Advancement in Boy Scouts is often confusing until you have done it a few times. The following information is the general process scouts will use to go from one rank to another and how the merit badge process works. Detailed procedures can be found at other links on the site which will be referenced in links below.
There are three groups of advancement each scout will go through. new scouts, junior scout ranks and senior scout ranks. In every case, it is the scout's responsibility to keep track of their requirements and get records updated. It is expected for them to interact with the adult leaders of the troop as well as the youth leadership. There is no right or wrong speed for advancement. The minimum time to get to Eagle is approximately 21 months. However, most scouts will earn 1st class in 18 months, an additional year for Star and additional year for Life. Most scouts who become Eagle will earn the rank between the end of their 8th grade year to the start of their sophomore year of school. But, some will complete Eagle rank between the age of 17-18.
Scout Rank (New Scouts)
Scouts new to scouting or transfers from Cub Scouts will first have to earn the scout badge. This badge covers basic scout information like the oath, law, slogan and requires the scout to meet with his family to discuss the Parents Guide to Child abuse. To become a Boy scout Be a boy who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old, but is not yet 18 years old. Scouts over the age of 11 will follow these same steps to start their path of advancement. The normal length of time to complete this badge couple be anywhere from a few hours in the case of those who earned the arrow of light to a couple of days for someone who has never been in scouts before.
Tenderfoot to 1st Class Rank (Junior Scouts)
Scouts in this classification will work on the requirements from their book. Unlike cub scouts, Tenderfoot, 2nd class and 1st class can all be worked on at the same time. However, the ranks must be awarded in order. Scouts will work on requirements in troop meetings, at home and on campouts. Once a requirement is complete they need to get a member of the troop who is not an adult that is a 1st class scout or above to sign their book. Parents and Adults are not allowed to sign off requirements. Should a scout complete the skill at home they need to demonstrate it to a senior scout before the book is signed.
As scouts get requirements signed off in their book they should get with the Advancement Chair on occasion to get their information updated in the computer. Should a scout loose their book they will need to start over as if they never did the requirement. However, if the information is updated in the Advancement Chair's computer they will be allowed to repopulate information in their new book.
They are 3 requirements at the end of each of these ranks. They are scout spirit, scoutmaster conference, and board of review. Once all requirements for a rank are complete, the scout will take their book to the Advancement Chair. The Advancement Chair will update the computer and give the scout back the book and a piece of paper which is called the "advancement sheet". The scout (not the parent) will request a scoutmaster conference which is generally set up a week in advance. The conference is an one on one meeting between an Asst Scoutmaster and the scout. These normally occur during a troop meeting and are questions directed to the scouts about the skills they have learned, leadership and scout spirit. When the Scoutmaster conference is complete the scout will go back to the advancement chair to complete the Board of review. The Board of Review is a scheduled meeting between the scout and three registered adults in the troop. This is where the scout can give his opinions on his experiences in scouting.
Should a scout have all the requirements for the first 3 ranks completed at the same time, they will normally have to wait 2 weeks between one rank to the next; always following the Requirements to Scoutmaster Conference to Board of Review process.
Star to Life Rank (Senior Scouts)
The Star Rank to Life rank is where the scout will focus on Merit Badges, community service and leadership in the troop. These ranks require a scout to hold a troop leadership position which are generally obtained via the bi-annual troop elections. A 1st class scout must spend at least 4 months as a troop leader and a star scout must serve at least 6 months as a troop leader. They must also earn Merit Badges (some Eagle required) and provide community Service. Once the service, merit badges and leadership time has been completed, the scout will then schedule a Scoutmaster conference with the Scoutmaster and move on to the Board of Review just like in the Junior Ranks.
Eagle Scout - The Eagle scout process is completely different and can be found in a different area of our site
Eagle Scout is not the end of the road. Once a scout earns Eagle they can work on Eagle Palms. a Palm can be earned for every 5 merit badges (after the 21 for Eagle) every 3 months. As always, A scoutmaster conference and Board of Review are required for each palm. a total of 20 palms can be earned. Timing is a limiting factor but all 20 (all 121 MB's) can be earned if a Scout earns Eagle Rank by his 13th birthday.
Merit Badges can be worked at any time and several at once. When a scout goes for senior ranks they will need a specific number and type of merit badges to advance. a Merit Badge is started by getting a "Blue Card" from the scoutmaster. The scout then contacts a Merit Badge Councilor to be their mentor for their badge. The MC Councilor must be register with BSA as a councilor for the badge in question. Troop 7 has a policy for parents being MB Councilors. The scouts works on the Merit badge either alone or in groups and gets requirements signed by the councilor. Once completed the scout will then turn his blue card into the Advancement Chair for recording into the computer. A scout does not have to be at any specific rank to earn merit badges. There are 121 total merit badges available.