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Updated Advancement Requirements for 2016

posted Apr 18, 2016, 9:47 PM by Brian Pratt   [ updated Sep 19, 2017, 3:43 PM ]

As you may have heard, BSA has tweaked the advancements program for 2016.

Scouts should print this addendum (print it double-sided, so it makes a little booklet) and keep it in their current scout book: PDF link

Here's a useful FAQ covering the changes and how they affect you: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/2016BoyScoutrequirementsFAQs.pdf

Highlights include more emphasis on fitness, service, and camping, and Scout is now considered a formal rank (though we'd already treated it this way, pretty much).

The change that has perhaps drawn the most attention is that now for every rank, the Scout is required to tell how he has performed his Duty To God, which is of course part of the Scout Oath.    

It’s important to note that this new requirement focuses on the individual Scout:  How does the Scout believe he has done his duty to his God (however defined)?  Nothing more is required of the Scout.  Importantly, it's not for the Scoutmaster to instruct, challenge, proselytize, or offer his own views.  Indeed, the requirement does not even contemplate that a discussion or two-way conversation should occur.  The Scoutmaster’s job is to simply listen.

Here in T186 we will continue to honor all faiths and traditions and questionings.  In Scoutmaster conferences when discussing the 12th point of the Scout Law, "A Scout Is Reverent", I've always tried to make it clear that the idea of "Reverence" is just that a Scout should be aware that there is something in this life that is much, much bigger than himself, and that we are each a small but important part of the collective experience of life.  This idea is worthy of solemn contemplation, and no matter what name you give this idea it's important to cultivate a sense of wonder and gratitude for one's existence on this beautiful planet in this amazing time of human achievement.  Where one chooses to direct that gratitude is not for me to say - it's a matter of personal choice and family tradition - but cultivating that gratitude makes for a healthier, happier, and more empathetic person, and fosters a sense of duty to somehow return that favor while you live.  It's that duty that I want the Scout to think about.

This new requirement has the Scout reflecting on these ideas, or perhaps describing how he engages with his family in the more concrete practices of an organized religion if they have one, while the Scoutmaster simply listens to what the Scout has to say. I don't have a problem with that - and I hope you don't either.  It's what we're doing already.

Yours In Scouting,