What is Scouting without advancement? The simple answer is: advancement is the means of getting to Eagle - the most sought out award in any Youth Organization, not just Scouting. The majority of the people that start scouting never finish with Eagle. The average is only 4 percent of scouts that start in the program earn Eagle. This average varies from year to year, but the fact is that getting Eagle is difficult. It takes discipline, hard work and motivation. This is what makes the award so special and one of the most recognized awards in society, youth and adult.
"I, to this day, still have my eagle award in my office. I display it just as proudly today as I did when I was a youth. Occasionally I still have people that come into my office and they make mention of the award. If they were in scouts, it opens up conversation and an instant commonality between two people that may have never met before. And for those that know what the Eagle award is and what it stands for, they know what kind of person they are working with. They know what to expect and they know of the morality and the steadfast truth that you speak and the promises you keep." Scoutmaster Henningsen
Now the more complicated answer on advancement. If you don't take advantage of the scouting program, you have missed the point of scouting. No person that comes out of scouting should have missed the opportunities that scouting offers - friendship/comradery, live long skills and knowledge, leadership, camping, hiking, backpacking, watercraft and swimming, etc. Most importantly, the adventure. There are scouts out there that have done the minimum camping. They have never pushed themselves to find their breaking point on a backpacking trip. They have never watched the sun rise over a mountain lake or sit on top of a mountain with your best friends amazed by the glorious views and the accomplishment. This is scouting. Pushing yourself physically, mentally, and every other way is what makes youth into men and teaches them the respect for others and where they live. Through the advancement trail you have the opportunity to do all of these things. Don't let them pass you by!
Steps to Advancement
To advance, there are 4 steps: 1) The Scout Learns, 2) The Scout is Tested, 3) The Scout is Reviewed, and 4) The Scout is Recognized.
The 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 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 to pass candidates. The Scout's merit badge counselor teaches and tests on the requirements for merit badges.
The 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 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.
****See information below on the Advancement guidelines that help with advancement requirements / rules by BSA for advancement.****
Scout learning or being tested... might look the same depending on how the scout interacts and answers questions.
Board of Review
Get recognition at a Troop meeting and Court of Honor
Star, Life, and Eagle specific requirements
Star, Life and Eagle ranks has specific requirements that need clarification outside what the Scout Handbook provides.
"Be active in your troop for at least XXX months as a First Class/Star/Life Scout. "
The Guide to Advancement indicated the following for this requirement : 184.108.40.206 Use the following three sequential tests to determine whether the requirement has been met. The first and second are required, along with either the third or its alternative.
The Scout is registered. The youth is registered in the unit for at least the time period indicated in the requirement. It should also be indicated by the youth in some way, through word or action, that the youth considers himself or herself a member. If a youth was supposed to have been registered, but for whatever reason was not, discuss with the local council registrar the possibility of back-registering the youth.
The Scout is in good standing. A Scout is considered in “good standing” with a unit as long as the Scout has not been dismissed for disciplinary reasons. The Scout must also be in good standing with the local council and the Boy Scouts of America. (In the rare case the Scout is not in good standing, communications will have been delivered.)
The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained. If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying Venturer or Sea Scout meets those aspects of the unit’s pre-established expectations that refer to a level of activity, then Scout is considered active and the requirement is met. Time counted as “active” need not be consecutive. Scouts may piece together any times they have been active and still qualify. If a Scout does not meet the unit’s reasonable expectations, the alternative that follows must be offered.
Troop 25 does have a rule for the third "alternate" requirement. Check the Troop manual for the most current rules for this requirement.
"While a First Class / Star/ Life Scout, participate in XXX hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. At least XXX hours of this service must be conservation-related." (the conversation requirement is required for Life rank)
Troop 25 does not permit service hours to be paid. For example, if Troop 25 does a fundraiser to serve the community, if accepting money in return for the service, no hours will be counted toward rank. This is look at as a paid job as oppose to providing a service or doing a good turn.
Conservation work is any work that benefits the environment. This can be a simple as yard maintenance to reduce fire danger, to constructing trail, etc.
"While a First Class/Star/Life Scout, serve actively in your troop for four/six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility (or carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to help the troop."
The Guide to Advancement indicated the following for this requirement :
220.127.116.11.3 Meeting Unit Expectations. If a unit has established expectations for positions of responsibility, and if, within reason (see the note under “Rank Requirements Overview,” 18.104.22.168), based on the Scout’s personal skill set, these expectations have been met, the Scout has fulfilled the requirement. When a Scout assumes a position, something related to the desired results must happen. It is a disservice to the Scout and to the unit to reward work that has not been done. Holding a position and doing nothing, producing no results, is unacceptable. Some degree of responsibility must be practiced, taken, or accepted.
22.214.171.124.4 Meeting the Requirement in the Absence of Unit Expectations. It is best when a Scout’s leaders provide position descriptions, and then direction, coaching, and support. Where this occurs and is done well, the young person will likely succeed. When this support, for whatever reason, is unavailable or otherwise not provided—or when there are no clearly established expectations—then an adult leader or the Scout, or both, should work out the responsibilities to fulfill. In doing so, neither the position’s purpose nor degree of difficulty may be altered significantly or diminished. Consult the current BSA literature published for leaders in Scouts BSA, Venturing, or Sea Scouts for guidelines on the responsibilities that might be fulfilled in the various positions of responsibility.
Under the above scenario, if it is left to the Scout to determine what should be done, and the Scout makes a reasonable effort to perform accordingly for the time specified, then the requirement is fulfilled. Even if the effort or results are not necessarily what the unit leader, members of a board of review, or others involved may want to see, the Scout must not be held to unestablished expectations.
126.96.36.199.5 When Responsibilities Are Not Met. If a unit has clearly established expectations for position(s) held, then—within reason—a Scout must meet them through the prescribed time. If a Scout is not meeting expectations, then this must be communicated early. Unit leadership may work toward a constructive result by asking the Scout what he or she thinks should have been accomplished in that time. What is the Scout’s concept of the position? What does the Scout think the troop leaders—youth and adult—expect? What has the Scout done well? What needs improvement? Often this questioning approach can lead a young person to the decision to measure up. The Scout will tell the leaders how much of the service time should be recorded and what he or she will change to better meet expectations. If it becomes clear that the Scout’s performance will not improve, then it is acceptable to remove the Scout from the position. It is the unit leader’s responsibility to address these situations promptly. Every effort should have been made while the Scout was in the position to ensure the Scout understood expectations and was regularly supported toward reasonably acceptable performance. It is unfair and inappropriate—after six months, for example—to surprise someone who thinks his or her performance has been fine with news that the performance is now considered unsatisfactory. In this case, the Scout must be given credit for the time.
For a list and description of Troop 25's leadership requirements for each position, refer to Youth Leadership on this website. Within Troop 25, only the Scoutmaster, or designated Assistant Scoutmaster approved by the Scoutmaster, can approve the completion of the leadership requirement. If a situation occurs where the Scoutmaster disapproves the leadership and has not provided explanation and early on mentoring, per 188.8.131.52.5 above, the scout can go to the Committee Chairman for resolution.
Leadership - the core of Scouting. Be elected doesn't just get you credit for rank....you actually have to perform. Picture taken of scout leading the presentation of colors and City proclamation.
Providing service. Building trail at Philmont Scout Ranch.
Advancement is simple in Scouting - complete the requirements in the Scout handbook. The unit and merit badge councilor, in order to sign you off as having completed the requirement, can't ask you to do anything more or anything less than the requirements.
A question that comes up often is can a requirement for rank be completed simultaneously with a requirement completion done with a merit badge. The answer is: yes and no. The answer might be best answered by referencing the "Guide to Advancement" (184.108.40.206 Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity ):
When, for all practical purposes, two requirements match up exactly and have the same basic intent—for example, camping nights for Second Class and First Class ranks and for the Camping merit badge—it is appropriate and permissible, unless it is stated otherwise in the requirements, to use those matching activities for both the ranks and the merit badge.
Where matching requirements are oriented toward safety, such as those related to first aid or CPR, the person signing off the requirements should be satisfied the Scout remembers what was learned from the previous experience. Some requirements may have the appearance of aligning, but upon further examination actually differ. These seemingly similar requirements usually have nuances intended to create quite different experiences. The Communication and Citizenship in the Community merit badges are a good example. Each requires the Scout to attend a public meeting, but that is where the similarity ends. For Communication, the Scout is asked to practice active listening skills during the meeting and present an objective report that includes all points of view. For Citizenship, the Scout is asked to examine differences in opinions and then to defend one side. The Scout may attend the same public meeting, but to pass the requirements for both merit badges the Scout must actively listen and prepare a report, and also examine differences in opinion and defend one side.
A good example of this is with the Tenderfoot rank requirement for physical fitness and the Person Fitness merit badge.
Tenderfoot Rank Requirement
6a. Record your best in the following tests:
Push-ups ________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds)
Sit-ups or curl-ups________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds)
Back-saver sit-and-reach _________ (Record the distance stretched)
1 mile walk/run _____________ (record the time)
6b. Develop and describe a plan for improvement in each of the activities listed in Tenderfoot requirement 6a. Keep track of your activity for at least 30 days.
6c. Show improvement (of any degree) in each activity listed in Tenderfoot requirement 6a after practicing for 30 days.
Person Fitness Merit Badge
6. Before doing requirements 7 and 8, complete the aerobic fitness, flexibility, muscular strength, and body composition tests as described in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet. Record your results and identify those areas where you feel you need to improve.
Aerobic Fitness Test
Record your performance on ONE of the following tests:
(a) Run/walk as far as you can in nine minutes.
(b) Run/walk 1 mile as fast as you can.
(a) Using a sit-and-reach box constructed according to specifications in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet, make four repetitions and record the fourth reach. This last reach must be held steady for 15 seconds to qualify. (Remember to keep your knees down.)
You must do the sit-ups exercise and one other (either push-ups or pull-ups). You may also do all three for extra experience and benefit..
(a) Sit-Ups. Record the number of sit-ups done correctly in 60 seconds. The sit-ups must be done in the form explained and illustrated in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet.
(b) Pull-Ups. Record the total number of pull-ups completed correctly in 60 seconds. Be consistent with the procedures presented in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet.
(c) Push-Ups. Record the total number of push-ups completed correctly in 60 seconds. Be consistent with the procedures presented in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet.
Body Composition Test (requirement not provided here)
7. Outline a comprehensive 12-week physical fitness program using the results of your fitness tests. Be sure your program incorporates the endurance, intensity, and warm-up guidelines discussed in the Personal Fitness merit badge pamphlet. Before beginning your exercises, have the program approved by your counselor and parents.
8. Complete the physical fitness program you outlined in requirement 7. Keep a log of your fitness program activity (how long you exercised; how far you ran, swam, or biked; how many exercise repetitions you completed; your exercise heart rate; etc.). Repeat the aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility tests every two weeks and record your results. After the 12th week, repeat the three tests, record your results, and show improvement in each one. For the body composition test, compare and analyze your preprogram and postprogram body composition measurements. Discuss the meaning and benefit of your experience, and describe your long-term plans regarding your personal fitness.
You can complete the Tenderfoot requirement if you add addition steps into the Personal Fitness merit badge to meet the requirements. Difference between the requirement: 1) The aerobic test gives you the option of running/walking 1 mile for time or running/walking as far as you can in 9 minutes. To complete the Tenderfoot requirement, you must do the run/walk 1 miles for time and not the other option. 2) The strength test gives you the option of doing the sit-ups and either pull-ups or push-ups. Under the Tenderfoot requirement, you must do the push-ups. Pull-ups are not an option. 3) The Tenderfoot requirement requires you to do a test and show improvement after 30 days. The Personal Fitness requires 12 weeks.
The merit badge councilor needs to plan into the merit badge program these differences to accomplish both requirements. It can be done...but it takes changing the program/teaching method to complete both requirements at once.
A great reference for leaders is the publication from BSA: "Guide to Advancement". This is a free publication online or you can purchase a hard copy online or at a local scout store, where applicable. If you have questions on advancement, at any age or program level in scouting, the answer is in this document. If a question comes up in a Board of Review as to pass / fail procedures, the this document needs to be readily available for the reference.
Troop 25's recommendation is to use the online version of the document as it usually changed from year to year. This publication is BSA's recognized authority in advancement procedures and for that reason it is imperative that the unit's leadership be kept up to date on the changes to occur during the manual updates.
Ceremonies and Court of Honors
Court of Honors (COH) are the most common form of ceremony that a unit conducts to recognize scouts hard work. Recognition is important and must be done promptly and conducted in a sincere manner. Troop 25 strives to 3-4 Court of Honors per year.
How do you make is sincere?
Learn the script before the Court of Honor. Don't read it. It's ok not to say exactly what is on the script....they are guidelines only.
Change up the script so that it isn't the same at every Court of Honor.
Make it fun, but make the recognition personal.
Involve everyone. This is a party and we are there to celebrate advancement and hard work.
Court of Honor Scripts:
Eagle Court of Honors
Eagle Count of honors are different....AND THEY SHOULD BE! This is an important ceremony for the Eagle Scout that has work very hard for xx years and has completed the highest level in scouting. It means a lot and should be taken seriously...but still be fun and memorable. Remember, this is the day for the new Eagle Scout, but it should also be a motivator for the younger scouts in the unit. Make it special.
Like other Court of Honors, you need to make it sincere. What sets the Eagle Court apart is the following:
It isn't mandatory..... but it should be. The desire for a Court of Honor comes from the Eagle candidate and the their family.
The Eagle candidate can request financial assistance from the Troop...you have a VERY GOOD chance of getting it. And this isn't something you should skimp on.
A unit doesn't have many of these Court of Honors. Try to get everyone there and make it a big deal!
Eagle Scout COH Scripts: