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.
Life to Eagle Process
Merit Badge Counseling
The Scout advances and grows in the Boy Scout phase of the program. The
job of adults concerned with advancement is to provide the right environment for
One of the greatest needs of young men is confidence. There are three
different kinds of confidence that young men need: in themselves, in peers, and
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
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
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 to 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
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.
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. The Eagle requirements must be met by the
Scout's 18th birthday, the application may be completed following that birthdate.
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 a Venturer up to his 18th
Youth members with special needs may work toward rank advancement after they
Time Extensions for Eagle Candidates
If a Scout or 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 age 18. The Westchester-Putnam Council requests that our Advancement
Committee be contacted about a petition at least 90 days before the Scout's 18th
birthday. The petition may also 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
If circumstances should also prevent the Scout or Venturer from requesting
the extension before he is 18, it is still permissible to ask for an extension,
detailing the extenuating circumstances that prevented him from completing the
requirements and from requesting the extension before age 18.
At no time should anyone assume that a time extension will be automatically
The most current requirements for Boy Scout rank advancements are found in the
Boy Scout Handbook - 11th Edition. Since the new requirements became effective
on April 1, 1999, Scouts and Venturers must now use the current requirements
BSA is in the process of updating ALL 120 merit badge books, with the goal of
updating all of them within 4-5 years (a rate of around 25 per year). As new
pamphlets are issued, when they contain new requirements, Scouts will have the
option of starting with the new requirements as soon as the pamphlets are
issued, or they may start work using the old requirements until the next edition
of Boy Scout Requirements is issued.
There are more than 100 merit badges. Any Boy Scout
may earn any merit badge at any time. You don't need to have had rank
advancement to be eligible.
How Should a Scout Earn a Merit Badge in Westchester-Putnam Council?
Pick A Subject.
Talk to your unit leader about your interests. Read the
requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you. Pick one to earn.
Your unit leader will give you the name of a person from a list of approved counselors.
These counselors have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are
interested in helping you.
Scout Buddy System.
You must have another person with you at each meeting
with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents
or guardian, a brother or sister, a relative, or a friend.
Call The Counselor.
Get a signed merit badge application from your
Scoutmaster. Get in touch with the merit badge counselor and tell him or her
that you want to earn the merit badge. The counselor may ask you to come and see
him so he can explain what he expects and start helping you meet the
Learn Your Stuff.
When you know what is expected, start to learn and do the
things required. Ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to
know or do. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Many troops
and school or public libraries have them. (See the list of current merit badge
pamphlets posted on this system.)
Show Your Stuff.
When you are ready, call the counselor again to make an
appointment to meet the requirements. When you go take along the things you have
made to meet the requirements. If they are too big to move, take pictures or
have an adult tell in writing what you have done. The counselor will ask you to
do each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and have done or can
do the things required.
Get The Badge
When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each
requirement, he or she will sign your application. Give the signed application
to your Scoutmaster so that your merit badge emblem can be obtained for you.
You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated
--- no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the
requirements. If it says "show or demonstrate," that is what you must
do. Just telling about it isn't enough. The same thing holds true for such words
as "make," "list," "in the field," and
"collect," "identify," and "label." All work
on a merit badge must be performed once you start the process of earning that
There is no deadline for earning Merit Badges, except the Scout's
18th Birthday. Once a Scout has started working on a Merit Badge (i.e. obtained
a signed "Blue Card" Application for Merit Badge from his Scoutmaster,
had an initial discussion with a Merit Badge Counselor, and started working on
the requirements), he may continue using those requirements until he completes
the badge or turns 18. There is no one year limit on so-called
The requirements for all Merit Badges are listed in the 2007 Boy Scout
Requirements book (#33215).
Current requirements for all Merit Badges also can be found at
www.usscouts.org on its Merit Badge Requirements pages.
A list of all Merit Badges, with the pamphlet stock numbers, copyright and
latest revision dates, and the date of the most recent revision to the
requirements is also available at www.usscouts.org.
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 the 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
advancement. Troops should conduct boards of review for Scouts who are not
advancing. A minimum of four 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 wait for 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.
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 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.
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.
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
or by using Internet Advancement.
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.
A computer-generated Advancement Report also may be used. If used, two copies
of the computer-generated report must be submitted to the Council Service
Report 34403 [PDF, 57K]
Class in First Year Tracking Sheet [PDF, 13K]
A unit of training, Boy Scout Advancement, is available for instruction in how
to carry out the advancement program.