By Darryl Alder
Nov 25, 2015

A Board of Review Can be Scary

Scarey ScoutsThinking back to my Boards of Review, I remember always being apprehensive. Not that I had not done the work—I had—but it was so intimidating to get in front of adults you hardly knew and then have them fire questions at you.

The worst one, however, was my Eagle Review. It was at the Council Service Center. I remember waiting a long time to go before the Board. The faces of the exiting Scouts didn’t help me feel better. I started to wonder what they were doing to them in there.

Then suddenly I was there, tall and straight, reciting the oath and law. I was perfect and not as scared as I had imagined. Then one of the Board members asked what the large grease spot was on my well ironed trousers. I told him that while helping with meal preparation on a recent campout I spilled bacon grease. He huffed that he thought that was all well and good but wondered why I didn’t have more respect for my uniform.

Of that review, other than the Oath and Law, I remember nothing. That’s a pretty sad reflection, when he and the others could have helped me feel my accomplishment. Instead I left wondering if Tide was as good as they said it was on TV, because it hadn’t worked for me that day.

In the November-December 2015 issue of Advancement News it asks, “If the thought of a performance review at work scares you, imagine how an 11-year-old Scout must feel as he approaches a panel of adults sitting as a ‘board of review.’ As Scouters, we must do everything we can to make these boards rewarding experiences for our Scouts.

Board of Review 002

Michelle Field (right) helps conduct first review for a Tenderfoot Scout.

Michelle Field, Denver Area Council, had this to say about her first board experience with a Tenderfoot Scout:  “We ended the interview with words of encouragement and helped him think about ways to advance to his next rank.” What a great way to help a boy along.

Again from Advancement News: “A Scout is friendly, so when sitting on a board of review, think of it as a friendly, yet serious chat. To make the experience more comfortable, the Guide to Advancement (topic limits the number of adults (21 or older) to no more than six, with at least three. Although other adults may be permitted to observe a board, that number should be limited to ensure the Scout remains at ease.”

Please take special note of this as it goes on: “Unit leader and assistants shall not serve on board for Scouts in their own unit, but might be on hand to introduce a Scout to board members. He or she may remain as an observer—if agreed to by the board— but can participate only if called upon. Boards should be cautious, however, as the presence of the unit leader could influence a Scout’s responses about troop experiences. Similarly, parents, guardians or relatives should not sit on a board of review for their own sons, but must be allowed to observe if they insist (GTA, They should be counseled, however, that their presence could change the dynamics of the conversation and the way their son addresses questions. Simply put, it is just not fair to ask a Scout to have to consider if his answer to the board’s question would please his parents or his unit leader.

“Here are some further recommendations for ensuring friendly boards of review:

  • A board for Tenderfoot through Life ranks should take about 15 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes (GTA, Topic An Eagle board of review might take a little longer, but rarely should be longer than 45 minutes (GTA,
  • While boards are generally conducted to determine if the Scout has met the requirements to advance, none are to be a retest of his knowledge (GTA, Thus, in most cases, a board of review will be a celebration of his accomplishments. Board members should ask: Did the Scout have fun while he was doing it? Did it contribute to his personal growth?

“If we keep these thoughts in mind when planning and conducting boards of review, the positive experiences that result will encourage every Scout to remain in Scouting and achieve further advancement—giving us a chance to influence his character. Isn’t that what we’re all about?”

For ideas on what to ask, read Bryan on Scouting: “40 Quality Questions for Eagle Scout Boards of Review.”

What challenges are facing your Scouts in Boards of Review?

Guide to AdvancementAuthor: Advancement News, November-December 2015 issue | Boys Scouts of America. Advancement News is designed for council and district advancement committees, advancement staff advisors, and Eagle processors. However, any Scouting volunteer or professional may subscribe. To do so, send a message to, with “SUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. Indicate your name, email address, and council in the message text.


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