Advancement is the process by which Scouts progress from rank to rank in the Scouting program. Boy Scouting has the following ranks: Scout,  Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.

Although advancement is a key part of the Scouting program, advancement is not a race or a competition.  New Scouts joining the troop can and will get lots of guidance as they develop Scouting skills and capabilities and advance in rank towards First Class.  

Don’t think of advancement as something separate from your Scouting experience or lots of hard work.  When you join Scouts and participate in the activities and outings (camping, hiking, troop meetings, community service activities, leadership roles) you will be advancing, by learning and demonstrating the various skills that move you towards your next rank.

All the details about advancement from Scout rank through Eagle rank can be found in the current version of the Boy Scout Handbook.  The latest advancement requirements can also be found on the BSA website Advancement and Awards Page.


For ranks after First Class, advancement includes both Scouting activities and merit badges.  Think of merit badges as hands-on labs focused on a particular topic – with over 139 merit badges available, you can explore things that interest you: skiing, hiking, biking, medicine, electronics, photography, first aid, boating, canoeing, welding, fingerprinting, shooting sports, and more … the full list is on the BSA website Merit Badge Page.

The Spirit of Adventure Council also runs online merit badge programs.

In order to complete a merit badge,  you must have a merit badge counselor.  Adult volunteers will periodically volunteer to lead a merit badge class.  Some Eagle-rank required badge classes are only offered infrequently - so watch your email and sign up early.

For other merit badges, visit the Advancement Office during a meeting.

If you want to earn a merit badge that is not being offered as a course, you can work with the Advancement Team to:

If you don't have everything prepared, you can always get a partial for the badge and complete it at a later time.  Most important of all it to enjoy the process. Have fun!


Service to the community is an important part of Scouting.   Scouts must complete one hour of service for Tenderfoot, two hours for Second Class and three hours for First Class.  For Star and Life, the Scout must complete six hours for each rank.   At least three of the six hours for Life must be conservation-related; this reflects an increased emphasis on environmental stewardship.  Service hours performed outside of troop activities must be recorded on the Troop 160 Service Hours Reporting Form and turned into the Scoutmaster.


Your Scout is in charge of managing their advancement. The Scout should work with the Senior Patrol Leader, the Scoutmaster, and the Advancement Team directly. You can encourage them to stay on track, make sure they remember to join meetings, and help them learn. 

In Cub Scouts the parents could sign off when Cubs finished requirements. In Boy Scouts, only a few people can approve completion of requirements. Depending on the situation, that could be the Scoutmaster, ASM, adult trip leader, SPL, Troop Guide, or Merit Badge Counselor.

Want to learn more? Watch this video!