Which positions of responsibility count toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout?

Scouting teaches responsibility. It teaches young people to take on a role in which they’re accountable to their fellow Scouts.

This role is known as a position of responsibility. As a young man advances toward becoming an Eagle Scout, he’s required to take on one of these roles.

By the time he becomes an Eagle Scout, a young man will have served at least 16 months in a position of responsibility. It’s kind of a dress rehearsal for life. Taking on added responsibilities in a safe setting, where failing is OK, prepares him for life.

In this episode of Scouting 101, we’ll look at the position of responsibility requirements for Star, Life and Eagle.

What are the position of responsibility requirements?

  • Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class: No position of responsibility requirements
  • Star requirement 5: While a First Class Scout, a young man must serve actively for four months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (Or he may carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to help the troop.)
  • Life requirement 5: While a Star Scout, a young man must serve actively for six months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (Or he may carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to help the troop.)
  • Eagle Scout requirement 4: While a Life Scout, a young man must serve actively for six months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (The Scoutmaster-approved leadership project is not an option for Eagle.)

Which positions count toward the requirements?

In Scouting, as in life, “responsibility” can take on a number of different forms. Not every young man needs to be a senior patrol leader or patrol leader. He can still take on responsibilities that help him grow.

In a Boy Scout troop, there are 16 eligible positions of responsibility for Star and Life. There are even more if you count positions in a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship. (See the next section for more on that.) For Eagle, there are 15 options within the troop and more in a crew or ship.

Having a number of eligible positions helps larger troops. In these troops, it would be impossible for each Scout to take a turn as senior patrol leader or assistant senior patrol leader. Multiple options also allows a Scout to find a role that interests him.

Here’s the list. Two things to note:

  • You won’t see assistant patrol leader listed here. It is not an approved position of responsibility for rank advancement.
  • Bugler, while acceptable for the Star and Life ranks, is not an approved position of responsibility for the Eagle Scout rank.

Boy Scout troop: Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler*, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster or outdoor ethics guide.

Varsity Scout team: Captain, co-captain, program manager, squad leader, team secretary, Order of the Arrow team representative, librarian, historian, quartermaster, chaplain aide, instructor, den chief, webmaster or outdoor ethics guide.

Venturing crew: President, vice president, secretary, treasurer, den chief, historian, guide, quartermaster, chaplain aide or outdoor ethics guide.

Sea Scout ship: Boatswain, boatswain’s mate, purser, yeoman, storekeeper, crew leader, media specialist, specialist, den chief or chaplain aide.

Lone Scout: Leadership responsibility in your school, religious organization, club or elsewhere in your community.

*Only counts toward Star and Life — not Eagle.

Note: Guide to Advancement, topic 4.2.3.4.1, states that service in positions of responsibilities in provisional units, such as a jamboree troop or Philmont trek crew, does not count toward this requirement.

How can these requirements be met in a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship?

It’s a little-known fact that a young man who earned First Class as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may continue with Boy Scout advancement in Venturing or Sea Scouting until he turns 18.

If desired, he may maintain multiple (dual) registration in a troop or team, and also in a crew or ship. He can work on rank advancement in either unit.

See section 4.3.1.4 of the Guide to Advancement for more.

This rule allows an older Scout who might be less active with his troop to still meet the position of responsibility requirements by serving as, for example, crew president or ship yeoman.

Do Venturing and Sea Scouting awards have position of responsibility requirements?

Yep! Young men and young women get plenty of leadership experience as they work on Venturing and Sea Scouting awards and ranks.

In Venturing, leadership requirements are a big part of the Pathfinder Award and the Summit Award — the second-highest and highest Venturing awards, respectively. Each award requires a young man or young woman to serve six months in an elected position.

In Sea Scouting, the Able and Quartermaster ranks require a young man or young woman to serve as an elected officer. For the Ordinary rank, a young person must serve as an activity chair for a major ship event.

52 Comments

  1. Our Scout Master approved the position of Jr. Popcorn Kernel. This position helps the Adult Popcorn Kernel with distributing, collecting and organizing popcorn and money that our Scouts sell. It’s a good leadership position for 6 months.

    • Why all the thumbs down? that’s a good idea as the adult position of popcorn kernel sucks. Having help here might keep a troop going.

    • While this is not an official position. The Scoutmaster can approve leadership projects to help the troop. I don’t believe that it would pass the litmus test of filling a position of responsibility for 4-6 months, but that is not is not a requirement stipulated for leadership projects. Seems to me that this is a creative option for those units with who have a lot of Scouts and getting a leadership position may be difficult.

  2. I met an adult a couple of years ago who maxed out at Star and didn’t advance any further because the size of his Troop made it difficult to get elected to a leadership position. If I recall correctly, he said the Troop size was between 75 and 100… I don’t recall the precise number because it was 3 or 4 years ago. At any rate, although he ran for positions, he was never elected.

    I understand that part of it may have to do with the positive influence he may or may not have had with the other members of his Troop, so I can’t really speak to qualifications. I don’t know if he (or his Scoutmaster) was aware that Patrol Leader qualified. Or that the Scoutmaster, up to a certain point, can appoint the Scout to a leadership position for a specific project.

    For as much as we don’t want it to be, at times elections can be more of a “popularity” contest. These are still boys after all… they tend to vote for their friends.

    An interesting read. I’m sure that there will be wide and varied opinions on the matter.

      • Most positions are not elected. The only two that our Troop elects are SPL and PL directly, and OA representative, indirectly, in that the rep must be an OA member. The rest of the positions are similar in concept to the President’s cabinet. The elected leader, with appropriate oversight, selects his staff; those he feels will help him guide the Troop to his vision.

        • i am concerned about elected positions. popularity, or lack of it sometimes needs to be addressed. who is best qualified, or least the potential of best qualified is who needs the positions. that should be a decision of the SM, troop adult leaders and scouts with rank of star and above who have or are currently leading. a kid who may not be liked as much or not as popular because he has too many pimples will have to learn to win the hearts and minds of his peers. these same peers have to realize they may wind up working for somebody later in life they may not like to have a beer with but have to learn to deal with him because he is the boss. i can understand elected positions like OA rep since that is already a peer evaluation/election just to get into the OA. buglers: if you have more than one candidate, you might want to have a musical playoff where all decide if the potential bugler can do the job. same for a scribe. large troops need to follow an army method: leadership rotation. potential leaders are appointed, given the chance to screw up and then hold them accountable and then teach them the right way to lead followed by further leadership development. it is all on a time schedule of that course. different people get the chance but do not progress up the leadership roles unless they have mastered the lower position. if he can’t handle being a patrol leader, he certainly won’t do well as an SPL without maturing more in leadership traits.

    • In our troop (85-100 Scouts) we handle the situation of not having enough positions available by having more than one Scout assigned to some of the positions. For example, we sometimes have two or three ASPLs, who split responsibilities. We also sometimes have multiple Instructors, with each one specializing in a particular area (e.g., First Aid, Cooking, Knots and Tools, Nature, etc.).

    • The challenge comes when troops elect all positions. This is not policy. The Scouts elect their SPL and their Patrol Leader. All other positions of responsibility are appointed by the SPL with consultation from the SM. The SM should know who needs these positions for advancement and guide the newly elected SPL in choosing positions that will benefit and challenge everyone in the Troop.

      • But a good SM will listen to his SPL about his choices. A POR should not be given to someone just because they need the POR. Rather you need to get someone who will do the POR. If that means a brand new Tenderfoot Scout being the troop webmaster b/c they are into HTML, so be it.

    • Per BSA:Only position elected by the Troop is the SPL. Individual Patrols elect their PL as well, and that’s it. All other positions are appointed– for just this reason.
      SLP and Scoutmaster together appoint scouts to the other leadership positions. Gives the SM and the SPL a chance to confer on the needs of the Troop and the needs of individual scouts. So, a scout that needed a leadership position should NEVER be excluded from service. An extremely large troop, like the one in you example has room for multiple Troop Guides,Scribes, Historians,ASPL’s etc.

      A Troop that “plays favorites”, or where the SM is not engaged with the needs of his troop may have these kinds of problems.

      • What about the Scout who needs a POR for advancement, but doesn’t have the commitment, drive, etc to a POR properly, should they just be given a POR because they need it? Or should the best person for the job have the POR?

        I say the best person for the job needs to be in the POR. If someone needs a POR, but has a history of not performing the responsibilities may need a SMC to counsel them on why they are not getting a POR and to show that they need to improve before they can be entrusted with a position of RESPONSIBILITY (emphasis). Sadly I’ve seen first hand what happens when folks are appointed to a POR for advancement without the ability. It can destroy a troop, ship, team, or crew.

      • Can you please cite where the BSA states that only the SPL is elected by the Troop and then appoints the other positions? Our troop, along with two others that I checked with, vote on the candidates for each office. Thanks.

        • Check out the SM Handbook, or whatever they call it today. It’s in there. Also check SPL Handbook and ASPL handbook.

          PLs are elected by their patrol. SPL is elected by the troop as a whole. APL is selected by the PL. ASPL, QM, Scribe, etc are selected by the SPL.

        • Specifically, http://www.scouting.org/filestore/boyscouts/pdf/Troop_Leadership_Positions.pdf

          “All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their senior patrol leader. Rank and age requirements to be a senior patrol leader are determined by each troop, as is the schedule of
          elections. During a Scout’s time as senior patrol leader, he is not a member of any patrol but may participate with a Venture patrol in high-adventure activities.”

          I believe wording to that effect is also in the Boy Scout Handbook.

    • Den Chief is a solid position and one that counts toward rank. Hard to believe that there were no cuv scout packs that would not have benefited from the sage counsel and guidance of an older scout. I stalled at Life myself but for other reasons…..I was Den Chief and while my son is currently scribe he remains connected with his old pack so may switch it up in a few months.

      • A good den chief is worth their weight in gold. They show Cub Parents what Boy-Led means and what youth can do when they are trained, trusted, and left alone to lead. A good den chief can also start the process of transition for the Cubs to becoming Boy Scouts. Finally A good DC can be a resource for the den. I had a den chief that I let go because a Webelos Den needed someone with extensive camping experience because they got a new DL with little camping experience. He really showed the Cub parents what a Boy Scout can do.

      • The Den Chief POR is one of the most important jobs in the troop! These young men have to do double duty since they are to be active in the pack as well as the troop. It is a little funny, but I have seem some DC’s do a better job that some of the Den leaders. What is so important about a DC? They are the direct link and life blood of the future scout troop. It is a good idea to to make the good DC’s Troop Guides later on as the new scouts enter the troop.

        • It’s not funny at all. In many scouting organizations around the world, the high-school youth (scouts) provide the entire program for elementary age youth (cubs). That includes set-up, operation, and dismantling summer camp. We hosted a scout from the Czech Republic while he was in college here. Before he left for summer break, he told me, “I can’t wait to see how my 11 year-old boys are doing.” Note the emphasis on *my* just like a den-leader whose cubs finally crossed over might say … that was his position for years as a teen into his 20s!

      • The den chief is such a good resource. My den had the same chief for two years (covering Webelos and AOL years). It was such a great experience for the boys and helpful for me as a leader who couldn’t tie a knot to save her life!

    • When I was a lad, I was in a fairly large troop (60+ actives) that was mostly made of high school age and upper raked Scouts. Competition for leadership positions was stiff. I went the route of a den chief for two years before I was able to land one of the rare JASM postings.

      How good was the competition you ask? In my original patrol of eight guys, we had three valedictorians. Of those three, two got a JD and the other a PhD. All the other guys were successful in life and most got at least one degree. In 1978, we had seven current or alumni of the troop working at Philmont (if that is not a record, it must at least rank well).

  3. Could someone explain why the APL doesn’t get consdered for this. I know in may troops the APL works really hard! But we’ve had more than one youth affected by this seemingly inconsistent rule. Thanks for the clarification.

    • 1) Sorry for the thumb down. Trying to hit reply.

      2) APL is a PATROL LEVEL (emphasis) position of responsibility and not a TROOP Level one.

      Only troop level PORs count for advancement. Just like patrol QM, patrol scribe, etc do not count.

  4. This is correct. A Boy may choose to drop from scouting rather than discuss with family or face the perceived “rejection” that is played out during elections. This can also be difficult for a Scout to discuss with family, leaving the only ‘face saving’ alternative to be withdrawing from Scouting. This is an area where dust leadership can make a huge difference in whether a particular youth sees within himself the opportunity to make Eagle!

  5. My understanding is that a Scout should only carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project (Star and Life ranks) if there are some circumstances that prevent a Scout from serving in a position of responsibility. Is that correct?

    • No. Scouts should carry out scoutmaster approved service projects because something needs to get done, and that job is beyond the routine responsibilities of any position.
      A scout may or or may not already have a PoR, but the job won’t get done unless someone steps up. SM and scout conclude that he’s the right one for the job. This should be routine and have nothing to do with advancement.
      But, on the outside chance the boy is first class or star rank and hasn’t held any other PoR, one of those SM-approved service projects may fulfill the requirement for rank advancement.

      Never assign any position or project for the sake of advancement. Assign it because there’s a way to make the troop better, and that scout is the ideal boy for the job.

  6. When I was a scout from 1979 – 1987. At the age of 11 – 19. There was no such position as webmaster. And Order Of The Arrow troop representative was not around either.
    This show how far we’ve come in scouting.
    Signed,…
    THE BULL.

    • That’s ’cause Al Gore and I hadn’t invented the Internet yet. 😉
      I’ve noticed that Junior Assistant SM is now rarely assigned … at least in these parts.
      Also, didn’t there used to be a troop treasurer position? I remember turning weekly dues into a scout.

      • JASM are usually scouts that had already served as SPL and is deemed by the SM to be able to provide adult level leadership to the younger scouts.

      • Troop Guide and Instructor, in my opinion, are JASM’s with a specific defined role. I think that is why the title has “disappeared”. A good JSM takes “boy lead” to the next level.

        • JASM is still around. As Harvey stated it is a youth 16+ with adult level responsibiltiies.

          Instructor is a POR that is resposnible for training and could be for very specific skills.

          Troop Guide is essentially a Den Chief for a New Scout Patrol

  7. Very useful information to know and remember. Two follow on questions >

    Is there consideration to making Grubmaster a position of responsibility? Grubmaster is a position in many large and small Troops. They take responsibility for menu preparation, obtaining food, and the cooking gear. It complements the Quartermaster who handles the tents, axes, rope and other Troop equipment. Troops travel on food so it can be a very important position.

    Can a Troop choose to have elections for more than the SPL and PL or is that against policy? Understandable the challenge of someone not getting elected but it is good civic experience if handled carefully.

    • Grubmaster falls into the same category as APL and patrol scribe, QM, etc….as it is a patrol level position…or at least it should be when the patrols feed themselves like they should.

      Besides, when other scouts are working on their Cooking merit badge the grubmaster wouldn’t really have anything to do.

    • Typically grubmaster is a patrol “position.” And it’s not held for any length of time. A different boy should have a crack at it each campout.

      • Since advancement to 1st Class requires one to purchase food and do other things, grubmaster needs to change for each campout. Otherwise, a bunch of Scouts would never make 1st Class.

    • One of the duties of the SPL is to “appoint troop members to serve in the troop’s other junior leader positions.” (SPL handbook, among other sources.)
      A troop choosing to have elections for those other positions denies an SPL the chance to do his job. It’s as if they are ripping the patch off the scout’s sleeve before he has a chance to sew it on!

      Also, what does it mean for a troop to “choose”? Do you ask the boys to vote to violate protocol? Do you elect the SPL, and he decides? Or, is it that adults are uncomfortable with the implications of playing by the book, so they take advantage of the boys not reading it?

    • You could always name 2 Quartermasters, with one of them being the QM/Grubmaster.

      I’ve never known a troop that didn’t have enough work for the QM job to be split.

    • My issue with a “Grubmaster” is that it intrudes into the opportunities of the other scouts to use the camp outs to meet their rank and Cooking merit badge requirements.

  8. In order to rank advance to Star and Life, my troop leaders require Scouts to hold a position of responsibility AND lead, plan, and participate in a service project on a broader scale than simply helping the troop. I’m opposed to this practice because it’s deceitful, leadership should lead with honesty, it creates an unnecessarily more difficult requirement for our Scouts to advance, some Scouts may be intimidated by performing such broad projects and never advance past First Class, and each Scout is looked at subjectively with certain Scouts receiving more difficult projects for the same rank based on the personal feelings and opinions of a few leaders.
    It’s explicit in requirement #5 that a leadership project isn’t required if the Scout holds a position of responsibility.
    Feedback would be welcome.

    • Sadly I’ve ran into adults doing their own thing who were trained. Their excuses ran from “Scouting needs to change with the times,” to “Appointing leaders prevents the same people from holding the same jobs over and over again. It gives everyone a chance.” And those troops have some serious challenges with program, and member retention.

  9. What about positions of responsibility with the Order of the Arrow? Lodge Chief and Vice-Chiefs of Communication, Administration, Camping Promotion, etc.

    • Unfortunately those PORs do not count towards Boy Scout advancement. HOWEVER, they now count towards POR for Eagle palms. The only change in Palm policy I like.

  10. When I was a youth I volunteered to be a Webelos Den Leader in a troubled Pack that wasn’t affiliated with my Troop. Wound up a win-win all around. Flash forward to today we had a challenge where our affiliated Troop couldn’t provide our Pack with Den Leaders since we meet on the same night. We went to another Troop that meets on a different night and had a conversation that we desperately needed Den Chiefs. They were thrilled as they had Scouts who needed leadership opportunities.

  11. I am curious as to how leaders determine if the scout is “actively serving” his position of responsibility. We have boys that are elected to SPL an/or other PORs, but rarely show up due to sports and other commitments. How do you determine what “actively serving” looks like? And, do you share that upfront before elections happen?

    • We do share the attendance/accountability expectations of SPLs prior to boys putting their hats in the ring. This fall, the candidates spoke for themselves one night, and the boys casted their ballots the following week.

      If a boy is not serving in his PoR, we encourage him to take a break or step aside for a few weeks and decide if there’s a job he’d rather do. We try to inculcate a philosophy of “He who does the work, holds the position.”

  12. In our troop all Scouts in PoRs develop a goal they want to achieve during their tenure. The goal is developed in conjunction with the SM or committee member they work with. An example of a goal would be a PL to have 75% of the patrol rank up during his term. As an incentive, the Scout doesn’t get the PoR patch until they have an approved goal. For Star rank, where Scouts have to serve 4 months and we do 6 month terms, the SM looks at the work done towards the goal to determine the Scout participation. By requiring a goal achievement, we avoid having Scouts that just wear the patch and do nothing. An additional benefit is that we have Scouts that are active in sports and can’t attend meetings during the sport season. Those scouts are assigned jobs such as librarian, webmaster, etc. which can be done outside of troop/patrol meetings and still actively serve. We put this in the troop by-laws and let all the Scouts of this requirement per the Guide to Advancement.

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