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All about BSA Scout rank advancement

A sampling of Cub Scout awards and achievements
photo by Jean Gazis

One of the key features of the BSA Scouting programs is the concept of rank advancement. By working to fulfill rank requirements and earning advancement step by step, boys build self-esteem and gain confidence as well as learning specific skills. There are several stages of rank advancement at each level of scouting.

The Cub Scout ranks are Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and First- and Second-Year Webelo. (The name "Webelo" is derived from phrase "WE BE LOyal scouts".) At each level, the requirements become more difficult. Boys joining Cub Scouting at any age must earn the Bobcat badge before earning their age-appropriate rank. The Bobcat requirements are to learn the Cub Scout motto, promise, law, sign, salute, and handshake and their meaning, and to demonstrate the importance of being honest and trustworthy. Cub Scouts work on rank requirements with their leader in their dens, and also at home with their parents. Discussing family values, doing chores at home, and learning about the local community are some of the activities included in rank requirements. For each rank, there are both required and elective achievements. The final Cub Scout advancement award is the Arrow of Light, which is the only Cub Scout award that can be worn with the Boy Scout uniform. The Cub Scout advancement trail is described in detail on the BSA website.

The Boy Scout ranks are Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. As with Cub Scouts, the requirements become more demanding at each level, and there are both required and elective achievements. Only about 5 per cent of all Boy Scouts complete the stringent requirements for Eagle rank, thus it is widely recognized as an outstanding personal achievement and a demonstration of leadership ability.

The Tenderfoot requirements include demonstrating camping and hiking skills, knot tying, proper handling of the American flag, learning the Scout oath, law, motto, and slogan, showing improvement in physical fitness, and simple first aid.

The Second Class requirements include using a compass and map, understanding the principle of Leave No Trace, participating in troop activities, proper use of a knife, saw, and axe, fire building and safety, cooking skills, learning the flag ceremony, nature knowledge, community service, first aid, and basic swimming.

The First Class requirements include orienteering, participating in troop activities, camping, cooking and menu planning, learning about citizenship, nature knowledge, knots and lashing, more advanced first aid and swimming, and demonstrating scout spirit.

The Star Scout requirements include earning six merit badges, participating in service projects, and serving in a troop or patrol leadership position.

The Life Scout requirements include earning five more merit badges, participating in service projects and troop activities and leadership, and helping a younger scout earn his rank requirements.

The Eagle Scout requirements include being active in the troop and in a leadership position, earning at least 25 merit badges (13 required and 12 elective), and planning, organizing, and completing a community service project.

To learn more about Boy Scout ranks and their specific requirements, visit the BSA website.

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