Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category

The Board of Review. Terrifying to the new Tenderfoot Scout. Confusing to the new committee member. How does the Scout prepare? What are the board members supposed to cover and ask?

I have been scoutmaster long enough to see a lot of people come and go on the committee. Many times the new committee members are confused when it comes to serving on their first board of review. I usually let the more experienced committee members instruct the newer ones about what to do or say. However, during the past 25 years I saw they could use a suggestions or two, so I made a Board of Review sheet for them to use during the BOR. It seems to have helped them quite a bit during the years. In fact, I think newer members now think it is a sheet required to be filled out during a BOR. I have to correct them that it is a sheet of suggestions to cover for our own troop use, it is not a national requirement form.

So, what does the sheet have on it? It has seven areas I suggest the BOR to talk about with the Scout.

Participation. How has the Scout been doing with attendance at meetings, outings and fundraisers? If he has not been showing up for functions then it is time for them to ask about the reasons behind the poor attendance. Many times the Scout has valid reasons, but sometimes he does not. Sometimes the board will discover things that the scoutmaster does not know about. It is also a good time to praise the Scout who has a great attendance record.

Scout Spirit and ideals. Does the Scout know the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan? Does he know what they mean? Does he try to live by them? Of course, the board members better know and understand these oaths themselves or it may look awkward if the Scout catches them in a mistake of understanding.

Merit badges and advancement. First of all, this is not a re-test of the badges! My suggestion is to ask which merit badges were fun to earn and why? Which ones were difficult? Did he find any of the skills learned while earning the badges to be useful in everyday life? Keep the questions about general topics.

Service Projects. Did he participate in the troop’s service projects and/or help out with other troop members Eagle projects? What were the purpose of the projects? Did he learn anything while doing them?

Leadership. What position of leadership did he hold in the troop since the last board of review? Was it difficult or easy? What type of leader was he? What were his duties? Did he do them well? Most of the time the BOR members really don’t know much about how the Scout did with a leadership position because the members do not regularly attend troop meetings and outings. However, they should ask the Scout questions, and also talk with the scoutmaster before the BOR.

Religious principles. Of course, a Scout must have a belief in God. How does he practice his faith? What does he believe is his duty to God? We have to be careful with this topic because there are Scouts of many different religions. We don’t want to make the Scout feel uncomfortable with the wrong questions. However, I think we do need to touch on this subject and not ignore it as if it is unimportant.

Goals. Everyone needs goals. What goals has the Scout set for himself, both in and out of Scouting? Does he have a goal to complete his next rank? Does he have leadership goals? Is there a goal to attend a high adventure base and a national jamboree? Does he have any goals in school? How does he intend to meet those goals?

Of course, the BOR members can bring up other subjects also. But these few areas cover a lot of territory. If asked correctly, they can begin a great dialog between the board and the Scout.

A copy of this form can be found on our troop’s website at:
Leave a comment if you have any other suggestions that you think would be good topics for a board of review to cover.

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    It looks like Boy Scouts with iPhones and iPod Touch’s will soon be able to keep track of their merit badges on their devices. According to

    Beginning in early 2011, Boy Scouts will be able to manage their merit badges with an interactive application for the Apple iPhone. The application which will be available for $1.99 through the iTunes Store, will let Scouts review merit badge requirements, keep track of their progress by requirement, and even share their success on Facebook.

    I can see good points and bad points about this. It may be good for the boys to have a “tech” way to keep track of advancement other than carrying around a handbook which never seems to be very handy. It might not be so good because many troops have a “no phones or electronic devices on outings” policy. This could create some conflicts.

    It will be interesting to see if this will become a popular download for the boys. I also wonder if they will be creating an app for Android based devices.

    Read the whole news story at .

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      The Swimming Skill Award of the 1970’s and 1980’s is another one of the awards in which the requirements were taken and used in the current ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. This skill award was not a mandatory award needed to earn the First Class rank back then. However, there was a swimming requirement for the rank of First Class which is similar to the current beginners swim test under the Safe Swim Defense.

      The requirements of the Swimming Skill Award were:

      1) a. Tell what must be done for a safe swim with your patrol, troop, family, or other group.
      b. Tell the reasons for the buddy system.

      2) Jump feet first into water over your head. Swim 100 m (or 100 yd) with at least one change of direction. For the first 75 m (or yd) use any stroke. For the last 25 m (or yd) use the elementary backstroke. Right after the swim, stay in the water and float for a minute with as little moment as possible.

      3) Water rescues:
      a. Show reaching.
      b. Show throwing.
      c. Describe going with support.

      4) Show rescue breathing.

      And this concludes this series of posts about the Boy Scouts of America’s skill award program. I hope you enjoyed it.

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        Earlier this year I was posting the requirements for the old BSA Skill Awards. I recently remembered that I have only posted about ten of the twelve awards. So, I thought I better get the last two posted so that all twelve are listed.

        The Physical Fitness Skill Award was not a required award to earn the Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class ranks during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was one that could be used as an optional. Eight skills awards were needed to earn the First Class Rank, five of which were required (Citizenship, Hiking, First Aid, Camping, and Cooking.) The requirements for the Physical Fitness Skill Awards have become various requirements in the current Boy Scout ranks from Tenderfoot to First Class.

        The requirements of this skill award were:

        1) a. Show that within the past year you have had a health examination by a doctor licensed to practice medicine. If the doctor told you some things to do, tell what you are doing about one of them.
        b. Show that you have had a dental examination within the past year.

        2) a. Record your best in the following tests:
        push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, standing long jump, run-walk.
        b. Set goals to do better.
        c. Keep a record of how you are doing for 30 days.

        3) a. List the four groups of basic foods needed in the daily diet of a boy your age.
        b. Tell how this diet helps your body.

        4) a. Satisfy your adult leader that you have good daily health habits.
        b. Tell how the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can hurt your health.

        I find it interesting how these fitness requirements were optional a few decades ago but are now a mandatory part of every Boy Scout’s advancement program.

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          I will never forget the Hiking Skill Award. “Why?” you ask. Because back in the 1980’s, while on an overnighter at a local state park, I decided to take the troop on a five mile hike to complete a requirement for this skill award. And we got lost. The five mile hike turned into an eight mile hike. Luckily, we found someone to drive us back to our campsite. It was not a high point for a young scoutmaster. I guess you could say I learned a few things myself from that particular hike.

          The requirements for the Hiking Skill Award were:

          1) Tell how to take a safe hike:
          a. Cross country, day and night.
          b. Along a highway, day and night.

          2) a. Tell how to keep from getting lost.
          b. Tell what to do if you are lost.

          3) a. On a map, point out 10 different symbols, including contour lines. Tell what they represent.
          b. Orient a map.
          c. Point out on a map where you are.

          4) a. Show how a compass works.
          b. Give its eight principle points.

          5) a. Show how to use a compass and a map together.
          b. Using a compass and a map together, follow a route you marked on the map far enough to show you know how.

          6) Take a hike in the field.
          a. Before leaving, have your plan approved by your leader, including purpose, route, and clothing.
          b. Take a five mile hike with your troop, patrol, or two or more other Scouts. Wear the right clothing. Take the right equipment. Follow good hike rules.

          7) Take a hike in your town.
          a. Before leaving, have your plan approved by your leader, including purpose, route, and clothing.
          b. Take a five mile hike in a place of interest outside your neighborhood with your troop, patrol, an adult, or two or more other Scouts. Wear the right clothing. Take the right equipment. Follow good hike rules.
          c. After you get back, tell what you did and learned.

          (There was alternative requirements for Scouts who used a wheelchair or crutches.)

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            The First Aid Skill Award was required for the Second Class Rank back in the 1970’s through the 1980’s, which meant that most Boy Scouts earned this belt loop. It covered basic first aid skills. Many of these requirements ended up somewhere in the new rank requirements of 1989. The First Aid Skill Award requirements were:

            1) a. Explain what first aid is. Tell how to act in case of an accident.
            b. The dangers of moving a badly injured person.
            c. Tell the best way to get medical help quickly. Show that you keep the names, addresses, and phone numbers for mediacl help were you can find them quickly.

            2) a. Show how to treat shock.
            b. Show what to do for “hurry cases” of serious bleeding, stopped breathing, interna; poisoning, heart attack.

            3) Show first aid for the following cases: burns and scalds, blisters on feet, bites or stings of insects, chiggers, ticks,  bites of snakes and mammals, skin poisoning, sprained ankle, object in eye, nosebleed.

            4) Explain first aid for puncture wounds from splinter, nails, or fishhook.

            5) Use a bandage to hold a dressing in place on the head, hand, knee, and foot.

            6) Make an arm sling.

            7) Tell the five most common signs of a heart attack. Tell what action you should take.

            By the way, depending on when you earned the skill award, you may have gotten a belt loop with a red cross or a green cross.

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              Before there was a Family Life merit badge there was the Family Living Skill Award. This skill award was not required for any of the ranks but could be used as an optional for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class in the 1970’s through the 1980’s. Here are the requirements.

              1) Tell what is meant by family, duty to family, and family council.

              2) a. Make a chart listing the jobs you and family members have at home.
              b. Talk with your family about other jobs you may take on for the next two months.

              3) Show that you can look after yourself your family, and home. Do four of these:
              a. Inspect your home and grounds. List any danger or lack of security seen. Tell how you corrected one.
              b. Explain why garbage and trash must be disposed of properly.
              c. Look after younger children for three hours. Use good health and safety practices.
              d. List some things for which your family spends money. Tell how you can help your family in money matters.
              e. Tell about what your family does for fun. Make a list of fun things your family might do at little cost. Do one of these with a member of your family.
              f. Carry out a family energy saving fun.

              4) Explain how you can get help quickly for these problems: medical, police, fire, utility, housing, serious family problem. Post a list of these directions in your home.

              I find it interesting that even back in 1972, the year the skill awards where introduced to the Boy Scout advancement program, that energy conservation was a part of the program. Requirement number 4 would be pretty easy now. Just call 911 for most of those problems listed.

              Only four skill awards are left First Aid, Hiking, Physical Fitness, and Swimming). Are you enjoying this review of the belt loops, or would you rather I move on to other things?

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                Merit BadgesDuring the last seven months we have seen three new merit badges introduced to the Boy Scout merit badge program (Scuba Diving, Geocaching, and Scouting Heritage). We have also seen the return of four merit badges for this year only (Signaling, Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry). But did you know that the BSA is not done yet? Two more merit badges should be introduced this year, the Inventing and the Robotics merit badges. Yes, that is right, two merit badges for the tech savvy Boy Scout.

                According to the Lake Huron Area Council’s Website:

                These badges are being introduced because they received positive feedback in a youth interest survey.  If five new merit badges seems like a lot, it is. By comparison, the BSA introduced just six new merit badges between 1992 (Collections) and 2006 (Composite Materials).  But the new badges aren’t the only innovation. In the past it took three years to create a merit badge. Now, that time has been cut to just less than a year, helping to keep the badge topics and content fresher than ever.

                Sounds the like BSA has stepped up their game a bit, don’t you agree? What do you think about all these new merit badges in such a short time period?

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