Conflicting(?) BSA Advancement Policies

For discussion of general advancement including rules for Scouts and counselors.

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Postby joat » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:07 pm

milominderbinder2 wrote: So the Advancement Policies 33088 often disagrees with the Scout Handbook.
Please, give us an example.
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:42 am

joat wrote:
milominderbinder2 wrote: So the Advancement Policies 33088 often disagrees with the Scout Handbook.
Please, give us an example.

There are four major areas. Start by just looking at Merit Badges. The three references in order of precedence are:
1. Advancement Policies # 33088 p. 26 , p. 41, p. 43
2. Boy Scout Requirements #33215 p.22-23
3. Scout Handbook pp. 185-188

As you read them, think about how differently you would answer these question if you had only read the Scout Handbook and had not seen the the actual requirements and policies.
A. Who selects the counselor?
The handbook is silent. 33215 p. 22 is very clear.
B. Does the counselor have to just be qualified to teach the merit badge or actually approved by the Council Advancement Committee?
The handbook says that counselors simply must be qualified. 33088 says that they must be "approved" by the Council Advancement Committee for each particular merit badge.
C. Are counselors approved as a counselor or for a particular merit badge or just as a counselor in general?
The handbook says they are "qualified" as a counselor. 33088 say they are approved for each badge.
D. Can a Scout earn a partial at summer camp?
The handbook is silent. The Advancement Policies p. 34 states "Partial completion of merit badges should be credited to a Scout on the Application for Merit Badge and given to the Scoutmaster at the end of the week." Summer Camps who do not give partials are not following the BSA policy.
E. Does each Scout have to be tested individually?
The handbook is silent. 33088 p. 26 specifically addresses group instruction. You can instruct in a group but must test each boy individually.
F. Can someone add an age requirement?
No. Any Scout can earn any merit badge at any time.
G. If a Scout has a disability, can I reduce a requirement?
The Handbook is silent. 33088 p. 40-44 says NO.
33088 explains qualifications for Special Needs and how alternate requirements can be set up by the local council for a Scout for Eagle Required Merit Badges. Once the Scout has done all that he can to earn a required merit badge and is proven due to his special need to not be able to complete the remaining requirements, the Council is to select an alternate merit badges of such a nature that they are as demanding of effort as the required merit badges.

A Council can chose an alternate merit badge instead of a required merit badge. A counselor does not have the right to reduce a or substitute requirements even for a Special Needs Scout. p. 41

There are three other areas with in ways bigger discrepancies:
2. Life to Eagle process.
3. Eagle project
4. Boards of Review

Once you read 33088 you realize that many of the sample Board of Review questions posted on the different website are against policy to ask.

Not one person has answered this question so far:
Have you read the current Advancement Policies #33088?

It answers all of these questions and many more. For instance, can you require a Scout to be in uniform to have a Board of Review? (No - p.30, you will lose this one instantly if it is appealed to National.)

How can we discuss the Advancement Policies if we have not read the Advancement Policies?

- Craig
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Postby smtroop168 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:29 pm

Craig...I have all the books. I think one of the reasons for the inconsistences in that each if these is written for a different audience.

The BSA handbook is written for the 10-18 year old who probably doesn't care about #33088. He's just trying to learn how to be a scout and work on rank advancement.

The BSA Requirements Book is for scouts but I think its used more by SMs, MBC and parents to have a single reference to every rank, MB and special awards requirements

#33088 is for Troop/District/Council committees to take it a notch to the bigger picture aspects.

This is kind of like my MB sash issue. The Scout looking at his handbook would not put his MBs on his sash any other way than 3 across. The parent looking at the Insignia Guide had a different (albeit wrong) interpretation on how she could put on MBs since the words weren't there.
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:54 pm

These books are written for different audiences but the reason for the problems with 'qualified' used when it is supposed to be 'approved' is that are written by different committees.

...with different agendas...

So far we know of two people on this forum who have a current copy of 33088 and have read it.

Is there anyone else?

- Craig
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Postby smtroop168 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:19 pm

The MBC application doesn't say "qualified" either.

Be proficient in the merit badge subject by vocation, avocation, or
special training.

I'm not sure its different agendas or the different wording is done on purpose. Why do you think so?

I have seen a wide variety of approaches to the Eagle process among the posters on the forum. Take a look through some of the old posts and you'll see what I mean.
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Postby wagionvigil » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:36 pm

Of course I have read them But I have also read the COPE Standards and the Climbing Standards and COS Age Restrictions as well as the G2SS. Merit Badge Books etc.
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:48 pm

smtroop168 wrote:...I'm not sure its different agendas or the different wording is done on purpose. Why do you think so?...

That is what they say as a part of the National Advancement Training.

It is not so much that they are trying to say it differently as that they are not trying to say the same way.

"Qualified," "Approved," and "Proficient" mean totally different thing.

There may be millions who are qualified in a skill.

Some of those who are qualified might be deemed proficient.

Some of those who are proficient will apply and be approved.

A registered sex offender might be qualified as the Scout Handbook says a counselor must be. But the Advancement policies says that the counselor must be approved.

Thankfully the Advancement Policies takes precedence.

- Craig
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:48 pm

wagionvigil wrote:Of course I have read them But I have also read the COPE Standards and the Climbing Standards and COS Age Restrictions as well as the G2SS. Merit Badge Books etc.

What version of 33088 do you have?

- Craig
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Postby wagionvigil » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:51 pm

Got one in January it is on loan at this time so I cannot Look. But regardless as to what it says COPE,CLimbing standards and COS take precident over it. As they are what are used to safely operate those programs. And to camps are inspected on.
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Postby RWSmith » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:23 pm

The only real problem that I have with the latest Advancement Committee Guide - Policies and Procedures is that I can't read the darn thing!!! I only wish I was joking. There's so much "crap" (I'm sure the person who did the layout calls it artwork) overbearing the text, I really have a hard time focusing on the issue at hand. That is, getting the information (text) into my brain without it being barraged with all that superfluous, well, as I said, crap.

I'm gonna send a letter to National.
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Postby wagionvigil » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:01 pm

OK Here is my bottom line

Advancement Guide Any Scout can take any MB.
Climb On Safely Guideline Must be 11 to Belay
COPE STandard Must be 13 to be on a high element and most Camps are inspected under COPE ours was until last year. Now it is inspected under Climbing BUT if it is used in a COPE Course the COPE Standards take over. The Climbing Taskforce and the COPE TAskforce are on the same page on most items but the age. THe Climbing Task force is still trying to set the age the same on both which will be 13 if it happens.
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Postby FrankJ » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:15 pm

You are mostly playing with semantics here.



A)The handbook says your SM will give you the name of a an counselor. It is not up to the scout to figure out who is approved or not.

B) The council decides what makes a counselor qualified & approves them. By definition an approved counselor is qualified.

D) When a scout brings a partial to me, I generally take it at face value, but I will not sign the bottom line until I am satisfied the requirements have been met. The advancement guidelines have pretty much made the approved merit badge counselor the only judge of on if the requirements have been met. (Of a qualified counselor would not add or take away from the requirements.)


E) Merit badges were originally designed to be an individual thing.


F. You can not add an age requirement, but a camp (or their insurance company) can set standards of who they accept in a program. They deal with high numbers & have to go with least common denominators. A SM or a counselor can look at the individual.

A BOR can pretty ask anything they want to. After all it is more than just about advancement. They must base there decision on rather or not they scout has met the requirements.

I think national has set a lot of policies on the basis that they are tired of getting a call every time johnny scout does not advance. It is not necessarily the best way to run the program.

Go read Baden Powell philosophy on merit badges. It is dramatically than how it is done now.

I am glad all this is not in the handbook. It would make it too big too carry around. The handbook is meant to teach boys to be scouts & not boy scout lawyers. Although I do find this discussion interesting.
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Postby Quailman » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:15 pm

milominderbinder2 wrote:G. If a Scout has a disability, can I reduce a requirement?
The Handbook is silent. 33088 p. 40-44 says NO.
33088 explains qualifications for Special Needs and how alternate requirements can be set up by the local council for a Scout for Eagle Required Merit Badges. Once the Scout has done all that he can to earn a required merit badge and is proven due to his special need to not be able to complete the remaining requirements, the Council is to select an alternate merit badges of such a nature that they are as demanding of effort as the required merit badges...

- Craig


Not to pick nits, but USScouts.org says that this requirement has been changed (actually deleted) this year. If the scout who has a disability cannot complete the entire badge, he does not have to get a partial. He can be assigned an alternate MB to earn completely. I guess they thought it was adding to the requirements if he had to earn a substitute badge and the partial in the other one.

http://usscouts.org/advance/changes/adv ... p#alteagle
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Postby RWSmith » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:39 pm

You can also find it on our wiki, MeritBadgeDotOrg: 2008 Boy Scout Rank Requirement Changes ....along with lots and lots of other good stuff. ( No offense, Paul. :P )
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Postby joat » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:00 pm

Your questions (A-G) are good questions, and they are all answered in the BSA publications. If the answer is not in the Boy Scout Handbook, that doesn’t mean the Handbook is wrong, or there is a conflict. It just means the answer is found in a different publication.

I’ve read the Advancement Committee book several times, and refer to it when needed. It talks a lot about advancement, but other pubs like Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities, or Boy Scout Requirements, or several pubs on merit badge counseling have more detailed info about those specific topics.
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Fri May 02, 2008 2:04 pm

Quailman wrote:...Not to pick nits, but USScouts.org says that this requirement has been changed (actually deleted) this year. If the scout who has a disability cannot complete the entire badge, he does not have to get a partial. He can be assigned an alternate MB to earn completely. I guess they thought it was adding to the requirements if he had to earn a substitute badge and the partial in the other one.

http://usscouts.org/advance/changes/adv ... p#alteagle
The Advancement Policies were updated last year and are as I stated. The Advancement Policies take precedence over the Boy Scout Requirements.

If your council wants to follow 33215 verbiage instead of 33088, I would suggest that they request a written statement from National that in this case 33215 will take precedence over 33088.

- Craig
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Postby FrankJ » Fri May 02, 2008 2:16 pm

I thought the current 33215 (The Boy Scout Requirements) were the requirements. Everthing else is either guidance or opinion. Where is Paul Wolf when you need him? :D
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Postby milominderbinder2 » Fri May 02, 2008 2:45 pm

FrankJ wrote:I thought the current 33215 (The Boy Scout Requirements) were the requirements. Everthing else is either guidance or opinion. Where is Paul Wolf when you need him? :D
The order of precedence is:

1. Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures Pamphlet #33088
(1b: For Eagle, the Eagle App & Leadership Service Project Workbook)
2. Boy Scout Requirements Book #33215
3. Boy Scout Handbook

- Craig
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Postby PaulSWolf » Fri May 02, 2008 3:13 pm

FrankJ wrote:I thought the current 33215 (The Boy Scout Requirements) were the requirements. Everthing else is either guidance or opinion. Where is Paul Wolf when you need him? :D

I've been reading all along. :)

The requirement was specifically removed from 33215. It had been removed some time ago from 33057 (Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities), but was inadvertently kept in 33088. I assume they'll correct that error in the next printing. It's not the first time they've had conflicting information in their publications.

Scouts do NOT have to get a partial on the badge they are physically inable to complete.
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Postby joat » Fri May 02, 2008 3:31 pm

milominderbinder2 wrote:The order of precedence is:
That would seem to indicate various publications have conflicting policy or procedure information, which I don't think is true. If we're talking about typos, the correct info takes precedence. If a newly revised pub has updated info, that takes precedence.
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