What Can Scouts Use as Service Hours?

What Counts as Service Hours?

Tina asked this question:

What do you guys consider as service hours? Would you consider these?

  • Working on flowerbed at school Operation Christmas Child
  • volunteering Relay for Life
  • volunteering Greeting vets at Veteran’s day program and handing out “thank you for your service” cards (in uniform) – business cards printed with Troop info

It Depends on the Service Requirement

Thanks for the question Tina. It depends on who is doing this and which requirement for service the Scout is trying to fulfill. Some of the service requirements have specific aspects. And service for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge, for example, must be approved by the merit badge counselor. Or the project might have to be a conservation project.

Consider the Scout’s Age

It also depends on the age of the Scouts. What is appropriate service for an 8 year old might be different than what is appropriate for a 13 year old. Service projects are a good opportunity for Scouts to challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone. It is not necessarily a requirement, but it is a chance to ask if they are capable of a little more.

So it is always good to (1) read the requirement carefully and (2) if it needs to be signed off by somebody, check with them before starting.

Related Resources

Service Project Ideas for Cub Scouts

See some service ideas for younger Scouts. Add your own suggestions also.

Service Project Ideas for Scouts BSA

See some service project suggestions for older Scouts. What has your troop done for service hours?

Tips for Success

See resources for planning a service project, ideas for parent involvement, and resources for follow-up and reflection.

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8 responses to “What Can Scouts Use as Service Hours?”

  1. aNDREW Avatar

    As an ASM and MB counselor my test for service is thus: Is the Scout doing something to improve the life of someone else in some beneficial way. I like to ask the Scout to examine the work and define it themselves to see if they think it is really service. Let them provide the answer, as this organization is led by the Scout they should be able to help make that decision. Then I encourage the scout to do it with a cheerful heart, and sometimes that is where the best conversations happen about how fortunate we are to be Scouts.

    From the 2017 Guide to Advancement:
    Counting service hours for school or elsewhere
    in the community and also for advancement is not
    considered double counting since the hours are
    counted only once for advancement purposes.

    When contemplating whether to double-count service hours
    or a service project, and apply the same work to pass a
    second advancement requirement, each Scout should ask
    himself: “Do I want to get double credit for helping others
    this one time, or do I want to undertake a second effort
    and make a greater difference in the lives of even more
    people?” To reach his decision, each Scout should follow
    familiar guideposts found in some of those words and
    phrases we live by, such as “helpful,” “kind,” “Do a
    Good Turn Daily,” and “help other people at all times.”
    As Scout leaders and advancement administrators, we
    must ask ourselves an even more pointed question: “Is it
    my goal to produce Scouts who check a task off a list or
    Scouts who will become the leaders in our communities?”
    To answer our own question, we should consult the same
    criteria that guide Scouts.

  2. Steve Cutler Avatar
    Steve Cutler

    does doing volunteer as a fire fighter for several hours a weekend count for adults in Service hours for helping the community and doing a good turn daily

  3. Brian Tobin Avatar
    Brian Tobin

    What do you think about helping another scout with a eagle project?

    1. Doug L. Avatar
      Doug L.


  4. John Avatar

    Would you count a scout teaching Chess to those who do not know how to play or are week players at a schools Fall Festival as a Service Project?

    1. Scouter Mom Avatar
      Scouter Mom

      In general I would, but it depends on the specific service requirement. And some of the service requirements need the prior approval of a Scoutmaster or merit badge counselor, so they should always check first.

  5. Mike Avatar

    Helping someone or teach them a game would be more of a good turn, or helping others at all times. The service should not benefit scouts. I don’t count Helping Eagle scouts on a project count as service since it is benefiting the scout. He needs to lead others and if he has been around and done his job younger scouts will volunteer cheerfully. Again following their oath an motto. Trail work is service, cleaning up flower beds and trimming trees at your local church. Finding a local stream and cleaning up graffiti and trash, or at a park. It’s always been a tough one. We have a pancake breakfast for our home church where the boys serve and cook for the congregation once a year and that counts. But the key is once they have done one, they can’t keep repeating the same service through all there ranks, so you need to change it up and challenge them. Every community needs help with something. Just my take on it.

    1. Sara Avatar

      Other scouts working on an Eagle Project isn’t benefiting the prospective Eagle Scout. I believe that service of the other scouts benefit the beneficiary of the Eagle Project.

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