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Issue 537 – July 11, 2017

Bryan Wendell, BSA Senior Editor and author of the “BRYAN ON SCOUTING” blog site has just published major changes in the way Scouts earn Eagle Palms. The modifications, Bryan informs us, will take effect on August 1st this year. For a complete read—which I can’t emphasize enough!—go to:

Here are some of Bryan’s highlights…

(Background: Eagle Palms are presented to Scouts who earn merit badges beyond the 21 required for the Eagle Scout rank.)

The upcoming changes bring Eagle Palm requirements in better alignment with the needs of Scouts, particularly those who are approaching their 17th or 18th birthdays. The BSA National Scouting Subcommittee has eliminated several possible impediments to receiving recognition for continuing Scout learning.

The target start-date is August 1st. Beginning on that date, all earned Palms may be awarded instantly to new Eagle Scouts at their court of honor. Two other major revisions are eliminating Palm boards of review and broadening the definition of “active participation.”

Here’s a look at what’s changing…

A new Eagle Scout can instantly receive, along with his Eagle medal, all Palms he has earned for merit badges beyond the 21 for Eagle, completed before he became an Eagle Scout.

After becoming an Eagle Scout and receiving the Palms already earned, additional Palms may be earned by completing the revised requirements, including the three months tenure between awarding each Palm.

The 3-month tenure requirement has been expanded to allow active participation in any BSA program—not just in his the troop and patrol.

The leadership requirement has been broadened to include “accepting responsibility” as well as “demonstrating leadership.”

The Eagle Palm board of review has been removed, based on the fact that Palms aren’t ranks. A unit leader conference will be considered sufficient and may be conducted at any time during the 3-month tenure.

Thanks, Bryan, for your timely and outstanding depth of information!
Hi Andy,

Reading a couple of Scouting blogs today, about boards of review for Eagle Scout rank, I noticed something peculiar. The commentary (from a variety of authoritative sources) used the expression, “pass the board of review.” Doesn’t this suggest that, alternatively, a Scout can “fail” a board of review? Doesn’t this potentially mislead the reviewers themselves, by suggesting that they have the opportunity to “fail” a Scout at this (or any) board of review? What’s the story here? (Dylan Marshall)

Although the actual language used in both the SCOUT HANDBOOK and BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS (current and prior editions) states, “Successfully complete your board of review,” “pass” is often used as a sort of shorthand for this process. That’s where the possibility of a more draconian approach lies in wait for anyone who doesn’t take the time to read and understand that actual language used for the board of review process.

Merriam-Webster tells us that “pass” (in this context) means: “(a) to become approved by a…body empowered to sanction or reject; (b) to undergo an inspection [or] test…successfully.” Pretty implicit in these formal definitions is the possibility that one can indeed “fail to pass.”

But where the definition doesn’t fit the board of review process is in the dimension of “testing” or “examining.” That’s simply not the purpose of Scouting’s boards of review for any rank!

(I’m going to leave it up to you to do the reading necessary to discover the true purpose of such reviews—it’s all there in BSA literature on the subject, including the current GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT.)
Dear Andy,

I just became a Unit Commissioner, acquiring three Cub packs. All three are small and their programs struggle. All recently crossed over their second-year Webelos and don’t have a program that includes the new Webelos-required adventures and electives. Where is there a link that would show me the relation between activity badges and electives? Any help would be great! (Dean Marino)

First, get hold of the new handbooks, then check out the “Advancement” then “Cub Scouts” sections of our website. If, after these, two, you need more, contact your Cub Scout Leader Roundtable Commissioner—their “job” is to help you—face to face—with exactly these types of questions. Finally, be sure to bounce this off your fellow Commissioners at your next regularly-scheduled staff meeting.
Hi Andy,

I’ve been looking everywhere I can think of, and even emailed England, and still can’t find an answer… How tall was Baden-Powell? (Darlene Wiertzema)

I don’t have any “official” resource on this, but looking at photos of B-P with other contemporary men and women, he appears smallish (without being diminutive). Definitely under 6 feet, and if I were asked to guess, I’d say perhaps 5’8″ or thereabouts. I hope this is helpful. If I find anything better than my guess, I’ll let you know. (If one of my readers knows, please write to me and I’d be delighted to publish!)
Hi Andy,

My own sons and many other Scouts have raised funds to complete an Eagle project. In those cases, they’re raising money specifically to buy needed materials or supplies.

Then I read about a troop that held a fund-raiser for a non-Scouting entity, to purchase an item for them. Their intentions were pure, and they ultimately provided a great service to the residents of their town. Here’s the article (names changed, of course):

“An Anytown police dog will soon be sporting a bullet-and-stab-proof vest, thanks to “Nifty K-9s,” a Someothertown-based non-profit and the fund-raising efforts of Boy Scout Troop XX. Klaus, a German shepherd dog, will receive the vest… from Nifty K-9s. Mason Stone, a Scout in Troop XX of Anytown, hosted a fund-raiser so the troop could by the vest from Nifty K-9s.”

What sorts of BSA guidelines apply in this case? Doing an online search, I found applications and FAQs about raising funds for the unit, but nothing about raising money for outside organizations (even though this is okay for Eagle projects—even to the point of giving any excess funds to the beneficiary). (Bill Stuart)

The BSA is crystal-clear about securing donations for the benefit of a non-BSA organization: Nope.

The BSA Rules & Regulations regarding fund-raising—Article XI, Section 1, Clause 2—states that BSA youth members “shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors*…in support of other** organizations.” (* “solicitors” means fund-raisers) (** “other” means non-BSA)

This doesn’t limit Scouting families, separately from their contributions to Scouting via the council’s Friends of Scouting or other programs, to independently donate to “other organizations”—they can do so as their interests and finances permit. But their sons, as Scouts, absolutely don’t “raise money” for any organization other than their troop and their council (e.g., popcorn sales, etc.).

If a Scout wishes to donate his own personal money to an organization, he’s of course permitted to do this as he sees fit (e.g., his school’s band, football team, etc., or his place of worship, etc.), and he can participate in school-wide and church-wide fund-raisers, as a student or church member. But not as a Scout.
Hi Andy,

In the past, the BSA has raised awareness and funds for other organizations. I personally remember working on a service project for the Heart Fund. We went door-to-door passing out pamphlets and literature, but included in each information packet was an envelope for sending funds to the Heart Fund. I think I recall that we, as Scouts and Scouters, also raised funds for the Red Cross. I definitely remember that we passed out information for the Red Cross’s blood drives. Has there been a change of thoughts and policies on this sort of awareness-generation and fund-raising. (BTW, I’m definitely on-board with the BSA not raising money for themselves via donations.) (Eagle Scout ’70)

Okay, let’s hypothetically say you’re a regular church-goer. Let’s then say that, at the service, it’s announced from the pulpit that the offering for the morning will be given to an organization other than the church…in fact, an organization that has nothing whatsoever to do with the church and its mission. Are you okay with this, or are you expecting your offering to stay in direct support of the church you’re a member of, and treat donations to the “other” organization as optional to you, personally?

Anyway, Scouting units and Scouts do not request donations for Scouting or for any other organization, ever. If your troop or pack solicited funds for the Heart Fund, they were flat-out incorrect in doing so. The Heart Fund has its own ways of generating donations, and it’s definitely not by expecting members of another organization to do that for them—especially Scouts, which is itself a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

We don’t—at the unit, district, or individual Scout (or Cub) level—ever “ask for donations.” Yes, we can sell a product that has value to the buyer (e.g., popcorn, light bulbs, etc.), or we can provide a service of value in exchange for payment (e.g., community car washes), but BSA national regulations prohibit overt solicitation of donations outside the Scouting “family.”

As a follow-up, be sure to use a search engine for “BSA fundraising policies” and you’ll get a heck of a lot more than I can write here!

Happy Scouting, Folks –


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. 537 – 7/11/2017 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2017]


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.

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