Advancement Basics

00000(Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) 

The advancement program for Boy Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America is symbolized by the earning of seven badges, six of which are considered ranks.

The advancement program is often considered to be divided into two phases:

  • The first phase (from joining to First Class) is designed to teach the boy Scoutcraft skills, how to participate in a group, and to learn self-reliance.  The Scout badge is awarded when the Scout demonstrates a rudimentary knowledge of the Scouting ideals and program.  Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class have progressively harder requirements in the areas of Scoutcraft, physical fitness, citizenship, personal growth, and Scout Spirit.  (The Scout badge is not a rank – it is a “joining requirement,” and the process for earning Scout is a little different from the process of earning the other six ranks of Scouting.)
    • Statistically, Scouts who earn First Class within their first year stay in Scouting longer and have a higher probably of earning Eagle Scout.  BSA has created a program called “First Class – First Year” to maximize the first year experience. Scouts who earn First Class within their first year receive special recognition at a Court of Honor.
    • At Troop 883, we look at this differently – we believe that a great program keeps Scouts interested in Scouting – which in turn helps them advance to First Class within the first year.  It is not the pressure to achieve this milestone that makes the Scout achieve the milestone – it is the opportunities the Troop presents throughout the first year that allow for the Scout to advance at his own pace.
  • The second phase (Star, Life, and Eagle) is designed to develop leadership skills and allow the Scout to explore potential vocations and avocations through the merit badge program.  The Star and Life ranks require that the boy serve in a position of responsibility and perform community service.

Scout is a joining badge, earned by completing the requirements to join Boy Scouting.  The Scout badge has a brown fleur-de-lis on a tan background.  The badge is awarded when the boy demonstrates a rudimentary knowledge of the Scouting ideals such as tying a square knot and knowing the Scout oath, law, and slogan.

Tenderfoot is the first rank.  A Scout can work on the requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks at the same time, but each rank must be earned in sequence.  The badge is awarded when the Scout completes requirements in the areas of Scoutcraft, physical fitness, citizenship, personal growth and Scout Spirit.

Second Class is the rank above Tenderfoot and below First Class.  The badge is awarded when the Scout completes requirements in the areas of Scoutcraft, physical fitness, citizenship, personal growth and Scout Spirit.

First Class is the rank above Second Class and below Star Scout.  The badge is awarded when the Scout completes requirements in the areas of Scoutcraft, physical fitness, citizenship, personal growth and Scout Spirit.

Star is the rank above First Class and below Life Scout.  Star is awarded when the Scout serves actively in the Troop in a position of responsibility for at least 4 months; performs at least six hours of community service; and earns six merit badges (four of which must be required for Eagle Scout rank).

Life is second-highest rank – above Star Scout and below Eagle.  Life is awarded when the Scout serves actively in the Troop, serves in a position of responsibility for six months, and performs six hours of community service.  Another thing a Scout must do in order to achieve Life is earn an additional five merit badges (three of which are required for the rank of Eagle), to make a minimum total of eleven merit badges (including the six previously required for Star).  Finally, the Scout must pass a Scoutmaster Conference, and Board of Review.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in Scouting.  Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men.  Requirements include earning a number of merit badges and demonstration of Scout Spirit, service and leadership.  This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages.  Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognizes the accomplishments of the Scout.  Additional recognition can be earned through Eagle Palms, awarded for completing additional tenure, leadership and merit badge requirements.

Merit badges and ranks may be earned by any registered Boy Scout until his eighteenth birthday.

Except for Scout (remember, it’s not a “rank”), all ranks (as well as Eagle Palms) require that the candidate participate in a Scoutmaster Conference and pass a Board of Review.

Scoutmaster Conference  

The Scoutmaster Conference is a meeting between the Scoutmaster and the Scout, and it is a requirement for each rank. The Scoutmaster reviews the Scout’s progress and ensures all requirements have been met. The Scout is expected to show how he has grown in his understanding of the Scouting ideals, including the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, and how he has applied those ideals. The Scoutmaster will also discuss the next steps in advancement and will encourage the Scout to establish a goal for personal growth that will be evaluated by the Scout at the next Scoutmaster Conference.

Board of Review

The Board of Review is made up of a group of three to six members of the Troop Committee.  It is the final approval process for rank advancement in Scouting.  The Board of Review members interview the Scout to ensure all requirements are met and to determine the Scout’s attitude as well as his acceptance of Scouting’s ideals and their application. The Board also solicits the Scout’s opinions on the Troop program and on youth and adult leadership.

Eagle Scout

The Eagle Scout Board of Review is convened by the council or district.  Members are selected by council policy and include Troop committee members, district or council Eagle representatives, and community members with an understanding of the Eagle Board. There must be at least one district or council Eagle representative.   A Scout must attain the requirements for this rank prior to his 18th birthday, though the Board of Review itself can be done after the 18th birthday.



Boy Scouting ranks (Boy Scouts of America).pngThe Scouting program uses a series of medals and patches as emblems.  The badge for the Scout rank consists of a simple fleur-de-lis, which symbolizes a compass needle. The needle points the Scout in the right direction, which is onward and upward.The Tenderfoot badge takes the fleur-de-lis of the Scout badge and adds two stars and an eagle with an American shield. The stars symbolize truth and knowledge; the eagle and shield symbolize freedom and readiness to defend it.

The Second Class badge features a scroll inscribed with the Scout Motto, with the ends turned up and a knotted rope hanging from the bottom. The knot reminds each Scout to remember the Scout slogan (Do a Good Turn Daily) and the upturned ends of the scroll symbolize cheerfulness in service.

The First Class badge combines the elements of the Tenderfoot and Second Class badges. For many years, the First Class badge was used as the emblem of the BSA.

Star has a First Class symbol on a five-pointed yellow star, and initially indicated the five merit badges required to earn the rank.

Life has a First Class emblem on a red heart, and initially symbolized the first-aid and health-related merit badges that the rank required. Now it signifies that the ideals of Scouting have become a part of the Scout’s life and character.