Boards of Review
Boards of Review are the last step of achieving Scouts BSA ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle (no BOR is required for Scout rank). Scouts ready for Eagle rank should reach out to NEIC to schedule an Eagle Board of Review.
In Troop 28, BORs for Tenderfoot to Life rank are regularly scheduled in the last 5-10 days prior to each Court of Honor. If a scout is ready in between COHs, they can request a BOR at any time from the Advancement Chair. A scout does not need to have all requirements completed to SCHEDULE or request a BOR, but they must have all requirements, including merit badges and Scoutmaster conference completed prior to SITTING for a Board of Review. Scouts are encouraged to reach out to schedule both a Scoutmaster conference and BOR as soon as they have a tangible plan for completing their last few rank requirements.
Note: while BORs are often conducted immediately prior to Courts of Honor, ranks are effective as of the date of the review — not the date of the COH. The COH is merely an occasion to celebrate (and motivate, as needed) the scouts’ achievements.
What is a Board of Review?
According to BSA’s Guide to Advancement (the official advancement “bible”):
A Scout who has completed the requirements for any rank (except Scout rank) then appears before a board of review. Its purpose is to determine the quality of the Scout’s experience and decide whether the requirements for the rank have been fulfilled. If so, the board not only approves the Scout’s advancement but also provides encouragement to continue the quest for the next rank.
Though one reason for a board of review is to help ensure the Scout did what was supposed to have been done to meet the requirements, it shall become neither a retest or “examination,” nor a challenge of the Scout’s knowledge. In most cases it should, instead, be a celebration of accomplishment. Remember, it is more about the journey.
A Scout will “pass” a Board of Review if the adult panel is satisfied that the Scout has done. The board of review is also a way of reviewing the troop’s progress. Because this is an opportunity for a scout to provide honest feedback about his experiences with the troop, Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters may not sit on the review panel.
A review panel consists of at least three adults who cannot be Scoutmaster/ASM, or the scout’s own parents/relatives. While it is a good opportunity for parents to learn more about what the troop is doing, the reviewers do not have to be parents of current scouts — parents of former scouts and adult siblings and grandparents are also eligible.
For Scouts and Parents of Scouts Being Reviewed
The most important thing is to relax. This is not a test; there are no wrong answers (unless you cannot describe anything you have done since achieving your last rank!). Failing a BOR is rare in all of scouting, and very, very rare in Troop 28 (no recent known examples). The BOR is there to learn about your experiences, to get your feedback, and just to verify that you have been doing the things scouts at your rank do.
Class A uniforms are expected for Boards of Review. If there are special circumstances (e.g., you are traveling and don’t have access to your uniform), please let the Advancement Chair know in advance — you will not fail a BOR for being out of uniform.
For Adult Reviewers
Here is a guide with suggested questions
First-time reviewers are encouraged to review this widely circulated training document. If you know that you will be conducting primarily/only reviews of certain ranks, you can refer to shorter versions of the document which are highlighted for:
New reviewers will always be matched with at least one experienced reviewer. You can ask questions from a list of questions suggested for each rank, or ask questions about things that interest you based on what the scout has discussed. Or you can sit back and listen until you are ready to jump in.
Instructions for the Lead Reviewer
One of the adults should serve as lead reviewer. Prior to the review, the lead reviewer should print out a copy of the Board of Review record in PDF or Word format for each review.
The lead reviewer should review the scout’s handbook rank page and confirm that the scout has completed all of his requirements (other than the Board of Review) BEFORE the review; otherwise they cannot be passed.
At the start of the review (before admitting the scout) the lead reviewer should make sure all the adults know each other, and should welcome the scout and introduce all parties. The lead reviewer should also remind all parties of the context and process.
During the review, the lead reviewer should make sure all adults have an opportunity to ask questions, take notes on any feedback that might be helpful to troop leadership, and that the scout is put to ease. After the discussion, the lead reviewer should ask the scout to leave the room for the reviewers to confirm, and then welcome the scout back (and to deliver the hopefully good news!).
Finally, the lead reviewer should initial the scout’s handbook on the Board of Review line and take a picture of the completed rank page(s) in the scout’s handbook. The lead reviewer should have the other reviewers initial the review record and take a picture of the completed sheet, and send both the rank page(s) and review record to the Advancement Chair via text or email.