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The Advancement Program 

The advancement procedure in a Boy Scout troop is a lot different from the way Cub and  Weblos Scouts earn advancement.  Cub and Weblos Scouts pass their requirements to adults but in a Boy Scout troop the patrol leader passes the Scouts in his patrol on the advancement requirements for Tenderfoot through the First Class ranks.  If a Scout’s patrol leader is not available another patrol leader, an assistant patrol leader, or the senior patrol leader may pass the Scout on a requirement as long as the boy leader has passed the requirement himself.  Scouts who have not earned their First Class rank should concentrate on earning First Class before they start to concentrate on earnings merit badges which are required for the ranks above First Class.  When a Scout begins to work on merit badges he will need to see an adult merit badge counselor to pass the requirements for the merit badge.  

It is important for Scouts and parents to have the right perspective of advancement in the Boy Scout program.  Even some adult leaders in Scouting don’t really seem to have the right perspective of the advancement program.  It is hoped that this statement of Troop 555s advancement policies will give you a better perspective and avoid future misunderstandings of our advancement policies and procedures.   

The advancement program in the Boy Scouts of America is one of the methods by which the Scouting program achieves its aims or goals.  The advancement program, in and of itself, is not a goal of the Scouting program.  However, it is good for a Scout to set personal goals for himself to work toward and one of those goals can and should include advancing in rank.  We believe a Scout should achieve his advancement through his own personal initiative and not because he was directed toward completing requirements by a parent or an adult leader.  Furthermore, a Scouts course to reach a rank or certain achievements should not be “micro-managed” or dictated by a parent or an adult leader.  The Scout should plan his own route toward his next level of advancement.  This is a part of the character building process of giving Scouts the responsibility and practice in making their own decisions.  They may not always make the right decisions but that is part of the learning process.  A Scout who sets his own personal goals and then works to achieve those goals out of his own personal initiative will feel greater pride in achievement and will have more self-confidence in his ability to make good decisions than if he relied on someone else to make those decisions for him.  In fact, learning to make good decisions is one of the side benefits of the advancement program.   

It is good for parents and leaders to encourage a Scout to advance and to encourage him to set advancement goals for himself. It is also ok to check on a Scout’s progress from time to time but there is a fine line between encouragement and being too directive.  A Scout who sets reasonable advancement goals for himself and consistently works toward those goals will make good progress in advancement all the way to Eagle Scout.        

The goals or aims of the Boy Scout program include: building character, fostering citizenship, and developing mental, moral, and physical fitness.   

The methods of the Boy Scout program include: ideals, patrols, the outdoors, advancement, adult male association, uniform, leadership development and personal growth. 

A Scout who is only concerned with achieving Eagle may earn all the merit badges and do all the other requirements and reach his goal but how well has he met the goals of the program?  If he has not embraced the true meaning of Scouting’s ideals, including service to others, and active participation, and if he is not competent in the basic Scout skills what has he really achieved and how will it benefit him for the rest of his life? 

In Troop 555 we want our Scouts to achieve good and worthy goals and many of our Scouts do advance to Eagle but we want them to get much more from their Scouting experience.  We want them to be truly first class Scouts.  A First Class Scout should be competent in all the basic Scout skills.  He should be a good camper, be able to start a fire under any conditions and know what kind of wood to use for tinder and fuel wood.  He should know what gear he needs to be comfortable camping in any kind of whether.  He should have no difficulty cooking meals for his patrol and he should know the proper cleanup procedures.  Also, he should be competent in first aid skills, knots, lashings, use of woods tools, compass and map use, care of tents and gear, and have knowledge about the woods, animals, and edible wild plants. He should have a record of good participation and service in the troop and in his patrol.  It should be apparent that he shows concern for others, is committed to the ideals of Scouting, and is dependable and loyal to his fellow Scouts and troop.  He should also show a willingness to serve as a leader.     

When a Scout completes the requirements for each rank from Tenderfoot through Eagle he must have a conference with the Scoutmaster.  The Scoutmaster evaluates the Scout’s progress in the areas just mentioned and in other areas appropriate for the rank under consideration to determine whether or not the Scout is truly ready to proceed to the next rank.  If the Scout does not meet the standards the Scoutmaster may decide not to approve the advancement at that time and will explain to the Scout where he needs to improve.  After a reasonable amount of time and when the Scout has shown the required improvements he may request another conference with the Scoutmaster.   A Scout must always have his dues paid up, have good uniforming, show good Scout spirit, be faithful in attendance and participation in the troop and in his leadership position (if he has one) to be approved for a rank advancement. 

After a Scout completes all the requirements for a rank and has successfully passed his Scoutmaster’s conference the next step is for the Scout to contact the troop advancement chairman to request a board of review.  The Scout must call the troop advancement chairman himself.  The board of review is conducted by the troop advancement chairman and at least two other troop committee members.  The purpose of the board of review is to review how the Scout completed his requirements and to make sure he has completed the requirements correctly.  It is not a reexamination of all the requirements for the rank.  The board of review may also ask the Scout about his future goals, his commitment to Scouting ideals, and his service and experience in the troop.  If the board of review decides to approve a Scout’s advancement the date of the board of review approval is the date of the Scout’s new rank.  The date of the rank is not the date the badge is awarded at a court of honor.  If the board of review decides not to approve a Scout for the advancement they will tell him what he needs to do to be approved for the rank.  A Scout who was not approved for passing a rank may request another board of review when he completes whatever the board of review tells him he needs to do to correct any problems or deficiencies. 

When a Scout comes to his board of review he should be on time, in class A uniform, have his Scout Handbook with him and sometimes it is good to have his Scout notebook or other supporting material with him to show how he completed certain requirements.   

The Eagle Scout board of review is not conducted by the troop committee.  It is conducted by the District Advancement Committee.  The Scout’s Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster may set in on the Eagle board of review but may not vote.  Before a Scout requests an Eagle Scout board of review he must complete all the requirements for the Eagle rank and complete an Eagle Scout application.  There are detailed instructions with the Eagle Scout application packet so those procedures will not be detailed here.

Merit Badges 

A Scout must earn a certain number of merit badges and even certain merit badges to complete requirements for the Star through Eagle ranks.  Certain merit badges are called required merit badges because they are on the list of specific merit badges required to earn the Eagle rank.  

There are over 100 different merit badges in many fields of interest.  The purpose of the merit badge program is to introduce a Scout to a field of study and to allow the Scout to acquire knowledge and skills in a particular merit badge subject.  The program also helps the Scout develop personal responsibility and self-confidence because he must arrange an appointment with an adult counselor whom he probably has not met before.  It also gives the Scout practice in learning to associate and deal with that adult counselor.  For those reasons the regular adult troop leaders do not counsel many merit badges for our Scouts.  Also, for those reasons we generally do not allow a Scout’s parents to counsel a merit badge for their son.  There are a few exceptions.  We counsel the camping, cooking, and pioneering merit badges within the troop because those merit badges are appropriately done as part of the troop’s regular program.  We also do not run merit badge classes in our troop program as some troops do because that violates the purpose and intent of the merit badge program.  Merit badges are to be earned by Scouts who contacts a merit badge counselor and then work with that counselor on an individual basis or with another Scout or in some cases as a small group of Scouts.   

To earn a merit badge the Scout needs to tell his Scoutmaster he is interested in working on a certain merit badge and request a merit badge card to take to the merit badge counselor.  There is a line on the merit badge card for the Scoutmaster to sign signifying he is approving the Scout to work on a specific merit badge.  A Scout should not start working on a merit badge prior to getting his Scoutmaster’s approval to work on that specific badge.  If the Scout knows of a merit badge counselor he would like to go to for the merit badge he should tell the Scoutmaster which counselor he prefers to work with.  Otherwise, the Scoutmaster will check the district list of approved counselors to find a merit badge counselor for the Scout.  The Scout should get a copy of the current merit badge book for the merit badge he is interested in and study it.  In most cases the Scout can complete the requirements for the badge before he sees the merit badge counselor.  Most counselors do not do a lot of “teaching” of the merit badge subject.  The material the Scout needs to know is generally presented in the merit badge book.  The Scout then needs to contact the merit badge counselor to set up an appointment to meet with the counselor to work on the merit badge or to pass the requirements to the counselor.  There is no set number of times that the Scout will need to meet with the counselor.  For some merit badges if the Scout completes all the requirements before meeting with his counselor he may only need to meet with the counselor one time.  For other merit badges the Scout and counselor may need to meet several times. The merit badge counselor should only require the Scout to complete the requirements as they are specified in the current issue of the merit badge book for the merit badge the Scout is working on.  If a Scout has problems reaching his merit badge counselor or other problems with the counselor he should promptly inform his Scoutmaster.   

When a Scout does not fully complete a merit badge at summer camp the camp counselor gives the Scoutmaster a “partial” indicating what requirements the Scout must complete to finish the merit badge.  Once the Scout has completed those requirements he will need to contact a merit badge counselor on the district merit badge counselor list to have his merit badge application approved.  A Scout is generally allowed 6 months to complete the requirements for a partially completed merit badge.  When a Scout completes the merit badge and the counselor has signed his card he should give the signed card to his Scoutmaster so that the merit badge may be properly reported on an advancement report and so the badge can be awarded, usually at the next court of honor.  The date that the counselor signs the merit badge card is the effective date of the merit badge.  The effective date is not the date of the court of honor. 

Scouts Transferring in or Out of the Troop 

When a Scout transfers into the troop from another troop he should ask his former troop to provide a transfer form.  The transferring Scout should provide his present Scoutmaster with copies of his signed merit badge cards or other records to verify his achievements in his former troop.  He should also show his present Scoutmaster his Scout Handbook.  In some cases where official records have been lost we have accepted the written statement of the former Scoutmaster or advancement chairman to verify a Scout’s previous achievements.  Boy Scout national policy requires that any ranks, merit badges, or achievements earned from a previous troop must be honored by the troop the Scout transfers into.  A Scouts new troop can not require a Scout to re-do requirements he has completed in his previous troop.