When it becomes clear that a Scout may complete a significant rank advancement, a question may be raised as to whether he is or has been "active." Fortunately the Boy Scouts maintain clear rules as to when a Scout is "active."
A Registered Scout is an Active Scout
(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088 p. 24)
A Scout will be considered "active" in his unit if he is:
Only Active Scouts Can Be Rechartered
(Quoted from: Commissioner Fieldbook for Unit Service #33621 p. 44)
Youth Member Listing
(Quoted from Rank Advancement)
Question: For the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks, how is "Be active in your troop and patrol" defined? Answer: A Scout is considered to be active in his unit if:
The unit leaders are responsible for maintaining contact with the Scout on a regular basis. The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings. However, unit leaders must ensure that he is fulfilling the obligations of his assigned leadership position. If he is not, then they should remove the Scout from that position.
"Ghost units" puts membership in the spotlight
- Boy Scouts Suspected of Inflating Rolls Washington Post
- "...Federal subpoenas have been flying around...the latest in a string of at least five bogus-membership scandals in Boy Scout councils around the country since the 1990s.."
- Leaders Falsified Participation by Inner-City Youth, Audit Finds Associated Press
- "...The audit led to the resignation Tuesday of the Atlanta Area Council's executive director, David Larkin, who said he took full responsibility for his organization's actions..."
- "...In Dallas, former council employees say the Scout count was inflated 20 to 30 percent. In Birmingham, some believe the numbers were hyped 30 to 40 percent..."
- "...Boy Scouts of America declined an interview, but in a statement said, "Accurate reporting of membership is essential. Falsifying records is unacceptable..."
Ranks Requiring that the Scout be Active
- Star Rank 1: Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 4 months as a First Class Scout.
- Life Rank 1: Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 6 months as a Star Scout.
- Eagle Scout Rank 1: Be active in your troop, team, crew, or ship for a period of at least six months after you have achieved the rank of Life Scout.
- Eagle Palms 1: Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 3 months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after the award of your last Palm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can we add a requirement that the Scout was active in the immediately preceding 4 or 6 months?
- No. "No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from an advancement requirement." (p. 3, 23, 26, 34, etc.) 
Does a Scout need to be active the entire time since their last rank?
- No. The requirement for Star, Life, Eagle, and Eagle Palms are that the Scout be active for at least 4, 6, or 6 months respectively since their previous advancement. 
If a Scout was inactive (dropped), does previous time while he was active count?
- Yes. "...His previous verifiable service time in that rank applies toward qualification for the next rank..." (p. 44) 
- Advancement Policies #33088
- Boy Scout Requirements #33215
- Commissioner Fieldbook for Unit Service #33621
- Rank Advancement