What's New

Yes, summer months count toward advancement time

expertlogo1Most Scouts are taking a break from school right now, but Scouting doesn’t take summers off.

So I was surprised to learn that in one troop, the Scoutmaster mandates that summer months don’t count toward Boy Scout advancement requirements. That means he doesn’t count June, July or August as valid months required for Scouts needing four active months for Star or six active months for Life.

I’m sure he means well, but the Scoutmaster is wrong on this one.

Here’s the question and the expert’s response.

The question

In our troop, the Scoutmaster mandates that during school summer recess, he will not acknowledge summer time as valid months required for either Star or Life advancement.

Our schedule usually ends after a court of honor in mid-June. During the summer, Scouts attend camps in the district or council activities. The Scouts are in good registration and still actively participate in Scouting activities. Is the Scoutmaster right?

Thanks,

[name withheld]

The applicable requirement

The requirement for Star reads: Be active in your unit (and patrol if you are in one) for at least four months as a First Class Scout.

And for Life it’s: Be active in your unit (and patrol if you are in one) for at least six months as a Star Scout.

Losing two or three months during summer hurts the Scout working toward either of these ranks.

The expert’s answer

From Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team:

A Scout who is currently registered and has not been removed from his unit because of disciplinary reasons should not be penalized because his unit is inactive during the summer months.

Requirements completed for merit badges and ranks must be counted.

If he holds a position of responsibility during the time his unit is not active, he cannot be penalized, and his time must be counted.

As with all service hours for Second Class, Star and Life, they must be approved by the unit leader.

If service hours are to be performed during the months the unit is not active, the unit leader should not disapprove otherwise valid service and prevent the Scout from completing his requirements.

Ask the Experts your question

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me.

47 Comments on Yes, summer months count toward advancement time

  1. Does this count towards Cub Scouts too?

    • I can’t think of any Cub Scout rank that requires service over a period of time that this would affect. Hopefully Packs have summertime activities and continue the Scouting program in the summer. But the issues raised in this blog are geared more toward Boy Scouts.

    • Jim Kangas // July 31, 2014 at 8:36 am // Reply

      As of the time Cub Scouts graduate to their new rank, they may be working on requirements to earn that new rank. I would hope Cub Scout packs do have summertime activities to keep the boys interested; you can have an overnight family camp, organize a trip to a baseball game (many teams hold Scout days), or even just have a pack picnic; even playing picnic games can earn Cub Scouts advancement requirements; the opportunities are only limited by your imagination.

      • Actually Webelos and Arrow of Light currently have a time requirement: Webelos Badge, “Be an active member of your Webelos den for three months.” Arrow of Light, “Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade (or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old)…”

        While “the Expert” stated that summers do count, the Webelos rank probably would not be impacted, but the Arrow of Light may since if a Pack Leader (incorrectly) did not count the summer months, that would prevent a boy from earning his AoL until February at the earliest. While that is in line with the Blue & Gold, it is an unnecessary hindrance. In my area, troops are starting to push to get boys involved (if not crossed over) by December/January anymore to get the boys plugged into the troop to prep for spring camp outs, fundraising and summer camp.

    • The Webelos rank requires time in rank to be awarded. And yes, my pack is active during the summer months, we prepping for our campout in just over a week.

  2. If you don’t feel like you can approach your SM about issues like this, take it either to the Committee Chairman or your Chartered Organization Representative. Both of these people have “authority” over other the direction of a unit and all other leader’s actions and education.

    You unit also hopefully has a Unit Commissioner who is an experienced Scouter that works with your unit and can talk to the SM about his changing BSA policy.

    In the end, if you can’t get satisfaction, hopefully there’s another unit you can join that follows BSA’s policy.

  3. Well, yeah. If the Troop is inactive, whose fault is that? If the SPL or ASPL, or PLs are not active (planning, leading, DOING…) , whose fault is that for not providing OPPORTUNITIES for Scouting, whose fault is that? Do the boys want a hike or a rock climb or a canoe trip in July? Anybody ask them? Now, if the adults don’t want the responsibility to transport the Scouts ….
    “”“Every Scout Troop worth its salt has an out-door experience every month. Sometimes it’s a hike, sometimes it’s camping. But there is something on each month the year round. Besides, after your Patrol has received thorough training, there’ll be special hikes for your gang, too – alone, or, if you like, with one of the other Patrols.”””
    = Scout Fieldbook, William Hillcourt, 1959=

    The lack of OPPORTUNITIES should not mean the Troop shuts down for three months. Every Scout is not expected to attend every activity. Provide the OPPORTUNITIES. Plan a schedule. Some will come, some will be on family vacations, some will be slouched in front of the Wii. Give them the choice.

  4. I can’t imagine being “inactive” during the summer months….we’ve always found it our time to really get out there and be active. Sure quite a few scouts go on family vacations or trips to see family, but the opportunities presented by the boys being out of school and the generally favorable weather allow us to really broaden our scope of activities during the wonderful summer months

  5. Sorry, have to take exception to this experts answer. It leaves too much out. Sure many troops go quiet during the summer. But many go camping and particularly go as a unit to summer camp. Unfortunately, some scouts with leadership responsibilities (pl, alp, spl, aspl, etc.) do not elect to participate. In doing so they are failing to actively participate in their scouting program and denyi their fellow scouts the leadership they took on as a promise to provide. Active means active. If the troop is active but the scout is not, they should not be given credit for the time as actively participating.

    • That’s a different issue–of a Scout failing to meet the obligations of his PoR, and the Guide to Advancement spells out how to handle that. The issue here is that the SM is precluding anything a Scout does, and that’s not within his power.

    • Connie Knie // August 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm // Reply

      In that case, the Troop has to have had a reasonable expectation of what participation means. And in some cases if these youth leaders cannot participate hopefully it is only for the occasional outing and not go AWOL for the whole summer. But each case is different.

      • Thanks you got the point. There are defined reasonable expectations for leadership role participation in our troop, and plenty of activity throughout the summer. Each case is definitely different. Nothing is Binary: yes or no. That is what was wrong with the original posting. It left too much out. Leaders who go AWOL from their active troops for the summer have not met reasonable participation standards.

  6. MAJ Burnham // July 31, 2014 at 8:31 am // Reply

    The core question is, Why are Scouting units inactive during the summer, especially in those parts of the U.S. where the warmer summer weather makes it easier to get out and about? Many adults will answer that leaders need a vacation from Scouting. If that’s the case, I would suggest that the unit needs more adults to lead and/or the unit needs to use BSA program materials and templates, which make it quick and easy for leaders to plan the fun and adventure that Scouts deserve year-round. What about Scouts who say that they need a vacation from school AND Scouting in the summer? If that’s the case, unit leaders and the Scouts need to examine why in their unit Scouting is more work than fun! Forcing summer inactivity on an entire unit hurts the Scouts who are available for (and perhaps most need) the fun and adventure of Scouting to continue. Of course, council camps for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts can fill some of the gap for inactive units. But I suggest that at the very least a “summer den” or “summer patrol” be formed in seasonally inactive units to engage the Scouts who aren’t summer quitters. Or, maybe several units could get together to plan monthly summer activities. What about adults or Scouts who can’t be active in a unit’s summer activities because they are out of town, working, or in summer school? That’s okay. By BSA rules, they can’t be punished when legitimate activities prevent their participation in unit events. Just don’t punish or hold back the other Scouts who will be around by depriving them of opportunities for fun, service, and advancement during the summer.

  7. Our Patrols aim to earn the Honor Patrol Star during those Summer months. We have a healthy mix of Homeschoolers and kids out for Summer break, and they all want to do stuff with other guys: go swimming, camping, just building Lego Mindstorms. Every now and again we run into a Patrol leader who is gone for 6 weeks, but really there is no excuse not to keep up and running throughout the Summer. We still have PLCs, Scouts still run EDGE classes, groups maybe slightly smaller but that is no bad thing.

  8. I have not taken the Scoutmaster specific or the OLS training but if this subject is not covered in the training it should be amended. Our troop typically goes into hibernation after our summer camp session. This time is reserved for some scouts in the unit to attend a high adventure venue. However since I have been involved with this troop I have not been a proponent of the hibernation. The other scouts suffer from not being able to complete skills for Tenderfoot to first class.

  9. Jim Kangas // July 31, 2014 at 8:46 am // Reply

    What about the Scouts attending summer camp? This troop doesn’t attend summer camp? If not, they are overlooking and ignoring one of the high points in a Scout’s year. Many of our Scouts earn as many as two ranks at camp, and have earned as many as four merit badges; not to mention it is an excellent time to practice and learn real leadership, real independence, build real patrol spirit and have new experiences.

    If competing with high adventure is an issue, then simply work your troop calendar around the other activities. Our troop not only is active throughout the summer, we participate in community events, attend summer camp, hold a canoe trip, some of our Scouts go on high adventure treks — and it all counts for advancement.

    Also, as stated, the troop cannot change BSA policy. Advancement can happen anytime of the year and anywhere.

  10. Jim Kangas // July 31, 2014 at 8:52 am // Reply

    Our troop schedules a break during August when we do not hold troop or committee meetings or schedule regular activities; it is a time for families to prepare for school, take last-minute vacations, and allow the PLC to plan for the coming year prior to our annual planning meeting. While we aren’t active as a troop, patrols may schedule activities, and it is perfectly acceptable for Scouts to work on advancement requirements if they wish.

  11. Deaf Scouter // July 31, 2014 at 8:53 am // Reply

    My first thought was huh? on a unit shutting down during the summer. What about Summer Camp and High Adventure?? *shaking head on someone missed the OUTING in ScOUTING!

  12. Any time a scout is registered he should be active.

    I take no breaks as an assistant scoutmaster, merit badge counselor, and my troop’s Life-to-Eagle Coordinator. Summer is a time when Scouting doesn’t have to compete with school and sports.

    Three of my Life Scouts had Eagle Scout service projects over their summer break, I worked with several other boys on merit badges, and I’m assisting more scouts with getting them advanced to First Class on up by our September Court of Honor.

    As a merit badge counselor for more than 25 years, I am not a fan of the merit badge mills at summer camps as they relate to Eagle-required badges. Boys often come to me with partials and tell me they didn’t even go over some requirements at camp, yet they were approved as completed. There is nothing like one-on-one meetings (following YPT, of course) to help the boys understand the concepts of those more involved badges.

    During the regular meeting cycle when school’s in session, it can be very challenging to schedule boys around their other activities. This is why summer is such a great time to make headway towards the next rank.

    • I forgot to mention that over the summer vacation months our troop holds “Game Nights” at our meeting place. Boys can come and hang out, or they can meet with one of the adult leaders to work on advancements.

      • That’s an awesome idea!

  13. First off, our troop is active in the summer, so I don’t have this issue, but I do support the scoutmaster in his position. Your expert left out one part of the current Guide to Advancement’s definition of “active”.

    1. The Scout is registered.
    2. The Scout is in good standing.
    3. The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations;
    or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained.
    If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying
    Venturer or Sea Scout meets those aspects of his
    unit’s pre-established expectations that refer to a level
    of activity, then he is considered active and the
    requirement is met. Time counted as “active” need
    not be consecutive. A boy may piece together any
    times he has been active and still qualify. If he does
    not meet his unit’s reasonable expectations, then he
    must be offered the alternative that follows.

    The third step is “Unit’s reasonable expectations” and “pre-established expectations”. If a unit sets the expectation that the time the unit is not meeting for a period of time and a patrol leader might not be doing anything in their position of responsibility – why should that count towards his six months in a position? If it furthers the mission of this unit to set these expectations – then I see them as being in accordance with the current version of the Guide to Advancement.

    • Strangely, comments posted earlier this morning essentially saying the same thing, that the expert’s answer left off important data that would support the Scoutmasters not counting certain types of inactivity were suppressed by the moderator. Congrats for getting your POV through the moderator process. Let’s see if this one is similarly censured.

      • Bryan Wendell // July 31, 2014 at 2:07 pm // Reply

        Nope, your comments were approved. I was in a meeting, so I couldn’t do it right away. Sorry about that.

    • Although I understand your theory, it is not fair. just because, you (generic you) as an SM do not want to take the time to have even a monthly meeting with some activity even if it’s going bowling or roller skating or hiking for an EVENING….doesn’t mean the entire troop and/or individual boy should be punished.

      That is on YOU, as the SM. If you don’t want to do it, DELEGATE. We had a very small troop – 9 registered, 5 active. It wasn’t the boys that didn’t want to do stuff, it was the adults. Pulling teeth to meet YP. Great parents, they just didn’t camp or take part. But we tried to do something every month…not necessarily a campout. We did go to camp.

      If no gains are met for 3 months out of the year, that’s taking away 1/4 of the advancement time. I’m wondering if this is not his method to prevent boys from getting Eagle until their late teenage years. I know it’s a pet peeve about young Eagles. But the boys are less distracted by girls, gas, sports at an earlier age. In our troop we had two Life scouts that had completed everything except their project. Both were athletes and musicians…obviously girls part of that, too. Both missed out. I cried for them literally. I did all I could as an SM to push then forward, but there were too many other things going on.

      Bottom line is that BSA doesn’t state what in good standing or active means. I checked on that many times. There is no minimum, so for a troop to punish the boys for inactivity when it is THEIR fault is inexcusible in my opinion. There are ways around that.

      • Do we know that the troop doesn’t meet during this period because of the scoutmaster? What if the troop committee dictates this policy? Or if the chartered organization? Or if the Patrol Leader’s Council set the calendar like it is supposed to do? We don’t know. My point is – the guide to advancement allows units to set “pre-established expectations”. If the BSA wants to revert to allowing anyone being registered to be considered “active” like they have done in the past – then they need to modify the guide to advancement and remove these statements.

        • Nahila Nakne // July 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm //

          Don’t give them any ideas ;)

        • You’ve got it totally backwards. It sounds like this unit’s “pre-established expectations” for activity during the summer amount to exactly nothing. That is, they don’t expect the Scouts to be attending meetings, planning outings, etc. So if the scouts aren’t attending meetings, they are doing exactly what the unit expects them to. And since they are still registered and in good standing, the time counts. Excluding time when it isn’t the scouts’ fault is directly contrary to the spirit of the GtA.

    • Jim Kangas // July 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm // Reply

      Downtime for the troop, team or crew doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity for those with positions of responsibility:

      Buglers can brush up on their proficiency or learn new calls; Quartermasters can get together with Scouts and the Equipment Chair to clean and repair gear, order missing parts, or determine needs for the coming year; Patrol Leaders can still have meetings with their patrols and do things; the Librarian can do housekeeping on the troop’s reading materials; the Historian can file and post event photos to the website or update journals. How about the website — summer is a good time to refresh and update web pages; Instructors can line up resources for skills sessions; Den Chiefs can come up with fun activities for their dens; not to mention this is when the Patrol Leaders’ Council assembles the program for the coming year.

      I have described only troop/team positions, but Venture crew leaders can also be busy preparing for their upcoming activities.

      My earlier comments related what Cub Scout packs can do.

    • If the expectations are that there is no activity for a specified period and the Scout is registered and in good standing, then the Scout is meeting the unit’s requirements and is active. However, I do question whether these are reasonable expectations. It would be interesting to see this unit’s JTE scorecard, especially retention and advancement.

      We know that we will have some Scouts on vacation each week, but the PLC plans accordingly. Since June 1st, our Scouts have logged 246 individual nights camping, completed 6 ranks and an Eagle Palm, complete 108 merit badges, and did an Eagle project. Before the end of August, we will have another campout, 2 more Eagle projects, and I expect to see another 10 – 15 merit badges finished and several more ranks earned.

      Our only dark period is mid-December until school starts in January.

  14. Our pack has a year round program. My thought is to offer an active program and let families participate as it works for them. Because attendance varies in the summer, we offer group activities. We thought we were joining an active troop, but the sm unilaterally de ide to take the summer off, other then a few boys going to camp. Basically, his son has lost interest, so he has too. My son has been finding other scout functions to join, but he really longs to have a patrol. His sm tried to recuse to recognize merit badges and work done at these official scout functions. He’s also tried to refuse blue cards, and now he is making my son wait over 3 months (minimum) for a board of review. He went to the committee and asked for a board if review, then the committee chair man, pastor, Charter rep, and finally the district executive. Nothing has matter. He’s currently deflated, but troop shopping.

    • YEP, you need a new troop….or the troop needs a new SM.

    • The troop you are currently associated with has seemingly gone way off the beaten path as far as their program is concerned. If the SM has lost interest in being in Scouting, it is time to replace him. The Scoutmaster also doesn’t have the power to tell a Scout which merit badges he may work on, he may not refuse blue cards, nor deny Scoutmaster conferences, boards of review or activities he may attend, no matter what time of year it is. A high-five to your son for his initiative in locating other Scouting activities.

      Scouts protest with their feet, and I’d suggest your son invite as many of his buddies as he can and find a new troop ASAP.

  15. Nahila Nakne // July 31, 2014 at 10:55 am // Reply

    #1 In 32 years of Scouting, I have NEVER (emphasis) heard of a Boy Scout Troop taking the summer off until very recently. And it shocked me. My question is :Why isn’t a Boy Scout Troop meeting year round? Only time my troop didn’t meet was when the meeting fell on a holiday or when we were at camp, i.e summer camp, winter camp, HA trip, etc. That’s it. Some of the best meetings and camp outs were during the summer when the day is longer, and no school to deal with. Do we have Scouts missing a meeting or trip due to vacations, yes we do. Just like we have Scouts missing meetings at trips due to school related activities. Boy Scouts isn’t Cub Scouts, and even then, Cub Scout Packs are encouraged to work on the Summertime Pack Award.

    #2 If the unit is not meeting or doing anything during the summer, then, how can scouts be active with the unit? As Dave B. above posted, Requirement 3 for the active participation requirement is not being met per page 26 of the G2A.

    #3 While not asked, I’ going to bring it up. If a troop is taking a 3 month vacation, how are the Position of Responsibility requirements being met during the summer? Page 28 of the G2A covers that, and if the unit expectation is no meetings, then the scouts in PORs are not doing their jobs leading the troop, and can’t be expected to meet the POR requirements.

    • If the unit is not meeting or doing anything during the summer, their expectations of the Scouts’ activity is that the scouts will not be meeting, planning, hiking, etc. Therefore, the scouts are meeting the units’ expectations, and the time should count.

    • Even if many of the troop’s older Scouts are away on High Adventure, the troop still holds a troop meeting, though it may not be a meeting in the traditional sense; they may meet to go to a mini-golf course, go climbing at a local outfitter’s climbing wall, take a bike ride or even take a ride on a historic steamboat on our lake; anything a little different to get them away from video games or TV for a few hours.

      If our troop takes a breather, as we do in December (2 weeks) and August (3 weeks), the Scouts may consider it a “paid vacation” as they can’t be penalized for not being active if the troop isn’t active (also see my earlier comments on downtime).

  16. A very unsatisfying and impractical answer from the “Expert.” Although some people here are surprised that troops don’t have weekly meetings during the summer, my guess is that most troops don’t do so. My troop generally doesn’t meet during July until the end of August when we have a calendar planning meeting for the next program year – that’s approximately 6 to 7 weeks of weekly-troop-meetings hiatus. During that time we: attend a week of summer camp, send a crew on a high adventure trip, send boys to NYLT, and attend the occasional other event such as NOAC. There may also be some community service projects during the summer.

    Recall item #3 in the definition of Active: “The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations.” That means the Unit sets the expectations. If you don’t attend one or more of the summer activities I listed above, either as a participant or staff member, you are not active, and hence, you will not get time-served credit.

    Scouting is not a no-show job. My unit’s expectation is that you will actively participate in the program. If you have a Position of Responsibility (POR) you need to actually do something and not languish lazily from June to September. Your SPL or PL can’t attend summer camp? He doesn’t get the POR credit! And if your SM is handing out POR credit to kids that did nothing all summer, he’s doing it wrong.

  17. Matt Culbertson // July 31, 2014 at 11:36 am // Reply

    While this is recognized as not right, the big issue is not Star and Life advancement, it’s Life to Eagle. If there is no credit given for 3 months and given the propensity for most to run right up against their 18th birthday, you could have an issue where the scout doesn’t have 6 months tenure or POR. The scout would then have to make the SM look foolish by asking for an extension to meet these requirements because the SM cut off the time to complete the requirements. Since all Eagle extension requests have to be approved by national land on Mike L’s desk, my guess is that no one in his council advancement committee would want to bring an extension application to the SE for his signature and this SM’s “policy” will be quickly eliminated.

  18. Scouting at all levels is a year-round program according to BSA Standards. If a unit makes a blanket decision to not have anything to offer their Scouts during the summer months, they are making a huge mistake. Scale back some, or have more casual activities, sure, but get the boys together in some way! They see less of their friends because school is out… they just might have a great time going bike riding or playing capture the flag or going geo-caching or fishing or whatever… I would rather take a break during some of the busier months (December?) during the school year than during the summer!!! Granted, I am a Cubmaster; we scale back to one Pack event per month (some dens still meet, some don’t) and camps for Bears and Webelos… but my older son’s Troop meets every other week. They wear class B’s and meet outside a good portion of the time.

  19. It comes down to this: the scouts are active in scouting, but are they active in doing their position of responsibility? Are the patrol leaders holding meetings with their patrol and planning patrol outings throughout the summer? Is the quartermaster checking gear in and out? Is the Senior Patrol Leader checking on the patrol leaders? Are troop instructors holding outings to teach skills to new scouts? If yes, then the scoutmaster is wrong. If not, then per the guide to advancement, the scoutmaster and troop committee should be able “pre-establish expectations” that this time is not credited when you are idle. The right answer to the original question isn’t yes or no. The answer is “it depends”.

  20. betsy huhn // July 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm // Reply

    If your troop us active…and a scout is not…should he still be counted as time served???

    • Connie Knie // August 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm // Reply

      According to the G2A “active” can be determined by each troop.

  21. Todd Kunze // July 31, 2014 at 9:22 pm // Reply

    We remain completely active and continue once a week meetings. Monthly campouts are replaced by summer camp and high adventure camping.
    BTW, if you turn the photo 90 degrees it appears to be a nod toward support of equality . . . Like!

  22. betsy huhn // July 31, 2014 at 10:21 pm // Reply

    We also remain active…but a scout that does not wants summer to count. His time is close..but he isn’t active do in his case..no I believe summer months don’t count.

  23. The important point in the question is “during the summer, Scouts attend”. That means they are showing up, probably in uniform, at events representing their troop as whatever position they’re holding. They very well may be spending more hours scouting than they do during the school year. What we scouters need to do is stop marking calendar time, and start interacting with those scouts asking questions like “What’s one thing in your office that you’d like to do that you couldn’t do during he school year?”

    In other words, work with the scout, not the requirements.

  24. Lazy Scoutmaster?

    I have no patience anymore for folks who like to make up their own rules (almost as bad as troops setting “active” metrics). Summer is the only time some scouts get away from the school sports and have a chance to catch up.

    Get busy and have a summer scout program, or get rid of this scoutmaster.

  25. I recall how I absolutely hated “taking a break” either at Christmas for 3 weeks, or every other week over the summer, when I was a scout in the late 70’s and 80’s. As a den leader for 4 years now, I’ve hated break weeks, and run meetings even when the Pack is on Hiatus. If you continue after school, It’s possible to earn rank in Oct/Nov, and Be a Wolf, when you are in Wolf year, etc. The same applies to making 1st Class in 1 year, per the national goal.

Join the conversation