Skill Masters

Posted by webmaster on April 7, 2009


There are many skills that Scouts must know to achieve rank and to be confident in the outdoors. These include knot tying, first aid, lashing, and map & compass skills. However, knowing the skill for rank and being a true master of that skill are two very different things. As a High Adventure Troop, we want to recognize and reward high levels of skill competence.

 Masters can teach their skill (including, for example, why, where and how a knot is properly used). They can do it every time. They often know more than one way to do it. And, they can imagine new ways to use what they know. To recognize Scouts and Adults who are Skill Masters, we use the Mastery Cords. Each color means a different kind of skill.


Potential Masters must be Life Scout or above, be nominated by at least two of their fellow Scouts or adults, and either be members of the Staff Patrol or currently serving the Troop in a Patrol Leader position. Those nominating should be in a good position to judge the skills, competence, and ability to teach of the potential master. It is acceptable to ask fellow Scouts to nominate you, if you think you have these capabilities. Nominations should go by email to the Scoutmaster (SM). The SM or an Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) will then let the Scout know they’ve been nominated and take appropriate steps to judge whether they are qualified as Masters.


There are currently nine (9) categories of Mastery, essentially following the skills required for First Class.

  1. Knot Master – each class of knot separately – Bone
  2. Lashing Master – each lashing separately – Grey
  3. Orienteering MasterDark Green
  4. Emergency ResponderDark Red
  5. Master Cook (Chef) – Dark Brown
  6. Aquatics MasterBlue
  7. Citizenship Master – White
  8. OutdoorsmanBright Green
  9. Specialist Light Green


Square Knot – In order to receive your leather hanger, a Scout must demonstrate mastery of the Square Knot. Scouts who demonstrate Mastery of all the common knots will receive a Bone Bead. For each Uncommon Knot over which a Scout shows mastery over, he will receive a Light Brown Bead. Masters of Rare Knots will receive a Black Bead for each knot mastered. No one may be considered an Uncommon or Rare Knot Master unless they are already a Common Knot Master.

 Common – Bone

  1. Taut Line Hitch
  2. Two Half-Hitches
  3. Timber Hitch
  4. Figure-8
  5. Bowline – must master both the one-handed and “round-the-tree” forms of tying
  6. Clove Hitch – must master both the two loop method and the single-end method

 Uncommon – Light Brown

  • Figure-8 Follow-Through – must master both the follow-through and bight forms of tying
  • Double-Fisherman’s
  • Sheet Bend
  • Prussik
  • Water-Knot
  • Carrick Bend
  • Surgeon’s Knot
  • Canadian-8 (aka Figure-8 on-a-bight)
  • Bowline-on-a-bight
  • Sheepshank
  • Double Sheet Bend

Unique – Black

  • Monkey-Fist
  • Alpine Butterfly
  • Manharness Knot


When a Scout demonstrates Mastery over each of the four types of Lashings, he will receive a Grey bead.

  • Square Lashing
  • Diagonal Lashing
  • Sheer Lashing
  • Tripod Lashing


This is a difficult bead to earn. The Scout must show they understand both how to navigate using topographic and orienteering maps, but must be able to teach this skill. Must understand and be able to teach magnetic declination, orienting the map, finding your pace, shooting azimuths, and be able to set-up and run an orienteering course. The Scout should have Orienteering merit badge.


To earn this Bead of Mastery, the Scout must distinguish himself in the area of lifesaving and first aid. Examples of demonstrated mastery include becoming qualified to Lifeguard or being accepted as a Junior Ski Patrol member. Other means of demonstrated mastery may be possible as well. Includes getting Red Cross First aid CPR trained and Wilderness First Aid training. Usually, showing a certification card helps demonstrate mastery. An Emergency Responder must have First Aid merit badge.


Master Cooks are difficult to come by and nomination should be by more than a few peers. A master cook is adept at planning and executing creative meals. They are very comfortable setting-up, cleaning, and taking down all of the Troop’s different kitchen environments – including Full Kitchen, Bucket Kitchen, and Backpacking Kitchen. They are regularly called upon to lead dutch oven cooking exercises and are known for their skill producing tremendous meals. Master Cooks know well the rules of cleanliness, as well as how to clean while cooking and be conservation-minded. They have Cooking merit badge.


Aquatics Masters have Swimming Merit Badge and three of the following merit badges – Canoing, Rowing, Lifesaving, Small-boat Sailing, or Whitewater. Motor boating and water spots can add to the skill set of an Aquatics Master, but is not required. Aquatics masters are at home in the water and in small boats. They understand how to launch, pilot, and navigate properly and can teach these skills. They know many swimming strokes and can execute them adeptly. They are certified in Safety Afloat and demonstrate and teach safety in water situations. They are often Lifeguards, but should have demonstrable skill with small boats. Though not strictly required, greater consideration is given to Scouts who have been to Sea Base, Northern Tier, or another aquatics high adventure program.


Becoming a Citizenship Master is not easy. It requires that a Scout earn all of the Citizenship Badges as well as either American Heritage, American Culture, American Labor, American Business, Disabilities Awareness, Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Law, Public Speaking, or Crime Prevention.

As well, a Citizenship Master is active in his community and demonstrates an interest in civic affairs. For example, a Scout who is a member of the Local Chamber of Commerce may be demonstrating mastery. Likewise a Scout who is heavily active in their school’s Student Council may be qualified. Citizenship Masters must understand the rules of flag etiquette and flag retirement, and be able to teach them.

OUTDOORSMAN – Bright Green

An Outdoorsman is a Master of Camping, Hiking, and Outdoor Lore. They are at home in the out of doors regardless of conditions. The Outdoorsman knows and can teach the skills for camping at high altitude camping, in snow, rain, wind, and very hot temperatures. An Outdoorsman will have Camping Merit Badge as well as three of the following – Wilderness Survival, Fish & Wildlife Management, Soil & Water Conservation, Astronomy, Climbing, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Forestry, Geology, Reptile Study, Insect Study, Mammal Study, Nature, or Weather. An Outdoorsman must be fluent in the plants and animals of Colorado. He must also be able to demonstrate and teach Bear and Mountain Lion safety techniques. While an exact number of nights camping is not required to be an Outdoorsman, usually more than 20 are required in a variety of environments and conditions.

SPECIALIST – Light Green

From time to time, Scouts of Troop 16 may be able to demonstrate mastery over a subject area. For example, a certified Climbing Instructor or a Scout who has been qualified to be on the OKPIK Winter Survival Staff may be candidates for Mastery. Licensed radio operators, as well as Signalers can receive recognition for mastery. Mastery of various Merit Badge areas may be considered (e.g. Leatherworking or Whitewater) based on demonstration.

Troop 16 - Parker's High Adventure Troop