What to do when a Scout loses his handbook

expertlogo1Tragedy has struck! Life Scout Ethan lost his Boy Scout Handbook.

That means all of the rank requirements, service hours and camping nights recorded in the back of his book are gone.

Is it back to square one (Scout rank) for Ethan? No way.

For today’s Ask the Expert, I field a question from an assistant Scoutmaster wondering what to do when a Scout loses his Boy Scout Handbook. Here’s the question and answer.

The Question


It would be great if you did a piece on what to do if a Scout loses his Boy Scout Handbook. I can’t seem to find any official word on what a Scout should do. I suspect that since his council, troop and national have records of when he achieved each rank, that he would not be required to “start from scratch.”

Any insight you can offer would be great.

Jim Benson, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 192, Wayne, N.J.

The Expert Answer

Here it is, from Michael Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s content management team:

The loss of the Scout’s handbook does not negate the requirements he has already completed, so he would not have to “start from scratch.”

With unit advancement software (i.e. TroopMaster), Internet Advancement, and a Person Listing a council can generate, his advancement can be confirmed. The dates and signatures entered into the handbook are for the Scout’s benefit and an added measure proof of completion. Sometimes the handbook can be used as proof of completion if the unit has not maintained a Scout’s records, or ScoutNET has not been updated.

Advancement records are at the retained unit or council level; the national office does not have these records.

As for what to do now, a Scout may purchase another handbook and, based on his current advancement records (unit software, ScoutNET, and Advancement Reports), the unit leadership can go through and supply the dates and initial the completed requirements.

More Ask the Expert

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me. I can’t respond to each question, but I select commonly asked questions to answer on the blog.

About Bryan Wendell 3269 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.