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Knots Knowledge

Recently I was asked:  “Do you have any updates on the knots?”   The Scouter asking wanted to know the new knot requirements and get a complete list of which ones are being phased out.  Then more and more emails started coming in, so I thought I’d share with you what I learned at the National Meeting.

There will be specific information along with glossy handouts given out during All Hands. In the meantime, the BSA approved the following changes, most of which we have posted on the U.S. Scouting Service (USSSP) Facebook page.

  • The six Cub Scouting (Training) Awards are history.  They end as valid training/service awards after 1 Jan 13.  Those who have earned any of those awards may continue to wear the medallion(s) and the associated square knot insignia until it becomes no longer serviceable.  There is no “grandfathering” — if you are still working on tenure, the tenure for the old award ENDS 31 Dec 12 and you must start over with new tenure anytime after the release of the requirements for the new training awards/key (which is planned for 1 Nov 12 now).
     
  • Cubmasters will be able to earn the Scouters’ Key Award as a Cubmaster.  The Scouters’ Key was previously only available for Scoutmasters, Varsity Coaches, Venturing Advisors, Sea Scout Skippers, Unit/District/Council Commissioners, and District/Council Committeemembers.  There are new requirements for the Key which incorporates current standards (Journey to Excellence, participation in civic and community activities, Roundtable attendance, etc.) which are DIFFERENT from the old Cubmaster (Training) Award.  It will take a Cubmaster between three and five years to earn the Key — same standard as earning the Key in other programs.
     
  • Assistant Cubmasters and ALL OTHER CUB SCOUTING VOLUNTEERS may earn the Scouters’ Training Award as a Cub Scouter. The requirements for Cub Scouters has been revised to include Journey to Excellence goal attainment, outdoor activities, community activities and other items. This award replaces the Pack Trainer and Cub Scouter (Training) Awards.  This award will take two years (like other Scouters’ Training Award catagories) to earn.  It may be earned once as a Cub Scouter.
     
  • Den Leaders (without regard to specific types of Dens) may earn the Den Leader Training Award.  There is a new blue and gold medal which will match the gold on blue square knot insignia which will be used for this award (but there is discussion about using the existing Pack Training square knot insignia instead, so stand by there since it contains the colors of the medal’s ribbon better). This award is unique is two regards: one, it will take ONE YEAR of tenure as a Den Leader to earn the award; and two, it may be earned three times (as a Tiger Den Leader, as a Wolf/Bear Den Leader, and as a WEBELOS Den Leader) with appropriate devices to be worn on the ribbon of the medal as well as on the square knot insignia.
     
  • There will be a “Unit Trainer Award” but there are still discussion on what form it will take and whether or not a square knot is the appropriate personal recognition for the Award.  It was not designed to go away until 2014 anyway. **The Cub Scout Pack Trainer (Training) Award will be discontinued 31 Dec 12.**
     
  • The old “origami” folding tracking/progress cards are also history.  Replacing them will be single sheets, with more space for signatures and more explaination (no more “eye chart” type) which fits better in folders and binders.
     
  • Somewhere around November of this year, the Guide to Awards and Recognitions (or GAR) will be released to the field.  There are significant changes in that publication which I’ve highlighted (again, if you are a holder of one or several of these awards, you may continue to wear the award and it’s associated square knot insignia until they become no longer serviceable).
     
  • The four “Relationship Awards” will all be represented by a single square knot insignia, currently referred to as the “Relationship Awards square knot emblem” (the Meany Labor, the Young Rural/Urban, the Pena Hispanic, and the Asian Service Awards). Small lapel pins/devices will be made to represent each of the four awards.  With that, the older square knot insignia will be discontinued.
     
  • The fourteen “Community Service Awards” will continue to be awarded through outside organizations, but there will continue to be ONE square knot emblem representing the various awards. Also, the decision on whether youth members who receive such an award can wear the knot emblem will be lifted (finally — it just made sense).
     
  • The Heroism Award we previously announced was going away has been restored and will continue to be presented. The issue has been the “level of heroism” between the four heroism awards (Certificate of Merit, Merit Medal, Heroism Medal, Honor Medal).  **This will remain in place until discussion within the National Court of Honor is complete**
     
  • The three Commissioner Service Awards will be consolidated but because the effective date of it is down the road (2014), there will be a little discussion about “in the future this award may be consoldiated with other Commissioner Service Awards” in the publication.
     
  • The Spurgeon Award along with the second version of the Silver Award, which is currently called the “Exploring Award” to avoid confusion with the current Silver Award will be discontinued.  The Venturing Leadership Awards and the associated square knot insignia has already been discontinued as of this spring; and the Boyce Organizer Award’s square knot insignia will be discontinued in 2014 although one can still receive the Organizer lapel pin and/or tie bar as personal recognition pieces.  Same goes with the Sea Badge — the Sea Badge will continue to be the Sea Scouting training recognition but there will be no BSA-manufactured “cloth patch” to go along with the emblem.
     
  • Finally, you already have seen the information about the discontinuance of the Speakers Bank and the local adaptation of the Alumni Award. There is a new certificate for the Alumni Award.

All of this will be explained during All Hands coming up, either in person or via electrons/paper.  Once the status of most of the awards have been made, I’ll be adding an additional catagory piece on my Badge and Uniform Site called “currency” or “status” along with this information and in the case of those awards being discontinued, why and when.

Hope this helps out!!

Settummanque!

 

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About Settummanque

Mike Walton (otherwise known to Scouters on and off the Internet as “settummanque (set-tum-man-quay), the blackeagle”) has had a long and quite exciting life – in and out of Scouting. The son of a professional beautician and a second-generation Army soldier, Mike has been involved in various youth programs since age 8. One of the first regular contributors to the Scouts-L youth programs discussion list in 1990, Walton continues to offer advice, support and information to Scouters around the world.

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11 Responses to Knots Knowledge

  1. avatar
    Ric C. June 15, 2012 at 17:14 #

    If knot awards were earned as Cub Scout Adult Leader (Den Leader, Cub Scouter) and now I am a Boy Scout Adult Leader (Troop Committee) for a Troop in a different area, do I still wear the knots?

    • avatar
      NetCommish June 20, 2012 at 22:56 #

      Ric – absolutely. You can wear any knot you have earned. You might want to get a spare set for what you have because BSA will stop making and stocking them.

  2. avatar
    Patrick Burke June 21, 2012 at 14:19 #

    Sorry, but these decisions are terrible. Several leaders in my unit were actively pursuing the awards that are being discontinued. Now they have to start over again? They way it is now is much better, with awards for several positions. I don’t like the new award with “devices”. I’m halfway through the Cubmaster award, now I start over? Stupid.

    • avatar
      Mike Walton (Settummanque) June 21, 2012 at 15:34 #

      Hi Patrick!!

      You have until the end of the year to continue to work toward the old training recognitions. The only thing you would have to “start over with” is the tenure and performance objectives. For instance, the number of Roundtable meetings you have participated in are the same for both awards — so all which is necessary is for you to apply those Roundtable meetings to the new Training Award or Key. Same goes with the Journey to Excellence goals.

      The issue is that we have too many awards for Cub Scouting while as our Boy Scouting and Venturing programs only have two — a training award and a Key. As I wrote earlier, Cub Scouting used to only have four: one for the Den Leader Coach, another for Den Leaders, still another for everyone except the Cubmaster and the fourth is the Cubmaster’s Key Award. It’s not “how many” but “what do they signify”… sorry you feel it’s stupid.

      • avatar
        Mike Z. June 29, 2012 at 06:44 #

        It is stupid. “The only thing you would have to “start over with” is the tenure and performance objectives.” Isn’t that everything? Why should I bother working toward Cub Scouter now that you are erasing my work and effort? Don’t you think that would be frustrating? Don’t you think it’s unfair not to have a better bridge for people currently working on requirements?

        It’s not an “issue” that there are too many awards for Cub Scouting. It takes a lot of time and effort to run a pack or den and adult leaders should be recognized for their work. Let’s get rid of the Webelos badge and the Arrow of Light, too! Maybe Second Class and Life Scout as well, and a lot of the merit badges! Maybe nobody really needs to be recognized for ANYTHING in Scouting…that’s where you guys are headed. I agree with the previous poster…the decisions are awful. They are de-motivating and an example of poor management and strategy.

        • avatar
          Mike Walton (Settummanque) June 29, 2012 at 10:15 #

          Hi Mike!!

          You wrote:

          “It is stupid. “The only thing you would have to “start over with” is the tenure and performance objectives.” Isn’t that everything?”

          No. It’s not everything. As I read the new Scouters’ Training Award requirements, the actual “things you need to do” are *less* than what was required under the previous Cub Scouter (Training) Award.

          The performance objectives HAD to be changed to place all Scouter training awards in line with the Journey to Excellence program, since we no longer have “quality units” any more. Additionally, there’s some objectives which the Cubmaster must meet (training and staffing) which were not covered in the previous Cubmaster (Training) Award.

          The tenure is the same — two years. That will become the “standard” across the board for everyone except Cubmasters and other key leaders. Their tenure will increase to three to five years.

          “Why should I bother working toward Cub Scouter now that you are erasing my work and effort?”

          You can still work toward the old Cub Scouter (Training) Award until the first part of 2013. Everything you’ve done to earn the old award simply will “transfer over” to the new Scouters’ Training Award. You won’t “lose anything.” Besides, isn’t the idea of the training and service projects to “get you to learn more about your role” and less about “getting a piece of cloth”?

          “Don’t you think that would be frustrating? Don’t you think it’s unfair not to have a better bridge for people currently working on requirements?”

          There has to be a “cut off” at some time, Mike; and because the change was announced last year around this time, I feel that enough “heads up” was given for folks to work toward the new awards or to “finish up” with the older training/service awards.

          “It’s not an “issue” that there are too many awards for Cub Scouting. It takes a lot of time and effort to run a pack or den and adult leaders should be recognized for their work.”

          Agreed. But for many reasons the Cub Scout (training) awards were separated from the rest of the BSA’s training awards — and there really wasn’t a good reason for doing it. It takes an equal amount of effort to successfully manage a Boy Scout Troop, a Varsity Scout Team, a Venturing Crew or Sea Scout Ship. There’s a lot of moving parts in those operations as well…and everyone should be recognized for their parts in it.

          Den and other adult leaders WILL BE recognized for their training and service — and it will place them on par with the other division’s volunteers who perform a similiar level of work. It is just that there won’t be “separate awards” for each position — now there will be devices placed on the standard training award and key which *everyone* will recognize when worn formally or informally as “someone who has met the standard.”

          “Let’s get rid of the Webelos badge and the Arrow of Light, too! Maybe Second Class and Life Scout as well, and a lot of the merit badges! Maybe nobody really needs to be recognized for ANYTHING in Scouting…that’s where you guys are headed. I agree with the previous poster…the decisions are awful. They are de-motivating and an example of poor management and strategy.”

          “You guys” are YOU AND OTHER CUB SCOUTERS. They were the ones who made the initial decisions to place the old Cub Scouter training awards in line with the rest of the BSA. This wasn’t a decision “made in a bubble” or “without input from the field”.

          When one sees a 8 year veteran of Cub Scouting with two rows of *training awards* and compare that to the *two square knots* which would be earned in ALL of the other programs for the same period of time (8 years), you can immmediately see that “there’s something wrong here.” The same amount of work ethic, training, and performance was put in for those six training awards as was put in for the Scouters’ Training Award and Scouters’ Key Award in all other programs of the BSA. The difference — the clear difference — was that in Cub Scouting, each position had an “award” which Cub Scouters told the BSA “wasn’t really needed… we can combine many of these into one or two awards.”

          Which the BSA took under advisement and which is why we will have a Den Leader Training Award, a Scouters’ Training Award earned as a Cub Scouter, and a Scouters Key Award earned as Cubmaster.

          The awards continue to be motivators for those who desire to earn them. Nobody says you *have to earn them* but the BSA wants to place everyone on the same “starting block” as far as adult recognition is concerned.

          (As a point of interest — *I* had no say in any of this. I lobbied for the return of the Heroism Award because I felt it was not fair for that award to go away simply because a group of national folk could not make a distinction between “heroism” and “meritorious service”. Calmer heads prevailed. If you feel that the BSA should RETAIN all six, give you more time to “transition” to the new awards, or have a better mousetrap to recognize adults with — please send your comments and ideas to scouting.awards@scouting.org — that was the address I used to lodge my own concerns about the removal of the Heroism Award and its associated square knot insignia).

          Thanks for your comments!

          Settummanque!

  3. avatar
    Mike Z. June 29, 2012 at 13:37 #

    Settummanque, thank you for the in-depth reply, and thanks for the address to address the concerns to. Sorry for the earlier hyperbole as well. I was unaware that these changes were coming until I ran into an article on the Internet; I’m actually really surprised that the motivation for the change comes from Cub Scouters. Obviously, not everyone was consulted.

    To address your biggest point, is it a piece of cloth or a symbol of your position and dedication? It’s both. A visible achievement helps adult leaders stay motivated, just as it helps boys stay motivated. It shows that Den Leaders and Cubmasters are achieving as well, and gives the boys a role model for lifelong achievement, and continuation of recognition inside Scouting as future adult leaders.

    “There has to be a “cut off” at some time, Mike….”

    I don’t agree. Those currently working toward an award should be allowed to complete it. Perhaps what is required is a better bridge, if we can’t keep the awards in place, a better transition. That is what I will suggest to the folks answering the email that you have provided.

    I’m still not sold on the idea of the Cub Scouter awards being consolidated–there are different expectations for different levels of Scouting of the boys, different ways of recognizing achievement. Cubs helps cement an interest in Scouting for both adults and boys. I believe it was Thomas Hobbes who said that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds….” not to belittle the minds of anyone involved, of course, but the point is that things do not always need to be consistent if there are different considerations; consistency may be a disadvantage and I believe that this is the case here.

    Best,
    Mike

  4. avatar
    Chris M. August 21, 2012 at 22:07 #

    My biggest issue is the tenure requirement. Most Cub Scout units that I know of change positions either at the end of the school year or at recharter time. So to put the deadline at Dec 31st is stupid. They should have set it at June 1st or August 31st to coincide with the Cub Scout Program year. Based on their deadline I will have been the Committee Chair of my pack for 22 months and will have completed all the requirements for the Cub Scouter Award. But I will be 2 months short on tenure to be able to earn the award. Additionally, no one knows about this unless you ask in your local scout shop about the knots or look for it on the internet. The professionals do not know and if they do they have not told the volunteers.

    • avatar
      Settummanque September 19, 2012 at 16:59 #

      Hi Chris!! Hopefully this will post here.

      You wrote and stated that the biggest issue is the tenure requirement. I hate to say this, but Cub Scouting was always designed to be a *year-round* program, not a “school year” program. So it is your unit’s adult leadership which must move from a “school year” to a “calendar year” program. That is one of several changes to bring Cub Scouting in line with the rest of the BSA’s programs.

      Your professionals have been told twice about the changes — however, depending on the individual, they may not want to or choose not to share the information with you and other volunteers. I think personally it’s sloppy but at the same time, they end up hearing “yeah, we know about it already” a lot thanks to the BSA’s websites, our websites at the USSSP, and other folks out there sharing information with all of you *before* your professional can share it with you.

      I could have earned a second Silver Palm to my Eagle if I would have received the Golf merit badge before I turned 18. I earned the badge before then, but it wasn’t posted until after the 15th of October. That’s how things go; so I have some sympathy for you and others who are *that close* to earning one of the previous Cub Scout (Training) Awards. Talk with your Council’s Scout Executive; he or she can “bend the rules” slightly to allow you those extra two months’ tenure to earn the old award.
      He or she is the ONLY person, however, who can do this — your District’s Executive, Director or team member cannot.

      Settummanque!

  5. avatar
    Yukon Jack September 20, 2012 at 13:49 #

    There are a few points I’d like to clarify. Always use official BSA publiciations for this, particularly which has the cub scout knots information. A few facts are wrong. One, only the old den leader knots expire 31 Dec 2012. The other three (Cubmaster, Pack Trainer, and Cub Scouter all require 2 years tenure) don’t expire until 31 Dec 2013, which means you still have 15 months to finish them. So for those, as long as you began no later than January 2012, you can finish them under the old system.

    While I understand the logic behind consolidating the cub leader knots (don’t agree with, but do understand), the other knot changes have not been announced by any official BSA site and make even less sense. Why cancel the Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service knot in late 2013 when it was only introduced last year and won’t even be available for sale until April 2013? Why cancel the Alumni Award and Doctorate of Commissioner Award when they were just introduced in 2009? Why consolidate the Scoutreach knots (Vale la Pena, Spirit of Scouting, Whitney Young Awards) when two of them were only created in 2003? (The George Meany award is not in the same category as the Scoutreach awards by the way. There is no such thing as “Relationship Awards” and the George Meany knot will fall under “Community Organization Awards” like it used to, with the 14 others that still exist.) Why create a NEW trainer award and knot if the reason you cancelled the Pack Trainer Award was to ‘reduce uniform clutter’? Isn’t that just making another knot to add to clutter?

    If clutter is the reason for this, then why has the BSA created at least 8 new knots int he last 10 years alone? If you want to reduce clutter, stop making new knots, stop making ones for silly things like the NESA Life Membership Eagle knot, and give people time to earn the new ones that are rare (Philmont, Commissioner Doctorate, Alumni, Speakers Bank, etc). When they added the Unit Leader Award of Merit in 2010, why didn’t they just use the old white-on-white knot of the Scoutmaster Award of Merit as a rollover knot to represent both (like they are doing with the den leader knot that’s surviving this purge) and that right there would ‘reduce clutter’ by one knot? There are simple solutions, and slashing a third of the square knots in a span of about 4 years is NOT the right answer.

    • avatar
      Settummanque September 20, 2012 at 14:44 #

      Hi Jack!!

      You brought us some very valuable items for discussion; I’m happy to explain them as much as I can.

      You wrote in part: “One, only the old den leader knots expire 31 Dec 2012.”

      It’s NOT the knots which expire, Jack (this is the MAIN REASON why the BSA is doing what they are doing); it is the AWARDS THEMSELVES which has been discontinued.

      “The other three (Cubmaster, Pack Trainer, and Cub Scouter all require 2 years tenure) don’t expire until 31 Dec 2013, which means you still have 15 months to finish them. So for those, as long as you began no later than January 2012, you can finish them under the old system.” True, but your local Council may decide to move ALL of those awards to the new standards, which started back in July of this year (2012).

      You also wrote and asked: “While I understand the logic behind consolidating the cub leader knots (don’t agree with, but do understand), the other knot changes have not been announced by any official BSA site and make even less sense.”

      They were announced officially during the BSA’s National Meeting back in May; prior to that, several BSA training websites were announcing the changes as early as October of last year. I found out about the changes from a volunteer serving on that task force who informed me back in August of last year but I didn’t make any movement on revising the Badge and Uniform Site until I read the information from Program as they posted it to their website.

      “Why cancel the Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service knot in late 2013 when it was only introduced last year and won’t even be available for sale until April 2013?”

      Because the folks who created the Award of Excellence in Unit Service did NOT talk with the Program nor the Insignia people, that’s why. A big part of “why things happen like this” can be traced back to separate stovepipe groups all working independently of each other. The BSA reorganization has repaired a LOT of this, Jack. Instead of people “making things and then seeking approval” as what happened with the Speakers Bank and later the Alumni Award, everything now goes through specific task forces of volunteers and professionals. A lot of people asked me about this — why make a big announcement and then cancel the program? The program’s NOT being cancelled — it is being consoldiated to maximize the ability of ALL Commissioners to earn and receive recognition for their efforts.

      “Why cancel the Alumni Award and Doctorate of Commissioner Award when they were just introduced in 2009?”

      The Alumni Award was discontined on a national basis because the staffing to manage it was shuffled to other program areas; and because it was apparant that the local Council can handle this more effecitvely than trying to do this at the national level. The Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award will be incorporated into the Award of Excellence in Unit Service with a device.

      “Why consolidate the Scoutreach knots (Vale la Pena, Spirit of Scouting, Whitney Young Awards) when two of them were only created in 2003?”

      What you call the “ScoutReach” knots are actually RELATIONSHIP AWARDS, and that it what they — along with the George Meany Award — will be called once the shakeout is complete. They are awarded by local Councils through relationships (ScoutReach is a “relationship” program) between the BSA and those segments of the national movement. It is much easier to design and stock one cloth emblem instead of three or four. George Meany was originally the BSA’s “Labor Relationships” award when it was created; various Relationships directors kept moving it back and forth between its own award and that of others part of the Community Relationships community. As it stands right now, the George Meany Award will be added to the Community Organization (Relationships) catagory and future holders will be presented with the Community Organization Awards square knot with a device symbolic of the Meany Award.

      “Why create a NEW trainer award and knot if the reason you cancelled the Pack Trainer Award was to ‘reduce uniform clutter’? Isn’t that just making another knot to add to clutter?”

      There is a need for a “Unit Trainer” Award across the board. Last word was that it may not take the form of a “square knot emblem” but some other form of recognition – and that, Jack, is the key to ALL of these changes!!

      “If clutter is the reason for this, then why has the BSA created at least 8 new knots int he last 10 years alone?”

      It was the opinion, after a LOT of research and study, that there was NOT a need for close to 40 “square knot pieces” especially for some awards and recognitions which either are infrequently awarded or earned; volunteers do NOT want to wear the “knot thingy”; or that it was simply created to cause “buzz” among volunteers wanting to “earn yet another knot.”

      For instance, the Boyce Organizer Award and its square knot was THOUGHT to bring about more units. The Supply Group reported that since the award was created, only 430 actual awards were presented (they know this by the number of certificates issued) although more than 17,000 pieces of cloth were sold. The Alumni Award, created by the BSA to spur people to get former Scouts and Scouters to bring them back into the fold, only awarded 331 awards since its creation (which is in great part is why the BSA moved the award from a purely National award to local Councils to award instead) and once the stock of insignia is gone, Supply will not manufacture any more of the knot emblems. The same goes for the Venturing Leadership Awards — a relative small handful were awarded through local Councils since the Award was created 10 years ago. Nationally, only 18 awards were made; and the Southern Region awarded the least — eight — since the Award was created with the nice square knot emblem.

      The idea has NEVER been to “earn a knot” — but rather to “receive or earn an AWARD, which by the way, may or may not have a cloth emblem for informal wear on the field uniform (notice that I did NOT say “knot emblem” — but rather a “cloth emblem”. THIS is the direction that the BSA is moving toward!)

      “If you want to reduce clutter, stop making new knots, stop making ones for silly things like the NESA Life Membership Eagle knot, and give people time to earn the new ones that are rare (Philmont, Commissioner Doctorate, Alumni, Speakers Bank, etc).”

      Because in all of those cases, Scouters are NOT “signing up to earn them”, Jack. The Philmont Award, which was designed to encourage Scouters to get others to come to Philmont, has been a terrible failure. The Award will be revised but there won’t be a square knot emblem associated with it. Remember what I stated earlier in this thread about the justification/reasoning BEHIND a “square knot.”
      It represents an ACTUAL AWARD which is not normally worn on the uniform but which is awarded/presented to the Scout/Scouter/Venturer for personal achievement, training or service. Going to Philmont is a great training experience…but it’s NOT something which can be earned or received. Same goes with other awards — I agree with you that the Doctorate takes time and is a great personal acheivement (which is why it will be retained in a new format with the other Commissioner awards).

      “When they added the Unit Leader Award of Merit in 2010, why didn’t they just use the old white-on-white knot of the Scoutmaster Award of Merit as a rollover knot to represent both (like they are doing with the den leader knot that’s surviving this purge) and that right there would ‘reduce clutter’ by one knot?”

      Great question. The short answer is because nobody thought about it — the mentality at that time was “let’s create a new knot” instead of “let’s look at what’s been created and has seldom been used and let’s use THAT”. (That’s how we got the red Heroism Award square knot on white. The knot emblem was ORIGINALLY the “Sea Explorer version” of the Honor Medal. Very few Sea Explorers earned the Honor Medal, so when it came time to design a new square knot for the new Heroism Award, that it’s much easier to just use something which is seldom purchased — the red square knot on white background — and use that.

      “There are simple solutions, and slashing a third of the square knots in a span of about 4 years is NOT the right answer.”

      Well…just hold your hat, Jack…there are MORE uniforming changes coming by the time we get to 2014!!

      Thanks for asking the questions and for clarifying the time span for earning the discontinued Cub Scouting (Training) reognitions!!

      Settummanque!