Author Avatar

Issue 501 – October 8, 2016

The rumors of my… Well, you know the rest. Been traveling out of state and out of the country for the past several weeks. Back in the saddle now, so here we go…

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your commitment to Scouting. I thoroughly enjoy reading your columns and the insights you share with all of us! With the end of 2016 nearing, this transition year for the new rank and merit badge requirements is closing as well, and I’m needing a little help finding some documentation to answer a couple of questions….

The troop my son belongs to has some “Life-for-life” Scouts (my son seems to be one of them). These Scouts were highly motivated as 11 and 12 year-olds, and moved through the ranks as fast as the tenure-in-rank limits allowed, and by the age of 13 they’d reached Life rank and there they’ve stayed. They’re now at or approaching 17 years old, and some will probably age out as Life Scouts—which is still a very respectable accomplishment—while maybe a few will motivate themselves to go for Eagle before they hit their 18th birthdays.

It’s just hearsay within our troop at this point, but apparently a couple of these Scouts were told that if they don’t complete their Eagle requirements before December 31st (and assuming they’re still under age 18) they’ll have to go back and complete this ranks using the new requirements. An additional implication was that they’d have to go back and meet the new requirements for Star and Life ranks as well, before they could complete the new Eagle requirements.

In reviewing the Guide to Advancement (Topic Once it is Earned, it’s Earned), I do understand that, for a merit badge, once the badge has been awarded it can’t be rescinded (even if it’s later determined that a mistake was made). Is there some place where there’s similar documentation for rank requirements? (Concerned Scouting Volunteer)

Good questions! Here’s what the BSA has to say about the rank requirement changes coming up (I used a search engine to find this and you can, too)…

Beginning 1/1/ 2017, new requirements must be used for all ranks earned.

Q. Is there a definitive deadline after which ranks cannot be earned using the current requirements?
A. Yes. That deadline is 12/31/ 2016. That is the last day to sign off requirements using the old requirements.

Q. Suppose a (Scout) is in the middle of a rank on 12/31/ 2016, and has to finish that rank using the new requirements. Will he need to “start over” and repeat all of the requirements for that rank?
A. No, not all—only new requirements and any new elements of (existing) requirements.

(More specifically:)
– If the wording of a completed rank requirement has not changed and that requirement was signed off on or prior to 12/31/2016, the approval should be transferred to the corresponding new requirements. For Tenderfoot through First Class ranks, this may include approvals that were previously listed in a different rank.
– When the rank in progress has new requirements (or new elements of requirements) that were not in a previously completed rank under the current (2015) requirements, those new requirements or elements will need to be completed in 2017 and beyond.

As you can see, your troop’s Life Scouts will not have to “go back” and complete requirements in 2017; they’ll move forward and compete (as the BSA states in the excerpt above) requirements that (a) are entirely new or (b) have a new element, and, in the case of (b), they only need to complete the new element; not the entire requirement.

In the larger picture, these now-or-approaching 17 year-old Scouts should definitely be encouraged and supported if being an Eagle Scout is something they’d like to accomplish before their 18th birthday. This is an admiral goal and is to be admired. (Keep in mind that completing all Eagle requirements before one’s 18th birthday is 100% OK! It fits inside the time permitted. The biggest difference between 13 year-old Eagles and 18 year-old Eagles is that the younger you are, the longer you can wear that oval Eagle Scout rank badge on your left pocket!) BOTH are and will always be Eagle Scouts!
Hello Andy!
Our troop has been sponsored for many years by a sub-organization of our local Roman Catholic parish—the local Knights of Columbus council—until about six months ago (when the Supreme Council Office of the Knights of Columbus reached a unilateral decision to cease sponsoring BSA units).

When our troop’s chartered partner was changed from the KofC local council to the church itself by our District Executive and the parish leadership, neither our troop’s committee members nor our Scoutmaster (a member of the parish, by the way) was included in any of the pursuant conversations and negotiations, specifically by this D.E. As it turns out, this D.E. apparently didn’t fully or perhaps accurately describe the relationship between the chartered organization and the Scouting unit itself, particularly in the area of who is responsible for what. Because she failed in this regard, and because the parish directly controls the finances (including the day-to-day checking accounts) of its own youth groups, we have just been told to close all of our bank accounts and turn all funds over to the parish, who will then supervise all funds (including writing all checks for transactions they, solely, approve).

No one associated with our troop—registered volunteer or Scout parent—has expressed even the slightest degree of comfort with this new arrangement—which is effectively being dictated to us, despite to fact that this was certainly not the case when we were chartered by the KofC council! But I’m not finding anything in BSA rules, regulations, or policies that specifically address this. Can you help? (Troop Committee Chair)

Since there was some “back-channel” stuff going on—excluding the troop leadership from new chartering conversations and negotiations by a semi-problematic D.E.—I think you folks need to have a conversation with your council’s attorney and chief financial officer right away. In the meanwhile, I definitely wouldn’t turn over any funds to anyone beyond your own troop committee and treasurer. (Such a demand strikes me as rather Draconian.)

I can tell you with absolute certainly that, as an active commissioner who has worked with a significant number of Scouting units sponsored by religious institutions (including several Roman Catholic parishes), none of these has ever any interest in managing the books and finances of the Scouting units they sponsored! That would make this current situation and anomaly, at least as far as I’m personally concerned. This is why I’m suggesting you speak with higher-level sources at the council.

Thank you very much, Andy! That’s the direction I was thinking of, although I’m getting some push-back along the line that I’m blowing this out of proportion. (CC)

While it’s correct that the chartered organization (CO for short) literally owns the unit and therefore all of the unit’s assets (including any funds in bank accounts), this doesn’t mean that the CO manages those accounts on a day-to-day basis. Here’s a BSA link you can check out:
Dear Andy,

Our District Advancement Chair who considers himself judge, jury, and district “cop”—effectively, a bully—and literally all of our district’s troops and Scoutmasters especially have continuing problems with him. Using myself as an example, I’ve been a registered troop-level volunteer as well as a registered Merit Badge Counselor for 12 years, yet this DAC has just told me, point blank but with no substantiation (even though I’ve requested specifics behind this “order”) that I cannot any longer work with Scouts on any aspect of rank advancement or merit badges. I’ve since spoken with our District Executive, who claims to be powerless over this edict. What do I do now? (Name & Council Withheld)

Go to “the top.” Speak directly with your council’s Scout Executive and the Council Program Chair (“Advancement” usually falls under the “Program” umbrella) and you may want to include the Council Advancement Chair as well—in fact, I’d recommend this. Gather several of your fellow Scoutmasters and Assistants together and set up an in-person meeting at your council’s service center. DON’T try to substitute email for this—This must be in-person!

When you present the situation, don’t use the word, “bully.” Instead, you all need to describe specific behaviors and actions, and avoid “labeling.” Then, ask for what you need: an immediate change in personnel.

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 501 – 10/8/2016 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2016]


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

Follow Andy

Subscribe via email or RSS and follow via social media.

Comments are closed.