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How to suggest a BSA Scouts USA program modification?

I would really like to see a program change in Scouts BSA. I feel like the minimal service hours per rank really do not encourage scouts to continue to do a good turn and keep volunteering through their tenure in ranks.
I hate to say it but many scouts just do the service hours required per each rank and then stop. I would really like to see a program change that would say do “X” amount of hours during your program participation from scout rank to eagle rank. With the service hours not to include hours on their own eagle project. Maybe like 50 hours or 100 hours? I am sure that Nationals knows an average number of service hours scouts participate in to make this final number. I reason this many times in our current troop where scouts do their 4 hours of service and then nothing until then rank up. Then do their 6 hours and nothing, etc. I am a leader and my son had been stuck at 2nd class working on his swim ability to pass the swim test to rank up to first class. He has gone above and beyond his hours for rank but unfortunately they don’t count toward his 1st class requirements as they were completed prior to attaining the rank. Sinutations like this cannot be unique to my troop and I am hoping that someone will know how to send this up the chain to work on a change.

As a troop, we do 5 service projects a year. So, these are, just by volume, a frequent opportunity for Scouts. Many Scouts in the troop end up having 6-10 hours a year even though most isn’t “used” for advancement. As Scouts, who Do A Good Turn Daily, it’s just what we do.


I’ve always felt that mission for scouts was to learn leadership. Working on service projects at that amount just makes scouting feel more like work than a fun learning experience. If you find exciting projects that kids would like to do, then the kids will come and help. Putting scouts in positions of responsibility does more to teach them to be better leaders than making them do grunt work.

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always like what SM Clark Green said.

in case you don’t want to click on the link:
Where Scout Leadership Begins
October 16, 2017 By Clarke Green (https://scoutmastercg.com/author/clarke-green/)
“Can you define Scout leadership without using the words “lead”, “leader”, or “leadership”?
The Scout oath and law does a great job of defining leadership without any of those words.
Look at the simple promise “to help other people at all times”.
That’s where Scout leadership begins: helping other people at all times, by serving others and making things happen.
Once you see the oath and law as a definition of leadership, things start to open up.”

from the Guide to Advancement:
“Success is achieved when we fulfill the BSA Mission Statement and when we accomplish the aims of Scouting: character development, citizenship training, leadership, and mental and physical fitness. We know we are on the right track when we see youth accepting responsibility, demonstrating self-reliance, and caring for themselves and others; when they learn to weave Scouting ideals into their lives; and when we can see they will be positive contributors to our American society.”

I would not be in favor of that. My personal opinion is that scouts should contribute service hours because they are scouts, not because it is required. There are always kids who will do the minimum, but if a unit is service oriented, that in my opinion is the better way to encourage service. Also, keep in mind that for high school age kids a lot of service time is already required outside of scouting. Some schools have requirements, some awards do, some AP courses. It could become overwhelming. Scouting should try to stay fun. Having a requirement of 100 hours is not fun.


Agreed! My son is a Life Scout, and the average number of service hours for scouts with similar tenure in his Troop is north of 70 per Scout.

If you want to make service a priority for your child’s unit, there’s no barrier to that, @LeneWalters. There’s nothing that prevents your committee from setting a goal for service projects for the Troop, as long as you don’t use that as a hammer to prevent kids from advancing.


And, see, I would like a program change that no longer counts service hours for rank advancement. I find utter loathsome the bean counting, along with announcements that solicit Scout’s participation by declaring “this counts for service hours.”


It is a double edge sword. I am happy that most of the Scouts in our troop have no issue hitting any advancement total. The service projects are really just part of “what we do”.


I tend to agree with you, @Qwazse. My opinion is that we as scouts and scouters are recommitting to service every time we recite the scout oath: “…to help other people at all times…” The oath and law aren’t just something we say. It is the better person we are promising to be every day. If we as an organization require service, is it really still a voluntary commitment on the part of our youth and adults to do what is right, or is it something done for a reward?


@Qwazse - I agree with your principle. When I was a Scoutmaster, I don’t recall we ever announced that something counted for service hours, The Scouts who advanced in rank easily met the minimum number required. Those who were looking to reach the minimum typically didn’t stay very long.

I thin the requirement to demonstrate leadership includes meaningful participation in the troop’s service projects, and a solid troop should have a few of those each year. That would make the bean couning unnecessary.

The trouble is that not every troop is a solid troop. So, if the reason the hour requirements exist is to set a bare minimum benchmark, then I understand why it’s there. If a Scout fails or struggles to meet it, this indicates a problem with the troop’s program, the Scout’s own Scout Spirit or both.

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I think if a unit is actively making service projects part of their normal routine the hours will take care of themselves is the Scouts is actively participating in a unit that does a lot of service projects throughout the year.

I understand @Qwazse comment on bean counting but there has to be some minimal standard. I had rather have an quota on service hours than a dollar amount of popcorn to sell. HA HA


Minimal standard: Do a good turn daily!


Whitewashing Fences IS fun!

If the game is being presented and run properly service opportunities get jumped at for the personal challenge and group fun involved. When I was a Youth in the program OA and senior Scouts always had the best stories and most fun experiences doing service project work.

Keep it fun, and the program works as it should.

At this point I will make 2 comments.

  1. During COVID times the requirement to pass the swim test for second class has been amended, so you could defer the requirement and allow your son to move on through the rank.

  2. While I agree the service hours does seem low, there are additional service hour requirements in Merit badges required for Eagle - Citizenship in the Community requires 8 hours.

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Actually, this appears to be a misunderstanding of the requirements. The requirements state:

Participate in three hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. The project(s) must not be the same service project(s) used for Tenderfoot requirement 7b and Second Class requirement 8e.

The requirement does not say “since attaining Second Class”, simply that it can’t be the same project or projects used to satisfy the Tenderfoot and Second Class requirements.


Looking at the JTE goals, the unit’s target is at least five service projects each year…

With that said, if you just make service part of your monthly Scouting routine, you’ll hit that goal, plus give your Scouts plenty of opportunities to provide cheerful service.


This is the perfect response. Many complain about measures like JTE. I find that when we target something like JTE or Scoutmaster’s Key, etc, it bakes into the program some great things. So, target all points for JTE and your troop will have MORE than gold at the end of the year. It is a virtuous cycle.


I agree 100%…

@SteveCagigas gets a gold star: