Advancement is one of the key methods of Scouting. Scouts are provided opportunities and encouraged to work with their elder Scouts, Adult Leaders and Parents on requirements for Rank awards on the Trail to Eagle. More information, including official and up to date requirements lists can be found on the BSA website, here.
The first 4 Ranks, Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class are focused on Scouting Skills, Fitness and Citizenship along with Activities and Service participation. The last 3 Ranks, Star, Life and Eagle are focused on Merit Badges, Leadership, and Service. Eagle Palms are earned for every 5 Merit Badges earned beyond the 21 required for Eagle.
Merit Badges are topic specific, research projects with exercises to be shared and reviewed by a certified adult partner. These topics cover a wide range of vocational, hobby and life skill related areas. 13 specific Merit Badges are required for Eagle Rank, 3 of which have alternate choices. That list is referenced in the image on the right.
The process of obtaining a merit badge:
Decide on a merit badge to start. Go to meritbadge.org for requirement lists and to download a worksheet. The worksheets are designed to help the Scouts record their research results and collect their thoughts on the requirements to then review with their Merit Badge Counselor.
Obtain a Blue Card from your Scoutmaster or ASM for recording of your progress.
Contact a Counselor and set a plan.
Have the Counselor initial completed requirements on your Blue Card as you progress.
Turn in your completed Blue Card to the Troop Advancement Coordinator.
Retain the Applicant Portion for your records.
Receive your merit badge at an upcoming Court of Honor.
There are 4 steps to Advancement:
A Scout learns.
A Scout is tested.
A Scout is reviewed.
A Scout is recognized.
Rank requirements for Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class can all be worked on in any order. Scouts can also start ANY Merit Badge at ANY time, although we as leaders might recommend some more complicated Merit Badges wait to be started until the Scout's teen years so they will absorb more of the material. (Personal Management is an example)
All Rank Requirements and reference materials can be found in your Scout Handbook or in Scoutbook under References. Any rank requirements can be done at home, but many that are Scout Skill related will be better learned in a Troop meeting or Campout with the help of an older Scout or Adult Leader. Some requirements must be done at home.
Awards are prepared and presented to Scouts at a Court of Honor Ceremony. These are usually held 3 times, annually, in May, August and December. It is important to note that as soon as a Scout completes a Board of Review, they are considered to have earned that Rank.
Advancement is encouraged, but not a requirement to participation in Scouting. The Troop will provide many opportunities for rank advancement and earning Merit Badges, but adult leaders will NOT force a Scout to participate or complete the work needed to receive recognition. Scouts need to find the motivation themselves to prepare for and complete the work. Also, with the exception of requirements with a built in time component, rank advancement can be done at the Scout's pace.
Troop Advancement Review and Completion Process:
All Ranks require a Scoutmaster's Conference (SMC) to complete the Rank. All Ranks beyond Scout Rank require a Board of Review (BOR) to complete the Rank. A Board of Review is a short interview between the Scout and 3-4 members of our Adult Leader/Parent group to review the Scouts progress and get their impressions of how our Scouting Program is being conducted. Neither the Scoutmaster Conference or the Board of Review are tests.
Boards of Review are scheduled monthly during Troop meetings, usually 1-2 meetings each month. More BORs can be scheduled in the weeks preceding a Court of Honor to accommodate demand. There is no need to wait for the weeks before a Court of Honor to complete your Rank requirements. A Scout will have earned the rank upon completion of the Board of Review, not when the Rank patch is presented to the Scout.
STEPS THAT SCOUTS SHOULD COMPLETE TO REQUEST A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE AND BOARD OF REVIEW
1) The Scout should verify in their Scoutbook Advancement report that all rank requirements have been met, other than those related to Scout Spirit, Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review. Rank requirements can be found in your BSA Handbook or in Scoutbook, here. If you have questions about a requirement you believe has been earned and not recorded, please contact an adult leader like an Assistance Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, Advancement Coordinator or the Committee Chair.
2) The Scout should complete the Troop 626 Advancement Survey, linked here. The form results will be sent to your Scoutmaster and the Board of Review coordinators. Once your request has been received, you will receive a confirmation email acknowledging your request and your interview will be scheduled.
3) Prepare the the Board of Review by being able to recall from memory, and discuss the following Scouting tenants:
4) When attending your Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review, the Scout should wear their Class A (Tan Scout Shirt) uniform with Neckerchief. Wearing your Merit Badge sash, if you have one, is encouraged, but not required.