As a movement whose leadership is overwhelmingly volunteer, the Boy Scouts of America recognizes the importance of acknowledging the invaluable services that men and women render to youth. Of the hundreds of awards that the BSA presents each year to those on the local council, regional, and national levels, the Silver Buffalo, Silver Antelope, Silver Beaver, and Silver World awards are the most prestigious. Although the criteria are different for each of these awards, there is one common thread: The recognitions are granted by one’s own peers in Scouting for distinguished service to youth. Other BSA awards, by comparison, are granted only to those who have completed a prescribed course of study or have participated in special training sessions.

Silver Beaver

Established in 1931, the Silver Beaver Award is presented for distinguished service to young people within a BSA local council. More than 50,000 recognitions have been conferred to date. A recipient must be a registered adult member of the BSA. The Silver Beaver Award is bestowed at the Council Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner. Silver Beaver Awards are presented on the basis of the number of units in a council. Click here for a listing of Council Silver Beaver recipients.  Do you know a volunteer who’s dedication to serving youth deserves recognition?  CLICK HERE for a nomination packet.

NESA Life Member

Eagle Scouts who are Life Members of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) may wear a specially designed Eagle Scout Square Knot with a silver mylar border. An Eagle Scout may choose to wear either the NESA Square Knot or Eagle Scout Square Knot, but not both.

District Award of Merit

This is the highest honor that a Council may bestow on a District Scouter. Leaders involved at any level of scouting or in a program are eligible for nomination. Recommendations are reviewed by a District Committee to determine who should be granted the award. Click here to download a nomination form.

Venturing Leadership Award

The Venturing Leadership Award is presented by councils, areas, regions, and the BSA National Council to Venturers and adults who have made exceptional contributions to Venturing and who exemplify the Venturing Code. Venturing Leadership Award candidates must be registered and involved in Venturing as a Venturer or an adult for at least one year. Click here for more information.

Distinguished Commissioner Service Award

This award is presented to unit, Assistant District, District, Assistant Council, and Council Commissioners whom have served activily as a registered commissioner for at least five years, have completed the Commissioner training courses, received the Arrowhead Honor Award, and whose units/District/Council has achieved a level of quality through the BSA’s Quality Unit/District/Council program. Click here to download a nomination form.

BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Awards

The BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award has replaced the William T. Hornaday Awards.  BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award Individual awards are granted by the National Council through the local Council’s Conservation Committee to a member of a Scouts BSA, Sea Scout, or Venturing unit for exceptional and distinguished service to conservation and environmental improvement.

The BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Awards are presented for distinguished service in natural resource conservation. The award is given in one of three forms. The awards are:

Youth: BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award

Adult: BSA Distinguished Conservationist

Organizations and Individuals: BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award Certificate

Click here for more information.

International Scouter Award

he International Scouter’s Award encourages Scouters to broaden their involvement in Scouting through participation in world Scouting activities and recognizes Scouters for their contributions to world Scouting. Applicants must be currently registered adult Scouters of the Boy Scouts of America. All applicants must receive the approval of their local council’s international committee chairperson or international representative and their council Scout executive. Click here to download an application.

William D. Boyce New Unit Organizer Award

The William D. Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award is presented to recognize volunteers who organize one or more traditional Scouting units. The award may be worn on the adult uniform. The award is a square knot placed over the three colors representing the three phases of our program—Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing. A volunteer can earn the knot by organizing one traditional unit, and a program device can be earned for up to three additional units organized. Click here for more information.

Community Organization Award

In recent years representatives of several national chartered organizations have inquired about the development of a recognition which could be given to registered adult leaders in units chartered to community organizations; similar to the adult religious awards presented by the various denominations and faith groups. After study and evaluation, the BSA National Court of Honor approved the concept of a Community Organization Award square knot. This square knot would be available to be worn by uniformed Scouters who have been recognized for their service to Scouting youth in the community. The following awards qualify for the square knot (click here to learn more about these awards):

  • AFL/CIO George Meany Award
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Good Turn Service Award
  • Alpha Phi Omega Herbert G. Horton Youth Service Award
  • American Legion Scouting Award
  • AMVET Boy Scouts of America Youth Outreach Award
  • ARRL Amateur Radio Service to Scouting Award | Requirements 
  • Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Marvin M. Lewis Award | Requirements 
  • Department of Defense-United States Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
  • International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians Cliff Dochterman Award
  • Kiwanis International – Boy Scouts of America Community Organization Award | Requirements 
  • Lions Club Scouting Service Award
  • Masonic Daniel Carter Beard Scouter Award
  • Military Order of the World Wars
  • National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Boy Scout Volunteer Award
  • Nonprofit Leadership Alliance H. Roe Bartle Training Award
  • Philmont Staff Association, Silver Sage Award
  • Ruritan National Service Clubs Scout Leader Community Service Award
  • United States Power Squadrons, Raymond A. Finley, Jr. Sea Scout Service Award
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Scouter’s Achievement Award
  • Woods Services, Woods Services Award for Scouting With Special Needs

James E. West Fellowship

The James E. West Fellowship award is available for gifts of $1,000 or more in cash or marketable securities to a council endowment fund. The gift must be in addition to and not replace or diminish the donor’s annual Friends of Scouting support. Many individuals and corporation make these gifts either on behalf of someone else such as in honor of an Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver recipient, a retirement, a special accomplishment, or anniversary or in memory of a special individual.

Those who are recognized by the James E. West Fellowship Award will cast their ownlegendary shadow as they help ensure the Scouting legacy for future generations for young people and create the financial stability of the program for the twenty-first century of the Council.

Eagle Scout

This knot may be worn by Adult Scouters who earned the Eagle Scout Award as a youth. Eagle Scout is the highest youth rank in the Boy Scout program.After earning the Rank of Eagle Scout, a Scout can continue to advance by earning palms. A palm may be earned by meeting a three month tenure requirement, a leadership requirement, and earning five additional merit badges. A bronze palm is awarded for the first five merit badges after Eagle. A gold palm for the next five and silver for an additional five. If a Scout continues to advance, combinations of palms may be earned with bronze and silver representing 20 merit badges beyond Eagle (and 12 months tenure). These palms may be worn on the Eagle Scout knot as illustrated below (click here for a pdf of Eagle Palm requirements as of 2020):

Distinguished Eagle Scout

Created in 1969, the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award is the only distinguished service recognition that depends on one’s association with Scouting as a youth. The recipient must have attained the Eagle Scout rank a minimum of 25 years before his nomination, and over those years he must have rendered outstanding service to others. Award recipients have included 38th President Gerald R. Ford; former astronaut Neil Armstrong; cartoonist Milton Caniff; late actor Ozzie Nelson; H. Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and The Perot Group; United States Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; retired General William C. Westmoreland; retired Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr.; Senator Richard G. Lugar; film director Steven Spielberg; former FBI Director William S. Sessions; former United States Representative J. J. Pickle; Donald F. Wright, senior vice president of the Times Mirror Co.; and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander.

ScoutReach Service Awards


Spirit of Scouting Award

The Spirit of Scouting Award is designed for presentation to a noteworthy individual who has performed exceptional and unusual service to young people in hard-to-reach communities over a long period of time.

Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award

The purpose of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award is to recognize outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for youth from rural or low-income urban backgrounds—this is in fulfillment of Dr. Young’s dream of justice and equality for all.

¡Scouting … Vale la Pena! Service Award

The purpose of the ¡Scouting … Vale la Pena! Service Award is to recognize outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for Hispanic American/Latino youth.

Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service Award

The purpose of the Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service Award is to recognize outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for Asian American youth.

Adult Training Awards

Click here to learn more about training awards (Knots) that may be earned by Scouters.


How to Wear Your Knots

Is there a right way (and a wrong way) to wear knots? Yes there is.


Learn More About Knots

There are many knots that recognize other aspects of Scouting, including Eagle Scout, bravery, outstanding service, and support of Scouting: