Scout advancement

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For advancement information on all four scouting program phases (including Boy Scouting), see Advancement.
For rank requirements for only Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts, see Ranks.

Advancement for Boy Scouts (11 years and older and younger than 18) and who have received the Scout badge, follow a linear trail of ranks that begins upon earning Tenderfoot rank and conclude with the Eagle Scout rank. Completion of requirements for advancement along the Eagle trail may be earned at any time, but ranks are received in sequence and according to time and leadership requirements.

Boy Scouting advancement diagram. Graphically displays Boy Scout Eagle trail.
Boy Scouting advancement diagram. Graphically displays Boy Scout Eagle trail.


Boy Scouting advancement

Scout badge

Main article: Scout Badge

Not technically a rank, the Scout badge sets forth the joining requirements for Boy Scouts.

Boy Scout lower ranks


Main article: Tenderfoot

Second Class

Main article: Second Class

First Class

Main article: First Class

Boy Scout higher ranks

Star Scout

Main article: Star Scout

Life Scout

Main article: Life Scout

Eagle Scout

Main article: Eagle Scout

Boy Scouting's highest award.

The Eagle Scout Award may be worn on a uniform of Venturers and Sea Scouts. The Star, Life and Eagle patch may be worn on the uniform of Venturers.

Eagle Palms

Main article: Eagle Palms

Recognition for further service, growth, and tenure.


The publication Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures (33088B, revised 1999) prescribes the basis for advancement, ranks, and the responsibilities of the troop committee:

Basis for Advancement

Clause 5. The Boy Scout requirements for ranks shall be the basis for the Scout's advancement. There shall be four steps in Boy Scout advancement procedure: learning, testing, reviewing, and recognition.


Clause 6. There shall be the following ranks in Boy Scouting: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. The requirements shall be authorized by the Executive Board and set forth in official Scouting publications. Eagle Palms may also be awarded on the basis of requirements authorized by the Executive Board and set forth in official Scouting publications.

Responsibility of the Troop Committee

Clause 7. It shall be the responsibility of the troop committee, under the leadership and guidance of the local council, to make sure that the program of the the troop is conducted in such a way that Scouts have an opportunity to advance on the basis of the four steps outlined in clause 5.


The Boy Scout advancement program is subtle. It places a series of challenges in front of a Scout in a manner that is fun and educational. As Scouts meet these challenges, they achieve the aims of Boy Scouting.

The Scout advances and grows in the Boy Scout phase of the program in the same way a plant grows by receiving nourishment in the right environment. The job with adults concerned with advancement is to provide the right environment.

One of the greatest needs of young men is confidence. There are three kinds of confidence that young men need: in themselves, in peers, and in leaders.

Educators and counselors agree that the best way to build confidence is through measurement. Self-confidence is developed by measuring up to a challenge or a standard. Peer confidence develops when the same measuring system is used for everyone -- when all must meet the same challenge to receive equal recognition. Confidence in leaders comes about when there is consistency in measuring -- when leaders use a single standard of fairness.

No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from any advancement requirement. A Boy Scout badge recognizes what a young man is able to do; it is not a reward for what he has done.

Standards for joining a Boy Scout troop and for advancement are listed in the latest printing of the Boy Scout Handbook and in the current Boy Scout Requirements book.

Advancement accommodates the three aims of Scouting: citizenship, growth in moral strength and character, and mental and physical development.

The advancement program is designed to provide the Boy Scout with a chance to achieve the aims of Scouting. As a Scout advances he is measured and grows in confidence and self-reliance.

When a badge and certificate are awarded to a Boy Scout to recognize that he has achieved a rank, they represent that a young man has:

  • Been an active participant in his troop and patrol.
  • Demonstrated living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Law in his daily life.
  • Met the other requirements and/or earned the merit badges for the rank.
  • Participated in a Scoutmaster conference.
  • Satisfactorily appeared before a board of review.

In the advanced ranks (Star, Life, and Eagle), the badge represents that the young man has also:

  • Served in a position of responsibility in the troop.
  • Performed service to others.

Four Steps of Advancement

A Boy Scout advances from Tenderfoot to Eagle by doing things with his patrol and his troop, with his leaders, and on his own. It's easy for him to advance, if the following four opportunities are provided for him.

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; and in this way he begins to develop leadership.

The Boy Scout is tested

A Scout may be tested on rank 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 give tests and pass candidates. The Scout's merit badge counselor teaches and tests on the requirements for merit badges.

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 Eagle Scout board of review is conducted in accordance with local council procedures.

The Boy Scout is recognized

When the board of review has certified a boy's advancement, he deserves to receive recognition as soon as possible. This should be done at a ceremony at the next troop meeting. The certificate for his new rank may be presented later at a formal court of honor.

Age Requirements

Boy Scout awards are for young men not yet 18 years old. Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle palms are for registered Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, or qualified Venturers. Any registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may earn these awards until his 18th birthday. Any Venturer who achieves the First Class rank as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout in a troop or team may continue working for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms while registered as an Venturer up to his 18th birthday.

Youth members with special needs may work towards rank advancement after they are 18. (See section titled Advancement for Youth Members with Special Needs)

Time Extensions

If a Scout or a Venturer foresees that he will be unable to complete the requirements for the Eagle rank prior to his 18th birthday, he may file a petition in writing with the National Boy Scout Committee through the local council for special permission to continue to work toward the award after reaching 18. The petition also may be filed by the unit leader or unit committee. The petition must show good and sufficient evidence and detail the extenuating circumstances that prevented the Scout from completing the requirements prior to his 18th birthday. Extenuating circumstances are defined as conditions or situations that are totally beyond the control of the Scout or Venturer.

If circumstances should also prevent a Scout or an Venturer from requesting the extension before he is 18, it is still permissible to ask for the extension, detailing the extenuating circumstances that prevented him from completing the requirements and from requesting the extension before age 18.

Troop Advancement Goals

The Scoutmaster must be in charge of advancement in the troop. It is necessary that the Scoutmaster understand the purpose of the advancement program and the importance it has in the development of the Scouts in the troop. The troop's program must provide advancement opportunities. By participating in the troop program, the Scout will meet requirements for rank advancement.

The troop's unit commissioner and the district advancement committee can play an important part in explaining advancement and helping the Scoutmaster utilize the advancement program in the troop program, making it exciting to the Scouts in the troop.

It is important that the troop committee and the Scoutmaster set an advancement goal for the year. A basic goal should be for each Scout to advance a rank during the year. New Scouts should earn their First Class rank during their first year in the troop. By doing so, these new Scouts become net contributors to the troop and are able to care for themselves and others. When reviewed monthly by the troop committee, Scouts will recognize the importance of Scout advancement. Troops should conduct boards of review for Scouts who are not advancing. A minimum of four formal courts of honor a year (one every three months) should be held to formally recognize the Scouts in the troop.

Presentation of merit badges and rank badges should not await these courts of honor; awards and badges should be presented at the next meeting after they have been earned. Scouts are recognized again at a formal court of honor.

Scoutmaster Conferences

One of the most enjoyable experiences of being a Scoutmaster is the opportunity for a Scout and his leader to sit down and visit together.

In large troops, Scoutmasters occasionally assign this responsibility to assistant Scoutmasters or members of the troop committee; but this is unfortunate, because most Scoutmasters feel that this is truly the opportunity to get to know the Scout and help him chart his course in life.

A good conference should be unhurried. It helps the Scout evaluate his accomplishments and to set new goals with his Scoutmaster. This can be accomplished at a troop meeting, camping trip, or in the Scout's home.

Goal setting by the Scout makes it possible for the Scoutmaster to help the Scout with his weaknesses and encourage him to use his strengths.

The Scout (joining) conference is probably one of the most important associations a Scout will have in his Scouting career. It is at this conference that the Scoutmaster illustrates to him the adult-youth relationship that is unique to Scouting.

All through the ranks, it is rewarding for the Scoutmaster to observe the Scout grow in responsibility and maturity. It is through this association and example that a young man grows and matures, and the Scoutmaster conference accomplishes that aim. (See Scoutmaster Handbook, chapter 8.)

Record Keeping

Each troop is responsible for keeping its own records and reporting advancement to the local council service center. This is done on an Advancement Report form. One copy is kept by the troop and two are sent to the council with an order for badges and awards. It is best that this form be submitted at least monthly so that troop records remain current and Scouts are able to receive their awards quickly after earning them. Awards cannot be purchased or awarded until the Advancement Report has been filed with the council office. A Troop/Team Record Book, maintained by the troop scribe, is available.

At the discretion of the local council, computer-generated Advancement Reports may be used. If used, two copies of the computer-generated report must be submitted to the council service center.


A unit of training, Boy Scout Advancement, is available for instruction in how to carry out the advancement program.

Source: Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures, #33088B, revised 1999

See also

  1. REDIRECT Template:Scout advancement navbox
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