Boy Scout Advancement Overview

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The Four Steps to Advancement

1. A Scout learns
The politically correct term for a trainer in today's corporate world is, "Knowledge Transfer Specialist". Who makes the best Knowledge Transfer Specialist in a troop? Scoutmaster? Troop Committee? How about another Scout? The best way to learn is to teach. A smart Scout leader will let the Scout who will be teaching others run his presentation past him, the expert, first. He make sure the Scout understands how to correctly perform the task, then stands back and lets the Scout instruct. Done properly, the Scout gains respect from his students, builds his confidence, demonstrates leadership, and becomes a role model.

2. A Scout is tested
Only after a Scout is able to perform a task on his own should he be tested. The Scoutmaster does the testing or decides whom he will delegate his approval authority to. This authority can be selective or blanket. For example, the Scoutmaster can designate all trained leaders as having complete approval authority, or allow his Patrol Leaders to sign off on First Aid requirements if they have earned the 1st Aid MB. He can selectively delegate his authority in any manner that he sees fit. This is a Scoutmaster's decision and no one else's. Whatever the Scoutmaster's delegation rule, he should have it documented for future reference. The troop committee will surely want to know his policy as well as concerned parents. When the Scout satisfies the tester that he can perform the task, it's signed off in his Boy Scout Handbook.
"Complete the requirement as written. Nothing more, nothing less." This applies to rank advancement as well as merit badges. No matter how good you believe your modification of a requirement might be, the requirements cannot be changed. Cub Scout leaders say, " Do your best". Boy Scout leaders say, " Do the requirement." No additional requirements or tasks may be added.
Visit means visit, not tell about.
Demonstrate means demonstrate, not tell about.
Draw means draw, not tell about.
Find means find, not tell about.
Ten means ten, not 9 or 15
If you work with a Scout who has a permanent disability, consult the district advancement committee for direction concerning alternative requirements. Any alternative requirements must be approved PRIOR to undertaking the requirement.

3. A Scout is reviewed.
The review is a two-stage process. The Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster, or other delegated leader acting on behalf of the Scoutmaster conducts a Scoutmaster Conference. The SMC is a learning experience for the Scoutmaster. He listens to the Scout talk about his concerns, successes, his feelings toward the Scout Oath and Law. The two share ideas related to the troop, his school, his personal interests, advancement and leadership. This is also a good time to find out how those who the Scoutmaster has delegated his authority to sign off requirements are functioning. Remember, the Scout has already been tested.
A conversation concerning the Scout's religious principles is very appropriate during a SMC.
The SMC should conducted in an open environment and take between 10 and 15 minutes for all conferences except the Eagle conference. That may take 30 minutes or more.
If the Scoutmaster feels a need to re-test, he should consider testing those who signed off his requirements. If, during the conference, the Scoutmaster learns that an advancement requirement was not completed, the Scout must complete the requirement before the Scoutmaster completes his conference.
If a Scoutmaster declines to sign off on a SMC as complete, that decision can be appealed.

The second stage of reviewing is the Board of Review. Dozens of web sites have been built discussing the board of review process, however, the best publication to learn about BORs is the Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures.
BORs for Tenderfoot through Life and Eagle Palms are conducted by 3 to 6 members of the Scout's troop committee. These should be regularly scheduled and posted on the troop calendar. They can be conducted practically anywhere; at a troop meeting, camp-out, summer camp, Scout's home, or any private setting. The District Advancement Committee conducts Eagle boards in the Northeast Georgia Council.
A troop BOR should take between 10 and 15 minutes. It consists of three tasks:
1. Ensure that he has completed all the rank requirements.
2. Determine the quality of the Scout's troop experience.
3. Encourage him to advance toward the next rank.
The BOR is NOT a re-test. Questions should be open ended to allow for answers other than " yes ", or " no ". A discussion of the Scout Oath and Law is in keeping with the purpose of the review to make sure that the candidate recognizes and understands the values of Scouting in his home, unit, school, and community. With this in mind, it may be appropriate to ask the Scout if he can repeat the Oath and Law and ask if he agrees to those principles.
At the end of the review, the Scout will leave the room while the board members discuss his qualifications. They then call him back to tell him that he is qualified for his new rank, or to outline very clearly and in writing what more he must do to successfully complete the requirements.
The Boy Scout advancement program has no use for the word "FAIL". The Scout does not pass or fail a BOR. He is either advanced or he is declined advancement. Those are the only two choices. There is no such thing as, "We do not feel comfortable with passing you tonight. Come back next month for another review." If advancement is declined, the board MUST document what must be done for him to advance. The Scout needs an explanation in writing and a date when he should appear again. When he returns, only the deficiency needs to be discussed.
If a Scout is declined advancement either at the SMC or BOR level, that decision can be appealed. The Scout, the Scoutmaster, or his parents can make the appeal. The appeal is first addressed at the troop committee level, then, if not resolved, to the district advancement committee, then, if not resolved to the council advancement committee, then, if not resolved, to the national committee for advancement, BSA. The national committee will NOT support any decision made outside of the polices and procedures set forth by the BSA and neither will this council.

Some important thoughts...
No child should ever suffer because of a mistake made by an adult.
If an error has to be made, always err on the side of the Scout.
Everything is readily fixable, except for hard feelings.

4. A Scout is recognized.
When a Scout earns either a rank advancement or a merit badge he should be recognized twice. The first recognition is made when his badge is presented. The Scoutmaster usually does this at the end of the next troop meeting. The insignia should not be presented until the advancement record is submitted to the council service center. The second recognition is made at the next Court of Honor during a more formal ceremony.
For Eagle candidates, the recognition rules are a little different. He can and should be recognized at the troop meeting following his Eagle Board of Review, but his Court of Honor cannot be scheduled until his application has been approved by the national office and returned.

Other...
The national advancement committee sets all rank requirements and merit badge requirements. No unit, district, or council has the authority to add, delete or modify these requirements. These requirements change from time to time. Every year approximately 25 merit badges are updated with modified requirements. Rank requirements also change, but not as frequent.

The Boy Scout Requirements for the current year publication is a very important resource. The requirements printed in this book supersede any requirements printed anywhere else. If a merit badge pamphlet or Boy Scout Handbook lists one set of requirements and the current year's Boy Scout Requirements lists something different, the Boy Scout Requirements publication is the one to use.
Don't make advancement more difficult than it has to be. Nothing more, nothing less.

Time Requirements...
Under normal conditions, the Scout must have his SMC before his 18th birthday and the BOR within 3 months. Some exceptions apply.

1. A Scout with a permanent disability A list of 8 criteria must be met before a Scout can qualify for an exception.
2. A Scout with extenuating circumstances. Whatever the reason, the district and council must be made aware of any exceptions BEFORE approval is given to proceed.

Religious Principles...

BSA has a definite position on religious principles.

1. BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion.
2. BSA does not require membership in a religious organization, but does strongly encourage not only membership, but participation in the religious programs of a church.
3. BSA respects the convictions of those who exercise their freedom to practice religion without formal membership.
4. If a Scout says he is a member of a religious body, the standards by which he should be evaluated are those of that group. This is why the Eagle Application requests a reference from his religious leader to indicate whether he has lived up to their expectations.