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Should bad behavior be a factor at a Board of Review?

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is key phrases from Board of Review training documents. This is from 2006.

The Tenderfoot through First Class boards of review are ways of getting to know the Scout better, reviewing his progress in achievements, and discussing how he felt about the various steps he has taken on the Scouting trail, including his individual achievements. This should not be a time of retesting, but rather a time to reflect on the skills learned and how the Scout has absorbed the ideals of Scouting.

For Star and Life:

at these ages, the Scout will be able to change fundamentally much quicker than you would imagine and the board of review may be an occasion for you to reevaluate the candidate.

This shows the expectations of the BOR can change based on age. One size does not fit all.

Look at the pedagogical goal of First Class. Scout Spirit should show progression, not perfection.

I would say in this case, advancement is fair and deserved. But you set the standard that much more is expected to earn Star. Since Star requires waiting 4 months, that give you time to see growth, or not.

It’s not uncommon for an entire patrol to earn First Class all together in the first year and Star its scattered out across 1-2 years time, with younger Scouts earning before older Scouts. That comes from the differences in interest, ability and maturity level.

If you would ever hold a Scout to see growth, it’s the Star and Life ranks. If you don’t get their attention to change there you’ll never get it for Eagle, and you’ll have a hard time explaining why you accepted bad behavior for so many years.

I find the whole discussion about the BOR kind of strange. In light of @RobertaBrewer’s comments, I think the discussion should be about allowing this individual to remains in scouts or not. His actions were clear-cut examples of bullying.

As adult leaders, it’s our responsibility to create a safe environment for all scouts. That can’t happen if a bully continues bullying.

Scouting .org has a lot of information about how to deal with this issue. In this case, has all BSA’s guidelines been followed? For example, did the scout receive appropriate discipline? Has he been given opportunities to make amends to his targets? Have the targets received adequate follow-up intervention? Have any of the leaders sought training on how to discipline and provide support in situations involving bullying? Did the scout who was shoved have an actual disability? If so, was the incident reported to the scout executive?

To me there are much larger and more immediate issues than a BOR. While I can understand people’s desire to help a kid with behavioral problems, at a certain point, they have to do what’s best for the safety of the other kids.

Scoutuing . org page on Bullying Awareness:

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The current GTA is the resource. Other trainings from 15 years ago are a great reference, but if it differs from what the GTA is saying then we must go by what the GTA says.


@JohnGeiser - yes… contrary to my council and district the GtA is today rule… and @KevinCarlyle if you check scouting.org they confirm the lack of an AOL den.



Advancement and Boards of Review

In reply to:

What 15 year old training are you referring to? After reading back through several posts I assume you are referring to the “Board of Review Training”, instructor’s guide, 18-625WB.online, 2/2/2006, which @KevinCarlyle quotes from in post 42. I agree with you that this information is outdated. The current online “Advancement” overview course (as of 12/2/2021) refers students to two documents:

  • Scouts BSA Rank Requirements
  • Guide to Advancement

However, the internet links (URL) lists on the training course slide are obsolete.

Guide to Advancement 2021

GTA Section 8: “Boards of Review: An Overview for All Ranks” was one of the “most heavily updated” sections per:

How to react to and report misbehavour

There appears to be two topics in this discussion.

  • What should be considered and discussed in the Board of Review
  • Bullying Awareness
    • The behavior of a Scout in the Scouting BSA program and meeting and what should have done there is misbehavior if at the Board of Review meeting.

How the members of the board of review and all adult volunteers should react to misbehavior and bullying and when incidents of misbehavior need to be report information is included in the new online youth protection training (YPT) which was updated in 2021.

In general, the Guide to Safety Scouting takes precedence over the Guide to Advancement.

Version 8, 2021-12-02-J

@Bill_W I was not commenting on the bullying. I was commenting on the process of board of reviews. I don’t think it is appropriate for anybody on this forum to condemn this child as we were not present.

The adult leaders that are present and have YPT are more than capable of handling the situation without people from across the country interjecting uninformed conjecture. Additionally any YPT incident is required to be kept confidential and should not be shared on this forum at all.

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@RobertaBrewer - while I do appreciate the forums as a resource and a good sounding board for ideas and plans, your post however may not have found a good home here. I have to echo what @JohnGeiser has just posted… it is far to easy to judge with a lack of information,evidence and firsthand experience.

Is there a possible way to expunge this thread ?

In reference to

For adult volunteer leaders and parents I recommend taking the new youth protection training at the BSA Learn Center on the my Scouting Tools website.

@Stephen_Hornak , @RobertaBrewer

“ScoutmasterCG” is not a BSA authorative source and should be not be used. Ditto for old resources at “ScoutmasterCG”.

2021-12-08-B Corrected incomplete statement (caused by browser or forums editor.)

This is required for every registered adult leader every 2 years. It is likely that everybody on here has already taken it.

Hi Stephen,
As I explained, I was vague because I wanted a general answer and not one specifically to fit the situation we were in, simply because in my searching for an answer, I found nothing on this subject, and I really think it’s an important one to address. I know I am not the only one out there going through something like this. But I also went into more depth in a later post about the behavioral issues with the Scout in question, to give some background on our specific situation.

I wanted to express my thanks to all who gave their thoughts and opinions on this matter. I think the general consensus is that since the “pushing” incident happened after his SMC, the BOR really had no leg to stand on as far as not passing him. And whether we agree or not (trust me, some of our parents did NOT agree, and questioned the point of the BOR, and “passing” it, if it’s a “given” anyway), it is what we have to work with.

I wanted to share what the solution our COR and I (the Troop CC) came up with. The next day was a PLC for our Troop anyway, so we took the opportunity to talk to him and his guardian. We asked him to explain what happened from his POV, which was a very G-rated version of all the first hand accounts we had been told. We explained how his behavior on the trip and over the past year has been unacceptable, and that youth leadership and other adult leaders have had to speak to him many times about it. We asked him to explain what he thinks living the Scout Oath and Law in every day life means, and what it means to him, and then told him he needed to take the next week to really think about how his actions reflected on him, on our unit, and on Scouts in general, and we wanted to hear from him the next meeting on what he felt about his actions. We explained everything to his guardian as well and she gave us her full support. The next week the Scout surprised us all with a public apology to everyone for his actions on the trip. The COR and I talked to him afterwards, and felt he was remorseful, and agreed to do his BOR for 1st Class rank.

During the BOR, we did stress to him that his behavior would be under scrutiny by the SM, and that as he gets closer to earning Eagle, his actions really needed to start reflecting the honor of the rank. As I know more about his family/home life, and what he has gone through, I have a feeling there will be slip ups, but I also truly believe he WANTS to earn Eagle.


This is interesting, what do you do if the requirements in the follow up letter are met but your opinion is that the they are not met?

This is very concerning

“In a case where there is concern that the requirements for a rank as written have not been fulfilled, it is appropriate to advise the Scout that he or she might not pass the board and to make suggestions about what might be done to improve the chances for success.”

This is nebulous, especially “… what might be done to improve the chances for success”.

As leaders and mentors we need to have empathy for scouts. Imagine that you’re at work and going in for a periodic review tied to a raise, etc … and you got a nebulous response that included the above statement, easily half the people in this thread would ask for clarification on that point or simply start looking for a job with better management.

This isn’t task, purpose, and release. Any time we deny a scout due to something that we could have, or in this case should have mentored, are we denying the scout because they failed, or are we denying the scout because we failed?


GTA and specifically says a Scout may not pass a BoR. That’s not a retest, it’s an evaluation of what has been done. Slight but important difference.
At no time must a Scout pass a BoR. Hopefully they all do. But it’s not automatic.

I’ve quoted those GTA sections in a comment above.

Yes, but no. If the SM has already signed off on a requirement, it’s outside the scope of a BOR to re-test or re-evaluate.

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I think that this has always been a complex issue, in part (IMHO) because of the way the BSA has chosen to phrase the various rules. The Guide to Advancement explicitly says that once approved, we can’t retest the scout. To me, that seems to rule out the BoR stating that the scout did not comply with a requirement, if it was actually signed-off by someone approved by the unit leader to do so.

At the same time, it references “not completing requirements properly.”, which suggests that the BoR has a role to evaluate whether or not the person approving the requirements did so properly. That’s not necessarily an opportunity to second-guess the determination of the unit leader or their designee, but it might be an opportunity to verify that the person who signed-off the requirement was, in fact, the unit leader or their designee. Some units review advancement signatures in handbooks prior to scheduling scouts for Boards of Review. Not all do so, however. Some units will hear from a scout “I’ve finished all of my requirements, when can I do my Board of Review?” or have standing Boards where scouts just show-up or sign-up for a Board the day of the event.

Like I said, I find this whole segment unnecessarily confusing in terms of phrasing, and I think that the BSA could serve the scouts well by clarifying what exactly they mean by “not completing requirements properly” if the Board of Review is “not a retest”, as is stated many times in the Guide to Advancement.

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You have a different sense of what “failing” means and I think your approach/attitude is a bit one-dimensional. “Failing” a BOR doesn’t happen a lot, but there are times when it should happen. “Failing” something in Scouting is just part of the process of positioning them to NOT FAIL in “life”. The SM Conference and the BOR both exist for a purpose; specifically being a time of REVIEW and REFLECTION of both the Scout and “the program” en mass. Sometimes a scout simply isn’t ready to advance to the next rank and some corrective actions are necessary. Sometimes you may even find corrective actions are needed for the adult leaders as well, such as stopping them from signing-off too readily for advancements the scouts haven’t shown proficiency in, or stopping a SM from imposing his own “made up” policies that aren’t official BSA (and those people are out there, unfortunately).

If you’re one of those “we can’t ever say ‘no’ to a Scout” kind of people, it is you who is setting them up for greater failure down the road. Scouting is ALL ABOUT letting boys “fail”… then having them get up, brush themselves off, and trying again with proper, positive, and constructive feedback. Scouting is the “safe place” for them to stumble a little to learn how to lead, how to communicate, how to plan, how to execute, and all the other “soft skills” that aren’t listed specifically in the handbook. Just because they sew a patch on their arm that says, “Leader” doesn’t mean they KNOW HOW to lead. That comes from adult guidance, but mostly from TRIAL AND ERROR. If you’re trying to eliminate the “error” part of the learning process, you’re doing them no favors.

Advancement in Scouting has no set time table. They need to be free to advance at their pace, but they can’t be advanced if they haven’t EARNED it. To do otherwise discounts and devalues what others have been doing for over 100 years.

That’s simple. He doesn’t advance. What part of the word, “requirement” confuses you? This isn’t Cub Scouts. We’re done with “do your best”. They have matured into the “show and demonstrate proficiency” phase. So if the “requirements” are still not being met, you meet with him again and again until he breaks out of the cycle and meets the requirements.