Re: Which Requirements to follow
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Sat, 26 Apr 1997 23:42:37 -0400
At 10:02 PM 4/26/97 -0500, H. Alan Schup wrote:
>I think the original question is: when the requirements change,
>when do they take effect?
Unless otherwise indicated, they take effect with the publication of the
current edition of Boy Scout Requirements, which is now being published
annually. BSA had indicated that the ONLY time they would change
requirements would be on 9/1 in conjunction with the issuance of the new
edition. That has NOT happened for the last two years when the three latest
merit badges were released "between" editions. However, it is one thing to
add new merit badges between editions, and another thing the CHANGE the
requirements for a merit badge.
As an extreme example, consider the Eagle
>Scout candidate who is days away from his 18th birthday when Family
>Life MB was added (and Cooking MB keeps changing as the wind blows.
>There is a push to have Cooking MB as an Eagle-required MB again.)
I, personally, do not remember ANY time in the last 20 years or so when
cooking was a required merit badge, but I guess that changed when skill
awards came into being in 1993, but it hasn't been required since, so I
don't know why that qualifies as "changing as the wind blows." But, never
mind about that.
As to Family Life, that mb came into existence ONE YEAR before it became
required, and the fact that it was going to be required was announced at the
same time. Thus, every Scout had at least one full year to either finish
his Eagle without FL, or to get FL. If a young man chose not to worry about
it and got caught right before his 18th birthday needing FL, then I believe
the responsibility for that lies solely with the Scout. There was much
debate about that when it happened on 9/1/94. (The mb was introduced on
>Just like with the Merit Badge requirements (see below), I did not
>find/read when to use the new requirements when they change.
Any significant change in requirements has been announced with an effective
date. For example, when Conservation of Natural Resources was introduced
and became required, anyone who had earned Soil and Water Conservation
before a certain date could use that as the required badge instead. I have
never seen national implement any change in a manner that would seriously
catch a Scout in the middle and prevent him from achieving his goal.
>Scout has earned his Eagle rank just before his 18th birthday (I was
>one of those), and I think most of us would agree that if the
>requirements changed just prior to submitting the Packet to District,
>that it would be unfair to tell the Scout that the requirements
>changed so that he now has no time before turning 18 to complete a
>newly required merit badge that takes 30 days to earn, so you can
>not be an Eagle Scout.
But it doesn't get done that way.
>I remember when the lower rank requirements were changed and Skill
>Awards were added. Any Scout 1st Class and above did not need Skill
>Awards to continue advancing, but those below 1st Class were forced
>to essentially re-earn their past ranks to have all the requirements
>for 1st Class.
That is just not so. Every Scout kept his rank. There was a period where
any Scout who was already in the program could continue to work on the old
requirements to reach First Class. It was only after that period, which I
believe was 15 months, that a Scout who was not yet First Class had to
complete the cumulative number of skill awards required for his next rank.
However, there was a conversion chart which indicated which skill award
requirements were the equivalent of the Tenderfoot through First Class
requirements under the old system and a Scout was given credit for those
requirements already earned. So, considering that most Scouts who were
already in the program avoided the problem by making First Class within the
transition period, the conversion really did not work a hardship on that
When Cooking MB was flip-flopping, there were Scouts
>grand-fathered into continuing in the program they started (I believe
>if Life rank). When the Skill Award requirements were again folded
>back into the lower rank requirements, the Scouts again had to re-earn
>the past ranks in the process of doing all the requirements for 1st
>Class (remember the progress books to staple into the Scout Handbook
>because of the drastic changes in requirements?).
Again, in 1989, when skill awards were eliminated, there was a conversion
chart provided so that a Scout got credit for things already done. They
again got to maintain their rank and this time I do not believe they had to
go back and "fill in" any requirements for the earlier ranks that were not
covered by the requirements they had completed while working on skill
awards. Thus, it was possible to become a First Class Scout without, for
example, whipping a rope.
>Also, Merit Badge counselors, some of the merit badges take quite some
>time to complete. Many have recently been revised, changing the
>requirements of the MB. Do you allow the Scout to continue to complete
>the merit badge under last week's requirements, or do you have the
>Scout immediately change to the new requirements?
It has always been my understanding, although I can't point to it in writing
right at the moment, that when the requirements for a merit badge change
while a Scout is working on that badge, the Scout has the choice of
completing the badge under the old requirements or changing to the new
Remember that National
>rule that states that nobody has the authority to add to nor to subtract
>from the requirements. Changing to the new requirements means that
>the Scout has done work he will not get credit for, and more to do that
>he has not yet learned... just because of a few days of not completing
>the merit badge.
>Full circle in the question: Is there any grace-period / grandfathering
>of the old requirements when the new requirements changed? I do not
>remember reading anything, so does anyone know?
National has always made clear the procedures to follow when they have made
major changes in the advancement program. They have provided transition
periods where necessary, and have generally gone out of their way to design
the transition so that Scouts are not given a hard time and made to repeat
things or have problems, as much as some adults want to create that
impression. The problem that does exist is that Scouts and Scouters don't
read the information distributed in Scouting and Boys Life and then act
shocked when the transition period is already almost over when they wake up
and realize that they have a problem.
A similar situation involved the change last year to require positive
membership growth for the quality unit award. I am told by a friend who
actually FOUND it that this change was announced in Scouting in the summer
of 1995, six months before the beginning of the earliest charter year where
the change could apply. Yet, when units actually started applying for the QU
award under the new rules you should have heard the furor over national
having "snuck" the change in on them. It was so loud that national
suspended this requirement for one year, but it is in the 1998 QU
requirements and I'll bet there will be another furor next year. I happen
not to like that requirement, but that is besides the point, which is that
very often the supposed problems really amount to nothing more than people
not keeping up and trying to lay that failure off on someone else, most
Sorry for the length of the reply.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City