Although the word “leadership” doesn’t appear in the Scout Oath, Scout Law or the BSA mission statement, developing leaders is an important aspect of Scouting. In the Boy Scout advancement program, showing leadership is a key requirement for the ranks of Star, Life and Eagle. It also can be a source of confusion for Scouts and Scouters alike.
WHAT POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY COUNT? More than 40 positions can be used across Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing and Sea Scouts. The rank requirements list all the eligible positions.
WHAT ABOUT POSITIONS LIKE PATROL QUARTERMASTER? Positions within a patrol, including assistant patrol leader, don’t count. However, these positions do provide valuable leadership practice.
DO THE POSITIONS VARY BY RANK? The only difference is that bugler counts for Star and Life but not Eagle.
DOES HONOR GUARD COUNT FOR ADVANCEMENT? No. Like the musician role, honor guard doesn’t count. Note that the Honor Guard and Musician patches go on the right sleeve, while patches for positions of responsibility go on the left sleeve.
DOES LEADERSHIP IN THE ORDER OF THE ARROW COUNT? Only the role of Order of the Arrow troop/team representative counts. Positions like chapter chief and lodge secretary do not.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY SCOUTS WHO NEED POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY? A unit can have more than one member in some positions, such as instructor. (In that case, be sure to differentiate their duties.) Also, for Star and Life, the Scoutmaster can assign a leadership project in lieu of serving in a position of responsibility.
WHAT MIGHT A SCOUTMASTER-ASSIGNED PROJECT LOOK LIKE? A Scout could, for example, lead the training program for an upcoming high-adventure trip. The assigned project should provide lessons similar to those of the listed positions, but it must not be confused with, or compared to, the scope of an Eagle Scout service project.
DO A SCOUT’S MONTHS OF SERVICE HAVE TO BE CONTINUOUS? No. There could be one or more gaps.
DO ALL THE MONTHS FOR ONE RANK HAVE TO BE SERVED IN THE SAME POSITION? No. A Scout could, for example, serve half his time as quartermaster and the other half as assistant senior patrol leader.
HOW CAN YOUR UNIT EVALUATE A SCOUT’S PERFORMANCE? Ideally, the unit leader will communicate a set of expectations for the position at the outset. If the Scout meets those expectations — within reason and based on his personal skill set — he fulfills the requirement. He also fulfills the requirement if it is left to him to determine what should be done and he makes a reasonable effort to perform accordingly for the time specified. Of course, training and ongoing coaching and support are important to any youth leader’s success.
WHERE CAN YOU LEARN MORE? The best source is the Guide to Advancement 2015 (No. 33088), which is still current in 2016 and is available at Scout shops and online at bit.ly/GuideToAdvancement.