Square knot insignia

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Square knot insignia
Reef knot.svg
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Square knot insignia are embroidered cloth patches that represent awards of the Scout associations throughout the world.

The Scout Association of the United Kingdom uses a "figure-eight" knot and many Scouting organizations of the Commonwealth countries follow suit. The World Organization of the Scout Movement uses military-style ribbons. The Boy Scouts of America a square knot made of colored ropes is depicted; the colors are generally dictated by the award the insignia is associated with.[1][2].

History[edit]

In the earliest days of the Scouting Movement military veterans were urged into service as Scoutmasters. The first Scout uniforms therefore resembled military uniforms. It was common for these veterans to wear their military decorations on their modified Boy Scout uniform — a national uniform was not to be developed until the early 1920s.[2]

Military tradition dictated that the actual medal from a military award was only worn on ceremonial occasions — at other times, it was replaced with a thin ribbon bar with the same ribbon style as found attached to the medal. This carried over to Scouting, whose awards were medals, similar to the military, but were most often worn as ribbons.

The first country to switch over from military ribbons to a unique parallel was the United Kingdom, which introduced its knot emblems in 1922.[3]


Boy Scouts of America[edit]

The Boy Scouts of America likewise moved away from allowing Scouters to wear military ribbons, but kept the style, introducing their own ribbons in place of medals in 1934. The BSA introduced its own square knot insignia in lieu of the military-style ribbons in 1947. The choice of the square knot as the common emblem was made by James E. West, who is said to have chosen it for its use as the knot associated with first aid, thereby reminding Scouts to continue to be of service to others.[2]

The first eight awards with square knot insignia in the BSA were the Eagle Scout Award, Quartermaster Award, Scouter's Training Award, Scouter's Key, Silver Beaver Award, Silver Antelope Award, Silver Buffalo Award, and Honor Medal.

Since the introduction of square knot insignia, over forty new awards have been added, then combined, and some retired. Currently, there are 32 nationally authorized square knot insignia representing various medals, medallions, certificates, plaques, and other awards.

There are a few cases of local Council-approved square knots and various popular unofficial or spoof knots.

In the BSA, Square knot insignia are worn in rows of three across the top of the wearer's left pocket. Though there is no rule limiting the number of such insignia that may be worn, some suggest limiting to three rows of three. When fewer than 3 knots are worn in a particular row, knots are generally centered to the pocket, or the row below them.[4]

Dates indicated in the chart below indicate the use of the square knot insignia for the particular award, and may not correspond to the history of the award itself. For example, the first Eagle Scout Award was presented in 1912, and there was a ribbon bar for it from 1934, and it was among the first eight awards given square knot insignia in 1947, so that later date is indicated.

Achievement Awards[edit]

These awards are generally earned by the Scouts themselves.
These represent the highest youth rank or achievement in each respective branch of the BSA.

Insignia Title Started Description
Arrow of Light Arrow of Light (Cub Scouts) 1979  
Eagle Scout Award Eagle Scout Award (Boy Scouts) 1947  
Eagle Scout - NESA Life Member Eagle Scout with Life Membership in NESA 2008  
Venturing Silver or Summit Award Silver Award / Summit Award (Venturing) 1999  
Quartermaster Award Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouts) 1947  

Distinguished service[edit]

These awards are generally granted via nomination and review; they cannot be earned or applied for by Scouts or Scouters directly.

Insignia Title Started Description
Unit Leader's Award of Merit Unit Leader Award of Merit 2010 unit-level quality leader recognition award  
District Award of Merit District Award of Merit 1971 district-level outstanding service award  
Silver Beaver Award Silver Beaver Award 1947 council-level distinguished service award  
Silver Antelope Award Silver Antelope Award 1947 regional-level distinguished service award  
Silver Buffalo Award Silver Buffalo Award 1947 national-level distinguished service award  
Silver World Award Silver World Award 1976  

Heroism[edit]

These awards are generally granted via nomination and review; they cannot be earned or applied for by Scouts or Scouters directly.

Insignia Title Started Description
Medal of Merit Medal of Merit 1952  
Heroism Award Heroism Award 1983 discontinued late 2012; reinstated, February 2018
Honor Medal Honor Medal 1947  

Leadership and training[edit]

These awards are generally earned by the Scouters themselves.

Insignia Title Started Description
Den Leader's Training Award Den Leader Training Award 1989  
Scouter's Training Award Scouter's Training Award 1947  
Scouter's Key Scouter's Key 1947  
Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service 2011  
Doctorate of Commissioner Science Doctorate of Commissioner Science 2008  
Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award 2008  
Professional Scouter Training Award Professional Training Award 1980  

Specialized achievements[edit]

These awards are generally earned by the Scouts and Scouters themselves.
In one case (James West Fellowships) nomination by others is also possible, and in the case of the Hornaday Gold Medal (as opposed to the Bronze and Silver Medals) nomination is necessary.

Insignia Title Started Description
Youth Religious Emblem Youth Religious Emblems[5] 1971  
William T. Hornaday Award William T. Hornaday Medals[6] 1991  
James E. West Fellowship Award James E. West Fellowship 1993  
International Scouter Award International Scouter Award 2002  
William D. Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award William D. Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award 2005  
Alumni Award Alumni Award 2011  

Specialized service recognition[edit]

These awards are generally granted via nomination and review; they cannot be earned or applied for by Scouts or Scouters directly.

Insignia Title Started Description
Adult Religious Award Adult Religious Awards[7] 1973  
Community Organization Awards Community Organization Awards[8] 2002  
Distinguished Commissioner Service Award Distinguished Commissioner Service Award 1987  
Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award 1976  
Scouting Service Award Scouting Service Awards [9] 2017  
Venturing Leadership Award Venturing Leadership Award 2004  

Discontinued[edit]

In some cases these awards have been discontinued; in others they have been combined to be represented by a different award knot.

Insignia Title Started Ended Description
Skipper's Key Skipper's Key 1947 1949
Ranger Award Exploring Ranger Award 1933 1951
Air Scout Ace Award Air Scout Ace Award 1950 1954
Exploring Silver Award (Type I) Exploring Silver Award 1954 1958
Multiple Exploring Awards Exploring Awards Knot[10] 1954 1998
William H. Spurgeon Award William H. Spurgeon III Award 1989 2007
Scoutmaster Award of Merit Scoutmaster Award of Merit 1987 2010
Scoutmaster Award of Merit Venturing Advisor / Varsity Coach Award of Merit 1999 2010
Pack Trainer Award Pack Trainer Award 2006 2011
Cubmaster Award Cubmaster Award 1989 2012
Cub Scouter Award Cub Scouter Award 1989 2012
Den Leader Coach Award Den Leader Coach Award 1989 2012
Webelos Den Leader Award Webelos Den Leader Award 1989 2012
Tiger Cub Den Leader Award Tiger Cub Den Leader Award 1992 2012
George Meany Award George Meany AFL-CIO Award 1987 2011
Sea Badge Sea Badge 1989 2012
Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service Award Asian American Spirit of Scouting Award 2003 2016
¡Scouting ... Vale la peña! Service Award ¡Scouting…Vale la Pena! Service Award 2003 2016
Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award 1989 2016

The Scout Association (UK)[edit]

The British Scout Association introduced the idea of a cloth 'knot' insignia in 1922, modeled after the military use of ribbons to represent medals and other citations. Many of the Scouting organizations of the Commonwealth of Nations either copy the British system or simply use the British awards and insignia.

Gallantry[edit]

Insignia Title Started Description
Bronze Cross Bronze Cross Year Desc
Silver Cross Silver Cross Year Desc
Gilt Cross Gilt Cross Year Desc
Cornwell Scout Badge Cornwell Scout Badge Year Desc

Meritorious Conduct[edit]

Insignia Title Started Description
Medal for Meritorious Conduct Medal for Meritorious Conduct Year Desc
Chief Scout's Commendation for Meritorious Conduct Chief Scout's Commendation for Meritorious Conduct Year Desc

Service[edit]

Insignia Title Started Description
Silver Wolf Silver Wolf Year Desc
Silver Acorn Silver Acorn Year Desc
Award for Merit Award for Merit Year Desc
Chief Scout's Commendation for Good Service Chief Scout's Commendation for Good Service Year Desc
Chief Scout's Personal Award Chief Scout's Personal Award Year Desc
Commissioner Commendation Award Commissioner's Commendation Award Year Desc
Chief Scout's Length of Service Awards Length of Service Decoration Year Desc

World Organization of the Scout Movement[edit]

Insignia Title Started Description
Bronze Wolf Award Bronze Wolf Award 1935 The World Organization of the Scout Movement offers only one award to scouters, the Bronze Wolf Award and it is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed on an adult scout leader throughout the world. There is approximately one award given for every 2,000,000 scouts.

External links[edit]

  • "Awards Central". Scouting.org. Boy Scouts of America.
  • "Awards-Knots". U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  • Crowl, George. "Illustrated History of BSA Square Knot Evolution". BSA Badge History.
  • Crowl, George. "Knots, Pins, and Insignia of the Boy Scouts of America". Crowl Family Webpages. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  • Kauffmann, Michael. "Scouter Knots". MeritBadge.org.
  • Walton, Mike. "Knot Emblems of the BSA". Badge and Uniform Site.
  • Whitman, Gary (2014). Ribbon Bars & Knot Awards of the Boy Scouts of America (7th ed.). CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1499201277.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Guide to Awards and Insignia". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Square Knot Insignia used by the Boy Scouts of America". 1 October 1999. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  3. ^ Crowl, George (2005). Knot Awards of Non-US Scouting Associations (11 ed.). Jersey Village, TX. p. 5.
  4. ^ "In the Loop: A Guide to Square Knots and How to Wear Them". 20 October 2012. Retrieved 27 Feb 2017.
  5. ^ As of March 2018, there were 36 religions and denominations that sponsored religious emblems programs for youth, many with different emblems for different ages of youth. This knot represents any of those.
  6. ^ This knot represents the three Hornaday medals (bronze and silver for youth, gold for adults), but is not worn in place of the badges (bronze for youth, gold for adults) or certificates (units and organizations). See "Hornaday Awards". Boy Scouts of America.
  7. ^ As of March 2018, there were 34 religions and churches or denominations which sponsored awards for adult service to scouting in that faith. This knot represents any of those 34 distinct awards, which are not offered by scouting, but by the church or religion itself. See "Adult Religious Awards". US Scouting Service Project.
  8. ^ As of March 2018, there were 20 secular community orgaanizations which sponsored awards for adult service to scouting in that organization. This knot represents any of those 20 distinct awards, which are not offered by Scouting, but by the community organization itself. See "Community Organization Awards". Boy Scouts of America.
  9. ^ As of March 2018, there were 5 distinct awards represented by this knot, each focused on service to a particular, traditionally under-served demographic: African-American, Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American, and Special Needs youth. See "Scouting Service Award Combines Five Awards into One Cool Square Knot". 17 Feb 2017. Retrieved 27 Feb 2017.
  10. ^ This knot has represented several different awards, many overlapping: Silver Award 1954-1986; Ranger 1978-1996; Ace 1978-1996; Explorer Achievement Award 1986-1995; Young American Award 1995-1996; Exploring G.O.L.D. Award 1995-1998.