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Can youth wear the NESA Life Member square knot?

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?Justin’s an Eagle Scout in Connecticut and a life member of the National Eagle Scout Association, or NESA.

(Important side note: Congratulations, Justin!)

He still has time to enjoy Scouting as a youth member, but Justin wrote Ask the Expert wondering whether he can wear the silver-bordered NESA Life Member square knot in addition to his Eagle Scout rank badge.

Justin writes:

My name is Justin. I’m an Eagle Scout from Troop 474 in Connecticut. So, I still have time as a youth, but I’m a lifetime member of NESA, so am I allowed to wear the NESA lifetime square knot?

It’s oftentimes debated, as square knots are usually for adults only. But there is the youth religious square knot.

Please give me some clarification on this matter. Thanks!

YIS,

Justin

The answer comes from the BSA’s Awards and Recognition Committee, of which Larry Cunningham is the chairman. This committee controls the BSA Guide to Awards and Insignia. They respond:

nesa life member square knotJustin, congratulations on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, and thank you for becoming a life member of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA).

You are correct that square knots are not reserved for adults, as youth are eligible to wear square knots representing several awards, including youth religious emblems, the Hornaday silver or bronze medal, the Medal of Merit, or the Venturing Leadership Award.

However, the Guide to Awards and Insignia also indicates that two badges representing the same award should generally not be worn. In the case of the Eagle Scout rank, a youth member should wear the oval cloth badge signifying your rank. The square knot with or without the silver border is reserved for adults who are no longer authorized to wear the rank badge.

As an aside, the Boy Scouts of America has so many awards represented by knots that many observers don’t know the meaning of most. Wearing the badge of rank of your uniform is a much more effective means of showing that you have achieved the highest rank available!

So there you have it. Hold off on that NESA Life Member square knot for now, and wear that Eagle badge with pride!

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11 Comments on Can youth wear the NESA Life Member square knot?

  1. An obvious follow-on question is regarding the new Venturing program where a rank patch is part of the uniform. Eagle Scout Venturers have so far been able to wear their Eagle rank patch on their Venturing uniforms. The logic expressed here would suggest that when they earn their first Venturing award (new program) where a rank patch will now take that pocket space they would be able to wear either the non-NESA knot or the NESA knot?

    The only exception that I can think of is if Venturing allows participants to wear some other representation of the Eagle Rank on the Venturing uniform similar to how the Cub Arrow of Light is worn on the Boy Scout uniform??

  2. EagleRay, CA // June 27, 2014 at 8:50 am // Reply

    That’s a shame.
    I would think that even though he is still a youth, the fact that he is also NESA Life, could start a conversation, when somebody asked him, “why are you wearing the Silver Bordered Eagle knot?” Justin would then have the opportunity to explain the benefits of NESA to the questioner. Great promotion for NESA and NESA Life. Maybe an exception could be made here.

    I speak as a NESA Life myself. I joined NESA at 2001 Jamboree, and went Life at 2010. Until that time, I had not really heard much about NESA. The more promotion and education the better I say.

  3. Lou Leopold // June 27, 2014 at 9:21 am // Reply

    How about a silver mylar border available on the Eagle badge for youth life NESA members like the border on the life member knot? I know the volume would be low, but might be an item that even the adults might want to collect.

  4. Lou, we’ve had silver Mylar borders on our Eagle cloth badges off and on for some time. It is a consideration, however, as we move forward with a way to recognize our NESA Life members who happen to be still youth members of the BSA.

    Nanmwarki, in the days when we had both Exploring and Scouting ranks, the two were worn side-by-side on the shirt pocket. I don’t see a problem with this continuing when we see the new Venturing rank. There’s enough space on the shirt pocket for both rank emblems AND the Arrow of Light.

  5. Mike– I wouldn’t be too quick to state that they be worn side by side. We haven’t even seen the final version of these awards to know what sort of space they will take. With that said, I realize that you have a tight relationship with the community at National. So are you aware of final design information to suggest that there would be room for side by side rank patches? Or are you simply expressing your opinion? The phrasing you have used suggests more of a casual opinion than a definitive response. Personally, I don’t think that the Venturing program would be completely excited to have side-by-side rank patches. I think a more diminutive approach to displaying the Eagle rank would be more accepted to maintain uniform emphasis on Venturing. Sure it has been accepted so far but that may be because Venturing didn’t have anything competing for the visibility of that space.

    My personal vote is to allow venturing youth to wear the Eagle knot which in turn would shift some of the viewpoint of knots to a current/previous program perspective versus a adult/youth perspective. Meaning, previous program awards would move to the knot “shelf” providing the pocket space for the current program. The adult/youth perspective is that this shelf is utilized primarily once the youth becomes an adult (with exceptions, of course).

  6. Hi Nanmwairki!!

    Earlier, I stated in part: “in the days when we had both Exploring and Scouting ranks, the two were worn side-by-side on the shirt pocket. I don’t see a problem with this continuing when we see the new Venturing rank.”

    You wrote in reply “Mike– I wouldn’t be too quick to state that they be worn side by side.”

    I didn’t. I stated that I don’t see a problem with wearing both the Venturing and the Boy Scout/Varsity Scout rank side-by-side as we used to do with the Exploring and Boy Scout rank back in the 40s and 50s.

    You also stated in part: “We haven’t even seen the final version of these awards to know what sort of space they will take. With that said, I realize that you have a tight relationship with the community at National. So are you aware of final design information to suggest that there would be room for side by side rank patches? Or are you simply expressing your opinion?”

    Neither. I saw the proposed designs during a couple of meetings including the National Annual Meeting; and I recommended a set of designs as well. No, my relationship with those serving on the actual national workteams doesn’t extend to knowledge of the *final approved designs*. Whatever they may be, it is my *personal hope* that both the Venturing and the Boy/Varsity Scouting insignia be of a size and design that both could be worn — at the wearer’s option — on *either the “Universal” or the “Venturing” field uniform shirts. I am fairly confident that both could co-exist on a shirt pocket — now as back then.

    The designs which were announced and posted online were small enough that they can share a pocket with the oval Boy Scouting/Varsity Scouting rank emblems.

    What I *do not advocate* is youth members wearing the Eagle Scout (or the NESA Life Member Eagle Scout) square knot emblem for the same reason that we don’t allow youth members to wear the Arrow of Light square knot emblem (and as was stated here by Larry): there is already a cloth emblem which symbolizes this — and youth should wear the cloth emblem and leave the square knot emblems for us adults. Only when there exists no cloth emblem — as in the case of youth religious emblems, the William T. Hornaday awards, the heroism and meritorious service awards, and a couple others — should the square knot representation of those medals and medallions be worn.

  7. Nick Theisen // June 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm // Reply

    The only thing I dislike on both of the Eagle Knots is the background color. Here is a huge accomplishment, and it blends in with the shirt. I would love if it stood out. I could always find a patch trader that has an olive drab green color backdrop to the tan shirt, but you get the idea.

  8. Personally, for the Venturing program and the new award patches that are coming, I would like to see an Eagle, at any age, wear the Eagle Knot on the Venturing uniform when the Eagle Award patch is not on the Venturing uniform. I personally do not wear my OA Lodge patch on my Venturing uniform because I view the OA as a Boy Scout only program. I wear my lodge patch on my tan Scouter uniform. Yes, Venturers and Advisors can wear the OA flap patch on the Venturing uniform. Likewise, I would like to see the Arrow of Light badge only wear on the Cub Scout uniform and in Boy Scouts and Venturing, the Arrow of Light knot be worn.

    Some will say, having these other program patches worn on other program uniforms help promote unity, I don’t. Knots help show others that yes, I earn this in another program, but does not push it into someone else’s face. This is even greater when in the Venturing program when the girls have no way to earn these awards (Arrow of Light and Eagle) and do seem a bit put off by seeing the youth badges from other programs that they can not earn.

    In the end, all these top program awards are important and love seeing those that have an Arrow of Light, Eagle, Silver/Summit, and Quartermaster award knots on their uniform….Great Job!!!

  9. Ron Blaisdell // July 5, 2014 at 9:10 am // Reply

    Maybe I’m off base, but if a youth wants to wear the NESA-Life Eagle Squareknot – as long as he doesn’t wear the badge on his pocket, I don’t see a problem!

  10. I’m not a uniform policeman, so I’d tell the young man to just wear it, he paid for it after all.

  11. Well for those saying he should wear it how about a special eagle patch the shows he is a life member?

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