Knot of the Week: District Award of Merit


Last week, we introduced the Knot of the Week series on Cracker Barrel in an attempt to, ahem,untangle any confusion about square knots. Well, in the second edition of that series, we bring you the District Award of Merit.

The District Award of Merit is presented by councils upon recommendation of the district, sort of like the Silver Beaver is a national award presented upon recommendation of councils. See the resemblance?

Unlike with the training-based awards like the Scouter’s Key, councils are restricted in how many District Awards of Merit they can award each year. The ratio is simple: one award per 25 units in a district. Divide the number of units by 25, and voila. If there’s a remainder, always round up. In other words, a 26-unit district is bumped up to two awards, a 51-unit district gets three, and so on.

Districts don’t have to hand out all of their allotted awards, but read on for the requirements for when they choose to do so. 

Nominees must:

  • be registered Scouters.

  • have given “noteworthy service to youth,” either inside or outside of Scouting—or both.

  • have gone beyond the duties of their volunteer position.

  • maintain a positive attitude and work in cooperation with the district and council.

You can’t nominate yourself, but if you know anyone who should be considered for this award, click here for the PDF application. A special committee that convenes each year solely to discuss this award will determine the final recipients. Honorees are given the award at a special ceremony. Then it’s time to dust off the sewing machine so you can wear the blue and silver knot with pride.

One last interesting bit of trivia: The District Award of Merit is technically referred to as a square knot, but, as you can tell, it’s really an overhand knot. Or a pretzel. It all depends on how hungry you are when you look down at your shirt.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s one of just three square knots that isn’t actually a square knot. Do you know the other two? Answer in the comments section. If you’re stuck, check out the January-February 2009 issue of Scouting for the answer.


  1. The other two are the Seabadge, an award to Sea Scout leaders, and the Silver World.
    I hope the info on the District Award of Merit knot trickles down. A couple of months ago I winced when a District Commissioner told a group of Scoutmasters that they should go buy the knot and wear it if they had been SMs for at least four years.
    When did the idea that square knots were “adult service stars”??

  2. I have a question regarding the District Award of Merit. When the Nominating Committee is reviewing the nominees, does the nominee have to have provided some service at the District level, as well as at the Unit level, to be eligible for this award? Or could a nominee be eligible for this award by providing some noteworhty service within their own or another unit only?

  3. Thanks for the question, Lisa. According to the official text of the award, “The award is available to Scouters who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level.”
    That means a candidate’s service should extend beyond his or her own unit.

    • For the last few years I have been trying to find more specific requirements for judging DAM submissions. What’s out there is vague. The requirement part of the form doesn’t reflect ‘district level’. The statement you quote is on the form, but not in the requirements. If someone has run a successful quality unit for a number of years isn’t this serving the district?
      Every year my district beats the bushes to tell people to nominate people for DAM. They put in forms and the committee shoots them down because they haven’t done something specifically for the district.
      The form says that the service doesn’t even have to be scout related (and therefore might have no relation to the district at all.) My point is that the criteria should be stated a little more specifically.
      One more point – there is a typo on the linked form, the web address on the bottom of the back page only has two “w’s”,
      it is “ww.bsa”, it should be “www.bsa”.

  4. It is possible to earn more than one District Award of Merit if it is awarded to you by different districts. When someone does earn more than one D.A.M., from different districts, can more than one knot be worn on the same uniform?

  5. If a candidate already has the DAoM from a different district or Council they should not be considered for the second DAoM. It is an award at the district level that can only be earned once. Hence, you should not be wearing more than one of these on the uniform.

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