This week, Bryan on Scouting offered a great introduction to the new Scout rank, which replaces the old Boy Scout joining requirements. This is perhaps the most significant of the changes to the Boy Scout advancement requirements that take effect on January 1.
(As an aside, I think it’s always been confusing to say that the Scout badge wasn’t a rank, even though it was represented by what looked like a rank emblem. This seemed like a distinction without a difference, and I’m glad the BSA has done away with it.)
If you haven’t yet, I would encourage to carefully review the new requirements, which are posted at http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/2016BoyScoutRequirements_8.14.2015.pdf. This document gives a side-by-side comparison of the old and new requirements, making it easy to see what has changed.
While there’s a lot to digest, two points about the Scout rank are worth considering:
- The Pledge of Allegiance is back; see requirement 1f. Originally, the Pledge was not required for the Scout rank because the volunteer team that developed the new requirements was focused on Scouting-specific topics: ideals, patrol method, advancement process, etc. (Also, since participating in a flag ceremony is required for Second Class, they figured Scouts have plenty of opportunities to recite the Pledge.) In any event, the Pledge is now part of the Scout requirements, so feel free to refute any conspiracy theories you hear!
- The Scout rank requirements align very neatly (and very intentionally) with the requirements for the Scouting Adventure in Arrow of Light. In other words, a new Scout who has earned the Arrow of Light should come to your troop with all the knowledge he needs to complete the Scout rank. Of course, you’ll still need to test him and hold a Scoutmaster conference. (There’s no board of review for the Scout rank.)
In my opinion, the most critical time in a boy’s Scouting career is his first few months in the troop. Keep him around through summer camp and into the fall, and he’s likely to be with you for several years to come. The new Scout rank does a good job of giving him the information he needs to understand how Boy Scouting works and what his path ahead will look like.