The Mechanics of Advancement

Advancement in each Scouting program is designed as age-appropriate to the youth eligible to participate in it. Ranks form the foundation for the experiences; they are established and authorized by the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and described in the various member handbooks. The advancement program is administered by a combination of adult and youth leaders, with young people taking more responsibility as the members progress. The role of parents also differs with member age and ability, but parents are encouraged to be engaged at all levels.

4.0.0.1 Changes to Requirements

Advancement requirements change from time to time. For Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting, check the latest annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements, No. 34765. Changes usually appear first in a revised handbook, and then become effective the next January 1 and are published in the requirements book. Unless otherwise stated there, or in the member handbook, the following options are allowed.

  • If members have already started on a rank, EaglePalm, or Venturing award when a revision is introduced, they may switch to the new requirements or continue with the old ones until it is completed.
  • If members have not already started on a rank, they may use the new requirements; or, if work begins before the end of the current year, they may use the old requirements to complete the badge.

4.0.0.2 Reporting Advancement

All Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Sea Scout ranks, and all Venturing awards must be reported to local councils. The best and most accurate method is through the BSA's Internet Advancement (see Internet Advancement Highlights,6.0.0.0). The paper form, Advancement Report, No. 34403, may also be submitted, as may electronic files generatedby unit management software such as TroopMaster®.

All badges of rank, merit badges, Eagle Palms, and Venturing awards are restricted items. Unit leadership may not purchase these insignia for presentation without having filed an advancement report with the local council.

Units should report advancement monthly, but at least quarterly. This assures member records are complete. Missing reports are a serious issue, for example, when it comes to documenting advancement for boards of review, the Eagle Scout rank, and membership transfers or reinstatements. To reflect an accurate count in the Journey to Excellence performance recognition program, it is also important that all advancement for a calendar year be recorded during that year.

4.0.0.3 Age Exception for Youth With Disabilities

Youth members with severe and permanent mental or physical disabilities may work toward ranks, Eagle Palms, or Venturing awards even after they have passed the chronological age of eligibility for a program. Registration with a disability code is required. For details, see "Advancement for Members With Special Needs," 10.0.0.0.