When someone needs help, Scouts are there to jump in and serve. That’s what Scouts do, even when it’s their fellow Scouts who are in need.
Service plays an integral part in rank advancement, so when Scouts help each other out, the question sometimes comes up: Can helping another Scouting unit count for service hours for advancement?
We’ve received this question numerous times from Scouters with many different projects in question:
- Volunteering at Cub Scout day camp
- Improving trails at a council camp
- Helping a Cub Scout pack set up for a blue and gold banquet or Pinewood Derby
- Cleaning up another troop’s trailer or meeting place
- Assisting Cub Scouts during a Cub Scout fundraiser
The simple answer is: Any of those projects could count.
The expert’s response
Mike LoVecchio, BSA advancement specialist, says that helping each other can qualify for rank advancement:
Service hours must be approved by the Scoutmaster. Scouts have provided hours of service at their respective council camps and, if approved by the unit leader, those hours can fulfill the requirement (except for Eagle).
The service project requirement for the Eagle Scout rank specifically states the project should be “helpful to any religious institution, any school or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.)” Other Scouts BSA rank requirements include the Scout explaining how their service relates to the tenets Scouts should live by: the slogan, motto, Oath and Law.
Applying those tenets, the answer is pretty clear on the purpose of service projects.
“The intent is service to others,” LoVecchio says.
With a unit leader’s approval, many projects could count toward rank advancement. It is recommended the Scout consult with his or her leader prior to doing the work to prevent any later issues, but it’s not necessary. It’s also not necessary that all projects be done within unit-sponsored events. Here is some guidance for those types of projects.
We also recommend that you encourage your Scouts to look for opportunities to help others wherever and whenever they can. You can point them to projects they can do for their fellow Scouts, chartered organization, community, environment and country. Here are 101 project ideas to consider for you and your Scouts; make sure you consult the Guide to Safe Scouting for any and all ideas.