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!



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 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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About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.