The 2013 Guide to Advancement, part 1

2013AdvancementThe long-awaited 2013 revision to the standard reference text for Scouting’s advancement programs has been released, leaving a somewhat bewildering series of changes and clarifications in its wake.

The 2011 document did a great job of consolidating, codifying and clarifying BSA’s rules relating to advancement. The process of creating the work was a careful one involving professionals and volunteers from all regions. The language was carefully chosen to clearly state the various rules, policies and procedures. It became the go-to answer book on all things advancement. Continue reading “The 2013 Guide to Advancement, part 1”

The advancement treadmill

ranks_125Of all the attributes we associate with Scouting, certainly the uniform is the most directly visible, but the advancement program is certainly the most palpable (and visible when the insignia of recognition appear on the uniform).

Scouting is measured by advancement. Starting in Cub Scouts, den leaders use the advancement program as a roadmap for their den programs. They dutifully plan meetings and activities and lead their dens, checking off requirements in their trail books as they go-see-it, learn about God, country, family and self, and eventually earn badges for learning about community, outdoors, mental, physical and technology skills. In Boy Scouts, there’s a similar list of things to do in order to achieve each rank, and Scouts spend their troop meetings and campouts running down the list and getting signoffs for the things they’ve done. Merit badges follow, each with their own list of requirements to be completed and signed off.

Indeed, to the untrained eye (and many Scouts, Scouters and families too), Scouting is all about completing requirements and advancing. Continue reading “The advancement treadmill”

How Scouting helps identity development

seven_arrows_200Last week I attended an orientation session at the university my son is attending in the fall. There were separate sessions for the new students and for the soon-to-be parents of a college kid. Besides the expected talks on dorm life, financial aid and how to pay the bill, several university staffers presented segments on various aspects of adjusting to college life.

One of the most interesting talks was on the topic of student well-being. Going beyond adjusting to a roommate and using the health center and recreation facilities, the speaker enlightened us on the steps of identity development that our students would most likely go through during their years in college. Continue reading “How Scouting helps identity development”

Advancement educational presentations

g2a_tutorial_screenOne could argue that uniforming is the most visible of the eight methods of Scouting, even though a lot of boys would rather be invisible while in uniform! The method of advancement, however, certainly has a lot of impact and affects just about every aspect of what we do. Scouts like to advance and earn badges for the things they do. Much of the Scout handbook is devoted to rank advancement requirements and ways to get there.

To define exactly how advancement is handled, the Boy Scouts of America provides us with an excellent publication, the Guide to Advancement. Issued in 2011, the Guide covers nearly every conceivable aspect to advancement across all programs of the BSA. But one book can’t do the job by itself, so there are supplemental educational presentations that help Scoutmasters, committee members and merit badge counselors navigate the maze of administering the advancement program within the unit. Continue reading “Advancement educational presentations”

More advancement changes

Here are a few other advancement-related items that have been changed or clarified in the recent Guide to Advancement that affect the troop committee:

  • If you’ve ever been caught short on a board of review night without enough committee members on hand, there is relief. The new rule allows for adults who aren’t registered committee members to serve on a BOR. Here’s the exact language: 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.Smaller troops may only have three registered committee members, and if the son of one of the committee members needs a board of review, it would otherwise be impossible, since parents can’t participate. This change would also seem to give troops with more committee members greater flexibility to assemble a board of review when we are unexpectedly overloaded with candidates, say during a troop meeting or on a campout. We really don’t want to turn away a Scout who only needs a BOR to advance for lack of registered committee members. They don’t define “available to serve”, so it could mean that while you may have many committee members, they might not all be able to make it to a board of review session. The catch here is that if you have knowledgeable parents or adults who understand Boy Scouting’s aims, they belong on the troop committee anyway, and if you find you need to press them into service, you should invite them to register. Continue reading “More advancement changes”