Home‎ > ‎Information For Parents‎ > ‎


The Boy Scouts engage in many different activities. A lot of the activities are related to camping, physical activity and nature, but not all of them. Most activities are related directly to rank advancement or other sorts of recognition, such as merit badges, belt loops, and activity pins. Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank in the Scouting program. Advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. Everything done to advance and earn these ranks, from joining until leaving the program, should be designed to help the young person have an exciting and meaningful experience.

Education and fun are functions of the Scouting movement, and they must be the basis of the advancement program. A fundamental principle of advancement in Boy Scouting is the growth a young person achieves as a result of his participation in unit program. Boy Scout advancement is a four-step process: The Boy Scout learns, the Boy Scout is tested, the Boy Scout is reviewed, and the Boy Scout is recognized.

Reviewing the different requirements for various ranks and awards can give you a good idea of what scouting offers as well as the numerous skills that an autistic child can learn that many people take knowing for granted. There are over 120 different Boy Scout Merit Badges and dozens of Cub Scout recognition hoops and pins covering almost every topic imaginable. As many autistic youth have fixations on specific topics, they will be pleased that there is most likely a related topic used in a Scouting award.

Cub Scouts and Webelos

The Cub Scout Program has two basic features, Rank Advancement, and the Academics and Sports Program.

The first badge all Cub Scouts earn, regardless of age, is the Bobcat Badge. After earning the Bobcat Badge, they proceed to work on advancement specific to their age level. As part of these requirements, they must learn the Cub Scout Promise, the Law of the Pack, and the Cub Scout Motto.

Cub Scouts joining as First Grade boys enter the Tiger Cub Program. Tiger Cubs, complete Achievements to earn the Tiger Cub Badge, and complete Electives to receive Tiger Track Beads to wear from a belt emblem. A new Tiger Cub Handbook was issued in the summer of 2001. Some minor changes took effect in June 2006, including dropping the former "Tiger Cub Motto" which was replaced by the Cub Scout Motto, and the requirement that Tiger Cubs earn the Bobcat Badge BEFORE the Tiger Cub badge, instead of after that badge.

In the Second Grade, Cub Scouts work toward the Wolf Badge, then toward a Gold Arrow Point and one or more Silver Arrow Points The requirements for these badges are found in the Wolf Cub Scout Book.

In the Third Grade, Cub Scouts work toward the Bear Badge, then they, too, work toward earning a Gold Arrow Point and Silver Arrow Points. The requirements for these badges are found in the Bear Cub Scout Book.

The Webelos Program is a two year program for Fourth and Fifth Grade Boys.  In both years, they work toward earning Webelos Activity Badges in twenty different areas, arranged in five groups. Fourth Grade Boys work toward the Webelos Badge. After earning the Webelos Badge. Fifth Graders, after earning the Webelos Badge, earn the Arrow of Light. In addition to the two rank badges, after earning the Webelos Badge, boys work toward the Compass Point Emblem and Metal Compass Points as they earn additional Activity Badges.

Cub Scout Ranks
Cub Scout Academic Program
Cub Scout Sports Program
Special Opportunities for Cub Scouts

Webelos Activity Badges
Arrow of Light

Boy Scouts

Advancement from Scout to Eagle is the focus of the Scouting experience and is explained in the Boy Scout Handbook. Scouts are encouraged but not pushed to advance. The PLC (Patrol Leaders Council) and troop leaders are responsible for and do provide advancement opportunities. However, in keeping with the goal of instilling initiative, self-reliance, and in keeping with BSA policy, each individual Scout is responsible for completing advancement requirements and for maintaining a complete and accurate advancement record. While the troop leaders maintain advancement records, and every attempt is made to keep them accurate and up to date, the Boy Scout Handbook is the best-written record the Scout can have.

Tenderfoot to First Class. The goal set by BSA is for the scout to achieve the rank of First Class in one year. This means progressing through Basic Scout, Tenderfoot and Second Class ranks to the rank of First Class.  This is an obtainable goal if the scout will stay active, which means attending most meetings and campouts. Boys who have earned their “Arrow of Light” in Cub Scouts should be ready to quickly test out on their Basic Scout rank and then set their sights on the Tenderfoot rank before summer camp. Summer camp is the best way to complete many of the Second Class and First Class rank requirements. Review the requirements for these badges and periodically ask your son how he is doing. It is most important to make sure he beings his Scout Handbook to each meeting and campout, as it is the best way we can keep track of his advancement.
Most of the requirements for earning Scout, Tenderfoot, Second and First Class ranks revolve around preparing our Scouts to be self-reliant, self-confident and safe on campouts and other outings. They will learn personal skills, group skills via the Patrol Method and teamwork within the Patrol. During this time the educational focus is generally on the Scout and his Patrol.

After obtaining the First Class rank a scout works on Star, Life and finally Eagle, During this time the focus changes. It is now time to focus on the Troop, community and nation. It is time to start learning about Leadership. It is also time for the speed of advancement to slow down. BSA subtly illustrates this by placing minimum time requirements on the advancement process, by requiring the Scout to serve in positions of responsibility in the Troop for a specified period of time. Star: 4 months. Life: 6 months. Eagle: 6 months. BSA also places additional emphasis on Service to others by requiring the Scout to perform service to others via service project(s) that must be approved by the Scoutmaster prior to starting. Star: 6 hours (min). Life: 6 hours (min) Eagle: Not specified, but 40 hours (min) is an appropriate estimate. Scouts are also required to earn merit badges to advance Star: 6 merit badges, including 4 from the required list for Eagle. Life: Earn 5 more merit badges (so that you have 11 in all), including any 3 more from the required list for Eagle. Eagle: 10 merit badges (so that you have 21 in all) including the remaining 6 from the required list for Eagle

The Positions of Responsibility from Star to Eagle must be three separate positions, each more challenging than the one before. Once the Scout has completed his position of responsibility for Eagle, he is ready to demonstrate his leadership abilities by leading others in the execution of his Eagle Leadership Service Project. It is now time for the Scout to bring all of his scouting knowledge and leadership training into focus on a single and significant service project for his school, church or community.

Boy Scout Ranks

Merit Badges

Alternate Requirements for Scouts with disabilities