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Site updated 14-OCT-2017

Annual Membership Fees Increased

Effective 1 December 2017, the annual membership fee for both youths and adults will increase to $33.

The fee increase is due to the increased cost of claims made against the BSA's General Liability Insurance Plan.  The BSA is self-insured, meaning that it maintains a cash reserve to cover the cost of claims made against it.  These reserves are drawn down every time a claim is made or proceeds to litigation.


Proof of Current Youth Protection Training Required with New Adult Applications

Effective 1 September 2017, all new BSA Adult Applications submitted to the council Service Center must include a copy of the applicant's current (i.e. un-expired) Youth Protection Training (YPT) certificate.  The application will not be processed if the YPT certificate is missing.

Since including the YPT certificate is mandatory, the 30-day grace period for new adult volunteers to take Youth Protection Training has been eliminated.


Exemption From Second Class and First Class Swimming Requirements

The BSA's National Council has authorized local councils to grant exemptions to individual Scouts, on a case-by-case basis, from the Second Class and First Class swimming requirements.  Exemptions are based solely on the distance a Scout has to travel to a safe swimming location in order to complete the requirements.  If the council Scout Executive and the council Advancement Committee determine that the distance is "prohibitively far," then the council may grant an exemption and specify an alternate requirement.

This exemption was created for "geographically large or predominately rural councils." Since the Great Trail Council is neither geographically large nor predominately rural, it is unlikely that this exemption will be granted to Scouts in this council.

This exemption became effective on 1 August 2017.  The update to the rank requirements is a footnote added to the Second Class and First Class swimming requirements.  To see the text of the footnote, use this link to open the "Boy Scouts" page and then follow the "Advancement and Awards" link.

IMPORTANT:  This exemption cannot be used to avoid the swimming requirements.  It is not intended for Scouts having difficulty learning to swim or meeting the swimming requirements.

You can learn more about this exemption in this blog post on ScoutingMagazine.org.


Eagle Palms Requirements Changed

UPDATE:  On 23 August 2017, the following text was added to the original 10 July 2017 post on ScoutingMagazine.org:

The National Boy Scouting Subcommittee has released this statement, saying that the policy outlined in the post below has not changed but is currently under review:

"The current policy regarding Eagle Palms is any Eagle candidate having a board of review on or after Aug. 1, 2017, is eligible to receive the appropriate number of Palms based on the total number of merit badges earned prior to his board of review.  However, due to concerns from the Scouting family, this policy is currently under review.  All points of view are being carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully considered.  However, that does not guarantee that any changes will be made to the policy.  When the review is complete and a decision is made, a notice will be sent out to announce that decision."

Orignal SenecaDistrict.org post:

What remains unchanged for both sets of requirements is that a Palm is awarded for every five (5) merit badges earned beyond the 21 merit badges needed for Eagle or the last Palm.  As before, this means a Bronze Palm for five (5), a Gold Palm for ten (10), a Silver Palm for fifteen (15), and appropriate combinations of Palms for higher totals.

The only change that applies to both sets of requirements is the elimination of a board of review.  Since a Palm is not a rank, it was decided by National Council that a board of review was no longer necessary.

The difference between the two sets of requirements is this:  For merit badges earned before an Eagle Board of Review, there is only one (1) requirement.  For merit badges earned after an Eagle Board of Review, there are five (5) requirements.

For merit badges earned before an Eagle Board of Review, you count up them up, figure out how many sets of five (5) there are beyond the 21 merit badges needed for Eagle, and award the appropriate Palms to the Scout at his Eagle Court of Honor.  That's it.  Nothing else needs to be done.  If there are any merit badges left over, they count towards the next Palm.

For merit badges earned after an Eagle Board of Review, three requirements are the same as before:  Req. 2 - Demonstrate Scout Spirit; Req. 4 - Earn five additional merit badges; and Req. 5 - Participate in a Unit Leader conference.

The two remaining requirements have been updated:  Req. 1 - Be active in the Boy Scouts of America for at least three (3) months; and Req. 3 - Set a satisfactory example of accepting responsibility or demonstrating leadership ability.

Req. 1 still includes three months of activity, but a Scout is no longer limited to activity in his unit.  Activity in any BSA program is acceptable, including Order of the Arrow, Venturing, camp staff, NYLT staff, NAYLE staff, etc.

Req. 3 now permits "accepting responsibility" in addition to "demonstrating leadership ability."  The reasoning here is that a Scout may earn Eagle by serving only in positions of responsibility, leadership being required only when a Scout is carrying out his Eagle service project.

IMPORTANT:  The new requirements are not retroactive.  If a Scout passed his Eagle Board of Review before 1 August 2017, he can earn Palms only by waiting three months for every five (5) merit badges earned beyond the 21 needed for Eagle.  The new requirements for earning Palms after an Eagle Board of Review apply to these Eagle Scouts.

The official publication of the new Palm requirements is forthcoming.  For details on the changes, open the "Boy Scouts" page by using this link and follow the "Eagle Scout" link.  These details are based on the 10 July 2017 blog post, "The way Scouts earn Eagle Palms has changed in a big way," on Bryan on Scouting.  This post includes additional explanations and comparisons of the new and old requirements which you may find helpful.

UPDATE:  You can download the PDF which is National Council's official publication of the new Eagle Palm requirements using this link.


Overnight Camping Requirements for Second Class and First Class Changed

On 1 August 2017, the number of overnight campouts required to earn Second Class and First Class ranks changed.  The numbers have been reduced to those required in 2015:  two (2) overnight campouts for Second Class and three (3) overnight campouts for First Class.

The number of "troop/patrol activities" required for each rank remains the same:  five (5) for Second Class and ten (10) for First Class.  A new category, "outdoor activities," has been added.  Overnight camping is now included in outdoor activities.

Here's how the activity arithmetic has changed.  For Second Class, instead of three (3) overnight campouts, three (3) outdoor activities are now required and at least two (2) of these activities must include overnight campouts.  For First Class, instead of six (6) overnight campouts, six (6) outdoor activities are now required and at least three (3) of these activities must include overnight campouts.

Clearly, an extra overnight campout counts as an outdoor activity.  So if you love camping, keep doing it.  Hiking, biking, boating, sailing, etc., certainly count as outdoor activities.  Outdoor service projects also count as outdoor activities.

If you choose an outdoor service project as an outdoor activity, please consider carefully how best to meet both the outdoor activity requirements and the service requirements for Second Class (2 hours) and First Class (3 hours). There does not appear to be any prohibition against applying a single outdoor service project to both the service and the outdoor activity requirements. However, in the spirit of doing the most good for the most people, consider signing off on both requirements at once only if the outdoor service project took longer than the time needed to fulfill a service requirement.

Likewise, be careful about applying work done to earn any outdoor-based merit badges to the outdoor activity requirement. Again, there does not appear to be any prohibition against doing so, but Scouts should be encouraged to use their time and energy to accomplish more, not to figure out ways to cut corners.

As with any change to rank requirements after the publication of the current "Boy Scout Requirements" handbook, Sec. of the Guide to Advancement 2017 gives a Scout until 31 December 2017 to choose which requirements to use.  Specifically:

"He may either continue or begin work using the old requirements, or he may switch to or begin work using the new requirements.  If he chooses to use the old requirements, he may continue using them until he has completed the rank."

The official publication of the revised Second Class and First Class requirements is forthcoming.  For details on the changes, open the "Boy Scouts" page by using this link and follow the "Advancement and Awards" link.  These details are taken from the 11 July 2017 blog post, "Revised campout requirements for Second Class, First Class" on Bryan on Scouting.

In closing, please be aware that some confusion surrounds the "Revised campout requirements..." post.  The post brings up the total number of overnight campouts a Scout needs to reach Eagle and the Camping Merit Badge.  The facts are true, but they are presented in a confusing way.

Here's what you need to know:  These changes to Second Class and First Class requirements do not change the requirements for any other rank or for any merit badge.  Req. 9a of the Camping Merit Badge still states "Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events."  Since the Camping Merit badge is required for Eagle, Req. 9a means every Eagle Scout will have camped for at least 20 nights regardless of how many nights they camped to earn Second Class or First Class.


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