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Service Hours for Star & Life

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I perused the service hour topics on this forum and realize many have differences of opinion on the topic (Should service to the CO count?, Should it be pre-approved by the SM?, etc.).


In The BS Handbook, the requirement for service (for the Life rank) simply states: While a Star Scout, take part in service projects totaling at least six hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster.


An interpretation of this requirement on www.meritbadge.com states: For Star and Life ranks, a Scout must perform six hours of service to others. This may be done as an individual project or as a member of a patrol or troop project. Star and Life service projects may be approved for Scouts assisting on Eagle service projects. The Scoutmaster approves the project before it is started. It also states the following for Selecting Leadership Service Projects: Leadership service projects shall be meaningful service not normally expected of a Scout as a part of his school, religious, or community activities.


So without further ado, I'd like fellow SMs out there to comment on the following non-hypothetical situations that I've had to deal with. Please comment whether or not you would grant service hours for the following. In each case, the Scout asked for service hours after the completion of the stated activity.


1) John goes through his OA ordeal. During his ordeal he spent five hours cleaning up a council camp. (SM has knowledge that this really did happen.)


2) Responding to a council request, an Arrowman helps out at the council popcorn warehouse loading Trails End popcorn for various Boy Scout and Cub Scout units. (SM has knowledge that this really did happen.)


3) Star Scout helped out his troop selling Trails End popcorn both show and sell (store sales) and take order (door-to-door). In his troop, all store sales "profit" goes to the troop and door-to-door "profit" goes to his Scout account. Remember, that approximately 30% of his sales went to benefit his local council. (SM has knowledge that this really did happen.)


4) A Star Scout, who is about to be "confirmed" in the Catholic Church states that he was required to do 10 hours of service for confirmation and requests that that those hours, at least six of them, be counted for rank advancement. (SM has verbal confirmation from the Scout's parents but no actual documentation or dates.)


5) A Scout serves as an usher at his local church. The usual "job" consists of helping parishioners find their pews for 10 minutes or less, standing around for one hour during the service and then leaving when the service is over. (SM has verbal confirmation from the Scout's parents but no actual documentation or dates. Added question: if allowed to count for service, how much time should be granted? 15 min? 1 hour? 1 hour 15 min?)


I've already passed judgment on these but I'll withhold my judgment so as to not influence anyone. This is not a quiz, I really am somewhat fuzzy on exactly what should or should not count. (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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1.OA Ordeal - Maybe, I'd have to think on it some more.

2.Loading popcorn - Yes

3.Show & Sell - No, direct benefit to only the troop and council.

4.Confirmation Hours. Probably, if I approved it ahead of time.

5.Ushering at church. No

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I like this format, let me add a few more:


6) Elementary PTA needs help at a school event (running games, concessions, etc.)


7) Scout assists with "Children's church", a worship activity for preschool and elementary kids. He spends an hour helping with the lesson, singing songs, puppets, etc. (Beta club approved these hours for their required service)


8) Scout is asked by a neighbor to assist in working concessions or the parking lot at the local soccer club. Funds go to civic organization and to the soccer organization. He is not a member of either.

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My philosophy is that anything involving fundraising or payment should be discouraged as service hours. The rationale is that although the boy may not be paid, the organization he is a member of gets paid and he derives benefit from that. Scouting for food, peer tutoring at school, shoreline cleanups, roadside cleanups, ushering for outdoor services at cemetaries, trail maintenance (my favorite), and lots of other possibilities, are options that have produced abundant hours for boys in this troop. There is nothing that says the boy can't exceed the number of service hours required. And ours do enthusiastically.

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Just a comment. The requirements for Star and Life says that "These projects must be approved by your scoutmaster. While for Eagle it says: The project idea must be approved before you start. I have always felt that the pre-approval for Star and Life is not required but just a good idea in order to make sure that the work would qualify.

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How about a scout who helped at his council's Show & Sell return for approx 12 hours. He helped unload and count returned popcorn, count and load popcorn picked up from returns for take order and load up left overs at site and unload at council offices. He did not get prior approval from his SM because his shedule for that day got freed up unexpectedly. He did get a note confirming his time and activites which was written and signed by the council DE in charge of popcorn.


Same scout asked at at least 2 or 3 troop meetings if any of the scouts would like to help out at an upcoming district Cub Scout event. He told his SM he was going to be there. I am not sure if this consitutes "prior approval". He helped run games and serve lunch for about 5-6 hours. The District folks in charge took his name and unit number and wrote a note detailing his time and activites.



For helping with popcorn his SM gave him 4 hours. Because he was then still short he asked about the Cub event and was given 2 more hours. The reasoning behind this was that he was only there because his parents were. The fact that these were totally volunteered and not forced service did not seem to matter.



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My responses are based on the SM approving each prior to completion.


1) While these are service hours, these are part of a membership requirement for an organization. No.






4)Yes with documentation and dates.




Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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First, I am not nor have I ever been a SM.


1. No. This is service for becoming a member of the OA. Also, I'm surprised that only 5 hours of service were performed.


2. Yes.


3. No.


4. No. To me, this is "normally expected" of his religion as part of confirmation.


5. Probably not. I might approve it for future ushering activity though.



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1) Yes

2) Yes

3) No

4) Yes

5) Yes (I'd give 15 minutes worth)


6,7,8) Yes, Yes Yes


I generally agree with Pack's interpretation regarding fundraising except in 2) the council specifically asked for volunteers and the work did not directly benefit the scout or or his unit.


While it is preferable that a scout get prior approval, for the Star and Life ranks I don't feel it's required.


Most of our scouts get service hours participating in Eagle projects. The Catholic Church in our town allows scouts to use scout service hours towards confirmation so we reciprocate.



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For BW and others - more details for #4.


The Scout's father is a fireman. His father arranged for him to clean some of the fire engines and the fire house to earn service hours for his confirmation.

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I don't see ushering or teaching Sunday School or helping with Children's Church, etc., as a "service project." It's service, but it's part of the routine activities of the church the Scout belongs to. I wouldn't count that. However, if the Scout went and served food in a soup kitchen, I would count that even if it was "double-dipping" (i.e., also meeting the requirement for confirmation). Here, all students must have a certain number of "service learning" hours for graduation f

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