Scouts may work on advancement prior to a Monday night troop meeting (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.). The Scout should inform the Scoutmaster a week ahead of time to ensure there will be an adult available to work with the Scout. The Scout should always have the Scout Handbook along when working on advancement. Another good time for a Scout to work on advancement is on a campout. Working on advancement means a Scout is completing the requirements for the next rank or merit badge and having those requirements signed off by an adult leader in the troop.
The essential skills every Scout should know are learned while working the first four ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. In order to achieve the higher ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle, a Scout must demonstrate leadership skills and devote time to helping the community (click on the rank emblem to download rank requirements).
To complete each rank, a Scout must have a Scoutmaster Conference, where they discuss the Scout’s plans and ambitions, as well as set achievable goals. It’s also chance to solicit feedback from the Scout, trying to understand what’s working well in the troop and what isn’t. To complete the rank, each Scout must attend a Board of Review, where adult leaders will assess the Scout’s experience and skills, and determine if the rank requirements have been properly fulfilled.
Scout is the first rank earned. It is earned when a Scout demonstrates basic Scouting knowledge, such as tying some common knots, the basics of patrols and advancement, and knowing and understanding the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan. If a Scout is crossing over from an Arrow of Light Cub Scout den, they probably have covered the requirements and can demonstrate their knowledge to earn the Scout rank.
See the Scout rank requirements.
The next rank is Tenderfoot, earned after the Scout rank. Tenderfoot introduces basic outdoor, cooking, tools, and first aid skills. One requirement that takes some time is preparing and completing a 30-day fitness plan. The Tenderfoot rank also introduces devoting time to service projects, a requirement for all other ranks.
See the Tenderfoot rank requirements.
A Second Class Scout expands upon the knowledge of Scout and Tenderfoot, learning more about outdoor and first aid skills. Navigation skills and beginner-level swimming are added, as well as more citizenship, safety, and fitness requirements. More emphasis is placed on practical application of skills.
See the Second Class rank requirements.
Once a Scout earns First Class, they should have all the essential Scouting skills down. A First Class Scout transitions from learning foundational skills to developing leadership skills needed for higher ranks. More outdoor, citizenship, and first aid knowledge is developed. After First Class, Scouts will begin choosing their own path with merit badges.
See the First Class rank requirements.
Star is the first upper-level rank. It requires serving the troop in a leadership role for several months, providing several hours of service, as well as earning six merit badges. Four of these merit badges must be among the 13 required for the Eagle rank, while the other two can be of the Scout’s choosing.
See the Star rank requirements.
The last rank before Eagle is Life. A Life Scout is on the road to Eagle, requiring more troop leadership experience, more service, and five more merit badges (three of which must be Eagle-required). Once a Scout reaches the Life rank, they should meet with the troop’s Eagle Coordinator to set out a plan to earn Eagle.
See the Life rank requirements.
Eagle is the highest rank available in Scouts BSA, and is highly regarded even by non-Scouters. In fact, only about six percent of all Scouts today achieve Eagle. Not only must Eagle Scouts earn 21 merit badges and serve their troop and community, they must also plan, organize, and lead a significant service project.
See the Eagle rank requirements.
Once a Scout completes the Eagle rank, they may work on Eagle palms. A palm is awarded for every five merit badges complete beyond the 21 needed for Eagle. A bronze palm represents five merit badges, a silver palm represents 10, and a gold palm represents completing 15 additional merit badges.
See the Eagle palm requirements.
Procedure for a Scout wishing to earn a merit badge:
- Decide which badge or badges you want to work on. You can work on one or two at a time. It’s not recommended to work on more than two at a time. You parents should have a list of the current badges you can choose from and they are listed in your handbook. You should try to work on those required for the Eagle rank, but you can work on others too.
- Go to the Scoutmaster and explain which badge you want to work on. The Scoutmaster will give you a merit badge “blue card” and will show you a list of counselors that are registered to work with you on that badge. Select one of these counselors, write down the name, address, email address, and phone number.
- Contact the merit badge counselor to set up a place and time you can get together. 6:30 pm at Elim Lutheran Church on Mondays often is a good time and place. If you plan to meet elsewhere, you must have at least one other person besides you and the counselor, either a parent or another Scout. Two Scouts working on a badge together makes it more interesting.
- Get a copy of the merit badge book. Each merit badge has a booklet that tells you the requirements and how to do them. Some information, such as a list of requirements, is available online. You can purchase merit badge handbooks at any Scout Shop (the closest is in Plymouth on the north side of Highway 55, on the west side of Highway 169, across the street from Cub Foods. You can go to the Troop Librarian and check out a booklet if one is available.
- You should meet with the merit badge counselor at least once while you are working on the badge to check on your progress.
- When you believe you have completed all requirements, meet with the merit badge counselor one more time to review, and bring your blue card. The counselor will sign off the card and keep their portion. You will bring back the other two thirds to the Scoutmaster for signature then to the Troop Advancement Chair so the merit badge can be purchased.
- Merit badges and ranks are typically presented at a future Court of Honor. The blue card will be given to the Scout along with a souvenir card. The Scout should keep all blue cards, merit badge souvenir cards, and rank souvenir cards in a safe place, such as in baseball card collector’s protective pages or small boxes. You need to retain these for your records for Eagle Scout rank verification.
There are more than 135 merit badges available. See the requirements for all merit badges.
Troop 141 Merit Badge Booklet Library
This PDF is a listing of merit badge booklets in the troop library in the Scout room. When you want to check out a merit badge booklet, fill out the Google Form and submit it, then take the book from the library. When you’re done with merit badge books, use the form to indicate which ones you are returning so the troop Librarian can better track which ones are checked out.
Other Advancement Information
A Scoutmaster’s conference must be conducted prior to a Board of Review. A Board of Review is held for each rank in scouting except for that of Scout. A Board of Review consists of at least three members of the troop committee who will conduct a question-and-answer session with the Scout. The Scout should be in troop uniform including shirt, neckerchief and slide, and have their Scout handbook. The board decides if the Scout should advance to the next rank. and the board’s decision must be unanimous.
A new Scout may work on Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class ranks at the same time and is encouraged to do so. Many requirements for these ranks are similar, growing harder as the Scout progresses toward First Class. Boards of Review for ranks through First Class may be held simultaneously. Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, as well as Eagle Palms, have a time requirement that must be satisfied for each rank.
Courts of Honor are held three or four times a year, typically in September, December, February/March, and May/June. Check the troop calendar for this year’s dates. A Scout advancing in rank or earning merit badges is recognized at the next Court of Honor. Parents and family are expected to attend to show support for their Scouts and the Troop.
More Official Awards and Recognition
In addition to ranks and merit badges, there are dozens of other Scouts BSA awards. A few examples of other awards include:
- 50-Miler Award
- Cyber Chip
- Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
- Emergency Preparedness Award
- Firem’n Chit
- Historic Trails Award
- Interpreter Strip
- Messengers of Peace
- Nova and Supernova Awards
- Paul Bunyan Award
- Religious Emblems
- Totin’ Chip
- World Conservation Award
See the list of special award opportunities and requirements.