The importance of advancement and ways to elevate the Scouting experience
By: Scott Robertson
I would like to thank Amy Echlin for sharing this post with us. She wrote for a session of University of Scouting.
What is advancement?
Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank in the Scouting program. Advancement is simply a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Everything done to advance and earn these ranks should be designed to help the scout have an exciting and meaningful experience.
Education and fun are functions of the Scouting movement, and they must be the basis of the advancement program.
A fundamental principle of advancement is the growth a young person achieves as a result of his Participation in his troop's program.
Personal growth is the prime consideration in the advancement program. Scouting skills- what a young person knows how to do- are important, but they are not the most important aspect of advancement. Scouting's concern is the total growth of youth. This growth may be measured by how youth live the Scouting ideals, and how they do their part in their daily lives.
Learning by doing. A Scout may read about fire building or good citizenship. He may hear it discussed, and watch others in action, but he has not learned first aid until he has done it.
Each Scout progresses at his own rate. Advancement is not a competition among individual young people, but an expression of their interest and participation in the program. Youth must be encouraged to advance steadily and set their own goals with guidance from their parents, guardians, or leaders. A badge is recognition of what a scout is able to do, not really a reward for what he has done. The badge is proof of certain abilities, and is not just a reward for completion of a certain task.
Advancement encourages Scouting ideals. Scouting teaches a young person how to care for himself and help others. Advancement should reflect the desire to live the Boy Scout Oath in his daily life.
Boy Scout Advancement
"The Boy Scout advancement program is subtle. It places a series of challenges in front of a Scout in a manner that is fun and educational. As Scouts meet these challenges, they achieve the aims of Boy Scouting."
"The Scout advances and grows in the Boy Scout phase of the program in the same way a plant grows by receiving nourishment in the right environment. The job of adults concerned with advancement is to provide the right environment."
"One of the greatest needs of young men is confidence. There are three kinds of confidence that young men need: in themselves, in peers, and in leaders."
"Educators and counselors agree that the best way to build confidence is through measurement. Self confidence is developed by measuring up to a challenge or a standard. Peer confidence develops when the same measuring system is used for everyone -- when all must meet the same challenge to receive equal recognition. Confidence in leaders comes about when there is consistency in measuring -- when leaders use a single standard of fairness."
"No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from any advancement requirement. A Boy Scout badge recognizes what a young man is able to do; it is not a reward for what he has done."
"Standards for joining a Boy Scout troop and for advancement are listed in the latest printing of the Boy Scout Handbook and in the current Boy Scout Requirements book."
"Advancement accommodates the three aims of Scouting: citizenship, growth in moral strength and character, and mental and physical development."
"The advancement program is designed to provide the Boy Scout with a chance to achieve the aims of Scouting. As a Scout advances he is measured and grows in confidence and self-reliance."
"When a badge and certificate are awarded to a Boy Scout to recognize that he has achieved a rank, they represent that a young man has:
Been an active participant in his troop and patrol.
Demonstrated living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Law in his daily life.
Met the other requirements and/or earned the merit badges for the rank.
Participated in a Scoutmaster conference.
Satisfactorily appeared before a board of review.
"In the advanced ranks (Star, Life, and Eagle), the badge represents that the young man has also:"
Served in a position of responsibility in the troop.
Performed service to others
"A Boy Scout advances from Tenderfoot to Eagle by doing things with his patrol and his troop, with his leaders, and on his own. It's easy for him to advance if the following four opportunities are provided for him."
1. The Boy Scout learns. "A Scout learns by doing. As he learns, he grows in ability to do his part as a member of the patrol and the troop. As he develops knowledge and skill, he is asked to teach others; and in this way he begins to develop leadership."
2. The Boy Scout is tested. "A Scout may be tested on rank requirements by his patrol leader, Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmaster, a troop committee member, or a member of his troop. The Scoutmaster maintains a list of those qualified to give tests and to pass candidates. The Scout's merit badge counselor teaches and tests on the requirements for merit badges."
3. The Boy Scout is reviewed. "After a Scout has completed all requirements for a rank, he has a board of review. For Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Palms, the review is conducted by members of the troop committee. The Eagle Scout board of review is conducted in accordance with local council procedures."
4. The Boy Scout is recognized. "When the board of review has certified a boy's advancement, he deserves to receive recognition as soon as possible. This should be done at a ceremony at the next troop meeting. The certificate for his new rank may be presented later at a formal court of honor.
Troop Advancement Goals
(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, pages 25)
"The Scoutmaster must be in charge of advancement in the troop. It is necessary that the Scoutmaster understand the purpose of the advancement program and the importance it has in the development of the Scouts in the troop. The troop's program must provide advancement opportunities. By participating in the troop program, the Scout will meet requirements for rank advancement."
"The troop's unit commissioner and the district advancement committee can play an important part in explaining advancement and helping the Scoutmaster utilize the advancement program in the troop program, making it exciting to the Scouts in the troop."
"It is important that the troop committee and the Scoutmaster set an advancement goal for the year. A basic goal should be for each Scout to advance a rank during the year. New Scouts should earn the First Class rank during their first year in the troop. By doing so, these new Scouts become net contributors to the troop and are able to care for themselves and others. When reviewed monthly by the troop committee, Scouts will recognize the importance of advancement. Troops should conduct boards of review for Scouts who are not advancing. A minimum of four formal courts of honor a year (one every three months) should be held to formally recognize the Scouts in the troop."
"Presentation of merit badges and rank badges should not await these courts of honor; awards and badges should be presented at the next meeting after they have been earned. Scouts are recognized again at a formal court of honor."
Ranks requiring Service:
Second Class Rank
For the Second Class Rank, a Scout must participate in a service project or projects approved by his Scoutmaster. The time of service must be a minimum of one hour. This project prepares a Scout for the more involved service projects he must perform for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout Ranks.
Advancement Policies #33088, page 27
Star and Life Ranks
For Star and Life ranks, a Scout must perform six hours of service to others. This may be done as an individual project or as a member of a patrol or troop project. Star and Life service projects may be approved for Scouts assisting on Eagle service projects. The Scoutmaster approves the project before it is started. For the rank of Eagle, "While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project should benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) The project plan must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and troop committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, BSA Publication No. 18-927E, in meeting this requirement."
One of the most enjoyable experiences of being a Scoutmaster is the opportunity for a Scout and his leader to sit down and visit together.
In large troops, Scoutmasters occasionally assign this responsibility to assistant Scoutmasters or members of the troop committee; but this is unfortunate, because most Scoutmasters feel that this is truly the opportunity to get to know the Scout and help him chart his course in life.
A good conference should be unhurried. It helps the Scout evaluate his accomplishments and set new goals with his Scoutmaster. This can be accomplished at a troop meeting, camping trip, or in the Scout's home.
Goal setting by the Scout makes it possible for the Scoutmaster to help the Scout with his weaknesses and encourage him to use his strengths.
The Scout (joining) conference is probably one of the most important associations the Scout will have in his Scouting career. It is at this conference that the Scoutmaster illustrates to him the adult-youth relationship that is unique to Scouting.
All through the ranks, it is rewarding for the Scoutmaster to observe the Scout grow in responsibility and maturity. It is through this association and example that a young man grows and matures, and the Scoutmaster conference accomplishes that aim. (See Scoutmaster Handbook, chapter 10.)
Active in unit?
A registered Scout is an active scout. Unit leaders are responsible for maintaining contact with the Scout on a regular basis. The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings. However, unit leaders must ensure that he is fulfilling the obligations of his assigned leadership position. If he is not, then they should remove him.
Active in his position of responsibility? Unless you remove him!
Ranks with "active" requirements: Star, Life, and Eagle.
1. He is registered in his unit and current on dues.
2. He has not been dismissed for disciplinary reasons.
3. He is engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (Scoutmaster conference informs the scout of upcoming activities, through personal contact, and so on...)
Unit leaders are responsible for maintaining contact with the Scout on a regular basis.