Ranks and Merit Badge System
The system for advancement in Boy Scouting is designed to teach basic outdoor skills, physical fitness, citizenship, and encourage participation from the very beginning, while providing a system of fast recognition and gratification. After joining and satisfying a few simple requirements for the Scout badge, the first three ranks, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, can be earned in a short period of time. This achievement serves to encourage a Scout to seek higher ranks.
After First Class, the advancement to Star, Life, and Eagle present new challenges and opportunities that require demonstrating leadership skills and serving others. By taking on the responsibility of a leader, boys acquire valuable life-lasting interpersonal skills, and earn the respect of their fellow Scouts. Through the merit badge program, Scouts can learn vital survival skills, participate in sports, challenge themselves with high adventure events, delve deep into a personal hobby, or find new interests that may even lead to a career choice. Requirements for these ranks are signed off by the Scoutmaster, or his assistants, as evidenced by completion of merit badge work, tenure, or time served as a leader.
The highest rank in Scouting, that of Eagle, requires a Scout to plan, develop, and execute a service project to benefit his school, church, or community. The project must be of significant merit, and approved by the Troop Committee, and Council Advancement Committee before beginning. He must give leadership to other Scouts in doing the work, and he should draw from his previous Scouting experience to see that the work is done, and done well.
Before advancing to each rank, a Scout must meet with the Scoutmaster to review his progress. This is an opportunity for the Scoutmaster to communicate directly with each boy, give advice, and encourage him along. It is also an opportunity for the Scout to express himself, comment on his progress, and voice any questions or concerns that may arise.
Boards of Review
Following the Scoutmaster Conference, the Scout goes before a Board of Review. The Board consists of at least three adult troop committee members who know the Scout well, and who review his progress again. The Board of Review is not a "test" to see if the Scout has remembered all that he has learned for the rank. Rather, it's an opportunity to focus the Scout to reflect on how he has gotten here, and to set goals for himself in the future. Communication with adults is also an important aspect of the Board of Review. A Scout is hopefully convinced to dispel the myth that adults "just don't understand" him. By interacting regularly with his Scoutmaster, Assistants, committee, and, of course, his parents, he gains the confidence to face other personal challenges.
Merit badges are earned by satisfying a prescribed set of requirements for the badge, and demonstrating that those requirements have been met. Each merit badge must be earned by getting the approval of a counselor who has been certified by the BSA to teach that badge. The counselor will request that the Scout fill out a merit badge application (a "blue card"), and have his Scoutmaster sign the first part of it, before beginning the work. The Scout then meets with the counselor at least once (perhaps many times) to present work, discuss the topic of the merit badge, or to ask questions. When all the requirements are satisfied, the counselor will sign the blue card and keep a portion of it for his records. The Scout then returns the remainder of the card to his Scoutmaster to sign it again, who keeps another section of the card for the troop records. The final section is retained by the Scout, and may serve as proof that the badge was earned, should any records get lost. For this reason, Scouts are requested to keep all their completed blue cards in a safe place.
Shortly after turning in the card, the merit badge will be presented to the Scout, and a certificate (also proof that the badge was earned---the patch itself is NOT proof) will be presented at a Court of Honor.
(c) 2008 BSA Troop 58. All Rights Reserved