Recognize your adults ... I’m knot kidding
As was often the case, on the floor of the dusty science lab that we had out weekly Tiger Den meetings. I was in very simple turns explaining one of the methods of scouting... uniforms.
Particularly I was convincing a group of six year olds that after spending a full school day in a Catholic school uniform that they should spend another hour in a different uniform. Honestly I was just looking for them to wear uniform shirts, their blue school pants were close enough for me. The parents were all on board and were in the process of getting uniforms for the boys.
If I have learned anything in all my years as a scouter is that you can’t get a kid to come to a meeting in uniform if you don’t wear yours. So each week I would wear one of my uniform shirts (since we were a belt up den). Then as we sat there one of them asked if they would have all the patches on their shirts that I did. I told them that there would be some patches that would be the same, but most of these patches I earned. And as six year olds do, they wanted to know how I got those patches.
So I explained that this patch on my sleeve was a council patch that tells other scouts where you are from, and right below were numbers letting everyone know what Pack or Troop you belong to, and then was my position patch. I happened to be wearing my troop shirt that day, so I ended up being peppered with questions about people sitting on me since my patch said Committee Chair. They didn’t quite get the structure of the hierarchy of a scouting unit.
Then we went into my very humble row of knots. "How did you get that one?" One of the kids said pointing to the first knot. I told them that represented earning my religious award when I was a scout. Then the next one was for doing a good job as a Scoutmaster (which I had to explain again that I was now a Den Leader not a Scoutmaster and they are two separate things) and lastly one knot that represents things I did for the betterment of scouts and leaders in our whole area. They seemed impressed and were more impressed with the snacks one of the moms brought in that day (sliders). I could see the parents, who knew me from school gained slightly more confidence in me knowing that my accomplishments were not just me bragging but verifiable.
I used that confidence from my Tigers and their parents to have a really fun and successful scout year.
Fast forward a couple of years and I am filling out paperwork for knots that some of the leaders in my troop/pack have earned and should be wearing. Not only are those knots a really nice thank you to volunteers who give slightly more than their hour a week. As anyone who has ever been given an award (or even earned a scout rank) it’s nice to be recognized. That’s why we do public wood badge beadings. Even though it’s in a ceremony just for staff, when woodbadgers get their third and fourth beads we make a big deal about it. They could just hand you a new set of beads.
Additionally it inspires those around them. It shows the other volunteers (particularly ones who don’t come from a scouting background) that they can earn things too. It shows the non-involved (yet) parents that the people tasked with leading their children are willing to do things to be better at leading. As silly as it seems, seeing a scouter with a bunch of knots on his or her chest makes them seem like they know what they are doing. Usually this is the case.
I will say when you see a scouter with a chest full of knots, that make them lol like some sort of general it can have the opposite effect. That person is a know it all, it’s all about him, that person probably knows the answer but is not very willing to give up that info. I don’t think my row and a third of knots is intimidating anyone.
Recently, I received my Den Leader Training award for my work with those tigers. It was simple, I needed to do outdoor training (Baloo), I needed an assistant den leader, a Den chief, I needed to plan a service project for the scouts and lead two outdoor adventures. That was really simple and any den leader worth their salt can do those things. So now when people ask me what is that blue and yellow know for I have a good conservation starter and for the right person I have sparked an interest.
Here are some links for knots that you and your fellow leaders probably have already qualified for even if you didn’t know it.
- Den Leader Training Award
- Scouter's Training award (Cub Scout version)
- Scouter’s Training award (Scouts BSA version)
- Cubmaster’s Key
- Scoutmaster’s Key