Knot of the Week: Boyce


You spent the
weekend celebrating the nation’s founders. Now, we at Cracker Barrel pay our respects
to founders of a different kind.

We’re talking
about volunteers who organize Scouting units. And instead of a fireworks-filled
holiday, the BSA uses the
William D.
Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award
to honor these Scouting pioneers.

The square knot
is presented to Scouters who organize one or more traditional Cub Scouting, Boy
Scouting, or Venturing units. Each color on the knot represents these three
programs. The award debuted in 2005, meaning only volunteers who organized
units after March 1, 2005, are eligible.

Also, the
requirements state that only one volunteer can be recognized as the organizer
of a unit, even though some packs, troops, and crews are a result of a
collaborative effort.

Ready to begin?
this helpful PDF file that gives you step-by-step instructions
on starting a Scouting unit. You’ll also learn to:

  • Find
    a chartered organization
  • Pitch
    Scouting’s values to youth and adults
  • Locate
    resources available to help Scout leaders
  • Overcome
    objections from parents (such as “We already tried Scouting, and it didn’t
    work” or “We can’t afford Scouting”)
  • Select
    quality leaders

Sure, the square
knot will look great on your uniform. But the real reward comes from the
knowledge that you’ve created a Scouting foundation that can last for generations.

Chime In: If you’ve organized a unit recently,
what tips can you give to other Scouters? If your unit has been around for
decades, have you ever met your unit’s organizer?

Knot of the Week: Arrow of Light Award


When you see a
fellow Scouter wearing this red, green, and yellow knot, what does it tell you?

For us, it’s a
sign that this Scouter was dedicated to the program from a very young age. So
dedicated, in fact, that he earned the
of Light Award
, the pinnacle of Cub Scouting, before he even turned 12
years old.

And did you know
that it’s one of just two items a Scouter may wear on his uniform from his days as a
Cub Scout?(The other is the youth religious award knot.) Also, it’s one of just a handful of square knots that have a de
facto age requirement—another is the Eagle Scout Award—because you can only
earn them as a youth.

Boys who earn
the Arrow of Light hone their outdoor skills, get physically fit, and
understand and practice the values of Scouting. It signifies they’ve completed
all of the requirements for a Scout badge and are permitted to join a Boy Scout

We don’t look at
the Arrow of Light as the culmination of a Cub Scout journey. Instead, we see
it as the beginning of a Scouting adventure.

Chime In: Do you have the Arrow of Light award?
What does it mean to you? What is your favorite Cub Scout memory? Let us know by adding your comment below.

CORRECTION: The article previously stated that the Arrow of Light is the only award from Cub Scouts that can be worn on an adult uniform. Thanks to Jon for pointing out that the religious award fits those criteria as well. 

Knot of the Week: Cub Scout Den Leader Award


Take a break
from corralling your den full of energized 7- to 10-year-olds, and listen up.
We know you work hard as a den leader, and we want give you a hint on how you
can get your just rewards.

Start recording
your progress as a volunteer and apply for
Cub Scout Den Leader Award
. The blue-and-gold (naturally) square knot is available
after you’ve spent one year as a registered Cub Scout den leader.

But, you’ve got
to complete these training and performance requirements:


  • Complete “The
    New Den Leader” Fast Start training, basic course for Cub Scout den leaders,
    and Youth Protection Training.
  • Participate in a
    Cub Scout leader pow wow or University of Scouting, or attend at least four

Performance (do five of the following 10):

  • During at least
    one program year, have at least 50 percent of your den’s boys earn the rank for
    their grade or age.
  • At least once,
    reregister a minimum of 75 percent of the eligible members of your den during
  • Graduate at
    least 60 percent of eligible boys in your den into Webelos Scouting.
  • Have an
    assistant den leader who meets regularly with your den.
  • Have a den chief
    who meets regularly with your den.
  • Take leadership
    in planning and conducting a den service project.
  • Conduct at least
    three den meetings per month, nine months per year.
  • Participate with
    your den in a Cub Scout day or resident camp.
  • Explore three
    “character connection” activities with your den in a year.
  • Hold regular den
    meeting and activity planning sessions with your assistant den leader.

Get the details,
and then get started.
Click here (link opens PDF) to download a printable,
wallet-size progress record. Your pack committee chairman, Cubmaster, and a
district representative must approve your progress as you complete the

Knot of the Week: ¡Scouting… Vale La Pena! Service Award


Scouting is universal. No matter where you go in the
country, you’ll see Scouts of every religion, race, and socioeconomic level.

In honor of the BSA’s desire to encourage development of
Scouting programs in Hispanic communities, the ¡Scouting…
Vale La Pena! Service Award
was introduced. The Spanish phrase in the
award’s name translates to “worth the effort,” and the award’s recipients are
individuals who believe that bringing Scouting to Hispanic youth is indeed just

People of all races can receive the square knot, but each
council’s annual quota of awards can’t exceed the number of districts in the

The award’s application is available in English and Spanish,
and it stresses that an individual’s accomplishments are more important than
his or her tenure in Scouting. If you or someone you know has helped improve
the Scouting program in a Hispanic community, check out the application for
more details
 (link opens PDF).

Nominees are submitted to local councils who screen
applicants and forward worthy Scouters to the national office. Good luck, and gracias for all you do for Scouting.

Knot of the Week: George Meany Award


If you think about it, labor unions are a lot like Scouting
units. Both consist of a group of similarly minded people who are all working
toward a common goal.

That explains why thousands of Scout leaders are also union
members. Scouting honors this dual role with the George Meany Award, given by the AFL-CIO’s central labor council
and by each AFL-CIO state federation.

So who was George Meany? He was president of the AFL
(American Federation of Labor) from 1952 to 1955 and then remained president
when the AFL merged with the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) in

He thought that free trade unions and the labor movement
were important components of the fabric of America—much like Scouting.

The award is meant to honor union members—men and women—who
make contributions to their community through the BSA. That involvement can
take on a number of forms. Union members could help advance the use of the
American Labor merit badge, form Scout units that are chartered to unions or
labor groups, and bring Scouting and labor unions together for the betterment
of the community.

Contact your local council for information on how to apply
for the award or find more information here.

Knot of the Week: Whitney M. Young Jr. Award


Who should have access to opportunities like Scouting?
Whitney Young knew the answer to that question: everyone.

The famed Civil Rights leader once said: “Every man is our
brother, and every man’s burden is our own. Where poverty exists, all are
poorer.” To honor his legacy, Young’s name graces a prestigious—and selective—square

As a recognition for people who help spread the Scouting
program to youth from rural and low-income backgrounds, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award is available
to volunteers of any race, income, or level in the Scouting program.

Simply submit the name of a worthy colleague to your local
council. The council will forward the candidates to the national office for
approval. You can’t nominate yourself.

After a screening and review process that can take up to 60
days, recipients get a plaque featuring Young’s image—and the knot. It’s a red,
white, and black square knot like the one shown above.

Click here and get an application form, as well
as more information on the requirements and criteria the selection committee
uses to choose worthy Scouters.

Do your part to honor Young’s legacy by helping a deserving
Scouter gets his due.

Knot of the Week: Hornaday


Yes, you recycle, drive a hybrid car, and plant trees on
Earth Day. You’re doing your part to help protect our planet. But a select few
are driven to make an even bigger impact.

Those people are eligible for the William T. Hornaday Award for Distinguished Service in Conservation.
And despite its lengthy name, the award’s list of honorees is short. Only about
1,200 people have received the medal since its creation in 1914. That’s why
it’s often called “An Olympic medal bestowed by the Earth.”

Hornaday, whose name is synonymous with conservation,
founded the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He’s also responsible for saving
the American bison and Alaskan fur seal from extinction. But while Hornaday
paid some serious dues, you won’t need to save an endangered species to earn a
Hornaday award. You should be prepared, though, to work more than a week or
two. Unlike many knots, this award can take months or even years to earn.

There are several levels of Hornaday awards, though not all
of them come with the right to wear the blue, green, and white knot pictured
above. Unit certificates and bronze medals exist. But the knot doesn’t
accompany those awards. Only Scouts who receive the silver medal or Scouters
who receive the gold medal may wear the knot.

Nominations come from your local council and must be
approved by the Boy Scout National Office in Texas. The national conservation
committee will contact you if you can earn the prestigious award.

Not everyone can earn the award, but every little step you
take for the environment can have a marked impact on the Earth. Even if you’re
not ready for a yearlong conservation effort, you still have a responsibility
to future generations. So start now and maybe one day you’ll make the short

Knot of the Week: Honor Medal


Take a look at the seven knots we’ve covered in our Knot of
the Week series so far. They all have one thing in common: We want you to earn
them. And with enough dedication to the Scouting program, you can.

But that trend ends this week. In fact, for the first time,
we’re going to tell you about a square knot we don’t want you to earn. That’s
because the Honor Medal is given to
Scouters who risk their lives to save another. We hope you’re never faced with
that type of peril. But know this: If you are, your Scouting training will help
guide your actions.

The Honor Medal is awarded by the National Court of Honor
and is only given for the most unusual heroism and skill accompanied by
considerable risk to self. For the purposes of this award, the BSA defines “heroism”
and “skill” as follows:

  • Heroism: conduct
    exhibiting courage, daring, skill, and self-sacrifice.
  • Skill: the
    ability to use one's knowledge effectively in execution or performance. Special
    attention is given to skills earned in Scouting.

Members cannot recommend themselves for this prestigious
award. Instead, there’s a three-step process:

  1. Local councils identify worthy candidates.
  2. Council representatives interview witnesses and
    investigate the case.
  3. The National Court of Honor reviews the documentation and
    deliberates before determining whether to present an award.

One of the honors the National Court of Honor could bestow
is the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, which is given for “extreme risk to
self” and is the highest lifesaving award in Scouting. It’s so rare that only
about 200 people have received it in more than seven decades.

Typically, the Scouters who receive the Honor Medal or Honor
Medal with Crossed Palms get their stories featured prominently in the local

Take Scott Vicznesky, for example. In 2008, the Atlanta-area
Scouter received the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms for entering a burning
house and rescuing his neighbor
. Afterward, Vicznesky, an associate Venturing
Advisor said, “I don’t think I did anything heroic. I just helped out a

Youth members also are eligible. Like Matt Knight, who was a
high school sophomore in 2003 when he received the Honor Medal with Crossed
Palms. Matt rescued a girl who was trapped underwater in a drainage pipe.

So while we never want anyone to have to earn the Honor
Medal, we’re glad that a brave few have.

Knot of the Week: Seabadge


We at Cracker Barrel are landlocked here in Irving, Tex.
Because of that, we must admit feeling some envy when we hear about the Sea

This specialized division of Venturing takes the Scouting
experience to the water. How cool is that? Sea Scouts learn maritime history,
practice boating techniques, and engender longing from those of us on dry land.

But despite our geographical differences, Sea Scouts share
our commitment to core Scouting values. Their leaders go through a training
program like Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing volunteers. It’s called the
Seabadge Course, and afterward they’ve earned the trident-shaped Seabadge.

Sea Scout leaders at the ship, district, council, regional,
or national level must be nominated to participate. Once that happens, the Scouter can take the three-day resident Seabadge Course and earn the square

Now take a look at the Seabadge award itself. Much like the
District Award of Merit and Silver World Award, the Seabadge isn’t
actually a square knot. Instead, it’s a blue trident like the one held by
Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

Want a trident for your own Sea Scout uniform? Or just
interested in more info about Sea Scouts? Check with your local council service

Knot of the Week: Scoutmaster/Venturing Advisor Award of Merit


About a month ago we discussed in this space the National
Eagle Scout Association. We were introducing you to the new NESA Life
Membership Award
. You remember, of course.

What we didn’t tell you then is that when NESA first started
in 1972, another knot was available for leaders: the NESA Scoutmaster Award.
Eligibility applied to only one Scoutmaster per year in each BSA area. Also,
recipients had to be members of NESA—and therefore Eagle Scouts—to earn the

That changed in 1987. The award was replaced with the
Scoutmaster Award of Merit and its Venturing equivalent, the Venturing Advisor
Award of Merit
. Unlike their predecessor, these knots recognize all
Scoutmasters and Advisors, not just NESA members.

It makes sense. After all, there too many great Scoutmasters
and Advisors in a particular area to honor just one per year. But hold on just
a second, Scoutmasters and Advisors.

The knot can be earned by more of you each year than before,
which doesn’t mean you’ll get it for nothing. You have to earn it. Follow the jump for the requirements.

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