Achievement transfer from BSA to Trail Life USA
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Achievement Transfer From BSA to Trail Life USA®
Despite the fact that Trail Life USA® is a new, unique and separate youth outdoor activity from the Boy Scouts of America, many people have asked whether there is a system for receiving credit or recognition of ranks and achievements earned or received as Scouts in BSA when joining Trail Life USA®. This description is designed to provide an overview of that process.
Note: The Boy Scouts of America and Trail Life USA are separate and distinct entities, and the use of BSA terminology is purely for informational purposes only.
How will this happen?
1) A youth or adult will be able to access a software module where they can enter all of a boy’s BSA achievements including earned rank advancement requirements, ranks, merit badges, Totin’ Chip, Firem’n Chit, service hours, religious awards, nights of camping, etc.
2) The software will generate a printout that will list:
- All of his BSA achievements
- The corresponding Trail Life USA achievements for which credit will be given
- The documentation required to substantiate the BSA achievements
3) The boy can then go to the Trail Life USA Troop leader that handles advancement tracking for the troop, who will then populate the boy’s advancement record under Trail Life USA.
What are some tips for making the process smoother?
Both youth and adults should get a printout of their full advancement and training record from the BSA’s myscouting.net official record as soon as possible, and before the end of the BSA troop’s charter year, when those records may no longer be accessible.
It is recommended that troops that are transferring from BSA to Trail Life USA as an entire troop should print out all member documentation as soon as possible. Adult leaders should not forget to print out their training record.
How do the ranks actually compare?
The chart above provides a general idea of how the ranks compare between BSA and Trail Life USA. There is not a simple exchange/transfer of a BSA rank for a corresponding rank in Trail Life USA. Why not? Because the only way that we could provide an even exchange like that would be if we exactly copied the BSA rank requirements into our program so that we would do the exact same thing at each level as they do for the equivalent rank in BSA. There were several reasons why that was not an optimal thing to do.
So when the program was designed, we set aside what we knew of the BSA and instead set out to build the best outdoor training program that we could from scratch. Doing so resulted in a totally different way of training and tracking progress.
For example, in the back of the BSA Handbook, there are rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. In Trail Life USA, similar work is completed in teachable modules that we call Trail Badges. For example, our “Ropework” Trail Badge includes tying knots, whipping and fusing, and lashing skills. It is taught as a training module to boys in middle school. So a boy that has earned First Class Rank in BSA or has completed all of the trail to First Class requirements for knots and lashings will automatically be credited with completing our Trail Life USA required Trail Badge “Ropework.” And a BSA Scout that has completed parts of these skills as rank requirements will receive a partial Ropework Trail Badge.
To earn our Ready Trailman Rank, a boy basically has to learn the requisite outdoor skills to be effective in an outdoor program, much as has been seen as reflective of a First Class Scout in BSA. But in addition, the Ready Trailman award has some extra Trail Badge requirements too, like the types of Merit Badges that Boy Scouts often earn first towards their Star Rank. Lastly, there is a faith building activity required for Ready Trailman that can be met by prior completion of a middle school religious emblem or by a choice of faith building activities in the Trail Life USA program.
The point is that everything that you have done in BSA will check off any similar requirement in Trail Life USA, so your work will not have been in vain. However, depending on exactly which BSA Merit Badges you have earned along the way, you may or may not immediately meet the requirements for the next rank at Trail Life USA. But in the end, every Trailman will be responsible for completing the same Trail Life USA advancement requirements, whether they complete them at Trail Life USA, or whether they transfer those requirements in from BSA.
What is the best thing to focus on now for Scout advancement to prepare for the transfer?
- Complete BSA’s Tenderfoot, if you have not done so. Complete any other rank for which you are close to completion.
- For those in the primary ranks (TF, SC, FC), it would be advisable to earn your Firem’n Chit and Totin’ Chip Cards.
- If possible, complete partial merit badges.
- Complete as many of the following Trail to First Class Requirements as you can – Tenderfoot: 2-6, 9, and 11-12; 2nd Class: 1-4, 7-8; 1st Class: 1-4 and 7-9.
- Document your participation in 8-16 Troop Activities outside of regular troop meetings in middle school, or in high school if you’re a high school student. A good place to track these activities may be in your camping log in your Boy Scout handbook, if you have one. Even track day events here – just write them down as zero nights overnight.
- Log your nights camping – any nights camping so long as it was in a tent or under the stars (i.e. all summer camps count). 15 total are required for the Camping Trail Badge and 40 total for the Outdoor Life Trail Badge.
- Log your service hours in the service log starting in June of this year.
- The most useful Eagle required merit badges for a Trailman’s advancement are: Swimming, First Aid, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Personal Management, and Family Life. Those are worth completing if you’re close.
- Also, useful for a Trailman’s advancement would be completing one of the following BSA merit badges: Personal Fitness, Cycling, Hiking, or Swimming AND the “Mile Swim BSA” ward.
- Next, consider completing all 3 Citizenship merit badges or Communications and 2 of the Citizenships; Camping or Environmental Science.
- Cooking and Sustainability will transfer as electives, so are not as highly recommended.
What are some examples of qualifying to transfer in at a Trail Life USA Rank?
Example: The following is an example of a combination that would qualify a Boy Scout to transfer into Navigators with the rank of Able Trailman:
- Tenderfoot Rank
- Completed towards 2nd Class: 2, 3cdefg
- Completed towards 1st Class: 3, 4, 7, 8a
- Completed Cards: Firem’n Chit; Totin’ Chip
- Completed any 3 BSA merit badges
Example: The following is an example of a combination that would qualify a Boy Scout to transfer into Navigators with the rank of Ready Trailman:
- Star Rank
- Completed the following Eagle required merit badges: Swimming, First Aid, Communication, Camping
- Completed any 5 additional BSA merit badges
- 16 Troop activities other than regular meetings
- Middle School Religious Recognition (e.g. God and Church)
- 6 months leadership since earning 1st Class
Example: The following is an example of a combination that would qualify a Boy Scout to transfer into Adventurers with the rank of Horizon Trailman.
- Life Rank
- Completed the following BSA Eagle required merit badges: Swimming, Camping, First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Cycling, Family life, Lifesaving, Personal Management
- Completed any 9 additional BSA merit badges
- 8 Troop activities after completion of 8th grade
- 6 months leadership after completion of 8th grade
What about Transferring in to Trail Life USA as an Eagle Scout?
The Eagle Scout Rank is a special situation because we have devised a way for that achievement to transfer over rather smoothly. In the Trail Life USA program, our Horizon Award (see the chart above) includes having completed all the Merit Badge work that is required to earn the rank of BSA Eagle Scout. The only thing that a Horizon Award recipient would not have completed that an Eagle Scout would have completed is a special service project, which we call our Freedom Servant Leadership Project.
To earn the Trail Life USA Freedom Award (our top award), a Trailman in the program is required to complete his Horizon Award and then complete his Freedom Servant Leadership Project, a high school faith requirement, and four real-life hands-on “Freedom Experiences” in our Majors and Minors Program. These are experiences in active citizenry that help prepare a boy for the real majors and minors program at college or life in the world as an active Christian man.
Youth Eagle Scouts are grandfathered into the Trail Life program with credit for 3 of these 4 required “Freedom Experiences,” so here is what a transferring Eagle Scout would need to do in order to then earn our top award, the Freedom Award:
1) Maintain active participation in the troop to the satisfaction of the Adventurers Advisor.
2) Complete a High School Faith Building Activity Option (unless an activity deemed by the Advisor to be equivalent was already completed in the BSA)
3) Complete a single Freedom Experience, which will determine the major that the Trailman will have associated with his Freedom Award.
Adult Eagle Scouts can also earn the Freedom Award as well by completing the following requirements:
1) Enroll as an adult leader and adhere to and abide by our Statement of Faith and Values.
2) Complete training required for your adult position
3) Complete an adult Mentoring Freedom Experience while a registered leader in Trail Life USA. An adult Mentoring Freedom Experience is a significant project carried out to benefit the program of Trail Life USA or American Heritage Girls — like starting a troop, serving as an effective Area Point Man or Commissioner, or some other meaningful service.
4) Present your Christian walk or testimony at a Troop, multi-Troop, Area, Regional, or National event.
5) Personally recruit at least one registered youth or adult member to the TLUSA program.
Additional procedures for Eagle Scouts wishing to complete the Freedom Award can be found in the document titled Freedom Award Procedure Guide Supplement for Youth and Adults here.
When will we be able to use the software module to see how it works?
The Achievement Transfer Module is available now here.