ADVANCEMENT THROUGH RANKS
Scouts BSA Scouts advance through ranks starting with the Scout rank, demonstrating basic Scout skills and a basic understanding of the Scout Oath and Law, and Scouts BSA program. From there, scouts are able to earn their Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and ultimately Eagle rank. Scouts advance at their own pace; each scout’s journey is unique, even as they complete the same basic requirements. Scouts BSA advancement must be completed before the Scout turns 18 years old, other than participating in an Eagle Board of Review, unless there are extenuating circumstances warranting participation beyond the age of 18.
The first four ranks, up through First Class, focus on learning Scouting skills such as knot tying, plant identification, first aid, physical fitness, camping, and more. For Star, Life, and Eagle, advancement is focused more on earning merit badges (which can be earned at any time after joining Scouts BSA), serving in positions of responsibilities, and helping with service and conservation projects.
A Scout can earn Eagle palms by achieving Eagle rank and earning merit badges above and beyond the 21 required for the Eagle rank. As of 2017, Merit badges earned before earning Eagle qualify for palms to be awarded alongside the Eagle rank; merit badges earned after earning Eagle can qualify for Eagle palms for each additional 5 merit badges, 3 months, remaining active with their unit, and participating in a unit leader conference.
RULES DURING REQUIREMENTS TRANSITION CHANGES
Whenever the rank requirements change, rules are set to explain how Scouts working on their own advancement should proceed. Generally:
- Scouts who joined the on or after the date of release, or upon start of working on their next rank after the date or release, MUST follow the current rank requirements.
- Scouts who joined the BSA prior to the date of release will often have some option of continuing to follow the old requirements until they reach a certain rank (either the next rank, or the next of a group of ranks), or switch to the current rank requirements.