When do Scouts start using the new Boy Scout requirements?

When Ryan Seacrest finishes the countdown on New Year’s Eve, the calendar won’t be the only thing changing.

Boy Scouts will switch to a new set of requirements at each rank — Scout through Eagle — beginning Jan. 1, 2016. You can see all the requirements, old and new, in this PDF.

But when are Scouts required to use the new requirements? What about Scouts who are still working on a rank using the old requirements?

And what about those young men who join the troop after Jan. 1, 2016? Must they use the new requirements right away?

Those answers and more below, taken from these FAQs.

This is the latest in a series of posts where I take an in-depth look at changes coming to Boy Scouting next year.

I’ve already blogged about the number of camping nights and service hours increasing, an increased emphasis on physical fitnessScout becoming its own rank and Boy Scouts telling about their duty to God at each rank. You can read more about changes to Boy Scouting (and, for that matter, Cub Scouting and Venturing, on the Program Updates page.)

When can Scouts start using the new Boy Scout requirements?

On Jan. 1, 2016. No earlier.

The requirements were released early so Scouts and Scouters would have plenty of time to prepare for the changes.

Does every Boy Scout have to switch to the new requirements right on Jan. 1?

No. Boys registered in a troop, team, crew or ship on or prior to Dec. 31, 2015, may choose to switch on Jan. 1, 2016. But they don’t have to.

For those who choose not to switch right away, here are the rules:

  • Boys registered in a troop on or before Dec. 31, 2015, who are working on Tenderfoot through First Class ranks, may continue to use the old requirements through 2016, but they must convert to the new requirements upon attaining the First Class rank.
  • Boys registered in a troop, team, crew or ship on or before Dec. 31, 2015, who have completed the First Class rank may complete the rank they are currently working on with the old requirements through 2016, but then must convert to the new requirements for subsequent ranks. (For example, a First Class Scout working on Star can finish Star with the old requirements but must use the new ones for Life.)
  • Any boy registering in a troop for the first time on or after Jan. 1, 2016, must use the new requirements.

Is there a deadline for using the current/old requirements?

Yes. Dec. 31, 2016, is the last day to sign off on requirements using the old requirements.

So what if a youth is partially done with a rank on Dec. 31, 2016?

He would not need to “start over” and repeat all of the requirements for that rank. He must only complete new requirements and any new elements of requirements.

If the wording of a completed rank requirement has not changed and that requirement was signed off on or prior to Dec. 31, 2016, the approval should be transferred to the corresponding new requirements.

For Tenderfoot through First Class ranks, this may include approvals that were previously listed in a different rank.

When the rank in progress has new requirements (or new elements of requirements) that were not in a previously completed rank under the current (2015) requirements, those new requirements or elements will need to be completed in 2017 and beyond.

Will there be a new handbook for use with the new requirements?

Yes, as previously announced, the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook will be available in January 2016. Look for more details in January.

Will every Scout need to acquire a new handbook in order to have requirements signed off?

No. A Scout may continue to use his existing handbook as a reference and resource. However, he should also have a list of the new requirements for the purpose of sign-offs.

It should be noted that there will be other content updates beyond requirement changes in the new Boy Scout Handbook, which may make the purchase of a new handbook desirable for many BSA members.


  1. I’ve reviewed the new requirements with our Scouts, and while those that are working on 1st Class and 2nd Class are generally deciding to follow the old requirements, I’ve been advising our new crossover Scouts from this year and those working on Tenderfoot to strongly consider starting with the new requirements. The multiple cases of moving requirements from a higher rank to a lower rank make it possible for an individual boy to miss completing a requirement, and having a hole in their knowledge.

  2. Will the new scoutbooks be better quality? The current ones fall apart frequently. The spiral bound books lose pages easily. Need to remember the books are being used by young boys.

    • We would have liked to have seen them out by Jan 1, ‘not mid to late Jan.’ We have new scouts that bridged on Dec 5. and have no books even to just look at.

  3. Are there any changes in Eagle? There are 2 boys in our troop who age out – March and April 2017 – I doubt there would be enough time for them to get new requirements done for Eagle in 3 or 4 months.

    • Hey Sandy, there are no major changes to the Eagle Scout requirements. The only change applies to all ranks: a Scout will tell how he has done his Duty to God at his Scoutmaster conference.

  4. So, if a Boy earns the Scout Badge in December, can he earn the Scout Rank next year before moving on to Tenderfoot? Some of my boys are completionists and want to earn every badge they can.

    • If they earned the Scout Badge in December, present them with the Scout Rank at your next Court of Honor. There is no need to do the new requirements, but there is nothing stopping them from doing the new Scout Requirements either. If your troop wants to present them with both Scout emblems because they did double the work, that is up to your troop.

      • Ken, if you are thinking that earning the Scout Badge is the same as completing the Scout rank, I do not believe this is accurate information. There is a substantial difference between the Scout Badge (or joining requirements) and the new Scout rank. Completing the Badge does not mean the Scout rank has been completed. You may be thinking they could earn both?, completing the Badge in December and then working on the requirements for Scout Rank beginning in January. I guess this is possible, but not sure why they would want to.

    • In this case, Ken is correct. In fact if they’ve started to earn the scout badge, they can finish it in the new year using the 2015 requirements, according to


      “Boys who have joined prior to Jan. 1, 2016:
      • Who are working on the Scout badge MAY continue to work on the existing requirements, but MUST convert to the new requirements upon completion of the Scout badge.”

        • I don’t believe this is the case, unless you mean that the scout badge is the piece of cloth that represents the rank. In 2015 there is no “Scout” rank. In 2016 there is, and the requirements are slightly different.

  5. I was told a Course Director’s Conference that we were supposed to have the books in October. It will be difficult to execute in January when the books won’t be out. Good thing the troop I do advancement for is not expecting crossovers for a couple of months.

  6. Bryan,

    I am a Web 2 leader who’s den is receiving their AOL today.

    If I read what you wrote above correctly, if our boys join a troop before December 31st, they can use the old requirements until they earn First Class. Is that correct?

    Should I advise the boys to join a troop before December 31st then, or am I missing something here? I thought that once they completed a rank, they had to start using the new handbook, so I had been telling them it wasn’t much advantage to joining before December 31st.

    Sorry, I am a bit confused.

    • Most importantly have fun! If the den is counting on attending one more pinewood derby, Scout Sunday with the pack, or Blue and Gold, stick with the pack. If the troop has a major camping event in the next two weeks, and they want to attend ad Boy Scouts, cross over.

      The difference in the requirements is not worth the fuss.

      Never ever make program decisions based on advancement!

      Besides, for your boys it would probably only influence advancement to Scout as it is unlikely that they will start any work towards tenderfoot by year’s end.

    • What do your Cub Scouts want to do? Technically if they are in 5th grade, or 10.5 years old, they are ready for Boy Scouts.

      I know of 2 packs that do AOL and Cross Over in December. Reason for that was A) the Cubs were ready and chomping at the bot to be Boy Scouts, B) Get them ready for Spring Camporee and summer camp, and C) Save money by having them on the Troop charters instead of rechartering them with the Pack for a month, then pay $1 transfer fee.

  7. What about a boy who joins a Troop before Jan 1st, but does not obtain Scout until after Jan 1st? Since Scout is not technically a rank until Jan 1st, it seems that the boy is “working on Tenderfoot through First Class” prior to Jan 1st. Accordingly, he is grandfathered in and is not required to use the new requirements. Thoughts?

    • Don’t argue semantics. Most of us surly and ill-tempered old farts don’t consider a boy to be a scout until accomplishing the things the Scout Badge requires. If you haven’t told us you’ve committed to those ideals, you haven’t started working on tenderfoot.

      Not being mean here. But that seems to be the intent Of the advancement committee is clear: start working on the new requirements as soon as you clear the task at hand.

  8. A scout does not “work on” any ranks until after he earns the Scout badge. So if a boy joins a troop before January 1st, 2016 but doesn’t earn his Scout badge before that date, he must then use the new requirements to earn all succeeding ranks.

  9. I have to say I admire the enthusiasm of DLs who want their boys to hustle up and minimize drag. But, they raise unfair expectations of the troop. The troop might already be on winter break, which means there is no patrol leader to demonstrate requirements to. The Scoutmaster may be on vacation, in which case there is nobody to have a scoutmaster conference with. And most SMs take their conferences seriously and want to have a good face to face conversation with each boy. That may mean not every conference for a big group of crossovers will be done in one night.

    Finally, the new requirements are being put in place because we think it it’s good for the boys. Why would you ever want something less than good for your scouts.

    • Just as every Cub Scout and Boy Scout is different, so is every troop. I know of two packs where it is not the DLs who are “hustle(ing) up and minimize(ing) drag” but the Cubs themselves. Heck I know of a den where the WDL is holding them back, and some of the Cubs are frustrated they are not Boy Scouts yet.

      In the WDL’s defense, they have not met all of the AOL requirements, so they are not ready for Boy Scouts. But the WDL has done his own thing instead of using existing plans, so that is part of the delay. Also part of the delay is the SM of the CO’s troop has not had much contact with the den, or pack for that matter despite multiple attempts.

      • I not suggesting that anyone curb the enthusiasm of cubs who want to be boy scouts!
        If half the den earned AoL and are ready to move on, cross them over.
        The other half can catch up in a month or two.

        Poor communication from SMs is par for the course. They might not even be thinking crossovers for another month. (Hint to SM’s, this may be the right time to contact your local WDL!)

        • Actually the SM started the December Cross Over tradition back when he was the CM, so he knows about it. Unfortunately he doesn’t return phone calls, emails, or PMs. 🙁

        • That is unfortunate. Back in my day, the troop would be given the roster of Webelos, and a boy scout would come knock on your door and invite you to the next meeting introducing you and your folks to the SM and SPL.

          I consider the boy who invited me to be the best scout I ever met. He aged out with the lofty rank of 2nd class.

      • One thing that Youth today need to learn is patience. This is an essential life lesson. How many times have you had to wait for your boss or wait for your customer or wait for your supplier. Don’t spend so much time and energy trying to figure out how to get out of doing the new requirements, it will take less time to do the new requirements next year at the proper pace.

  10. What about Scouts who are already done with all requirements for Eagle Scout and have already obtained the Rank of Eagle Scout will the changes and effect them?

    • No and yes! Except for telling how you’ve done your duty to God and lived up to the Scout Oath and Law, the requirements for palms remain the same.
      However, most of the boys at that rank are counseling younger scouts, so they will need to understand the rank requirements to help them.

  11. Side Note: I never understood the confusion folks these days have on Advancement requirements and then the forthcoming changes…

    Also, earning the Arrow of Light is more (most) important for a Webelos Scout than the public ceremony AKA Crossover; Leaving the Pack to Join a Troop.

    Bottom line: do or achieve or complete whatever is BEST for the BOY or Scout. Please do not get so entangled in the non-essentials such as when, where & why (or why not) a cross over ceremony occurs/takes place.. This has baffled me for decades….

    PS: The Webelos Scout is not a Boy Scout, no rank involved, until he submits a BSA Troop youth application with the proper signatures, fees and submission to the local council office.

    Once this is done and fully registered, LET THE FUN BEGIN…..

  12. What if my son is about to earn all ranks up to first class (just needs scoutmaster reviews) and is joining a new troop in January? Can he still use the old requirements and continue?

  13. From the BSA PDF file:
    For 2016:
    • Boys joining on or after  Jan. 1, 2016  MUST use the new requirements.
    • Boys who have joined prior to Jan. 1, 2016:
    • Who are working on the Scout badge MAY continue to work on the existing
    requirements, but MUST convert to the new requirements upon completion of
    the Scout badge.
    • Who are working on Tenderfoot through First Class MAY continue to work on the
    existing requirements, but MUST convert to the new requirements upon
    attaining First Class.
    • Who have completed First Class MAY complete the rank they are currently
    working on in the existing requirements, but then MUST convert to the new
    requirements for subsequent ranks.
    For 2017:  All Scouts MUST use the new requirements regardless of rank.

  14. Scout Rank does not require Board Of Review, so can Scout Rank and Tenderfoot Rank be earned at the same Scout Master Conference? (It will be in sequence though, per requirements, it does not specify that “sequence” means next SMC). If there would be Board Of Review required for Scout Rank, than there would not be a possibility to do both ranks in sequence during one Scout Master Conference.
    Thank You.

    • The wording is clear that there are to be separate SMCs for each rank:

      For scout: “Req 7: Since joining the troop and while working on Scout rank, participate in a
      Scoutmaster conference.”
      And, for tenderfoot: “While working toward the Tenderfoot rank, and after completing Scout rank requirement 7, participate in a Scoutmaster conference.”

  15. When must a Scout witch to the 2016 requirements? Scenario: Scout joined the Troop before December 31, 2015, currently working on Tenderfoot rank, and has completed one of the requirements for Second Class and has not completed any requirements for First Class.
    Help is appreciated.

  16. Does BSA have a printer friendly version of the new requirement insert? All the wide solid black margins and color photos are a waste of ink, especially when you’re printing 30 or 40 of them!

  17. I’m assuming that the wording that scouts “who have completed the First Class rank may complete the rank they are currently working on” applies just as much to a scout working on Life or Eagle as it does to the example of a scout working on Star? E.g. a scout who started working on Life in October 2015 may complete Life using the previous requirements (as long as he finishes before December 31 2016), but then must switch to any new requirements for Eagle?

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