Taughannock District
Baden-Powell Council, BSA
Advancement and Recognition

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Cub Scout | Boy Scout | Merit Badge Counselor List | Venturing | Unit Recognition | Adult Recognition

For contact information see the Contact Page


2017-18 District Advancement Committee Meeting Schedule

  • Fourth Thursday in Sep, Oct, Jan-Apr and Jun- 7:00PM - TC3 - Room 262

  • Third Thursday in Nov, Dec, May- 7:00PM - TC3 - Room 262

  • Tuesday July 25th - 7:00 PM - Camp Barton (note date change)

  • No August meeting  

The monthly District Advancement Committee meetings will be a "one stop shopping" place for prospective Eagle Scouts to get their projects reviewed and approved, meet with mentors, and have their Eagle Board of Review. The Advancement Committee is also charged with encouraging and coordinating advancement at all program levels (Cub, Scout and Venturing). Each unit is requested to send a representative to the District Advancement Committee - for more information, contact advancement@TompkinsCortlandScouts.org 


For the latest advancement updates, see National's Program Updates Page!


Questions on Advancement Policy? 

National HQ publishes the Guide to Advancement. The Guide to Advancement replaces the publication Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures and is the official Boy Scouts of America source on advancement procedures at all levels - Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturing.  

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with disabilities. 

This publication clearly identifies mandated procedures with words such as “must” and “shall.” Where such language is used, no council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to deviate from the procedures covered, without the written permission of the national Advancement Team. Recommended best practices are offered using words like “should,” while other options and guidelines are indicated with terms such as “may” or “can.” Refer questions on these to your local district or council advancement chairs or staff advisors. They, in turn, may request interpretations and assistance from the national Advancement Team.

There are lots of other resources on Scouting issues on the internet - but it's important to remember, as the Guide (Section 1.0.1.0) says:

Be aware that statements or interpretations offered from unofficial websites and other such sources may be out of date or incorrect. They will not be considered in resolving advancement questions and issues. In situations not specifically covered in this guide, advancement chairs, coordinators, or other administrators should make decisions based on the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America, as well as the Scout Oath and Scout Law, other applicable official and current BSA resources—and common sense.

Every unit should have a copy of the Guide - download it from the National Website (PDF - 12MB)

The National website has a page for training videos about advancement procedures and issues.


Cub Scout Advancement

As with other program updates (including updates to Venturing and Boy Scouting), you can find everything you need to know at the BSA’s indispensable Program Updates page. For the final Cub Scout requirements, you want the link for “Adventure requirements and insignia” under the “2015 Updates: Cub Scouts” heading. 

CHANGES TO CUB ADVANCEMENT
EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1, 2016

Based on comments from volunteers,  BSANational announced a number of changes to Cub advancement which became effective immediately. As noted by BSA National:

Cub advancement was down after the first year of implementation and we know that correlates to lower member satisfaction and subsequently, lower retention. Some Den Leaders are having difficulty fitting all the Adventures required for advancement into their program year given their number of Den meetings and weather/daylight issues for outdoor activities. Overnight camping is a significant hurdle for some. Duty to God requirements connote organized religion to some and are not seen as embracing a belief in God and spirituality outside of specific faiths. A task force was formed to draft modifications to the Cub Scout Program that would address this feedback. These modifications are designed to ensure that Adventure requirements are achievable by today’s Cub Scout dens within a program year and achievable by Cub Scouts from a wide range of backgrounds and socio-cultural experiences.

Download a complete list of changes, with comparison to previous requirements (PDF)


Boy Scout Advancement

Scout Advancement Resources 


Eagle Palm Requirements Changed
Effective August 1, 2017 - Updated October 25, 2017

Previously, a Scout had to wait three months after his Eagle Board of Review before he could apply for his first Eagle Palm. Effective Aug. 1, 2017, the tenure requirement will not apply for the first Palm(s) only. The requirement now reads: 

"After successfully completing your Eagle Scout board of review on or after Aug. 1, 2017, and being validated as an Eagle Scout by the National Service Center, you will be entitled to receive an Eagle Palm for each additional five merit badges you have completed before your Eagle Scout board of review beyond those required for Eagle. In addition, all current Scouts who completed their Eagle board of review and who had not passed their 18th birthday before Aug, 1, 2017 are entitled as well. For these Palms only, it will not be necessary for you to complete the requirements stated below."

This means that at his Court of Honor a new Eagle can receive his Eagle award and as many palms as he has earned before his Eagle Board of Review. After that, the three-month tenure requirement applies as before.  

The original announcement said that this change only applied to Scouts with Boards of Review after August 1, 2017. As of October 25th, this has changed to apply to all Scouts who earned their Eagle and who were not yet 18 as of August 1st. .   Now those current Eagle Scouts can immediately apply for and receive Eagle Palms for merit badges earned before their board of review.

Let me reiterate: Only those merit badges earned before the Scout’s Eagle board of review count, assuming those merit badges have not already been applied to a previously awarded Palm.

For example: David had 41 merit badges when he became an Eagle Scout on July 29, 2017. That’s 20 more than required. Under the revision, he’s entitled to receive and wear a Silver Palm (representing 15 additional merit badges) and a Bronze Palm (representing five additional). Under the previous rule, it would’ve taken David a year to earn those Palms — three months for every five merit badges.

What about any merit badges David earns after his board of review on July 29, 2017? The usual requirements apply - he will have to wait until he has satisfied them before applying for additional palms.

Also changed are the following:

  • No Board of Review is required for Eagle Palms. A palm is not a rank, so no Board of Review is necessary. A Unit Leader Conference is still required, and can be held any time during the period since the last Palm (or Eagle Board). 

  • Three-month tenure in any BSA program is acceptable, not just in the "troop or patrol". 

  • Leadership requirement is broadened to include “accepting responsibility” as well as “demonstrating leadership.”

For a PDF listing of the current requirement, see here on the National website


New Boy Scout Requirements effective January 1, 2016 become mandatory January 1, 2017

The National Advancement Team has posted a PDF that compares the current BSA rank requirements to the new 2016 rank requirements on the Program Updates web page at Scouting.Org

Download the comparison chart here: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/2016BoyScoutRequirements_8.14.2015.pdf
BSA also has a flyer on transitioning to the new requirements - download it here:
http://www.scouting.org/filestore/program_update/pdf/Transitioning_New_Requirements_2016.pdf 


"Serve actively ... in ... positions of responsibility" and "Active Participation"

For many years, these phrases in the requirements for the ranks in Boy Scouts has been a matter for dispute and inconsistent application. The Guide to Advancement has sections "4.2.3.4 Positions of Responsibility" and "4.2.3.1 Active Participation" discussing and defining what does, and does not, count as satisfying these requirements as well as what a unit can, and cannot, do in defining them. Every troop leader should review these sections, and note that the Guide explicitly points out that "must" means must - waivers from something which "must" be done cannot be given by unit, district or council personnel. 


Eagle Scout 

  • Cooking, Sustainability merit badges are Eagle-required: 

    • Sustainability joined Environmental Science as an Eagle Scout option after its debut at the 2013 jamboree.
    • Cooking, meanwhile, became Eagle-required as of Jan. 1, 2014.
    • The total number of merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award will remain at 21. A Scout must earn 13 Eagle-required and 8 elective badges.
  • Eagle Scout Forms:  Be sure that you are using the very latest forms. You can find the printing year above the barcode on the back of the application. Better yet, always download a new form before you fill one out - you can find the latest forms on the District Forms page

  • Life-To-Eagle Procedures: The Council Advancement Committee have set up the following required procedure for all of the districts in the Baden-Powell Council. 

    • Life to Eagle Training: All Scouts should attend a "Life to Eagle" training session as soon as they earn their Life rank. These training sessions are offered at Roundtables several times a year - watch the District Calendar or Training Page for upcoming dates. 

    • Find a project and get troop approval: 

      • The Scout, with the help of the Scoutmaster, finds a project. 

      • Complete the Eagle Scout Service Project Proposal, pages A thru E, and Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application, page A, found in the Eagle Project Workbook, making sure to collect all signatures except for the District Advancement Chair's.

    • Schedule a meeting to present the project: The Scout then schedules his first meeting with the District Advancement Committee. He should contact the District Advancement Chairman at advancement@TompkinsCortlandScouts.org no later than two weeks before the next Roundtable and make an appointment for that month's Advancement Committee meeting (see District Calendar for times and place).

    • Present the Project Proposal:

      • A Scout should Be Prepared to: 

        • Arrive on time in full uniform with a notebook and pen/pencil to take notes.

        • Bring the completed and signed Eagle Scout Service Project Proposal, pages A thru E, and Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application, page A.
        • Bring enough details, sketches and photos to help the Board fully understand the Service Project concept.
        • Be able to discuss the details of the Service Project Proposal in enough depth that you show the Board the Five Test of an Eagle Scout Service Project, page A, can all be met.
    • Project will be discussed with board

      • Any problems are discussed and explained to the Scout

      • Chairman gives go ahead with project and signs workbook.

      • A Mentor is assigned to Scout.

    • Execute the Project - The Mentor should stays in contact with the Scout, calling every once in a while if they have not heard for the Scout in a while.

    • Fund Raising for Eagle Projects: be sure that any fundraising you do complies with the Eagle Scout Project Fundraising Policy set by the Baden-Powell Council.

    • Once the Project is finished - The Scout should:

      • Collect required signatures for the rest of the packet.

      • Finish project write up and after-action pictures

      • The Troop Committee or Scoutmaster, not the Scout, contacts three of the six references listed on the Eagle Application, secures a sealed confidential letter of recommendation from each of those individuals, and includes them in the Eagle Scout Application package.

      • Once all merit badges are completed, collect all needed signatures on the Eagle Scout Application up to and including Baden-Powell Council certification.

      • Make an appointment for final project review at the next monthly District Advancement Committee meeting

    • Final Project Review (by District Advancement Committee)

      • The Scout should bring all complete project materials as well as blue cards for all merit badges, and be in complete uniform

      • Board gives tentative approval if acceptable, if not the Scout gets feedback and fixes issues and makes new appointment with board

      • If project is acceptable, merit badges are completed, and all paperwork completed the Scout is given his final board of review

    • Final Paperwork Processed - District Advancement Chairman delivers all paperwork to office including Eagle Application  (link to National site) and Eagle Scout Biography and Project Summary (Locally updated form)

    • Eagle Court of Honor - once the Eagle application is approved by BSA National, the troop should schedule a Court of Honor to present the award to the Scout. Don't forget to invite anyone who had any part in the Scout's progress to Eagle!


    Merit Badge Counselors

    • How to become a merit badge counselor: 

      • Check the Merit Badge Counselor List - please don't sign up for a badge just because your son or a boy in your son's troop wants to take a badge. If there's already a Counselor in your town who is listed for one of the badges, encourage the Scout to call them first. This serves two purposes: (a) it has always been a part of the Merit Badge program to encourage Scouts to meet with outside experts in the area of the badge; and (b) recruiting many duplicate Counselors in the same area weakens the system (if there are too many Counselors for a badge, none of them gets contacted very often, and we wind up losing most of them).  There are over 100 merit badges - why not pick some for which there aren't already Counselors in your area? 

      • Qualification: A Merit Badge Counselor must be at least 21 years old, and must meet the requirements for any BSA adult member. A Counselor should be proficient in the merit badge subject by vocation, avocation, or special training - as the purpose of the Merit Badge system is to allow Scouts to meet people who are well informed in a given area, please do not apply for badges unless you are very familiar with the field. 

      • Choose your badges: While there is no specific limit for how many badges any one person can sign up for, as a general rule the District would prefer that Counselors limit themselves to five or six badges. Pick the ones you're most qualified for or which are most needed.  

      • Two Options: 

      • Register online: for the renewal of current Merit Badge Counselors. All new applications need to be filled out and submitted to the Council Office in paper form along with an Adult Application and a current Youth Protection Certificate.

      • Register on paper: 

        • Fill out and sign the following forms: 

          • Merit Badge Counselor Application (fillable PDF form)- Note: Please use the locally-updated version which you can download from the link at left. Please do not use older forms or the National form. 

          • Adult Membership Application (Note: you must fill out a new application if you were not previously registered as a Merit Badge Counselor, even if you are already a registered BSA leader. There is no fee for registering as a Merit Badge Counselor.)

        • Send the original signed forms to the Council Office (you can drop them off or mail them to the office at  2150 NYS Route 12, Binghamton NY 13901, give them to our District Executive or District Advancement Chair at Roundtable, or drop them off at District Commissioner Mike Brown's office at 400 M&T Bank Building, 118 N. Tioga St., Ithaca)

        • Send a copy of the Counselor Application form (only) to the District Advancement Chair - scan and e-mail it to advancement@TompkinsCortlandScouts.org or give it to him at Roundtable or an Advancement Committee meeting (See the District Calendar for times and places). Do not send the Adult Application - the District neither wants nor needs it. Please be sure the counselor's e-mail address is on the form. 

      • Approvals: 

        • The Council will do the routine background check, as for any adult application. 

        • The District Advancement Committee will review the application at its next monthly meeting

      • Listing: If approved by the District and Council, the counselor is notified, and listed on the Merit Badge Counselor list on this website. 

    • Baden-Powell Council Merit Badge Counselor List: All of the counselors on the current list have been contacted and are presently registered and willing to serve. Note that any Scout may work with any counselor, regardless of district, If the counselor is flagged with a "Y" in the "Troop Only" column, he or she has asked to work only with Scouts from their own troop.

       By request of district Scoutmasters, you can now get the list in three different sort orders:

      NOTE: In order to protect the data on the list from being indexed by search engines, the merit badge counselor PDF file is password protected. You will need to enter a password to open and print the list. The password is the Scout Motto, in lower case, without a space between the two words.  

      Want the list in Excel format? Send an e-mail to DC@TompkinsCortlandScouts.org - I'll be happy to e-mail it to you, but I really don't recommend this approach as your local copy will not be updated as the PDF's on the website will be. 

      If you have trouble with the file, or if you have any updates or corrections to the information, contact  advancement@TompkinsCortlandScouts.org.


    New Boy Scout Merit Badges
    2015-2017

    For the latest information on changes to the merit badge list see the Scouting Magazine blog


    Your Scouts, Explorers and Venturers, 14 years old and older,
    can earn the Duke of Edinburgh Award!

    The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the Boy Scouts of America have joined forces to expand the internationally renowned DofE Award into the world of Scouting. This year, the BSA national office launched the pilot program in five councils nationwide: Baden-Powell, Circle 10, Los Angeles Area, National Capital Area, and Yocona.

    Founded in 1956 in the UK by Her Majesty The Queen's husband, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a non-competitive, self-development program for youth ages 14 to 25. Dedicated to achievement in community service, physical fitness, special skills, and adventurous journey, the Award aims to build self-esteem and promote character development within every participant.

    The Award is an exciting, non-competitive experience that cultivates and instills confidence and self-worth within every participant. Through its proven and trusted quality framework, participants enjoy an unparalleled experience that hones their talents and skills and instills within them a crucial sense of belonging and achievement.

    Over 7 million people have received the Duke of Edinburgh's Award since its inception. The Award's fundamental philosophy and Four Tenant operational format have proved resilient, attractive, and adaptable to many cultures, languages, and environments, and it remains as relevant today as ever before, experiencing record levels of interest annually. Last year, more than 140,000 participants from around the world earned a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

    A letter introducing the Pilot Program can be downloaded here in PDF format. 

    For more information or to get involved, please contact Tim Woods,
    Baden-Powell Council DofE coordinator, at 607-844-3921 or
    Email wwwoodsw@earthlink.net


    Venturing Advancement

    Venturing advancement has been completely revamped, replacing the former Bronze, Gold and Silver awards as of January 1, 2015. A summary of the program can be found on the Scouting Magazine blog, and details are available and updated on the Venturing Facebook Page.  

    As a quick summary, there are four ranks, going from the joining-level Venturing Award to the Summit Award, now the highest honor in Venturing. The new awards blend adventure, leadership, personal development and service to give Venturers a structure for developing their own personal vision into manageable goals. That’ll translate into recognition by peers, mentors and the larger community.Each award has a focus. For the Venturing award, it’s joining; for Discovery, it’s participation; for Pathfinder, it’s leadership; and for the Summit award, it’s mentoring. The requirements are available here.

    Each patch incorporates the Venturing logo, and the design gets progressively more intricate as a young man or young woman progresses in Venturing.  

    Recipients of the Summit Award get an awesome patch but also receive a new medal. Plus, as adults, Summit Award recipients may wear the green, white and silver square knot pictured. It’s the same knot worn by recipients of the old Venturing Silver Award, which will be retired at the end of 2014.

    The Venturing changes were explained in the October 2014 ScoutCast - you can listen to the podcast or read a transcript on the Scouting Magazine Blog post for September 30, 2014.  


    Unit Recognition
    "Scouting's Journey to Excellence"

    “Scouting’s Journey to Excellence” is the BSA’s performance recognition program designed to encourage and reward success and measure the performance of our units, districts, and councils. It replaced the Quality Awards Program as a means of encouraging excellence in providing a quality program at all levels of the BSA. 

    "Journey to Excellence" marks a change in emphasis from year-end numbers to year-round quality. Rather than set numeric targets for results, the program tries to help units judge their performance on those factors which create quality program for the youth members, which in turn helps units retain members and grow. 

    Units earn points in a number of areas (13 areas for Packs and Troops, 11 for Crews and Ships). In most of the areas, there are three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Bronze level is supposed to represent those things which are a minimum for a quality program, a unit which earns all Gold would be one of the best of the best. To earn the annual "Journey to Excellence" award at the Bronze Level, a Pack or Troop has to be at least at Bronze Level in 11 out of 13 areas (or 9 out of 11 for Crews and Ships), and must also have a total number of 700 points overall. If they have met the Bronze requirements, units can progress to Silver Level with 1,000 points, and to Gold Level with 1,600 points. 

    One of the requirements for Journey to Excellence is Service - units must perform service projects for their community. In order for the service projects to count, they have to be reported on the Good Turn for America website. There's a Unit Tips for Success page to help you with your projects. 

    For general information on Journey to Excellence:

    Click on the links in this table for forms and information specifically for your type of unit: 

    Unit Type 2017 Requirements 2018 Requirements
    Cub Pack PDF PDF
    Boy Scout Troop PDF PDF
    Venture Crew PDF PDF
    Sea Scout Ship PDF PDF
    Explorer Post PDF PDF

    PowerPoint show for Unit Commissioners

    Be sure to log your service hours! Enter them on the National Service Hours website.

    National has a Journey to Excellence website with additional information, including the Journey to Excellence for the District and Council. 


    Adult Leader Recognition

    For contact information see the Contact page


    The following awards will be given at the Annual District Awards Program:

    National or B-P Council Awards: 

    • Training and other Recognition Knots: Ever wondered about all those knots you see on other leaders' uniforms? Here's a page giving the meanings and requirements for all of the square knots (offsite link to The US Scout Service Project) (also see this web page from boyscouttrail.com).  Training knots are available for Cub, Webelos, Boy Scout and Venturing Leaders as well as Commissioners and District Committee members - you can apply for those yourself. Contact Kathlene Gross kegross@frontiernet.net to apply for the knots. 

    • Veteran Scouter Recognition - Veteran year pins are awarded every 5 years (5, 10, 15, 20...). Note that pins up to 20 years are awarded by Council, 25 years and up are from National. Submit this form (fillable PDF from National website) to the Council office for all veteran awards. 

    • National Unit Leader Award of Merit - This award is presented at the request of the unit to the unit leader - Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing Crew Advisor or Varsity Coach. The unit committee chair completes the Unit Leader Award of Merit Nomination Form on behalf of the unit committee. For Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturer crews, the nomination must include endorsement by the senior patrol leader, team captain, or crew president, respectively (Cub packs, being adult led, do not have this requirement). The unit or district commissioner certifies that the form is complete. The unit submits the nomination form to the council for approval by the Scout executive and council commissioner or president.
    • District Award of Merit - The highest award a District may give. Each year, Taughannock District gives one or two awards. To nominate someone for the District Award of Merit, use the nomination form on the National website, or get a copy from District Recognition Chair. There are no specific hard-and-fast requirements for the District Award, but a general rule of thumb is that someone should have been active at least five years and have done at least some Scouting service outside the unit in which he or she is registered (although long service unit leaders will be considered). 

    Taughannock District Awards

    These "unofficial" awards are given by the District, among others which pop up from time to time. If you know someone you think would deserve one of these awards, nominate them! Download the Nomination Form  MS Word - PDF - and send it to Recognition Chair Kathlene Gross kegross@frontiernet.net (or give it to her at Roundtable).

    • Spark Plug Award - Does your unit have a leader who gives real "Spark" to the unit and its activities? Give leaders the recognition they deserve and tell them "Thank You!" The Spark Plug recipients are selected by the Unit, and confirmed by the District. No more than one Spark Plug per unit per year, please, and no one can get the Spark Plug twice in the same unit. 

    • The District may award one or more of the following each year, as selected by the Key 3 (Chair, DE, District Commissioner): 

      • Rising Star - may be presented to "newish" leaders who have done special service for the District.
      • Old Guard- may be presented to an Old F... we mean, "Distinguished Elder Scouter" who has been serving the District and/or units for many years. 
      • Patriot Patrol - a group of current Scouters who have done outstanding service for the District over the past year.
      • Taughannock 76'er - as a youth leader parallel to the Patriot Patrol, this will be awarded annually to a group of  outstanding youth leaders in the District.  
      • Old Scout - given occasionally to repeat members of the Old Guard
      • Founders Award - awarded from time to time to Scouters with especially long and distinguished service
      • Good Turn - awarded to a non-Scouting individual or organization who has done particular service to Scouting or to youth in general.
      • Outstanding Unit - awarded from time to time to Scouting units - Packs, Troops, Crews, Posts - who have delivered outstanding program to their youth members. 

      Masonic Scouting Awards

      The Masons have two awards available for Scouts and Scouters. 

      The General Douglas MacArthur Youth Award recognizes distinguished or outstanding voluntary community service by non-Masonic orgaiznations or individuals. It is given to "those who have given of themselves, that ultimate goal in life, serving our youth."  Download a nomination form here (PDF).

      The Eagle Scout Award "recognizes the dedication of a Scout to the pursuits of Scouting and of his achievement leading to Eagle Scout. The recipient will get a special personalized commendation certificate and letter from the Grand Master, along with a medallion. Download a nomination form here (PDF). 

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