No sooner had the Boy Scouts of America published the 2017 revision to its omnibus reference work Guide to Advancement, which we reviewed in a recent article, than it announced a few changes.
There are some important changes to the way Eagle Palms are earned and awarded. Most significantly, the new rules allow a newly-minted Eagle Scout to receive Palms for his aggregate total of merit badges up to the date of his board of review. This will be a benefit to Scouts who earn Eagle late in their Scouting careers, and who would not have otherwise had an opportunity to earn Palms. The rule change allows the Scout to immediately receive a Palm for every five merit badges earned beyond the twenty-one required for the rank. The advancement team took into consideration the tendency for older Scouts to be involved in multiple activities both in and out of Scouting, thus slowing their progress toward Eagle, while still earning merit badges. As the Scout approaches the age of eighteen, he will soon run out of three-month waiting periods that would normally apply between each Palm. Once the Eagle Scout board of review is held, however, the Scout must still be active for three months between each additional Palm earned.
Other changes include doing away with the board of review for Eagle Palms, and a change in what is considered active. I enjoyed serving on a Palm board of review because it allowed the committee to share in the perspective of a Scout who had achieved the highest rank. However, the advancement team acted to eliminate Palm BORs for two reasons. One, they felt little was to be gained in a board of review that couldn’t be accomplished in a Scoutmaster conference, which is still required, and two, having to wait for a scheduled board of review would unnecessarily delay the clock on the next three month period, especially when approaching age-out.
And Scouts may fulfill the three month active requirement by means other than within a troop or patrol. Recognizing that many older Scouts are active in the Order of the Arrow, in other BSA programs such as Venturing, or serving on camp staff, the revision allows these to count as well.
There’s more in this article in the Scouting Magazine blog. The changes take effect August 1, 2017.
Camping requirements for Second Class and First Class
Camping is the heart of the Boy Scout program, and what boy doesn’t want to go camping with his friends? But sometimes being able to line up today’s boys’ busy schedules with monthly troop campouts means that they can’t camp as often as they’d like – or must, in order to advance.
In last year’s revision to the Boy Scout requirements, the number of camping nights for First Class was doubled, from three to six, and for Second Class was increased from two to three. The changes return the numbers of overnights to pre-2016 levels, but the emphasis on time in the outdoors remains. It’s the life-changing outdoor experiences with his patrol that make the difference in a boy, not necessarily the number of nights spent under canvas, so the new requirements retain the number of outdoor activities, all of which don’t necessarily require overnight camping.
The number of camping nights needed for the Eagle Scout rank haven’t changed, because the Eagle-required Camping merit badge still requires twenty nights of camping.
Once again, Scouting Magazine’s blog provides details on the change, also effective August 1.
2017 Solar Eclipse patch
It’s not exactly an advancement item, but the BSA has available a Solar Eclipse patch for those Scouts in all traditional programs meeting a handful of requirements revolving around the total solar eclipse visible across the United States on August 21. These include locating a site for viewing the eclipse and describing how to do so safely; discussing your experience with your den, pack, patrol, troop or crew, and fulfilling a science-related activity that varies with the program. No advancement report is needed; unit leaders can purchase the patches at their local council’s service center or Scout Shop.