Program Phases

Advancement is one of the methods used to achieve the aims of Scouting in all three phases of the Scouting program (Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA and Venturing). The aims of Scouting are character building, citizenship training, and physical and mental fitness.

Cub Scouts

The Cub Scout program in the den and pack is the basis for Cub Scout advancement. The steps in Tiger Cub, Cub Scout and Webelos Scout advancement procedures are preparation, qualification and recognition.

Frequently Asked Questions (with answers)

C-1 What are common mistakes in the ceremony to present the Bobcat badge?

Once a cub scout meets the requirements, they are entitled to the badge. Do not tell them that they must meet extra requirements before he or she can wear the badge.

C-2 What does a unit do if a cub scout is physically or mentally unable to complete some requirements?

Most cub scouts actually can accomplish the requirements, with some patience on their part, their parents and their leaders. After all, the test is whether he or she has done their best. If they cannot, the Cubmaster and pack committee may approve substitution electives for achievement requirements. It is best to include parents in the process. Before doing this, consult the Cub Scout Leader Book and “Working with Scouts with Disabilities” booklet.

C-3 Who signs off for Cub Scout advancement requirements?

A key responsibility for den leaders is to implement the core den meeting plans as outlined in the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide, No. 34409. For Wolf, Bear and Webelos advancement, den leaders take the lead in approving requirements, though their assistants, and also parents who help at meetings, may be asked to play the role of “Akela” and assist. Parents sign for requirements that, according to meeting plans and instructions in the handbooks, take place at home. For the Bobcat trail and Tiger Cub achievements, parents (or adult partners) should sign in the scout’s handbook; the den leader then approves as progress is recorded in the den’s advancement record.

Scouts BSA

The Scouts BSA requirements for rank are the basis for a Scout’s advancement. The four steps in the Scouts BSA advancement procedure are: learning, testing, reviewing, and recognition.

Frequently asked questions (with answers)

For answers to Eagle Scout rank questions are on Eagle Scout Resources page.

B-1 What positions qualify as “positions of responsibility” for Star and Life ranks?

The ones listed in the Scouts BSA Handbook. For Venturers and Sea Scouts, the positions are listed in the Venturer Handbook. As to Scouts BSA advancement issues, when changes are made, they often appear in the “Scouts BSA Requirements” book before they appear in the Scouts BSA Handbook. Be sure to use the current edition of the “Scouts BSA Requirements” book.  Be aware that some positions of responsibility for Star and Life do not fulfill the requirement for Eagle.

B-2 What must the Scout actually do or accomplish in his “position of responsibility” in order for it to count?

The requirement is not a “leadership” requirement; it is to “serve actively” in a position of “responsibility.” The duties for most positions are explained in the Junior Leader Handbook. The Scoutmaster decides and the board of review reviews what service is sufficient, but they are not ed to add to the requirements nor reduce them.  See also section in the Guide to Advancement.

B-3 Who may be on the board of review for Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life ranks?

Three to six members of the troop committee. Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters may not serve on a board of review. “Troop Committee Guidebook.” Relatives or guardians of the Scout may not serve either. Guide to Advancement. Note that members of the troop committee are registered in Scouting. The committee does not automatically include all parents.

B-4 What is the date to use for the date a merit badge was earned?

Use the date on the blue merit badge card — the date the merit badge counselor signed it as completed.

B-5 What does a unit do if a scout is physically or mentally unable to complete some requirements?

There is a provision for alternative advancement requirements for a Scout who is unable to complete all the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class or First Class ranks. Plans and approvals must be done with the district advancement chair before the Scout does the alternative requirements.The alternatives may not be counted if he does them before getting approval from the council advancement committee. See the “Scouts BSA Requirements” book for more information. Units cannot make exceptions other than as noted there and in the Scouts BSA Handbook. At the Scout Shop there are many other resources available, for example: “A Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities” and “Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities.”

B-6 Who signs off requirements in the back of the Scout’s BSA Handbook?

The Scoutmaster or persons he/she designates. The designated persons may be Scouts or adults for specified ranks or sets of requirements. Guide to Advancement.

B-7 Is it necessary that requirements be signed off in the back of the Scout’s BSA Handbook?

No, but it is customary and very useful record keeping.

B-8 If a Scout has earned the Arrow of Light, do they have to repeat the requirements to earn their Scout badge?

The Scout needs to have the troop approve their satisfaction of the requirements. The Scoutmaster conference is an important introduction of the new Scout to their new troop and their Scoutmaster, and an opportunity for the Scoutmaster to start developing his/her relationship with the Scout.

B-9 Since the Scoutmaster conference needs to be private, how can we comply with the youth protection guidelines?

It needs to be a private discussion, but held in full view of other people. Scoutmaster Handbook.

B-10 How can Scouts and others earn the 50-miler Award if they were not able to do the 10 hours of service during the outing?

If it was not possible for each person to complete 10 hours of group work on the trail, a similar project may be conducted in the unit’s home area. “Scouts BSA Requirements.”

B-11 When does a Scout officially hold their new rank?

Positions of responsibility and some other things need to be accomplished while they hold the current rank. They hold the rank as of the day they pass their board of review. Scouts BSA Handbook.

B-12 How long does a Scout have to complete a merit badge?

There is no limit except that they must be a Scout when they start and when they finish, and they must finish it before their 18th birthday.

B-13 Is it a good idea for a Scout’s parent to be his merit badge counselor for a merit badge?

No, it is usually not a good idea. One of the “methods” of Scouts BSA is “adult association.” The Scout will get the most out of their associations with adults if their merit badge counselors are not family members.


A male Venturer who has achieved the First Class rank as a Boy Scout in a troop or as a Varsity Scout in a team may continue working toward the Eagle Scout rank as a Venturer until his 18th birthday. All Venturers may work towards recognition such as the Ranger, Silver and Quartermaster awards, just to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions (with answers)

V-1 May a Venturer earn the Eagle Scout Rank?

Yes. If you earned the First Class Rank as a Scout in a troop, you may continue working toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks until your 18th birthday.

V-2 What Venturing positions count as a “position of responsibility” for rank advancement?

President, vice president, secretary, and treasurer in a Venturing crew, and boatswain, boatswain’s mate, yeoman, purser, or storekeeper in a Sea Scout ship.

V-3 May a Venturer earn rank advancement after age 18?

Rank advancement may not be earned after you turn 18. There are some awards that can be earned by Venturers until age 21. One example is that, if you earn the required merit badges before you turn 18, you have until your 21st birthday to earn the Hornaday Award.

V-4 What are the standards for the Bronze, Gold, and Silver awards and the Ranger award?

For information on these, see the Venturer Handbook. For more information on the Ranger program, see the Ranger Guidebook. Other Venturing awards are available also.

V-5 Can we turn in advancement reports on disk?

Yes! Current versions of Troopmaster (v 1.10 or later) are compatible with ScoutNET, the program used by the council and by the national office. Those versions will prepare a disk file for advancement reports that you can turn in on disk. In fact, PLEASE do so. Advancement reports on disk are much faster for the council staff to process, and there are fewer mistakes. If you identify your unit & a contact person on the disk label, you will get your disk back. We still need a printed report too, with signatures. And no, we cannot take the reports by e-mail yet. We recommend and support the use of TroopMaster/PackMaster. If you are using other unit management software, please inquire about compatibility with the council office manager at the council service center, 406-761-6000.

Advancement Resources