Requirement Updates: How to Handle Them

Advancement requirements across all BSA youth programs change from time to time.  Here is a brief rundown of the practical advice these topics provide.

For Cub Scouts, and Venturers, revisions to rank or award requirements are introduced in new editions of their respective handbooks, and unless that handbook says differently, the pack, or crew member has until the next January 1 to decide which requirement—old or new—he or she prefers to use through completion of that rank or award.

For Boy Scout ranks, always check the most current annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements first. Once a new or revised requirement has appeared in that book, a Scout beginning his next rank or palm must meet the requirement stated therein. However, if a new or revised rank or palm requirement has been intro-duced by means of a new edition or reprinting of the Boy Scout Handbook after that “current” edition of the Boy Scout Requirements was published, the Scout will have until December 31 to decide whether (1) he would like to begin or continue using the “old” requirement(s), or (2) use the new one(s) in the Handbook. If he chooses to stay with the old, he can continue to do so until he has completed the rank or palm he was working on, even if his progress extends beyond December 31.

For merit badges, here too the most current annual Boy Scout Requirements edition provides all current official requirements. However, as is the case with rank requirements, MB requirements may not always match the Boy Scout Handbook, the most recently published merit badge pamphlet, or even Merit Badges. Such mismatches can happen because Boy Scout Requirements is updated annually, whereas updating of the Handbook, pamphlets, and the website is an on-going process.

Here are some tips for Scoutmasters, Advancement Coordinators, Merit Badge Counselors, and others on how to handle these situations:

  • When a merit badge’s new or revised requirements are published in a new edition of Boy Scout Requirements, a Scout beginning work on that merit badge must use the new, most current requirements.
  • If new or revised requirements are published for a given merit badge in a revised pamphlet or online at Merit Badges during the same year--but after the current Boy Scout Requirements is published, then a Scout has until December 31 of that year to choose which set of requirements he would prefer to use to start working on the MB: old or new. (Keep in mind that no one is authorized to “dictate” this to the Scout: It’s entirely his choice.) And, what if a Scout has already started on a MB when its requirements change? The answer again is that it is the Scout’s choice: He can choose to continue using the requirements he started with, or he can switch to the revised requirements.

Occasionally, the BSA National Council may need to stipulate different procedures or deadlines from those described here. If so, these changes will be broadly published and communicated. (For more on changing requirements, see the other articles on this website.)

For more information, The BSA 2017 Guide to Advancement External Linkprovides more detailed information on how to deal with such changes in a couple of places: “Changes to Requirements” (Topic and “What to Do” (Topic Please review that document for further information on this subject, or contact the Council or District Advancement chairmen