Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. Scouts plan their own advancement and progress at their own pace as they meet each challenge. Scouts are recognized and rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

— Scouts BSA

Each scout individually pursues recognition for their abilities and seeks out mentors in the areas they wish to pursue. Scouts are recognized through skill sign-offs, the award of merit badges, appointment to leadership positions, receipt of special awards, and rank advancement.



In order to advance in rank, a Scout must be “active in patrol and troop activities.”

  • Many of the requirements for the early ranks need to be completed on campouts so attendance is very important. The Board of Review will not promote a Scout if he is not active in our program.
  • First Class rank is a milestone in a scout’s advancement, when a scout must participate in service projects.and demonstrate leadership skills by holding one or more specific youth leadership positions in the troop.

In Troop 12, a Scout is encouraged to achieve at least one rank advancement per year (with the exception of the Life and Eagle ranks). If a boy does not advance within a certain period of time, he may be invited before a Board of Review to find out if he needs any specific encouragement on his Trail to Eagle.


Requirements for advancement in scout ranks from Tenderfoot to First Class represent fundamental scout skills that scouts perform during scout activities, including; meal planning, cooking, camp set up, navigation, etc.

To learn requirements, a Scout should ask his Patrol Leader or other senior scout to teach and test him. Once the scout can demonstrate requirements the senior scout can sign-offs on that requirement. Sign-offs are provided by first class scouts and above, and are part of the leadership responsibilities for those ranks.

  • Read – Begin by reading portions of your Boy Scout Handbook with your parents to familiarize yourself with the requirements for the rank that you are working on and to learn the material.
  • Plan – Work with your patrol leader and troop guide to identify and plan opportunities to learn skills and complete specific requirements. Bring your Scout Handbook and a pen (or two) to every meeting, hike, camp-out, and summer camp.
  • Testing – When you feel you have completed a requirement, find a scout first class or above to test you.

The New Frontiers program offered at summer camp allows new scouts to meet the majority of their tenderfoot requirements.

Learning Lashings

Merit Badges

Merit Badges represent the demonstration of more in-depth skills through the completion of specific activities. They require doing, not just reading and writing.

  • A scout starts by telling their scout master they want to work on a specific badge and receiving a blue card for that badge.
  • The youth must be rank of scout or higher, less than age 18 and have completed all prerequisites for the badge.
  • The scout identifies a merit badge counselor who they will work with at BSA Summer Camp or included on the NNJC merit badge counselor list (check with your Scoutmaster for the list).
  • Use the Scout Buddy System. The scout must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents or guardian, a brother or sister or other relative, or a friend.
  • A merit badge counselor signs off on a requirement after they observe the scout complete or demonstrate the requirement.

Merit badge worksheets are available at

Plan ahead for Merit Badges at Summer Camp

Summer Camp offers an excellent merit badge program that offers resources and opportunities that may be hard to come by away from camp.

  • Camp merit badges may have prerequisites that must be completed prior to camp. Check the merit badge schedule and requirements list.
  • While at summer camp, Troop 12 leaders will not provide sign offs on any merit badge offered at camp.
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