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Discontinued Square Knots

Welcome Mike Walton (Settummanque) as a guest editor!

Imprompu photo for a Scouting event. I have learned since then that I need to have someone more professional to do these photos!! This was taken in the summer of 1992.

Okay. Looking at the Scout shirt attached to this note, one can tell that I’ve been around Scouting a long, long time; that I’ve saved a life, protected the outdoors, gave some money to Scouting (actually, someone else gave some money to Scouting in my name). Earned the highest youth awards in each program — Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Exploring.  Did some other things as an Exploring volunteer.  Did some other things as a Boy Scouting volunteer. Church things, community things, international things.

Well, the BSA wants to consoldate some of the more than 40 or so square knot emblems — those little things on the left side of my shirt which resemble military ribbons — they are the Scouting version of ribbons — and I’m okay with this. Not all together cool, because under the plan I will technically be unable to wear one of those things for saving the life of a kid when I was a kid. Oh well… the BSA says that the things I and others have earned or received will continue to be valid for the life of the wearer/receipient.  Just that those “coming up” won’t be able to earn/wear/display those awards — because they will be “discontinued.”

Two people from the BSA’s Supply Group tell me that while the plan was to remove anywhere from 12 to 15 of the square knot insignia, that the current plan is to remove eight initially, with another four to be removed in 2014 or 2015:

This year (2012), the five former Cub Scout “Training” Awards — the Cubmaster, Cub Scout Den Leader (Training) Award, the WEBELOS Den Leader (Training) Award, the Tiger Cub Den Leader (Training) Award, and the Pack Trainer (Training) Award — will all be CONVERTED to other training recognitions, to make thing consistant across all programs.  The Cubmaster (Training) Award will be discontinued and new holders will earn the Scouter’s Key Award and wear a small Cub Scout program device on the ribbon of the medal as well as on the square knot insignia (as it was prior to 1987, when the new Cub Scout awards was first introduced).  The three Den Leader awards will be rolled up into the Scouter’s Training Award recognition, with program devices to be worn on the medal’s ribbon and on the square knot insignia signifying the program in which the award was earned within.

The Pack Trainer (Training) Award will be discontinued and a new Trainer’s Award will be developed for all programs, with Cub Scouters wearing the small Cub Scout program device to signify that they met the requirements as a Pack Trainer.

Additionally, the two remaining Exploring Awards will be discontinued — the Spurgeon Award and the “Universal Exploring Award” square knot will be no longer available in 2014. The red/white/blue and silver square knot insignia represented some six former Exploring awards (the first two versions of the Silver Award; the Ranger, Ace, Exploring Achievement Awards; and the the Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development (GOLD) Award) as well as holders of a local Council or national Young American Award.

Several of the awards formerly presented to segments of the Scouting community will be rolled up in 2014 and a new Scouting Community Awards square knot emblem will be created to replace the:  George Meany Award, the Young Service Award, the Pena Award and the Asian Scouting Service Award.

The Philmont Training Center Award square knot and device will be discontinued in 2013 along with the Doctorate of Commissioner Science and the Commissioner Award of Excellence (which, as you stated, was just introduced last fall).  The Commissioner Award of Merit will be rolled up into the Scouters’ Award of Merit and a small Commissioner emblem is to be attached to the square knot signifying the attainment of the award.

(I am pettioning the BSA to reinstate the Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award as a special shoulder insignia — perhaps fully embrordered with the shiny Mylar thread since we’re going back to the 70s with this stuff…)

The Speakers Bank and Alumni Connections Awards have become local Council-based awards and their square knots will continue to be available until exhausted (like, perhaps, in the next few months).

The Sea Badge cloth emblem also is going away and the BSA is not allowing the Sea Scouting community an exception — the metal Sea Badge will continue to be the highest training recognition in that program; it just will no longer have a  “knot emblem” — official or otherwise. (not a big loss there, because the official “knot emblem” really sucked and the unofficial ones never could get the size right to match the other square knot insignia.

And…I have been told that the Heroism Award is being discontinued, so that square knot insignia will go away as well as the medal.

First version of Pack Trainer Award square knot. Didn’t fly because the blue knot was similiar to other knot emblems.

Holders of all of the previous awards — and their square knot insignia — will continue to be able to wear them on the official uniforms; however, your best bet is to make friends with someone who has several of those knot thingys so that you can have replacements as the uniforms go onward.

And just so I can keep the rumor going; part of the reasoning for the reduction in the number of square knot insignia pieces is so the BSA can start re-manufacturing the knot insignia with the green backgrounds to match the Venturing field uniforms as much as they do the current “Universal” field uniforms.

Why to do away with these?  Two big reasons: low demand (not enough people were actually earning the awards) and a need to stem the tide on “we need a square knot for the X award because otherwise it wouldn’t get any traction”.  In both cases, one sees that this is NOT the case (exhibit “A”, the Alumni Award.  Less than 200 people earned the thing since its introduction two years ago) (exhibit “B”, the PTC Trainers Award. Less than 75 people have earned the award since it’s introduction three years ago) (exhibit “C”, the Spurgeon Award is no longer awarded to BSA members and only four Learning for Life/Exploring leaders received the award whom are also eligible to wear the knot as BSA volunteers).

There’s a rumor that it’s mainly because there’s a bunch of Scouters out there who have, like, fourty billion of these knot thingys on their shirts and the BSA is jealous that with the number of things on the shirt, the more “power” one has.  Stupid. Even with the reduction and consolidations listed above, there’s still going to be something like 15 or so square knot items in which a 40-year BSA volunteer will be able to wear.  Most BSA volunteers are going to continue to wear many of the discontinued ones way into the ’30s.  The impact of these awards will mainly be limited to Cub Scouters who will not be able to wear two rows of training awards and instead two square knot emblems with Cub Scouting program devices on them.

This is all I know…the official announcement about many of these awards has already been made — check out SCOUTING and Training Times, the BSA’s online training e-zine for more details.  Other discontinutions will be announced during the BSA’s Annual meeting in Florida this spring.

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