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Guidelines for Service Hours?

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We have had a number of recent questions in our troop about what does or does not count as "service" toward ranks. For example, does service to one's school or church qualify? Under what conditions? Does service only count if it is not done for any other reason, or can the same act count for both Scouts and another organization? Can all of a scout's hours come from the same, weekly commitment? We have not found a good BSA resource yet to answer these questions. Can someone recommend a resource, or share how this is handled on your troop? We hope to set up some sort of guidelines while these are just questions and before they become points of contention. Thanks a lot!


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The only guidelines are that (1) the service must not be for a commercial enterprise, (2) can not be of direct benefit to BSA, and (3) must be approved in advance by the SM. This gives the SM wide lattitude. Service to churches and schools are the most frequent kinds, but I've seen all sorts of cool service opportunities, from serving homeless people, to manning drink stations on a 10k run, to cleaning up lake shorelines. Our troop is largish, so we have created the leadership position of Service Coordinator. This Scout finds a variety of service opportunities and presents them to the troop as well organizes several troop efforts. It's a great leadership position.

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Trevorum's right, eh? What counts as service hours in your unit is entirely the Scoutmaster's discretion. So don't be lookin' at the literature or even get involved as a Committee, eh? The proper answer is "the boys should ask the SM."


As a general way of thinkin' about it, I suggest to SM's:


1) Service should not usually be for a commercial (for profit) enterprise.

2) The scout should not be getting anything from it. So service for the family's country club or neighborhood pool association doesn't count, because that's really benefitting yourself and your social circle.

3) The scout should not be getting anything from it. So if it's "required" service for some other group (religious ed, school, NHS, etc.) then it shouldn't "double count" for scouts.


Those are just my feelin', lots of folks may disagree, eh? But the scouting service requirements are so trivial (13 hours over 5 years??) that it hardly seems onerous to expect a touch of additional effort. The point of the Oath is that a Scout does more than the minimum, eh?


Certainly, service done on behalf of one's school or church most SM's would count. And I think it's great if a scout has an ongoin' weekly commitment to some service activity; that's exactly what we're tryin' to teach in terms of Good Turns, so of course it should count.


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I understand the "not for BSA" especially in regard to Eagle Leadership Service Projects, but the other ranks?


Can you cite this please?


I know a lot of units which use conservation project time at Scout Camp as service hours.

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This has been discussed before if you do a search. I agree with John-in-KC. There is no prohibition against helping the BSA for service hours for ranks. We've had scouts earn service hours by helping with district Cub Scout events.


The only real requirement is that it is approved by the SM. I always warn scouts to ask first, rather than be disappointed later. I do not approve hours that are done (1) to meet requirements for other organizations, i.e. "no double-dipping", (2) are required to be a member of their church or other organization, or (3) they are receiving any form of benefit (donation to troop, etc.).


Here are some examples:

- Worked at church in children's program, got Beta Club hours. - No

- Went on a church mission trip. - Yes

- Worked in a concession stand to raise money for the soccer club (where he is a member) - No

- Worked in a concession stand to raise money for the soccer club (not a member) - Yes

- Worked at community festival to help community organization raise money, the organization gave a small donation of equipment to the troop. - No

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I would suggest one exception to the double dipping rule: in our school system, all students are required to perform a certain number of "Student Service Learning" hours for graduation. These can be any kind of service, except for explicitly religious service. I personally would allow a Scout to count service for rank--or for MBs or even for an Eagle project--and still submit the hours toward his SSL requirement (or CAS hours for International Baccalaureate, for another example).

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While a First Class Scout take part in Service projects totaling at least 6 hours of work. These must be SM approved.


While a Star Scout take part in service projects totaling at least 6 hours of work. SM approved.


What qualifies for a Good Turn?

More than simple good manners but an extra act of kindness



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Since I'm an advancement coordinator, as well as an ASM who is relatively new to Boy Scouts, this thread has been very helpful!! With upcoming board of reviews this topic has been on our minds.


I seem to recall our SM saying something about OA service activities not counting toward rank service. Would you agree?


He may have just been referring to the hours spend during their ordeal activities and not other OA activities dedicated to service.


Ken K.

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Mr KenK,


Here is my take, as an Arrowman of 30 some-odd years:


The time a Scout spends in his Ordeal or Brotherhood results directly in recognition (induction into the Order as an Ordeal member or sealing of membership as a Brotherhood member).


That time, imo (and that's just it, my opinion), is just that: OPINION.


Now, if a Scout is serving as an Elangomat, performing Arrowman service (working) during an induction weekend, or otherwise giving cheerful service, then those hours should count. After all, the goal of service in the Scouting Advancement METHOD is to inculcate an inherent value of the Good Citizenship AIM!


All that said, I know folks who will double and triple dip service hours until the cows come home, the same hour counts for church, Scouts, school, and so on.


Does that make sense?

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I stand corrected. The "not for BSA" is fine print for Eagle service projects and does not necessarily apply to other ranks.


In our troop, we have a blanket rule against such service to avoid confusion. We also request that the scout get approval from the SM in advance. Not a deal-breaker for otherwise good service, but up-front coordination is just good sense.

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Here is my personal,(* that means that I am making something up), opinion.


A Scout goes looking to buy a car and he finds one and the sticker price is $1,000, then that is the cost. The Scout then decides to buy it, so he takes the $1,000 that his Dad gave him for mowing the lawn and pays for it. He then jumps into the old clunker and drives it away.


He later gets home and there is a brand spanking new car sitting in the driveway. His Dad has paid for all but $1,000., which the Scout has been asked to pay for since his Dad knew he had $1,000. when he left home that morning. He knows that he cant return Old Blu and he knows that once he drove it off the lot it automatically went down in value to $50.00. He is now in a fix because he no longer has $1,000. Everybody will agree that he has traded the cow for the magic beans, which is something most of us have done one or more times in our own lives.


Moral of the story: Dropping down and praying for warm weather and another shower before Winter might be a good idea.


Is there some kind of application or is this just another silly story?




A Scout willingly does a Service project for his Church.

Everyone is happy with him and his minister gives him a certificate of Merit for doing Service for his fellowman.


He goes to the Scout meeting and finds that he is required to do a Service project.

Whether he likes it or not, he has already spent his $1,000/Service at his Church and technically he needs another lawn to mow.


But then, he decides that nobody will ever know.


Later one of his Church/Scout buddies finds out he used his Service hours at both places.

Later he wants to use Service hours on an Educational resume.

Later his Minister is asked to vouch for him.

Later his SM is asked to give a reference.

Later, someone puts it all together.


Moral of the stories: Ones works are like a pebble thrown into a pool. Even the muck in the bottom will be affected.


I cant believe that this is even an issue.




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