Special Considerations

Advancement in Camp Settings

5.0.1.1 Procedures Established by Council Advancement Committee

Procedures for advancement in camp are established by the council advancement committee in compliance with national procedures, and under the direction of the council executive board. The camp director and program director, and the committee responsible for camp program should be included in the process. Their expertise will be important in evaluating practicality, and their buy-in can improve cooperation from the camp staff. Once procedures are in place, advancement committee representatives should periodically visit each resident camp to assure compliance. The visits can also surface new ideas on improving implementation and building a worthwhile partnership.

5.0.1.2 Procedural Examples

Below are camp advancement procedures that could be considered. There may be more, but few camps should need all of them.

1. Staff training on the particulars of advancement in each program—Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouts—as appropriate

2. Merit badges to be offered

3. How the council advancement committee will approve camp merit badge counselors

4. Lesson plans or guidelines for instruction of merit badges and other advancement

5. Guidelines on advancement-related equipment and support

6. Procedures for accepting work completed before camp begins

7. Communication plans to build awareness of camp practices, such as those related to scheduling, prerequisites, Scoutmaster approvals, paperwork, etc.

8. Record-keeping practices that will help if rank advancement, merit badges, or merit badge partials are questioned later

5.0.1.3 Advancement Committee Approves Merit Badge Counselors

Resident camp standards require a letter from the council advancement committee approving merit badge counselors. There are no camp-related exemptions from the qualifications described under “Qualifications of Counselors,” 7.0.1.1. Councils may not change the rules about who qualifies; this includes eligibility age. Staff members under 18 with subject-matter knowledge may assist with instruction, but they must work with qualified and approved counselors. Instruction may take place in group settings, but it must be done in accordance with the procedures described in “Group Instruction,” 7.0.3.2.

5.0.1.4 Statement on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement

Though stated earlier in this publication, it bears repeating here: No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement requirements. There are no camp-related exemptions except those described in “Advancement for Members With Special Needs,” 10.0.0.0. Camp counselors and those assisting them, regardless the circumstances, must comply. If requirements as written cannot be completed at camp, they must be done elsewhere. The Application for Merit Badge “blue card” (see “Unit Leader Signs Application for Merit Badge,” 7.0.0.2) has space to record and initial what is finished, and age 18 is the only limit to finishing partials.

5.0.1.5 Advancement Committee as a Partner in Camp-Related Advancement

Council advancement committees that partner with camp staffs and approach solutions jointly are more likely to see strong programs. Implementing a merit badge program at camp is not a simple task. It is not something to consider from afar and then make rules about. Committees with members who make the trip and lend a hand are more likely to see successful results. An example might be helping the staff meet the camp standards that require training in several areas around advancement.

5.0.2.0 Extended Absence From Scouting

Members who leave a BSA program are welcome to return if they are eligible and in good standing. They take up where they left off, assuming the last verifiable rank. It may be necessary for them to produce advancement documentation, or to have records updated or transferred from another council. The time away shall not be held against them, and they shall not be made to redo requirements. Because time spent in positions of responsibility (“Positions of Responsibility,” 4.2.3.4) or active participation (“Active Participation,” 4.2.3.1) need not be continuous, any periods of activity before leaving count toward the next rank. The new unit leader, however, may check with past unit leaders, parents, or others to confirm time spent meets the respective requirements.

5.0.3.0 Lone Scouting

Boys who do not have access to traditional Scouting units can become Lone Cub Scouts and Lone Boy Scouts. In the following or similar circumstances, they may find this an appropriate option:

1. Home-schooled where parents do not want them in a youth group

2. U.S. citizens living abroad

3. Exchange students away from the United States

4. Disability or communicable illness that prevents meeting attendance

5. Rural communities far from a unit

6. Conflicts with a job, night school, or boarding school

7. Families who frequently travel or live on a boat, etc.

8. Living arrangements with parents in different communities

9. Environments where getting to meetings may put the Scout in danger

Each Lone Cub Scout or Lone Boy Scout must work with a Lone Scout counselor—preferably his parent, but the counselor might also be a religious leader, teacher, neighbor, or Scouting volunteer. Regardless, even if a parent, he or she must complete Youth Protection training, be at least 21 years of age, registered with the Boy Scouts of America, and meet its adult membership requirements. More details can be found in the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Guidebook, No. 605978, an essential tool in carrying out this program.

To register as a Lone Cub Scout or Lone Boy Scout, application can be made through the council service center. Lone Scout counselors must register using the standard adult application. Those living abroad may inquire with the Boy Scouts of America International Department at the national office. Lone Scouting is not an alternative for those who just don’t like the local units or cannot get along with them.

It is permissible and even beneficial for Lone Scouts to meet from time to time with others in the area, or visit a unit if possible. These meetings can provide additional instruction and counseling to promote further advancement, and also a more public forum for recognizing achievement.

5.0.3.1 Lone Scout Advancement Procedures

Because Lone Scouts are not registered with units, we can exercise some responsible flexibility with advancement. This is not to say anything goes: Lone Scouting is not a place to register a boy simply to facilitate parental approval of advancement. Requirements for ranks, badges, or awards that can be met by one Scout working with his counselor must be fulfilled as written. If family members, neighbors, or friends can be like a “den” or “troop,” this may increase what can be met as established. Some wording issues are simple and do not require council approval. For example, a Lone Scout may fulfill a position of responsibility by serving in his school, place of worship, in a club, etc. Where it is not possible to meet requirements as written, a Lone Scout counselor may suggest equal or very similar alternative requirements. These must have council advancement committee approval. Dissimilar requirements should be allowed only in extreme circumstances, or when they cannot be met without extreme hazard or hardship. See the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Guidebook for details.

5.0.3.2 Lone Scouts and Merit Badges

A Lone Scout earns merit badges by working with adult counselors who meet the qualifications as stated under “Qualifications of Counselors,” 7.0.1.1. They can be recruited from among teachers, hobbyists, business leaders, members of various clubs, etc. Before they serve, the council or district advancement committee, according to local practices, must approve them. A list of preapproved counselors can be obtained by calling the local council service center. For more information, see “The Merit Badge Program,” 7.0.0.0.

5.0.3.3 Eagle Scout Applications for Lone Scouts

When a Lone Scout has completed the Eagle Scout requirements, he works with the district or council advancement committee according to local practices (see “Boards of Review,” 8.0.0.0). The Eagle Scout application goes to the council service center, but since the Lone Scout is not affiliated with a unit, the processor there must send the application to the national Advancement Team for processing. It cannot be submitted through ScoutNET. Since there is no “unit committee” for a Lone Scout, the unit committee chair signature line on the Eagle Scout application is left blank. No unit committee approval is required for the Eagle Scout service project proposal.

5.0.4.0 Youth From Other Countries

Youth from other countries who temporarily reside in the United States, or have moved here, may register in a BSA unit and participate in advancement. If progress from a foreign Scouting association is to be considered and applied to BSA requirements, then the foreign Scout must meet in person (or over electronic media) with members of the council or district advancement committee, along with at least one adult leader or committee member of the receiving unit. Previous advancement work is reviewed to determine the BSA rank—up to, but not including Eagle Scout rank—the youth is qualified to receive. The candidate must present evidence of membership and advancement from the previous association. Once a rank is determined, it is reported through the BSA’s Internet Advancement or on an advancement report.

This procedure applies to all ranks except Eagle Scout, which is not considered equivalent to any other association’s rank. If it can be established that Life rank has been achieved, then the council or district advancement committee can determine which BSA merit badges may be awarded based on previous work. This may leave a number of additional badges to earn—required or not— to achieve Eagle. Requirements for active participation, position of responsibility, Scout spirit, the service project, and the unit leader conference must be completed in a BSA unit. This procedure also applies to members of the BSA who, while living abroad, have earned advancement in another Scouting association.

5.0.5.0 Religious Principles

From time to time, issues related to advancement call for an understanding of the position of the Boy Scouts of America on religious principles. In the appendix (section 11), see the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America (article IX), and clause 1, Declaration of Religious Principle, from article IX in the Charter and Bylaws of the BSA. The following interpretative statement may help to clarify this position: The Boy Scouts of America does not define what constitutes belief in God or practice of religion. Neither does the BSA require membership in a religious organization or association for membership in the movement. If a Scout does not belong to a religious organization or association, then his parent(s) or guardian(s) will be considered responsible for his religious training. All that is required is the acknowledgment of belief in God as stated in the Scout Oath, and the ability to be reverent as stated in the Scout Law.

Bestowing Posthumous Awards

If, prior to death, a youth member in any BSA program has met the requirements for a rank or award, including age and service, he or she may receive it posthumously. If a required board of review has not been conducted, it is held according to the methods outlined in “Boards of Review,” 8.0.0.0. It is appropriate to invite parents or guardians and friends to discuss the efforts made toward the rank. For the Eagle Scout rank, the application is verified at the council service center, but it must be sent to the national Advancement Team for processing. A cover letter from the Scout executive or designee must indicate it as posthumous. This triggers changes to the congratulatory letter returned with the pocket card and certificate. Note that the same procedures regarding timing of an Eagle Scout board of review apply in posthumous cases. See “Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th Birthday,” 8.0.3.1.

Spirit of the Eagle Award

The Boy Scouts of America has created the Spirit of the Eagle Award as an honorary posthumous recognition for registered youth members who have lost their lives through illness or accident. It is offered by the National Court of Honor as a final salute and tribute in celebration of the recipient’s life, and publicly recognizes his or her contributions to the mission of Scouting.

An application can be found at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Awards_Central/SpiritoftheEagle.aspx. A unit committee must complete and submit it to the local council within six months of the member’s death. After acceptance there, it is forwarded to the National Youth Development Team for review and approval.