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Advancement, Awards, and Recognitions

Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank in the Scouting program. Advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. Everything done to advance and earn these ranks, from joining until leaving the program, is to help youth have an educational, fun, exciting, and meaningful Scouting experience.

A fundamental principle of advancement in Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scouting is the growth a young person achieves as a result of his/her participation in unit program.

This is the link to the National BSA overview of Advancement and Awards.  PDF copies of commonly used documents and forms are contained at the bottom of this webpage

National BSA Advancement and Awards, including resources and formsExternal Link

Eagle Scout Project Workbook (requires Adobe PDF reader ver. 9 or newer)External Link

Note that you must save the file to your computer, and then open it from within Adobe Reader software.

Scouting at Home - BSA policies during Coronavirus outbreak (note that some are superseded by California State Health Order)

In-Person Unit Activities

Q: Should we hold in-person Scouting meetings, outings, or activities?

With safety in mind and based on guidance from national health officials, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is strongly advising that in-person meetings, activities, events and gatherings of 10 or more people be suspended through the end of March. This applies to youth and adults out of an abundance of caution. Please also follow any restrictions outlined by your state and local health department or other local officials. 

Q: What do we do about Scouts’ fundraising activities? 

The BSA is strongly advising that in-person activities be suspended through the end of March so any in-person fundraising should be postponed. If fundraising activities can be facilitated using digital methods while still adhering to applicable rules, then those activities may continue. For plans beyond that date, the BSA will continue to monitor the guidance as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic evolves and will further update guidance accordingly.

Q: What is BSA’s policy on social distancing in a tenting environment when camping?

With safety in mind and based on guidance from national health officials, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is strongly advising that in-person meetings, activities, events and gatherings of 10 or more people be suspended through the end of March. This applies to youth and adults out of an abundance of caution. Please also follow any restrictions outlined by your state and local health department or other state and local authorities. 

Beyond this timeframe, tent buddies should not participate if ill. There is no formal policy on social distancing in tents, just as there is no prohibition on tenting alone if logistics can accommodate that request.


Q: How can advancement be tracked remotely?

Scouting units should use ScoutbookExternal Link to record and track advancement.

To track advancement remotely, parents should:

  • Connect with their child’s member profile via an invitation that the unit leader sends within ScoutbookExternal Link. You may also connect to your youth via the Scouting app “Add a Parent connection.”
  • Once a connection is made, the parent should use the Scouting app, found in both the App StoreExternal Link and on Google PlayExternal Link, to stay connected with their unit.
  • The Scouting app provides parents the ability to report any advancement that was completed at home.

Learn more about how to start using Scoutbook and how to connect parents to their Scouts at Scoutbook.comExternal Link.

Advancement — Cub Scouts

Q: May parents sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements?

Yes. Through July 31, 2020, parents and other adults in the Cub Scout’s family, may sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements. We strongly encourage that parents use the Scouting App or ScoutBook to record completion of their child’s requirements.

Q: If my den is behind in advancement due to COVID-19, can my Cub Scout continue to work on advancement through the summer?

Yes. Cub Scouts can continue to work on their current den’s advancement through July 31, 2020.  This is to provide any additional time a Cub Scout needs to complete their badge of rank; if they earn their badge of rank prior to July 31, 2020, they may advance to the next rank.

Advancement — Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts

Q: May merit badge requirements or rank requirements be modified?

No. All requirements must be completed as written. If meetings or activities are canceled or limited, youth should continue to work on requirements as far as possible. By employing common sense and creative solutions, many requirements–even Scoutmaster conferences–can be fulfilled through videoconferencing or telephone calls.

Q: Can merit badge counseling or Nova/Supernova counseling be done using digital technologies like Zoom or WebEx?

Yes, registered merit badge counselors or Nova counselors/Supernova mentors may work with youth using digital platforms, ensuring that all youth protection measures noted in the Guide to Safe ScoutingExternal Link and BSA’s social media guidelinesExternal Link are in place. In addition to youth protection, the advancement guidelines in Guide to Advancement (GTA) Section 7External Link are required.

Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward active participation requirements?

 Yes. If youth are registered and in good standing, a disruption from COVID-19 virus can be the “noteworthy circumstance” that prevents participation. This policy has been in place for many years and is explained in GTA Topic Link.

Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward position of responsibility requirements?

Yes. If youth are registered and unable to meet the expectations of their positions because of COVID-19 disruptions, then units may need to waive or rethink the expectations. Just as youth must not be held to unestablished expectations, they must not be held to expectations that are impossible to fulfill. See GTA Topic, “Positions of Responsibility,”External Link with its six subtopics.

Q: Does the National Council grant extensions of time to complete rank requirements beyond the 18thbirthday for the Eagle or 21st birthday for Summit or Quartermaster?

Yes, but only for the Eagle Scout rank as described in GTA Topic Link or for Venturing Summit or Sea Scout Quartermaster as described in GTA Topic Link. Unit leadership must become familiar with the five tests under Link. The tests were designed to accommodate such obstacles as those presented by COVID-19 disruptions.

Q: Will youth who are not yet Life Scouts be allowed to apply for an extension to earn the Eagle Scout rank?

Extensions are considered only for Scouts who are Life rank. If, once a Scout achieves Life rank, it turns out that COVID-19 disruptions along the way have left them with insufficient time to complete Eagle requirements, then this may be cited when the time comes to submit an extension request.

Q: May local councils grant extensions?

Normally, that is not allowed.

However, due to the current situation—effective immediately and through September 30, 2020—councils may grant time extensions with approval by the Council Advancement Committee to grant extensions under the following limitations:

  1. It can be established that COVID-19 disruptions were the only circumstances that delayed work on Eagle Scout/Summit/Quartermaster advancement requirements, such as the service project or merit badges. If any other causes were involved, the extension request must go to the National Council following the process outlined in the GTA.
  2. Extensions shall only be granted to youth in Scouts BSA who have already achieved Life rank.
  3. When the council receives a COVID-19-related request for a time extension, the council reviews the request and approves it if appropriate. A written response stating the outcome of the extension request must go to the youth. If approved, the notification must be attached to the youth’s Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster rank application. For Eagle, the extension must not exceed 3 months from the youth’s 18th birthday; for Summit/Quartermaster, the extension must not exceed 3 months from the youth’s 21st
  4. Upon turning 18, the Scout must submit a completed adult application and successfully complete YPT; their participant code will now be UP for SBSA or VP for Venturing and Sea Scouting.
  5. Extension requests for more than 3 months beyond the youth’s 18th/21st birthday must be sent to the National Service Center following the process outlined in the GTA.

Note: A “month” in BSA advancement is defined as a day from one month to the next. For example, March 5 to April 5.

The authority for councils to grant extensions is temporary, lasting only through Sept. 30, 2020.

Q: If youth have already received an extension, can they request additional time due to COVID-19?

Yes. The REC-BSA Council Advancement Committee to grant extensions under the limitations listed above.

Q: What should be done while an extension request is being considered?

Youth should continue to work on advancement in so far as they are able—e.g., independently, or over the phone or videoconference—and at Scouting activities once they resume.

Q: Are extensions required when an Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster board of review must be delayed?

No. Councils may grant Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster boards of review up to six months after the youth’s 18th/21st birthday. See GTA Topic, “Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th BirthdayExternal Link.”

See also, GTA Topic, “Boards of Review Through VideoconferencingExternal Link.”

Q: Are electronic or digital signatures acceptable for rank advancement or for the Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster packets/applications?
Yes. Electronic or digital signatures will be accepted through September 30, 2020.

Q: How can a youth continue to work on advancement requirements if they don’t have internet or high-speed internet for videoconferencing?
Youth may take a picture of their completed activity/requirement and share the work with unit leaders. In keeping with Youth Protection Training policies, all communications from youth should be sent to at least two adults. Parents or guardians may send advancement work on behalf of their child.


External Link

Religious Emblems Programs

From the BSA Scout Law -- A Scout is Reverent. He/she is reverent toward God, faithful in his/her religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.

To encourage members to grow stronger in their faith, many religious groups have developed denominational recognitions for youth and adults collectively known as religious emblems programs.External Link  Some of these religious groups have the program pamphlets directly available in their congregation, ward, or diocesan offices, and a handful of the pamphlets are also available through the BSA Supply Group.  A multi-faith non-profit called Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y)External Link maintains an excellent website with details about these programs, and also handles the pamphlets and awards for some of the national religious relationships committees.

Boy Scouts of America has approved the medals of these various religious groups to be worn on the official BSA uniform, but the awards are administered and handled by the various religious organizations.  The awards are not sold or obtained through BSA, but with and through the religious group that approves each specific award.

Scout SundayExternal Link / Scout SabbathExternal Link

The Boy Scouts of America designates the Sunday that falls on or before February 8 (Scouting Anniversary Day) as Scout SundayExternal Link and the Saturday on or following February 8 as Scout SabbathExternal Link to partner with religious organizations in celebrating faith and Scouting.  Occasionally, a local congregation may choose to hold this celebration on another date -- each religious group is free to choose a date suitable for the congregation.

Scout Sunday / Scout Sabbath is an opportunity for units to participate in the religious service of their chartered organization by attending services in uniform, conducting a flag ceremony, speaking about Scouting, presenting the new BSA unit charter, and/or formally thanking them for their support throughout the year.  Units might consider having a recruiting information table in the foyer or hospitality area.   This celebration may be a time to present religious emblem awards earned by Cub Scouts, Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts.

Religious Emblems CoordinatorExternal Link

Packs, troops, crews, and ships are encouraged to have a unit religious emblems coordinator -- a unit committee member helping Scouts and families become aware of religious emblems programs and stimulate each member's potential interest in working with his/her own faith group on such programs. 

This unit committee member is generally not a faith-specific awards counselor, but a promoter and encourager who helps families connect/re-connect with their own faith groups for participating in these faith-specific programs (awards counselors are actually appointed by the individual religious groups).

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