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Boards of Review
Trail Life Troop

Boards of Review


A Board of Review is the final step in earning several of our ranks and awards. The Timberline and Ridgeline Awards include a Board of Review, as do the ranks: Able Trailman Rank, Ready Trailman Rank, Journey Trailman Rank, Ascent Trailman Rank, and Horizon Trailman Rank. The Freedom Award also uses a similar board convened by the area. Boards of Review provide an opportunity to discuss the achievements completed for the award.


A Board of Review serves several interconnected purposes. As a formal event, it provides a clean point of completion to several earned awards that contain numerous components. There can be no uncertainty as to status of these awards--a board has been completed or it has not. For the Trailman, the board is an opportunity to grow in the area of presentation and interview skills, and provides a chance to reflect on months or years of activities. The troop often gains fascinating insights about the ministry program and opportunities for enhancements by hearing from the Trailman. A Board of Review also provides a measure of accountability, as a different group of leaders is engaged in the pre-board advancement conference and the board itself.

All of this said, it must be emphasized that the Board of Review process is not intended to be adversarial, and not especially rigorous for the younger trailmen. Not approving the award is reserved for exceptional circumstances. Generally obtaining leader approval at the advancement conference should be the more difficult step and involves thorough review of the requirements for the award.


Boards of Review are appointed on a candidate-by-candidate basis, and will have between 3 and 5 panelists. Boards for older trailmen will have more panelists than boards for younger trailmen. The Troop Committee Chair appoints the panel, with following guidelines:

  1. Relative(s) of the Trailman are not included
  2. Those in the direct leader chain (level-specific Trail Guides, Ranger/Trailmaster/Advisor, Troopmaster) are generally not included
  3. Chaired by a committee member other than Troopmaster (Cmte Chair, Secretary, Chaplain, Advancement Chair, etc)
  4. At least two are fully registered adults
  5. Often include a Trail Guide from a different level to encourage cross-level understanding

Exact membership of a panel is generally not announced before the board meets.

Board Process

The Trailman on entering the meeting room should introduce himself and his purpose, e.g., “Trailman Williams for my Able Trailman Board of Review.” The Trailman may be asked to recite the Trailman oath, and then will be seated for the board.

The board members will use prepared questions for 4-15 minutes (depending on award). These questions will reflect on the experiences leading up the award. Questions are not intended to cause a defense of an earned award. For example, a question about a trail badge might ask the Trailman to reflect on what he learned. It would not call for him to demonstrate the learned skills or otherwise verify the presence of appropriate topical mastery.

Please see also pp. 80-81 of the Parent and Leader Guide and p. 163 of the Tools of the Trail for information on the Board of Review process. The troop maintains a reference copy at the church.


What is the attire?

A Trailman award candidate should attend in full uniform, including the Trailman Standard. Panelists who hold leadership roles in the troop should also wear full uniform.

Can the Board of Review be completed before all requirements of the award are completed?

No. Completion of the board results in the award without any remaining conditions. The only exception is for the Timberline Award, which may have Sylvan Stars yet to be earned.

How does a Trailman schedule a Board of Review?

The Trailman should complete an advancement conference with the appropriate leader at his level. That leader will request that a board of review be scheduled.

Why is there a Board of Review for Timberline?

Troop NC-613 has elected to add a Board of Review at the end of the 5th grade Timberline Award. This provides a process parallel to the Navigator-level awards. The Timberline Award itself is such that all of the purposes set out in this document apply to it as well.

Notes on Guide

Guide Version Date: 9/23/2023

Requests for clarification or suggestions regarding this guide should be directed to .

View this guide online at https://www.traillife613.org/about/troop-guidebook/boards-of-review

Trail Life Troop NC-613 is a ministry of The Shepherd’s Church of Cary, NC.
6051 Tryon Rd., Cary, NC 27518

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13 (ESV)

All rights reserved. Unless used under license, content copyright The Shepherd’s Church. Program-related marks are trademarks of Trail Life USA.