Our founder Baden Powell stated:

“The Badges…  are not intended to signify that he is a master in the craft he is tested in. If once we make Scouting into a formal scheme of serious instruction in efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of Scout training…

We want to get ALL our boys along through cheery self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without.
But the object of the Badge System in Scouting is also to give the Scoutmaster an instrument by which he can stimulate keenness on the part of every and any boy to take up hobbies that can be helpful in forming his character or developing his skill.

– Aids to Scoutmastership

Lately, in our council’s area, advancement is getting a pretty bad wrap, especially with Varsity Scouting and Venturing.

I think it’s probably because of two things:

First, parents feel pressured to get their boy on track to earn his Eagle early in the boy’s Scouting experience. Sometimes, this can turn a boy away from Scouting because he misses all the fun along the way.

Second, Scout leaders can be under trained. They many not know how to use all eight methods of Scouting; they think teaching merit badges in a church classroom is Scouting.

Advancement is not an end, but it is a method of Scouting.

Advancement should not be a reward for what has been done, but it should be about the adventure of doing. It is rewarded experiential learning. As a Scout advances, he is measured, grows in confidence and self-reliance, and builds upon his skills and abilities.

Then, the badge signifies that he has fully participated in Team and Troops activities, given  service to others, developed leadership, and is working to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. He has “earned” the next rank advancement.

Four Steps in Advancement

science teaching feature sqThe Scoutmaster Handbook points to four steps of advancement:

  1. A Scout learns.
  2. A Scout is tested.
  3. A Scout is reviewed.
  4. A Scout is recognized.

Regarding these steps the Guide To Advancement says the following:

The Scout Learns

He learns by doing, and as he learns, he grows in his ability to do his part as a member of the patrol and troop. As he develops knowledge and skill, he is asked to teach others; and in this way he learns and develops leadership.

Once a Scout has been tested and signed off by someone approved to do so, the requirement has been met. The unit leader is accountable for ensuring proper advancement procedures are followed. A part of this responsibility includes the careful selection and training of those who approve advancement. If a unit leader believes a boy has not learned the subject matter for a requirement, he or she should see that opportunities are made available for the Scout to practice or teach the requirement, so in this way he may complete his learning and further develop his skills.

The Scout Is Tested

The unit leader authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include his patrol leader, senior patrol leader, an assistant unit leader, another Scout, or the unit leader himself. Merit badge counselors teach and test him on requirements for merit badges.

The Scout Is Reviewed

After he has completed all requirements for a rank, the Scout meets with a board of review. For Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life ranks, and Eagle Palms, members of the unit committee conduct it. See “Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms),” The Eagle Scout board of review is held in accordance with National Council and local council procedures.

The Scout Is Recognized

When the board of review has approved his advancement, the Scout deserves recognition as soon as possible. This should be done at a ceremony at the next unit meeting. His achievement may be recognized again later, during a formal court of honor.

After the Scout Is Tested and Recognized

A well-organized unit program will help a Scout practice his skills in different settings while utilizing various methods: at unit meetings, through various activities and outings, by teaching other Scouts, while enjoying games and leading projects, and so forth.

Unit leadership and boards of review gauge unit program expectations and whether expectations keep a Scout “active” or just help a Scout get closer to his Eagle without real value.

A well-rounded and active Scouting program generates advancement as a natural outcome of a full program of camping and service on it’s Journey to Excellence, providing a quality program for its boys.

Advancement Resources

The following resources provide additional information about advancement. Links are provided to materials that are available online.

General Resources

Rank Advancement

2016 Boy Scout Rank Requirements

Merit Badges

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. However, his pride in Scouting, is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative and Commissioner.

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