Rank Advancement

1.         Advancement – General

Advancement is the process by which scouts progress through the rank of the Scouting program by the gradual mastery of Scouting skills.  Everything the scouts do to advance and earn these ranks is designed to help them have an exciting and meaningful experience.  The advancement is accomplished through personal commitment of the scout combined with an active troop program.

Educational and fun activities are the basis of the advancement program.  In Scouting, recognition is earned through leadership in the troop, attending activities, living the ideals of Scouting and developing proficiency in outdoor living and other useful skills.

No council, district, troop or individual has the authority to add or subtract from any Boy Scout advancement requirement as defined in the Boy Scout Handbook.  The advancement requirements have been carefully developed to achieve the aims of Boy Scouting.

2.  The Four Step Advancement Process

Step 1   The Boy Scout Learns

A Scout learns by doing.  As he learns, he grows in ability to do his part as a member of the patrol and the troop.  As he develops knowledge and skill, he is asked to teach others.  In this way, he begins to develop leadership.  For each rank, the scout must complete specific requirements listed in the Boy Scout Handbook (BSH).

Rank BSH Chapter Advancement Sign-off Pages
Scout 1 31-34
Tenderfoot 3 432 – 433
Second Class 4 434 – 435
First Class 5 436 – 437
Star 6 438
Life 6 439
Eagle 6 440 – 441
Eagle Palms 6 443

The rank advancement requirements may include acquired skills or knowledge, active time in current rank, serving in a position of responsibility, completion of merit badges, a service project and exhibiting Scout spirit in daily life.  The Troop Advancement Chairperson keeps the official troop records of completion, while the scout keeps his personal records.

Step 2   The Boy Scout is Tested

A Scout will be tested on individual rank advancement requirements by his patrol leader, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, a Troop Committee member or a member of his troop.  The Scoutmaster maintains a list of those qualified to test.  Successful completion of an item is documented by a signature and date in the Boy Scout Handbook.

Once all the rank advancement requirements have been completed for a given rank, the scout schedules a conference with the Scoutmaster.  After satisfactory review of the scout’s knowledge and skill in the areas covered by that rank, the Scoutmaster signs the Boy Scout Handbook and schedules a Board of Review.

Step 3   The Boy Scout is Reviewed

After a Scout has completed all requirements for a rank, he has a Board of Review.  For Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle palms, the review is conducted by members of the Troop Committee.  The intent of the review is to encourage the scout on his trail to Eagle and to check that the scout has really completed the advancement requirements.  It also serves the purpose of a quality control check of the troop’s advancement process.  A Guide to Conducting Board of Reviews is included at the end of this tab.  It gives an idea of the type of questions to expect.

The Eagle Board of Review is conducted in accordance with local Dan Beard Council procedures, which requires a Fort Hamilton District or Dan Beard Council Board of Review.  When the Board of Review is satisfied the scout is ready to advance, the Boy Scout handbook is signed.

Step 4   The Boy Scout is Recognized

When the Board of Review had certified a Scout’s advancement, he deserves to receive recognition as soon as possible.  An advancement report is forwarded to the Dan Beard Council, which then returns the advancement badge and card to the troop.  These are presented at the Troop Court of Honor, typically held quarterly in Troop 947.

This cycle is repeated through each rank, until the Eagle rank is earned.

3.  Age Requirements for Advancement

Any registered Boy Scout may earn merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle palms until his 18th birthday.  A scout with a handicapping condition may work toward rank advancement after he is 18 years old.

If a scout foresees that he will be unable to complete the requirements for the Eagle rank prior to his 18th birthday, a petition may be filed in writing with the national Boy Scout Committee through the Dan Beard Council for special permission to continue to work toward the award after reaching age 18.  The petition must show sufficient detail of the extenuating circumstances.  Extenuating circumstances are defined as conditions or situations that are totally beyond the control of the scout.

If circumstances should prevent a scout from requesting the extension before he turns 18, it is still permissible to ask for the extension.  As above, sufficient details of the circumstances that prevented him from completing the requirements and from requesting the extension before age 18 must be provided.  A limited extension may be granted by the national Boy Scout Committee.

The Trail to Eagle Scout

This section outlines the steps that a scout has to go through to advance through the Boy Scout ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.  Eagle Scout is the highest rank a scout can earn.  The trail to Eagle is challenging, but the reward is a rank that is held for life.  This information supplements what is contained in the Boy Scout Handbook (BSH) and other Boy Scout of America (BSA) materials.  Specific suggestions for both the scout and the parents are given below, to help in the journey to Eagle.

To the Scout

1.  From the BSH, review the advancement requirements for the rank on which you are working.

2.   Do as much preparation as you can on your own, seeking help where needed from leaders or others in the troop.

3.  Keep excellent personal records of your completed advancement requirements.  These are used for the rank advancement process at each level, and are particularly important to have in several years when completing the Eagle rank.  Some of the types of written records that should be kept are:

–  camping participation list

–  troop activities participation list

–  rank advancement cards

–  merit badge cards

–  time spent on service projects

–  leadership roles/offices held, for what time period and major activities

This notebook contains record sheets in Tab 5 that can be used to keep written documentation.  A card holder page has been included in Tab 5 to store some of the card type records.

4.  Periodically make sure that the Troop Advancement Chairperson’s records are up to date with your records as you complete the advancement requirements.

To the Parents

Encourage your son as he works his way through scouting.  Your interest and support is essential.

Summary of Requirements to Earn Eagle Scout Rank

The tables below summarize the requirements for attainment of the various ranks.  More detail on merit badges, leadership positions and service projects are given in following sections.

Starting Rank Knowledge/Skill Requirements Troop or Patrol Activity, other than meetings
Tenderfoot 16 1 overnight campout
Second Class 20 5 total, one more campout
First Class 22 10 total, one more campout
Time to complete starting ranks is typically 12 months. These requirements are given on pages 432 through 437 in the BSH.

Higher Ranks

Time in PreviousRank Merit Badges (required list in next section)  

Service Projects

Leadership Time (approved positions in following section)
Star 4 months 6 total, 4 required 6 hours 4 months
Life 6 months 5 more, 7 required in 11 total 6 hours 6 months
Eagle 6 months 10 more, 

12 required in 21 total

50 or more hours, special project approval required 6 months
These requirements are given on pages 438 through 443 in the BSH.

Merit Badges

Merit badges are advancement requirements that help scouts explore interesting and challenging subjects, which may turn into lifelong interests.  Merit badges are part of the advancement requirements for Star, Life and Eagle rank.  Unlike leadership position time, badges may be earned at any time and applied to the rank requirements as needed.  Attendance at the summer Boy Scout Camp and the annual Merit Badge Challenge weekends (typically several Saturday mornings in the winter) are excellent ways to earn merit badges.

There are 12 required merit badges to earn the Eagle Scout rank.  Other badges are selected by the scout based on his interests.  The required badges are:

First Aid                     Citizenship in the Community      Personal Management

Camping                   Citizenship in the Nation               Environmental Science

Communications     Citizenship in the World                 Personal Fitness

Family Life

Swimming or Hiking or Cycling (only 1 counts as a required badge)

Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving (only 1 counts as a required badge)

The process for earning merit badges is defined in each section of the BSH.  The badge requirements must be completed to the satisfaction of a qualified Merit Badge Counselor.  This is different from Cub Scouts, where parents and troop leaders would provide the sign-offs.  A list of qualified merit badge counselors is available when needed.

Merit Badge Process

1.  Get blue merit badge card from Scoutmaster and fill out

2.  Have the Scoutmaster sign authorization to begin

3.  Check out a troop copy of the Merit Badge booklet needed from the Librarian, or purchase the booklet from the Scout Store.

4.  Contact a merit badge counselor to set up a meeting to see what is required to earn the badge.

5.  After the requirements are completed to the satisfaction of the counselor, they will sign off the requirements and for completion of the badge (two places on card).

6.  The counselor keeps the “Counselor’s record” part of the card.

7.  The scout has the Scoutmaster sign the “Applicant’s Record” part of the card.  The scout must keep this part of the card as part of his personal records.

8.  The “Application for Merit Badge” part of the card is turned in to the Advancement Chairperson for filing in the official troop records and for preparing a Council Advancement Report.

9.  The merit badge and its award card are received by the troop and presented to the scout at the next Court of Honor.  The scout must also keep this card for his personal records.

Leadership Positions

Boy Scouts are expected to learn leadership skills by serving as troop leaders as they work on the higher ranks.  No leadership positions are required to earn the starting ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class or First Class.  The table on the following page shows what jobs may be applied towards which ranks.  Responsibilities for these junior leadership positions are described in the BSA Junior Leader Handbook.

These are elected positions in the troop.  Requirements to hold the elected positions include:

a. Second class or higher rank

b. Membership in Troop 947 for at least 6 months

c. Attendance at a minimum of 75% of troop meetings

d. Attendance at a minimum of 50% of troop outings

e. Recommendation of Scoutmaster

Position Star (4 months) Life (6 months) Eagle (6 months)
Patrol Leader X X X
Sr. Patrol Leader X X X
Assistant Sr. Patrol Leader X X X
Den Chief X X X
Scribe X X X
Librarian X X X
Historian X X
Quartermaster X X X
Bugler X X
Chaplain Aide X X X
Instructor X X X
Jr. Assistant Scoutmaster X X X
Troop Guide X X X
Scoutmaster assigned position X X

Credit towards advancement requirements is given only for leadership time served while working on the next rank.  For example, if a scout was a Quartermaster as a Second Class Scout, it would not count toward Star advancement.  Only leadership time while a First Class Scout would count towards Star.  The scout would have to hold some other position to get credit towards Star.  Scouts are not allowed to hold a given position two terms in a row.

Leadership credit may be earned by serving the entire time in one position or a combination of two or more positions.  As you progress up the ranks, service in different positions increases your personal growth.  After you have completed your time on the positions, make sure that the Troop advancement records are updated to show the start and stop times for your service and that it meets the minimum requirements for the rank.  It is recommended that the scout keep a detailed record of what he did while in the leadership position.  This is valuable to have in preparation for the Eagle Board of Review.

Service Projects

Service projects are required for advancement in some ranks.  They consist of doing a basic service (for example, yard work for an elderly person or a district sponsored project) to help someone else.  Projects for different ranks have different time and sign-off requirements and are summarized as follows:

Rank Service Hours Approval
Star 6 Scoutmaster
Life 6 Scoutmaster
Eagle 50 minimum Scoutmaster, Troop Committee, District Eagle Advisor (before and after project completion)

When the service project is completed, add it to the list in your personal records.

For Eagle, please see the Scoutmaster when considering what project to choose and in planning the project.  There is a Boy Scout Publication # 18-927, called “Life to Eagle Packet”, that must be used to document the project approvals and work plans.