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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.

To learn about Advancement, please read the official BSA Guide to Advancement, or read below for answers to several common questions.

What is Advancement?
Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank.

It is a method – not an end in itself.

Advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is one of several methods designed to help unit leadership carry out the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America. See the inside front cover for text of the aims and mission.

What is Advancement based on?

Advancement is based on experiential learning.

Everything done to advance—to earn ranks and other awards and recognition—is designed to educate or to otherwise expand horizons. Members learn and develop according to a standard. This is the case from the time a member joins, and then moves through, the programs of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing or Sea Scouts.

Experiential learning is the key: Exciting and meaningful activities are offered, and education happens. Learning comes from doing. For example, youth may read about first aid, hear it discussed, and watch others administer it, but they will not learn it until they practice it. Rushing a Scout through requirements to obtain a badge is not the goal. Advancement should be a natural outcome of a well-rounded unit program, rich in opportunities to work toward the ranks.

It is important to note, as with any educational opportunity, a rank or award is not the end of the learning process. In Scouting, after a requirement has been passed, the Scout is placed in practical situations that build retention through repeated use of skills. For example, he plays games that feature the skills, teaches other Scouts, and perhaps practices them in “real-life” outdoor experiences.

A well-rounded and strong unit program takes advantage of these kinds of opportunities, using them to improve retention through practical application.

How does a Cub Scout advance?

Den leaders, Cubmasters, and their assistants conduct meetings implementing the three steps in Cub Scout advancement: preparation, qualification, and recognition. Four separate den leader guides—one each for the Tiger, Wolf, and Bear programs, and one combined for Webelos and Arrow of Light—explain the mechanics for doing so while helping to maximize advancement. Den meetings—ideally three per month, one of which may include an outing—follow a traditional school year and are designed to result in advancement for all boys.

What are the Cub Scout ranks?

The Cub Scout program is centered primarily in the den, the home, and the neighborhood, but often takes place in the outdoors. It leads to advancement through six ranks, which—except for the Bobcat rank—are grade- or age-based.

Bobcat. Earned first by all Cub Scouts, no matter what age they join.

Tiger. For boys who have completed kindergarten or are 7 years old.

Wolf. For boys who have completed first grade or are 8 years old.

Bear. For boys who have completed second grade or are 9 years old.

Webelos. For boys who have completed third grade or are 10 years old.

Arrow of Light. For boys who have completed fourth grade.

Cub Scouts do not “go back” and work on ranks designed for earlier grade levels, even if missed due to their time of joining. Likewise, Cub Scouts do not “move ahead” to the next rank until the completion of the current school year.

How does a Boy Scout advance?

Advancement at this level presents a Scout with a series of challenges in a fun and educational manner. As he completes the requirements he achieves the three aims of Scouting: to develop character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop physical and mental fitness. It is important to remember that in the end, a badge recognizes the Scout has gone through an experience of learning something he did not previously know. As a result, through increased confidence, he discovers or realizes he is able to learn similar skills or disciplines. Advancement is thus about what a young man is now able to learn and to do, and how he has grown. Retention of skills and knowledge is then developed later by using what has been learned through the natural course of unit programming; for example, instructing others and using skills in games and on outings.

Advancement, thus, is not so much a reward for what has been done. It is, instead, more about the journey: As a Scout advances, he is measured and he grows in confidence and self-reliance, and he builds upon his skills and abilities.

The badge signifies that a young man—through participation in a series of educational activities—has provided service
to others, practiced personal responsibility, and set the examples critical to the development of leadership; all the while working to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

What are the Boy Scout ranks?

After being awarded the Scout badge, there are six ranks in Boy Scouting that are to be earned sequentially no matter what age a boy joins the program: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle.