The outbreak of COVID-19 has canceled everything from campouts to in-person meetings, but that doesn’t mean Scouting has to stop. This situation is unprecedented and as Scouts we must be prepared for any situation. When it comes to Scout advancement, youth, parents, and leaders should work together to implement creative, common sense ways to facilitate advancement while adhering to the Guide to Safe Scouting and following the rules of Youth Protection training.
Please reference the BSA's Guide to Advancement to help answer any questions. We've also compiled a FAQ below along with creative solutions to help continue Scouting while practicing social distancing.
Boards of Review and Scoutmaster Conferences don't have to be put on hold just because we're practicing social distancing. These Scouting essentials are critical when it comes to getting ready for summer camp.
While you might not be meeting as a unit, videoconferencing is a great way to hold den, pack, troop, patrol and crew meetings as well as Boards of Review and Scoutmaster Conferences. Here are a few resources to help you get started.
How to Conduct a Videoconference
Conducting a Board of Review via Videoconference
Q: How can advancement be tracked remotely?
A: Scouting units should use ScoutBook to record and track advancement.
To track advancement remotely, parents should:
- Connect with their child’s member profile via an invitation that the unit leader sends within ScoutBook.
- Once a connection is made, the parent should use the Scouting app, found in both the App Store and Google Play, to stay connected with their unit.
- The Scouting app provides parents the ability to report any advancement that was completed at home.
Go to https://help.scoutbook.com to learn more about how to start using ScoutBook and how to connect parents to their Scouts.
Q: May parents sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements?
A: Yes. Through July 31, 2020, parents and other adults in the Cub Scout’s family, may sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements. We strongly encourage that parents use the Scouting App or ScoutBook to record completion of their child’s requirements.
Q: If my den is behind in advancement due to COVID-19, can my Cub Scout continue to work on advancement through the summer?
A: Yes. Cub Scouts can continue to work on their current den’s advancement through July 31, 2020. This is to provide any additional time a Cub Scout needs to complete their badge of rank; if they earn their badge of rank prior to July 31, 2020, they may advance to the next rank.
Q: May merit badge requirements or rank requirements be modified?
A: No. All requirements must be completed as written. If meetings or activities are canceled or limited, youth should continue to work on requirements as far as possible. By employing common sense and creative solutions, many requirements–even Scoutmaster conferences–can be fulfilled through videoconferencing or telephone calls.
Q: Can merit badge counseling or Nova/Supernova counseling be done using digital technologies like Zoom or WebEx?
A: Yes, registered merit badge counselors or Nova counselors/Supernova mentors may work with youth using digital platforms, ensuring that all youth protection measures noted in the Guide to Safe Scouting and BSA’s social media guidelines are in place. In addition to youth protection, the advancement guidelines in GTA Section 7 are required.
*Videoconferencing is approved by HOAC for all Scoutmaster Conferences and Boards of Review (including Eagle)
How to Conduct a Videoconference Video Conferencing Helps
Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward active participation requirements?
A: Yes. If youth are registered and in good standing, a disruption from COVID-19 virus can be the “noteworthy circumstance” that prevents participation.
Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward position of responsibility requirements?
A: Yes. If youth are registered and unable to meet the expectations of their positions because of COVID-19 disruptions, then units may need to waive or rethink the expectations. Just as youth must not be held to unestablished expectations, they must not be held to expectations that are impossible to fulfill. See GTA Topic 188.8.131.52, “Positions of Responsibility,” with its six subtopics.
Q:What changes have been made to rank advancement/camping requirements given the need to maintain social distancing during this time?
A: We have implemented temporary changes, detailed below, to allow Scouts to complete rank requirements by videoconferencing through September 1, 2020. This deadline will be re-evaluated as needed.
The goal when using videoconferencing must be to preserve the ideals and intent of each requirement as best as possible. Scoutmasters or their designee(s) should remain mindful of the Methods of Scouting, such as the Patrol Method, before implementing the modified requirements listed below. Some advancement activities can be completed by videoconferencing, but not all.
For example, virtual visits to a city council meeting, national historic landmarks, museums, and art galleries may be acceptable, but swimming, rifle shooting, and motorboating merit badges cannot be completed virtually.
Even when using videoconferencing, all virtual campouts and activities should consist of as many elements found on a normal outdoor campout or activity as possible. The most significant difference is that patrol or troop members are not all in the same location. All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed:
Tenderfoot rank requirements
1b. – Virtual patrol or troop campouts via video conferencing will be permitted.
Second Class rank requirements:
1a & 1c. – Virtual patrol or troop activities via video conferencing will be permitted.
First Class rank requirements:
1a – Virtual patrol or troop activities via video conferencing will be permitted.
10. – Invite the potential new member to a virtual meeting or future activity using video conferencing.
Q: Does the National Council grant extensions of time to complete rank requirements beyond the 18th birthday for the Eagle or 21st birthday for Summit or Quartermaster?
A: Yes, but only for the Eagle Scout rank as described in GTA Topic 184.108.40.206 or for Venturing Summit or Sea Scout Quartermaster as described in GTA Topic 220.127.116.11. Unit leadership must become familiar with the five tests under 18.104.22.168. The tests were designed to accommodate such obstacles as those presented by COVID-19 disruptions.
Q: Will youth who are not yet Life Scouts be allowed to apply for an extension to earn the Eagle Scout rank?
A: Extensions are considered only for Scouts who are Life rank. If, once a Scout achieves Life rank, it turns out that COVID-19 disruptions along the way have left them with insufficient time to complete Eagle requirements, then this may be cited when the time comes to submit an extension request.
Q: May local councils grant extensions?
A: Normally, that is not allowed. However, due to the current situation—effective immediately and through September 30, 2020—council Scout executives may grant extensions, or delegate authority to the Council Advancement Committee to grant extensions under the following limitations. All HOAC eagle extension requests may be emailed to Council Advancement Chair, Gordon Harton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOAC Eagle Guidelines & District Advancement Chairmen
Heart of America Council Scouts | Send inquiries to Council Advancement Chairman, Gordon Harton at email@example.com
Q: If youth have already received an extension, can they request additional time due to COVID-19?
A: Yes. Council Scout executives may grant extensions, or delegate authority to the Council Advancement Committee to grant extensions under the limitations listed above.
Q: What should be done while an extension request is being considered?
A: Youth should continue to work on advancement in so far as they are able—e.g., independently, or over the phone or videoconference—and at Scouting activities once they resume.
Q: Are extensions required when an Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster board of review must be delayed?
A: No. Councils may grant Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster boards of review up to six months after the youth’s 18th/21st birthday. See GTA Topic 22.214.171.124, “Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th Birthday.”
See also, GTA Topic 126.96.36.199, “Boards of Review Through Videoconferencing.”
Q: Are electronic or digital signatures acceptable for rank advancement or for the Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster packets/applications?
A: Yes. Electronic or digital signatures will be accepted through September 30, 2020.
Q: How can a youth continue to work on advancement requirements if they don’t have internet or high-speed internet for videoconferencing?
A: Youth may take a picture of their completed activity/requirement and share the work with unit leaders. In keeping with Youth Protection Training policies, all communications from youth should be sent to at least two adults. Parents or guardians may send advancement work on behalf of their child.
This situation is unprecedented. As Scouts and Scouters, it is our duty to be prepared and adapt to any situation and our council will continue to be proactive and make decisions that will enhance local Scouting programs in the face of adversity. We will continue to share any and all updates at hoac-bsa.org and through our social media channels.