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 Scouts BSA. 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 Scouts BSA 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 Scouts BSA 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 Scouts BSA 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?