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Awarding past year’s rank patch after the fact

I have a parent (also formerly the Tiger Den Leader) asking me if he can get the Tiger Rank patch now. My frustration is that when COVID shut everything down, families were given the option to continue working on advancement at home, online as a group or 1:1 with a leader or to just “stop” until we knew what we were going to do next. I sent multiple emails over the spring & summer of 2020 reminding parents that IF they wanted to earn the rank badge I needed to know by July 31st so that I could document it and get them for the first Pack meeting in the fall. I even sent individual emails to families with what they needed specifically for their scout. NO ONE responded other than my Arrow of Light scouts. (Lions and Bears were already finished).

We returned to Scouting-in person in September and have had 2 Pack meetings with awards since then - but he is just asking me now. He “thought” they had everying completed before COVID but if that was true they would have received the awards at our Blue & Gold which was the last event we had before we were shut down. Do I let him say “we completed it” and give all 4 boys the patch or do I hold firm with you needed to tell me by July 31??? I HONESTLY DON’T think they finished the requirements. They have 2 adventures NOT completed - one required and one elective - according to what is entered here in Scoutbook.

You could take it to your Pack Committee:

BSA Guide to Advancement “Do Your Best”
In the same spirit as “Do Your Best,” if a Cub Scout is close to earning a badge of rank when it is time to transition to a new den, the pack committee, in consultation with the den leader and the Cub Scout’s parent or guardian, may allow a few weeks to complete the badge before going on to the next rank. Earning it will give the youth added incentive to continue in Scouting and carry on and tackle the next rank.

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Honestly I wouldn’t put up a huge fight about it. It’s not worth telling 4 kids they don’t get their tiger rank. It’s definitely worth a conversation with the den leader about responding to communication but not worth discouraging tiger Cubs. It’s not their fault everything shut down. Honestly, you should have planned for everything to be done by the time of your blue and gold.


I agree it is a cub rank - let it go - best for pack


Have the boys bring their books with parents signatures. If everything is complete by mid July, award it. If not, encourage the boys (girls?) to hustle up and get that wolf badge this year.
Honesty is good for a pack.

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i think so this is the best solution for this. because honesty plays an important rule.


We elected to permit all scouts who did not advance by July 31 to work on advancement retroactively. Out of 19 continuing scouts in this condition, none have earned rank retroactively.


That is too bad. Ugh. :frowning:

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I don’t see why that’s “too bad”? The activities are no longer appropriate to the scouts‘ age. (Thank God that while this pandemic stopped the rest of us, the nation’s Tiger cubs kept growing!) It’s Wolf time for horse scouts!

It does make one ponder, however, how many scouts would never make Eagle if that age 18 deadline We’re extended indefinitely.

You obviously don’t see why that is too bad, but to me it means the program isn’t compelling to the cubs. No longer age appropriate? They are 1-3 months out of the age of Wolf or Bear. The fact that none are interested in finishing what they started is sad to me. They obviously don’t care, or they would have finished their rank.

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Let’s not forget the special education kids who are older but functioning at a lower grade level.

In my school district the new grade usually starts in the fall.

With COVID-19 restrictions there is an issue about how much grade level instruction kids are currently getting at home.

@Matt.Johnson, @Bill_W, the amazing thing is that a leader has 19 scouts engaging with the program at all. (Of course, the proof will be in who recharters.)

The scout with special needs doesn’t need one more patch, he/she needs his/her able-minded buddies to look in on him/her. With restrictions, that very act could take a successful den an entire week to pull off without spreading contagion, and not one requirement will be completed. But, some of the best scouting in the world would have happened.
Each scout (special needs or not) is different, and I suspect that grade level re-evaluations are going to impact a lot of them. But, in general if a den is a tight group of friends, it is healthier to close one chapter and open a new one.

A span of 1-3 months sounds trivial to us, but my pediatric psychology colleagues mark ages in months clear out to month 240. So, if your scouts are showing the expected desire to move on, help them do so!

In August - after the original July 31 COVID-19 extension date - the FAQ was updated to say that the den leader has discretion to allow advancement for the prior program year to continue indefinitely.

If doesn’t say that the rule that a Scout may work on two rank simultaneously is supplanted. So, if the den leader says the den (or a member of the den) is still working on Tiger even today, then the Scout is a Tiger and may not yet begin work on the Wolf rank. Nothing should be credited toward the Wolf rank until the Tiger rank is completed or the den leader decides that the opportunity to earn it is abandoned.

That’s how I understand the rule they posted. I have three Bears who become COVID-19 ghosts and didn’t complete their Bear rank. If they show up now, and their den leader (also a ghost) wants to finish that with them, my understanding is that as Cubmaster I need to support that choice. However, they cannot get credit for any Webelos rank requirements until Bear has been put behind them, one way or another.

All that being said, this is the Tiger rank, and we’re Cub Scout leaders, not the admissions board at West Point. So, we should consider the chaos the pandemic has caused in our society and proceed accordingly.

I notified parents in June as the school year was ending of the choice to get na extension until July 31, and I got not replies. I advanced them all in Scoutbook to the next rank. As long as they haven’t done anything, or they are willing to give up credit for anything they have done, for the next rank, I can always transfer them back to their old ranks.

If the den leader says the rank has been earned, please ask him or her to make the appropriate entries in Scoutbook, including those for the adventures. If they haven’t really completed the rank, they can finish it now. In the previous version of the COVID-19 FAQ, it said that doing nothing is never doing your best,


I have issues with the whole concept of the “do your best” philosophy for rank advancement. For me, it is a conflict with the ideals & goals of the scout oath & law. If a scout does 2 out of the required adventures and makes zero attempt to do the others, are they really “doing their best”? What if the scout/parent says they’re not going to attempt “Duty to God” adventure requirements because they are atheists (a subject for another thread)? It’s not fair to the scouts who are satisfying the requirements. It also does not prepare them for Scouts BSA, which does not have the “Do your best” advancement standard for rank or merit badges. Certainly, there’s lots of room for interpretation and each situation is different, but it is something I struggle with as a leader.

In this specific case, I would need more information about whether the kids “did their best” to complete the requirements? I care less about deadlines than I do about whether or not the scout made the effort. But, there does need to be a date cutoff at some point, its too much work for a Cub Scout to work on multiple ranks at the same time (with the possible exception of summertime when overlap makes more sense).

Brendon - I think Peter’s quote answers your 2 questions. In the end, though, for Cubs, the parent can decide as Akela if it was done.

I don’t think that’s your call as a Den Leader or Cubmaster, though. The GTA is explicit in stating that the Cubs’ parents are Akela while they’re at home, and can sign off on advancements, and you cannot say the Cub failed to do their best.

Each Scout is operating at their own developmental rate, so it’s unfair for you to compare individuals’ rates of progress. Duty to God, in particular, is a difficult subject, because it’s none of your business how a family decides to worship (or not worship).

On a final point, you have to remember these are Cub Scouts – they’re elementary students, not middle schoolers or high schoolers. That’s why the level of expectation is different. Also, it’s not a conflict with the Scout Law in any way (how is doing one’s best contrary to being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, etc…?) or Scout Oath (again, how is doing one’s best contrary to doing one’s duty and helping others?)

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Interesting point. Looking at https://www.scouting.org/coronavirus/covid-19-faq/ it says that parents may sign off on requirements. So, I guess in this user’s case, if the parent has in fact signed off on the requirements, the scout may obtain the rank. Your statement doesn’t necessarily answer my question. Take COVID out of the discussion. The scout makes no attempt to complete a specific required adventure because the scout missed a month’s worth of den meetings due to another commitment (perhaps a school sport or club or just laziness). The scout makes no effort to complete any of the requirements for the adventure on their own. Should the scout obtain rank? I would say no.

My understanding of scouting is that you are required to believe in something, how you worship is up to the scout. Again, this could be a whole new thread, so let’s not get hung up on it. If the parent simply says “my scout goes to church every week”, is that doing their best to meet adventure requirements? In the old cub scout curriculum that I grew up with in the 80s, yes. But now, there are multiple things each Cub Scout is supposed to be doing with regards to Duty to God adventures for each rank, so today I would say probably not.

Point taken. Obviously, if a scout is trying to meet the requirements, there is no issue. My den leader & I go the extra mile with every scout, including those that have fallen behind and our approach has meant every scout has completed rank requirements per the GTA (though it does mean extra work for us to catch everyone up). It sounds like the original poster did the same. The question for me arises when a scout has clearly not made the effort. For me, it feels dishonest for a scout to advance in rank when he/she has not been present for a portion of the year and made zero effort to attempt the necessary requirements in any way. They are elementary school students, but they’re savvy enough to ask why Johnny is getting the same rank when he didn’t do the same amount of work as Jimmy did even though Johnny did not make an attempt. Will Johnny then expect to automatically get to 1st class in Scouts BSA while skipping the work as they did in Cub Scouts? Will Jimmy want to do less, since he sees Johnny being rewarded for less effort? Is it helpful to the scout for them to simply get the rank badge without doing the work? Am I being trustworthy in supporting rank advancement or loyal to the scouting program if I know that the scout & parent are making zero effort to complete the requirement. Is a scout truly obedient if they are making zero effort to complete the requirements?

It is easy to lose track of the concept that the BSA advancement program is a METHOD of scouting, not the objective. The objective is to develop character, citizenship, and fitness in our scouts. So if a youth did not achieve a rank, but grew in character, citizenship, and/or fitness, the year in scouting was a success. You and the scout can move on to the next set of adventures with pride in your previous year’s accomplishments.


That’s not a new COVID issue; the GTA says the same thing in section…

It’s clear that, as far as the BSA is concerned, if a parent says “Jimmy did this” there’s not really room for the Den Leader to dispute that.

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True, although says that for Webelos/AOL adventures “the den leader signs for
approval of all requirements, unless the den leader delegates this responsibility”. The original poster said this is an issue with Tiger scouts though.

For our unit, the issue comes up because the parents are often clueless with regards to what the requirements actually are. The handbook is lost or never purchased due to a lack of funds. The parent is a single mom with multiple kids, too busy and has no interest in logging in to Scoutbook to review requirements. Our leaders get frustrated at the extra time it takes to get these kids over the hump with regards to rank advancement, but we do it because we know that typically, these are the kids that will ultimately benefit most from what scouting has to offer. Also, remember that leaders are under pressure to get kids to rank to satisfy JTE/Unit of Honor Requirements as well. If the overall Cub Scout curriculum were designed differently, perhaps rank advancement would not be as much of an issue.

@AlexanderHenderson hit the mark, it should be about goals of scouting, not necessarily whether or not the scout achieves the rank.