Scouting - Fact or Fiction?

Advancement and Service Hours

Note:
References below to the "Guide to Advancement" (GTA) refer to the 2011 printing of BSA Publication 33088 (SKU 614448), which replaced the former publication 33088 entitled "Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures". The Guide to Advancement is the official Boy Scouts of America source on advancement procedures.
References to "Boy Scout Requirements" (BSR) refer to the 2012 printing of BSA Publication 33216 (SKU 34765)
All unit committees should have copies of these two publications to avoid running into the below urban legend traps.


Statement

You can't work on Second Class requirements until you earn Tenderfoot! (Substitute First Class after Second Class if you'd like)

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

This is how it worked a number of years ago, but in Boy Scouting today Scouts can and should work on all three ranks simultaneously, as opportunities for completing requirements present themselves. However, completing boards of review and receiving these ranks must still be in order (although they can be back-to-back).

"The requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks may be worked on simultaneously; however, these ranks must be earned in sequence." (BSR - page 7)


Statement

Scouts can't help Scouts. (In the context of not counting services hours for a lower ranked Scout working on an Eagle project for another Scout)

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

This one is just false.


Statement

Only Scouts can help an Eagle Scout with his Eagle project.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

ANYONE can help an Eagle candidate with his Eagle project—including Scouts and non-Scouts (e.g., friends, neighbors, classmates, religious group members, etc.) alike.

"Others" means at least two people besides the Scout. Helpers may be involved in Scouting or not, and of any age appropriate for the work. In cases where just three people are not able to conduct a project to the satisfaction of a beneficiary, then more would be advisable. It may be, however, that a well-chosen project conducted by only three provides an impact not achievable in those involving more." (GTA 9.0.2.4)


Statement

There are time requirements for Second and First Class ranks

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

The only specific time requirement for the foundational ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class is the 30 days specified in Tenderfoot requirement 10a. There are no time requirements for Second Class or for First Class.


Statement

You HAVE to plan and carry out your own service project for Star and Life ranks.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Anyone suggesting this is adding to the requirements for these ranks. No one in your Council has the authority to add, subtract, or alter the requirements for a rank or merit badge.

"Star and Life ranks require at least six hours of service on a Scoutmaster preapproved project. Time spent on Eagle Scout service projects should be allowed in meeting these requirements. Note that Eagle projects do not have a minimum time requirement, but call for planning and development, and leadership of others, and must be preapproved by the council or district." (GTA 4.2.3.3)


Statement

The service hours for Life must involve some planning, such as helping plan an Eagle Project.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Similar to the one above. If it isn't stated in the requirements, it just isn't a requirement - period!


Statement

To become Star or Life you must demonstrate leadership.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

The requirement states that a Scout must hold one (or more) of the listed positions of responsibility for the requisite time. There is no requirement for actual demonstration of leadership.


Statement

It's okay (or recommended) that ASMs be on Boards of Review (BORs) since they know the boys.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Actually, that's exactly the reason they're not permitted to sit on BOR's.

"Composition of the Board of Review
"A board of review must consist of no fewer than three members and no more than six. For further specifications, see "
Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)," 8.0.2.0, and "Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank," 8.0.3.0. Unit leaders and assistants may not serve on a board of review for a Scout in their own unit. Parents or guardians may not serve on a board for their son. The candidate or his parent(s) or guardian(s) shall have no part in selecting any board of review members." (GTA 8.0.0.3)

"Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)
"The preceding applies to boards of review for all ranks, but there are a few differences for the ranks other than Eagle, and for Eagle Palms: 1. The board is made up of three to six unit committee members—no more and no less. In units with fewer than three registered committee members available to serve, it is permissible to use knowledgeable parents (not those of the candidate) or other adults (registered or not) who understand Boy Scouting'
s aims." (GTA 8.0.2.0)

"Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank
"The particulars below pertain only to the Eagle Scout rank.

  1. "Council advancement committees must determine— and make known—method(s) for conducting Eagle Scout boards of review: whether unit committees or the council or district advancement committees administer them, and also how board chairpersons are selected.
  2. "If conducted at the unit level, at least one district or council representative must serve as a member. If the unit requests it, more than one may do so.
  3. "There shall be no fewer than three and no more than six members, all at least 21 years old. They need not be on an advancement committee or registered with the Boy Scouts of America, but they must have an understanding of the rank and the purpose and importance of the review." (GTA 8.0.3.0)

Statement

If a troop doesn't have enough available committee members for a board of review, parents can sit in even if they're not registered BSA volunteers.

Fact or Fiction

Fact

Comments

Boards of review for Tenderfoot through Life rank, and Eagle palms must normally be registered committee members. However, there is an exception when fewer than three registered committee members are available to serve.

"Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)
"The preceding applies to boards of review for all ranks, but there are a few differences for the ranks other than Eagle, and for Eagle Palms: 1. The board is made up of three to six unit committee members—no more and no less. In units with fewer than three registered committee members available to serve, it is permissible to use knowledgeable parents (not those of the candidate) or other adults (registered or not) who understand Boy Scouting'
s aims." (GTA 8.0.2.0)


Statement

The unit advancement chair or unit committee should make alternate requirements (or waive requirements) for Scouts who cannot complete the basic rank or merit-badge requirements.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

"Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program
"No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with disabilities." (GTA - page 2)

The BSA has very specific provisions for Scouts with physical and/or mental impediments.  See BSR pages 13 and 18, and the following from GTA. Also see Scouting for Youth With Disabilities Manual BSA Publication 34059

"Advancement for Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts With Disabilities
"Members must meet current advancement requirements as written for merit badges, all ranks, and Eagle Palms, although some allowable substitutions or alternatives are specifically set forth in official literature. The member is expected to meet the requirements—no more and no less—and he is to do exactly what is stated. If it says, "Show or demonstrate," that is what he must do; just "telling" isn't enough. The same holds for words and phrases such as "make," "list," "in the field," "collect," "identify," and "label." Requests for alternate requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks can be made using the information outlined below. " (GTA 10.2.2.0)

"Using Alternative Requirements
"A degree of modification in advancement requirements may be necessary to mainstream as many members with disabilities as possible. Thus a Scout with a permanent physical or mental disability (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday) who is unable to complete all the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank may, with his parent or guardian, submit a request to the council advancement committee to complete alternative requirements. Unless a Scout has been approved to register beyond the age of eligibility, then alternative requirements must be completed by the 18th birthday. The procedures appear below. This avenue is also available to youth with longer-term disabilities (such as those related to a severe injury) who want to continue advancing during recovery. Simple modifications very close to existing requirements need not be approved. A Scout in a wheelchair, for example, may meet the requirements for hiking by "wheeling" to a place of interest. Allowing more time and permitting special aids are also ways leaders can help Scouts with disabilities make progress. Modifications, however, must provide a very similar challenge and learning experience." (GTA 10.2.2.1)

"Alternative Merit Badges for Eagle Scout Rank
"
Though individual requirements for merit badges may not be modified or substituted, youth with disabilities may be approved for alternative badges they can complete. This is allowable on the basis of one entire badge for another. To qualify, a Scout or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout must have a permanent physical or mental disability, or a disability expected to last more than two years, or beyond age 18. The member does not need to be registered beyond the age of eligibility with a disability code. Before applying, he must earn as many of the Eagle required merit badges as possible. Any alternates must present the same challenge and learning level as those they replace, and must be completed by the 18th birthday. If physical activity is involved, a physician must approve it." (GTA 10.2.2.3)


Statement

A Wolf or Bear Cub Scout's "Akela" for advancement is his parents.

Fact or Fiction

Fact AND Fiction

Comments

"Who Approves Cub Scout Advancement?
"A key responsibility for den leaders is to implement the core den meeting plans as outlined in the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide, No. 34409. For Wolf, Bear, and Webelos advancement, den leaders take the lead in approving requirements, though their assistants, and also parents who help at meetings, may be asked to play the role of "Akela" and assist. Parents sign for requirements that, according to meeting plans and instructions in the handbooks, take place at home. For the Bobcat trail and Tiger Cub achievements, parents (or adult partners) should sign in the boy's handbook; the den leader then approves as progress is recorded in the den's advancement record.

"Akela (Ah-KAY-la) is a title of respect used in Cub Scouting — any good leader is Akela, which is also the leader and guide for Cub Scouts on the advancement trail." (GTA 4.1.0.3)


Statement

The Board of Review is the final opportunity for the Troop's adult leaders to re-test the Scout, to make certain that he has mastered the skills and learnings of the requirements.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

A board of review is a conversation with the Scout about to advance, providing an opportunity for members of the troop committee to learn how well the troop is delivering the Scouting program, and to encourage the Scout to continue growing through advancement.

"Purpose and Timeliness of Boards of Review
"After a Scout has completed the requirements for any rank or Eagle Palm, he appears before a board of review. Its purpose is to determine the quality of his experience, decide whether he is qualified to advance and, if so, encourage him to continue the quest for Eagle or the next Palm." (GTA 8.0.0.1)

"Not a Retest or "Examination"
"Though one reason for a board of review is to ensure the Scout did what he was supposed to do to meet the requirements, it shall become neither a retest or "
examination," nor a challenge of his knowledge. In most cases it should, instead, be a celebration of accomplishment." (GTA 8.0.1.1)


Statement

The Scoutmaster's vote, in a Board of Review, carries the same "weight" as all others.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Neither the Scoutmaster nor any Assistant Scoutmasters are either members of any board of review or have a vote in it.  Furthermore, decisions to approve advancement by all Boards of Review must be unanimous.

"Board Members Must Agree Unanimously on Decisions to Approve
"To approve awarding a rank or Palm, the board must agree unanimously. Every effort should be made to deliberate with careful consideration of each member'
s perspective, and in sufficient detail as to avoid factual misunderstanding. It is appropriate to call the candidate back if additional questions may provide clarification. Still, if any member dissents, the decision cannot be for approval. In the case of such disagreement, the Scout shall not be informed about the specifics of the conversations or any arguments taking place. ... (H)e is told only how he can improve." (GTA 8.0.1.4)


Statement

The Board of Review can be conducted for multiple Scouts simultaneously, so long as they are all candidates for the same rank.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

One Scout at a time... that's it.


Statement

If a Scout fails his Board of Review, that Scout can re-test with the Board after 3 or 6 months (depending on rank) of active participation in Troop and Patrol activities.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

In fact, a Scout cannot "fail" anything in Scouting—That's not what this program and movement are about. A Scout can, however, be found to have not adequately met the requirements of the rank for which he is being reviewed, in which case the board is obligated by BSA policy to provide that Scout with specific items or areas that are to be addressed, and a definite timeline for a review to follow.

"If a board decides not to approve, the candidate must be so informed and told what he can do to improve. Most Scouts accept responsibility for their behavior or for not completing requirements properly. If it is thought that a Scout, before his 18th birthday, can benefit from an opportunity to properly complete the requirements, the board may adjourn and reconvene at a later date. If the candidate agrees to this, then if possible, the same members should reassemble. If he does not agree, then the board must make its decision at that point. In any case, a follow-up letter must be promptly sent to a Scout who is turned down. It must include actions advised that may lead to advancement, and also an explanation of appeal procedures." (GTA 8.0.1.5)


Statement

BSA guidelines for advancement requirements represent the minimum requirements for ranks and Merit Badges—The Troop's leaders set the final standards.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction - Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting & Sea Scouting
Exception - Certain Venturing Bronze Awards

Comments

The ONLY standards for requirements, be they for ranks, Boy Scout merit badges, Cub Scout arrow points and sports/academics belt loops/pins, Webelos activity badges, most Venturing awards (see, exception below), Sea Scout ratings, etc., are those set by the BSA, and no council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from these.

"Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program
"No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with disabilities." (GTA - page 2)

Exception

Venturing Advisors can approve alteration of the Arts & Hobbies, Sports, and Religious Life bronze award requirements if the are not specific to the crew. This being said, it is up the youth to alter the requirements which must be comparable in difficulty to the original.

Those awards each have this statement:

"Activities or projects that are more available in your area may be substituted with your Advisor's approval for activities shown above."

The Sea Scout and Outdoor Bronze Awards are fixed - no alteration is permitted.


Statement

It's important for the Troop to manage rank and merit badge advancements carefully, so that all Scouts of similar age advance together, and no Scout feels "left behind." 

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Advancement in all Scouting programs is determined by the individual youth.


Statement

Boards of review can assist the Scoutmaster in slowing down Scouts who advance too quickly, so that with increased maturity they can better appreciate the significance of the new rank.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

No one has the right or authority to arbitrarily impede the progress of a Scout from one rank to the next, or to hold back approval of a Scout'
s seeking of any merit badge.


Statement

No board of review for any rank can be held after the Scout's 18th birthday.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

Although "Complete your Board of Review" or "Successfully complete an Eagle Scout Board of Review" is the last requirement for EACH rank (except Scout, which isn't actually a rank) and for Eagle Palms, a Board of Review MAY be held AFTER the Scout has reached age 18. All OTHER requirements must be completed BEFORE the Scout's 18th Birthday.

For Eagle, in particular, the Eagle Rank Application specifically states the following

"Scouts and Venturers who have completed all requirements prior to their 18th birthday may be reviewed within three months after that date with no explanation."

"For boards of review conducted between three and six months after the candidate's 18th birthday, a statement by an adult explaining the reason for the delay must be attached to the Eagle Scout Rank Application when it is submitted to the Eagle Scout Service."

"The Boy Scout Division at the national office must be contacted for procedures to follow if a board of review is to be conducted more than six months after a candidate's 18th birthday."


Statement

If a rank requirement seems too difficult, or too easy, the Pack or Troop Advancement Chair has the authority to change the requirement to better fit the boys'
 abilities.

Fact or Fiction

Fiction

Comments

"Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program
"No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with disabilities." (GTA - page 2)


Statement

Life Scout "mini-projects," conducted in the same manner and process as an Eagle Project, are not permitted by National BSA Advancement Policies.

Fact or Fiction

Fact

Comments

Life rank candidates, just as Star candidates, contribute "service hours" in the spirit of service to others. They cannot be made to carry out projects in a manner akin to an Eagle project.



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