How does a boy earn rank?
Once the requirements of a particular rank have been met, the scout requests a Scoutmaster Conference. During this conference, the boy will be tested on various scout skills. All of the skills listed on this sheet are requirements for the first three ranks in scouting: Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, and all of them are detailed in the Scout Handbook. A scout will be tested only on the skills required for the rank he is currently seeking, plus any of the lower ranks he has already earned. We retest scouts on earlier rank skills to ensure that boys stay grounded in the fundamentals as they move into positions that allow them to instruct younger scouts.

Once the boy passes the Scoutmaster Conference, he presents himself to a Board of Review. The Board is composed of at least three members of the Troop Committee. These committee members do not retest scout skills. Rather, they assess the boy’s character and discuss his goals. They also obtain feedback on how the program is running from the scout’s perspective.

If the scout passes the Board of Review, his name is submitted to the council on an advancement report. Once this paperwork is processed, the badge is awarded.

How does a boy advance from Scout rank to 1st Class rank?
Scouting is an outdoor program. The ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class are based very heavily on scout skills, most of which are outdoor skills. Look at the rank advancement section at the back of your boy’s handbook.

It is impossible for a boy to advance to the rank of First Class if he does not camp with the troop. There is simply no other way to fulfill many of the requirements. Camp out attendance is particularly critical during the first few months of his membership. During this time the Assistant Scoutmasters and Troop Guides (older scouts) are heavily focused on assisting new scouts in meeting their early rank requirements. As in school, it is very hard to go back and make up lessons when the rest of the class has moved on.

Every boy is different, but it is our goal to have new scouts earn their Tenderfoot rank by the time they attend their first summer camp, usually a few months after joining. This is quite easy to do. It is our hope that they achieve Second Class within the first year of being a scout, and to earn First Class within about 18 months. The reason this is important is that by earning First Class, a scout has demonstrated all of the skills needed to be a safe and proficient camper, which will make the rest of his scouting experience much more enjoyable.

How does a boy advance from 1st Class rank to Eagle rank?
Take a look at the Star, Life and Eagle rank requirements in the back of your boy’s handbook. You will see that the requirements are quite different from Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. Scout skills, while still tested during Scoutmaster conferences, are no longer a rank requirement in accordance with the book. Essentially, the following items must be accomplished:

  • Time served in the previous rank (Camp Out Participation form)
  • Service hours
  • Fulfillment of a leadership post – shown leadership, not just filling a post!
  • Eagle-required merit badges
  • Other merit badges

The rank of Eagle adds one additional requirement: a service project planned and led by the boy that benefits an organization other than scouting.

Merit Badges
How does a scout earn merit badges?
There are no requirements to earn merit badges for the first four ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. These ranks focus almost exclusively on fundamental scout skills such as cooking, camping, map reading, etc. Starting with the rank of Star, scouts must earn a certain number of badges to advance. This is true of the ranks of Life and Eagle as well.

There are two types of merit badges: Eagle-required badges and elective badges. Some of each must be earned for Star, Life and Eagle.

Eagle-required badges are listed on page 446 of the scout handbook. These badges tend to be more difficult and can take much longer to earn. Elective badges can be quite simple (Collections) or quite difficult (American Labor). Elective badges provide a way for the scout to explore different interests.

Any boy can start working on a merit badge at any time. Generally, new scouts focus primarily on scout skills and rank advancement, picking up a few badges along the way, such as those offered at summer camp. To work on a badge outside of a class or summer camp, a boy finds a buddy who is interested. Together, they ask the Scoutmaster for blue cards (merit badge applications) and assistance with finding a counselor. They then meet with the counselor and work through the requirements.

The troop offers a few badges per year in a classroom setting at 6:00 pm before meetings. We tend to focus on Eagle-required badges, although there are exceptions. In general (with one exception noted below), it is appropriate for new scouts to start taking these classes the September after they join. Remember, these badges can be more difficult; the requirements for Citizenship in the World ask boys to analyze exchange rates and the balance of trade. Many new scouts are not ready for this.

One exception to the rule of waiting a year to take Eagle-required badges: Swimming. Swimming ability is the key to participation in several scouting activities, including our rafting trip this summer, canoing, sailing, etc. You’ll notice that both Second and First Class ranks have swimming requirements. Swimming is always offered at summer camp, but the environment is sometimes not ideal due to large class sizes. Therefore, the troop has offered Swimming merit badge during the spring for the last few years. If your boy is a capable swimmer, he could take this class now instead of at summer camp.

Important: Swimming merit badge is NOT designed to teach your boy to swim. We simply do not have the resources to do that. It is designed to verify swimming ability that already exists.

Summer camp provides an ideal environment for boys to earn both Eagle-required and elective merit badges. It is a good idea to take at least one Eagle-required badge every year at summer camp along with other interesting badges. First Aid, Swimming, Camping, Environmental Science and Emergency Preparedness are all Eagle-required badges and are usually offered at camp.

If you have questions about the requirements for achieving any badge, it is usually easiest to go to to research it.

Other Advancement Opportunities

Order of the Arrow
The Order of the Arrow (OA) was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.

The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:

  • To recognize those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.
  • To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit.
  • To promote Scout camping.
  • To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.

Scouts are elected to the Order by their fellow unit members, following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach. To become a member, a youth must be a registered member of a Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team and hold First Class rank. The youth must have experienced fifteen days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The fifteen days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.

The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting but also as he enters higher education, business or industry, and community service. The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank; only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts do so. This represents more than 1.7 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1912. Nevertheless, the goals of Scouting-citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness-remain important for all Scouts, whether or not they attain the Eagle Scout rank.

Once your boy reaches Life rank, the Scoutmaster will meet with both you and your boy to plan his advancement into the rank of Eagle. Click here to view a list of the boys who have reached the rank of Eagle from Troop 313.

Parent’s Help/Guide to Advancement
Which boys succeed in scouting?
Did you know that nationally only about 5% of all Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle?

The first criteria for winning a sporting event is to show up and play. Likewise, the only way to advance in scouting is to attend meetings and camp outs. Those boys who make scouting a priority in their lives are the ones who earn rank, earn badges and get the most enjoyment out of the scouting program. Those boys with spotty attendance are the ones who typically drop out of the program after a year or two.

Those boys who take an active role in their advancement are also more likely to succeed. All scouts should be familiar with where they stand on achieving their next rank, and should be actively pursuing older scouts or Assistant Scoutmasters to get rank requirements signed off. The Assistant Scoutmasters cannot provide all the motivation to succeed and cannot hold the hands of all boys in the troop. Motivated scouts don’t look to other people to manage their advancement.

It cannot be stressed enough that boys with active parents are much more likely to succeed in scouting. There are statistics to back this up. Why? Because interested parents play the same role in scouting as they do in their children’s performance at school – they don’t do the boy’s homework, but they know what needs to be done and provide motivation for digging in and getting it taken care of. Let’s be honest: merit badges such as Citizenship in the Nation or Personal Management are not all that fun for scouts. But they are required and an involved parent will help their scout focus on getting these important requirements completed.

By far the most successful scouts are those whose father or mother wears a scout uniform. In other words, parents who have signed up to be committee members or Assistant Scoutmasters. Those are the parents who put the most emphasis on the program and are therefore the most in tune with the status of their boy as he works his way through the ranks.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I know what rank my son is working on?
  • Do I know which requirements he has completed and which ones are left?
  • Do I know how long he has been working (or not working) on this rank?


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