Norman Rockwell's Boy Scout painting

What Is a Board of Review?

Last week I wrote about the Scoutmaster Conference. Another Scouts BSA rank advancement requirement which causes some anxiety for the Scouts (and their parents) is the board of review. Scouts should understand that a board of review is not the same as a Scoutmaster Conference but just with more people.  It is also important for the Committee members sitting on the board of review to understand what they are supposed to be doing.

When a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, he must appear before a board of review. A board of review for the ranks of Tenderfoot through Life consists of three to six members of the troop committee. A board of review for the rank of Eagle Scout is determined by local policy. It can be comprised of a combination of troop committee members and district or council representatives, or it might be completely comprised of district or council personnel.

A troop board of review is also required before an Eagle Palm is awarded to a Scout. Troops might also hold a board of review with a Scout who is not advancing or who is having some other difficulty within the troop.

An advancement BOR usually lasts about 15 minutes. It is important not to rush the Scout. The BOR should sit where they can have an uninterrupted discussion. A BOR can feel pretty intimidating to a Scout, so try to make him feel welcome and at ease. As open ended questions, rather than yes or no questions, to encourage more complete answers from the Scout.

An advancement BOR is not a retest of requirements. The board may ask questions to determine if requirements were met though. So a BOR would not ask a Scout to make a camp gadget using lashings. Instead, they might say ‘Tell me about the camp gadget you made.”

Talk about the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Give him the opportunity to tell how he has lived these recently. Offer some praise when he gives an example or two. This is also a good opportunity to help him plan to achieve his next rank. What does he still need to do for First Class or which youth leadership position is he interested in? Ask him about his interests and suggest some merit badges along those lines.

At the end of the advancement BOR, the Scout should be asked to step out for a few minutes. Discuss the Scouts achievements. Don’t keep him waiting too long. In most cases you will then congratulate him for being qualified for the rank. On the (hopefully) rare occasion where it is determined that he hasn’t completed all of the requirements, tell him specifically what he still needs to do and offer him plenty of encouragement.

5 Responses to What Is a Board of Review?

  1. christine September 23, 2010 at 7:06 AM #

    One of the things we do on our committee is we ask the boys specific items about the rank they’ve completed without retesting (what was your favorite part? what did you find the hardest? you had to do 6 hours of community service, what did you do and what did you think of it?)

    we ask “as a committee, what would you like to see US help the troop with?”

    we ask “what do you think the troop is doing great with, and how do you think the troop can improve?” this gives boys who maybe haven’t spoken up about concerns in front of the troop or in front of the scoutmaster because the troop is really big or they are shy.

    we ask about merit badges they’ve achieved, which was their favorite, which didn’t they like, what didn’t they like. what advice they would give younger scouts working on this rank.

    and we ask what they are looking forward to in the next rank. what they want to do next.

    i like the way we do it — there is no retesting, no skill test. we love letting the boys talk about their experience, and i have to say that this is such a blessing for me to be part of, and i look forward to each one i get to do.


  2. Gloria September 23, 2010 at 1:28 PM #

    When a scout comes to a BOR for Star, Life or Eagle rank I like to ask the scout to tell me about a current event (any current event). By the time they reach these ranks they should realized part of their “duty to country” is to be a good citizen and that means they need to be informed about something going on around them. This is not something that will keep them from getting rank, but is something they should be able to give some kind of answer to. If not, I tell them that is alright, but when they come to their next BOR be ready to share a current event then.

  3. DON COFFEY December 31, 2010 at 5:24 PM #

    I have this poster signed by NORMAN ROCKWELL, with a dedication to Troop 9
    Morganton,N C It has been in my home since the ’40s.
    I’m trying to find the source of the poster and date of publication. Any help or input will be appreciated.

  4. acco40 July 16, 2015 at 4:05 PM #

    You state a scout is ready for a BOR once all the requirements have been met for rank (When a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, he must appear before a board of review.)

    Yet, you state that “On the (hopefully) rare occasion where it is determined that he hasn’t completed all of the requirements, tell him specifically what he still needs to do and offer him plenty of encouragement.”

    So how does a BOR determine a requirement has not been completed?

    • Scouter Mom July 18, 2015 at 2:01 PM #

      For example, if the BOR asks “Did you enjoy cooking a meal for your patrol” and the scout replies that he didn’t cook a meal, but it was signed off anyway.

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