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Boy Scout Troop 22
(Salina, Kansas)
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Advancing Along the Trail to Eagle

Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank.  Below is a list of ranks in order:

  • Scout
  • Tenderfoot
  • 2nd Class
  • 1st Class
  • Star
  • Life
  • Eagle

Advancement is based on experiential learning. Everything done to advance—to earn ranks and other awards and recognition—is designed to educate or to otherwise expand horizons. Exciting and meaningful activities are offered, and education happens. Learning comes from doing. For example, youth may read about first aid, hear it discussed, and watch others administer it,but they will not learn it until they practice it. Rushing a Scout through requirements to obtain a badge is not the goal. Advancement should be a natural outcome of a well-rounded unit program, rich in opportunities to work toward the ranks.

Personal growth is the primary goal. Scouting skills—what a young person learns to do—are important, but not as important as the primary goal of personal growth achieved through participating in a unit program. Success is achieved when we accomplish the aims of Scouting: character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness.

When a boy joins Scouting, his first rank is Scout. He then works on the first 3 ranks: Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class. Within the requirements of these ranks, a Scout learns the SAFETY aspects of Scouting: basic first aid, how to choose a safe camp spot, how to properly dress for an outing, how to find his way with map and compass, what to do if he gets lost, and so on.

Once a demonstrated "safe" Scout, he is ready for his next period of personal development, which is LEADERSHIP.  In the pursuit of Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, a youth is learning and then mastering the skills of leadership.  By holding leadership positions within the troop, he learns to lead, instruct, and inspire others.  He learns to give back to others, and also learns his emerging place in society as a citizen.

Earning Your Rank

Scoutmasters's Conference:  After a Scout completes all the required tasks towards his next badge of rank, the next step is for the Scout to meet with the Scoutmaster for a "Scoutmaster's Conference".

The Scoutmaster's Conference SHOULD NEVER be a re-testing of any of his skills.  Certifying his skills is the responsibility of the leader who "signed off" on his Handbook.   Rather, the conference is a chance for the Scoutmaster to make sure all requirements are signed off, and then engage in a comfortable, yet detailed, discussion on how the Scout is feeling about the Program and how Scouting is fitting into his life as a whole.  (This IS a character building program, if you didn't know.)

The Scoutmaster wants to hear from the Scout exactly what he likes, doesn't like, might want to do different, etc.  He wants to know what his ambitions are in Scouting and "life".  The ultimate goal is to make sure the Scouting experience is of real benefit to the Scout's development.  

Once the Scoutmaster is convinced the Scout is ready to move forward towards the next rank, the Scoutmaster will direct the Scout to meet with members of the Committee, where a similar meeting will take place.  This is known as a Board of Review.

Board of Review:  After a Scout complets his Scoutmaster Conference, he is to appear for a Board of Review. Its functions just like a job or private high school interview where the Scout will basically be addressing 2 specific topics:  
  • How is the Program (including adult leaders) running, and is there anything the Committee should/need to do to make the Program better?
  • Why does the Scout feel as though he has earned his rank and is ready to move forward to the next rank?

There will be several questions put to the Scout by 3 to 5 Committee members comprising the Board, but ultimately, the 2 questions above are what is being addressed.   For example, a Scout will not be asked to tie a square knot, but may be asked "which knot was the hardest, and how did you get yourself to finally learn it?"

Like a job interview, the Scout MUST come properly dressed; wearing the full BSA Field Uniform.

After meeting with the Scout, the Board will debate, and if they are in unanimous agreement, will allow the rank advancement to be recognized.