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Barkley421

Which square knots to wear and why

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There is no formal order of precedence of square knot awards, but mine are starting to accrue in an unattractive way.  It got me thinking about how to sort and rank them for the purpose of shaving them down to the ones I would consider most important.  6 look good.  9 looks OK.  12 is starting to get questionable and past that the shirt starts getting stiff and uncomfortable.  That being said, I completely support everyone making their own decisions about what to wear and in what order, but I am curious what everyone thinks of my system  of determining order of precedence and what to wear.  
 
I also completely agree with wearing the awards most important to your role at the time, but this was made with the idea of what a hypothetical superscouter with every award and only one uniform would wear.  Basically, I laid out a process for sorting through my thoughts on what categories are more important than others.  The general principals are sorting by the values the display communicates,  the ordering of higher honor awards over more common awards, and the ordering general awards of similar honor over specific awards.  
 
A consideration that flows from this ordering is that awards that are a lower level or localized form of a higher award should be superseded by the higher award if more space is required.  If space is needed for a Silver Beaver, the District Award of Merit should be replaced rather than worn alongside it, replacing another award that adds more information to the story being told.  
 
The end result should be to tell a scouting story in as few pictures as possible.  That being said, here's my attempt to come up with a rational order that works for me.  
 
Capstone youth awards (only 1 or 2, based on which program  participating in at the time) (The BSA is a program for youth development.  We should always keep that at the forefront.  For that reason, the capstone youth awards should be our most important.  I do not follow that all youth awards should retain this high precedence though, only those awards that are the capstones of the programs)
Eagle Scout 
Quartermaster Award
Silver Award
Arrow of Light
 
Meritorious Action Awards (wear highest one) (they're rare, they usually have a great story about scout skills in action, and they have a really shiny medal.)
Honor Medal
Heroism Award
Medal of Merit
 
Nomination Awards of the BSA for General Service (wear highest one) (Awards given from the admiration of one's peers is a higher honor than an award given for completing a checklist.  Awards for one's service to scouting in general should come before awards for service to subsets of scouting.)
 
Silver Buffalo
Silver Antelope
Silver Beaver
District Award of Merit 
Unit Leader Award of Merit
 
Nomination Awards of the BSA for Special Service (this is where it starts getting really personal in building the story in as few pictures as possible)
Hornaday Gold Medal  
OA Distinguished Service Award
Scouting Service Awards
Spurgeon Award
Hornaday Gold Badge
Venturing Leadership Award
 
Nomination Awards of Other Organizations (not even trying to rank these as there's too much variation between outside organizations to even guess how difficult it is to be awarded.  Almost every LDS scouter has their Adult Religious Award whereas other ones are relatively rare.  I would move these higher in precedence in the event your POR is involves the awarding entity)
Adult Religious Award
Community Organization Award
George Meany Award
 
Training or Punchlist Awards (Some of these are expensive and difficult to do, others are almost harder to do your POR faithfully and not complete the requirements.  The ranking is purely subjective based on my perception of their difficulty.)
 
Distinguished Commissioner Service Award
Other Hornaday Awards 
Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award
International Scouter's Award
Boyce New Unit Organizer Award
Alumni Award
Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award
Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service
Scouter's Key
Scouter's Training Award
James E. West Fellowship Award (if you are rich maybe a year as a den leader sounds harder than $1000, but I'd gladly be a den leader for $1000.)
Cub Scout Den Leader Award
Youth Religious Emblems
 
Other (I have no idea how to treat these at all.  This isn't putting them at the bottom.  I just have no idea.)
Silver World Award
Professional Circle Award
 
As an example, our hypothetical superscouter that had been presented with all the awards and is now the Scoutmaster of Troop 1 would wear, in order of precedence,:
Row 1
1. Eagle Scout
2. Honor Medal
3. Silver Buffalo
(stop here if you like the chic look)
Row 2
4. Any awards of the Charter Organization (Community Organization or Adult Religious)
5. Hornaday knot representing gold medal
6. OA Distinguished Service Award
(keep going if you dare)
Row 3
7. Scouting Service Award
8. Spurgeon Award
9. Venturing Leadership Award
(stop... Ok, we can keep going for 1 more row, but only 1 more row)
Row 4
10. Community Organization or Adult Religious award if not awarded by Charter Org.
11. George Meany Award
12. Distinguished Commissioner Service Award
(no, don't please don't make me)
Row 5
13. Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award
14. International Scouter's Award
15. Boyce New Unit Organizer Award
(seriously, there isn't even any shirt left.  What are you going to do, go down the back?)
Row 6
16. Alumni Award
17. Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award
18. Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service
(At this point, the square knots become self aware and take control of the shirt.)
 
So, what do you think?  How would you suggest shaving our hypothetical superscouter down balancing the aesthetics of an orderly display with the information conveyed?  Thankfully, I do not have this problem to such a severe degree, but it was kind of a fun thought experiment of the goals of displaying the square knots.  
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Welcome, @Barkley421. I'm more of a minimalist. One row is fine. Of course, I'm now in charge of the group that decides who gets the DAMs yet I don't have one and am fine with that.

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Posted (edited)

1) WELCOME TO DA FORUMS

2) One of the challenges regarding knots is that with the exception of the Sea Scout program, which has had a max number of 6 for a number of years, there has been only "recommended" maximums that have changed several times AND at one point was only listed in restricted literature like the Wood Badge syllabus. It has only been in the latest Guide to Awards and Insignia that a maximum number has been established: 9. And then that is only for the current uniform. If you are wearing a vintage one you don't have to take any off. And to be honest with the number of problem uniforms you see in BSA literature, having more than 9 knots is extremely minor. And who knows it may  change again.

3) "Order of Precedence" while highly personal, other factors can put into play, i.e. time factors for sewing, or in my case laziness ;) I had a new shirt, barely got my knots sewed on it in time for the district banquet, and I got 2 knots that night. Long story short, I didn't undo all the knots I just sewed on to rearrange them. I just added them to the top. On another shirt, I still have the original 4 knots on it that I bought to go on the shirt when it was new.

Another factor is each individual will have their own preference that others may disagree. I know I made a lot of folks unhappy when I said the toughest volunteer job is being a D, and how I was extremely proud to earn my TCDL and CSDL knots.. People tried to say I didn't know what I was talking about, until I pointed out my previous positions in the movement.

Minimalist or Wear what you've earned, it doesn't matter. What does matter is respecting the time that the others give to the program. Respect their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and don't just ignore them because they are not wearing knots or beads..

 

Edited by Eagle94-A1

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Posted (edited)

Welcome @Barkley421!

I loved that you devised a system for choosing!  That's awesome.

Myself, I think that knots accomplish a few things:

  • provide some quick visual clues about a Scouter's background.  You can tell if someone has been a den leader, unit leader, commissioner, etc.
  • serve as a conversation starter with Scouts.  Scouts, particularly younger ones, ask - hey, what it that patch on your shirt?
  • serve as a subtle example to Scouts.  In a time in their lives when youth are often self conscious about appearance, knots provide an example of how adults display "accomplishment"

Finally, and in some ways most important to me, knots provide us adults a way to have a little character and creativity in our uniforms.  If you've been a Scouter for a while, you certainly put that uniform shirt on many times.  Its a small way to have a little fun with it. 

So myself, I'm fine with 0 knots, 1 row, or 7 rows - whatever you want to do as a Scouter.  As for order, I think you choose the approach that makes the most sense to you.  If you like structure and order, a system like you've described is AWESOME!  But, maybe it's more important to you to have that Tiger Cub Den Leader knot than to wear a Silver Buffalo.  Me - I reserve that bottom row for youth earned knots and then the rest are arranged more or less by color. 

 

Edited by ParkMan
grammer

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Personally, I think if you go past 3 rows, you start looking like one of the "3rd World General" memes, but I don't actually start laughing at someone (on the inside) until I see them wearing 4+ medals to go with all the knots.

I kind of view it the same way I think of someone who signs a letter or email with 5 or 6 or more different sets of initials, I guess out of some fear that people won't realize how important they are.

(I worked with a woman who was an appraiser for a government unit. She ALWAYS signed her name as Jane Smith,  BA, JD, CPA, CRE, RAIII, CAE, MAA)

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It's always been the unofficial rule that for Volunteers it's a max of 3 rows and for Professionals it's a max of one row. 

 

Again, that's unofficial. But I think anything that goes over is too "look at me" 

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It has been put in the most recent insignia guide that 3 rows is the max.   It is what it is, and I will respect it.   I find it interesting that nobody seems to object to Wood Badge people wearing their fist full of beads.

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Posted (edited)

I understand the idea that or four more rows invokes the meme.  But, really is it that big a deal?  When I was a kid, my dad had two knots.  A religious award knot and an Eagle knot.  I always that was pretty cool as a Cub Scout.  later I earned my AOL & religious award and was pretty proud as a Scout that I was a little more like my dad. 

So some person that's been volunteering for 20 years has a bunch of rows - so what?  Why do we really care? 

By way of disclosure I have two rows of knots - so my comment about knots is not one that applies to me.

Edited by ParkMan
grammer

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I like the attempt to prioritize the award knots, and especially the point of choosing the highest nominated award, e.g. Silver Beaver, over Award of Merit.  Few of us would need to go farther, though perhaps local recognition might take precedence, depending on the normal uniform use.  What I call my formal uniform would take that into consideration, so if I have to eliminate one, the Award of Merit would be likely, followed by the Training award since I have the Key; the real reason for both is the training covers Scouter and Commissioner with the devices.  I personally feel the youth religious knot has a high priority and takes precedence over the adult if necessary.  Few of us really have to deal with more than 10-12 anyway.  Right now I am trying to decide how to handle having been nominated for the updated Scoutmaster award and since the earlier one has a different knot, which should I wear; probably the more current one, retiring the original to the memory book.  On the other hand, it can be fun to listen to someone try to determine the knots; most have never seen the original NESA SM award knot.  Ultimately, I doubt I will go beyond four rows, and may only have that on the formal shirt.  I do still on occasion wear the medals for COH or on Scout Sunday, the religious ones.  Once, at the prodding of my scout leadership group, put all the actual medals on for a COH after I had gotten on them for not having their awards on uniforms.  But, the clanking and fact they sort of get in the way much of the time makes that a rare exception.  We also have some challenges with hanging medals for NRA and Trails on occasion.  Ultimately, common sense and rational thought will win out.  

 

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Of course, there are not very many Scouters out there who have that many knots anyway.   There will be even fewer of them earned since most of the Cub Scout program knots have been done away with.   I guess when you get to the point where you have to prioritize,  it's kind of like telling the youth that there are over 100 merit badges you can earn, but you can only wear 35 on your sash.  

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, jr56 said:

Of course, there are not very many Scouters out there who have that many knots anyway.   There will be even fewer of them earned since most of the Cub Scout program knots have been done away with.   I guess when you get to the point where you have to prioritize,  it's kind of like telling the youth that there are over 100 merit badges you can earn, but you can only wear 35 on your sash.  

I haven't heard they were going away and I'm kind of sad, a lot of Cub volunteers were very proud of them. I admit though, I have a box full of dusty knots that I don't have any clue what they represent. Since I'm your basic procrastinator, I haven't sewed them on yet. Maybe in a few years when my grand kids join. Maybe.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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2 hours ago, skeptic said:

Right now I am trying to decide how to handle having been nominated for the updated Scoutmaster award 

An updated SM award? What does it look like?

I am currently at 10 knots and put them on sequentially starting with AOL. I am going to stick with 3 rows of 3 for now.

 

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Posted (edited)

The last official BSA recommended sequence from 1979:

Honor Medal

Silver Buffalo

Silver Antelope

Silver Beaver

District Award of Merit

Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award

Medal of Merit

Eagle

Quartermaster

Silver

Youth Religious Emblem

Adult Religious Emblem

Other Scout

Scouter's Key 

Scouter Training Award 

Den Leader Training Award

Den Leader Coach Training Award

https://www.sageventure.com/history/knothist/

 

Edited by DeaconLance

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