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New requirements mandatory as of Jan. 1, 2017

Quick heads up for anyone still using pre-2016 Boy Scout rank requirements.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, all Boy Scouts — regardless of rank — must begin using the new Boy Scout requirements I blogged about last year.

You got a first look at the Boy Scout requirement changes way back in January 2014; the requirements themselves were released to the public in May 2015.

The BSA established 2016 as a transition year, allowing Boy Scouts to choose whether to use the new requirements or finish up their current rank with the old ones.

Now that it’s 2017, every Boy Scout must use the new requirements. Here’s the scoop:

Where can I find the new Boy Scout requirements?

The BSA has made it easy for you, providing this printable Handbook insert and this PDF. (Here is the Spanish version.)

Want a side-by-side comparison of old vs. new? That’s here.

When do my Scouts start using these new Boy Scout requirements?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, all Boy Scouts must use the current requirements regardless of rank.

For those who are curious, here’s a look back at how Boy Scouts transitioned from the old to the new requirements. It was a very transparent, Scouter-friendly process.

What are the big changes?

Click each of these below to take a closer look:

What if I still have questions?

They’re probably answered on the BSA’s Program Updates page. It’s my go-to source for information on — what else? — BSA program updates.

57 Comments on New requirements mandatory as of Jan. 1, 2017

  1. If a boy is already a Life Scout and finishing up on his Eagle project can he finish up in his old book

    • No, he must use the new requirements. On the upside, there is virtually no change at all between the old and new Eagle requirements. Check the link above for the side by side comparison for details.

    • Yes. Although he had a whole year to finish Eagle, and now he has to use the new requirements, there has been no change to the Eagle project book. However, he will now have to demonstrate having had Scout Spirit over the course of earning Eagle — it used to be a requirement where you did it for a time then got it signed off.

    • Sooo your scout is almost finished second class. Only has to do one thing, the swimming. Troop plans to go mid December. The pool is closed. Scheduled again last week in December, an ice storm occurs. It is cancelled. Any chance exceptions?

      • Step 1: List the requirements from the new batch that he has not yet done.
        Step 2: Ask yourself this: would you rather your boy never prove to himself that he can do them?

      • No.

  2. Our troop made it mandatory that upon ranking up at any point last year they then had to begin using all the new requirements. No questions asked. All new boys began using the new books.

    • That wasn’t authorized. Kind of a rogue thing to do. One could infer you change the rules as you see fit for other parts of the program.

      • Actually is wasn’t a rogue thing to do. For Scouts who joined prior to 1/1/16, Scouts completing Scout were required to switch to the new requirements upon completion of the Scout Badge; Scouts working on Tenderfoot through First Class had to switch to the new requirements at the completion of First Class; Scout who had completed First Class could complete the rank they were currently working on using the existing 2016 requirements but had to switch to the new requirements for all subsequent ranks. In addition, any Scout could elect to use the new requirements for the rank he was currently working on and all subsequent ranks.

        • H. David Pendleton // January 4, 2017 at 4:35 pm //

          Since a Scout can work on T-2-1 requirements at the same time, a Scout that wasn’t a Tenderfoot but had completed at least 1 of the 2nd Class & 1 of the 1st Class requirements (a very likely scenario), the Scout could have worked under the old requirements until 1 January 2017 giving the Scout 12 months to reach 1st Class. Upon making 1st Class, they then could have switched to the new 1st Class requirements.

          If the Troop had made the Scout in the above scenario switch to the new 2nd & 1st Class requirements upon making Tenderfoot was changing the requirements. If a Scout had 90% of the 2nd Class & 1st Class requirements done when making Tenderfoot, that could have been adding some additional work to the Scout. Now if they only had a couple of requirements for the higher ranks completed, then it may not have been a big deadl.

          We known, however, we are not to add or subtract to the requirements for rank advancement or to earn a Merit Badge.

      • Donald Felch // January 6, 2017 at 1:57 pm // Reply

        The charter organization relationship allows for standards over and above those required by BSA. Nothing at all wrong with a troop standard. You just can’t reduce or remove BSA requirements. Kudos to this troop for leaning forward and preventing a crisis at the last moment!

        • Ehhh, no. There is no provision for anyone, including charter orgs, to add any requirements. It’s either in the current Guide to Advancement or it isnt.

      • Can i still join now

  3. Scoutmaster Ken // January 3, 2017 at 9:03 pm // Reply

    This is the first I’ve heard of this requirement change. last I heard, scouts were allowed to either finish out the rank they were working on or use the new requirements. So far, I have 2 scouts that are still using the old requirements because they are close to finishing and didn’t rank up last year.

    • In situations like these, I encourage scouters to describe the problem and ask the boys what they think would be fair.

    • I’m sorry, but this blog, scouting.org usscouts.org and meritbadge.org have been talking about it on and off for the past year and a half as well as (probably) your local Roundtable group, so go to Roundtable every month? Keep an eye on this blog or other Scouting websites?

      They’ve had a year to officially finish what they were working on. They should use the new requirements now.

      That being said, other than Eagle, only your group knows which requirements a boy used for a rank, so do whatever is best.

    • Scoutmaster Ken // January 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm // Reply

      Maybe I misrepresented my understanding. I knew about the new requirements and the changes that were occurring (even though the literature said there would be “no significant changes” to the Boy Scout program), what I didn’t see was that regardless of where your were in completing an advancement, come Jan 1 you HAD to change to the new requirements. My understanding was that they could finish what they were working on and they had the option to use the new or old requirements in 2016, but anything started after 1 Jan had to be the new requirements. All my scouts work on S-T-2-1 rank requirements at the same time so that within the first year to year and a half, they have completed 1st Class. I have 2 that are close to finishing 1st Class, but didn’t before 1 Jan. You want me to tell them that they don’t have one or two requirements to finish, but 4 or 5 requirements??? Really?

      • Robert Lawton // January 13, 2017 at 3:17 pm // Reply

        Or you could tell them that you screwed up. Really. It happens. Adults make mistakes, so lead by example, take the blame, tell them you’re sorry, and continue helping them advance. A few extra nights of camping (etc) should be considered fun!

  4. We notified all the “legacy” Scouts back in the summer that requirements were changing and they would be force-converted 1 Jan 2017. It was entertaining to see all the guys that had not made First Class start comparing the old and new requirements, and panic. Ironically, almost all of them had done everything they needed EXCEPT get their books signed.

    Only had one who did not make it to First Class on the old requirements.

  5. Scouts to me has always been about accepting other cultures, creeds, and colors as brothers. Why is it that Scouts are still forced to believe in a god? Free thought should be encouraged. I went from tiger all the way up through eagle, did my good turn daily, helped other people at all times, and upheld my oath. I do not believe in god. This belief should not be a requirement as my brothers and I (all eagle scouts) are proof that it’s requirement is not necessary to become an example of what an eagle really is.

    • Robert Lawton // January 13, 2017 at 3:13 pm // Reply

      Amen!

      • Then why did you join an organization whose basic principals, based on Lord Baden Powell’s vision of developing a boy into an honorable man,
        was a firm belief in God?

      • I would not interpret telling about ones duty to god as meaning I have to confess a belief in god. If a scout were to say “at this point in my life I don’t know what I think about god,” I would have the utmost respect for him. Mark Twain once said that any boy that isn’t part pagan isn’t all boy.

    • What you don’t believe in is far less interesting than what you do believe in. The word god can be used to describe anything that you care deeply about. Maybe you don’t believe in my god, but I’ll bet that you believe in something.

    • Jennifer Molloy // January 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm // Reply

      Thank you for this, Tim. My son is about to go from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and I happened upon this looking around in my search for Boy Scout Troops for him to join. As a “new” Boy Scout parent, the requirement that my son stand up once a year and be forced to talk about “duty to God” when we are a non-religious family could be a deal breaker in terms of keeping him in Scouting. I am fine with Scouting having aspects of religion included, and encourage my son in learning about all religions, but I am not fine with religion being forced on Scouts and their families. I am writing this reply in hopes that it will be read by the Advancement Committee and Scout Leadership across the board to let them know that celebration of religion as part of the diversity of Scouting is a “plus”, forcing religion on all members is a definite “minus” and will deter otherwise fine Scouts and families from joining. I was under the impression that ALL were welcome in Scouting, and our Cub Scout experience was exactly so, and hope that this remains so into Boy Scouting. Seeing that there are 20 “thumbs down” to this comment is quite discouraging, actually, but your example, Tim, is, right now, allowing me to continue to keep my son in Scouting…for now. Thanks for letting me have my say.

  6. You should have read scoutings declaration on religious principles! Scouting doesn’t define God, per se.
    It’s (scoutings) definition can be broad or narrow ! It could be that the cosmos is ordered by an undefined and undetermined higher power ! And, the way I read it, scouting could support that !
    I encourage you to find and read it! We have a constitutional right of free association and Scouting has the right to set its standards!
    It would be disingenuous of you participate otherwise!

  7. Bryan, my confusion is for scouts who joined before 1/1/16 and had already achieved at least Scout (old joining rank). As I read it and as it’s written those scouts may choose to complete 1st class on the old requirements. Later the changes state that all scouts must comply to the new requirements. Aren’t these two contradictory? Do these scouts still have the option to complete 1st class under the old requirements?

    • Doug, 2016 was the transition period for the requirements. During 2016, there were a lot of MAY in the use of the new requirements. As of 1/1/17, the operative word is MUST. The transition year has ended and all youth are now required to use the new rank requirements.

  8. I thought last year was the mandatory change. Any new boy coming in after January 1, 2016 I had do the new requirements. The older boys I let have a choice to continue with the old or switch to the new. I was under the impression that they could continue with the old requirements through to Eagle. It’s good to know now that it’s mandatory for everybody to switch. That way we can transition everybody over so it’s all the same. That will be nice.

  9. Has anyone using Scoutbook figured out how to switch a boy over to the new requirements without losing the documentation of what he had previously completed? Some of the requirements are the same.

  10. Bill McClain // January 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm // Reply

    Reading all these comments leads me to believe there is a huge communication failure with many Scouters within the BSA movement. Why that is is perplexing to me. I would suggest there is too much ASSUMING taking place or people are getting their information from people that think they know but actually don’t know. As a 10year district advancement chair, I pride myself on being a Scout advancement expert. I know the GTA quite well having been to Philmont twice for advancement trainings. The bottom line here was stated nicely above. Troop leaders have had a year and a half to get ready for the new requirements to take affect on Jan. 1st. Any questions could have been directed and answered by your district or council advancement committee, who should have been disseminating information at Roundtables for at least the past year. If you have any advancement questions, I urge you to contact a member of your district advancement committee. If they don’t have an immediate answer to your question, they will get you the correct answer along with the reference source. I rest my case!

    • Scoutmaster Ken // January 12, 2017 at 5:25 pm // Reply

      Thing is Bill, since the communication coming out of National was so clear, we didn’t have any questions. …and yet, here we are with questions because the implementation didn’t match the documentation.

  11. ScoutBook for Cub Packs has an icon on each activity level to select the year of requirements. Not sure if Boy Scout version has this feature. The “highlighted” year is the one with the tan background, not the white version.

  12. Scouter for life // January 12, 2017 at 5:12 pm // Reply

    Question about the EDGE requirement for Life.

    The Scout completed it and got it signed off. He has other requirements left undone since Dec 31. Does that mean he has to redo it with the new requirements for T – 2 -1?

    • Robert Lawton // January 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm // Reply

      Correct. Scouts seeking to advance in 2017 must meet the new requirements.

  13. John McKenzie // January 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm // Reply

    I have only been around the Scouting program for a few years. However, it seems to me that the National Advancement Committee is attempting to make changes in the program that aren’t necessarily extremely important. It appears they are making changes that are making it more difficult for newer Scouts to advance.

    We encourage First Class in a year, but what was the thought process behind making Scout a rank? Why add another night of camping for Tenderfoot? Why the need to maintain Scout Spirit the entire time for Eagle?

    What if a Scout believes in a religious program that does NOT believe in God? Do we not let him even join Scouting? Our religious award programs are available for Scouts of all religions, but the requirement seems to focus on believing in God.

    There are so many roadblocks being thrown in front of not only Scouters, but also Scouts.
    If I was a young lad, I might have second thoughts about wanting to belong to this organization any longer.

    I certainly hope that the National Advancement Committee will sit back and take a breather for awhile now.

    But I have one real pet peeve about the JTE points for Boy Scout Advancement in allowing credit for one and only advancing one rank in a given year. When the focus is on First Class in a year, a unit should get more points if a Scout advanced two or three ranks in a given calendar year. Not just one point.

    End of my rant.

  14. I have a son who will be transitioning from cub scouts to boy scouts in March. Will there be a 14th edition of the handbook, or are the correct requirements in the 2016 (13th edition) handbook already?

    • Bryan Wendell // January 13, 2017 at 7:04 am // Reply

      No 14th edition in the works, so you’ll want to use the 13th edition with the supplemental requirements linked above. Enjoy the journey!

      • The supplemental requirements you mention above are the requirements in the 13th edition Scout Book so why would there be a 14th edition

    • The correct requirements are in the current version of the handbook. The Handbook was revised to coincide with the new requirements in 2015/2016.

  15. If a scout was a 2nd class in Oct 2016. Can he advance to 1st class under the “old Book” and number of camping nights?

    • Robert Lawton // January 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm // Reply

      No.

  16. Scouting has been modifying the advancement process for years. Every time they have changed the requirements, it has been a year before the transition was over. How many of the older scouters remember the old Belt Loops, or before that when there was no Scout, you joined and earned TENDERFOOT first. The only difference is now we have more on-line information, and it seems like we may not be communicating the information in round tables, or reading scouting magazines. It probably should have had something in Boy’s Life.

  17. Glad they got rid of that stupid flotation test for First Class. They should probably add some more outdoors skills though. Seems like the program is tilting away from the outdoors and skills development and towards symbolism and values. But, the best way to teach that stuff isn’t by having them memorize a bunch of things, it’s by having them do new challenging things in a way that reflects the values we want to instill.

  18. Chris Cullen // January 14, 2017 at 5:59 am // Reply

    Just so I am clear if a scout has earned a rank under the old program does he get reset and need to start at scout, or does he just use the new program for his next rank?

  19. Maybe there should be a requirement that you can UNDERSTAND English before you try to talk
    About the requirements (or get a good interpreter).

  20. We do not have a religious group of kids how can I make them talk about their duties to god.

    • Maybe focus more on duty to being kind and reverent to others. In our pack & troop BOTH we let Duty to God be done at home with their family and their believe. In a discussion at scouts we ask what does duty to god mean to YOU, personally. IF it must be talked about at scouts, We focus more on being kind & helping others as most religious & non religious can agree this is a great rule to live by.

      The various faith based adventures have lots of room to accommodate all faiths, including having no direct religious affiliation. They drive the scout to understand that there’s more than duty to self, & they promote a time of self reflection with family & community, & in service to others. As the scouts get older, they put that service into action. All of this can be part of an organized faith organization, or with his family, school, unit, or other organization.

      Just make it your own in a way and include them all so some don’t feel like they are wrong in what the believe or don’t.

      😊

  21. With the new modifications, will the Arrow of Light knot still be allowed to be worn on the Boy Scout and Adult uniform if the Arrow of Light RANK is earned now?

  22. Can rank requirement sign-offs prior to 1/1/17 be transferred or does the scout have to repeat the rank from scratch? For example, they completed a certain requirement for 2nd Class, which is still part of the new 2nd Class requirement. Is that sign-off still valid?

  23. A friend of mine only needed his scout master conference and his board of review to make 1st class but couldn’t get one because of Christmas holiday (completed last requirements at winter camp that was on Dec 27-31st). Does he have to start all the requirements over again or can some requirements from 2016 be used (on the ones that didn’t change)?

    • Thomas Pevarnik // April 5, 2017 at 11:05 am // Reply

      I think the answer to your question is no.

      I’m the Advancement Chair for our Troop. I had posed a slightly different version of your question to our District Leadership. I had asked whether a scout could have everything completed for rank under the old requirements up to and through the Scoutmaster Conference by year end, but have his Board of Review wait until after the first of the year. The reason I thought this might have been allowed is that BSA policy permits Eagle scouts to have their BOR AFTER their 18th birthday if they have all other requirements completed prior to turning 18 (and I’ve conducted many Eagle Boards after the 18th Birthday). I was told NO, EVERYTHING, including the BOR had to be completed before 12/31. I asked the question in time to plan my boards. Fortunately, we only had to adjust the schedule for one scout, and got everyone in. We also gave all the scouts fair warning.

  24. I can find no answer to my questions or any place to have it answered, except possibly here. I can question the IRS in person, by email, or by telephone, but BSA provides no regular pathway?

    SC-4 requires identifying or showing evidence of ten [different?] “kinds” of “wild animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, mollusks).”

    1. Mollusks make up one of 35 phylla. Birds, mammals, reptiles, and “fish” make up four or six classes of the subphylum Vertebrata – two steps down the taxonomic ladder from a phylum like Mollusca, Vertebrata is one of the other 34 phyla.

    So are we to assume that, contrary to normal standards of English usage, the one Phulum and four (or six) classes listed parenthetically were meant to be examples – (“for example”) – rather than an exclusive list by way of definition? If so, amphibians and the other animal life in the 33 phyla omitted, such as Nematoda (e.g. round worms), are fair game as “animals.” And if it doesn’t matter, why the examples of one phylum and four (or six) classes? Why any definition or examples at all if unclear?

    2. “Kind” is not a conventional scientific term. Given the high abstraction of the examples given, are animals from two classes of Mullusca two different “kinds” towards the required ten? Or did the author(s) mean ten different phyla, subphyla, or classes OR ten different species? Or is it ten animals that are different is some undefined way? Do you care? If you don’t, I’ll do my best to change the advancement requirements by deciding for you. Oh wait, I am prohibited from doing. So care.

    2. What does BSA mean by “wild”? Are feral Felis catus or feral Canis familiaris or feral Quaker Parrots “wild” for advancement purposes? Does it depend on whether they escaped from a pet shop? Is a domesticated Canis lupus or one habituated to man NOT “wild” for those purposes? If the adjective does not matter, why is it there?

    Again, I am perfect;y willing to decide for you, but I thought you should get first crack at it.

    (Not that you fixed the three fires requirement for WIlderness Survival when I pointed out ten years ago that thermite grenades and propane torches are not “matches.”)

  25. Note: 35 Phyla. Sybphyla Cordata. Classes jawless fish. cartilaginous fish, bony fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals.

  26. Tom Linton // April 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm // Reply

    BSA: “identify or show evidence of”

    This is an animal track. It is evidence that a kind of animal was here.
    This is a different animal track so it is sign of a different kind of animal.
    That’s two.

    This is a kind of plant because it has leaves and plants have leaves.
    This is a different kind of plant because the leaves are different from the other kind of plant. That’s two.

    Really? “or”?

  27. And then there is “native.” It is estimated that over 40% of the species in the U.S. at present are not native to the areas in which they are found in the sense of predating European invasion. Tumbleweed, Privet, Queen Ann’s Lace, Russian thistle, Johnson Grass, Common Reed, and Scots Pine would be examples. Other common plants are not native to the areas in which they are now common. These include some of the most common species in the wild in my state of Ohio, such as Black Locust, Osage Orange, and Common Buckthorn. We have whole forests of Norway Spruce planted as a “conservation” measure.

    So literally “native” or “native or naturalized.”

    Where do we contact the authoritative voice of BSA when the official prose is unclear?

    Time to IOLS is ticking away.

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