
youth through the local Council's program.
In my Council, as it was in others then, there seemed to be a "pecking
order" for those awards to be presented. Forget the requirements for the
awards -- it was those that gave the most money that got the higher awards
first, followed by those that gave the most time and "lived Scouting",
followed by those with long tenures. Then, the rest of the folk can "duke it
out" for the remainder of the awards, *if* there's anything left. It was not
until I moved away from my Council to a neighboring one when I found out that
I have EXCEEDED the requirements for the Scouters' Key Award by three years
and that I was entitled to something called the "Arrowhead Honor Award" (I
always wondered what those arrowheads were for on my District Commissioner's
shoulder...but I never got enough nerve to ask him!) three times over for my
I received those awards, and the presenter emphasized that the Key not
only recognizes my level of training, but my ability to "do a good job
for the youth in my Troop". It's true, Paul, that some Scouters will look
at the various knots, devices, and awards as "something that I can earn"
rather than "something that can make me a better Scouter". This is all
rooted deeply in our American "competitive spirit" and our nature in "wanting
to do better than the status quo".
>I suggest that scouters stop concerning themselves with earning square
>knots and various other awards, and start concerning themselves with the
>development of boys into men through the scouting programs.
I feel that if you have served Scouting for six years, Paul, you should be
entitled to SOMETHING from the BSA recognizing those six years of service!
In the profit world, this is accomphished by raises and incentives, depending
on job performance and "customer satisfaction". Because the BSA cannot hand
over clumps of money to each and every Scouter that exceeds the "status quo",
the BSA came up with this series of awards designed NOT to "pat each other on
the backs", but rather to stimulate and encourage those Scouters that need
those things and to recognize those Scouters that did more than unlocked a
building once a week and took a group of boys or girls outside somewhere.
You have a valid point in your implication that many Scouters do NOT deserve
such public recognition, and the BSA has been doing something about this.
This matter first came up in 1974 nationally and in 1975 and 76, the BSA
created other awards to present to adults to "thank them". A new Silver award,
called the Silver World Award, was created to allow those living outside the
borders of the USA and working with the BSA to get that longtime recognition
they deserve. The Silver Beaver and Antelope Awards were "tightened" to
reflect REAL Scouting service, not just "how much money you gave" (it didn't
work, but it was a good first effort!). New adult religious awards gave
church bodies the opportunity to thank longtime adults whom view it their
religious and moral duty to be of service to others.
Then, almost soon after we changed Chief Scout Executive a short time back,
we got the West Fellowship Award and some Council guidelines about awarding
the Silver Beaver Award. No more will Councils "give" the Silver Beaver
award, the award created to recognize service to YOUTH, to "anyone that just
gives monetarily to the local Council". That's what the new West Fellowship
is for now. You get a knot to wear (because the BSA has found that such
uniform devices actually INCREASE desire by Scouters to "continue to do a
better job" as well as to publically inform others of their personal
achievement) and a certificate to hang in your office or home. The Silver
Beaver will remain a SERVICE award rather than a FINANCIAL THANK-YOU to those
corporate heads and others that have invested in the success of the BSA and
the local Council.
>It seems to me that there are far to many of these "awards" that are handed
>out like seeds to trained birds. They all get together at recognition
>dinners and pat each other on the back and hand out silver whateveritis
>awards and all go home. I've been a scouter now for 6 years and have never
>seen a district commissioner or executive do anything. In fact, we get
>precious little out of our local council.
How many would you have, Paul, and what would you get rid of?
I am sorry that in your Council, you see very little of the leadership
and representatives that manage the program. Your District Executive,
like most field professionals in our movement, can NEVER receive a Silver
Beaver or other service awards UNLESS they are clearly heads and shoulders
above their counterparts nationally. Imagine what goes through their minds
when they see volunteers parading up receiving awards that they will NEVER
receive, while at the same time doing much if not all of their work in making
them "look good" to receive those awards! A good District Chair will turn to
the professional member(s) and tell them that "while we may receive awards
here tonight, much if not all of our combined successes cannot be done without
the hard work and long hours of our professional team members". Most pros know
that when a volunteer gets an award, their level of productivity goes up
>I, personally, have never sought any awards, and have received only one.
>That one award was to see the Eagle Scout medal pinned on my son by his
>Scoutmaster. Next Saturday, I will attend another Eagle Court of Honor
>for another scout in my son's troop. To me, seeing these kids earn their
>Eagle awards are more important than all the Silver Dog **** awards that
>the councils hand out. To me, that is the bottom line in this program.
I disagree with you, Paul. I DO NOT HOLD a Silver Beaver! I feel that it
is not only important that we attend and support the youth members in our
program when they receive special awards; but we should also encourage those
adults that have given their time and effort to Scouting by witnessing them
receiving awards designed to recognize their service and willingness to help
youth. When I had more money, I would travel to be there when Scouters
I know receive those special awards!
Take away all of the awards and plaques for Scouting service, we would
have no way to properly recognize your or my or anyone's service to Scouting!
What if after your long service as Scoutmaster, all you received was a
handshake and a pat on the back and "Thanks for your long years of service as
Scoutmaster"? We would all say "That's okay", but deep down, us Americans want
to have that recognition, that closure, that "gold watch" of acknowledgement
from our peers as we moved onward to new roles and positions in the program.
ALL of the BSA's service and training awards CANNOT be earned "in a couple of
months". It takes TIME, time in which adults must spend it with youth members
in an hands-on fashion or with other adults in coaching and training and
supporting Council or District events for the youth members. Everything, Paul,
comes back to the youth members. Either you receive a training award for
training and service to your unit and it's youth; a service award for serving
youth during a period of time; or an achievement award like the Quality Unit
Award for working with youth or other adults in achieving or maintaining a
standard of quality programming.
That's the bottom line. If we don't recognize and thank those that have worked
with our youth, they will find other ways to work with youth and we will lose
them. We lose so many and we lose units. Lose so many units and we lose local
Councils. That's why the BSA has blossomed the number of awards connected
with a device to wear upon the uniform. We want to let them know that their
efforts are noticed and we are thankful for their efforts.
A personal note, Paul. I have received many of those awards, and there are a
couple that I have received and NOT WORN, even though the certificate is
sitting around here somewhere and the square knot patch is carefully placed
inside one of my shirt pockets. As I've written before, while I am indeed
proud of what I have received from the movement, from a couple of church
bodies and from a couple of foriegn Scouting associations, I am always
reminded of the REASONS WHY I got those things....because I helped and worked
with YOUTH members over a long period of time and because I helped, trained
and coached adult members whom will be working closely with YOUTH members over
a significant period of time.
>I remember a couple of years ago, my son was interested in the Hornaday medal.
>Inquiries at the local council office only drew blank looks. In frustration,
>I finally called national, they referred it back to council, and nothing got
>done. All they did was hand me a few sheets of paper and tell me that no one
>knew anything about it.
When I started work for the Hornaday Award in 1971, NOBODY in my local
Council had any information on it. NOBODY. All they had was the
application, and some advice for me: "Good luck". Thanks to some
volunteers and my Scoutmaster, I found out what I needed to do to earn the
award, I found a conservation advisor, and I completed all of the
"requirements". When I sent the application and all of the supporting
materials to the Council, they sent it to National and three weeks later I
got my materials back from the Council office along with a letter that stated
that "I had to place the materials neatly in a notebook and to resent it to the
National Office address listed below".
A month later, I was invited to attend the Council's meeting where I recieved
the Medal (no certificate...again, nobody knew that they were to prepare one)
during a ceremony. There was no local newspaper account but I wrote an article
which appeared in Black Scene magazine in Louisville. I received a certificate
almost 20 years later.
When someone else's son here started work on the Hornaday Award, their
Council didn't know about the award either "except it exists and here's the
application". Good thing for forums like this, where he not only received
information on what the award is like and how to earn it and what kind of
projects can be done for it....and how important the award is!
Paul, local Councils are not knowledgeable about ALL of the BSA's various
awards and programs. In larger Councils, you may have one or two senior
professionals that have been around long enough to know what needs to be
done for a youth member or adult member to receive a special award. But let's
face it: many of the professionals serving the BSA have NEVER been a youth
member themselves, therefore, they would have NO CLUE as to what *is* the
"Hornaday Medal" as how to earn it other than to fill out a form.
Mike L. Walton
(sig file deleted only to get all of this in!)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City