Can your Troop Boost Advancement at Camp?

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What are some ways that your troop can truly excel in advancement at summer camp? If you do increase your emphasis on advancement with scouts, does it make more work for the adults? Maybe not.

As we discussed earlier this week, it pays for the adult leaders to be familiar with the Guide to Advancement (2015) that is now available online as a webpage and as an e-book in PDF form.

Who can Sign Off Requirements?

Since merit badges require adult counselors, many newer scouters assume that only adults are allowed to sign off on completion of all requirements for boy scouts. This is incorrect. Clarke Green has an excellent discussion of this topic, based on the Guide to Advancement, which states, The Scout Is Tested
The unit leader authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include his patrol leader, senior patrol leader, an assistant unit leader, another Scout, or the unit leader himself. Merit badge counselors teach and test him on requirements for merit badges.

Now imagine you have some scouts sitting around a campsite this summer on the first night. If a younger boy happens to be seeming homesick, what could you do to inspire him? Ask him if he has worked on Requirement 3f for Second Class regarding setting up a campfire. If he has not, have him find a Second Class scout or higher to help him. The more experienced scout can help the newer scout, then sign his book. 

With one task, two scouts are now engaged and building camraderie in camp. Their example may cause an explosion of imitators getting their advancement done, too. (I have seen similar explosions of sign-offs for Firecrafter requirement cards.)

Keeping Adults Busy, too

If you have many adults in camp, sometimes the hardest part is keeping them from becoming overly involved in the scouts’ activities.

One solution is to have them run Boards of Review. Can you do this at camp? The Guide to Advancement says in Rule,

The location should be comfortable, such as the unit meeting place, a camp, or a leader’s home.

You can use your committee members to get boards of review done for boys who have completed a rank. The adults will be busy for a time and regular meetings back home will be calmer, since some of the boards are already done.

Boards in Camp to Motivate a Stalled Scout

You can also use a Board of Review to determine why a boy is not advancing. Rule says, in part,

Note that boards of review may also be held for Scouts who are not advancing. Much can be learned from them, as well.

I have participated in Boards of Review where the scout has no requirements signed off in his book and the troop’s advancement records are incomplete. Since Rule describes the purpose of the Board as

Its purpose is to determine the quality of his experience and decide whether he has fulfilled the requirements for the rank.

In that case, we held a board to ask the scout when, where, how, and with whom he completed requirements. He told 1-2 sentence stories about what he did. Since Rule states,

Though one reason for a board of review is to help ensure the Scout did what he was supposed to do to meet the requirements, it shall become neither a retest or “examination,” nor a challenge of his knowledge.

We did not dispute his recollection if it was credible. We were able to get this stalled scout advancing again and more engaged in the program.

While scouts and adults do not need to be kept busy at every moment in summer camp, it is helpful to have some tools in your toolbox to keep them busy if the need does arise. Just a few tasks completed a camp can help your advancement thrive.