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Where Do Knots Come From, Daddy?

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It's been interesting to follow this thread.  It would seem that both sides of the issue feel strongly about the knots.  I have 2 rows as stated by the literature.  I have devices that mean I have earned the knot in two or three different levels of scouting.  The trainer knot I earned in Cubbing, Scouting and Venturing (3 devices).  I have the medals and service stars as well.  I own a Banana Republic General's uniform for special occasions when it calls for it.


I have good reasons for it.


1) the 2 rows only is what BSA prescribes

2) the devices show I have worked extensively in all three programs of the BSA

3) The service stars shows I have been around the block a few times in the mean time

4) the beads let you know I'm not interested in taking WB21C.

5)  the temp badge from 1993 means I really don't want to keep sewing patches over pockets every other week.  

6) the Eagle mentor pins on the collar are inappropriate, but I don't care.


Am I proud of what  I have done?  Well, probably not, but I am proud of what my boys have done 

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I am very thankful for the area I live in and the Scouters I deal with. I've been a Scouter for over 35 years and I can't recall ever being looked down on because I was not wearing any knots (or blin

I've thought about this several times..... my theory us scouters that have interest enough to put energy into it... going to round tables, training, and even reading this forum... we like the "game

Stosh, that's some unusually twisted logic you're weaving with! so:   Character is what a person does  (wears a chestful of knots) when no one is watching. When no one is at RT?  Ah, no YOUTH at RT



WELCOME TO DA FORUMS!!!!!!!!  I've seen a similar situation where a female 3 beader went into an "Experts" session at PDL-1, and almost allof the guys in there looked at her as if she had a third eye.


As for the devices, if you are active in your uniform, i.e. carrying merchandise, setting up displays and needing to l;ean into it, etc the pins can be physically uncomfortable. Especially if the backing falls off and you don't realize it.


They are a figurative pain when the backings keep falling off. I eventually replaced all of my backings with rubber erasers.  Also it's a pain to get one of my devices, my Sea Scout Device, as national has deviced to make it a restricted item.

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 . . . I have 2 rows as stated by the literature. . . .


1) the 2 rows only is what BSA prescribes


I like your post, but one minor correction.




Wearing medals and embroidered knots.

Not more than five medals may be worn at a

time, pinned in a single row immediately above

the seam of the left pocket. Embroidered knots

represent pin-on medals or around-the-neck

awards and are designed for the convenience of

the wearer. Knots are worn above the left pocket

in rows of three. It is recommended that the

number of knots be limited to three rows of three

(a total of nine knots). The order for wearing

medals and knots is at the wearer’s discretion;

typically the medal or knot the wearer deems

most important is worn on his or her own right.


Recommended . . . limited to three rows of three.

Not required.


I remember when two full rows was a buttload of knots. I was rather awestruck the first time I saw someone with three full rows of three. (My Scoutmaster had two full rows and the beginning of a third.) It seems that knots have proliferated in the last 20 years or so to the point that it doesn't seem uncommon - from what I've seen recently - for people to have four or even more rows.

I'm kinda digging the idea of limiting them to three, or two, rows. (Me limiting myself. I am not advocating a rule for others here.) How much junk do I really want to sew on there anyway? Quality over quantity. I could take the 6 or nine I deem most important and leave the rest off. Since I only have three at the moment, I don't have this problem, but just contemplating the future.

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At one time I was ambivalent about the knots, sort of embarrassed early on when I actually earned the basic training award and SM key.  But, as time progressed, I realized that earned awards are just that, earned, and not soon after I was established in my unit, I had scouts asking why I did not wear certain things they knew I could.  So, eventually, one or two shirts have some knots, two have them all nine.  There is what I consider my formal shirt, and some here might say brag shirt; that is the one that goes to the cleaners, rather than through the wash, and has all the devices as well, along with year pins.  A second has just the knots, and it is my RT Staff uniform, though I am only an assistant.  


On the formal shirt, I also have my 1960 jamboree patch on the temporary position, my nametag is from the 1985 Jamboree, and I have the 2010 in the up position.  There is a significance to me about having attended those three events in various capacities, and while it occasionally generates "old guy" conversations, most of the time it draws younger scouts' inquiries.


Kids more often than not ask about the knots, even older ones occasionally.  My standard answer is that I am old and been around forever.  If they seriously want to know, I explain them.  


The attitudes voiced here that denigrate individuals are to me short sighted and rude.  Yes, there are a few individuals that likely represent that image; but reality is that most are simply very long serving leaders, and likely deserve a modicum of respect just for that.  Respect is earned, just like the knots should be.  Kind of like the paper Eagles; most of the kids KNOW, and it tends to show.


As long as your focus is on the Scouts first, what difference should it make?  

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Interesting,  the number on knots somebody wears has nothing to do with how good a leader they are.  So many people downgrade scouters who wear their awards.  Why does the BSA create all these things if it is a big no no to wear them?  

I have also encountered scouters who try to wear as little has possible on their uniforms, but make sure they wear their multiple wood badge beads, and look down upon others who do not have mutliple beads.

I abide by the uniform guide, and whatever other scouters want to wear is fine, as long as it is within the guidlines.

I will not lower myself to call other scouters names, based on what BSA sanctioned items they chose to wear on their uniforms.

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I thought the service stars were a nice idea. so i bought them for our boys and leaders a few years back.

Quickly realized they were too easy to loose

they get caught on jackets and backpack straps

just like my official BSA name tag..... pins are just no good.

I'm shocked that my son's religious medal device has lasted more than a year now....


I have thought several times of gluing the back on.... or peening the pin over.


I wish they'd come up with sewn on name strips and a better solution for the service stars and such.

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I know a few Scouters I don't care for, but it has nothing to do with knots or beads.  Many comments here seem to be prejudicial (assessing someone based upon knots on a shirt), and I don't find the logic in that.  I find it amusing that some find it worthy of mention that they only wear X of their Y knots, as if it's some sort of noble gesture.  Of all the comments, I find the ones regarding beads (and how many) to be very odd.  Are we actually criticizing someone for wearing beads?!  That makes no sense to me.  The beads are intentionally discrete (BP's idea).  Wearing the WB nametag, patrol emblem, World Crest with beads, and especially a spoof knot ... Those things (to me) are a bit over the top (louder than they need to be).  I wear beads when I think they're appropriate.  Some feel that they're always appropriate.  So what? 

I think the 'in your face' comments are mostly in the eye of the beholder, but I get the point, and I know some of the people you're referring to.  They're just not on my list of friends.  That way I don't need to worry about them.     

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Recognition is also to encourage others to earn the awards.  Still, there out to be some judgment exercised.


Then there's the guy in my older council who has had the pockets on his uniform shirt custom lowered to create room for two more rows.  He is regarded as a joke.  

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I know that for me I was resistant to wearing my knots for many of the same reasons I never wore my rack on my Army Greens. I'm just not interested in the recognition that they bring either from those that doubt they were earned or from those that want to give me a pat on the back for earning them, it just doesn't really matter to me.


However, as it was put to me by my council registrar, "you expect your boys to sew on their ranks when they advance and merit badges when they earn them right?" Well with that statement I knew where she was going right away.......I now wear most of my knots, not for me but to set a standard for my scouts and how they should wear their uniforms.


As for who submits them in my troop I have a very active and knowledgeable advancement chair that tracks not only our scouts but also our scouters and sees that they receive what they have earned.

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I've been following this topic with interest. If the BSA did not want the Scouters

who earned or were awarded various awards to wear them, they wouldn't give

them out. So what is the big deal if a scouter earned 10 awards and he wants to

wear all 10 knots!


The Scouter earned or was awarded them, let him proudly

wear them. In our district, I know  a Scouter who wears 5 rows

of knots that he has earned. At every meeting he is at, I proudly

go over, shake his hand and thank him for his almost 60 years of

Scouting Service.


Most of the cry babies who complain about the 'Banana Republic General'

who wear their earned awards on the uniform wouldn't be worthy to carry this

Scouters day pack.

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I think some of the negativity in regards to the "Latin American Generals" comes from the negative attitudes. Not saying all knot wears have negative attitudes, but those knots are easily identifiable and memorable.


One of the nicest, most helpful leaders with over 60 years in the BSA has 4 rows. Only time I ever saw him angry was when I had to tell him according the council training records, he was "untrained." You don't tell a a PTC staffer he isn't trained in his job ;)

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