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Scouting Forums

Leadership Positions for Scouts

If a scout does not fulfill their obligations in a leadership position, do we just switch Approved to no/off? If so, what does that do in the system and with advancement?

Whether a position is approved or not in Scoutbook has no bearing on whether the requirement is actually completed. Scoutbook will not mark the requirement complete automatically - it is still up to the unit leader or other designated adult to decide if the requirement was met and mark it completed.

If you also want to mark the position as unapproved as a reminder, you can do that, but it will not impact anything else in the system. You can also add notes to the position.

Before you do anything, I would recommend reading the BSA Guide to Advancement section Positions of Responsibility

Particularly: Meeting Unit Expectations Meeting the Requirement in the Absence of Unit Expectations. When Responsibilities Are Not Met.
“Only in rare cases—if ever—should troop leaders inform a Scout that time, once served, will not count.”

In addition to @JenniferOlinger ‘s references, it is completely unfair to wait until the end of the term to tell a scout their time didn’t count. If removing them, do it. Don’t wait until their time is up.

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To clarify, during nominations our scouts read a sheet that explains the position and the minimum required to fulfill the obligation of that position. By signing the nomination sheet, they are agreeing that they read the page and agree. We remind them part way through their tenure and again a month before elections to give them a chance to do something that counts. They have until the last day of their tenure to fulfill the requirements.

The BSA Guide to Advancement says: Positions of Responsibility Meeting Unit Expectations.
If a unit has established expectations for positions of responsibility, and if, within reason (see the note under “Rank Requirements Overview,”, based on the Scout’s personal skill set, these expectations have been met, the Scout has fulfilled the requirement. When a Scout assumes a position, something related to the desired results must happen. It is a disservice to the Scout and to the unit to reward work that has not been done. Holding a position and doing nothing, producing no results, is unacceptable. Some degree of responsibility must be practiced, taken, or accepted. When Responsibilities Are Not Met.
If a unit has clearly established expectations for position(s) held, then—within reason—a Scout must meet them through the prescribed time. If a Scout is not meeting expectations, then this must be communicated early. Unit leadership may work toward a constructive result by asking the Scout what he or she thinks should have been accomplished in that time. What is the Scout’s concept of the position? What does the Scout think the troop leaders—youth and adult—expect? What has the Scout done well? What needs improvement? Often this questioning approach can lead a young person to the decision to measure up. The Scout will tell the leaders how much of the service time should be recorded and what he or she will change to better meet expectations.

If it becomes clear that the Scout’s performance will not improve, then it is acceptable to remove the Scout from the position. It is the unit leader’s responsibility to address these situations promptly. Every effort should have been made while the Scout was in the position to ensure the Scout understood expectations and was regularly supported toward reasonably acceptable performance. It is unfair and inappropriate—after six months, for example—to surprise someone who thinks his or her performance has been fine with news that the performance is now considered unsatisfactory. In this case, the Scout must be given credit for the time.

Only in rare cases—if ever—should troop leaders inform a Scout that time, once served, will not count.

If a Scout believes the duties of the position have been performed satisfactorily but the unit leader disagrees, then the possibility that expectations are unreasonable or were not clearly conveyed to the youth should be considered. If after discussions between the Scout and the unit leader— and perhaps the parents or guardians—the Scout believes the expectations are unreasonable, then upon completing the remaining requirements, the Scout must be granted a board of review. If the Scout is an Eagle candidate, then he or she may request a board of review under disputed circumstances (see “Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances,”

To me, reminding Scouts is not the same thing as coaching / mentoring them. Is the Scout being coached / mentored along the way (as described in )? If the Scout is not meeting expectations, then was this fact communicated early on to the Scout?

“When a Scout assumes a position of responsibility, something related to the desired results must happen,” but this does not mean perfection. “A unit is allowed, of course, to establish expectations acceptable to its chartered organization and unit committee. But for advancement purposes, Scouts must not be held to those which are so demanding as to be impractical for today’s youth (and families) to achieve.”

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Although well-intentioned, most boots-on-the-ground scouters find the presumption that one hasn’t read the the appropriate section in the GTA to be insulting.
The question is not about if and how a scout should be relieved of a PoR. It is about how to make a decent record of a scout’s time in a PoR in when it has been decided that he/she should be relieved of a responsibility.

I too have issues with the modern “contract culture.” But, just look at the handbook and we can hardly judge a scouter for creating a paper-chase around the leadership development and patrol methods.

That was not my intent. I am sorry if it came across that way. I have no idea what the original poster’s knowledge of the Guide to Advancement (GTA) is. Other people reading this thread might not know that the GTA even exists.

If a Scout is in a POR for X months, but hasn’t done anything at all, then was the Scout coached / mentored? Was this communicated early to the Scout? Does the Scout have other obligations that might be interfering? Are the unit’s expectations reasonable? We don’t really know what is going on in this situation because we are not there, so all we can do is point people to some official guidance that might help to decide what to do.


Those are all good questions to ask. And you’re absolutely right that a scout having done nothing reflects poorly on the troop, most days.
We try to have our SPL touch base with each youth who holds a PoR monthly. (We also try to keep adult announcements to a minimum so scouts have time to fulfill their PoRs during meetings. :blush: ) So, we all have gotten into the routine of telling the occasional scout who isn’t fulfilling that position – even after coaching – to take a break from that one and come back in a couple of weeks with what they’d rather do for the troop. We stay positive, it works.

So, that’s handled. What’s new is figuring out what to put down in ScoutBook, and how to put it down!

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I’ve been thinking about this question, more than the meta-question of whether or not to credit the scout, since that’s in the hands of the unit leader anyway. I suspect the way I would handle it, assuming that the scout had been adequately counseled and mentored along the way would be to leave the PoR in the record online, and add a note explaining why it wasn’t being counted for advancement purposes. I’d probably be pretty detailed, because it would take a fair amount to convince me not to endorse a scout for having completed the requirement. I would probably also add a comment to the PoR requirement at the appropriate rank explaining why that service had not been acceptable. I think that there has to be a record that the scout served the time in the position, that the service was unsatisfactory in some way, and details about what wasn’t adequate about it. Otherwise, it’s as if the position never occurred, and that’s not right, either.

What about when the Scout fulfills some of the unit’s expectations for the duties and responsibilities of the POR, but not all of them? Would it be fair to the Scout who did X out of Y things on the unit’s list (but not all of them) that the time served in the POR does not count? Should the Scout get zero, partial, or full credit for the term of office? This is where things fall into judgement calls by the Scoutmaster / unit leader.

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I don’t know. I’m worried about TMI syndrome.
I respect the details, but I know that when I’m too verbose, I have to check myself because I see that look of discouragement in a scout’s eyes. How much worse if he/she sees all that written down in SB?

I think the note(s) should be something like:

  • Appointed to Bugler July 1, 2019.

  • Relieved from Bugler October 1, 2019.

  • Assigned service project December 1, 2019.

  • Completed service project January 15, 2019.

etc …

No further explanation necessary.

Yeah, there’s merit to that perspective. I would still want the detailed explanation of why recorded somewhere in the unit’s records if there is a challenge down the road. The unit should be able to clearly explain its decisions, even if the SM at the time is no longer involved for whatever reason.

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Even if the SM’s available, I’d rather just ask the scout, “So, what did you do as the troop’s bugler from July through September of 2019?”

I don’t know how, but we need to get away from litigating our way through advancement. We can worry so much about the ne’r-do-well who “sneaks through” that we miss enjoying other scouts pleasantly reflecting on the ups and downs of their careers.


Litigating advancement is an all-around thing, in my experience. Some parents get pushy when their scout doesn’t get credit for something they thought the scout did. The leaders get defensive trying to explain in the face of someone coming after them about it, and if it’s not immediate feedback, nobody (often including the scout) really remembers what happened if nobody documented it.

I’m not worried about scouts “sneaking-through”, per se. I’m mostly worried about applying a consistently fair standard for what I expect from the scouts to meet a requirement, and the scouts bweing able to rely on consistent application of that standard. If Micah the Super ScoutTM does 10x the work required to meet the minimum, that’s awesome! If PeeWee Harris just barely meets the standard, what can we do to make it a more successful run the next time, either for the next person in the job (expectations were too high), or for the next job held by this scout (scout needs a clearer explanation of expectations).

If a scout doesn’t meet the expectations, were the expectations too high, the effort too low, or were there extenuating circumstances of some sort? Was there adequate feedback along-the-way so the scout could course-correct?

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It’s a great reminder that scouts start out in different places and you hope they grow from their POR.


@CharleyHamilton - I have to admit that on the last campout that PeeWee took charge of the operation while SuperScout had a migraine and went to bed early.


This is incredibly easy. We make the time and use the engird to have the relationship where we can encourage Pee Wee. In the end, if Pee Wee gets by with the minimum that is Pee Wee’s problem not yours.

If parents are in the middle, then ensure that you have explained to them and their youth what the program is.

This happens with an incredible regularity in the scouting program. That moment when the super star is not up for the action and the least expected scout shines through and through.

I think this is why I file PoR’s under “Patrol” more often than I do under “Leadership Development” method. I mean, you hope that a scout who has one PoR does it better over time. But, the immediate need is for the troop to support its patrols with well-maintained resources, appropriate literature, and training. In other words: there’s a job to do, and somebody’s gotta do it at least a little – the sooner the better. A scout perceives that everyone’s okay with the bare minimum, and settles in to that level of performance.

On the other hand, you don’t expect a scout to be all that good at rallying other scouts to some noble cause (be that cause a wholesome patrol breakfast or large community dinner or restoration of a field for wildlife browsing). But, you do expect him/her to be better at moving scouts and others to action after each attempt. It’s just a matter of getting the scout to try getting his/her buddies into something, then something else, etc … and those things might have no relation to his/her PoR.

I think this explains the “Pee Wee” effect. The under-performing scout is usually just not putting time into the job. Sometime, somehow, Pee Wee decides that he/she will clock in the same time that Super Scout does. It could be through obviously stepping up to the plate in his/her PoR, or it could be through watching buddies at camp then at home practicing one cool thing that they do. For Mom’s sake, I hope it’s something like straightening his bunk in the morning. But, it could be simple mental preparation for the day ahead (maybe because he heard his patrol leader talking about a day’s plans). He does that one thing in our absence, we don’t see it. Then suddenly we’re in the middle of camp expecting nothing as usual, and snap! The scout stirs his/her buddies and ups and gets it done!

I live for those surprises.