National Capital Area Council Virtual Visit Guidance
The BSA has long held to the principle every scout needs to complete every requirement as written in order to complete a merit badge or rank requirement.
Virtual tours have been around for quite a while and the BSA has only modified a few “visit” requirements to include “virtual tours” such as Animation or Exploration. None of the rank requirements have changed to allow virtual visits or campouts.
The rationale for a requirement to actually visit a site centers around intent. What are the skills and knowledge the Scout should be learning through making the visit? Is the Scout missing an opportunity for adult association (e.g., meeting the museum docent and asking questions, talking to the dispatcher at the truck terminal, being in the audience to observe reactions to statements and rebuttals throughout the room, etc.) Is the Scout missing an opportunity to work in person with their patrol using the patrol method and follow the leadership of the Patrol Leader? How is experiential learning occurring in these situations?
These are a few of the cornerstones making up the methods of Scouting. These methods support the mission and aims of the BSA which is the key to success stressed in the Guide to Advancement.
The bottom line is the requirement to visit a site, camp overnight with your patrol, or attend a meeting isn’t going to change or get altered by current events. When a question of intent arises, the unit leader or merit badge counselor, as appropriate, must look at the requirement on a case by case basis, assess the intent, and then structure the activity so each Scout receives a quality experience.