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Star and life advancement requirements

Per the GTA, nothing may be added or subtracted form the rank requirements. If this is so, can someone explain how a SM can make a scoutmaster conference last 8 meetings over 4 months (8 meetings) between an SM then an ASM holding these meetings with the repeated explanation most recently given that the scout hasn’t “shined” in the troop. All requirements are signed off in the book at the SM conference, not before making it confusing when the conference isn’t signed off after even the first one. Currently, the only other requirement not signed off is scout spirit (edit). All other requirements have been signed off including leadership.

It has been repeatedly stated to several scouts of this troop that star and life ranks are not just earned they are deserved and come at a point the scout is “ready” to handle the rank they are moving up into. Further it is the SM and his prerogative to determine when a scout is “ready” for that rank. How this fits into the requirements as written other than scout spirit is one of the questions.

Can anyone provide guidance to support or refute these points of view on the SM part and show where completion of a conference is not just taking part but can include any other conditions placed on the scout by leadership. This is the main focus of this inquiry but appreciate the points of views offered (edit).

Specific references from literature other than the GTA would be appreciated supporting the SM point of view as I believe the GTA does handle this matter but the leadership when confronted with these points from the guide use the statement it’s their right as the leader to do it this way.

Thank you in advance.

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This sounds personal.

“Scout Spirit” is the most subjective requirement in my opinion. BSA does say it is a “judgement call”:

“Evaluating Scout spirit will always be a judgment call, but through getting to know a Scout and by asking probing questions, we can get a feel for it. We can say, however, that we do not measure Scout spirit by counting meetings and outings attended. It is indicated, instead, by the way the Scout lives daily life.” (https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/mechanics-of-advancement/scouts-bsa/)

I might suggest getting -in writing- from the SM what they are looking for in order to advance this scout. If the requirements cannot be satisfied or if the process seems to be at a stalemate then your council should have an advancement review board that you can contact. I would hope that any scout’s career is never put in such an untenable situation. Some guidance should have been given long before this point.


Good advice. The SM that says Star and Life aren’t just earned, but deserved is out of line. I think the committee chair or district advancement chair might need to engage here.


It’s hard to understand everything that’s going on from a forum post. For all we know, these scouts could have no scout spirit whatsoever (but it’s unlikely if happening to multiple scouts). That said, scout spirit is a judgement call. Obviously, the Guide to Advancement is the authoritative word on it. Eight SMCs sounds a little ridiculous… unless possibly each subsequent one is more like a two-minute check-in to see if the scout did what was expected of them.

I agree with other comments that seeing exactly what the expectation is would be a good thing. And saying it isn’t earned, it is deserved sounds bad on the surface. Finding out exactly what that means would be helpful too.


First bring it up with the committee chair and Chartered organization. Assistant Scoutmasters can theoretically do SM conferences as well so maybe go to one of them if the SM is denying on personal items rather than merit.


Good advice. If the Scoutmaster is doing this out of personal spite, you have a bigger problem with your unit than one Scout that isn’t advancing.


The latest round of meetings are being handled by an asm instead of the SM . This ASM at one point went so far as crossing out sign offs by other leaders for earlier requirements when the scout first joined the unit. To clarify, the first SM meetings before he started meeting with the asm lasted between 15 to 20 minutes each. At least with the asm he is shortening the time a lot and does seem to have a path forward but is only sharing things as he finishes something before he asks more of the scout. This perpetual cycle does not seem to end. Its one thing being told do this then we are good but to find out there is another step to it is frustrating the scout.

Further it has been explicitly explained to the scout that he must show scout spirit in doing things for the troop at large over having scout spirit in his every day life including helping a bear den every week and volunteering with his school clubs in the community.

It is a complex situation of conflicting statements given by adult leadership on the variety of requirements he had to get signed off only by the SM.


Time to find a new troop. If the ASM’s are part of the problem too then there is no fixing this level of pathology. Get out before they burn your son out.


yep time for a troop change


I have seen too many stellar future Eagle Scouts destroyed by this sort of thing.


I would think this tends toward bullying. Absolutely no reason for this kind of action.


I agree but since it is coming from the adult leadership and it appears to involve more than 1 person, it time to move onward and find a better pasture.


That’s not a complex situation of conflicting statements. It’s a load of bullcrap. Get your committee chair or your COR or someone from Council involved ASAP. If that’s an accurate representation of what’s happening, this person should not be in a youth-facing leadership position.


As a troop and crew committee chair the train wreck that is the program team would be on the outside looking in. I work very closely with the unit leaders and the charter partner to ensure we deliver the program as designed. Do we miss the mark on occasion but this is so far afield that something must be done.


Yep. Maybe I’m more involved that other CORs, but I’m at nearly every Troop meeting, and if I saw this behavior, it would be my responsibility to resolve it immediately.

I know we’re only hearing one side of the story here, but this would still be enough to get me very involved in what’s going on.

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Steve you are exactly right and I have only offered one part of the problem being presented to my son. It is one sided and thats the point. Its one sided in how decisions are made whether valid or not and thus what I am able to share is truly one sided.

I am a unit commissioner so I like to take in all points of view when an issue comes up. What I am doing after everyone’s comments and help here was seek advice from council mainly to let them know of an issue and that the solution at this point in time was to contact the CC which I have done.

I appreciate everyone’s views on this. The only thing I was hoping for was more guidance to support the judgement call of the SM when I talk with my son about it outside of what the GTA states. Basically get him to not seek relief from council and try to keep working with his adult leadership in some way.


@MicahHudson - it seems unfortunate that based on what you have stated that a resolution on the unit side might not be forthcoming. A very sad state of affairs there. Work the issue my friend

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Personal growth is the primary goal. Advancement is one of the methods of achieving that goal.

Scoutmasters do have a lot of discretion, and Scout spirit is subjective. However, Scout spirit is not limited to what the Scout does at the troop level - it’s supposed to be what the Scout does in everyday life. If the Scout is a Den Chief, then Scout spirit shown at den/pack meetings and activities should definitely be considered in addition to what the Scout does with his troop/patrol, at home, at school, etc.

I really have no idea what it would mean to “shine in the troop”. What would a Scout of this age think that it is supposed to mean? How would a Scout know what it is that he needs to do in order to “shine”? Advancement is not supposed to be a competition.

It is fine to hold more than one Scoutmaster conference, but the Scout must be allowed to count any of them toward the requirement.

Are the SM and ASM trying to mentor Scouts towards personal growth and achieving their goals? Or are they acting as “Guardian of the Gate” (BSA Advancement News, February 2012, page 2)


Jennifer thank you for your response. Yes truly your questions are the same as ours being that the sm will not use any examples my son has given of helping in his role for den chief showing scout spirit were not accepted by him. He turned it back by saying why doesn’t he do those things for the troop. Again we are left confused.

It does seem more of a guardians at the gate situation.

The cc has been notified about it and wants to listen so she will be getting the run down of every situation pushed back to him on how he isn’t showing scout spirit in troop life over daily life as well as why they will not sign off on participating in a sm conference.


This needs to be brought up with the Chartered organization representative IMMEDIATELY! This is not ok by any means and im pretty sure that this violates the guide to advancement rules. It sounds like they are abusing their powers as ASM and SM.

If the COR does not intervene and correct the situation you need to go to the district and talk with the advancement chair if there is one, if not talk with the District Executive.

Any registered scout leader can sign off requirements in a scout book.

Again please bring it up with your COR.