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:
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
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.