As Mark Twain said “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.” Like most volunteer Scouters I am not a Scoutmaster to earn awards and I didn’t want to look like I was – so for years I never wore my square knots.
When I bought a new centennial uniform shirt I sewed on my square knots. Frankly wearing them feels a little sanctimonious. On the other hand not wearing them is equally sanctimonious, just in the opposite direction.
I’ve been a Scoutmaster since 1984 when, at the ripe old age of 24, I agreed to take over for a Scoutmaster who was ready to retire. I was never a boy Scout as a youth but I have always enjoyed the outdoors and doing what I can to help out.
Presented for distinguished service to young people within a BSA local council.
District Award of Merit
Awarded for five or more years service to youth in the District. The nominee’s attitude toward and cooperation with the district, division, and/or council is to be taken into consideration.
Boy Scout Leader’s Training Award
Recognizes that a scouter has completed a course of intensive training.
Scoutmaster Award of Merit
Awarded to Scoutmasters who have a record of proper use of the Boy Scout advancement program, resulting in a majority of troop Boy Scouts attaining the First Class rank, Development of boy leadership through the patrol method, Positive relations with the troop’s chartered organization, extensive outdoor program including strong summer camp attendance, positive image of Scouting in the community and a troop operation that attracts and retains Boy Scouts.
I should also mention that I staffed at our summer camp for twelve years in various directorships including two seasons as the camp director. I have worked with literally thousands of Scouts and leaders and have administered a staff of eighty counselors. Beyond that I have also staffed many training sessions. I am a Vigil Honor member of The Order of the Arrow.
No , I never attended Woodbadge (an advanced training program for Scout leaders). Why? Well, nobody would tell me what it was about. When I asked to look at a syllabus or schedule for the week I would have to spend taking the course I was rebuffed. I suppose I am a little cross-grained at times.
I’ve been at this for most of my adult life and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. It has been quite an education.
Long-time readers will note that my approach to “debatable questions” has evolved as the blog and podcast have grown. My approach is succinctly and eloquently laid out in this statement from the 1914 Scoutmaster’s Handbook:
The Scout Movement is not antagonistic to any civic enterprise, but rather seeks to cooperate with all other good movements in the interest of the boy. The Movement is wholly non-sectarian and plans to work with every sect and creed alike; it is non-military, and seeks to promote Peace Scouting and to develop educational character-building for good citizenship. It is wholly non-partisan. It cannot favor one interest against another and cannot countenance interference on any debatable questions, whether social, religious or political.
From time to time I receive email or comments that touch on debatable questions. Scoutmastercg.com is focused on sharing useful ideas, informing volunteer Scout leaders and inspiring us all to service. This is not a forum for debating the membership policies of the Boy Scouts of America, questions of politics or religious arguments. I will respond to honest questions touching on these matters in email if I deem it would be helpful to the individual asking the question. Otherwise email or comments that I determine intrude into the territory of ‘debatable questions’ go unanswered or unapproved for publication in the comments section of the blog.
Scouter John says
As far as knots go, I agree with the camp that thinks “How can we expect the boys to wear all their MBs, current rank etc, if I don’t wear my knots” as well as those who think it serves as example to strive for achievement.
As a combat veteran, who has gone in harm’s way to protect the rights of all americans, I get a bit agitated at discrimination based on sexual preferance. I’ve worked alongside and for some patriotric men and women who were gay or lesbian, and by golly, they fight and lead just as strongly as a straight man or woman. They care about american values just as strongly as anyone else, and are no more likely to be pederasts. That was the great thing about Scouts prior to the Post-Vietnam era. Courteous people did not talk about the bedroom.
Matt Cole says
Had not read your resume before, Clark. I believe you and I are alike. I sense that you too think at least some of the rules in Scouting need some changes. I have been through 2 Wood Badge courses (old and new) and on Staff once (have not been invited back). I am not as much of an enthusiast of the course as some I know are. It’s nice, but the old one was better. I too asked a lot of questions about what was going to happen and was told to simply wait… If you want to go to Philmont with my Troop in 2013 please let me know. Be glad to have you along. My 5th time there.
Larry Geiger says
“What happens more often is we look for ways to compel them to do what we want to do rather than ways to inculcate the value of Scouting methods in a way that results in Scouts participating in them.”
Now that’s a point that I can wholeheartedly endorse. It’s also true.
However, I also think that it’s counterproductive to label the methods as “optional”. But my main point is that once we call one of the methods optional, then we are no longer doing Scouting. We are doing a Boy’s Club or a Youth Group or a Garage Band or something. It’s not Scouting.
Advancement is not optional. A Scout may choose to not be interested for a while in advancing to the next rank, but advancement is going to be part of everything that is going on around him in his Troop. Constantly. If it’s not, then it’s not a Scout Troop!
As soon as a Scout logs into his computer and drops in to visit the Scoutmaster Blog and notices that uniforms are “optional”, I think that we have a problem.
It’s kind of like saying “learning” at school is optional. We know that some students may not be learning so we can say that “learning and teaching” at our school is “optional”. No it is not. The school is going to continue to teach and Lead, Train and Inspire students to learn. Just because a few aren’t currently “learning” does not mean that it’s not required. If learning and teaching are optional, then it’s not a school. It’s a playground or a napping zone or something.
I cannot find the official statement about the Aims and Methods of Boy Scouting on Scouting.org. It’s there but I can’t find it. It says something like:
“The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.”
I read “equal importance” (IMHO) to say that all of the aims are necessary. None can be over-emphasized and none can be de-emphasized and none are of higher importance that the others.
So by the definition that you used above “there is no language any where in Scouting that requires a Scout” to follow the Ideals, be in a Patrol, be involved in the Outdoors, Advance, Associate with Adults, Grow Personally, Lead or wear the Uniform then the methods are all “not required and” are “by definition, optional”. It’s all optional. If it’s all optional, then it’s not Scouting. I cannot think of any other way to say that. I can’t think of any other way to think about it. I’ll try, but I don’t think that it’s going to come to me.
Clarke Green says
Let me take another go at it – We want Scouts to buy into things, certainly. We have expectations and aspirations for Scouts but we don’t use rules to force them to do what we want – Scouting is attractive enough that they want to do it!
Lots of kids don’t learn much at school – you can’t make someone learn. You can compel them to occupy a seat but you can’t make them learn.
I don’t think that if Scouts discovered this they would stop doing Scouting – I tell my Scouts this all the time. Scouts may stop doing things that they don’t like but they would still go Scouting. If there was no law and no law enforcement I wouldn’t change the way I do anything tomorrow because I like to think I have some ethical character – I’d do the right thing not because I was afraid of something, but because It’s the right thing to do.
Now certainly there’s plenty in life that we don’t want to do but we have to do anyway. So Scouting will have some of these things too – but we do stuff we don’t like because it’s important to us for some reason.
Scouting did not invent anything – it recognized existing things and made the best of them to become a new way of looking at the world. BP saw and understood the way boys acted and related to one another. He saw that he could capitalize on their love for adventure, the out doors and their propensity to form groups. He understood that a uniform was a powerful means of identity, that the patrol system was a good way to make things happen. He then aimed the program at high ideals and achievement. Subsequent generations of Scouters turned it into a formal system of compulsion (not including you in that bunch) but someone was smart enough to keep people from writing laws and rules that would spoil the spirit if the movement.
A boy who dresses up as a goth is not being compelled to do so by the ‘Goths of America’ – he’s doing it because he finds meaning and personal expression in what it represents (and don’t try to talk him out of it). That’s the way I’d like Scouts to be – boys adopt Scouting because they find meaning in it. That’s something you can’t do with rules or compulsion.
Larry Geiger says
Ummmmm, no. Uniforms are not optional. Uniforming is one of the methods of Scouting. It’s not Scouting without ALL of the methods.
Uniforms are not encouraged. They are one of the methods. Now, it may be that certain Scouts in a unit have not yet attained to perfection under the uniform method. We have allowances and ways to remedy that and ways to work towards the ideal of that method. But uniforms are not optional.
Advancement is not optional. Now, all Scouts in a unit may not yet have attained perfection, or the pinnacle of advancement (Eagle Scout Rank) but they are all working within the advancement method. If not, it’s not a Scout Troop.
None of the eight methods are “optional”. Without them you don’t have a Scout unit. Period. We may not all attain perfection in every method, but they are not optional.
Clarke Green says
My point here is that there is no language any where in Scouting that requires a Scout wear a uniform. It is not required and is, by definition, optional. Scouts are not required to advance either. (Show me, in black and white, form the BSA where either uniforms or advancement is required and I will relent.)
I make the point because it demonstrates that Scouts volunteer to wear uniforms, they volunteer to advance; because there are no rules requiring that they do either. This fact better defines our job as Scoutmasters – if these things are a choice how do we motivate our Scouts to choose them?
I know that a lot of folks will find this cross-grained and tiresome but when Scouts aren’t wearing uniforms or advancing we need to ask some questions of ourselves. What happens more often is we look for ways to compel them to do what we want to do rather than ways to inculcate the value of Scouting methods in a way that results in Scouts participating in them.
SM Ron says
Imagine if a scout earned a merit badge and then didn’t put it on his sash or earned the rank and then showed up still displaying the last one. At the next uniform inspection or Board of Review, you would say he is missing something. Why would square knots really be any different. You earned them or were awarded, them so wear them. Keep the politics, posturing, and arguing for the “adult” world. In scouting, we are to wear the uniform properly. We need to spend our energy to strive to learn, to lead, and to share our scout experience. We need to remember it is all for the boys.
Clarke Green says
And we also should remember that uniforms, while encouraged, are optional.
Michael S. Malone says
Did you ever think you’d still be getting comments on this entry almost six years after you first wrote it?
John Krall says
I think you are missing many opportunities to promote advanced training for adult leaders by not wearing your WB beads routinely. People do ask, “What are those for?” and you can take that as an opening to explain their meaning. More training = better leaders = better program for the boys. I wear the beads always with uniform, the neckerchief and woggle for WB events.
A proud Bear.
As a Scouter for the last 18 years, and as a new District Commissioner, I encourage all leaders to wear all knots for which they are eligible. When I have Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts come up to me and ask me what my knots are for, their eyes light up and they ask if they are going to earn one. That opens me up to tell them about the badges they can earn if they stick with the program. It is a good opening for Scouts and parents. It also validates what one has done in Scouting. I will be putting on a new knot very soon…the Silver Beaver, and am working on the Doctorate of Commissioner Science knot. That will give me nine altogether, and they are such conversation pieces, and have actually enabled me to recruit some new leaders. My advice is to wear what you are eligible for, wear what you have been given because someone thought enough of you to nominate you for it.
Neat site. Thanks!
Bob Jones says
Been in scouting for awhile, earned a few awards and knots some as a youth and a few as an old fart. I stop wearing the devices on the knots as they always where sticking me and getting lost. Been call a South American dictator do to the knots, my cane that holds me up, is log of my scouting time. I have a few skills still, and I’m still learning. The knots and awards are just that, had a few ribbons from service in the navy too, and dollar will get you a cup of coffee. If I ever buy a new shirt, there will not be any knots on it, can’t see that well to sew them on. Oh my thumb staff is blank but it is over 50 years old and seen many a trail .
Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle) says
I answer this “knots or no knots” question a lot, especially when one sees one of the three uniforms I do wear to Scouting events, there’s several rows of the insignia on them.
I also have two shirts which have *no square knot insignia* on them and I wear one or the other with the medals/medallions formally or with nothing at all informally.
The way I answer the question is in this manner:
When one walks into a doctor’s or dentist’s office, there are usually diplomas, certifications, and other documents which assist you with answering the question “can I trust this person with my healthcare needs?”, and the followup “is this someone who just got by or did he or she continue their education and service?”
Eventually, after a review of what’s around in his or her office, reading where they went to school or received their certifications from, you either accept this person and let them work with you; or you give your apologies and walk on.
In Scouting, we don’t have the opportunity to show new youth or adults into our homes or workplaces, so the “square knot insignia” gives someone an IDEA of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Most parents, let alone Scouts or potential Scouts, have absolutely NO CLUE as to what those various colored pieces of cloth represent or mean or demonstate.
That was why I started my Badge and Uniform Site with the description of the various “knot thingys” that I wear and it expanded outward from there.
Ben Love, who was our Chief Scout Executive, had a lot of bad things going on with him during his tenure. However, he was also the one who coined the statement “we’ve got to connect again with our volunteer workforce and in doing so we have to wear what they wear, serve where they serve and be just as proud of our accomphishments as they are.”
He said this in announcing that after a long time of BSA professionals only wearing the blue and grey “zoot suit” (or the “IBM” suit, some called it), that field professionals would wear the field uniform as much as possible — and important for this conversation, wear the appropriate square knot insignia representing those things they have earned as a youth, those things they have qualified by participating in volunteer training, and those recognition pieces which they have been honored for their service.
It was a BIG DEAL. Almost overnight, professionals who haven’t worn the field uniform since “ground school days” decades back were finding their uniforms or purchasing a new one. The Professional Training Award with its distinctive “knot emblem” became the “symbol of a well-trained professional executive”.
To those who feel that the only reason why the “square knots” exist is to provide a way for some like me to “show off”, think again. It is more than bright lights on an otherwise dim uniform shirt — it is YOUR PROOF AS TO YOUR COMMITTMENT TO SCOUTING — now and in the future. Anyone can purchase a Scout uniform. One can perhaps go online or go to eBay(tm) and purchase a bunch of knot emblems and toss them (upside down of course *smiling*) on a shirt. But its the EXPERIENCES WHICH ARE BEHIND each of those awards those “knot emblems” represent – that can’t be copied or “just worn”.
Some will ask “Okay, I’m with you so far but why do people like you feel that you’ve got to wear ALL of the stuff? Can’t you just wear a couple?” It’s a fair question, but it’s a hard question to answer.
Which would you want me NOT to wear — the Scouters’ Key or the other six training awards? Eagle? The Arrow of Light? Exploring Acheivement Award? Hornaday? Youth and adult religious emblem? The Heroism medal?
The International Scouter Award? Or the Scoutmaster Award of Merit? District Award of Merit? Silver Beaver? Sea Badge? West Fellowship? Spurgean Award? Boyce Organizer Award? Young Award?
The answer you give me depends on your Scouting background and experiences. Some reading this will have no idea of what half of those awards are — and THAT IS PRECISELY WHY I WEAR THEM. A Scouter not knowing that there is actually a recognition for their youth religious emblem they earned as a Cub Scout will ask me and I’ll be happy to tell them about it.
Others will say that “the most important things are those you earned as a youth…” Okay. That’s two and a half rows of “knot emblems.”
Some will say that “all you need to wear is Eagle. Everything is on top of that…” and I could “buy into” that argument until you show up someplace and some kid wanting to join your Troop looks at the Scoutmaster wearing the Key and Training Award in addition to Eagle and say to me “you haven’t been in Scouts long enough — I’m going to THAT guy over there…” which is another reason why I wear SOME OF THESE ITEMS — IT PROVIDES A DEGREE OF TENURE WHICH CAN BE “COUNTED” by those in and out of the program.
Trust me — when someone looks at your shirt and proclaims “you’ve been around this Scouting thing for a few years…” they’ve already calcuated the time. You don’t need to say a WORD!
Finally, I’ve been mentioning “SOME OF THESE ITEMS”. I don’t wear ALL of them — if I did, I wouldn’t have space for the World Crest nor year pins. My three shirts are split — I have one which emphasizes my Exploring/Venturing service over the years; another shirt which emphasizes my Boy Scouting service over the years; and yet another one which emphasizes my Cub Scouting service over the years. The event will dictates which shirt I wear — and therefore what “knot emblems” I would wear with that shirt.
And there are some “knot emblems” — for instance the Sea Badge — I won’t wear at all. I prefer to wear the actual Sea Badge, going back to my comment above that “most people have never seen what the actual Badge looks like…”
The BSA makes these small pieces of cloth for a reason: they WANT you to wear them informally instead of the medal or medallion and because carrying around plaques and certificates can be tough, especially when carrying a coffee mug too! *smiling*
But it is ALL ON YOU — you can wear NONE, SOME OR ALL (the BSA is trying to limit the number to 12 or 15 but in all honesty, it’s not going to happen. As I mentioned in response to an earlier posting, what are they going to do…take them OFF? NOT!)
That’s *my take*. I’m going to bed…there’s more important things in Scouting than to mull over “how many things he or she’s got on their shirts and why don’t I have more or less than they do…”
Remember however, that there’s ALWAYS some Scout or Scouter watching you — and taking notes.
The “uniform of the Scouter is the uniform of the Scout.” Love knew this, even though it took him a long time to figure this out!
Interesting discussion. I can remember when Scout Executives were not to wear any knots. In the 1980s, they lifted that ban, allowing Scouting Professionals to wear the knots that reflect their training, whether it was earned as a professional or volunteer. I wear three knots, Eagle Scout, SM training award, and Scouters Key.
As to your unofficial knot, I would not wear it. Mostly because it is directly under the patch that is intended to represent the tolerance that you espouse. The reason the World Crest is now standard issue on uniforms is to imply the inclusion that you describe. When I was a Scout, you only wore that patch on your uniform if you had been to an international event.
Greg Hines, MD
Mike Malone says
Just read your comment, and was both amused and disappointed. I know that’s a common complaint against Scouting. It was true when I was a Scout, and I hear it now occasionally as an Assistant Scoutmaster. So I just did a quick inventory of some of the Scouts I’ve worked with over the last few years. Here’s a sample:
— Eagle with silver palm, pre-law at UC Berkeley, going JAG with the Coast Guard.
— Eagle, varsity wrestler in HS, now at Pomona
— Eagle, baseball all-star, published writer, rock guitarist, currently at Oxford
— Eagle, competitive fencer, classical pianist, currently at Trinity
— Eagle, varsity baseball, rock bassist, accepted to University of Montana
— Eagle, documentary film-maker (snowboarding), graduated with honors from UC Davis
Not exactly a roll call of ‘nerds’ is it? Did I mention we still regularly get together to shoot sporting clays? Are there some classic nerds on the extended list? Absolutely, as if it matters. What does matter is that, in sum, this is about the most extraordinary list of young men imaginable. And Scouting helped make them extraordinary.
Perhaps, as a father, if you were to shift your ambitions for your son from merely being cool, to having him become an accomplished and successful young man, you might decide to give Scouting another chance.
Walter Underwood says
Give Boy Scouts another try.
Everything else that an 11 year old does is adult-run: school, soccer, little league, church groups, and so on. Boy Scouts is run by the boys, so it is truly different.
The knots on the adult’s uniform don’t matter much, because a boy scout troop isn’t about the adults and isn’t run by the adults. The square knots probably mean that the adult cares about doing a good job, that’s about it.
I have a little different spin on the knots. I can see both sides of the debate. I completely agree that Scouting is ALL about the boys and I am often frustrated when I run into adults who have forgotten that. On the other hand, I have had the pleasure to work with leaders who devote most of their free time to the boys, and I think that a few knots and medals are far from the thanks they really deserve. No, I don’t think most of these leaders are in it for the thanks, but all people who volunteer their time deserve to be thanked.
This has been my stance and then I received the District Award of Merit recently. What that did for me more than anything was humble me. I looked at the other men and women who have received that award and I cannot believe I am counted among them. And right after I felt that humbled, my next thought was “What can I do to continue to be worthy of this great honor?”
I will wear that knot on my uniform for two reasons: first to remind myself to always be worthy of it by working for what is best for the boys to the best of my ability, and second to remind other newer leaders that BSA does appreciate and thank leaders who work hard for the boys. No one wants a thankless job and volunteers are no different.
This program is all about the boys, but without trained, dedicated, volunteer leaders, the program falls apart.
Here’s my take on wearing knots. How can you expect a Scout to be properly uniformed and proud of his accomplishments if you are not? I wear every knot I earned or have recognition for. I owe it to the people who nominated and supported me for SM Award of Merit, Dist Award of Merit, Adult Religious Emblem, etc etc. I also wear my training awards. I want my Scouts to know that training like NYLT is important and by wearing my training knots as SM I don’t just “talk the talk”.
I am a Venturer (15-18 yo) Scout in Australia and a few years a go I attended a youth forum within Scouting at which a number of issues were discussed. One of the big ones was how to encourage and appreciate adults more in scouting. The leaders in charge had discussed this many times, but they wanted the scouts to think about it, and come up with our own thoughts. At the end, myself and another scouts had to compile all of this together as a report to be given to the forum and which was later published in the national magazine. One of the things that was reguarly suggested by different people, both youth and adults, were more badges and awards. I don’t know about the BSA, but in Australia (where I should mention scouts are mixed-gender) some of the badges that the scout section has includes recognition for kilometres hiked, nights under canvas, years in the movement, etc. We found that while in total youth could be wearing twenty or more badges, adults had about five. It was suggested (only half-jokinlgy) that adults should be able to gain badges for kilometres driven to and from scouting activities, for nights spent looking after sick scouts (there’s a great badge design), or ASMs(Australian Scout Medallion, I think our equivalent of your Eagle Scout, the top award) overseen. This would give adults recognition, and hopefully encourage them to do more. Yes, there is the bragging factor, but it would show that they’ve given a lot, as many have.
I think that it’s important leaders are recognised, as far too often we youth don’t see the work that they put in.
You would be amazed at the number of “cool kids” in fact as adults have a Class “A” with a couple of rows of knots, starting most importantly with the red, white, and blue on khaki of the Eagle knot.
As far as adults and knots, my dad, a 30 year Scouting veteran, all as an adult felt the same way about not wearing his knots. The only one he wears is the religious knot for adults. I felt the same way in the beginning as a adult leader, but as I realized every new scout was quick to ask me about my Eagle and Religious knots I came to realize that it in fact was a silent example to them in what their potential in the program could be.
Chris K. says
In Reply to cool dude
I am and new ASM and I have been in your sons position and maybe a little more. I like you son was in cub scouts and did not enjoy it that much and when I was 10 I faced to decision to go on or be with the “cool kids” or go play the three sports I also played year round, I told My Parents I would continue for 1 more year into Boy Scouts and at age 15 I earned my Eagle Scout award and continued for another 3 years earning more merit badges and other various awards in and out of scouting. As for the “cool kids” There are no cool kids in a group of friends if your kid is happy. When you ended with (I’m really glad he’s done) sounds to me like your son is not the one fully making the decision. I am now currently with the “cool kids” because I am 19 and eagle scout still currently active with my troop and a college athlete (football) and I have never had more fun in my life then with my friends at boy scout camp every summer.
Russell Dailey says
I wear my knots for me and interestingly for my scouts. I work have worked hard to earn eight knots. Earning the knots has helped me become a better scoutmaster. I wear the knots to remind myself of my “history.”
I also make sure that my scouts know that I am trying to improve myself just like I ask them to do. When we award knots to adults at a court of honor it is a way of showing the scouts that the leaders are “advancing” too and that advancement doesn’t stop when you are an Eagle scout or 18.
There are plenty of heterosexual female leaders in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Aren’t they just as much of a threat to the boys as gay male leaders? Why is it OK for you to be involved in scouting with my son but not the gay men willing to help out?
Seems to me that the reasoning for keeping out gays if valid also is a good argument to get rid of all of the females.
And that’s how it used to be. Eventually, gays and atheists will be welcomed into scouting, and nothing will change.
As a female Scouter I believe in wearing all the credibility I can muster. I agree that, though we are in this for the boys, some of us are “way into this” and have been recognized appropriately for our volunteer work. Notice that professional Scouting employees rarely have mentor pins, knots, beads, or even OA flaps.
On the subject of the Inclusive Scouting knot, I was lucky enough to get about 20 of the pin version before the organization disbanded and I wear that on my uniform collar. I’ve had comments that I’m “out of uniform” from staunchly anti-gay Scouters but I respond that this is Scouting, not the military. I have not sewn the Square Knot on my shirt, and am not likely to. The pin says I respectfully disagree with the National stance against gays but remain a Scouter.
It’s time to stop bandying words like “gay leader in your son’s tent” or “rabid homophobe” as I’ve seen on other boards, and have a rational conversation about this policy. Behavior-based requirements are much more clear to enforce than “orientation” or “belief”. If a leader beats his wife…smokes in front of kids…lies/cheats/steals in his daily life he’s more a threat to our sons than one who goes home to a “partner”.
I don’t agree with all of the policies of Scouting For All (especially the ones urging the President to decline honorary membership) but they do sell the knot if you’re interested.
As a recent graduate from the Scouting program and a new ASM, that really disappoints me. Scouting has a lot to offer that the “cool kids” don’t. Maybe have him give it a try before you give up on it.
My 10-year-old just crossed over, and we’re done. IMO the more knots – the bigger the nerd.
None of the cool kids at school are in scouts, and although cubs were OK, I’m really glad he done.
In response to that I must comment as my son at age 10 just worked very hard to cross over. Now being new at this I believe that to be an accomplishment as the normal Boy Scout is age 11 or fifth grade. So it would seem that your son must have put forth some effort to cross over at 10. It’s a shame that you have chosen to not encourage him and honor the effort he has made.
Actually I can’t figure out why you would come in here and make a comment such as you did. Perhaps we should start you off as a tiger scout as maybe you could use the lessons. I am truly saddened that you have made the choices you have made. Perhaps you should reconsider as your son could truly benefit from a good Scout Master.
I am just now going through the training for Scout Master for our new troop and I am excited by the program. I never had the benefit of being a Scout but I see good in this program. I have watched my two nephews achieve Eagle and I can attest that neither are nerds.
I wish you and your son well!
Clarke Green says
There’s nothing that says a Troop can’t have multiple historians.
The Scout way is always the right way, one just needs to look at it carefully.
Cag – this is why, in our troop, we say “there is the scout way, and there is the right way.” This is to mean that as long as safety or youth protection isn’t compromised, or a regulation, sometimes the troop has to do what is right for the troop.
A good example for our troop took place following summer camp last year. I had a scout approach me about wanting to be the troop photographer. Being a somewhat new scoutmaster I told him I would look into a position patch for it. I learned none exists – although a district photographer (or council?) patch does exist. I was told the Troop Historian should be the photographer. We already had our historian in place.
I told the scout shop I would design my own – to which they said, “you can’t do that.”
This scout is one that wants to step up and be in a position of responsibility and is a scout we struggle with to keep engaged. I am not about to tell him he can’t serve when he’s excited about getting more involved.
And speaking of things that don’t exist – why is there not a sewing merit badge! With all the patches and merit badges that need sewing…it seems like a natural!
G. John Marmet says
Oddly, I do the opposite. My field uniform has all my knots (8). My full dress uniform (an old green woolie) has none. I wear only medals on that uniform. Always my OA dingleberry, occassionaly my Silver Beaver or Bronze Pelican or Community Organization medal (depending on the occassion) and once in a very great while my Scouters Training Award medal.
For courts of Honor, Eagle Courts, Scouter funerals, Parades, etc. I wear everything I have earned, on my best dress uniform (knots, beads, medals, etc)all spit shined and perfect to show respect for those being honored.
At other functions I wear either a scout activity shirt or plain uniform shirt with basics: council patch, troop numbers and scoutmaster patch–no frills.
I do this for a couple of reasons. 1.) the full dress uniform inspires the boys (and adults) by example to earn badges, ranks, take trainings, etc. and 2.)By example I am not ashamed of being in scouting–even when being comfortable and doing regular activities.
Pat McCarthy says
I fondly remember my Scoutmaster when I was an active Scout, who wore his “dress” uniform with six knots attached – a very well deserved Silver Beaver, his earned Silver Award from Explorers, his Eagle Scout award, his religious award (God and Country), and his two training awards. I marveled at the effort he had expended to earn these, and that respect helped me to continue my efforts in Scouting, to eventually earn my Eagle Scout rank, as well as my God and Country award. I prize those accomplishments today (40 years later) as two of the most important things I have done in my life. Everytime I see those medals framed on my wall, I think of Scoutmaster Fred Feeney and the example he gave to so many young men who passed through Troop 210 over the years.
Yes gentlemen; wearing those insignia is important to the young men with whom you come into contact.
Ed Suggs says
I agree that all Scouters should wear their knots and should actively seak out to earn knots. I have a lot of respect for someone who has quite a few knots because it tells me and everyone else that this person accomplished things and he or she did it by following BSA’s guidelines on them. Take some time and READ the requirements of these knots and then tell me that that scouter doesnt contribute to scouting! Alumni, International Scouter, Commissioner Award of Excellence, and on and on, READ the requirements! You will have accomplished so much more than the average scouter by earning these knots. We ALL want to be proud of our accomplishments and there is nothing wrong with that plus it sets the proper example for our boys. If we do not show pride how can we expect our boys to show pride. Come on, I am so over hearing from a select group of scouters who continually talk down about knots. They hold a strong meaning in scouting and are a valuable resource for guidance in the adult scouter world. Set the example for other scouters and for the boys, seak out and earn these valuable knots and wear them with pride and please stop listening to the negative people in scouting! Oh, and for the scouters who wear one or two “private issue” knots……let them! Who cares! They are volunteers just like you & me! Just worry about your own uniform, it’s too hard trying to get volunteers to start with so why do you want to chase a couple away over a one inch by 1/2 inch patch! Think about it~
Yours in Scouting,
NESA/Alumni Council Chairman
There is a thread running through these comments, one that I’ve heard for years, a disdain for adults wearing square knots. Of course we are not in Scouting for the awards! Of course we’re in it for the boys! But in the same way we encourage our Scouts to wear the uniform proudly, we must wear it proudly. In the same way we want them to wear their best uniform (medals, sashes) for Courts of Honor, etc., we should do the same. A leader who wears the square knots properly and proudly is doing exactly what we hope the boys will do. If we are contemptuous of leaders who wear the awards, the boys pick up on it, and we have set a poor example.
Golden State Scoutmaster says
First of all, thank you for your service that the list of knots you’ve earned represents. I’ve heard and understand the sentiment that you don’t wish to display them all on your uniform as the program isn’t about you, its about the boys.
I take a different perspective given that one of the eight methods of Scouting is “Uniform”. I expect our boys to properly wear and have pride in their uniforms, and that starts with doing it myself – including the display of achievements/honors.
Again, thanks for your service, just adding my .02
Jim Thompson says
I wear exactly two knots on my adult uniform. Arrow of Light and Eagle Scout.
The rest I’ve earned (DAOM, SM Train, SM Key, Tiger Cub, Den Leaders, Webelos DL, JE West ‘bought knot’ are all in a drawer.)
I only wear my WB Beads at WB ‘things’.
I wear 2 of my knots, I only have 3 of them. The reason i wear them goes along with the credibility statements. I am a young man, 23, and the assistant scoutmaster of the troop i was in as a youth. I wear my Eagle knot because I am proud of the accomplishment, I earned it when i was 13, and i wear my religious knot. I think it’s important because they spark interest in a lot of the new younger scouts. In my opinion, that early interest can be a deciding factor on how far they’ll go and how hard they’ll work to achieve their goals in scouting.
Jerry Coots says
I liked the last few comments: wearing of your knots lets others(especially the parents entrusting you with their kid) that are serious about what you do and have trained to a great extent to do it. It also lets the kids know that what’s good for the Scout is also good for the Scouter.
Not wearing a knot awarded to you could be seen as an insult to the folks that put you up for it.
Larry Geiger says
I wear my Scoutmaster training knot and my Scoutmaster Award of Merit Knot. I think that they both say something about me and the job I do. All the other ones go in the “archive”.
Wearing the knots does indeed establish “street cred” with youth & adult alike. How many have had a soldier come to your meetings? Inevitably, the youth will begin to ask “tell me what your medals mean”; and often the adults are as enthralled as the adults.
I never wore knots until I joined Venturing. When I showed up at gatherings, I saw Venturing Advisors being dismissed off-hand as inexperienced. “What could he know”. Then I showed up at a meeting with a chest of knots, and the attitudes changed.
The reality is that in most organizations, rank/position has a direct correlation with experience & knowledge. My first job in Scouting as an adult was Cubmaster. One may feel they are ostentatious, but the guy with the chest of knots has definable experience. The guy in front of the meeting may have far less experience in Scouting, than the boys he works with.
California Scoutmaster says
Good for you for being inclusive, that is a virtue. And folks, this is a knot he doesn’t even wear, so he’s not breaking any uniforming rules. Forest for the trees, he is trying to reach out and include people in scouting, and that’s what the program is all about, isn’t it?
Rob V. says
My brother and I are both life long Scouts (I made Eagle at 14 and my brother at 16). Our father was extremely active in Souting during those years at the Pack/Troop level and the District level. He had several issues with our disctrict and how they came to politicize scouting. So, in turn, when he was awarded the Disctrict Award of Merit, he sewed it on to his uniform…upside down. I think it was his way of trying to remind all the adult leaders and paid “scouts” at district that Scouting is for the kids, not the adults. I think that is sometimes forgotten nowadays. The world is not an easy place, and Scouting taught me many life skills that I would otherwise have to survive without. Clarke has an “unofficial” badge. Big deal. Even if he DID wear it on his uniform, so what? It’s not about him and it’s certainly not about his badges. It’s about helping young boys mature into men that can hopefully one day make this world a better place.
As a lifelong Scout: Cub, Eagle, Adult, I believe that only official BSA awards are to sewn on the Class “A” uniform. Also, no matter what council or when you earned it is allowed to be worn. I have eanred 3 knots: Religious, Eagle, Tiger Leader and will be awarded my 4th, Cubmaster. I do not need to re-earn them at anytime. I do take offense to improperly worn whether it be non-official or incorrect placement. There is no excuse for this, as patch guides are in books and online.
Jeff Rhoads says
I never understood the point of knots and do not bother to put them on my uniform. I have no problem with those that do. I do however have a problem with Scouts and Scouters who think they can wear what ever they want on their uniform as well as award themselves any number of “special” knots, merit badges, patches, etc. These things should be reserved for class b uniforms. In fact the very word uniform is supposed to indicate that everyone follows the same standard. We have a set of standards for every aspect of Scouting and when we alter these standards be it uniforms or advancement, for our own particular gratification, the program dies a little… in my opinion.
bob greene says
Scoutmaster of troop 218 in indiana….what can I say, you rock dude.
When I moved to a new unit, I was informed repeatedly that I could not wear any of these things until I “re-earned them all in THIS council”.
This is a great, yet sad, example of the pissery and b-s-ification that throttles the enthusiasm of good people by imposing bizarre, nonexistent rules. What the heck were these idiots thinking they would accomplish?
I have mused about setting up a uniform with every possible patch I have a right to wear. I would look like some sort of ridiculous patchwork quilt.
Dean Whinery says
Nice piece on the square knots. For years (now more than 50), as I took training and received recognitions at virtually all levels from Tiger Cubs to District Commissioner, I wore only two or three knots Scouter’s Key, Silver Beaver, etc.,(and my Wood Badge beads), tossing the rest into the “archives”. When I moved to a new unit, I was informed repeatedly that I could not wear any of these things until I “re-earned them all in THIS council”. I finally exhumed all my knots and began wearing all 11 of them. Spiteful, ain’t I?
Frankly, we have so much insignia that we begin looking like walking Christmas trees or Russian generals.