Norman Rockwell's Boy Scout painting

BSA Methods – Advancement

My recent thoughts on encouraging Life Scouts to advance to Eagle got me thinking about advancement.  Advancement is one of the “Methods of Scouting” used in Boy Scouts.  I am the Advancement Chair for our troop, so I am always interested in other Scouters’ thoughts on advancement.

We always seem to have a couple of boys in the troop who aren’t interested in advancement at all. I’d like to seen them advancing, but I don’t push them. If they don’t have the desire to advance then there’s really nothing I can do anyway.  So I just let them know that I will be ready to support and encourage them if they change their minds and decide they want to be an Eagle Scout. I have seen it happen. A Scout will suddenly “turn it on” in that last year and achieve that goal.

A different situation is when a parent approaches me and wants to know why Timmy isn’t advancing like the other Scouts.  Then I have to explain that just showing up isn’t enough. Timmy needs to pay attention to the youth leaders when they are teaching skills and participate in what is going on. And he’ll need to do some of the requirements on his own.  He needs to talk to the youth leaders and ask for help if he needs it. If Timmy has a question about what he needs to do, I’m happy to open up the troop advancement records and show him. And I’d be more than willing to recommend a merit badge counselor. But Timmy has to take the next step.

A lot of parents and Scouts are used to Cub Scouts where a group all advances together and the adult leaders work really hard to make sure they get their requirements completed. And we see some Den Leaders give rank badges to Cub Scouts whether they did the requirements or not. So it is a real shock to the system when some Scouts get into the Boy Scout program and realize they are really going to have to be motivated and put some effort forth if they want to advance.


The methods of Scouting are the ways that Scouting’s aims of developing character, citizenship, and fitness in youth are achieved. One of the methods is “advancement”.

Advancement provides a way for Boy Scouts to be recognized for their achievements and personal growth. As they advance they develop leadership skills and acquire knowledge. They have the opportunity to exercise the Scout Oath and Law in their lives.

How is advancement encouraged in a Boy Scout troop. Here are a few ideas:

  • Communicate to the youth leadership the ways that advancement can be incorporated into meetings and activities – for example, taking a hike on an outing so the younger scouts can fulfill some of their early rank requirements
  • Having an advancement chair who works with the youth leadership and encourages advancement
  • Talking to Scouts about their interests and suggesting merit badges based on those interests
  • Communicating opportunities to participate in merit badge orientations or workshops

How does your Troop encourage advancement?

2 Responses to BSA Methods – Advancement

  1. Fran January 27, 2011 at 6:51 AM #

    I currently have a scout who transferred to our troop on paper, but has not shown up for any meeting in the last 6 months. I took his Eagle paperwork to the Council, thinking that he would at least come to regular meetings every week, at least to make it look good… Nada. We have not seen him. I heard through our scoutmaster that he had done his Eagle Project with 2 other scouts who happen to be buddies of his, but they have not come to meetings either. I know that, when push comes to shove, I will be pressured to sign his Eagle paperwork, but I will not do so… I think it is a travesty that a boy who has not done the minimum requirement by participating and showing leadership in the day to day affairs of the troop be allowed to proceed to Eagle because it looks good on his resume…

  2. Mary January 27, 2011 at 7:40 AM #

    I am also the Advancement Chair for our Troop. As you said, when the adults feel that some of the younger scouts are close to advancing in rank, we’ll have a meeting where the older scouts work directly with the younger ones and review their books with them to show them how to keep track of this themselves. When the older scouts feel that the skills have been learned, they send the younger scouts to the adult leaders to close the loop.

    About a month ahead of a Court of Honor, I will also email a copy of the Scout’s Individual History Report out of TroopMaster to each Scout and his parents. This is to let them know what merit badges they have completed, and which are partially complete, hopefully to urge them to finish the incomplete merit badge requirements so they can get these badges at the Court of Honor as well. That way the parents know exactly what is going on with their Scout on a regular basis.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: