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> updated 5/7/12
Complete Site Update

> updated 1/10/10
Added scan of current emblem and info about the award.


Adult Uniform Left Front Unit Ldr Award of Merit

Unit Leader Award of Merit

Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisor/Skipper Award of Merit square knot (obsolete)
Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisor/Skipper Award of Merit (discontinued as of 2009).

Unit Leader Award of Merit square knot
Unit Leader Award of Merit square knot

Unit Leader Award of Merit
Unit Leader Award of Merit shoulder sleeve insignia

Description: Uniform knot emblem is composed of a gold square knot with gold border on a dark blue background. This award was previously known as the Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisors' Award of Merit. There are DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS for this new award, which means that Scouters who have earned the former "Scoutmaster Award of Merit" or the other versions may continue to wear the old square knot emblem while working on and earning the current Unit Leader Award of Merit. Both square knot emblems may be worn.

The current award includes a special shoulder sleeve emblem with a star at the top of the emblem denoting that the person is a Unit Leader Award of Merit holder. Both shoulder sleeve and square knot insignia may be worn at the same time on a field uniform. There is also a special certificate (the actual award) which is awarded to the Scouter.

Worn by: Male and Female Scouters

Earned or Received: Earned

Application for Unit Leader Award of Merit

Unit Leader Award of Merit Certificate
Unit Leader Award of Merit Certificate

Background: The BSA created an award which served as the "half way point" toward earning the Scouters' Key Award as early as 1948. The Scouters' Key Award was established as the "five year award" of Scouting, since it took the average "key Scouter" (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Explorer Advisor or Sea Scouting Skipper) about five years to earn the award.

This first earlier "half way point" award took the form of a gold or silver arrowhead and was called the "Arrowhead Honor Award." This award continued for Commissioners but was discontinued for Scoutmasters to earn in the late 60s. In the 1970s, there was an attempt to tie the special Cornerstone training recognition insignia with the earning of the Scouters' Key Award but that was discontinued when it was revealed that most Scouters wanted to simply obtain the patch and was not concerned with the training requirements.

In the 80s, a "joke patch" called the The "Why Knot" ("Why not?") eventually became the prototype for the Scoutmaster Award of Merit. Here's how.

The BSA's National Eagle Scout Association sponsored a National Scoutmaster Award to Scoutmasters who basically "cranked out Eagle Scouts", and honored those exceptional Scoutmasters by selecting one per Regional Area (there were at that time, 29 Areas within six Regions) and presenting a plaque and backpatch. The program went cold early.

It was said that during a visit to a local Council in the Northeast Region early during his new tenure as Chief Scout Executive, Ben Love talked with several uniformed Scouters. All of the Scouters were wearing this strange-looking square knot and when Love asked "what's the knot for?", his staff members nor the Council Executive could answer. So, Love asked the Scouters. The Scouters explained that new Scouters were sometimes "put off" by older, more senior Scouters that seem to have "rows of those things" on their shirts. So, in their District, they decided to include those new Scouters that have "stuck around" for 18 months after being trained with a "why knot". When asked about the name, a Scouter responded "why not? We have knots for everything else, why don't we recognize the relatively new Scouter?"

Chief Love took this back to National, and later when discussions were being made about the NESA Scoutmaster Award, he related the visit to that Council and asked "Why don't we recognize EVERY Scoutmaster that have achieved a certain level early in their tenure? It seems that they had the right idea, even if it was "just a joke"."

The difference between the prototype "Why Knot" shown on an different page and the former Scoutmaster Award of Merit is the color of the background and border color (this is a off-white background, and the Scoutmaster Award of Merit is on a tan background and border, the standard background and border of most Scout "knot emblems".

A six-inch backpatch emblem along with a certificate formed this earlier award:

Scoutmaster Award of Merit backpatch
Scoutmaster Award of Merit backpatch (used for other programs also)

Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisor/Skipper Award of Merit certificate (Award no longer exists)
Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisor/Skipper Award of Merit certificate (Award no longer exists)

Rarity of Award: Common


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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton.

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