COVID-19 FAQ

UPDATED 12/29/21 - The most recent updates are indicated by a diamond in front of the question.

In-Person Unit Activities

 Q: Should we hold in-person Scouting meetings, outings, or activities?

We expect everyone in Scouting to follow the measures listed below, which are based on CDC guidance. Members, staff, and volunteers must also follow all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. In addition, we have instructed local councils to consult with their local and state health departments, as well as local chartered partners, in order to implement appropriate protocols to help keep members, volunteers, and employees safe.

  • Isolate if you are sick, and do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you, anyone you live with, or anyone you have recently been around feels unwell.
  • Do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you or anyone you live with has been tested for COVID-19 or another illness and does not have the results back yet.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, wear a face covering or mask that covers your nose and mouth and stay at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Until further notice, international travel is not considered an official Scouting Activity.
  • As always, please exhibit the Scout Oath and Law as we continue to navigate a safe return to the activities we enjoy.

Q: What do we do about Scouts’ fundraising activities? 

Fundraising activities may be held if those activities are conducted within guidelines outlined by your state and local health department and other local officials and under the direction of your local BSA council and chartered organization. This applies to youth and adults. If fundraising activities can be facilitated using digital methods while still adhering to applicable rules, then those activities may also continue.

Q: What is BSA’s policy on social distancing in a tenting environment when camping?

Camping should only take place in accordance with guidelines outlined by your state and local health department and other local officials, as well as under the direction of your local BSA council and chartered organization. There is no formal national policy on social distancing in tents, just as there is no prohibition on tenting alone if logistics can accommodate that request. As always, all BSA youth protection policies must be followed.

Q: What are the youth protection guidelines if I am using a commercial video conferencing platform that allows for breakout rooms?

All breakout rooms for youth must have at least one registered adult and either another registered adult or a parent/legal guardian of a participating Scout.

Q: What are the refund policies if I have already paid for an event that has been cancelled?

Event organizers typically set refund or cancellation policies. Please reach out directly to those organizers. In the case of attendance at a national high adventure base, contact them directly about your crew.

Q.  Will the National Council require a COVID-19 vaccine for participants at in-person activities or at camp in 2021?

The BSA has no current plans to nationally require a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 for in-person activities or camp. However, we do recommend that all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in consultation with their health care provider.

Q. Our unit is planning a trip outside the US this summer. What do we need to do to get an international letter of introduction?

Due to COVID and consistent with current CDC guidance, International travel is currently not considered an official Scouting activity.

Q: There was an extension for Part C, pre-placement exam of the Annual Health and Medical Record at my camp the summer of 2020, is that still in effect?   

No. If your programs or activities require a valid Part C, it must be in place. As a reminder, if you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, please ensure you have approval from your health care provider prior to attending camp.

We also encourage anyone whose medical condition or history has changed significantly since their last physical exam to get approval from their health care provider prior to attending camp.

Q: If my camp is cancelled, can my unit get together with other units and have our own camp?

No. Chartering organizations play an important role in the program and activities for their chartered units. Chartering organizations promote well-planned unit program for the units they charter and encourage their units to have active outdoor unit programs. Chartering organizations are not authorized to plan, promote, or deliver programs for units outside of their charter.

It is the role of councils to plan long-term or resident camps and the role of councils or districts to plan camporees (short-term camps) and other outings following National Camp Accreditation Program standards.   

Units with different chartered organizations that wish to hold activities together must have council approval. In addition, some states require such activities to be licensed.

Should your troop, crew or ship decide to conduct a long-term camping program for your unit (Cub Scouting units are prohibited from this activity) please note that the Scouter Code of Conduct and relevant program safety and training requirements are still in place, e.g., Safe Swim Defense, Hazardous Weather, Wilderness First Aid, etc.

Q: My Wilderness First Aid Course has been cancelled; can I still go on my trek? 

Current Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification will continue to be required for backcountry adventures including trek programs and high adventure base participation. As a reminder, a current CPR/AED certification is a prerequisite for a WFA course.   

Through 2021, please review options for NCAP accredited local council camps and National High Adventure Bases via a blended offering by ECSI: https://www.ecsinstitute.org/scouting-wfa 

Note: Online-only WFA courses do not meet the WFA requirement.  

Camping this Fall/Winter

Q: There was an extension for Part C, pre-placement exam of the Annual Health and Medical Record at my camp this summer, is that still in effect?   

As of 8/31/2020, the extension granted to certain BSA Accredited Council Camps and High Adventure Bases is expired. If your programs or activities require a valid Part C, it must be in place. As a reminder, if you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, please ensure you have approval from your health care provider prior to attending camp.

We also encourage anyone whose medical condition or history has changed significantly since their last physical exam to get approval from their health care provider prior to attending camp.

Q: If my camp is cancelled, can my unit get together with other units and have our own camp?

No. Chartering organizations play an important role in the program and activities for their chartered units. Chartering organizations promote well-planned unit program for the units they charter and encourage their units to have active outdoor unit programs. Chartering organizations are not authorized to plan, promote, or deliver programs for units outside of their charter.

It is the role of the council to plan long-term or resident camps and the role of councils or districts to plan camporees and other outings during the year that give youth an opportunity to test their knowledge and skills in competitive events with other troops and/or patrols.

When units with different chartered organizations do activities together, this becomes a district or council event and requires council approval. In fact, some states require such activities to be licensed.

Should your troop, crew or ship decide to do a long-term camping program for their own unit (Cub Scouts units are prohibited from this activity) please note that the Scouter Code of Conduct and relevant program safety and training requirements are still in place, e.g., Safe Swim Defense, Hazardous Weather, Wilderness First Aid, etc.

Q: My Wilderness First Aid Course has been cancelled; can I still go on my trek? 

Current Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification will continue to be required for backcountry adventures including trek programs and high adventure base participation. As a reminder, a current CPR/AED certification is a prerequisite for a WFA course.   

For fall 2020 through March 2021, please review options for NCAP accredited local council camps and National High Adventure Bases via a blended offering by ECSI:  https://www.ecsinstitute.org/scouting-wfa 

Note: Online-only WFA courses do not meet the WFA requirement.  

Advancement

Q: How can advancement be tracked remotely?

Scouting units should use Scoutbook to record and track advancement.

To track advancement remotely, parents should:

  • Connect with their child’s member profile via an invitation that the unit leader sends within Scoutbook. You may also connect to your youth via the Scouting app “Add a Parent connection.”
  • Once a connection is made, the parent should use the Scouting app, found in both the App Store and on Google Play, to stay connected with their unit.
  • The Scouting app provides parents the ability to report any advancement that was completed at home.

Learn more about how to start using Scoutbook and how to connect parents to their Scouts at Scoutbook.com.

♦ Q: When will the current COVID-19 modifications to rank requirements and merit badge requirements end?

As always, the BSA’s top priority is the health and safety of all youth participating in BSA programs. In 2020, the BSA instituted several modifications to rank requirements and merit badge requirements (“advancement modifications”) to accommodate activity restrictions necessitated by COVID-19. Effective March 01, 2022, those modifications will be removed, and the standard rules for advancement and merit badges will again become effective.

Advancement — Cub Scouts

Q: May parents sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements?

Yes. During this pandemic period, parents and other adults in the Cub Scout’s family may sign off on Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements. We strongly encourage that parents use the Scouting App or Scoutbook to record completion of their child’s requirements. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate when this temporary measure expires and there is a return to the standard rules for Cub Scout advancement.

Q: If my den is behind in advancement due to COVID-19, can my Cub Scout continue to work on advancement through the summer?

No.  The extension to work on a Cub Scout rank after completing the grade level for that rank has been revoked.  We encourage den leaders to use Scoutbook’s Den Leader Experience to help schedule and deliver the program.  Cub Scout Advancement continues to be “Do Your Best.”

Q: Can the Arrow of Light (fifth-grade dens) requirements fulfill the requirement to visit a troop or attend a troop outing to function as a patrol? 

Yes. Two things to keep in mind, the standard of completion for Cub Scout advancement is “Do Your Best,” so given the circumstances, we want to look at the purpose behind the requirements. Remember that doing nothing is never doing your best. 

Dens can visit a virtual troop meeting to see the patrol method and youth leadership in action. Since the den cannot attend a troop campout or outing, the idea is for the den to function as a patrol while attending the virtual troop meeting. During this time, a virtual den meeting where the den functions as a patrol can be done. Elect a patrol leader, pick a patrol name, play a virtual game together as a patrol. Plenty of opportunities to Do Your Best to meet the intention of the requirement. Remember to maintain all youth protection standards online.

What is the guidance for completing the Outdoor Activity Award and Summertime Pack Award?

These awards are designed to recognize participation in the outdoors and summer activities.  These opportunities are again available for Cub Scouts to participate in following Center for Disease Control guidelines, National Camp Accreditation Standards, and the Guide to Safe Scouting.  If Cub Scout Day Camp or Cub Scout Resident Camp cannot be held in-person due any local or Center for Disease Control guidelines, virtual Cub Scout Day Camps and Cub Scout Resident Camps may be used to meet the requirement.

Advancement — Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts

♦ Q: Will there be any changes to the Swimming requirements for Second and First class?

As of March 01, 2022, the temporary changes to the Swimming requirements will be removed, and the original requirements as published will be reinstated.

♦ Q: Do I still need to take a swim test for aquatic activities since there is a deferment in place?

The deferment was for rank requirements Second Class(5b) and First Class(6A). Aquatic activities require a current and valid swim testing for both Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat. Starting March 01, 2022, temporary changes to the Swimming requirements for rank advancement will be removed, and the original requirements as published will be reinstated.

♦ Q: Will there be any changes to the Swimming requirements for Sea Scout Ranks?

As of March 01, 2022, the temporary changes to the Swimming requirements will be removed, and the original requirements as published will be reinstated.

♦ Q: Will there be any changes for Scouts who cannot complete the camping merit badge?

As of March 01, 2022, the temporary suspension of requirement 9b of the camping merit will be removed, and the original requirements as published will be reinstated.

Q: Can merit badge counseling or Nova/Supernova counseling be done using digital technologies like Zoom or WebEx?

Yes, registered merit badge counselors or Nova counselors/Supernova mentors may work with youth using digital platforms, ensuring that all youth protection measures noted in the Guide to Safe Scouting and BSA’s social media guidelines are in place. In addition to youth protection, the advancement guidelines in Guide to Advancement (GTA) Section 7 are required.

Q: Are merit badge counselors allowed to provide online instruction?

Yes. Merit badge counselors should follow the guidelines in the Guide to Advancement 7.0.3.2 and ensure you are adhering to all youth protection requirements and online communications guidelines. It is acceptable—and sometimes preferable—for merit badges to be taught in group settings, including online instruction. We currently allow group instruction at camp and merit badge midways, fairs, clinics, or similar events. These can be efficient methods, and interactive group discussions can support learning. Gathering a group online can also be beneficial. Guest experts and speakers that assist registered and approved counselors may be more willing to speak to a larger online audience. Slide shows, skits, demonstrations, panels, and various other techniques can also be employed, but as any teacher can attest, not everyone will learn all the material. Therefore, the standards we use to verify that each Scout has fulfilled requirements must not be relaxed. Merit badge counselors must be sure that each Scout has individually gained the knowledge intended. When accomplished, counselors can easily sign off requirements via Scoutbook.

Q: Can I connect directly with my Scouts/Venturers/Sea Scouts if I am a merit badge counselor? 

Yes. In Scoutbook, merit badge counselors can now connect directly with the Scouts they are counseling; see https://discussions.scouting.org/t/march-23-2020-scoutbook-updates/165970 NOTE: Scouts/Venturers/Sea Scouts still must get approval from their leader, according to Guide to Advancement 7.0.3.0.  

Q: How will I know if a Scout/Venturer/Sea Scout has obtained approval from their leader to work on a merit badge?

In the member profile, you will see if the leader has signed off with their approval.

Q: What if my member profile shows that my merit badge counselor status has expired:

Check with your council. Local councils may need to upload their latest list of approved merit badge counselors.

Q: Will unit leaders know that a merit badge counselor has connected with one of their Scouts/Venturers/Sea Scouts?

Yes. The unit Key 3 will receive an email that includes the name of the merit badge counselor, the Scout, and the name of the merit badge.

Q: What if I have other merit badge/Scoutbook questions?

See https://help.scoutbook.com/

♦ Q: What changes have been made to rank advancement/camping requirements given the need to maintain social distancing during this time?

Temporary changes were implemented to allow Scouts to complete rank requirements by video conferencing, as well as changes to the Camping merit badge and some swimming rank requirements; see https://www.scouting.org/program-updates/covid-19-2020-advancement-temporary-changes. All of these temporary COVID accommodations will expire on March 01, 2022.

Q: Will virtual camping count toward Order of the Arrow nights camping? 

Please visit the Order of the Arrow response to COVID-19 https://oa-bsa.org/coronavirus for more information.

Q: Can merit badge requirements be adapted since some elements can’t be completed as stated right now?

The published guidelines for the methodology of the merit badge program and the role of the merit badge counselor is found in the Guide to Advancement, Section 7.0.0.0. It is important to remember that leaders and merit badge counselors must not make additions or deletions to requirements. The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated; however, in some cases, virtual “visits” may fulfill the intent of a requirement. When the requirement’s intent cannot be reached virtually, the requirements cannot be completed, and the Scout must wait to complete that badge/requirement. Merit badge counselors signing off on requirements must determine to the best of their ability if the Scout has demonstrated the intended outcome.
All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed.

Q: Does a Scout need a hard copy of a Blue Card when working on merit badges?

No. Since the introduction of Scoutbook, the BSA has offered Scouts two ways of recording merit badge requirement completion: The Blue Card and Scoutbook. Both remain authorized methods to record merit badge work. Scoutbook is a part of the BSA Internet Advancement system, which means that entering an advancement record in Scoutbook is the same as entering it in Internet Advancement. Anyone with a BSA member ID automatically has access to a Scoutbook account through their my.scouting account.

Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward active participation requirements?

Yes. If youth are registered and in good standing, a disruption from COVID-19 virus can be the “noteworthy circumstance” that prevents participation. This policy has been in place for many years and is explained in GTA Topic 4.2.3.1.

Q: May time missed due to canceled unit meetings count toward position of responsibility requirements?

Yes. If youth are registered and unable to meet the expectations of their positions because of COVID-19 disruptions, then units may need to waive or rethink the expectations. Just as youth must not be held to unestablished expectations, they must not be held to expectations that are impossible to fulfill. See GTA Topic 4.2.3.4, “Positions of Responsibility,” with its six subtopics.

Q: Does the National Council grant extensions of time to complete rank requirements beyond the 18th birthday for the Eagle or 21st birthday for Summit or Quartermaster?

No, Effective January 1, 2021, local councils will have the authority to grant limited extensions of time to complete Eagle, Quartermaster, or Summit requirements. These extensions are available only to youth members who qualify under the three tests listed in the revised Guide to Advancement (GTA) topics 9.0.4.0, 9.0.4.1, 9.0.4.2, and forms 11.2.0.0 and 11.2.1.0 from the 2021 edition of the GTA, which will be published early in the year. Advance copies of these topics and forms are also published at www.scouting.org/advancement.

Q: Will youth who are not yet Life Scouts be allowed to apply for an extension to earn the Eagle Scout rank?

Extensions are considered only for Scouts who are Life rank. If, once a Scout achieves Life rank, it turns out that COVID-19 disruptions along the way have left them with insufficient time to complete Eagle requirements, then this may be cited when the time comes to submit an extension request.

♦ Q: May local councils grant extensions?

Yes, Effective January 1, 2021, all time extension request are to be submitted to the local council. These extensions are available only to youth members who qualify under the three tests listed in the revised Guide to Advancement (GTA) topics 9.0.4.0, 9.0.4.1, 9.0.4.2, and forms 11.2.0.0 and 11.2.1.0 from the 2021 edition of the GTA.

Q: If youth have already received an extension, can they request additional time due to COVID-19?

Yes. Council Scout executives may grant extensions, or delegate authority to the Council Advancement Committee to grant extensions under the limitations listed above.

Q: What should be done while an extension request is being considered?

Youth should continue to work on advancement in so far as they are able—e.g., independently, or over the phone or videoconference—and at Scouting activities once they resume.

Q: Are extensions required when an Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster board of review must be delayed?

No. Councils may grant Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster boards of review up to 24 months after the youth’s 18th/21st birthday. See GTA Topic 8.0.3.1, “Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th Birthday.”

See also, GTA Topic 8.0.1.6, “Boards of Review Through Videoconferencing.”

Q: Are electronic or digital signatures acceptable for rank advancement or for the Eagle/Summit/Quartermaster packets/applications?

Yes. Electronic or digital signatures will be accepted until further notice.

Q: How can a youth continue to work on advancement requirements if they don’t have internet or high-speed internet for videoconferencing?

Youth may take a picture of their completed activity/requirement and share the work with unit leaders. In keeping with youth protection policies, all communications from youth should be sent to at least two adults. See our Barriers to Abuse for details. Parents or guardians may send advancement work on behalf of their child.