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This just popped... http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf Here's the blog post from Bryan on Scouting, verbatim http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/23/2015-guide-to-advancement-out-now-here-are-13-of-the-biggest-changes/ The 2015 Guide to Advancement, your official source for administering advancement in all Boy Scouts of America programs, is now available. View or download it by clicking here. The Guide to Advancement is a critical reference tool for anyone involved in advancement in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing and Sea Scouts. Itâ€™s not meant to be read cover to cover. Instead, itâ€™s organized and indexed so you can find answers to your advancement questions quickly. I appreciate that the sometimes-complicated topics covered in the Guide are conveyed in plain English. The Guide to Advancement is updated every two years to reflect changes to programs, requirements and policies. Changes come from a team of national-level professionals and volunteers. Many of the new sections are the result of frequently asked questions that the Advancement team is answering through new policies. You can find a complete list of significant changes to the Guide in section 18.104.22.168, beginning on Page 7. But I wanted to pick out 13 of the changes I consider the biggest: 1. Merit badge worksheets not allowed for certain requirementsSection: 22.214.171.124 Whatâ€™s new: This language clarifies the official policy on something Iâ€™ve blogged about before: merit badge worksheets. Filling out a worksheet will not be allowed for requirements that use words like â€œshow,â€ â€œdemonstrateâ€ or â€œdiscuss.â€ Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œIn Boy Scouting, advancement requirements must be passed as written. If, for example, a requirement uses words like â€˜show,â€™ â€˜demonstrate,â€™ or â€˜discuss,â€™ then that is what Scouts must do. Filling out a worksheet, for example, would not sufficeâ€ 2. Scoutmaster conferences should be face-to-face, not onlineSection: 126.96.36.199 Whatâ€™s new: New language says Scoutmaster conferences should be held face-to-face and not online. That means Skype, which is great for some purposes but not as personal as a face-to-face conversation, is out. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œScoutmaster conferences are meant to be face-to-face, personal experiences. They relate not only to the Scouting method of advancement, but also to that of â€˜association with adultsâ€™ (see topic 188.8.131.52, â€˜The Methods of Scoutingâ€™). Scoutmaster conferences should be held with a level of privacy acceptable under the BSAâ€™s rules regarding Youth Protection. Parents and other Scouts within hearing range of the conversation may influence the Scoutâ€™s participation. For this reason, the conferences should not be held in an online setting.â€ 3. New Cub Scout program now included in the GuideSections: Changes throughout the Cub Scout sections, including 184.108.40.206â€“220.127.116.11 Whatâ€™s new: Lots. Language now reflects the new Cub Scout program that launches on June 1, 2015. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œDen leaders, Cubmasters, and their assistants conduct meetings implementing the three steps in Cub Scout advancement: preparation, qualification, and recognition. Four separate den leader guides â€” one each for the Tiger, Wolf, and Bear programs, and one combined for Webelos and Arrow of Light â€” explain the mechanics for doing so while helping to maximize advancement.â€ 4. New Venturing awards outlinedSections: 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124 Whatâ€™s new: Almost everything. Last year (2014) saw the introduction of a new Venturing Awards program: Venturing, Discovery, Pathfinder and Summit. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œFour awards make up the Venturing advancement track: Venturing, Discovery, Pathfinder, and Summit, but others also are described below. Venturers have until their 21st birthday to complete their awards.â€ 5. Sea Scouts arenâ€™t VenturersSection: 126.96.36.199 Whatâ€™s new: Sea Scouting, previously considered a â€œspecial-interest program carried on as part of Venturing,â€ is now separated. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œSea Scouts are not Venturers.â€ Also: â€œThe Sea Scout Bronze Award is discontinued, and Sea Scouts no longer work on Venturing awards.â€ 6. Unit merit badge counselor lists shouldnâ€™t be available to Scouts onlineSection: 188.8.131.52 Whatâ€™s new: Units can (and maybe even should) establish a list of registered merit badge counselors. But Scouts should get those names and contact info from a Scoutmaster, not from a list made available online. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œDue to concerns about merit badge counselor privacy, and since Scouts should receive the names and contact information from the Scoutmaster, unit counselor lists should not be made available to Scouts online.â€ 7. Merit badge instruction should be small in scaleSection: 184.108.40.206 Whatâ€™s new: Rather than large merit badge classes reminiscent of a boyâ€™s time in high school, the BSA encourages smaller-scale instruction. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œThe sort of hands-on interactive experience described here, with personal coaching and guidance, is hardly ever achieved in any setting except when one counselor works directly with one Scout and his buddy, or with a very small group. Thus, this small-scale approach is the recommended best practice for merit badge instruction and requirement fulfillment. Units, districts, and councils should focus on providing the most direct merit badge experiences possible. Large group and Web-based instruction, while perhaps efficient, do not measure up in terms of the desired outcomes with regard to learning and positive association with adults.â€ 8. Merit badge prerequisites get explainedSection: 220.127.116.11 Whatâ€™s new: This whole section is new. It explains merit badges that appear to have prerequisites. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œSome merit badges appear to have â€˜prerequisites.â€™ The Emergency Preparedness merit badge, for example, requires the earning of the First Aid merit badge. But since the requirement does not state that First Aid must be earned before beginning work on the other Emergency Preparedness requirements, it is not, by definition, a prerequisite. It is just another requirement. Even though â€˜Earn the First Aid Merit badgeâ€™ is the first requirement, it need not be the first requirement fulfilled. It is just that the Emergency Preparedness merit badge is not finished until after the First Aid merit badge is completed.â€ 9. Youth observers arenâ€™t allowed at boards of reviewSection: 18.104.22.168 Whatâ€™s new: No youth should sit in to â€œobserveâ€ a board of review. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œThe unit leader may remain in the room, but only to observe, not to participate unless called upon. The number of â€˜observersâ€™ at a board of review should otherwise be minimized. The members of the board of review, however, have the authority to exclude the unit leader or any other observers if they believe their presence will inhibit open and forthright discussion. Youth observers are not permitted in boards of review for Boy Scouting advancement.â€ 10. Guidance offered for boards of review conducted through videoconferencingSection: 22.214.171.124 Whatâ€™s new: This whole section is new. It covers boards of review conducted through videoconferencing. Face-to-face boards of review are preferred, but sometimes thatâ€™s impossible. So this section helps explain how to run a successful board of review through this format. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œFrom time to time, however, as Scouts go off to college or the military, or live in very remote locations, for example, it may be virtually impossible to hold in-person boards of review. In those rare situations where it is unreasonable to expect a Scout to travel long distances, or to wait several months, it is permissible to use videoconferencing.â€ 11. The official Eagle Scout Rank Application is the only one to useSection: 126.96.36.199 Whatâ€™s new: A clarification explains that the official Eagle Scout Rank Application (512-728) is the only one Scouts should use. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œScouts must submit the official Eagle Scout Rank Application, No. 512-728, found at www.scouting.org/advancement. No other form or application is permitted. Special worksheets or spreadsheets have been created in some councils that when filled out electronically produce a completed application. Because the official application changes from time to time, and because submitting out-of-date applications can cause confusion and delays, Scouts must not be required to use these tools. If they do use them, they still must complete and submit the official Eagle Scout Rank Application.â€ 12. Crowdfunding for Eagle Scout projects explainedSection: 188.8.131.52 Whatâ€™s new: Fundraising for Eagle Scout projects isnâ€™t required. Plenty of awesome projects are completed without fundraising. But if a Scout needs to raise money, he may use crowdfunding to do so, provided he follows the policies outlined in this section. This is something Iâ€™ve blogged about. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œTypical unit fundraisers with which unit leadership is familiar, such as car washes, are the best options. Another alternative, contingent on local council approval, is the use of â€˜crowdfundingâ€™ via the Internet. If this method is used, however, then all concerned, from the Scout and his parent or guardian to the unit leader and those approving fundraising at the local council, should be aware that fees may be involved and that fundraising for something like an Eagle project may or may not comply with the websiteâ€™s terms of service. There can be other issues as well, such as what to do if more â€” or less â€” than what is needed is raised. It is important that someone in a position of responsibility reads and understands the websiteâ€™s â€˜fine print.'â€ 13. Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility form createdSection: 10.1.0.2 Whatâ€™s new: This new form applies register a person who will remain as a youth member beyond the age of eligibility. Excerpt from 2015 Guide to Advancement: â€œThe Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility, No. 512-935, found in the appendix and at www.scouting.org/advancement, should be used in this process.â€