Guidelines for Advancement and Recognition Committees

Council and district advancement and recognition committees (generally referred to in this guide simply as council or district advancement committees) are responsible for implementing and facilitating advancement and processing most special awards and recognitions. This is done according to national procedures and local practices under the direction of the council executive board. Advancement committees operate under the Boy Scouts of America program function. They should cooperate with the other program function elements— outdoor programs, activities and civic service, and training—and also with the membership, finance, and unit-service functions. Accepting the responsibilities outlined in the following pages will help to accomplish this.

Advancement committees operate under the Boy Scouts of America program function. They should cooperate with the other program function elements—outdoor programs, activities and civic service, and training—and also with the membership, finance, and unit-service functions.

3.0.0.1 Council Advancement Committee Responsibilities

The council advancement committee often falls under a vice president for program. The committee’s members should represent a breadth of experience in all Scouting programs. Normally, district advancement chairs are included. The council professional staff advisor for advancement provides coaching and guidance— especially as it relates to national policies and procedures. The advancement chair and the staff advisor work together closely, and in harmony with the other efforts and functions involved in delivering and supporting the Scouting program.

A full, functioning council advancement committee should be organized to accomplish the following.

1. Recruit enough committee members to fulfill the responsibilities described below and achieve council advancement objectives. Provide members with ongoing training to maintain awareness of updated procedures, best practices, and details related to all programs of the Boy Scouts of America—Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouts.

2. Establish objectives and action plans that stimulate advancement and lead to maximum success in Scouting’s Journey to Excellence.

3. Inspire a positive working relationship with district advancement committees, providing clear guidance and direction on their responsibilities and objectives.

4. Plan, present, and submit for the council calendar those advancement conferences and training experiences that will strengthen the performance of district and unit advancement volunteers.

5. As appropriate, support advancement elements involved in training, and in events and activities presented by other council committees.

6. Support outdoor programs where advancement may take place, such as day camps, Cub Scout resident camp, long-term camping experiences, and specialized activities featuring advancement.

7. Establish local practices for adhering to National Council advancement procedures at outdoor programs, summer camp, and events such as merit badge fairs or midways.

8. Support and promote the BSA’s Internet Advancement reporting. Accurate advancement records are critical to program planning and analysis. Councils should work toward 100 percent electronic data entry.

9. Share advancement statistics for use in council fundraising materials and for supporting membership recruitment and retention efforts and commissioner service.

10. See to an effective merit badge program administered at either council or district level that recruits and trains sufficient approved counselors and functions according to national procedures.

11. Determine, according to national procedures, consistent and appropriate methods for approving Eagle Scout service project proposals and fundraising applications, providing Eagle Scout service project coaches, and conducting Eagle Scout boards of review and Quartermaster bridges of review.

12. Determine methods of collecting Eagle Scout or Quartermaster references.

13. Know and precisely follow official procedures for appeals and time-extension requests.

14. Know and follow proper procedures for considering special-needs cases involving alternative requirements and merit badges, and registration beyond the normal age of eligibility.

15. Participate in considering and presenting special awards and recognitions according to established council procedures. This responsibility may or may not include the Silver Beaver Award.

16. Support and promote the religious emblems program. A very small percentage of members earn a religious award. Committees should work to build on this important element of spiritual growth.

17. Process lifesaving and meritorious action awards according to council practices and national procedures.

18. Notify the media to recognize significant youth achievements, such as Eagle Scout rank, lifesaving and meritorious action awards, and other noteworthy accomplishments.

3.0.0.2 District Advancement Committee Responsibilities

Although the council advancement committee or executive board determines specific responsibilities for district advancement committees, district advancement chairs report to their respective district chairs. The following is a guide to the responsibilities that might be established.

1. Recruit enough members to fulfill the responsibilities and accomplish any objectives established by the council advancement committee or executive board. Provide members with ongoing training to maintain awareness of updated procedures, best practices, and details related to Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouts.

2. Establish objectives and implement action plans that stimulate advancement and lead to maximum success in the Journey to Excellence.

3. Maintain advancement records and share them with commissioners, trainers, and other district volunteers who serve units. Point out units with little or no advancement.

4. Plan, present, and submit for the district and council calendars those advancement conferences and training experiences that will improve the results of unit advancement volunteers.

5. As appropriate, support advancement elements involved in training, and in events and activities presented by other committees of the district.

6. Support outdoor programs where advancement may take place, such as district day camps, camporees, etc.

7. Support and promote the BSA’s Internet Advancement. Accurate advancement records are critical to program planning and analysis. Districts should work toward 100 percent electronic data entry.

8. Follow national and local council procedures in administering the merit badge program and in recruiting and training a sufficient number of approved merit badge counselors.

9. Follow national and local council procedures as prescribed regarding appeals, Eagle Scout and Quartermaster references, service project proposal approvals, boards and bridges of review support, and time extensions.

10. Support and promote the religious emblems program. A very small percentage of members earn a religious award. Committees should work to build on this important element of spiritual growth.

11. Recommend, according to council and district practices, recipients for the Award of Merit or other recognitions.

12. Notify the media to recognize significant youth achievements such as Eagle Scout or Quartermaster rank, lifesaving and meritorious action awards, and other noteworthy accomplishments.

13. To strengthen units through strong advancement programs, consider the following:

  • Assist unit commissioners and others who serve units.
  • Serve as a resource for roundtables.
  • Develop relationships with unit advancement volunteers.
  • Provide units with advancement reports, summarizing and explaining what they mean.
  • Assist unit leadership with advancement planning and promotion.
  • Visit pack, troop, team, crew, and ship committee meetings, as warranted.
  • Visit boards of review, as warranted.
  • Help troops, teams, crews, and ships avoid pitfalls as qualified youth strive for Eagle Scout rank, the Silver Award, or the Quartermaster Award.
  • Encourage prompt and proper recognition, ceremonies, and courts of honor.
  • Recognize units excelling in advancement.
  • According to local council practices, assemble lists of consultants and other resources important to Venturing advancement.

3.0.0.3 Unit Advancement Responsibilities

Unit advancement coordinators (or chairs) and those who assist them have the basic responsibility to support the unit leader’s advancement program, to maximize rank achievement, and otherwise facilitate a smooth implementation of the process. Specific responsibilities are outlined in the leader literature for each program. The following responsibilities are not all-inclusive, but typical.

1. Work with the unit leader and help to support and facilitate his or her vision for advancement.

2. Educate parents, guardians, unit leadership, and committee members in ways to stimulate and encourage advancement. For example, help build unit programming around advancement opportunities, encourage members who are advancing slowly, and post advancement charts.

3. Help plan, facilitate, and conduct advancement ceremonies. In troops and teams, schedule and conduct regular courts of honor—quarterly is generally sufficient. Ships will want regular bridges of honor, and packs should make recognition a key part of every pack meeting.

4. Obtain necessary badges and certificates, etc., and arrange for timely presentation of ranks, Arrow Points, merit badges, awards, and other recognitions. It is best to obtain and present these as soon as possible after they are earned. They can then be re-presented in more formal settings.

5. Ensure Cub Scouts advance in rank annually by the blue and gold dinner or the school year’s end.

6. Know and understand the advancement procedures for the program served, especially those applicable to Eagle Scout and Quartermaster candidates.

7. Establish practices that will bring each new Boy Scout to First Class rank within a year of joining, and then to Star rank the following year.

8. Arrange for timely (or monthly) boards of review, and see that Scouts ready for them are invited.

9. Maintain advancement records and submit reports to the unit committee. It is appropriate in Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouts to involve youth leaders in this process.

10. Use the BSA’s Internet Advancement to report advancement to the local council.

11. Keep a current and accessible copy of the district or council merit badge counselor list. As needed to fi ll in, develop and maintain a list of unit merit badge counselors. Note that all merit badge counselors must be registered as such, annually, and also approved through the council advancement committee.

12. Maintain a library of advancement literature, such as merit badge pamphlets and the annual Boy Scout Requirements book, No. 34765. It is appropriate to involve related youth leaders in this effort.

3.0.0.4 Awards and Recognitions

“Awards and recognitions” by definition is not part of the advancement plan. But it supplements advancement in many ways and can lead to increased retention. In all, there are more than 100 awards and recognitions. Some are for youth members, some are for adults, and some are for both. Some are earned, while others are presented in honor of service rendered. Awards and recognitions are often promoted and administered by council or district advancement committees and by other committees or task forces as determined by a council executive board.

Many of the forms for making application or submitting nominations can be found at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Awards_Central.aspx. In most cases these indicate how and where to send the form and what sort of information is required. Questions concerning them, for either young people or adults, should be directed to the National Youth Development Team. A separate publication, the Guide to Awards and Insignia, scheduled for release in winter 2012, will be a central source for building a deeper understanding of the opportunities available.