Exploring/Older Youth "square knot emblems"
Square knot insignia
Older Youth "square knot emblems"
From the late 40s to the present, six square knot emblems (seven, if one
included the Quartermaster Sea Exploring/Scout rank square knot) were
OFFICIALLY made available to
young men and women within the BSA's several older youth programs. This
page focuses on the older youth program, called "Exploring" and it's
participants were called
either "Explorers" (after the early 50s) and "Explorer Scouts" (before
the 50s). Venturing
, the current older youth program of the BSA, has
a separate page which illustrates the current square knot and medal
combination representing the highest awards within Venturing and Sea
Scouting. It's highest award, the Summit Award, replaced the third
version of the Silver Award.
The square knot emblem illustrated above is currently used to represent
the four Exploring advancement or personal achievement awards as well as
an informal uniform item for holders of a Young American Award received
from a local Council or nationally. The reason why it is used to
represent holders of those older awards is because National Supply no
longer stocks any of the below items with the exception of this square
knot emblem, which is commonly called "the Exploring Award knot" but in
reality as you will read below, represents holders of the second version
of the Explorer Silver Award.
Small program devices representing the earlier awards may be worn by the
holder. This square knot insignia was officially discontinued by the
BSA in December 2013; it is no longer available for retail sales through
local Councils or nationally.
This was the highest award/rank in the former Air Scout/Exploring
Program of BSA. Explorers had to demonstrate aviation knowledge,
leadership, and service over a period of time; and earn several rating
awards. Ace Awards were conferred after a review board at the local
Council level. The Ace Award was available from 1942 to 1954. 723 were
awarded. In 1954 it was replaced with the Explorer Silver Award, which
lasted until the Air Exploring program ended in 1966. Aviation has
remained an Exploring specialty interest since then.
This was the highest award/rank in the former Explorer Scout program of
BSA. Explorers had to demonstrate woodcraft and camping knowledge,
leadership, and service over a period of time. Ranger Awards were
conferred after a review board at the local Council level. The Ranger
Award was available from 1944 to 1951. 2782 were awarded. In 1949 it
was replaced with the Explorer Silver Award.
In 1999, the BSA re-introduced the Ranger Award for Venturers to
earn. The requirements are just as tough as the previous award. In
2002, several Venturing and former Exploring leaders sent the first of
four requests to the BSA's National Uniform and Insignia Committee
requesting that the Supply Division once again make the special square
knot -- with the same design and colors -- to today's holders of the
So far, we have not convinced the Committee of the need
of the knot emblem. Instead, the BSA did authorize the top bar of the
current Ranger medal to be worn in a similar style as the old Hornaday
Award "top bar" or Badge, alongside other square knot insignia. This
has NOT stopped some local Councils in authorizing reproductions of the
Ranger square knot, sold by a Venturing Crew as a fund-raiser, to be
worn on the green Venturing uniform.
The Boy Scouts of America has
NOT approved the wearing of the Ranger Award square knot to represent
the present award; those holders of the Ranger Award must (for the time
being!) wear the RANGER silver (top) bar centered on the left pocket
flap of the uniform. (If you feel the square knot should return to the
kelly green uniform, please write to the Venturing Division, BSA and let
them know!! ) In the meantime, the wearing of the Ranger Award square
knot emblem by holders is limited to those whom have received permission
to do so from their Council's Scout Executive.
Explorer Silver Award/Venturing Silver Award
The knot emblem to the left represents the first Explorer Silver Award;
the one in the center is the second version of the Silver Award's square
knot insignia; and the one on the right represents the Venturing Silver
The second was also used for the Exploring Achievement Award (see
below). The Silver Award was designed as a replacement for the Explorer
Scout Ranger Award. Between 2198 and 3410 of the first version of the
Silver Award were
earned (the medal and knot emblem changed in 1954, and both kinds were
handed out according to the stock available). Between 12877 and 15157
of the second version were earned before the end of 1959 before BSA
revised the Exploring
Program and deleted all recognitions from it. The Silver Award remained
available for Air Explorers from 1960-66, and 901 were earned by them.
When the BSA restructured the older youth programs in 1997-98, the Older
Youth Reorganization Team took a look at the old Exploring advancement
program (which consisted of an Apprentice, Bronze, Gold and Silver Award
applied it to the current Venturing program, giving young people
(including for the first time, female registered members) the
opportunity to earn BSA awards. The Apprentice rank was later dropped
before the roll-out of the new
program in 1998. The BSA unfortunately did not start keeping national
records of the number of Silver Awardees until 2008, and as of 2013 the
number of Silver Award receipients is less than 500. Several national
estimate that another 200 or so have earned Silver prior to the BSA
requiring copies of the Silver Award nomination forms be sent to the
National Office for record keeping.
In 2014, the Venturing Silver Award was discontinued and
replaced with the Venturing Summit Award with different requirements and
a different advancement scheme. It is possible for someone to earn both Silver and Summit Awards, and to denote that accomphishment, a small Venturing
program device is worn with the Summit Award square knot emblem to represent that accomphishment. More about the Summit Award on this page.
As explained above, the second version of the Silver Award knot emblem
may be worn by Aces, Rangers, and first Silver Award holders and
holders of any national or local Council Young American Award.
Explorer Achievement Award (the lapel pins are actually 3/4" of an inch high)
The Explorer Achievement Award was established in 1981 to fill a
perceived need for recognition for Explorers. Each Explorer required 18
months total tenure in Exploring, leadership, and designed their own
program of growth in the six experience areas of Exploring. The review
was conducted by the Explorer post.
There were no national statistics of the number of awards were kept
however local Councils did retain and reported to the Exploring Division
the number of Awards presented between 1981 and 1986. The Exploring
Division stated that there were close to 400 Exploring Acheivement
Awards presented during this period of time.
The Award consisted of a lapel pin, certificate and the knot emblem. The
design of the pins were changed when the "Big E" became the "flying E"
in the early 90s.
The silver gray knot on red/white/blue background was authorized for
uniform wear by Explorers whose "Distinctive Dress Idenity" included the
official Explorer uniform shirt. INFORMALLY, to distinguish those new
youth holders from the older holders of the earlier awards, the small
"Big E" emblem was also authorized to be placed on the center of the
knot emblem. The EAA was superseded by the G.O.L.D. Award.
Explorer G.O.L.D. Award (left) and the Young American Award (right)
The same knot emblem shown above is most recently used to represent
holders of the former Exploring Growth Opportunity in Leadership
Development (G.O.L.D.) Award as well as holders of the local Council or national Young American Awards.
As Exploring was transferred to the Learning for Life Corportation,
participants in the Learning for Life programs may receive the Young
American Award but because Learning for Life/Exploring does not have a
uniform, the knot emblem illustrated award MAY NOT be worn by Learning
for Life/Exploring youth or adult members.
The Exploring Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development (G.O.L.D.)
Award was earned by male and female members of any Explorer Post or Ship
after a period of service, leadership and tenure. Each Explorer created
his/her own set of of "requirements" for the award. At the end of the
period of service and leadership, candidates appeared before the Post or
District Exploring Committee to review the path taken to complete the
requirements for the award.
The Young American Awards
are described on a separate page of the Badge and Uniform Site. Older
Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturers/Sea Scouts may be nominated and
receive this award and may wear the square knot emblem shown on either
the Venturing or "universal" field uniforms. The Young American Award
may also be presented to Learning for Life/Exploring participants as
well as individuals who are NOT registered members of the Boy Scouts of
America nor a participant in the Learning for Life programs.
Exploring/Venturing Leadership Awards
From 1981 to 1999, a series of awards were presented by local Councils, Areas/Regions and the National Council to Explorers and adult leaders
who made exceptional contributions to Exploring and who exempfied the
Explorer Code. The BSA-suppled awards featured the "Big E" suspended
from a blue (local Council), red (Regional/Regional Area) and blue and
red -- later red, white and blue (National) narrow ribbons. They were
awarded at local Council, Regional or National Exploring events.
During this same period of time, three of the existing six BSA regions
(East Central, Southeast and Western) also presented plaques,
medallions, certificates and/or lapel pins to recognize youth and adult
contributions to Exploring. These awards – the Bronze, Gold and Silver
Big Horn Awards (East Central Region); the Gold and Silver Bulldog
Awards and Plaques (Southeast Region); and the Regional Exploring Awards
(local Council and Regional, Western Regional Exploring plaques) – were
not officially recognized by the Exploring Division but Regions made
them available for further recognition of the youth and adults within
There was NO square knot insignia authorized nor approved for those
awards; and more than fifteen years later, one would be extremely lucky
to find a Silver Bulldog or Silver Big Horn Award since the numbers of
those awards were very small; the East Central Region awarded 109 Bronze
and 43 Gold Big Horn Awards before they disposed of the remaining
medallions and certificates. The Western Region reported that during
this period they awarded 222 local Council Exploring Awards and 26
Regional Exploring Awards.
The Venturing Division created the Venturing Leadership Awards awards in
1999 - with different ribbon combinations (white and blue, local Council; white and green, regional
area/regional; and white and red, national) -- soon after the new Division took shape. A
medallion with the Venturing emblem replaced the bronze "Big E" emblem. There is a square knot insignia item representing holders of one or more of those awards.
In 2011, someone created an improved version of the Venturing Leadership
Awards knot emblem and has been selling it commercially. It closely
matches existing square knot insignia. In 2012, the BSA announced that
with the end of the 2015-16 program year and as part of a national overall
reduction in the number and types of awards and square knot emblems, that
the BSA will no longer award the Venturing Leadership Awards on a Regional
or National basis, citing that the Awards really equated to awards for service as a
Regional or National Venturing leader. The Venturing Task
Force, working with the Program Group, restored those awards in 2017 and outlined
how they are presented in the absence of other national or regional service awards.
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Credits: Knot scans courtesy of Mike Walton and George Crowl.
Statistical information and dates provided by Michael Brown and Mike
Walton. Thanks again to George Crowl for additional information to make
this page complete and more accurate.
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