In last week’s article, we listed some of the changes incorporated in the 2013 Guide to Advancement, the current revision to the comprehensive 2011 edition. Many policies have been tweaked and clarified, and since most of us have become familiar with the 2011 document by now, it’s useful to look at the differences. Here’s a continuation of last week’s look at the changes that impact troops.
The Eagle Process
- Most troops have one or more adults designated to assist Life Scouts with the trail to Eagle Scout. Often, these are parents of Eagle Scouts or those who have a clear understanding of the process. The 2011 Guide mentions this in the form of an Eagle Project Coach, but does not require either the unit or district to provide one. The new version contains a lengthy section on the Eagle Scout Service Project Coach. The ESSPC is intended to be a council or district volunteer assigned to work with Life Scouts to represent the interests of the district and council and help ensure success on the part of the Scout. The ESSPC meets with the Scout after his project is approved but before work begins, advising him on how he will plan his project and avoid pitfalls; remind him to share his plans with the project beneficiary; meet to review the final plan and, eventually, the project writeup, and to offer advice along the way as needed by the Scout. This role largely duplicates what the unit-level Eagle mentor normally does, so in the event the unit doesn’t have an experienced person available to serve as a mentor, the district ESSPC can provide backup. The Scout does not have to use the district’s ESSPC, but the district is still advised to assign one anyway, who would contact the Scout, set up a meeting, and explain the value that the ESSPC can bring to his project. For most Life Scouts, this adds another layer of adult involvement to an already intricate process.
- Service projects for Eagle and for the Sea Scout Quartermaster Award project must be distinct and separate. The same project cannot be used for both.
- The Guide mentions that Eagle service projects generally qualify as activities under the BSA’s Messengers of Peace program. There is a special ring patch that can be worn by participants in the project. Designating a project in this manner is not a requirement, nor is it part of advancement, but the verbiage made it into the Guide anyway.
- There is a new information sheet for project beneficiaries called Navigating the Eagle Scout Service Project which is included in the workbook and should be given to the beneficiary.
- In lieu of requiring application and approval for outside money-earning for Eagle projects, councils may issue blanket approval for certain types of fundraising activities such as bake sales or car washes, or for those raising less than a given amount. Procedures for donating leftover funds are established for cases where the beneficiary is not able to keep them.
- The new Guide reiterates and clarifies that Eagle service projects are unit activities in matters of safety.
- Boards of review should be advised ahead of time about a Scout’s special circumstances and needs, and it may be appropriate for the Scoutmaster to be present at a board of review to explain them.
- It is possible and may be important for the parents of a special-needs Scout to be present at his board of review in order to help interpret and communicate what the Scout is saying and to help the board members understand the difficulties with which the Scout has to cope.
- The cumulative impact of multiple disabilities may serve as a factor for allowing registration past the normal age of eligibility.
Declaration of Religious Principle
- The section on Religious Principle, which previously referred only to the Scout Oath and Law, now specifies that the Scout must acknowledge belief in God through the BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle, which was previously only applicable to adults, and as far as I know, isn’t in any publications intended for Scouts – yet.
The Internet Advancement System
- Links and resources are provided for the Internet advancement system, including a list of benefits and features of system.
- Acknowledgment is given to the limitations of the current ScoutNet system, including lack of portability of membership numbers, the inability to transfer data between councils, and the need to record advancements for multiply-registered Scouts in one unit only.
- Units are advised to report advancement monthly, rather than quarterly.
- The service project requirement for Star and Life is clarified to specify that only participation is required, not planning or leadership. This is to put an end to the practice in some troops which required a “Life Service Project” as a warm-up to Eagle.
- A troop cannot require that a Scout serve in a specific position or type of position to receive credit for the position of responsibility requirement for Star and higher ranks. Troops cannot require that an Eagle candidate served as a patrol leader or senior patrol leader, for instance.
- Scouts who are multiple-registered may use a position of responsibility served in one unit to fulfill the requirement in another.
- The provisions which permit a board of review to employ non-registered members when fewer than three registered adults are available is clarified to state that this should be the exception rather than the rule. Implied in this is the responsibility of the committee to provide enough registered members to hear boards of review regularly.
The Guide has a list of significant changes in Section 1 that highlights the important items but it does caution that many revisions have been made that aren’t listed (sometimes just changing a word or two), so the only way to get a thorough look at what’s changed is to compare the old and new versions word by word.
This and the previous article are not intended to be an official interpretation of the changes or of BSA policy. Be sure to read the Guide for yourself to better understand the impact of the program and the changes.