As summer camp draws near, we in scouting are entering the height of “Advancement Season.” More work toward advancement will occur in the next 75 days than at almost any other time of the year. Some of this is due to participating in merit badge sessions for boy scouts and day camp activities for Cub Scouts.
For many years, most scouters relied on learning the rules of advancement by watching and experiencing our home unit manage advancement. We would learn to improve on these techniques by attending classes or through casual conversations with other scouters. Few of us had ever seen the Guide to Advancement.
As with most BSA publications up to 2013, if you wanted to read it, you had to pay for it. The Guide to Advancement was always a recommended book to have on a unit’s shelf, but few units purchased a copy or updated it regularly.
Suddenly in 2013, BSA posted the Guide and several similar documents online for free at ScoutSource. Not only was it easy to access but it was free. Yet most of us scouters have never read it, let alone opened it to look at the Table of Contents.
Now scouters have fewer excuses not being able to quickly learn what the rules for advancement allow and don’t allow. Hopefully it reduces the risk of arguments. Why? Because the Guide to Advancement (2015) clearly states on its front page,
Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program
No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with special needs.
Similarly the requirements for Advancement and Awards are available online, too. These requirements are subject to the “Unauthorized Changes” policy, too. So arguments can be reduced or avoided by reading these rules, not by falling back to the poor defense of “Well, in my troop, we don’t do it that way.” The “in my troop” defense was always weak but understandable given the difficulty in getting clear answers. Now, answers are easy from the official source.
Since cellular data service is now readily available at many of Crossroads of America Council’s campsites, do not hesitate to read these online as you have your boys working on their requirements. (If you are going to a camp with poor cell service, don’t forget many of these are also now available as e-books, like Kindle.)