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Scouts BSA Advancement


Requirements were REVISED effective January 1, 2021

To see the changes which were made, Click here.

For the previous requirements, Click here.


Editorial note:
Since the current (2019) edition of the Guide to Advancement was issued before BSA discontinued publication of the ScoutsBSA Requirements Booklet, the excerpts from the Guide to Advancement have been edited to replace references to "the Scouts BSA Requirements book" with "https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/", which now documents the official text for ScoutsBSA advancement requirements, and other text changes were made tocorrespond to what we believe to be the intent of BSA. In addition, links to pages on Scouting.org that have changed have been replaced with the current URLs. Once a new edition of the Guide to Advancement is released, we will update this page with the revised text.


Who Can Join? - Joining Requirements

It is the philosophy of Scouting to welcome all eligible youth, regardless of gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender identification, who are willing to accept Scouting's values and meet any other requirements of membership.

Youth can be Scouts if they have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old, OR have earned the Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old, OR are age 11 but have not reached age 18.

Official Advancement Requirements.

Prior to 2021, the requirements for all ScoutsBSA rank advancements, merit badges, and special opportunities (miscellaneous awards) were published in ScoutsBSA Requirements (#33216) which was a booklet issued annually in January. Currently the official source for the requirements for rank advancements, merit badges, and special opportunities, is this page on BSA's official website:- https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/

Merit Badges

The procedures for earning and receiving Merit Badges can be found in the Introduction to Merit Badges. Current requirements for all Merit Badges can be found on our Merit Badge Requirements pages. The official source for the requirements for all merit badges is the following page on BSA's official website, https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/.

A list of all Merit Badges, with the pamphlet stock numbers, copyright and latest revision dates, and the date of the most recent revision to the requirements is also available.

Age Requirement Eligibility

Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle Palms may be earned by registered Scouts, including Lone Scouts, and by qualified Venturers or Sea Scouts who are not yet 18 years old. Venturers and Sea Scouts qualify by achieving First Class rank as a Scout or Lone Scout (or as a Varsity Scout prior to Jan. 1, 2018). The only exceptions for those older than age 18 are related to Scouts registered beyond the age of eligibility and those who have been granted time extensions to complete the Eagle Scout rank.

An Eagle Scout board of review may occur, without special approval, within three months after a Scout's 18th birthday. If a board of review is to be held three to six months afterward, the local council must pre-approve it. To initiate approval, the candidate, the candidate's parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member attaches to the application a statement explaining the delay. Consult the Guide to Advancement topic 8.0.3.1 in the case where a board of review is to be conducted more than six months after a candidate's 18th birthday.

If you have a permanent physical or mental disability, or a disability expected to last more than two years, or beyond age 18, you may become an Eagle Scout by qualifying for as many required merit badges as you can and qualifying for alternative merit badges for the rest. If you seek to become an Eagle Scout under this procedure, you must submit a special application to your local council service center. Your application must be approved by your council advancement committee before you can work on alternative merit badges.

A Scout, Venturer or a Sea Scout with a disability may continue to work toward rank advancement after their 18th birthday if they meet the guidelines in Section 10 of the Guide to Advancement.

Rank Advancement for Venturers and Sea Scouts

Any Venturer or Sea Scout who has achieved the First Class rank as a Scout or Lone Scout (or Varsity Scout prior to Jan. 1, 2018) may continue advancement up to their 18th birthday toward the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms. Qualified Venturers and Sea Scouts must meet the requirements as prescribed in the official Scouts BSA handbooks and https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/.

The Venturer may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, den chief, historian, guide, quartermaster, chaplain aide or outdoor ethics guide. The Sea Scout may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as boatswain, boatswain’s mate, purser, yeoman, storekeeper, crew leader, media specialist, specialist, den chief, or chaplain aide.

The unit leader conference will be conducted by the Advisor or Skipper. As the Venturer or Sea Scout fulfills requirements for the Star and Life ranks, a board of review must be conducted by the crew or ship committee according to the procedures established by the National Council as published in the Guide to Advancement. Eagle Scout boards of review are conducted in accordance with the Guide to Advancement and procedures established by the local council.

Venturing Awards

Members of Older Scout Patrols (formerly called Venture Patrols) within Scouts BSA Troops are NOT eligible for Venturing and/or Sea Scouting awards unless they are also registered in a Venturing Crew and/or Sea Scout Ship, and then they may earn those awards only in the Venturing/Sea Scouting units.


Revisions to rank and/or merit badge requirements

The Guide to Advancement, in section 4.0.0.1, provides the rules regarding how to handle rank advancements when the requirements change. That information (relative to Scouts BSA ranks) is as follows:

4.0.0.1 Changes to Requirements

Advancement requirements change from time to time. For Scouts BSA, check https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/. Once a new or revised requirement appears there, any Scout beginning work on the next rank or Eagle Palm must use the new or revised requirement as stated there.

If a new or revised rank or Eagle Palm requirement is introduced in a reprinting of the Scouts BSA Handbook, then the Scout has until the following December 31 to decide what to do. The Scout may continue - or begin work - using the old requirements, or may switch to - or begin work - using the new requirements. Any Scout who chooses to use the old requirements may continue using them until the rank has been completed. Sometimes, however - especially for more significant changes - the Scouts BSA Handbook, or official communications from the National Council may set forth a different procedure that must be used and may establish a date by when use of the old requirements must cease.

For Cub Scouting, Venturing, or Sea Scouts, revisions to rank or Venturing award requirements are introduced in the youth handbook. Unless the handbook says differently, the following applies: The member has until the next January 1 to decide whether to continue work - or to begin work - on the old requirements, or to switch to - or begin work - using the new requirements. Unless otherwise stated in the youth handbook or through official communications from the National Council, if a Cub Scout, Venturer, or Sea Scout chooses to use the old requirements, he or she may continue using them until the rank or award is completed.

For handling changes to merit badge requirements, see "What to Do When Requirements Change", 7.0.4.3.

A former member who rejoins a BSA program, still as a youth member, may carry on in the advancement and pick up where they left off, but will not receive credit for activities while not registered. A former member who is no longer eligible to participate in a BSA program as a youth member due to age, for example, can neither receive credit for completing advancement requirements nor be awarded any advancement-oriented recognition such as ranks or merit badges, etc., that the individual was ineligible to earn as a youth member under the rules in effect at that time.

In addition, the following link on https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/, Scouts BSA Rank Requirements has this statement:

Similarly, the Guide to Advancement, in section 7.0.4.3, covers the rules regarding how to handle merit badges when those requirements change. That information is as follows:

7.0.4.3 What to Do When Requirements Change

https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/ lists the official merit badge requirements. However, those requirements might not match those in the Scouts BSA Handbook, or the merit badge pamphlets, because the ScoutsBSA Handbook or merit badge pamphlets were printed before the requirements changed. When new or revised merit badge requirements appear on https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/, any Scout beginning work on a merit badge must use the requirements as stated therein. However, if changes to merit badge requirements are introduced in a revised merit badge pamphlet then the Scout has through the end of that year to decide which set of requirements to use.

Once work has begun, the Scout may continue using the requirements he or she started with until completion of the badge. Alternatively, the Scout may choose to switch to the revised requirements. Sometimes, however - especially for more significant changes - the Scouts BSA Handbook, https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/, or official communications from the National Council may set forth a different procedure that must be used and may establish a date by when use of the old requirements must cease.

There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.

The authoritative source for all merit badge requirements is https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/.


Advancement Transfers for Foreign Scouts

Questions arise occasionally on whether a Scout moving to the USA from another country can use the advancements he had earned in that country toward advancement in a BSA Troop. For the answer, click here.


Explorers

Explorers (participants in the Exploring program) are ineligible for Scouts BSA advancement unless they are also registered as members of a Scouts BSA Troop, a Venturing Crew, and/or a Sea Scout Ship, or as a Lone Scout.

Sources: https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/ and
Guide to Advancement 2019 (33088)


Page updated on: July 10, 2021



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