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Should There Be A Knot for High Adventure?

John Pratt from Crossroads of America Council wrote via the feedback form to suggest that maybe there ought to be a new square knot for Scouts and Scouters that complete High Adventure events like the Philmont Trek. We chatted about it a bit and came up the idea that maybe there should be a knot called the “High Adventure Specialist Award” and then we came up with some proposed requirements.

High Adventure Specialist Award (Knot) Requirements

1. Attend two weeks of resident Boy Scout Camp (keeps local councils happy)

2. Participate in a high adventure program at any camp or at a high adventure base (local council, regional, or national).

3. Participate in a second high adventure program at a recognized BSA High Adventure Base like Philmont.

4. Take a leadership role in preparing a group for a high adventure experience – adult leader or youth leader role.

5. Help promote high adventure programs in your local council.

Of course this is just the musings of two old time Scouters and not anything even remotely close to official. Let me know what you think via the comments section.


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Michael F. Bowman is Vice President for Services and Board Member, U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. He has served as the primary webmaster for the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. since 1997 and has operated the NetCommish web site since 1994. More information about The NetCommish

6 Responses to Should There Be A Knot for High Adventure?

  1. avatar
    A. Cullen April 19, 2013 at 18:17 #

    Sounds promising. Maybe add a first aid course in there? Any chance to make it retroactive?

  2. avatar
    Dave M. April 21, 2013 at 22:04 #

    No, High Adventure is a part of program. Next thing you know, we’ll have knots for flag specialist, or knot tying specialist.

  3. avatar
    Deaf Scouter & Eagle Mom April 22, 2013 at 09:35 #

    Dave M. has a point in it being a program. Why not make a new position of High Adventure Chair at a Troop, District and/or Council level thus making another position knot one is able to earn while sharing their High Adventure experience with many?

    Thus it becomes a way of encouraging attendance to the High Adventure experience,and sharing/passing on knowledge (I think this is being lost in today’s technology and busyness as less and less get outdoor.)

    Add in implementation requirement of a High Adventure program like starting a 2, 3, 4, or 5 year savings plan like banks have for the ‘Christmas Club’ where people can put weekly or monthly donations on their Scout Discover credit card or Council/Unit Scout Account. (I think one of the reason’s that some scouts don’t do High Adventure if because of lack of funds and equipment. Having that savings plan HELPS.)

    Add in ‘education’ of High Adventure ‘equipment’ sessions that can be done at University of Scouting, Camporees, Roundtable or Units. Has to be consider separate from a Camping Merit Badge or rank advancement session. (The target audience is really the parents as many don’t encourage their sons because of what they (the parents) don’t know thus they shy away from the High Adventure experiences.)

  4. avatar
    Bart May 12, 2013 at 21:21 #

    if there is to be a new knot for something like this, it should recognize all “major” high adventure activities, whether or not they take place at a recognized high adventure base. For instance, Mount San Gorgonio in Southern CA is a couple hundred feet elevation difference from the Tooth of Time at Philmont and depending on what face you hike up or where you start may be a more difficult hike. A week-long rafting expedition down the American or Colorado Rivers should count just as much as a week-long rafting expedition at Northern Tier, especially since those rivers have more rapids. A Sea Scout Long Cruise (basically taking a boat out for at least a week at a time in a lengthy voyage) should also count — those are a heck of a lot of work to do. There’s tons of outing going on in Scouting and it shouldn’t just be the stodgy “same thing that our fathers did” activities at an “official” high adventure base that should count.

    I think the High Adventure program in general should be reconfigured. Most of the really active Venturers in the Council (the ones on the VOA, the OA leadership, etc.) work on summer camp. Many of them are trained to teach multiple merit badges, including many of the aquatics and outdoor skills ones like swimming, wilderness survival, orienteering, etc. Many of them already have their Ranger award. To tell them that they can’t earn any of the High Adventure awards unless their adult leaders go take three separate courses in compass, backpacking, and whatever that third one was was kind of puts them out of the mood for earning the Council high adventure awards, they’ll just go do things on their own, not as a Scout group.

    You know how some NAYLE people now can qualify for Wood Badge beads because they’re basically using the exact same syllabus? There should be similar overlap between High Adventure training and other training that basically covers the same topics, especially if a person has gone to NCS and taught those topics and trained other people to teach those topics at summer camp.

  5. avatar
    Bob G. June 8, 2013 at 10:40 #

    I’m with Eagle Mom. There should be a position of Coordinator and / or Advisor created at the Unit, District, and Council level. As scouts reach the age of eligibility to participate in high adventure they can be “handed off” to the person in this position at the Unit level who would act sort of as an “Assistant Scoutmaster for High Adventure”. This already happens in many troops. The position would make it “official” and if properly administered at the District and Council level high adventure resources could be more efficiently coordinated to include training courses geared toward high adventure such as Powder Horn. In my capacity as a Unit Commissioner and as a member of our District Eagle Scout Board of Review I find that one of the keys to retaining older scouts is to provide the opportunity to go beyond the regular meetings and present them with opportunities for unique experiences.

    As to a square knot the idea of making one unique to High Adventure has merit. One alternative would be to add the position of High Adventure Coordinator / Advisor to the Scouter’s Training Award or Scoutmaster’s Key. It would really depend on what level the individual is serving at. That’s my two cents.

  6. avatar
    ChetNC July 16, 2013 at 11:24 #

    As Mike Walton will quickly tell you, a knot is not an award in and of itself, it is a representation of an award. BSA got away from this concept in previous years and have taken steps to correct and, if I remember correctly, spells that out in the uniform guide.

    So, we shouldnt create a knot simply to have a knot award. The knot is simply an easy-to-wear version of an actual award, usually a medal but sometimes just a plaque (like the District Award of Merit).

    Turns out, we ALREADY HAVE an award that covers this exact area of accomplishment – The National Outdoor Achievement Medal. The requirements allow a Scout to choose High Adventure as one of three segments necessary to earn the Medal (as opposed to just the Badge) and are significantly more difficult than the ones proposed above. In my opinion, BSA should issue a knot to go with this medal so that Scouts and Scouters can be recognized for earning this achievement when medals are not appropriate for wear (i.e. in the field).

    Using the color pattern from the Medal itself, a khaki background with a knot composed of a green standing end and a blue running end would be appropriate. I might suggest a silver border as well, since the Medal is a “pinnacle” type achievement with a difficulty level somewhat beyond even Eagle rank and the Hornaday Silver Medal.