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 four basic aims: character development, citizenship training, leadership, and mental and physical fitness.

Advancement is one of the 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 of the Guide to Advancement, “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?

The term “unit leader” refers only to a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing crew Advisor, Sea Scout Skipper (or the related Assistant position), or Lone Scout friend and counselor. “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 Guide to Advancement

What Makes a Trained Leader?

Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader.

Training for adults starts with Youth Protection Training.   Youth Protection Training (YPT) is required to become a registered leader in the Los Padres Council, and must be renewed every year; members with expired YPT will not be renewed without retaking the training.  Parents or others affiliated adults are also welcome to take this training and are encouraged to be familiar with BSA policies which help ensure safety for our youth.

Click here to login and take Youth Protection trainingYou do not have to be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America to take Youth Protection training.

Beyond YPT, there are position-specific, role-based trainings that can be taken online or in person.    Scouts BSA Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters must also take an in-person Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS) to be fully trained.  Working as patrols, this hands-on course provides adult leaders the practical outdoor skills they need to lead Scouts in the out-of-doors.   Completion of these role-based trainings allow the leader to wear the “Trained” patch on their uniform.

After these trainings, there are additional courses to enhance the program.    Cub Scout Packs who plan camping activities must have at least one leader on the outing trained in Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO).  BSA’s Cub Scout level camping policies will be taught in this one and a half day course, along with the discovery of the necessary tools to help units carry our a successful camping experience.

Additional unit activities may have similar requirements.  For example units doing activities in or on the water will need at least one leader with Safe Swim Defense training, and also Safety Afloat training if the activity involves boats or watercraft.

Learn more about Training for Adult Leaders

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.

The methods of Cub Scouting are: living the ideals; belonging to a den; family involvement, activities, serving the community, advancement, and uniform.

Scouts BSA methods include:  patrol method; advancement; personal development; leadership; adult association; outdoor activities; advancement; and uniform.

Advancement sets a pattern of setting positive goals and reaching them throughout life. As a method of Scouting, advancement is a natural byproduct of the Scouting program and the result of following the other methods.

Advance occurs through these four basic steps:

  • A Scout Learns
  • A Scout is Tested
  • A Scout’s learning is Reviewed
  • A Scout is Recognized

Cub Scouts

Cub Scout Advancement requirements are found in individual handbooks for each level of Cub Scouting, which is issued annually. Cub Scout advancement is grade based:

  • Kindergarten:  Lion Cub Scout (scouts achieve advancements as a den)
  • First Grade:  Tiger Cub Scout (scouts and their adult partners work together with the den)
  • Second Grade:  Wolf Cub Scout (scouts advance with help from their den leaders and families)
  • Third Grade:  Bear Cub Scout (scouts advance with help from their den leaders and families)
  • Fourth Grade:  Webelos Scout (scouts advance with help from their den leaders)
  • Fifth Grade:  Arrow of Light Scouts (scouts advance with help from their den leaders, getting prepared to join the Scouts BSA program)

Again, the basic information documented in that book is posted on this site. The latest editions are available at your local Council Service Center.

Scouts BSA

Scouts BSA Advancement requirements are found in the Scouts BSA Requirements handbook, which is issued annually. There are seven ranks available, beginning with Scout rank and culminating with Eagle.  The latest edition of the handbook is available at your local Council Service Center.


Venturing Advancement is a four stage path, culminating in the Summit Award.

Venturing members that have completed the Scouts BSA Advancement Requirements through First Class in a Scouts BSA Troop may continue working toward the Star, Life, and Eagle awards while a Venturer, up to their 18th birthday.

Sea Scouting

Sea Scouting Ships also have rank advancement, ending with the highest rank of Quartermaster.

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: