Advancement & Awards

BSA Mission Statement

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

The Aims of Scouting

Every Scouting activity moves boys toward three basic aims: character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness.

Advancement is one of the eight methods used by Scout leaders to help boys fulfill the aims of the BSA.

Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with special needs. For details see section 10, “Advancement for Members With Special Needs.”

Mandated Procedures and Recommended Practices

This publication clearly identifies mandated procedures with words such as “must” and “shall.” Where such language is used, no council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to deviate from the procedures covered, without the written permission of the National Advancement Committee.

Recommended best practices are offered using words like “should,” while other options and guidelines are indicated with terms such as “may” or “can.” Refer questions on these to your local district or council advancement chairs or staff advisors. They, in turn, may request interpretations and assistance from the National Advancement Committee.

The Guide to Safe Scouting Applies

Policies and procedures outlined in the Guide to Safe Scouting apply to all BSA activities, including those related to advancement and Eagle Scout service projects.

What Does “Unit Leader” Mean?

Throughout this publication the term “unit leader” refers only to a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing crew Advisor, or Sea Scout Skipper. “Unit leadership” is used as a generic reference to any adult leader in a unit and as such would include the unit leader.

Click to download the Advancement Guide

What Makes a Trained Leader?

What Makes a Trained Leader PDF

Click to download the What Makes a Trained Leader  chart to post in your meeting room or give out to your committee members.

Why Advancement?

Scouts and Adults participate in Scouting because it’s FUN!

But although fun is a big part of the Scouting program, we also believe that each Scout (and Adult leader) should receive recognition for their achievements.

Advancement sets a pattern of setting positive goals and reaching them throughout life. Even though it’s not one of the primary aims of Scouting, advancement is a natural byproduct of the Scouting program.

Your Scouting experience is acquainting you with the BSA ideals, the patrol method, the outdoors, association with adults, personal growth, leadership development, and the Scout uniform.

As part of your day to day scouting activities, it’s easy to advance by following these four basic steps:

  • Learning
  • Testing
  • Review
  • Recognition

Boy Scouts

Boy Scout Advancement requirements are found in the Boy Scout Requirements book, which is issued annually. Again, the basic information documented in that book is posted on this site. Boy Scout advancement was heavily revised in January 2016 with a reorganization of the materials and new requirements added. Scout became an official rank.  Annually the Boy Scouts issue a Requirements Handbook.  The 2016 (latest edition) is available at your local Council Service Center.

Venturing and Sea Scouting

Venturing Advancement is a bit more complex. As of August 1, 1998, Boy Scouts of America split the former BSA Exploring program into two separate organizations:

Explorer Posts in the following areas were transferred to the new Venturing Division of BSA and became Venturing Crews.

  • Arts and Hobbies
  • Outdoor
  • Sea Scouting,
  • Sports, and
  • Religious Life (formerly called Youth Ministries)

Sea Exploring Ships became Sea Scouting Ships.

All other Explorer Posts and their members were transferred to the new Exploring Program in the Learning for Life program, which is a separate subsidiary corporation of BSA. Explorers are NOT eligible for Boy Scout or Venturing Advancements.

Additional changes were made to this program as the program grew.  Major changes to Advancement were last made in 2015.

Note: Male Venturing members that have completed the Boy Scout Advancement Requirements through First Class in a Boy Scout Troop or Varsity Scout Team, may continue working toward the Star, Life, and Eagle awards while a Venturer up to his 18th birthday.

US Scouting Service Project

Venturing Advancement consists of four separate Advancement tracks:

  • The Venturing Bronze, Gold, and Silver Awards are available to all youth (male and female) in the Venturing program.
  • The Ranger Award is also available to all youth (male and female) in the Venturing program, but is primarily for members of Outdoor Crews.
  • Sea Scouting has its own Advancement Program for youth members (male and female) of Sea Scouting Ships.
    • Any male Venturer who has achieved the First Class rank as a Boy Scout in a troop or as a Varsity Scout in a team may continue advancement toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms up to his 18th birthday.
    • He must meet the requirements as prescribed in the official Boy Scout Handbook and the current Boy Scout Requirements book.
    • The Venturer may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer of his crew, or as boatswain, boatswain’s mate, yeoman, purser, or storekeeper for his ship.
    • The Scoutmaster conference will be conducted by the Advisor or Skipper.
    • As the Venturer meets requirements for the Star and Life ranks, a Board of Review will be conducted by the crew or ship committee.
    • The Eagle Board of Review should follow the procedures established by the local council.Boy Scout Advancements – under the following procedures and restrictions.

Adult Recognition

Scouts aren’t the only ones who deserve recognition. Although everyone in Scouting has fun, adult leaders work hard to put on a program that “delivers the promise”. For that effort, Scouting has developed an extensive program to recognize their accomplishments.

Adult Recognition Opportunities

Insignia and Award Placement

Once you get those patches and awards, you need to know where to put them. You can find out about proper placement here:

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