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Why / When did they do away w/ time requirements for rank ?

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I tried to search on this, but must not put in the correct 'key words'... and I admit, I'm still in cubbieland w/ my son so its not an issue yet.


However, I see a good amount of discussion about the "patrol method" vs adult led and Troops being "Eagle Mills".


One thing that I have obsevred (after going back over my BSA handbook from the early 1980's) is that EVERY rank had a "time in service" component. It also had a "Troop level leadership" component for every rank above 1nd class.


This meant a scout had to spend x amount of months as their current rank and spend x amount of time as a PL, Den Cheif, Quartermaster, Chaplain's aid, etc... some type of youth leader position as a requirement for the next rank.


Seems to me, the time and leadership elements FORCED the idea of the patrol method and at the same time insured that a scout was not just "checking boxes" as they had to spend a significant amount of time (2 months for Tenderfoot, 2nd class, 1st class, 4 months for Star, 6 months for Life, and 6 months for Eagle) at the previous rank. That's a minimum of being active for 22 months on the fastest possible tract.


You couldn't join the Boy Scouts until you were at least 10.5 years old (most were 11 y/o).


Additionally, for Star, Life, and Eagle one had to occupy a youth leadership position for the entire 'time in service' requirement. Realistically, the quickest anyone could move through the ranks was about 3 years time. This was because of merit badge requirements (not always offered or offered twice a year) and camping requirements (so many overnights for certain required beltloops).


The whole - go at a pace that ensures the skills are actually LEARNED instead of check-boxed took care of itself in the 'time in service' and "not everyone can be PL all at the same time".


So I wonder WHY the time in service requirements have been abandoned? Seems to me that there is a certain confidence that comes from spending enough time at one rank to master its skills before moving on to the next.


The great secret to the "time in service" and the youth leadership requirements was that it helped instill this confidence without holding the scout back so much that they stagnated at one rank (unless of course they chose to do so).


So, why did BSA get rid of it?

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The time in rank for tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st class were removed but covered by 60 days of physical activity and showing improvement, 5 troop or patrol activities and 10 troop patrol activities.

The more active the boy and troop the faster those can be met. Part of the problem is the diversity of skills -- some scouts can cook, read a compass, know first aid etc... before they hit scouting. Others don't have a clue. The phrase "It is about the Boy" should be the guide. It is not good for the boy to be just checked off but to actually learn the skill. This requires active program. Unfortunately, when boys start hitting the ages of 14.5 and up, schools, churchs, sports etc.. start demanding a great deal of there time without bending. I believe this is part of why those motivated to Eagle are younger than originally.

Every Eagle that comes out of our troop must be proficent in the skills -- this is just right and best for the boy.

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BSA did away with time requirement for the lower rank at the same time they did away with Skill Awards, approximately 1990. In my neck of the woods there is still a lot of people who think time requirements should be reinstated. I've been on BORs where one Scout went from Scout to First Class in one night!




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The time requirements are indeed covered by the activity requirements. Also boys are allowed to work on any T-1 requirement at any time. There are still some out there ticked off that they boys can earn MB's from day one and do not need to wait til first class for them. There are still time requirements for higher ranks but POR's are not all "leadership" positions some are just that positions of responsibility in other words a job that needs doing and someone filling it. This way blue collar scouts can earn rank too.

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I have in front of me, my handbook from the 80's, the Ninth Edition, the last one written by William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt (and it's autographed by him too).


This is the last one where there is a time requirement for except Scout. There are no positions of responsibilities requirements in it for ranks below Star. Only Star, Life, and Eagle have a requirement of a position of responsibility, not necessarily leadership. From page 534 for Star Rank:


Serve actively 4 months in one or more of the following positions (or carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop): patrol leader, senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler, chaplain aide, member of the leadership corps, junior assistant scoutmaster.


Life rank requirement is for 6 months referencing the Star list.


The Eagle requirement drops bugler and "scoutmaster-assigned leadership project" from the above list.


The Tenth Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook came out 1990 and dropped the time in rank requirements for Tenderfoot through First Class, allowing a scout to work on requirements for all three ranks at once (but he couldn't receive 2nd class before Tenderfoot, etc.). The goal of this at the time was to get a scout to First Class within a year of joining the troop. It was believed that if a scout made it to first class within a year, they were less likely to quit.


The other changes between the 9th & 10th editions was the elimination of skill awards at the lower ranks and dropping the term "leadership corps" from the list of positions of responsibility for Star through Eagle ranks and the addition of "Troop Guide".


The current 11th edition adds OA Troop Rep to those responsibility choices.



If you look at the time requirements of the ninth edition, they were:


Scout to Tenderfoot: Minimum of 2 months

Tenderfoot to 2nd Class: Minimum of 2 months

2nd Class to 1st Class: Minimum of 2 months



So, there isn't really much of a change there: 6 months minimum to a goal of getting to the same rank in a year in the 10th and current 11th editions.



However, the 12th Edition of the Scout Handbook, is tentatively scheduled to be released for BSA's 100th anniversary in early 2010. Who knows how the requirements will be changed again, except those working on it right now for National.


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I think the most important aspect of the elimination of the time-in-rank requirements is that the boys can now pass requirements for any of the "lower" ranks without having achieved the previous rank, which was the rule when I was a Boy Scout (7th and 8th editions of the handbook.) In a way it is a blending of the "skill awards" concept with the older rank requirement structure, and allows for more flexibility both in organizing a troop program and for the boy himself. For example, a Scout can do all of the first aid, cooking etc. requirements at the same time, or do them separately by rank. Although I was kind of surprised to see the elimination of the time-in-rank requirements when my son joined a troop, I don't think it is a bad change. The "discipline" of the time-in-rank requirements is probably more appropriate for the somewhat older boys who are going for Star and beyond.


I am a little puzzled about the discussion in this thread regarding positions of responsibility. As far as I know, these have always been in the rank requirements for Star and up, and never for First Class and below. (When I say "always" I mean starting with the 7th edition, which is the beginning of my personal frame of reference.) So I don't see what change people are talking about. Apart from some some changes in terminology ("office" vs. "position of responsibility", etc.) and modifications to the list of positions (leadership corps in, then out, OA rep in, etc.) over the years, the basic concept of requiring a "job" (as our troop calls it), and for what ranks it is required, has not changed.

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DeanRX and Fellow Scouters,


I do not have my entire library with me, but the skill award requirements were almost all placed into the rank requirements. Most all of the skill requirements remain intact in the program. But the skill awards "belt loops" were removed.


BSA programs (and advancement) have changed over the past nearly 100 years of Scouting. Intially there were no Star and Life Ranks. Eagle was awarded after the First Class rank, and requirements have changed slightly (not dramatically) over the years.


Again, I do not have the professional studies. But leading into the 80's, National BSA contracted for studies, as well as reviewed their own statistics. National BSA noted that the average youth age population was averaging around 12'ish. And that many youth (and families) were leaving "in droves" the BSA program before the rank of First Class.


Similar studies seem to find that very few 13 y/o Scouts could write a comprehesive 500 word essay for each merit badge. Afterwards most merit badge essays were shortened to 200 word essays.


The survival and health of the BSA program was shrinking, due to the evolving society. Some adult Scouters would rather see fewer dedicated Scouts, over many numerous half hearted Scouts. But at some point we would be signing our own death warrant.


I too would like to see motivated and dedicated Scouts, but not at the loss of the entire program.


I have seen various Scouting and population statistics before, but cannot recall them right now while replying to this forum.


The keeping of the same amount of skills and removal of the time requirements between Scout thru First Class has seemed to improve retention in the Scouting program. More Scouts and families appear to be staying in the program, than during the 80's.


So after consideration, I welcomed the advancement guideline changes, as minimal impact while still retaining some quality Scouts.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. Like that won't happen! ;) I do not have any old copies of the Handbook. While Campmastering at one of our council properties, I was looking at a Handbook with a 50's copyright I believe and was amazed to see that the Eagle rank was attained just like Star and Life (paraphrasing here) with a certain number of MB's, time in a POR, Scout Spirit, etc. and no project was involved. Did I read it right? Did a scout just basically do the same basic steps as Star and Life and became an Eagle?


When was the project added?

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They did away with the time requirements for the lower ranks in an effort to help push the Scout to First Class faster. The idea then, as now, was that if you could get a Scout to First Class within a year, you had a better chance, according to the professional studies,of keeping him in Scouting (and thereby keeping the numbers up).


The sideline to this was that if you got a Scout to advance quickly, there was a better chance of getting him to Eagle. This was done along the same time that many requirements for Merit Badges were softened. This has caused the percentage of Scouts to make Eagle to move above the 2% that existed for many years. And yes many youth will and have worked hard, but the percentage is closer to 3% now and it only happened after many requirements were softened.


Lately there has been some toughening of some of the MB requirements. Will we see the percentage go down? Not likely as additional changes would probably be made to keep the numbers up.




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Whenever you make ranks in scouting easier to obtain and take the hard work and challenge away for the boy you cheapen what that badge really means for the scout. When you allow the fear of losing scouts to dictate simplifying the process to obtaining the Eagle it reflects poorly on the BSA as a whole and gives our critics more fuel for attacks. Scouting was never intended to be an easy and fast track to success but rather a journey to build a boys leadership, maturity, outdoor skills, and citizenship skills which culminates in a boy becoming a mature and responsible adult.


Whenever you allow numbers to dictate the methodology and type of program delivered then that program becomes a watered down and impotent version of its former self. This is a generation that demands immediate gratification in all aspects of our daily lives. The "I want it now" mentality is one of the reasons our economy is in the mess it is in today, and reflects the changes in the scouting program. I have witnessed in the business world just how little the Eagle award has come to mean and how irrelevant scouting has become in our society today. Quantity vs Quality which one do you want scouting to reflect?

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Fellow Scouters,



I try not to use the term simplify. I don't agree that is what we and BSA have done.


I have had associates in Scouting and also my profession that desired nothing less than 100 percent perfection. (which I believe is impossible). Nothing less was acceptable to them. They believed that any achievement must be a struggle. Nothing less than blood, sweat and tears to obtain perfection. If these associates were at the council and national level, the first and last Eagle Scout would have probably been back in 1910.


Myself, I always believed an achievement should be a challenge and milestone. But not a brick wall in the road that would immediately halt all progress and not allow anyone to pass by.


I will agree that we modified the trail to Eagle, but I don't agree that we have lessened it.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!


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"Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. Like that won't happen! I do not have any old copies of the Handbook. While Campmastering at one of our council properties, I was looking at a Handbook with a 50's copyright I believe and was amazed to see that the Eagle rank was attained just like Star and Life (paraphrasing here) with a certain number of MB's, time in a POR, Scout Spirit, etc. and no project was involved. Did I read it right? Did a scout just basically do the same basic steps as Star and Life and became an Eagle?"


There were more changes then that over time.


Originally, Star, Life and Eagle were nothing more then 'super merit badges'. You mearly earned them by being a First Class Scout with certain merit badges. NOTHING ELSE.


Life was earned by earning 5 specific health-based merit badges.

Star was earned by earning 10 merit badges, including the 5 for Life

(yes, Star was higher then Life. This was switched in the 1920s)


Eagle was earned by earning ANY 21 merit badges. ANY. Nothing more. This means a boy could earn Eagle without earning Star or Life!


Also, ANY adult was considered automatically a "First Class Scout", was allowed to earn merit badges, and thus could be an Eagle Scout AS AN ADULT. This policy was allowed for a long time, was frowned upon by the 1950s, and finally when they added certain requirements in the 1960s, ended.


"When was the project added?"


Some time in the 1960s.



Like someone said, if you refuse to learn the lessons of history, you are doomed to repeat them. Before one starts arguing about requirements, its a good idea to know what they REALLY WHERE over the years...

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Time requirements are the melamine of Scouting: The fake protein of a program that lacks real muscle.


Any couch potato can earn Eagle Scout without ever walking into the woods with a pack on his back. Any Patrol Leader can learn business management "leadership" without ever taking his Patrol for a hike or an overnight.


Time requirements, specific Positions of Responsibility requirements, and 500 word essays are all fake Scouting, as toxic as melamine.


A Scout proved his mastery of Scoutcraft to Baden-Powell with adult-free "Journeys" at every rank: Eight miles for Second Class, 14 miles for First Class, with increasing distances for the higher ranks as they developed. A Scout proved he was a real Patrol Leader by taking his Patrol into the woods, not by setting his Patrol up in the corner of a small campsite.


One minute managers may sing "Back to Gilwell," but it ain't so.



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Just for grins I have a 1938 Scoutmaster's handbook and for Eagle the scout had to do

1. His record of satisfactory service as a Life Scout shall have been for a period of at least Six months; and

2. He shall have qualified for twenty-one Merit Badges, which shall include First Aid, Life Saving, Personal Health, Public Health, Cooking, Camping, Civics, Bird Study, Pathfinding, Safety, Pioneering, Athletics or Physical Development.

The requirement for leadership is simply; "Made an effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability."

Personally I think Pioneering should still on the list as well as Cooking but that is only my opinion.


John(This message has been edited by wmjivey)

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As far as Eagle Scout is concerned, the folks at Eaglescout.org have compiled a historical list of the requirements through the years, which can be found at:




As for my favorite rank requirement that no longer resists, 6th Edition of the Handbook (late 50's-early 60's) for Second Class Rank, 3B Observation:

Do One of the following:

Follow a trail made with trail signs for half a mile


Follow the track of a person or animal in soft ground or snow for a quarter of a mile, reading the main meaning of the track

OR (my favorite)

STALKING: Follow another Scout, who knows that you are stalking him, for a distance of half a mile, without being seen by him.


(chuckle) Can you imagine the bad PR we'd get these days if scouts were still required to learn how to stalk other scouts? What would stop them at not stalking others? :)

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