Exploring Awards


Explorer G.O.L.D. Award

Explorer G.O.L.D. Award Knot

The square knot emblem illustrated above was most recently used to represent holders of the former Exploring Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development (G.O.L.D.) Award as well as holders of the local Council or national Young American Awards.

Previously, this knot emblem represented holders of the Explorer Achievement Award (see below) and several other former Exploring Awards (see below; this list included the first two versions of the Silver Award, the Ranger and Ace Awards) and may be worn instead of their original knot emblems by holders of those awards.

As Exploring was transferred to the Learning for Life Corporation, participants in the Learning for Life programs may receive the Young American Award but because Learning for Life/Exploring does not have a uniform, the knot emblem illustrated award MAY NOT be worn by Learning for Life/Exploring youth or adult members.

The Exploring Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development (G.O.L.D.) Award was earned by male and female members of any Explorer Post or Ship after a period of service, leadership and tenure. Each Explorer created his/her own set of "requirements" for the award. At the end of the period of service and leadership, candidates appeared before the Post or District Exploring Committee to review the path taken to complete the requirements for the award.


Exploring Leadership Award

From 1981 to 1997, this series of awards were presented by local Councils, Areas/Regions and National to Explorers and adults who made exceptional contributions to Exploring and who exemplified the Explorer Code. 

During this period of time, three of the existing six BSA regions (East Central, Southeast and Western) also presented plaques, medallions and/or lapel pins to recognize youth and adult contributions to Exploring.  These awards – the Bronze, Gold and Silver Big Horn Awards (East Central Region); the Gold and Silver Bulldog Awards (Southeast Region); and the Regional Exploring Awards (local Council and Regional, Western Region) – were not officially recognized by the Exploring Division but Regions made them available for further recognition of the youth and adults within their Regions.

Beginning in 1982, this award was presented by councils, areas/regions, and national to Explorers and adults who made exceptional contributions to Exploring and who exemplified the Explorer Code.


Ace Award

Ace Award Knot

This was the highest award/rank in the former Air Scout / Air Exploring Program of BSA. Explorers had to demonstrate aviation knowledge, leadership, and service over a period of time; and earn several rating awards. Ace Awards were conferred after a review board at the local Council level.

The Ace Award was available from 1942 to 1954. 723 were awarded. In 1954 it was replaced with the Explorer Silver Award, which lasted until the Air Exploring program ended in 1966. Aviation has remained an Exploring specialty interest since then. 


Explorer Scout Ranger Award

Exploring Ranger Award Square Knot

This was the highest award/rank in the former Explorer Scout program of BSA. Explorers had to demonstrate woodcraft and camping knowledge, leadership, and service over a period of time. Ranger Awards were conferred after a review board at the local Council level. The Ranger Award was available from 1944 to 1951. 2782 were awarded. In 1949 it was replaced with the Explorer Silver Award.


Explorer Silver Award

old Silver Award Square Knot Exploring Achievement Award

The knot to the left is the first Explorer Silver Award square knot and the one to the right is the second Silver Award knot. (There were actually two varieties of this knot.  The more common one is shown.) The second Silver Award knot was also used for the Exploring Achievement Award. The Exploring Silver Award was designed as a replacement knot for the Explorer Scout Ranger Award. Between 2198 and 3410 of the first Silver Award were earned (it changed in 1954, and both kinds were handed out according to the stock available). Between 12877 and 15157 of the second were earned before the end of 1959 before BSA revised the Exploring Program and deleted all recognitions from it. The Silver Award remained available for Air Explorers from 1960-66, and 901 were earned by them.

The second Silver Award knot may be worn by Aces, Rangers, and first Silver Award holders and by holders of any national or local Council Young American Award. Both of these are very rare awards.


Explorer Achievement Award

Explorer Achievement Award Knot

The Explorer Achievement Award was established in 1981 to fill a perceived need for recognition for Explorers. Each Explorer required 18 months total tenure in Exploring, leadership, and designed their own program of growth in the six experience areas of Exploring. The review was conducted by the Explorer post.

There were no national statistics of the number of awards were kept. However local Councils did retain and report to the Exploring Division records of the number of Awards presented between 1981 and 1986. The Exploring Division stated that there were close to 400 Exploring Achievement Awards presented during this period of time.

The Award consisted of a lapel pin, certificate and the knot emblem.



Credits: Knot scans courtesy of Mike Walton and George Crowl
Statistical information and dates from Michael Brown and Mike Walton


Page updated on: February 07, 2014



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