Award Square Knots are generally representations of other awards or medals awarded to scouts or scouters. Because there is currently no official award presented by BSA for the earning of all merit badges, there is also no official award knot for this feat. Hence this award square knot is a private issue "unofficial" knot and not part of the official BSA uniform. The wearing of this knot is completely up to the individual.
We developed the idea of this knot by applying the same practical approach that has been used to develop the current knot program (at least our interpretation of it). However, to understand it clearly, an understanding of the awards offered to scouts for merit badge achievement after reaching the rank of Eagle Scout is important.
Scouts who have reached the rank of Eagle Scout have the opportunity to continue to serve, show leadership in their troops and earn more merit badges. For every three months of service and leadership in their troops and an additional five merit badges above the rank of Eagle they are awarded and Eagle Palm. Five merit badges earns a Bronze Palm, ten replaces the Bronze Palm with a Gold Palm, and fifteen replaces the Gold Palm with a Silver Palm. Twenty merit badges earns the scout an additional Bronze Palm on top of the existing Silver Palm. The same sequence continues earning the scout a additional Silver Palm for each fifteen merit badges and additional time in the troop. With a current number of 121 available merit badges (the first 21 are required for the Eagle Scout rank), a scout then has the opportunity to earn a total of six Silver Palms and one Gold Palm as long as he earns his Eagle Scout rank before his thirteenth birthday.
While scouts are youth in the program they wear their Palm pins on the ribbon of their Eagle Scout medal. When scouts become adult scouters they replace their Eagle Scout patch medal with the Eagle Scout Square Knot. The BSA Insignia Guide states that scouts continue to wear their Palm pins on the Eagle Scout Square Knot.
In this fashion, BSA does allow for the continued recognition as an adult scout for merit badges earned and service rendered above and beyond those necessary for the rank of Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, the square knot is smaller than the medal ribbon and more than a few Palm pins do not fit on the knot, effectively causing scouts to remove this recognition from their uniforms.
While we cannot tell you the exact origination of the square knot program, it is probably safe to assume from the current explanation of the program that knots were first used to simplify and consolidate awards and medals on the uniform. While several Palms do not represent one single award to be consolidated, we feel that the Merit Badge Square Knot is a good representation of a scout's earning all of the merit badges, thus consolidating all of the Palms into one simple square knot.
We feel this knot in itself, regardless of the actual number of Palms earned, is appropriate as there is no official BSA award for the achievement of earning all merit badges. Of the 3-4% of scouts that reach the rank of Eagle Scout, many of them return to troop activity to finish the rank requirements just before their 18th birthdays. Earning all of the merit badges is a very good representation of scouts who are dedicated to their troops and perform service and leadership throughout their scout years. This, in our opinion, is going above and beyond the rank of Eagle and worthy of maintaining this recognition as an adult scouter.
It is BSA's interest to keep scouts interested in continued activity in the program, and this knot may provide a bit of extra motivation.
Please keep in mind that this square knot is an "unofficial, private issue knot." This means that it is not endorsed by BSA, and it is not part of the official BSA uniform. This knot would be along the lines of other unofficial knots you may have seen circulating such as the 50 Miler Knot and the BSA Lifeguard Knot. You may find it to be a good trading piece or simply to add to your personal collection of unofficial knots. Personally, I wear it on my uniform proudly.
We have heard positive feedback on this knot and for the recognition it represents. We are hoping that at some point in time BSA will adopt the idea, although there are many hurdles to them doing so. We think, though, that with the support of the scouting community this concept may actually get approved.
In the mean time, the Achievers Registry and the Award Square Knot are our ways of standing up and applauding achievement of these individuals, unofficially.
And as a note of disclosure, the author of this website and producer of this knot, Troy Pugh, is listed in the Achievers Registry.
To view the complete and most recent proposal submitted to BSA National Council, click here.
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