The Boy Scout board of review, a guide to getting started

Scouting-101-logoAt 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

Where can I learn more?

Learn more — including details on videoconferencing, suggested discussion topics and the appeal process — in the Guide to Advancement.

scoutcast-logo1Hear 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.

Further reading

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


  1. “Myth”? How about “expectations” and “Be prepared”?
    OK, so maybe no one can set that requirement, but if the board of review is scheduled and the scout knows when it is then what reason would he have NOT to be in uniform and prepared?
    No one is required to show up to a job or scholarship interview in anything other than shorts, and tank top, and flip flops either. But depending on the situation and how much of an impression they want to make, the youth might want to consider the expectations and meet them.

    • Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review mimic job interviews. The applicant gets ask questions about himself and his experiences and might be encourage to come with a question of his own. I don’t require job applicants to wear a tie but when one does I note it.

      When giving a speech I wear a tie and jacket not because I feel more comfortable but as a sign of respect for my audience. I hope scouts seeing their leaders take pride in wearing the uniform will wear theirs to the best of their abilities.

        • While it may not be specifically written in any BSA publication, every single interview I’ve had in my life has mimicked BORs.

        • Yes they do. That is how they should be run. It is an opportunity for the scouts to become comfortable with adults in a formal setting. We do a severe disservice to the scouts by holding them to a lower standard. Written or not.

        • What do you think sitting in front of a group of people answering questions where the outcome is whether you advance/get a job mimics? Of course it prepares the scout for job interviews. It gives the scout experience being nervous and overcoming that uncomfortable feeling and developing confidence and good communication skills.
          After sitting through 6 BORs, you better believe that scout will be prepared for job interviews, especially after going through an Eagle BOR.

    • Money.

      Traditionally, a boy might begin his scouting career with only a neckerchief until he can afford to purchase his own uniform.

      If the scout wore his uniform (that he bought with his own $$) to shreds on the last backpacking trip, and shows up to the BoR dressed nicely in something else, I’ll encourage our MC’s to give him a pass, and maybe even pitch in or offer him a job so he can afford a replacement shirt.

      If, on the other hand, the boy had his uni crumpled in the bottom of his closet — to the irritation of his mom — and shows up with it barely tucked … in knotted pants. I’ll encourage the BoR to rake him over the coals for every wrinkle. If he apologizes and says he’ll try to do better next time … lesson learned … exhort him to to better with the gifts he’s been given and show up sharp to the next BoR.

  2. A running theme in this blog is to de-emphasize traditional symbols of Scouting, particularily the uniform.

    • Jaimito – how does stating the official position of BSA “de-emphasize traditional symbols of Scouting”? I’m not following your logic. The GTA clearly states they do not have to be in uniform.

      • Amen to that observation. I’ve made blog comments previously regarding uniform pictures in this blog (and the magazine) which were completely……not marginally but completely…….inappropriate and the blog’s failure to present itself as the flagship of Scouting. Those same comments actually received agreement from blog/magazine staff that indicated they would strive to not use “staged pictures” but only publish ones that complied with BSA uniform standards.

      • Speaking of MYTHS, it sounds like you have heard the one that scouts don’t need to be in uniform according to the Guide to Advancement. You even say that it is CLEAR in the GTA. Let me share my reading of the GTA page 55 of the 2015 edition.
        “He should wear as much of it as he owns, and it should be as correct as possible, with the badges worn properly.”
        That looks like it is clear that they should be in uniform if they have one. In no way does the GTA state, clearly or otherwise that scouts do not have to be in uniform.

        Here is some other information I believe to be correct but I am prepared to be wrong:
        You do not have to have a uniform to be a Boy Scout.
        You can not be dismissed from a BOR soley based on uniforming or attire if you are wearing as much of the uniform that you own and is practical to wear.

        • Read the rest of the paragraph:

          “If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and neat in his appearance and dresses appropriately, according to his means, for the milestone marked by the occasion. Regardless of unit, district or council expectations or rules, boards of review shall not reject candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire as long as the are dresses to the above description.”

          And don’t get me wrong, we strongly encourage our guys to be in uniform for BORs and I have seen them borrow a neckerchief from another Scout before going in to a BOR. The few times I’ve seen a Scout go into a BOR with no part of his uniform were usually cases where they came straight from after-school football practice or left it at the non-custodial parent’s house. We just won’t hold up a BOR because of it.

    • I don’t think so, Jamie. The reoccurring theme in this blog seem to be “there’s other ways that you can do Scouting, as long as the essence of what Scouting is all about can be maintained”. The uniform is NOT a “symbol” but a “method” that we use to get young men to think about what movement they are a part of and why.

      • Exactly, we need to remind ourselves often what the purpose of Scouting is…and understand that while our financial status allows us to purchase uniforms…others may not be so blessed and we should never be classist about Scouting.

  3. Sounds like the BoR is being watered down. Out of respect for the Board members and thier unit/membership, the Scout should be in their best uniform.
    The standard for Scouts is high because they can achieve it. It is what gives them the pride to want to advance. Let’s not water this down with low to no standards! It’s the Troop who helps each Scout achieve the standards, not by lowering them. But by lifting the Scouts to them!
    Enough of my soap box. 😉

    • I agree …..Scout should be in his best uniform. Don’t watered the uniform policy since the Scout must show to the Bof R that he wants to advance.

    • Of course, they should be in their best uniform.
      But, sometimes they are not. Must they be? The traditional answer has always been “no.”

      • @Q ,

        Depends upon whose “tradition.” In the troops I’ve been in over the past 31 years, the answer to best uniform and BORs has been “YES!”

        Now, have considerations been made for new Scouts, Scouts buying their uniform a piece at a time? Yes. But the expectation has been you wear your uniform to the BOR.

    • The Scout appears in his “best uniform” — the uniform of the Troop, the uniform of his family. Some Scouts cannot afford the complete uniform and we give “passes” for that fact as long as what he does have on is clean and serviceable. That’s not watering down the program. The first Boy Scouts didn’t even HAVE a uniform and they made do, looking at illustrations of what British Boy Scouts were wearing and they sought to find and wear those pieces. When the BSA finally developed an official uniform, the word went out that we have an official uniform, sure; but the uniform is secondary to the fun and enjoyment Scouts have otherwise.

      This is why in so many countries around the world, the “official uniform” consists of a neckerchief and slide; and why the BSA had (reluctantly but we did) adopt this as a uniform for those Scouts who cannot wear the complete official one. That doesn’t “water down” the Board of Review; Scouts simply “rise to the occasion”.

    • A BoR can be incomplete if they determine that the boy is lacking something in requirement or scout spirit. There is a formal procedure for such a thing. It involves providing a written explanation of where the shortfall was, what can be done within the next few weeks to correct it, and determining how soon the board can reconvene to complete its review.

    • NO. The Board of Review (and Mike Lo should have emphasized this) is NOT a “pass/fail” event. It is a DISCUSSION between the candidate and the Board members. If the board feels that he is not ready to advance, the Board gives the Scout direction and instruction on things he must do and things he can do to help his successful completion. The Board is suspended for that Scout — he didn’t fail, although he may feel that way (and a good Scoutmaster, Coach or Advisor will tell him otherwise) and when he returns he returns in “good standing” not as a “soiled failure”.

      The only “redos” are done when the Scout, Scoutmaster or unit requests a Board of Review under Disputed Circumstances.

      • Strongly agree, Mike. I sit on and chair our district Eagle boards. We introduce ourselves, ask the young man to repeat the Scout Oath and Law before he sits, and we tell him this is a conversation with us about his Scouting experience. We review the application before starting the board., Then during our conversation we discuss what we found during our review, If there are serious problems with the application or the workbook, we discuss what corrections are needed with the Scout and the Troop adult(s) present. The board is suspended until the next month. This has happened a couple of times because the project write up was so disorganized we couldn’t make sense of it.

      • Mike…appreciate your comments. But, after a complete review of the guide, details and comments, it’s still unclear what would “suspend” a scout’s Board of Review. More specifically, you write:

        “If the board feels that he is not ready to advance, the Board gives the Scout direction and instruction on things he must do and things he can do to help his successful completion.”

        Can you share some examples of these?

        • I recently sat on a Star board of review. The scout had all of his requirements signed off. There was one requirement in which he couldn’t remember who had initialed it. We questioned him, as we do all candidates, how he had observed his duty to God. The scout replied he sleeps next the Bible. Other answers were careless and off the cuff. It quickly became apparent that this scout lacked respect for any of us serving on that board. The requirements were met. The board was not satisfied with the scout’s attitude. Those of us on the BOR felt like our hands were tied. The scout seemed to know that as well. In hindsight, I think there should’ve been a continuance….please return when you feel you can provide thoughtful, respectful answers. He was instead made aware of our concerns and signed off for his board.

  4. So much for “Uniform” being one of the eight methods. Just another example of the continued diminishment of the principles of scouting and the undermining of the standards by which we are supposed to be supporting. Another scouting standard gone to waste.

  5. Another reason for not wearing the scout uniform is when a scout arrives for his Board directly from sports. I’ve had some bring their scout uniform and change and others that don’t bring it and we’ll still send them into the Board wearing their sports uniform. The complete scout uniform is not required but it can become a subject of discussion with the scout during the Board.

    • Surely the scout and the parents know what time practice ends and would notify the Advancement Chair for the troop to schedule the BOR? In our troop, the scout coordinates with the Advancement Chair to schedule the time and date for the BOR. Not the parent. We place the responsibility on the scout. How else would he learn about being responsible for his own advancement on his trail to Eagle?

  6. Board of Reviews is measure of the Scout and how he is doing with scouting experience and also a strong measure of the adult unit leadership within the unit.
    I have conducted many Board of Reviews as Troop Committees Chairman and besides how the adult leaderships performing I want to know how the Scout is experiencing his time with Boy Scouts.
    Is he enjoying himself, his patrol, adult leadership.
    To me that is the greatest thing about the Board of Reviews.

  7. I feel that Board members – if they are looking to judge a Scout’s character – should ask the Oath and Law, since those outline the basis of Scouting’s character to begin with! Should we sacrifice moral character? After all, Scouting was founded to give boys an alternative to just hanging out and possibly causing trouble and to set them on an honorable path for life. As for uniforms, we try – as leaders- to instill pride in wearing a Scout uniform, as complete as possible. Within our troop, we request at least a khaki Scout shirt, since as a member of Scouting, you can take heart and enjoyment in being part of something larger- and knowing that one has support from other like-minded folk. We are not demanding of it, since circumstances of families can be such that cost can be a deterrent, but even ghis can be overcome by a helping hand.

    • One can determine if the Scout has incorporated the Oath and Law by asking him to pick one of the 12 and tell how he incorporates it into his life outside of Scouting. Then you pick one for the same response from the Scout. I regularly do this when I chair Eagle Boards of Review.

      We had one Scout who had a band concert right after his Life BoR. He came in a tux.

      • I agree four square with Don, Lisa. There’s no need to “grill” the Scout on the Scout Oath (Promise) and Law. Instead, we should be asking him “How have you applied the Scout Law point of Kindness to what you do at work? Can you give us an example?”

        Or “How good is your honor? Can people really depend on you or are those just words you say at the start of the meetings? Give us a way you feel that people can trust what you say and do…”

        Those to me, are more important things to know over the “fact” that he’s successfully memorized the Scout Oath and Law that he say them with his eyes closed.

        • How is having the scout recite the Scout Oath and Law GRILLING the scout? Sweet Jesus, what is happening to the Boy scouts? The Oath and Law are the foundation of scouting. They are not something a scout learns to earn the Scout badge and to never be asked again.
          Please explain to me how exactly having the scout recite the Oath and Law before or during a BOR is detrimental to the scout.

          I am confident that there are many on this forum who would happy to do away with BORs completely.

          RIP BSA.

        • We have the boys recite it but it not a pass or fail. We say it with them. It puts a formality on the board. Then we ask questions like you gave example of. How are you reverent? How have you help your fellow Scouts?

          Why not work on ways to lower the cost of the uniform. I buy them off eBay. You can find good deals there.

      • I know some one who had to attend an Eagle Court of Honor between two formal school functions. Scout attended one school function, left to go to the Eagle COH. Before going into the COH, he changed into his uniform. Once the ECOH was completed, he changed back into the tux, and went to the second school function.

        All one needs to do is “Be Prepared” with a uniform on a hanger and change.

  8. Ummmm……..correct me if I am wrong…….but isn’t uniforming one of the “methods of Scouting”? If the BOR’s goal is to determine what the scout has learned (without testing), it seems to me that he should definitely know and practice those methods. There was also an earlier comment that it is acceptable for a scout not to be in uniform simply because he just arrived from a sporting event. That’s another case in point. “Be prepared.” No one is advocating the scout forsake his athletic activities, just plan ahead and bring his uniform with him. He should practice all of the methods, not just the ones that are convenient.

    • Here is your flawed assumption. The BoR’s goal is not to determine what the scout has learned, but how he has grown and how the troop has helped him (maybe also how the adults should change to help him and his fellow scouts in the future). We adults need to know that information as soon as a boy is ready to feed it to us.

      I agree with you that, in general, a scout should pack his uniform with him if he owns one. But, this is where, again, you assume a boy has one. I wish this were the case for every boy in this country. It may be the case for every boy in your troop.

      But some communities field sports on a shoe string. Locker-rooms are rare. And it may be possible that boys feel they are more presentable having washed lighlty with their warm-up gear, than having had pulled a uni from the bottom of a duffel bag.

      Same applies to older boys who work late at the restaurant or auto shop.

      Also, some boys such injuries at the time of BoR that stretching a uni of the cast would rip it.

      Not holding a BoR for a boy who ,without a uniform, but otherwise neat in appearance, misses an opportunity.

      In our particular troops, this may never be a problem, and our scouts may never have an excuse but to uniform completely. But I’m not about to tell committee members from some other troop that they should bend to my minimum expectations, when in every handbook that has every been written, BSA has allowed flexibility on these matters.

      • With all due respect Q, when I was involved with sports and JROTC, as well as other school functions, I ALWAYS (emphasis) had my uniform on a hanger waiting. Usually I changed in the bathroom at the charter organization. And it wasn’t just me, it was everyone in my troop. The expectation, from the SPL to the PLs, was you wear a uniform. Sports, band, JROTC, dances, ad nauseum were no excuse for not wearing your uniform.

        • I did the same. But, this is a big country. Not every scout is in a position where every uniform can be hung in a safe place during every activity.

          Even when I was a scout, as inflation – and growth spurts – hit, some scouts simply did not have their uniform when they were ready to meet the committee. Accommodations for those boys did not make me wear my uniform any less. I’m pretty sure the board, upon meeting a boy who lacked uniform parts, would somehow make sure the boy got what he needed to be in uniform by the court of honor.

          The policy gives boards the flexibility to deal with boys in the situations they find themselves.

      • A professional always has his equipment with him. A model is required to always have the tools of his trade with him. If he goes to work or an interview without his tools, he very well might not get the job. One needs to learn this now, when there isn’t money on the line.

    • The METHODS are for the ADULTS to use to examine the effectiveness of a Scouting program, Hillard. They are NOT used to “measure” against the Scouts.

      How do you measure a Scout’s “adult association” or “patrols” or even “leadership development” (okay…you might be able to measure that)? The point is that the eight methods of Scouting are used as program/unit benchmarks, not as individual Scout benchmarks.

    • As an adult leader I do this often. When it looks like I may not have time to go home before attending a troop meeting or chairing a BOR, I put my uniform on a hanger and hang it in the car.

  9. Obviously the standards expected for a Tenderfoot board of review (including uniform expectations) would be different than that for an Eagle board of review. I don’t know of anyone going for Eagle that doesn’t have a uniform.

    • 🙂 I once had a panicked scout call me minutes before his Eagle BoR. He could not find his web belt. I told him that he’d be fine with a nice leather belt, and they probably wouldn’t even notice.

      It was all I could do to keep myself from calling ahead to make sure someone would point out his “incomplete” uniform. 😉

    • I know several Eagle candidates who outgrew every piece of their uniform except the sash.

      And as one commenter said above, it would be nice if every scout could afford a new uniform (and it might even be true that every scout in your troop can afford one) but it is definitely not true for every troop in the country. We have some units in desperately poor areas. BSA policy can’t be written just for the rich troops. It can’t even be written for the average troops. Policy has to work for every troop.

      No one should make a scout feel unwelcome just because he’s poor.

      • That’s why I tell new parents to buy a uniform shirt a couple sizes larger than what he would wear normally as he will grow into it. Using that, the Scout can usually get away with just a couple of shirts before he turns 18. We also have a good Uniform Exchange closet with lots of items that Scouts can draw from (and put into it).

  10. I have sat on numerous EBOR and in a handful of them the Scout wasn’t in uniform. We always encourage our Scouts to where as complete a uniform as possible at their EBOR and all BORs.

    One interesting take-away from this is that we shouldn’t have the Scout recite the Scout Oath and Law, that is pretty typical on the EBORs I’ve sat on. We generally start with the Scout talking about his Eagle Project to allow him to become comfortable with the board by talking about something he should know inside and out at this point All Scouts are nervous at their EBOR. Then the chair of the EBOR will ask him to rise and recite the Oath and Law. We then go into questions like “which one of the points of the Law best describes you?” There are no right or wrong answers here, it is to get the Scout to think about the Law and how he lives his life as a Scout.

  11. I appreciate that there are many reasons an occasional scout may not be able to recite the Scout Oath and Law at a BoR (nervousness, embarrassment at speaking in front of adults, learning disabilities, laryngitis, etc.), so I am most definitely not asking for permission to defer or test a scout over the issue of how well he can recite the Scout Oath and Laws in a BoR. But to not be able to ask a Scout to recite the Scout Oath and Law because it is considered a retest is absurd. The Oath is not a skill like tying a bowline or building a fire, but rather it is a statement of what it means to be a Scout.

    I suggest the BSA think this one through before taking the logical next step of prohibiting Scoutmasters from asking a Scout to recite the Scout Oath or Laws in a Scoutmaster Conference as well. After all, if a BoR can’t ask the Scout to say the Oath in a BoR, I don’t see how BSA can justify allowing the Scoutmaster to ask a Scout to say the Oath either.

    • You are reading too much into the rule. The Board can still ask the Scout to rattle off the Oath and Law. You just can’t fail him for getting it wrong.

      As you point out, a quick recitation can be an ideal lead-in to the deeper discussion of the meaning and application of the Oath and Law that is the proper subject of a Board’s review.

      • I respectfully disagree. The article’s exact words are “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.”

        I would ask BSA to change their statement to “Scouts should be retested on the Scout Law”, but please allow us to continue asking the boys at a BoR to recite the scout laws to the best of their ability.

        • TYPO Alert – I meant to say should NOT be retested. But please allow us to continue asking the the boys at a BoR to recite the scout laws to the best of their ability.

        • Doug, there is a good way to get around this “rule”. I do this for Eagle Boards of Review and have coached people on how to do this for other Boards of Review.

          When the Scout comes into the room, ask him if he has a coin in his pocket (Prepared Scouts do; not every Scout is prepared for this and so I have one of those gold colored BSA coins in my pocket and I give it to the Scout). I explain that heads, he will lead us in the Scout Oath or Promise; tails, and he will lead us in the Scout Law.

          I then ask the Scout to flip the coin (one Scout flipped the coin out the window, which we had to send someone to get the coin…*smiling*) and lead us in whichever one it “lands” upon. We are there not to ‘grade him’ on his coin tossing skill or lack thereof…but to give some levitity to a situation he is already nervous about being a part of.

          During the Board of Review, various Board members will ask the Scout questions I posed earlier in answering another issue here…what we are looking for his APPLICATION of the Scouting Ideals, not whether or not he can recite it from rote memory.

  12. I just noticed that at the end of today’s blog entry about BoRs is a link to “related” scouting magazine blog article

    Anyone want to guess what this longtime scouter’s template suggests for running an Eagle Scout Board of Review was 🙂

    “First, there was the recitation of the Scout Oath, said aloud while standing, and showing the Scout Sign, of course.”

    I rest my case.

    • My troop (in the late 70s)’s BoR did not ask us to recite anything. We still knew it by heart.

      So, I wouldn’t disrespect a board who skipped that exercise. But I wouldn’t discourage a board who insisted on it either.

    • Good question. Old troop, they wore either the field uniform or dress/professional uniform. Yes, we had a couple of folks who bought the tie and badge.

      Current troop, everyone except the brand new MC had on a uniform. He hadn’t gotten one yet as he was just registered.

    • In my BoR’s growing up the MC’s never wore a uniform. I think they sincerely believed that would distract from the SM and his assistants being recognized as THE direct contact leaders.

      In my sons’ troop, we had one SM try to get the MC’s to uniform. About half of them did. One of them balked loudly, so we stopped pressing the issue. He was one of the nicer counselors to the boys, and genuinely good company, so it was better to have him around and not dig our heels in.

    • This is a bone of mine. I am the only member of the committee, and one of the few ASMs, who wears the uniform shirt every meeting, especially on BoR nights. (I only bring the pants out for special occasions like CsoH.) I figure if we’re going to want the boys to come in uniform, then I should do no less. Baden Powell said, “Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I’ll show you a poorly uniformed leader.” Believe me, this is 100% true.

  13. TYPO Alert – I meant to say should NOT be retested. But could still be asked to recite the scout laws to the best of their ability.

  14. A friend of mine is the “Eagle coordinator” for a three-county area. Once a boy earns Life, he makes an appointment to visit. Mark provides the Eagle packet, and guides the boy through the steps of completing it. He also schedules the Eagle boards of review. Works very well, and he reports directly to the council.

  15. Would these people that require a complete uniform for BOR turn a boy away from their troop if they could not afford a full uniform?

    • Jim…I will gladly take any and all of those boys turned away from their Troop simply because they could not afford a complete uniform. I’m not a Scoutmaster now, but I would gladly serve as one again if that what it took to keep them — and their families — in Scouting.

      The uniform is important to me, but rather than to say “you gotta”, I wear mine as complete as possible and let the visual example “sink in”.

      I have to share this before my dinner gets really cold: One of the many things I do for Scouting is to serve as District Advancement Coordinator (Chair) in a mainly rural District in southern Tennessee. Part of what I do is to meet with Scouts working toward Eagle and approving their leadership/service projects.

      I meet with those Scouts at area Wendy’s ™ eateries at dinner time. I don’t get a kickback from Wendy’s ™. When I contact Scouts to coordinate which one they and a parent or other person meets me at, I simply inform them that “I’ll be the guy in the Scout uniform” so they can find me.

      I have YET to have a single Eagle candidate meet me in something else OTHER THAN a Scout (or Varsity Scout) uniform. Some even wear their merit badge sashes. This is at a public restaurant at dinner time (between 6 and 8pm on a weeknight). The only other person met me and another Scouter after his shift at work and he excused himself to change into a Scout uniform to meet with us.

      Dinner awaits me. The uniform is a METHOD, which we adults use to gauge how a unit is using the Scouting program. I don’t care what they wear (well, yeah, I do…they have to wear CLOTHING suitable for the event and occasion and whatever they wear it has to be clean and serviceable).

  16. I’ve been a Scout mom for many years as my boys have grown from Tigers to senior-level Scouts. When my youngest was required by his BOR for 2nd Class to RETURN because he didn’t have official BSA socks on, we almost quit. Was he otherwise neat & clean? YES. And with his long pants on, the members of the board had to ask him to actually show his socks because that was the only way to know what he was wearing. I didn’t speak against the decision by the BOR at the time & the next meeting my son wore his Scout socks. But did that experience positively promote scouting or reflect on his Scout spirit? I don’t think so.

  17. Bryan,
    Good topic but I’m disappointed that you so quickly lump Varsity Scout boards of review in with the way the Troop runs a board of review. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

    Does no one read the Guide to Advancement or the Varsity Scout Guidebook?

    The VSG clearly states that the Advancement Program Manager (youth) runs the board of review (pp44-45) for his fellow Varsity Scouts. Since the youth that requires the board of review must first meet with the Advancement Program Manager, after the Scout Leaders Conference has occurred, it is probable safe to assume he is the one who also schedules the board of review and not the Coach.

    The GTA also clearly states in section and that the Advancement Program Manager (youth) is involved in the board of review process.

    Now I fully understand that this process happens under the watchful eye of the Advancement Committee member or Committee Chair. And, the Advancement Program Manager (youth) may even need some tutoring from the Committee (especially if he is a new Advancement Program Manager) but the two are not the same. This was a missed opportunity to delineate between the two.


    • INTERESTING! I have never noticed that, I’ve only ran into a Varsity Scout one time, and that was at a jamboree. But if a Varsity Scout is responsible for setting up and chairing the BOR, I find the BSA’s double standard, i.e. Boy Scout cannot sit on BORs anymore, but Varsity Scouts can, distressing. Based upon my experience as a youth sitting on BORs from 1986-1991 (took my troop a while to get the 1989 change regarding BORs), the youth had a better understanding of the Scouts having the BOR than the adults. Also having the peers running the BORs placed the Scouts more at ease than a bunch of adults.


      From Page 58 of the GTA

      2. For a Varsity Scout team, the committee member responsible for advancement, the advancement program manager (youth), and the Coach serve on the board. (emphasis added) Composition for Boy Scout rank or Palm boards of review held in Venturing crews or Sea Scout ships is the same as that for Boy Scout troops

      I wonder why A) Youth are still allowed on Varsity Scouts BORs when national stopped the practice in 1989 with Boy Scout troops and B) Why is the Coach, equivalent to SM, allowed on the BOR and not SMs?

      • Forgot to post the first part of GTA cited Varsity Scouting Particulars
        Rank requirements for Varsity Scouts are the same as for Boy Scouts, except positions of responsibility are met in Varsity-specific roles that can be found in Boy Scout Requirements. Advancement is supervised not by adult leaders, but by a young man called an advancement program manager, (emphasis) with assistance from a team committee member. Methods for conducting boards of review are covered in “Boards of Review: An Overview 24 | GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT for All Ranks,” Council and district advancement committees should consult the Varsity Scout Guidebook, No. 34827, for a full understanding of how the program works.

        To me it really sounds like the old pre-1989 advancement format where the PLs were responsible for advancement, and not the adults.

  18. I think it’s important to mention that a Board of Review doesn’t need to be for advancement. A BOR can convene if a Scout is having issues with the unit, issues in adjusting to the program, as a “check-in,” or as a corrective measure.

  19. When I was going for my EBOR in 1988, in my Council it was expected that you were to be in complete uniform, down to the official BSA socks. There was an unofficial “uniform closet” specifically for EBOR candidates for Scouts in my council, because we all knew that the EBOR chair in my council, the council advancement chair, was known to grill Scouts on why they didn’t have a complete uniform. Even for things like if they didn’t have a neckerchief because their troop didn’t have one (or they chose to wear the bolo instead), or if all your patches weren’t all in the correct spot. Unit leaders knew about it and would make sure that their Scouts would have access to it when the time came.

    It was very common to hear stories from Scouts in my council if there were multiple EBORs going on the same night to have one Scout come out from his EBOR and pass a uniform part to the next Scout for his EBOR.

    We were more nervous making sure our uniform was perfect than we were in the board itself.

  20. The purpose of the Board of Review “Its purpose is to determine the quality of his experience and decide whether he has fulfilled the requirements for the rank.”

    Before a Scout is granted a Board of Review, the Advancement Chair should take steps to determine whether or not the Scout has completed the requirements for advancement. Making sure that everything is signed off and in order.

    We don’t re-test the Scouts on specific skills, but through questioning it can be determined if the Scout has met certain requirements. (i.e. Cooking – What has been your favorite meal that YOU have cooked. How did you prepare the meal?)

    I believe that we do test our unit’s availability to deliver the Scouting Program to the Scouts.
    As Mike Walton said the Methods are for the Adults. By asking questions of the youth we can measure the effectiveness to deliver the Scouting Program through all the methods of Scouting and in turn determine the quality of one’s Scouting experience.

    Patrols – we ask questions about of the Scout is doing in his patrol, how the patrol works, if there are things that he can do to help the patrol work better as a unit.

    Ideals – we ask questions to determine the Scouts understanding of the Scout Oath and Law. What do they mean to him and what items the youth may face challenge living up to, and how they think they can do better.

    Outdoor Program – we ask questions about what events/campouts the Scout has participated in. Did they enjoy them, what could have been done better, where and what the Scout would like to see the Troop do in the future.

    Advancement – We ask questions like how long has it been since the last rank, do they have a plan to get to their next rank, is there any help that they may need, what are their long term goals in getting to Eagle or beyond?

    Association with adults – the whole Board of Review process is a reinforcement of association with adults. The Scout is interacting with 3-5 adults that he might normally associate with. The adults are asking questions that require thought and more than one word to answer. If the Scout is going for a higher rank the Advancement Coordinator should have looked to see if the Scout had multiple Merit Badge Counselor vs. one.

    Personal Growth – we ask questions about Good Turns and Service Projects, why they Troop did them, how the Scout felt about doing them.

    Leadership Development – with any rank that doesn’t require a position of responsibility, we ask the Scout what role they want to play within the leadership of the Troop. With the ranks that do require completion of a position of responsibility; what position(s) did they hold, how do they rate their level of success in that position, what would they have done differently, what can they do to help the next Scout out taking that position.

    And Finally Uniform

    With the Uniform – We like to see that the Scout is wearing their uniform, but if the Scout does not have one, it should never hold them back. We have also done Boards of Review on campouts and have never asked the Scout to go to their tent and change into their Activity Uniform. But overall the uniform is 1/8th of the program. If there are a large number of Scouts in the Troop that come to Boards of Review without a uniform, that is telling of the Program that is being run. Look to the leaders are they in uniform? The questions should be; does the Scout have a uniform if not, why not, or if they do, why did they choose not to wear it. There are perfectly acceptable answers. This may leader the Board to determine that the Troop may want to form a uniform closet or do some extra fundraising to help those that can’t afford one to get one. If the Scout just chose not to wear it, this is an opportunity to communicate its importance.

    The Scout doesn’t fail the Board of Review because of no Uniform, nor is the Board deferred to a later date.

    All things learned through the Board of Review process should be feedback the Scoutmaster and their Assistants as to how the Troop’s delivery of the Scouting Program is going.

  21. What I find interesting is most Scouts would NOT show up to their “sporting” event, or “marching band” event WITHOUT being in full uniform. Do you think they would be able to participate in their Football game if they didn’t bring their game jersey? Um, NO…What if they went to their SWIM event and didn’t have a swim suit and wanted to wear their basketball shorts? Um, NO they are DQ’d……. Or if they didn’t bring their marching band uniform and wanted to wear their jeans, t-shirt, sweatpants, Um NO…… I have found over the years that Scouts parents ALWAYS find a way to buy them cleats, or new sneakers, or marching band clothes so why does Scouting take a back seat to this when WE as Scoutmasters and Committee members are trying to teach young men how to be successful in this dynamic world. I think expectations should be set and Scouts should understand why having a complete uniform is so important. We’ve become really SOFT and losing our values of Scouting when we decide now that Uniform bits and pieces are OK and a full uniform is just not required. I think it’s the wrong message. I have YET to run into a Scout or parent when I sit down and explain to them why the uniform is so important and how we REPRESENT Scouting, we REPRESENT our Charter Organization (most of us do anyways) and we travel to and from events in our Uniform. Almost all get it then… Plus Scouts WANT to show their badges, ranks, certifications, training stripes etc……. That’s what young men do in Scouting….. They are PROUD to be Scouts in my unit and I’m proud they represent my unit and get it…… I feel this helps them “prepare” someday for that Job Interview and understand why being clean, neat, well put together really matters. I concur with the others above that made that statement. Just my 2 cents….. I’ll probably get change back……

    • Just a penny back. 😉 We do want kids to look sharp; however, I think the sports/band metaphor is stretched a little thin.

      Players wear the uniform during the game. But often hit the showers and come out in civilian clothes for the “press conference” review.
      Likewise with marching band. We dressed up for the show, but for the audition for first chair/major/etc … we are in plain clothes.

      The “game day” for a troop may be meetings, courts of honor, travel to/from camp, or on the trail. If you’ve seen your scout uniformed sharply in all of those circumstances, then your board has the latitude to credit that — and his non-uniform neat appearance — during the review.

  22. Change of topic. We have a young man wanting his Life BOR. He is twelve. We are his third troop since he crossed over a couple of years ago. He has hit every rank advancement at the minimum time frame. He has already completed all 21 of his merit badges. However, his only leadership position in any of the troops has been scribe. Should we, can we, as a BOR, tell him to slow down and get some real leadership experience as a PL or something similar? He isn’t much of leader and cannot get things done through the other scouts. My fear is the Eagle Project will so overwhelm him as to lead to failure.

    • Since scribe is one of the positions that meets the requirements, you can’t hold it against him that he didn’t have a more visible leadership role. One nice thing about being so young is that if he does fail at his Eagle project, he still has plenty of time to try again.

    • A common mistake is to confuse “Position of Responsibility” with leadership.

      Has he fulfilled his responsibilities as scribe? (Really, it should be the scoutmaster that answers this in terms of “yes/no”, and it should be done a month or two within a boy holding the position. That way if the answer is “No”, the boy can suspend his PoR for a few weeks and then try another position or an SM-assigned project.) If the SM/SPL signed off, the BoR’s should help the boy evaluate “how” he fulfilled his PoR … what went well, what didn’t go so well, what he would do differently next time.

      Frankly, we should question the operations of our troops if we are demanding less from scribes and librarians than from PLs. Every PoR should involve the same time and dedication, or it should not be assigned.

      That’s responsibility.

      Leadership is learned through service. An Eagle project may fail, and still a boy may demonstrate leadership in the process. So, if I were on your committee, I would encourage the boy to have his review as soon as possible. Tell him that he has a real challenge ahead of him, and may need to figure out how to get help from his patrol, his troop, and lots of other people so that he can better fulfill his PoR’s and serve his community through his project.

      THEN, tell him you would like him to become a good leader quickly because you want to see him earn lots of Palms, go to NYLT, NAYLE, and maybe even get some adults in council to line up a Kodiak trek.

      Scouts are like chocolates. You might poke ’em a little to see what’s inside. But once you’ve touched them, you got to work with whatever you find!

    • How did he get the Scribe job? If he was elected, then the troop though enough of him to put him in that position. If he was appointed (By SPL and under direction of the Scoutmaster), that is another indication that he was thought to be mature enough to handle a difficult job that many include, attendance records, dues collection and reconciliation,, taking minutes for the PLC, or even updating patrol advancement in a computer program. If your troop has an adult doing all those things, then it’s the troops’ fault and not the position.

  23. With the watering down of requirements [yes, that’s what I said], we are in danger of converting the ranks to participation badges. I do not think it is retesting to ask that the Law, Oath, Motto, Slogan, and Outdoor Code be recited. They are central to the Scout Experience.

    I would not fail a scout on inability to say it…but I would counsel him that he needs to know just what is in there and how to live up to it.

    The uniform is something that can be variable, but if you know the scout [i.e., you have seen him at troop meetings in the full uniform] has the uniform, is it too much to ask that he wear it to the Board of Review? We had one case, after local floods, where the boy could not get back into his home for his uniform, and so an exception was made. But it goes, not counting extenuating circumstances toward the tenants of the Scout Motto…or are we saying that a Scout should “Be sorta prepared.” Maybe this is moving toward the Scout law – pick any 10! or “On my honor, I MIGHT do my best…”

  24. I’m assuming all of you commenting on uniforms and boards of review recognize that Eagle Boards of Review may be conducted AFTER the scout’s 18th birthday, when he is technically no longer permitted to wear the youth uniform. Therefore, Eagle Boards MUST allow the scout to present a neat appearance, rather than violate the uniforming rules. Of course, I’ve seen plenty of 18-year olds wear their youth uniform for their Eagle Board of Review, with the blessing of their adult leaders…

    • I hope I never sit on an EBOR where the scout chose not to wear his uniform just because he is over 18. The uniform is his resume of what he has achieved on his trail to Eagle. It binds him to all scouts and scouters. It shows membership in something larger than himself. He should be proud to wear that uniform just as he should be proud to have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
      Of course the uniform matters.

      It seems as if the bar in scouting is being lowered until one day it will lay on the ground.

      • An individual who is over 18 is NOT a scout (other than rare exceptions for specific situations, which are generally on a case-by-case basis); the uniform policy is crystal clear that the youth uniform is ONLY to be worn by registered youth; therefore, regardless of your narrative, an Eagle candidate over the age of 18 should not wear the youth uniform.

        • If an Eagle candidate who is 18 showed up to the EBOR in full uniform would you turn him away and tell him to return in street clothes?

  25. I was an advancement chairman in our local troop for several years. We always began with the scout reciting the scout oath and pledge, It is (should) be something the scout is comfortable with and gets the scout to start talking. If they made a mistake we would point it out and give them a chance to try again at the closing. We never consider it a test.

    The most important function of the BOR is not to measure the individual scout but as a test of the entire troop as a quality control to measure that the unit is delivering the best program possible to the boys.

  26. BOR’s are nothing more than a review of the signatures. There need be no discussion, unless you wish to have small talk. The boy only needs to be present to deliver and retrieve his book.

    If you are looking for checks and balance, that only exists in the Scoutmaster Conference.

    Don’t believe or agree with me? Try telling your sad song to the BSA’s (team of) attorney(s) and see where it gets you. It’s all fine and dandy behind closed doors at your troop, but in the light of day the only thing that matters to the BSA professional staff is risk management (liability) and salaries (membership).

  27. I find it entertaining that given all the information in this article everyone fights over the uniform expectations and whether we should expect the Eagle candidate to be able to recite and know the meaning of the Oath and Law.

    As for the uniform, I interpret the text in the guide stating they can be in alternate attire to be the Exception to the Norm. It’s there to handle the case where a family is completely strapped for cash or the candidate has that cast on their arm or leg. However it’s Not meant to handle that case where your son was at back to back sports or band and too darn lazy to change into the uniform or make the extra time for The most important event in their youth! And please don’t reach for your IPhone when I ask you why you’re not in uniform and you tell me that Mom and Dad can’t afford it! Someone needs to make this goal a real priority. Or maybe you actually could Borrow a pair of pants from a fellow scout – would that really be asking too much! Or maybe your Troop or chartered organization could keep a few shirts or pants on hand to borrow for such a critical event. And dare I mention that the scout handbook is Part of that uniform and should be held in front of them or to their side when they first approach the board committee members.

    The Oath and Law, of my goodness, by the time a candidate goes to his Eagle Board he should have those completely memorized and be able to tell me what each point means and how he demonstrates or strives to adhere by each of those in his daily life. If he doesn’t know these then he has not made scouting and it’s foundational beliefs a part of his life and is not demonstrating Scout Spirit!!! 30 years after I got my Eagle 🦅 I can still recite them perfectly!

    We are making too many accommodations which are changing the importance and Elite nature of the Eagle award. It’s becoming a ‘participation award’ that almost anyone can get.

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