All about Boy Scouting’s required positions of responsibility

Positions-ResponsibilitiesAlthough 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.

19 Comments

  1. Could a “Scoutmaster assigned project” include serving as an Event SPL for a District or Council event so long as the duties included participating in the planning?

  2. I think it unfair that the only position within a patrol can not be considered as fulfilling a leadership position for required leadership positions for advancement!

    • Patrol Leader is one of the positions that fulfills the requirements for Star, Life and Eagle.

      Other patrol positions do not fulfill the requirements. These are Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Scribe, Patrol Quartermaster, Patrol Grubmaster, Patrol Cheermaster, Patrol Instructor, and perhaps other patrol-unique roles.

  3. Missed one, just like all the Troops that you fail to let know, that there is one more leadership credited position, indeed! That is, the Chaplain Aide, which because of your derelict reporting, you should do as another article, equally as strong as this one.
    David C. Gironda, Sr., CREC
    Council Religious Emblems Coordinator
    Grand Canyon Council, Inc.-BSA

    • I believe that it was included in the ‘over 40 positions ‘ statement, most positions were not listed individually. You are letting your personal focus cloud your vision and cause you to act in an inappropriate manner. Please go back and review the Scout Law and see how many of them you are ignoring with your total focus on reverent.

    • My experience with Chaplain’s Aides is that they do very little compared to the other PORs who are actually responsible for troop operations. At a minimum they should set an example and earn their faith’s religious award in order to meet the leadership advancement requirement.

  4. Iowa’s Quartermaster and part of a year Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and then the following year I was Senior Patrol Leader in about a year or two Assistant Scoutmaster

    • It can be. Our Troop has a Troop Quartermaster and each Patrol should have one too.

      Each Patrol Quartermaster is responsible for the patrol box content. The Troop Quartermaster is responsible for the Troop gear and helps oversee the Patrol gear including the patrol boxes. In some Troops, the Troop Quartermaster is solely responsible for supervising / directing the packing of the trailer.

  5. I am a Cub Master with a son in a very large Boy Scout Troop. Leadership Positions are hard to come by. However, I have two Den Chiefs from the Troop each year. I can not stress the importance of the value to the Pack these Scouts have. My. Cross Over rate has improved double by far!

  6. Valuable discussion – I was fascinated by the points , Does anyone know where my assistant would be able to get ahold of a fillable Eagle Scout Service Project Worksheet – Boy Scouts of America copy to work with ?

  7. I had a scout that was oa rep for two years and was only at 12 meetings for two years. Was active in OA but not in the troop. I considered him not active at troop level for the rank of eagle but was told by council he was active because if he was thinking scout like thoughts he was active. Times have changed.

  8. The boy scout relies on his book. He should be able to find answers there without having to ask the Scoutmaster or other adults for clarification. The roles have existed for decades. The handbook has been revised 13 times. Perhaps the authors choose to be ambiguous because circumstances differ among units. For example, there are units with patrol quartermasters, scribes, librarians with more responsibility than scouts designated at the troop level. Some units have patrols larger than some troops. If you have any influence, then please encourage the authors to say what they mean to the scouts. If the definition of leadership roles (positions of responsibility) for Star, Life, and Eagle in the boy scout handbook are poorly defined, the handbook requires revision.

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