How do I /my son/some kid in my unit earn or get the (say a name) knot? If he becomes a (Boy Scout, Venturer, adult), can he still wear the knot on his uniform or must he take it off? Can youth members get knots or are they just for adults? What's the one with the trident for? Why don't I see my professional wear his or her knots? Are they just for volunteers?

Okay. Let's get one thing straight right up front: You DO NOT "earn the knot". You "earn the Award" associated WITH the knot. For instance, I didn't earn the Eagle Knot. I earned the Eagle Scout Award. I WEAR the Eagle Scout square knot on my uniform to signify that I've earned the Eagle Scout Award. It REPRESENTS the fact that I have earned the Eagle Scout Award.

So, to answer your first question, you earn the "whatever knot" by earning the "Whatever" Award. When you earn the Award, if there's a uniform emblem that goes with the Award, you will receive it or you can purchase it from your Council office or Scout Shop... There are very few awards that have an associated "knot emblem" that youth can earn and receive:

Honor Medal (with or without crossed Palms)
Merit Medal
Heroism Medal
William T. Hornaday Bronze or Silver Medal
Exploring Achievement/Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development/Young American Award
Youth Leadership in America Award
Youth Religious emblem (earned as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout/Varsity Scout, and/or Venturer)
Silver Award
Ranger Award
OA Distinguished Service Award

If a Cub Scout, for instance, receives the Honor Medal, he may wear the Honor Medal square knot emblem on his Cub Scout uniform. When he becomes a Boy Scout, he moves it to the Boy Scout uniform; if he becomes a Venturer, he may move it to the Venturing uniform; and when he becomes an adult, he may wear it on the adult field uniform.

He may also choose NOT to wear the square knot emblem on NO UNIFORM at all. It is HIS CHOICE...nobody can force him to wear anything he does not want to wear.

Why isn't the Arrow of Light or Eagle listed above? Because YOUTH MEMBERS CANNOT WEAR A "KNOT EMBLEM" FOR WHICH A CLOTH BADGE EXISTS. The Arrow of Light, Cub Scouting's highest award; and the Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scouting's highest award, both have cloth emblems that are worn by the member in certain places, depending on when they earned the Award. That's their "knot". They will have to wait until they become adults in the BSA's eyes (18) to wear the Arrow of Light or the Eagle Scout square knot on their uniforms. This is despite the fact that Silver and Ranger Award holders can wear special "knot emblems" on their uniforms right away.

Professionals and volunteers may earn training and service awards, but there's a small catch: professional members can only receive awards based upon their VOLUNTEER ROLES. Frequently, a professional will serve as a Scoutmaster or Cubmaster in a hard-to-recruit area or for a unit meeting under special circumstances. The professional can receive the training or service award based on their VOLUNTEER SERVICE but NOT based upon their PROFESSIONAL SERVICE OR ACCOMPHISHMENTS. Many professionals have never been BSA volunteers before, so they "don't have anything to wear" as far as service or training awards. The BSA fixed this by creating a Professional Training Award, but very few professionals earn the certificate; so very few professionals wear the square knot emblematic of the Award. Other professionals have chosen NOT to wear any of their training or service awards for a variety of reasons.

The "knot emblem" with the trident represents the Sea Badge Training Award. Most holders of the Sea Badge wear the Sea Badge on the field uniform and forgo the "knot emblem" (it was designed badly). The Sea Badge recognizes fully trained and coached Sea Exploring (now Sea Scouting) leaders, both professional and volunteer.

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