Boy Scout Troop 31
Rochester, New York
Troop 31 is committed to helping scouts successfully advance through the numerous ranks on their road to Eagle.
A number of boys and their families who are new to scouting may not be aware of how advancement and merit badges work. This section is intended to provide guidance in attaining rank advancement and obtaining merit badges.
The advancement program for Boy Scouts has two phases. The first phase encompasses the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scout. This phase is designed to teach the boy Scoutcraft skills, how to participate in a group environment, and to learn self-reliance. The second phase, consisting of the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, is designed to help scouts develop leadership skills and to explore potential vocations and avocations through the attainment of merit badges.
This phase is devoted to teaching the boy Scoutcraft skills that he will use throughout and beyond his scouting career. Each rank has a series of requirements that the scout must complete before he can attend a Scoutmaster’s conference and eventually a Board of Review session. As a scout rises through the ranks, the requirements become more difficult.
Scouts, who have not yet attained the rank of First Class, should concentrate on completing the requirements for the next rank instead of attempting to obtain merit badges, with a few exceptions (see Merit Badge section). Requirements for each rank can be found in the Scout Handbook or on the BSA National website. Most requirements also include a reference of the handbook page(s) that contain the information used to satisfy the requirement.
A few pointers about the requirements: Scouts can work on requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class simultaneously. They do not have to complete all of the requirements for one rank before working on those of a higher rank. This applies only to ranks up to First Class.
Quite a few of the requirements can be completed during weekly meetings or by attending campouts. The scout’s Patrol Leader, or a member of the troop’s senior leadership, can initial any requirement as having been completed after meeting with the scout and determining that he understands and did complete the requirement. Parents and family members are encouraged to help the scout to complete any requirement that is not specifically identified as having to be completed with his troop or patrol. A parent and the scout should advise the Patrol Leader that the requirement has been completed and how it was satisfied. A parent or family member should not initial or sign-off a requirement in the Scout Handbook.
Patrol Leaders use a portion of their patrol time in weekly meetings on advancement issues. While a Patrol Leader will guide and help the scout in completing the requirements, the Patrol Leader cannot be expected to remember what requirements each scout needs to complete for their next rank. It is the responsibility of the scout to make arrangements with the Patrol Leader, if they wish to work on a requirement during a campout. For example, a scout may make arrangements with the Patrol Leader to cook at least one meal if they need to complete that requirement. It is the responsibility of the scout to schedule time with their Patrol Leader, either during the patrol meeting or otherwise, to review their progress. Scouts should regularly give their handbook to the Advancement Chairperson so that they can record the progress in the troop’s advancement records. It is very important that all completed requirements be recorded in the troop records, as scout handbooks have a way of getting lost.
After the Advancement Chairperson has logged the completion of all requirements for a particular rank, the scout can schedule a Scoutmaster's Conference with the Scoutmaster. In this conference, the Scoutmaster will speak with the scout, determine if he is ready for the Board of Review and provide pointers on how to conduct himself during the Board of Review. The Scoutmaster usually asks if the scout is enjoying his activities within the troop and his opinion on what activities the scout would like to see added to the program.
The Board of Review consists of two or three members of the Troop Committee. Neither the Scoutmaster nor a parent of the boy who is attending the Board of Review can act as a member of the Board of Review. The review is somewhat like a job interview, where the board members ask questions of the scout to determine his readiness for the rank to be awarded. Quite often, the scout is asked his opinion on how the troop is running, what issues need to be addressed, and what suggestions he may have to improve the troop. The questions at the lower ranks are quite easy, but get progressively more challenging with each rank.
After meeting, the scout will be asked to leave the room. The board then discusses the scout’s performance in the session, and votes on awarding the new rank to the scout. The scout then returns to the meeting room along with the Scoutmaster and is given the news by the board members. The Troop Committee conducts Boards of Review for all scout ranks with the exception of Eagle, which is conducted at the Council level Eagle Board of Review. The Eagle Board of Review is comprised of Scoutmasters from different Troops, Scout Council Officials, and past Eagle Scouts.
This phase of scouting is designed to help the scout develop leadership skills and to learn about possible vocations. The actual number of requirements for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks are fewer, but more difficult. They include actively taking on the responsibility of leadership positions within the troop. Requirements also include attaining a number of merit badges, including some that are on the list of Eagle required badges. For example, the Star rank requires that the scout obtain six merit badges, four of which are from the Eagle list.