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Troop 94 - Guide to Advancement

INTRODUCTION

The mission of Scouts BSA is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”.  One method for accomplishing this mission is through the advancement program.

 

The Scouts BSA advancement program is designed to show recognition and reward our scouts for their time and effort that they give to the scouting program.  However, the goal is not to simply check the boxes and obtain the rank of Eagle.  It is to prepare them for adulthood and instill in them a set of values that will give them guidance later in life.  We do this by providing our scouts a wide array of experiences throughout our scouting activities, and during the process scouts will be able to earn advancement towards their rank and merit badges.

 

This guide was created in order to help both scouts and parents to better understand the Scouting advancement process and to provide clarity on what the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved from the scout to the parent to the adult leader. 

 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Scouts are expected to have primary ownership of their advancement.  They often choose what they want to work on and what they wish to get signed off on for completion.  They take guidance from their fellow Scouts and Youth leaders, Unit Adult Leadership and their parents.  Similar to school work, it is the responsibility of the Scout to do the work on their own with little help from their parents in order to gain the full experience.  Scouts should take the initiative when working on things on their own and communicating with leaders and merit badge counselors. 

 

Unit Leadership are expected to assist in providing the necessary framework and opportunity for Scouts to be able to learn and show their competency of skills during our scouting activities.  We are an active troop, and our youth and adult leadership work towards making an effort to provide a well-rounded program for our scouts to learn all of the skills in order to earn their advancement. 

 

Parents are expected to provide guidance at home and to enable their scout to complete the necessary requirements largely on their own.  Parents should encourage and work with their scout to set some time aside to work on advancement.  However, if a Scout is resistant a parent should NOT demand that they sit down and work on scout things.  A Scout must walk their own trail and we should encourage and provide assistance when needed. 

FOUR STEPS OF ADVANCEMENT

Step 1 - A Scout Learns

A Scout learns by doing.  As a scout learns, they grow in ability to do their part as a member of the patrol and the troop.  As they develop knowledge and skill, they are then asked to teach others; and in this way they begin to develop leadership. Scouts in our unit will learn skills during our troop meetings, service projects and especially our camping trips. 

Step 2 - A Scout is Tested

A Scout may be tested on rank requirements by any youth member who has a Star, Life or Eagle Rank OR by an Asst. Scoutmaster or Scoutmaster.  The Scout’s merit badge counselor teaches and tests on the requirements of merit badges.

Scouts will need to approach and initiate a conversation with another scout or adult leader in order to show or discuss the requirements they wish to get signed off for.  Before they do this, they must first make sure that they have mastered the skills in which they will be tested.

Throughout the process each Scout will be required to get their Scout Handbook signed for each of the requirements they complete.  In addition, the adult leaders will coordinate to keep the online advancement in Scoutbook up to date (usually within 30 days).

 

Step 3 - A Scout is Reviewed - Board of Review

After a Scout has completed all requirements for a rank, he then has a board of review.  For Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle Palms, the review is conducted by members of the troop committee.  The Eagle Scout board of review is conducted and coordinated by the District Committee Advancement Chair.

A Scout can request a Board of review from our unit Advancement Chair by emailing t94bor@gmail.com with a formally written request for a board of review for the rank in which they have completed all other requirements for.

 

Step 4 - A Scout is Recognized

When a board of review has certified a scout’s advancement, they deserve to receive recognition as soon as possible.  This should be done at the next troop meeting.  The certificate for his new rank may be presented later at a formal Court of Honor.

Our unit will usually recognize our advancement at the end of each troop meeting and we hold two Court of Honors throughout the year.  (April & October)

COMPETENCY

Most Scouts tend to think that if they did something one time, they can then get it signed off in their books as completed.  Just because you do something one time does not mean you can do it when it counts.  We are looking for competency and the ability to repeat what they have learned.  So in order for a scout to be given credit for completing a requirement, we should be able to see that the skill can be demonstrated at any time.  This may be in a competition among patrols, on a camping trip, or during a review of requirements with an adult leader.

This not only applies to hands-on skills, but also with leadership and teamwork skills as well.  Along the advancement process we teach teamwork and leadership skills that we expect to be learned and applied during their activities both in scouting and in their everyday life.  A patrol leader is expected to attend events and provide leadership.  If they are never there and when they are they are more of a nuisance than a solution or rarely speak up and provide direction, they may find it difficult to get credit for their leadership role when it comes time to get it signed off on for their rank advancement. 

TRAIL TO FIRST CLASS

The first four ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class.  These ranks consist primarily of learning outdoor skills and how a patrol and troop are organized.

A scout should first earn the Scout rank (usually within the first 30 days of joining a unit) and then begin to work on the Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class requirements at the same time.  Meaning, you do NOT need to wait to complete a First Class requirement before you earn the rank of Second Class.  

It is expected that a Scout should be able to earn the First Class rank within two years of joining our unit provided they participate in 75% of the troop's activities.

 

TRAIL TO EAGLE

Once a scout earns First Class, they are then expected to continue on by earning the rank of Star, Life and Eagle.  These ranks focus more on leadership service and personal development requiring our scouts to hold leadership positions within the troop and earn merit badges of their choice that are both Eagle required and non required ones that they are personally interested in.  Each of these ranks will also require some level of community service to be completed as well as a required time of 4 or 6 months for each rank before they are eligible for the next rank.

Scouts are required to complete the requirements for the previous rank before they can complete the requirements of the next rank with the exception of merit badges.  You can earn as many merit badges as you want in the time frame you desire.

It is expected that a Scout should be able to earn at least one rank per year.

 

ADVANCEMENT TIMELINE

Each scout should work at their own pace.  However, our unit works diligently to provide as much exposure and opportunity for scouts to learn and earn requirements many times over throughout the year.  This means that scouts that participate in the majority of our activities will more than likely be able to advance more rapidly than someone who attends less.  

 

Scouts have until their 18th birthday to earn the minimum requirements needed to earn the rank of Eagle.

 

However we tend to find the following is a good guide for an active scout…

1st Year Scouts: Scout, then Tenderfoot to First Class

Scouts during their first year should first earn their Scout Rank, then concentrate their efforts on completing the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class at the same time.

 

2nd Year Scouts: Cont. Tenderfoot to First Class and Merit Badges

Scouts during their second year should continue to complete any missing requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class.  They should also consider working on the merit badges that are related to the program theme at the time the troop is working on them.

 

3rd Year Scouts: Merit Badges & Start Instructing - Star, Life, and Eagle

Scouts during their third year should be continuing to open and complete merit badges that are related to the program theme the troop is working on as well as merit badges that they personally find interesting and would like to complete.  In addition, now that they have mastered the scout skills for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements, it is time for them to start teaching other scouts those skills under supervision of an older scout or adult leader.

 

4th Year Scouts: Merit Badges & Primary Instructor - Star, Life, and Eagle

Scouts during their fourth year should continue to open and complete merit badges that they have yet to do that are related to the program the troop is working on in addition to their own personal merit badges while they work towards earning the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks.  In addition they should now be confident in leading the instruction of the Scout skills to other Scouts for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements. 

 

5th Year + Scouts: Life to Eagle Transition - Life and Eagle

Scouts during from their 5th year moving forward should be working on the remaining Merit Badges and be working to complete their Eagle Service Project that they need to complete in order to earn the rank of Eagle.  They should be able to guide and mentor the 3rd and 4th year Scouts who are instructing younger Scouts for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements.  

ADVANCEMENT ANNUAL PROGRAM THEMES

We have designed our annual program to encompass the main program themes that all ranks and most required merit badges focus on.  Whether a scout is working on rank requirements or merit badge requirements, they will surely find our scheduled troop activities will have something to assist them in working towards their current advancement goal.

 

March, April, May & June:

  • Camping

  • Cooking

  • Tools, Totin’ Chip, and Firem’n Chit

  • First Aid & Nature

 

July/Summer Camp:

  • Personal Choice

 

Aug, Sept, Oct & Nov:

  • Hiking & Backpacking

  • Fitness

  • Aquatics

 

Dec, Jan & Feb:

  • Citizenship

  • Leadership

  • Personal Safety & Awareness

MERIT BADGES

As previously mentioned, in order to earn the Star, Life and Eagle ranks scouts must earn a minimum amount of merit badges (Required or Elective).  There are over 130 different merit badges and in order to earn Eagle a scout must earn at least 21 (14 Required & 7 Elective)

We recommend that 1st year scouts refrain from starting merit badges on their own until after their first summer camp where they will learn how to properly complete merit badge requirements. 

 

Follow these eight steps to earn a merit badge:

  1. Pick a Merit Badge - Discuss with Parent

  2. Talk to a Scoutmaster - Obtain a Blue Card & Merit Badge Counselor

  3. Contact the Merit Badge Counselor (BEFORE work begins)

  4. Gather your Merit Badge Materials

  5. Do the Work & Document Everything! (Don’t forget to have FUN!)

  6. Meet with Merit Badge Counselor - Review Completed Req’s

  7. Submit your Completed Blue Card to Scoutmaster

  8. Receive Your Merit Badge - Court of Honor

SUMMER CAMP

We encourage our Scouts to use the enormous opportunity of summer camp to complete the merit badges that are more difficult to complete on their own.  Merit Badges like; Swimming, Lifesaving, Canoeing, Kayaking, First Aid, Rifle, Shotgun, Archery, and Climbing are examples of merit badges that are better to complete at Summer Camp rather than attempt to complete them on your own.

 

MERIT BADGE FAIRS/ACADEMIES

Yet another great opportunity to earn merit badges are during fairs or academies.  These are usually held at a location like a college or school and offer a variety of merit badges to either complete or start.  We encourage scouts to take this opportunity to work on merit badges such as: Citizenship in Community/Nation/World, Family Life, Personal Management, Emergency Prep, Personal Fitness, and Communication.  These merit badges require a bit more classroom work and can often be completed in one day if the scout has completed the necessary prerequisites in preparation for this event. 

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