Getting Started with Scouts BSA Advancement

Advancement is fun with a purpose

Scouts BSA provides an exciting, fun filled educational experience for youth as they travel through the advancement program. A Scout plans their advancement and progresses at their own pace. As the Scout meets and overcomes challenges they are rewarded and gain self-confidence.

Four Steps to Scout BSA Advancement

  1. The Scout learns. A lot of learning comes from other youth in a Scout's patrol or troop and by active participation in troop programs. His patrol activities are directed toward the skills he needs. Every troop hike, camping trip, or other activity offers potential learning experiences. A Scout learns to pitch a tent by pitching one, to use a compass by finding directions, and to cook a meal by having to prepare it.
  2. The Scout is tested. The specific requirements determine the kind of testing. Verbal testing is sufficient in some instances. In other instances, a Scout must demonstrate their skills by doing.
  3. The Scout is reviewed. This ensures that all requirements have been met. This includes a check of the Scout's attitude and practice of the ideals of Scouting, in addition to his Scoutcraft skills. Deciding whether a Scout has met the required standards for rank advancement begins with the troop and, for the Eagle Scout rank, is approved by the district, local council, and finally, the National Council.
  4. The Scout is recognized. The final step in advancement involves presentation of the badge, usually at a ceremony before the entire troop.

Trail to Eagle

To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Scout must fulfill requirements involving leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Although many options are available to demonstrate proficiency in these areas, a number of specific skills are required to advance through the Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle ranks. To advance, a Scout must pass specific tests that are organized by requirements and merit badges.

Rank Advancement

After being awarded the Scout badge, there are six ranks in Scouts BSA that are to be earned sequentially no matter what age a youth joins the program. In Scouts BSA, requirements for rank advancement must be passed as written. If a requirement uses words like "show", "demonstrate" or "discuss", then that is what Scouts must do.

The first three ranks in the Scouts BSA program (Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class) may be passed at any time after the Scout badge has been earned. These ranks are oriented toward learning and practicing skills that will help the Scout develop confidence and fitness, challenge his thought processes, introduce them to their responsibilities as a citizen, and prepare them for an exciting and successful Scouting experience.

The requirements for the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, except for those related to merit badges, must be fulfilled after the successful completion of a board of review for the previous rank. Advancement at this level presents a Scout with a series of challenges in a fun and educational manner. As they demonstrate leadership and completes the requirements they achieve the three aims of Scouting: to develop character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop physical and mental fitness.

Merit Badges

Merit badges signify the mastery of certain skills, while helping boys increase their skills in areas of personal interest. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout. 13 of those are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Cooking, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving and a choice among Cycling, Hiking, or Swimming, and a choice between Environmental Science or Sustainability.