Troop 880 Handbook
Section 3 - Advancement
Advancement will be at each scout's own pace. The joining requirements and the ranks of Scouting, along with the requirements to advance through them, are described in the Boy Scout Handbook (pages 14-16 and 594-596). Rank advancement is the responsibility of each individual Scout. Most requirements can be met while attending troop and patrol meetings and participating in the programs, campouts, and other troop and patrol activities.
For the lower ranks (Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class), adult leaders are allowed to verify and "sign off" requirements. Parents are not permitted to pass their sons on any requirement.
To attain the higher ranks in Scouting (Star, Life, and Eagle), a Scout must acquire certain merit badges. Each of these ranks specifies a number of required badges and a number of optional ones selected from a list of over 100 merit badges. The Scout is also required to successfully hold leadership positions, perform service projects, and show Scout spirit. Much of the work required on merit badges will occur at campouts, summer camp, and outside of the regular meetings. Parents are encouraged to serve as merit badge counselors. If you have some skill or knowledge that pertains to one or more of the merit badges, please consider making a direct contribution to success of the troop by serving as a counselor. You will have to fill out an adult volunteer application form and a merit badge qualification form both of which can be obtained from the troop that must be submitted to the District Advancement Chairman.
BSA believes that a Scout should receive recognition for his achievements.
Advancement sets a pattern of setting positive goals and reaching them throughout life. Even though itís not one of the primary aims of Scouting, advancement is a natural byproduct when your Scouting experience is acquainting you with the BSA ideals, the patrol method, the outdoors, association with adults, personal growth, leadership development, and the Scout uniform. Itís easy to advance by following these four basic steps: Learning, Testing, Review, and Recognition.
First, the Scout learns
Much of his learning comes from other boys in his patrol or troop and by active participation in troop program. His patrol activities are directed toward the skills he needs. Every troop hike, camping trip, or other activity offers potential learning experiences. A Scout learns to pitch a tent by pitching one, to use a compass by finding directions, and to cook a meal by having to prepare and eat it.
Second, the Scout is tested
The specific requirements determine the kind of testing. Verbal testing is sufficient in some instances. In other instances, a Scout must demonstrate his skills by doing.
Third, the Scout is reviewed
The purpose of the review is to ensure that all requirements for advancement have been met. This includes a check of the Scout's attitude and practice of the ideals of Scouting, in addition to his Scout craft skills. The decision regarding whether a Scout has met the required standards to qualify for rank advancement begins with the troop and, for the Eagle Scout rank, is approved by the district, local council, and finally, the National Council.
Fourth, the Scout is recognized
The final step in advancement involves presentation of the badge, usually at a ceremony before the entire troop.
The requirements for the ranks of Tenderfoot through First Class prepare you to take full advantage of all that Scouting has to offer. Star, Life, and Eagle requirements focus on service to others and developing leadership skills.
Scout skills cannot be
mastered by performing them just once. You will have many
opportunities to practice each skill, and you will be thoroughly tested
on each requirement before it is "signed off". In addition, expect to
practice each skill repeatedly, even after it has been signed off.
As you progress, you will also have opportunities to teach these skills
to less experienced Scouts, which will further reinforce your knowledge
As you complete each requirement, you will be tested and "signed off" in
the back section of your handbook by the Scoutmaster or by someone he
designates. This person may be an Assistant Scoutmaster, a Troop
Committee Member, or another, more experienced, Scout. In Boy Scouts -
troop leaders, rather than parents, sign off advancement requirements.
In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, in most troops, troop
leaders will not normally sign off rank requirements for their own sons.
Infrequent exceptions may be made in the case of a leader who is
teaching skills to several Scouts at once at a patrol or troop meeting
or other Scouting function, but every effort should be made to have
another leader sign off the instructing leaderís sons if possible.
It's up to you to take advantage of the advancement opportunities
available to you, and to take initiative to ask for someone to test you
when you are ready. You are responsible for keeping your own personal
advancement record updated in your handbook. You should also record your
service hours, campouts, troop activities, and leadership positions in
You must earn the ranks in order, but you may complete any requirement
for Tenderfoot through First Class at any time. (For example, you may
complete a First Class requirement before finishing your Tenderfoot
requirements, but you must earn Tenderfoot rank before you are awarded
Second Class and First Class ranks.)
You will be meeting regularly with the Scoutmaster to discuss your
activity in the troop and your understanding and practice of the ideals
of Scouting. This Scoutmaster conference is also used to discuss your
goals and accomplishments and is required for each rank advancement.
You do not have to wait until you have completed the requirements for a
rank in order to ask for a Scoutmaster conference. You may talk with the
Scoutmaster at any time that is convenient to both of you. However, for
a Scoutmaster conference to count toward rank advancement it must take
place after all other requirements are complete and before the Skills
Test and Board of Review. At this required conference the Scoutmaster
will also help you determine whether or not you are ready to take the
Skills Test and go before the Board of Review.
Prior to a Board of Review, Troop 880 requires a Skills Test. Possible tasks within each of the Skills Test are found in Figure 2 shown below. The test is meant to insure you have mastered key skills of each rank. To assist each scout wishing to advance, we have published the key skills of which you will be tested. This Skills Test is under the authority of the Scoutmaster. It is performed by two BSA Trained adult leaders who must both agree to the mastery of the scout in the performance of required skills. Since skill development is cumulative, scouts will also be tested on the skills that they have attained in prior ranks. Passing the skill test confirms that you have mastered key scouting skills and are ready to approach the Board of Review.
After you have passed the Skills Test, the troop will arrange for your
Board of Review following the procedures your troop has established.
Boards of Review for all ranks except Eagle Scout, are normally held
once a month, and are composed of three to six registered members of the
troop committee. (Eagle Scout Boards of Review are arranged through your
Council or District Advancement Committee and can have other members.)
The Board of Review may not include the Scoutmaster, Assistant
Scoutmasters, or your family members.
The purpose of the Board of Review not meant to re-test your skills but
is to ensure that you have completed all of the requirements, to
determine the quality of your troop experience, and to encourage you to
advance toward the next rank. (Sometimes you will meet a Board of Review
even when you are not ready for the next rank, in order to check your
progress and to see how things are going for you in the troop and in
your patrol. The troop Advancement Chairperson may schedule you for such
a Board of Review when they feel that an extended period has passed
since your last Board of Review.)
You need to have your Boy Scout Handbook and should be in your field
uniform when you appear before a Board of Review. At the beginning of
the review, the president of the board will bring you into the room,
introduce you to the board, and invite you to be seated. During the
review the board will discuss your development along your trail to
Eagle, ask you questions about skills that were required for your
particular rank, and evaluate you in terms of troop activities and
readiness for the next rank. It is also a time for you to ask any
questions you might have and to give feedback to the troop committee
about activities and your Scouting experience in your troop and in your
patrol. At the end of the review you will be asked to leave the room
while the board discusses your qualifications. The board will then call
you back into the room and inform you either that you have been approved
for the next rank or what additional actions you must take to qualify.
After passing the Board of Review, you will be recognized in front of
the troop as soon as possible. You will receive your new rank patch
shortly after, usually at the next troop meeting. You will be formally
recognized for your rank advancements and merit badges in front of
family and friends during a ceremony at a Court of Honor. At this time
you will be presented with your wallet-sized certificate card and, if
your troop presents them, a rank pin ("parentís pin"). Most troops
schedule four Courts of Honor each year. Your parents, other family
members, and friends are invited and encouraged to attend all Courts of
After reaching the rank of Life Scout, you will meet with one of the adult leaders in the troop. At this meeting you will receive your Life to Eagle packet and discuss ideas and suggestions for your Eagle Service Project. This project must conform to special guidelines that have been outlined by the Boy Scouts of America. Your Scoutmaster, Troop Advancement Chairperson, and a representative of your District Advancement Committee, as well as the benefiting organization, must approve your project before you begin carrying it out.
Earning merit badges allows you to explore many fields, helps you round out your skills, and introduces you to subjects that will perhaps become lifelong interests or a rewarding career.
There are more than 100 merit badges for you to choose from. You may earn any merit badge at any time, with Scoutmaster approval. Donít wait for someone to tell you when and which merit badge to work on. You donít need to reach a certain rank in order to be eligible. However, you should concentrate on achieving the rank of First Class before devoting a lot time to working on merit badges.
Donít overwhelm yourself by trying to complete too many badges at one time. We recommend that you actively work on no more than two at one time until you reach the rank of First Class, and no more than five at one time thereafter.
You can find information about merit badge requirements in the appropriate merit badge pamphlets and in the current yearís Boy Scout Requirements book. Some of these should be available in your troop library. All of them are available from your Scout Shop or Council Trading Post, or a store which sells Scouting supplies in your area. If you are finished using merit badge pamphlets that you own, many troops encourage you to donate them to the troop library.
Here are the steps to earning a merit badge:
Your advancement records are kept in three places ó your Council office, with the Troop Advancement Chairperson, and yourself. The Council office keeps records supplied to them by the troop Advancement Chairperson, who also keeps copies of these records for the troop. Many troop Advancement Chairs also maintain their advancement information on computers. You will receive three kinds of documents that you need to KEEP IN A SAFE PLACE UNTIL AFTER YOU TURN 18 (or receive your Eagle Scout Award, whichever is later)! These documents are: your Scout Handbook with requirements signed off, your portion of completed blue merit badge cards, and the wallet-sized certificate cards for rank advancement and merit badge completion. Make sure all of them are dated and signed or initialed by the appropriate Scout leader. All of the cards are the same size and can be safely kept in plastic protector pages (available commercially). IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU KEEP THESE DOCUMENTS IN A SAFE PLACE AND DO NOT LOSE THEM!!! If it should happen that there is any discrepancy or missing records, your personal records are your most important ally in proving what you completed.
A Court of Honor is the ceremony in which formal recognition of achievement is given to all the members of the troop who have advanced in rank, completed merit badges, earned awards, or otherwise distinguished themselves. Courts of Honor are usually held 2 to 3 times a year. Parents are invited and expected to attend all Courts of Honor whether or not their son(s) are receiving any awards. Your presence at the Court of Honor shows that you support involvement in Scouting.
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This page last modified: September 11, 2014