Left Side/Knot Insignia
OOPS!! Lack of Attention to detail!!
Many of us have experienced or seen the mis-spelled batch of patches which had to "go back" or
"be destroyed and reordered". We've seen -- or probably have in our personal collections -- the
glitches of thread loss on emblems, making a badge for a "Campor" instead of "Camporee"; or the
position patch for "Quartermaster" end up "master".
Design flaws, especially with "first versions" of new or revised insignia -- keeps a lot of patch
collectors and dealers busy. The background to the "weird looking square knot patches" which came
out in the 80s, 90s and 00s' is the following:
Somewhere around the middle part of the late 80s, the Supply Division lost or
misplaced a set of templates used to send to various insignia manufacturers to create the "standard"
square knot insignia with. These templates as far as I'm aware, have not been found and explains the
inconsistancies between the current batch of "square knot insignia" and the older batches.
I have been told that a new set of digital templates have been developed, and those templates should
return the insignia to the high standard which the older insignia have. This explains how the "first
versions" of the Tiger Cub Coach/Leader (Training) Award, the James West Fellowship, the Venturing
Leadership Awards, the Boyce Organizer Award, and a couple other square knot emblems ended up neither very
"square" (rectangular), close to the same size of the other "knot emblems", or with "an emblem with
a knot but we're not sure that it's a square knot." In all of these cases, the emblems were
remade using the digital template and come "closer" to the existing square knot insignia.
EVERYONE, including the folks working at the BSA's Supply Group (formerly the Supply
Division) makes mistakes. However, some of the mistakes were proven out to be costly as
well as confusing to the lay volunteer or parent trying to "follow the rules." Here's
a couple or so "OOPS" and how the Supply Group corrected those mistakes:
The Arrow of Light Award square knot:
Arrow of Light Award
Arrow of Light Award (error)
Description: Square knot made up of the WEBELOS badge colors:
a gold border, with kelly green and scouting red rope strands, worn with green rope to wearer's
right; there is also a square knot, which is shown here, with the colors reversed. Either
one may be worn, although the top one shown is the one which was originally designed for wear in 1973.
In 1990, two emblem manufacturers made an error when reordering this knot emblem to be worn upon
the present tan shirts, and it was too late before the BSA's Supply Division caught the error; As you
can see from the two knots above, in getting the new tan backgrounded knots to the field, the two
companies reversed the colors of the strands. The BSA's Supply Division says that more than 40,000 of
the "reversed" Arrow of Light knots was distributed to local Councils.
The BSA's Insignia and Uniform staff knew about the error, and has informed local Councils and Scouters
that EITHER knot is acceptable for wear but NOT BOTH. Future orders returned the color combinations back
to the original combination shown in the top knot shown above...
Boyce Organizer Award square knot:
Boyce Organizer Award (first version)
Boyce Organizer Award (current version)
Description: Square knot and certificate are presented to unit organizers meeting the requirements
for the award. The design has the three Scouting programs in the background (Cub Scouting = yellow; Boy
Scouting = red; Venturing = green) with a silver square knot and border.
Additional information on Organizer awards and items can found here.
When the square knot was ordered, the normal "template" for square knots were lost. Instead, the Supply Division
employee sent a copy of the Exploring "Awards" square knot (the second version of the Silver Award) along with
instructions to change the background colors to the three colors. When someone from the manufacturer contacted
the BSA, they asked "We got the background colors okay...but what is that in the center?" After the person at the BSA
responded "it is a silver square knot", the manufacturer representative simply stated "Got it!" and seven weeks later,
the first ten batches of the square knot appeared looking like the square knot shown above.
Since the square knot is not earned or distributed out as the BSA would have hoped, the decision was made to inform
local Councils that the existing knot emblems should be distributed or destroyed and that new orders will have the
square knot insignia more in line with the existing knot emblems. Either version may be worn, although the one on the bottom
is the current version of the knot emblem.
Venturing Silver Award square knot:
Description: Square knot designed with green and white background with silver square knot and border.
When the square knot was ordered, the normal "template" for square knots was not included when the first version
of the square knot insignia was manufactured. This resulted in a square knot piece which was not the same size as the
existing square knot insignia (it was a bit smaller) and the actual square knot was smaller.
The BSA asked local Scout Shops(tm) and local Councils to return those knot emblems and two months later distributed
the newer (present) version, which does match the size and height of the existing other knot emblems and which has a
more pronounced square knot emblem in the center.
Den Leader Coach/Cub Scouter Award:
old Den Leader Coach Training
current Cub Scouter (Training)
Description: Uniform emblem is composed of a gold (yellow) and light blue
rope tied in square knot on a blue background, with the light blue rope
worn to the wearer's right as shown. The colors blue and gold are the
colors of Cub Scouting. The two knot emblems are IDENTICAL, which was the problem.
This is clearly a case whereby someone was not paying attention to what was previously out in the field. I place
error at both the old Cub Scout Program Division (which does not exist today) and the Insignia and Uniform folks
within the Supply Division (back then).
When this award was first introduced in 1970, it was envisioned that only Den Leader Coaches (for the most part
female) would earn this award. This is the reason why the square knot insignia is on a dark blue background (to
match the female dark blue tunic.)
With the introduction of the Cub Scout (Training) Awards in the late 80s, the Den Leader Coach (Training) Award
was created with a plain blue ribbon. Then the Cub Scout Program Division created an award which "any Cub Scouter,
to include registered parents serving on the Pack Committee, would be able to earn" and called it the "Cub Scouter
(Training) Award." They chose a blue and gold striped ribbon and created a square knot -- forgetting that there is
ALREADY a square knot emblem composed of those colors...
When such items make their rounds around the National Office for coordination, the person in the Supply Division
merely looked at the six award prototypes and never made the connection between the EXISTING Den Leader Coach Training
Award and the new "Cub Scouter Award" and approved the six awards without doing any research (like picking up a
copy of the BSA Insignia Guide). The six awards were manufactured, and the medallions and their associated square
knot insignia left for local Councils around the nation and world.
It was only after an inquiry made by a couple of volunteer Scouters (me being one of them) asking "if we have
earned the Den Leader Coach Training Award back then; and have recently earned the Cub Scouter (Training) Award,
do we wear ONE square knot with a Cub Scout device (which would have been *my answer* and I made the suggestion
in that way) or forget that we have earned the earlier training award?", did we finally get an answer. It took quite a
The answer, as explained in SCOUTING Magazine, was a stunner and breaks the BSA's policy on wearing only ONE square
knot insignia representing one award medal or medallion:
"Wear them both. As the number of Cub Scouters who hold the existing Den Leader Coach Training Award get smaller
and smaller, the newer Cub Scouter Award and the new version of the Den Leader Coach Award will increase. This will
undoubtly bring up some interesting conversations but we (National) is allowing this one-time exception because of
In summary: the current Cub Scouter (Training) Award uniform knot emblem was used for a different Scouting award
(Den Leader Coach Training Award) and there are still holders of the old version of the award wearing the same
square knot on the uniform. You may run across someone who have earned BOTH the old Den Leader Coach Training Award
AND the current Cub Scouter (Training) Award.
(In 2009, the BSA did away with the position called "Den Leader Coach" and created a new position called "Pack Trainer".
The role is essentially the same, but there is a new Pack Trainer (Training) Award with a distinctive new square knot
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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton.
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