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Boy Scout Troop 750
(Henrietta, New York)
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Baden-Powell on Advancement

Scouting is a unique instructional situation. We can adapt methods from other disciplines like teaching and coaching but they should serve the goals of instruction laid out by Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden-Powell:

When it is applied with understanding and consideration the advancement program fosters encouragement and ambition regardless of an individual boy's abilities.  It is for this reason that the standards of proficiency is purposely left undefined.

Our standard is not the attainment of a certain level of quality of knowledge or skill, but the amount of effort the boy has put into acquiring such knowledge or skill. This brings the most inept to an equal footing with his more capable brother.

Evaluation for Badges is not competitive. The Scoutmaster judges each individual case on its merits, discriminating where to be generous and where to tighten up. Some are inclined to insist that their Scouts should be expert before they can get a Badge. That is very right, in theory; you get a few boys pretty proficient in this way but our object is to get all the boys interested. The Scoutmaster who rewards effort as opposed to expertise develops confidence and enthusiasm, whereas a demanding standard of performance makes boys reluctant and hesitant.

The other extreme is almost giving away the Badges on very slight knowledge of the subjects. Scoutmasters should use their sense and discretion, keeping the main aim in view. There is always the danger of Badge-hunting supplanting Badge-earning. Our aim is to encourage initiative and self confidence, instead of showy, self-indulgence. The Scoutmaster must be on the alert to check Badge-hunting and to realize which is the Badge-hunter is and which is the eager and earnest worker. The success of the Advancement Program depends very largely on the Scoutmaster himself and his individual handling of it.

This and more of Baden-Powell's writings on Scouting are found in the Aids to Scoutmastership, a guidebook for Scoutmasters, published in 1920.

Rank Advancement

  1. A Scout works on requirements for each rank as listed in the Boy Scout Handbook.
  2. As requirements are fulfilled, an adult or youth leader signs the Scout's handbook.
  3. Advancement is tracked by the Scout and by the Troop Advancement Coordinator.
  4. As the scout nears completion of all requirements, the Scout participates in a Scoutmaster Conference.
  5. The Scout then sits for a Board of Review with three Troop Committee members.
  6. The rank is awarded as soon as possible and recognized at the next Court of Honor.

Advancement Questions

Youth and adults new to Boy Scouting often ask the same questions about the rank advancement program and board of review process. Here is a quick reference guide of answers to some of those frequently asked questions.

Question: What is advancement, and what role does it play in Scouting?
Answer: Education and fun are functions of the Scouting movement—as is the growth of our youth members—and make up the basis of the advancement program. As the Scout meets certain requirements, he may advance in rank. The Scouting program is designed to help young people have an exciting and meaningful experience. A quality Scouting program strives for the following:

  • Every young person achieves personal growth.
  • Each individual learns by doing.
  • Youth members progress at their own rate.
  • All young people receive recognition for their individual accomplishments.
  • Youth participants are encouraged to embrace Scouting ideals.

Question: For the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks, how is "Be active in your troop and patrol" defined?
Answer: Use the following three sequential tests to determine whether the requirement has been met. The first and second are required, along with either the third or its alternative.

  1. The Scout is registered.
  2. The Scout is in good standing - he has not been dismissed for disciplinary reasons.
  3. The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained.
  4. Alternative to 3: If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity oriented expectations, then it must be due to other positive endeavors—in or out of Scouting—or to noteworthy circumstances that have prevented a higher level of participation. In this case a Scout is considered “active” if a board of review can agree that Scouting values have already taken hold and been exhibited.

Question: What is a board of review, and what is its primary purpose?
Answer: The troop committee conducts a board of review to periodically review each Scout's progress, from Tenderfoot through Life ranks, to encourage him, to learn whether he is enjoying his Scouting experience, and to evaluate the unit's effectiveness in conducting the Scouting program to benefit him. The review presents a good opportunity to monitor the Scout's advancement and keep him on track. It also gives unit leaders a chance to measure the effectiveness of their leadership. The troop committee appoints three to six individuals to conduct the board of review.

Question: How often is a board of review held?
Answer: Whenever a Scout completes all the requirements for any rank, from Tenderfoot through Life, he appears before a board of review. He does so after having a conference with his Scoutmaster.  

Our youth leaders plan the scouting year each summer at a planning meeting.  They will incorporate skill instruction into nearly every meeting and campout.  A scout that attends every event, including Summer Camp, should earn their first three ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class in one to two years.  Scouts are encouraged to independently study the advancement requirements as they are listed in the handbook, and then ask a youth leader to watch them prove that they have learned the skill in question, so that they can be given credit for their new knowledge.