If you look in your Boy Scout Handbook at the rank requirements, most of them are pretty straight forward - demonstrate first aid for serious burns, tie a bowline, earn 6 merit badges, etc. However, beginning with the Second Class rank there is an added, more indefinite requirement: Show Scout Spirit.
The Scoutmasters have had a lot of questions over the years about what exactly "Show Scout Spirit" means. NO it doesn't mean that on Halloween night you dress up as the ghost of Baden-Powell (or any other famous Scout Spirit).
National BSA must have had a lot questions too, because they changed the requirement recently to read "Demonstrate Scout Spirit by living the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in your everyday life." That's a little better, but still… what does it mean?
The first thing you need to understand about Scout Spirit is that even though the requirement looks the same for each rank, it's really different - Scout Spirit for Life Scout is very different (and much harder) than Scout Spirit for Second Class. You'll discover that the scoutmasters will only sign you off for one "Scout Spirit" requirement at a time, because each one is harder than the next. For specifics on scout spirit for each of the ranks see individual rank pages.
The other thing that you will notice is that unlike almost all the other requirements, you can never convince a Scoutmaster to sign off the Scout Spirit requirement on the spot. Tie a bowline, and he'll sign that off; show him your merit badge card and he'll sign off that requirement for Star, but he'll never just up and sign off that pesky Scout Spirit one. That's because you must demonstrate Scout Spirit in your everyday life, not in the five minutes you're talking to the Scoutmaster. What happens is that at meetings and especially on campouts, the Scoutmasters are like Santa Claus - they're always watching you, to see when you are naughty or nice. Scout Spirit should be shown at all times, and generally this requirement is one of the last ones to be signed off for any rank. Scoutmasters will want to see the appropriate Scout Spirit for some period of time before they sign off the requirement. For Second Class that may only be for a campout and the last few meetings, but for Eagle it may be for several months.
What are they looking for? Believe it or not, there's a "Scoutmaster's cheat sheet" that the Scoutmaster and his friends all have to give us some idea. Here is just a few of the things we look for: By the way, we expect Scouts to not only follow the items listed for that rank, but also all the items for the previous ranks.
- Do you participate in lots of troop activities regularly?
- Do you come to "work" activities like service projects and meetings, as well as fun nights?
- Do you try not to complain or put other people down, even when you feel bad or you have to do a task like cleanup?
- Are you willing to try new things, and keep trying even when you don't succeed at first?
- Do you pay attention when we need you to, and know when to stop what you're doing to help out?
- Do you come prepared for campouts? Do you keep track of your stuff, or lose it a lot?
- Do you never bully, harass, or joke around with other Scouts unless they are willing & happy participants?
- A first class Scout Spirit Scout must never complain about weather, or work, or cleanup, and must never gripe or "whine" when a leader makes a decision they do not like.
- A Scout must never criticize others harshly, or make fun of other Scouts whose skills aren't as good.
- Do you handle normal personal tasks and patrol tasks (cooking, camp setup and tear down, getting water, etc.) without being asked?
- Do you keep an eye on others in the troop and help them out - like pickup their garbage, or quietly returning stuff they forgot or left out, so that the Scoutmaster doesn't get it?
- Do you sometimes lend a hand teaching new Scouts some of the basics (and you can do it without yelling)?
- Are you starting to help out your patrol leader & troop by offering ideas for events, and helping to organize and call people when needed?
- Do you listen & learn well when a Scoutmaster or more advanced Scout tries to teach you something, or do you play "know-it-all"?
- Do you show Scout Spirit at home and in school?
- Do you also meet the requirements for Second Class?
- For Star rank, you have to serve in a troop leadership position. Did you serve well and help out the troop, or did you miss meetings, show up unprepared, not get things done, etc.?
- Are you starting to show the kind of leadership a First Class Scout should know? Do you help organize other Scouts to get things done at campouts (like put up dining flies, set up campfires, etc.?
- Do you watch out for other Scouts and make sure they're doing OK - on the trail, in camp, etc.?
- Can you be relied on to finish what you start?
- Are you always ready to assist and be helpful when you see something that needs doing, or do you just "hang out" with your buddies?
- Do you show respect for other Troop Leaders as you would like them to respect you when you're leading?
- Do you also meet the requirements for First Class Scout and Second Class Scout?
- As a troop leader (even if you don't hold an office), do you actively take up leadership when you see something that needs doing?
- Can you organize & coordinate other Scouts of all ages (without yelling)?
- Are you a major player in the "behind-the-scenes" work that makes the troop run - organizing equipment, making camping arrangements, setting up activities for the PLC?
- Are you a good, patient teacher and example to younger Scouts?
- Are you involved in your school or in the community as a volunteer?
- Do you also meet the requirements for Star Scout, First Class Scout and Second Class Scout?
- Do you participate actively in all troop activities?
- Do all the adults and Scouts treat you almost as if you were another Scoutmaster?
- Are you involved in your school and community as a leader?
- Do you also meet the requirements for Life Scout, Star Scout, First Class Scout and Second Class Scout?
Adapted from Hatboro Troop 81 website.