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Star and life advancement requirements

I would suggest starting with the COR then move on to the district then council. I had a situation in a troop where the leaders wouldnt sigh of on a scouts Life “active participation requirement” according to the troops definition of active. The first thing that the district did was to go back and ask if they went to the COR first.

I agree if that is the situation.

The only reason that might be acceptable is if the individual who signed it was not authorized by the SM to do so. It is up to the SM to determine who can sign off on requirements. Aside from that, that is entirely uncalled for. Forget the CC. Talk to your COR and your council advancement chair.


Not exactly true. The scoutmaster (unit leader) designates who may sign the book. I my troop, when we first started out I insisted on being the only person to sign the books. I did this to ensure a certain consistency in what was being required. Now, as we have started to grow and move along, I have started to delegate.

From the 2019 GTA
" The Scout Is Tested

The unit leader authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include the patrol leader, the senior patrol leader, the unit leader, an assistant unit leader, or another Scout. Merit badge counselors teach and test Scouts on requirements for merit badges. [bold emphasis added]”

Once the book is signed by a designee, it stays signed, however.


Well, it’s quite clear it’s personal then. At this point he (the SM) is not going to change his mind, someone above him has to override him, or it’s time to change troops. Anything else is a waste of (your and your son’s) time.



I found this problem fascinating. If the CC has addressed the issue and it has been resolved in your son’s favor, then there are no worries.

If not, then this might be applicable. If the scout believes he has completed all requirements, then the scout is being denied his BOR. This is addressed in the GTA, on page 54. (The BOR can determine if the requirement was fulfilled and also determine the quality of the scout’s experience thanks to the adult leadership): Boards of Review Must Be Granted When Requirements Are Met

A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When a Scout believes that all the requirements for a rank have been completed, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters —or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank— for example, do not have authority to expect a Scout to request or organize one, or to “defer” the Scout, or to ask the Scout to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one. Neither can a board of review be denied or postponed due to issues such as uniforming, payment of dues, participation in fundraising activities, etc.

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. It is, however, the Scout’s decision to go ahead with a board of review or not.

Section Purpose and Timeliness of Boards of Review

A Scout who has completed the requirements for any rank (except Scout rank) then appears before a board of review. Its purpose is to determine the quality of the Scout’s experience and decide whether the requirements for the rank have been fulfilled . If so, the board not only approves the Scout’s advancement but also provides encouragement to continue the quest for the next rank. Because the board of review date becomes the effective advancement date, boards should be scheduled promptly as Scouts are ready, or set up on a regular basis that assures Scouts are not delayed in beginning time-oriented requirements for the next rank.

Note that Scouts must be registered through the time they are working on advancement requirements, but need not be registered thereafter or when their board of review is conducted.

Good Luck!



I just want to mirror what others have said here, especially @DanielSlone, @SteveCagigas, and @kevinwindisch. This sounds out of line, and like another example of leadership trying to institute themselves as gatekeepers beyond what permitted by the GTA, and likely to play favorites.

I would report this behavior over their heads, and look to make a move to another troop as well.


This does not seem right. Not all Scouts exhibit scout spirit the same way. Its a judgment to consider how a scout may demonstrate spirit, especially if they are not particularly extoverted. A good leader should know the character of each scout and how they contribute. Its more subtle than what seems to be happening here. This is putting the Scout through a terrible experience, one that he will not likely ever forget. Definitely seek guidance and help outside the Troop with the local council or district.

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Welcome to the forum.

While we all appreciate the desire to let our children run their Scouting pursuits on their own, we’re still the parent, they’re not 18, and we sign the membership applications.

That said, now more than ever is an appropriate time to get involved and have a face to face conversation with the SM. I’m sure you recognize and appreciate what he is doing as a volunteer in our organization. Share that with him as well as the reference Mac above laid out for you & let him know your son will be requesting his BOR regardless.

Again, the SM Conference is NOT ever Pass/fail. Simply did you have one yes/no. The challenge here is Scout Spirit which It seems by your examples, he has likely met in the eyes of any reasonable person on this matter.

Best of luck to you both!


+1 on @AdamAuthement says. A SMC is NOT pass/fail. The SM should be signing only that he conducted the conference. If the scout has met with the SM (here on many occasions) and still the SM will not sign, then the scout should go around him to the CC or Advancement Chair to schedule a board, where he can state his case.
Good luck, and agree with the other posters - this is a District/Council issue.


This may rankle some, but this isn’t something your scout should be trying to solve at this point. I would write to the SM and explain that the behavior indicates that perhaps the scout isn’t wanted in the unit and ask that personal differences be set aside. I would also mention that the behavior does not conform to the ideals of scouting.

From there I would send the information to the Committee Chairman and evaluate the situation. Some people are cut out for forcing their way and fighting the fight. Most are not, and it becomes a major drag. Then again, I live in a city and there are options close by. I had scouts move where the closest troop was 15 minutes away, and the next was an addition 25 minutes of winding unlit roads.

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I would say time for a change in Troops, sorry but the well is poisoned. What will happen next rank? More importantly how does this effect eagle before 18 if they keep putting road block and delays?
Really doesn’t matter who right or wrong it’s keeping the scout in the program making progress and having fun.


I’ve always struggled with this part: “When a Scout believes that all the requirements for a rank have been completed, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters —or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank— for example, do not have authority to expect a Scout to request or organize one”

Our troop’s process for knowing that a Scout needs a board of review is to have the Scout contact the Advancement chair- either in person at a meeting, or by email with the parent cc’d. If the scout doesn’t request one, how are we supposed to know that they “believe that all requirements have been completed”?

Also, If the Scout requests a BOR with 10 minutes left to the meeting, we set a BOR for the next meeting, which is technically deferring the scout, which is also technically not allowed, but we’re not going to hold up parents past the meeting time because a scout wasn’t ready at the beginning of the meeting. We might also delay a BOR if we don’t have enough committee members or if we have a special guest at our meeting, for example our Investment in Character presentation.

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These are all legitimate practical real world issues but there is a huge leap between these issues and refusal to sign off on a scout master conference because “The scout isn’t ready for the next rank.”


You’re doing this part correct – when the Scout feels ready for a BOR, the Scout requests a BOR. It’s not really the responsibility of any of the adults supporting the Troop to do this (though we all, as parents and leaders, have probably said ‘Let me take a look at your book… Hey, looks like you’re ready for your BOR’ countless times). It’s one of the ways to reinforce interaction with adults in Scouting, and in a bigger picture, part of teaching the Scouts to advocate for themselves.

While that technically might be deferring the BOR, I don’t think that’s what da rulez are referring to. I think the implication to deferring BORs is that typically happens when adults are adding other requirements or barriers to scout advancement. IMNSHO, it’s perfectly reasonable to have a standard process for your troop to handle BORs, and expect the Scouts to adhere to it, as long as it’s clearly understood and not too onerous.


The SM’s conference is not just a check box, it is part of the advancement and an opportunity for adult leadership to get a pulse on the scout. Like it or not there are some boys who may need a little extra help in how they live their Scout Spirit within the troop and in their day to day life. Bottom line is there may be other issues at play and from the original post it sounds like there is a problem beyond just “shining” in the troop. If you are looking for an explanation, I would meet with the Scoutmaster, if I didn’t like what I heard, It may be time to locate another troop which is a better fit.

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And Scouters wonder why BSA has lost a million Scouts in the last decade or so. You are absolutely not to add to or take away, as a SM I can’t imagine having a Scout i have had for some time that i would not be comfortable with signing off. The Scout Spirit being subjective is an excuse power trip leaders use IMO, if the Scout did every requirement, then they are showing Scout spirit. The requirements are a checklist to help build leaders and quality young men. Throwing in your extra expectations soils the program, and Scouts get frustrated and leave. Scouting is full of leaders that swear they run a great by the book program, and those same leaders cant figure out how a Scout can be 1st class in a year or less or an Eagle when they are 13. The program as indicated in the GTA is more about experiences and the journey, not mastery. Any leader who holds a Scout up because a requirement that has been met is not good enough needs to look in the mirror, are you perfect in your daily life, honest to all, do you remember how to teach every skill, have you ever had to refresh on say knot tying ( oh the horror) have you ever had less than a smile and perfect attitude at all events? Yeah…I didn’t think so. We are dealing with 10-17 year old boys…sheesh.


8 meetings over 4 months is not a Scout needing a little extra help. That help should have been given the 4 months or so leading up to the rank. This SM is not only hurting this Scout, but losing the Troop IMO, I have seen more than one Troop fold for just such practices. We all know the type. We had on that just did not think a Scout should be first class prior to being 14, these leaders are out there, and they kill the program. I do agree a SM conference can be a great tool for training, but there should be no surprises, the Scout should know where they are going in, this should be a celebration of hard work, this leader just does not seem to grasp his responsibilities imo, putting a Scout through this for 4 months is unacceptable. Imo.


Well I must have missed the part where he said the boy was being held back due to age. Normally I would agree, age shouldn’t be a problem. Clearly there seem to be some underlying issues. I would have recommend a parent/SM conference long before seeking advice from the internet.


If the SM has 1 meeting then the requirement has been met. End of story. Now the SM may want to meet on a continuing basis to help the scout develop. Such would be good. But holding rank is NOT the way to develop the scout.


It seems like there are two different requirements potentially being invoked here. One is the Scoutmaster Conference, which is indeed just a requirement to “participate”, not to “pass”. The other requirement not signed off, if I understood the OP correctly, is the “Scout Spirit” requirement, which has three basic parts: demonstrate scout spirit; tell how you did your duty to God; and tell how you have lived the scout oath and law. Personally, I see the first and third parts as being closely related. The former is a case where observation of a scout actively living (or actively not living) the scout oath and/or law informs the conversation. The latter is what the scout perceives himself or herself to be doing to live the scout oath and law. Other than clear evidence that the scout isn’t living the scout oath or law, I’m not sure how a leader would justify declining to sign this off.

I’m still not clear on what exactly it is that this unit’s leadership expects from this scout. I agree that a variety of the behaviors described (e.g. striking prior signatures, a nebulous expectation of activity in the troop demonstrating scout spirit rather than “outside” of the troop) seem to pass from the acceptable to the dubious.