About Scouts BSA
Scouts BSA is a program offered by the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 11 years old (or 10 and earned the Arrow of Light) through 17.
Find helps for the Scouts BSA program on this page.
Scouts BSA Rank Requirements and Resources
Scout Rank is the first rank earned by a young man or woman upon joining a Scouts BSA troop. The Scout rank requirements help a new Scout learn the basics of Scouting and get them off on a good start on the path to Eagle Scout.
Tenderfoot is the rank a Scout can earn after Scout. The requirements for Tenderfoot introduce the youth to the skills he or she needs to get started in Scouts BSA.
Second Class is the rank a Scout can earn after Tenderfoot. The requirements for Second Class continue to teach the youth to the skills needed to advance in Scouts BSA.
First Class is the rank a Scout can earn after Second Class The requirements for First Class continue to teach the youth to the skills needed to advance in Scouts BSA.
Star is the Scouts BSA rank earned after First Class. With Star, the focus shifts from scout skills to leadership, service, and merit badges.
Life is the rank a Scout can earn after Star. A Scout working on Life continues to develop leadership, participates in service projects, and earns merit badges.
Eagle Scout is the highest advancement rank in Scouts BSA. Eagle is earned after the rank of Life. ”Once an Eagle, always an Eagle”. A young woman or man who finishes his or her Scouting career at 18 years of age as a Life Scout will say “I WAS a Life Scout.” But a young woman or man who attains the rank of Eagle Scout can proudly declare “I AM an Eagle Scout” even after he or she reaches the age of 18.
You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn merit badges. There are more than 135 merit badges. Any Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. You don’t need to have had rank advancement to be eligible.
Eagle palms represent additional recognition for an Eagle Scout who has stayed active in his or her unit. In order to receive this recognition, he or she must also continue to earn merit badges.
A Scouts BSA Troop is actually run by its youth leaders. The Scoutmaster and adults on the Troop Committee provide advice and resources to help the youth carry out their program.
A reader asks about being youth-led when all of the Scouts have no previous experience. “The girls have tried, but without experienced scouts in leadership positions to model how to plan a scouting year, run troop meetings or plan a trip, and troop trainers to instruct new scouts in camping skills, like established troops have, things have come to a stand still. “
National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) is an intense week long leadership training class for youth
The Troop Committee and Adult Leadership
In a troop committee, committee members provide the support and resources which the youth leaders of the troop need to carry out their ideas.
Scouts BSA Troops are “youth led”, so what does a Scoutmaster do? Well, most youth are going to need a little guidance.
A reader asks about issues during rechartering. “Does the BSA ever deny a charter during recharter, and for what reasons would they deny a recharter?”
A reader asks a question about adult involvement. “The adults are very enthusiastic, which is great, but they tend to talk over the kids and take over the meetings. Some of the adults are keeping the kids form running the meetings successfully.”
A reader asks about what to do if the current leadership is burned out but nobody is willing to step up to take their place.
A reader asks if she should wear a Scout uniform. She is a committee member and religious emblems counselor.
Every year we try to get as many parents, whether Committee members or not, together in a room for an annual troop parent meeting to try to figure out how we can help our youth carry out their ideas.
Jen asks a question about adult leader succession. What do you do when it is not clear? What if issues such as “its always been done that way” and hesitance of new leaders arise?
Reader Shelley asked “I’m a new Troop Committee Chair and was wondering if anyone has some great questions that they ask their Scouts during their Board of Reviews?” Sometimes committee members struggle to come up with good Board of Review questions.
A reader reports My son has been in a very small Scouts BSA Troop for 2 years now. Our scoutmaster had a meeting to discuss the fact that the boys scouting experience is very limited because of the troops size and suggested that the scouts transfer to another troop.
A reader asks a question about a Scouts BSA parent threatening a leader. “The father of a scout show up at our door and threaten my husbands safety.”
One thing which sometimes throws new Scouts (and their parents) off guard is the Scoutmaster Conference. What in the world is a Scoutmaster Conference? Am I going to have to tie knots? What if I get nervous and forget how?!!!
A reader asks what types of service projects can be used as service hours to fulfill requirements.
Heather’s son wants to earn all of the merit badges. She is looking for a list of similar badges to help him along. I know it is difficult, but I recommend that you as a parent try to stay out of this process as much as possible.
When a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, he or she must appear before a board of review. A board of review is NOT the same as a Scoutmaster Conference but just with more people.
A reader asks about age limits for merit badge classes. Are these allowed or is this an “additional requirement”?
A Scout mom asks what to do when her son is participating in Scouting and enjoys the activities, but does not seem interested in rank advancement.
This merit badge checklist could be used by a scribe to keep track of which Scouts have earned which merit badges or could be used by an individual Scout.
During a Scoutmaster conference for the rank of Life, a Scoutmaster is requiring a Scout to answer questions from earlier ranks and merit badges, erect a tent, fold a tarp without wrinkles, keep track of paperwork and badges, plus other things. But a Scoutmaster may not add or take away requirements for advancement.
Tracey sent in this form which can be used to keep track of counselors for merit badges. Space is included for the counselor’s name, phone number, and email address. Badges required for the rank of Eagle Scout are highlighted in yellow.
A reader asks a question about age requirements for merit badges. How old should a Scout be to work on a particular merit badge? The Guide to Advancement provides some answers.
Cindy asked if merit badges her son earned before attaining the rank of Eagle can be used toward Eagle palms.
These Scout bingo cards help familiarize Scouts with the Scout Law, Eagle required merit badges, some of the fun adventures they can look forward to, ranks, and more. Use them with Webelos who are getting ready to cross over to a troop or with new members of your unit.
Themes are a way to help your youth leadership plan an month of activities around a central skill or emphasis. This will help youth leaders focus during planning sessions and keep the program interesting. BSA provides a number or program features.
The hope is that after a few months, this will provide some consistency so that our youth leaders will do more planning and delegating without as much adult intervention. I think if we provide them with some help and training and they try it, they will see that the patrol method really does provide a way for everyone to share in the duties and makes planning campouts easier.
Test your Scouts BSA knowledge with these BSA trivia questions. How many answers do you know?
Other Resources and Ideas
A while back John M sent in a Webelos Crossover recognition certificate he had made to share with everyone. However, many readers have asked for an easy way to use this with their own unit, award, etc. Now we have it! I have taken what John sent and turned it into a certificate you can create with your own information. Since the you enter the information, you can use it for ranks, awards, merit badges, or whatever you like. You can even use it to recognize adult leaders and volunteers
A reader is looking for resources and support groups for parents of Scouts and spouses of Scouters.
Some people wonder about what the main differences between the Scouts BSA and Venturing programs. Looking at the methods used in the two programs offers some insights into the main differences between the programs.
What does the fleur de lis symbolize in Scouting? A reader asks if it is appropriate to give a fleur de lis plaque to a Cub Scout who has earned his Arrow of Light but is not continuing in Scouts BSA.
A readers asks “Because of her busy schedule, my daughter is going to be a Juliette Scout, an individual scout not affiliated with a troop. Does such a thing exist for Boy Scouts? ” Any readers out there with experience with Lone Scouts? Do you recommend it? What are the pros and cons?
Beth asked, “I realized once again that, as proud as he is to wear the uniform at a Scout function, he still feels uncomfortable wearing it in public. I have seen this with many other boys as well. Has anyone else noticed this trend, and what can be done? These guys are the future of our country and doing great things everyday, and yet the cool factor is just not there.”
In addition to ranks and merit badges, young men and women in Scouts BSA can earn other Scout awards, including Scouts BSA Nova Awards and Supernova Awards, World Conservation Award, Emergency Preparedness BSA Award, and more.
We often get questions about Cub Scout and Scouts BSA uniforms. “Where do I put ….?” Fortunately, BSA provides an online insignia guide. This online resource has all of the information parents and scouts need to figure out where all of the various emblems are worn.
The Order of the Arrow is Scouting’s “honor society”. Youth are elected by the members of their units. Members of Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units are eligible if they meet some requirements. They must meet some camping requirements and have attained Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery rank, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher,
When you read the Scout Oath as is used by the BSA below, it is clear that the Scout Oath contains the same or parallel thoughts for the concepts in Baden-Powell’s original promise.
A reader asks “The fun is gone. I know Scouts BSA is different than Cubs, but is it supposed to be no fun? Is there a suggestion I can take to the Scoutmaster that might help him keep these boys interested?”
A reader is looking for resources and support groups for parents of Scouts and spouses of Scouters.
In October, 2017, BSA released this still controversial policy about girls in Scouts. “The Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. ” First, let’s get the facts straight.