Guide to Advancement 2017

Since its inception in 2011, the Guide to Advancement has been the single point of reference for nearly all matters related to advancement across all our programs. It replaced a smattering of documents, references in handbooks and training manuals, and official policies that were not well documented.

The Advancement Team did a great job putting it all in one place, and their efforts have withstood the test of time. Changes do take place, though, and every couple years they’ve been updating the book to reflect the current status of things.

The 2017 Guide to Advancement was released a couple weeks ago. It’s available as a printed publication in Scout Shops and online, as well as downloadable (for free) as a PDF.

There really aren’t any major policy revisions or substantially new policies; most of the changes are the result of the need for clarification on a number of items that weren’t previously well defined. Here’s a summary of many of the changes in the current edition, with sections affected shown in parentheses:

Cub Scout Advancement

  • The language allowing a Cub Scout a little extra time to complete his rank before moving on to the next rank is clarified to include when it’s time to transition to a new den, rather than just at the end of the school year. Some packs, notably those chartered to LDS churches, don’t follow the school year but Scouts transition in ranks based on age. (
  • A change was made to the reference to the required and elective Adventures for Webelos and Arrow of Light. Where previously the Guide listed the number required, it now refers readers to the appropriate rank handbook for the current requirements. (
  • Sections referring to the transition to the Adventure program were deleted, since that process has now been completed.

Boy Scout Advancement

  • References to the Scout rank were added where appropriate.
  • A sidenote was added clarifying that the clock on a Scout’s active participation time or time in a position of responsibility doesn’t stop during periods when a troop takes time off, such as over the summer. ( and
  • A sidenote was added to clarify that service hours counted for school or other outside pursuits (National Honor Society, for example) may also be counted toward advancement requirements. (
  • It’s now permissible for unit leader (Scoutmaster) conferences to be conducted by an assistant Scoutmaster under certain circumstances, such as if the Scoutmaster is absent for an extended period of time, or in a larger troop where a Scout’s conference could be delayed because of a backlog of requests. However, it is still the expectation that the conference should take place between the Scout and the Scoutmaster. (

General Boards of Review

  • Clarification that a board of review cannot be denied for non-advancement reasons, such as incorrect uniforming or non-payment of dues. (
  • If a board member cannot be fair and impartial, he must recuse himself from serving on the board. (
  • A Scout and his parents or guardians must be informed of the right to a board of review under disputed circumstances. (

Eagle Scout Procedures

  • A Life Scout cannot be required to provide certain completed paperwork, including the Eagle Scout application or the statement of ambition and life purpose, in order to be granted a Scoutmaster conference. (
  • Several updates to the section that covers the Eagle Scout rank application: When preparing his application, the Scout is advised to use the dates from his personal profile obtained by the troop from the local council; the two other references on the Eagle Scout rank application can be any two individuals of the Scout’s choosing, and references need not be over 18 years old; and blue cards or other additional paperwork, such as a Scout’s unit history printout, may not be required to be attached to the application unless there’s a discrepancy. (
  • A council or district representative serving on an Eagle board of review must not also be affiliated with the Scout’s troop. (
  • Once a Scout earns a rank, errors in advancement discovered later cannot be held against him for future rank advancements. Given as an example is a case where a Life Scout cannot be denied advancement to Eagle because it was later found that he hadn’t served enough time in a position of responsibility for an earlier rank. (
  • Signatures on a Scout’s Eagle service project report need not be dated before his 18th birthday. (
  • It is the council’s, not the Scout’s, responsibility to complete and submit an extension for time to earn the Eagle Scout rank. (
  • The Eagle Scout candidate should be among those interviewed in case an appeal board is held. (
  • Boards of review must be scheduled promptly in order to not delay a Scout’s ability to earn Eagle Palms in a timely manner. (

Merit Badges

  • A Merit Badge Group Instruction Guide has been added. This guide covers the particulars of conducting a group merit badge event, including re-emphasizing that Scouts must individually demonstrate completion of the requirements. The guide includes information on planning and evaluating a merit badge instructional event, with sections covering planning, materials, securing counselors, council approval, costs, registration, and record keeping. (
  • It’s clarified that Scouts should not have access to lists of merit badge counselors that are provided to unit leaders by the district or council. (
  • There’s additional clarification on what to do when requirements change. (

Other changes include:

  • There’s clarification about when a request for registration for special-needs Scouts beyond the age of eligibility may be submitted and considered. (
  • A clarification that to be considered a unit leader the individual must be a registered adult leader.
  • References to parent were expanded to include guardian.
  • Sections 4.3 and 4.4, pertaining to Sea Scouting, were rewritten and revised. Among other things, these sections clarify that Sea Scouting is a separate program from Venturing.

The new Guide to Advancement should be in your paper or electronic library if you deal with advancement in any capacity. Be sure to download yours and keep it handy.

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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