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.