At certain critical points in a Boy Scout’s journey through the program, he’s asked to stop and think. He looks back on where he’s been and looks ahead to where he’s going.
We call it the board of review.
The board of review is a chance for adults to talk with the Scout about what he’s done, what he’s learned, how has it helped him in his advancement and how he’s enjoying the program.
It’s an essential part of the Boy Scouting experience, and it’s required for every rank from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout. (But, as of Aug. 1, 2017, it’s no longer required for the Eagle palms.)
So you could say it’s pretty important. So important, in fact, that the monthly podcast for Boy Scout leaders dedicated an entire episode to boards of review.
In the November 2016 ScoutCast, we talked with Mike LoVecchio, BSA advancement specialist. Listen to the episode here or through your favorite podcast app.
I’ve also collected some essential takeaways below.
Who sits on the board of review?
That depends on the board of review we’re talking about. For everything but Eagle — Tenderfoot through Life — the board of review occurs at the unit level.
The unit selects three to six committee members who sit on the board of review, and they must be 21 or older. Typically these are committee members.
For the Eagle Scout board of review, the council decides how it’s run. It could be held at the unit level with a district or council representative sitting in. Or it could be held at the district or council level. For the Eagle Scout board of review, there must be between three and six adults 21 or older. For this one, board of review members don’t have to be registered members of the Boy Scouts, but they should have an understanding of the candidate and the Eagle Scout Award.
So non-Scouters can sit on the Eagle board?
Yes. In fact, that can be a powerful way to introduce a soon-to-be Eagle Scout to the community.
In LoVecchio’s council, he says, “we have a pool of individuals — men and women of the community, plus other Scouters. One of the things we look at is the Scout’s statement of purpose and life ambitions, and we try to get individuals on that board that meet that Scout’s ambitions. For an example, let’s say a young man wants to go into law. We’re going to try and get some lawyers in the community to sit on that board of review.”
Is anyone ineligible to sit in?
Yes. Parents and unit leaders.
What if a parent insists on sitting in?
Having a parent there could change the dynamics of the room, so it’s strongly discouraged. The Scout may not feel free to answer the questions honestly. He may give the answer he thinks his parents want him to give.
That said, if a parent insists that he or she sits in, this must be allowed.
Who schedules the board of review?
The Scoutmaster or the team coach.
Once they have the Scoutmaster conference or unit leader conference, they are responsible for arranging the board of review at a time that works for board members and the Scout.
Should a Scout be retested?
Scouts should not be asked to do things like recite the Scout Law or tie a bowline. That’s not the point of the board of review.
“There is a policy and they’ll find that in Section 4 [of the Guide to Advancement] that the Scout is not to be retested,” LoVecchio says. “They already passed the requirements. It’s already been signed off. Now it’s a matter of going through a lot of people are calling them character boards, it’s more about finding out about the Scout, his experiences, the fun he’s had and just learning about the Scout and his goals and ambitions.”
Must a Scout wear his uniform?
“There’s been a myth going around for many years that a Scout must be in Scout uniform, and that is not the case,” LoVecchio says. “They can be in Scout uniform if they have the complete uniform or as complete as possible. They can also be neat in appearance. So a board of review should not be denied because the Scout is not in uniform.”
What about Venturers?
The Venturing board of review is covered in the Guide to Advancement, section 188.8.131.52.
Where can I learn more?
Learn more — including details on videoconferencing, suggested discussion topics and the appeal process — in the Guide to Advancement.
Hear more in the November 2016 ScoutCast
For more of this discussion, listen to the November 2016 episode of ScoutCast.
You can also search “ScoutCast” in your favorite podcasting app to listen right on your phone.
Bryan on Scouting: 40 questions to ask at your next Eagle Board of Review
Scouting magazine: Facts and suggestions on leading effective boards of review
Scouting magazine: This is Not a Test