PLEASE NOTE: The Guide to Advancement has been updated for 2017.
The online version of this resource is being updated and will be available soon. In the meantime, refer to the PDF for the latest and most accurate information.
Download the Guide to Advancement 2017 here.

The current edition of the Guide to Advancement is the official source for administering advancement in all Boy Scouts of America programs: Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouts. It replaces any previous BSA advancement manuals and previous editions of the Guide to Advancement.

Producing the Guide to Advancement has involved many members of the Boy Scouts of America’s national staff and many volunteer advancement administrators at all levels from across the country. The result is an improved resource intended to more efficiently meet the needs of those who would most often consult it.

Additional information and best practices appear in other official BSA resources such as Advancement News, the National Advancement Committee’s Twitter feed, and the advancement educational presentations released by the National Advancement Committee. See “Orientation and Education Opportunities for Advancement Administrators,”, for more information on education in advancement policies and procedures. Scouting leaders are encouraged to make full use of these resources but should confirm that updated information has not subsequently been provided. For example, most of the official educational resources released carry an expiration date. As these dates arrive, replacement versions can be downloaded from Expired presentations must not be used. How to Approach Issues Not Covered in the Guide to Advancement

Be aware that statements or interpretations offered from unofficial websites and other such sources may be out of date or incorrect. They will not be considered in resolving advancement questions and issues. In situations not specifically covered in this guide, advancement chairs, coordinators, or other administrators should make decisions based on the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America, as well as the Scout Oath and Scout Law, other applicable official and current BSA resources—and common sense.

Regardless the program—Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, or Sea Scouts—where advancement takes place, it is nothing more and nothing less than one of several methods. It is a means toward accomplishing the Boy Scouts of America mission. It is not an end in itself. When as advancement administrators—both volunteer and professional— we recognize this, we can expect success. To see it otherwise is to indicate we have forgotten our purpose. Questions and Suggestions

Every effort has been made to provide clear procedures and guidelines for a mission-oriented delivery of advancement. Its administration, however, largely takes place locally. Therefore, volunteer advancement administrators should always consult first with the district and council—the district advancement chair, district executive, council advancement chair, or the council’s professional staff advisor for advancement. These officials can provide many answers and a certain level of interpretation.

Note that the National Advancement Committee addresses many questions through its Twitter feed (@AdvBSA) and through the e-newsletter, Advancement News. To subscribe to Advancement News, send your name, email, and council name to

For recommendations or suggested corrections to this publication, or for questions that cannot be handled locally, send a message to, or mail them to Design and Development Department, S272, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, Texas 75015-2079.

Suggestions for new merit badges should be directed to Significant Changes, 2015 Edition

While every section of this guide has received at least
minor revisions since the last edition, the following topics
merit close review.

Section 2. Advancement Defined

  1. Changes were made to the methods of Scouting in the Venturing program.

Section 3. Guidelines for Advancement and Recognition Committees

  1. Added Venturing boards of review to item 12.
  2. Added to item 17 to promote other awards.
  3. Added to item 11 to promote other awards.
  4. Updated the list of advancement educational presentations available at

Section 4. The Mechanics of Advancement

  1.– Mechanics of Advancement: In Cub Scouting rewritten to reflect the new program launched as of June 1, 2015.
  2. Added that filling out a worksheet would not suffice for fulfilling requirements that use words like “show,” “demonstrate,” or “discuss.”
  3. Generalized references to ranks requiring service project participation. The 2016 requirements extend service project experiences to all ranks.
  4. Added that Scoutmaster conferences are meant to be face-to-face personal experiences, and should not be held in an online setting.
  5. Significant revisions based on the updated Venturing program.
  6. Sea Scouts are not Venturers.
  7. Topic number changed from The Sea Scout Bronze Award is discontinued, and Sea Scouts no longer work on Venturing awards.
  8. Topic number changed from

Section 5. Special Considerations

  1. Added language about the desired results of a partnership between council advancement committees and those responsible for resident camp.
  2. Added item 11 on collecting and making use of feedback.
  3. Noted that Lone Scouts living abroad may call the BSA Customer Care Center to learn which local council serves their location.
  4. Added new topic on use of Web-based tools in advancement.

Section 6. Reporting Advancement

  1. Changed section title and referenced the next generation of advancement reporting software.

Section 7. The Merit Badge Program

  1. Clarified initial effort on a merit badge may begin before the Scoutmaster signs a blue card.
  2. Clarified that merit badge counselors providing Web-based opportunities must also be registered and approved.
  3. Added that unit merit badge counselor lists should not be made available to Scouts online.
  4. Encourages a small-scale approach in merit badge counseling.
  5. Amended the recommended merit badge process.
  6. Added that if merit badge instruction includes Web-based interaction it must be conducted in accordance with BSA Social Media Guidelines.
  7. Added bullets for actions that should be put in place for merit badge group instruction.
  8. Added new topic about merit badge prerequisites.

Section 8. Boards of Review: An Overview for All Ranks

  1. Added that youth observers are not permitted at boards of review for Boy Scout ranks.
  2. Added new topic about boards of review through videoconferencing.
  3. In item 2, clarified that the composition for Boy Scout rank or Palm boards of review held in crews or ships is the same as that for a troop.
  4. Added that individuals who served on a board of review or appeal board are not permitted to serve on a subsequent appeal board for the same Scout.
  5. to end of section 8: New material added to support Venturing boards of review.

Section 9. The Eagle Scout Rank

  1. Added that Scouts must not be required to fill out locally produced electronic variations of the Eagle Scout Rank Application.
  2. In item 2, clarified that signatures on an Eagle Scout Rank Application need not be dated before the candidate’s 18th birthday.
  3. Clarified that using the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook does not mean that every line or even every form must be completed.
  4. Clarified that Scouts shall not be required to conduct fundraising for an Eagle Scout service project, and also addressed scope, Scout participation, and other issues in fundraising.
  5. Added text to address the use of “crowdfunding” for Eagle Scout service projects.
  6. Clarified that the Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application must not be required as part of the project proposal.
  7. Clarified circumstances under which it may be appropriate for an Eagle candidate to move on to a board of review even if a service project beneficiary refuses to sign the project report form.
  8. Emphasized the importance of updating advancement records in the BSA system before submitting a request for extension of time to earn the Eagle or Quartermaster rank, or the Summit Award.

Section 10. Advancement for Members With Special Needs

  1. Added that a new Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility form has been created.
  2. Added that a new form to aid in completing an individual scout advancement plan has been created.

Section 11. Appendix

  1. Changed the topic number for advancement literature and resources
  2. Added check box that allows the request for extension form to be used for the Venturing Summit Award. Also revised to encourage updating advancement records prior to submission, and to say that incomplete forms are returned.
  3. Added copy of the new Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility form.
  4. Added copy of the new Individual Scout Advancement Plan form.
  5. Note that excerpts from the BSA Charter and Bylaws and Rules and Regulations are no longer provided in the Guide to Advancement. Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are questions often asked of the National Advancement Team. Each question is followed by the topic number of the answer. General

  1. How should advancement issues be handled if they are not covered in the Guide to Advancement? (
  2. How should a district or council advancement committee be organized? (
  3. Where can we find training for advancement volunteers? (
  4. What is the responsibility of the council advancement committee in camp settings and camp operations? (– Cub Scouting

  1. May assistant den leaders or parents sign off on requirements in boys' handbooks? (
  2. If a Cub Scout is close to finishing a rank at the end of the school year, can he be allowed extra time to finish the requirements? (
  3. What is meant by required and elective adventures, and how many of them must be earned? (
  4. What happened to belt loops and pins? The Academic and Sports program has been discontinued. For a new approach to belt loops and pins, see and
  5. Does a boy who joins Cub Scouting as a fifth-grader earn the Webelos badge? ( and Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting

  1. What does “active participation” mean? (
  2. What are “positions of responsibility,” and how are they evaluated? (
  3. Must the unit leader (Scoutmaster) conference be the last step before a board of review? (
  4. Is it permissible to conduct Scoutmaster conferences or boards of review via videoconferencing? ( and
  5. Can one activity be used to fulfill more than one requirement? (
  6. What may be done when Scouts are earning large numbers of merit badges from just one counselor? (
  7. Does the National Council have training available for merit badge counselors? (
  8. Is there a time limit between starting work on a merit badge and finishing it? What if requirements change? ( and
  9. What can be done if a unit leader comes across a Scout who has a blue card signed by a merit badge counselor, but it is clear the Scout did not fulfill the requirements? (
  10. Can a Scout be denied a board of review? ( The Eagle Scout Rank

  1. May Eagle candidates choose board of review members? (
  2. Shouldn’t an Eagle Scout candidate be in uniform for his board of review? (
  3. What is a board of review under disputed circumstances, and what are the grounds for convening one? (
  4. May the decision of a board of review under disputed circumstances be appealed? How is the decision of a board of review appealed? (
  5. Must a candidate be registered at the time of his board of review? (
  6. Must the Eagle Scout Rank Application be submitted before the Scout’s 18th birthday? (
  7. May an Eagle Scout board of review be delayed until all references respond? (
  8. What if an Eagle Scout service project is not approved prior to beginning? (
  9. May a council “preapprove” some Eagle Scout fundraising efforts, such as bake sales or car washes? (
  10. What if a completed Eagle Scout service project is denied final approval? (
  11. What are the grounds for an extension of time to earn the Eagle Scout rank, and what are the responsibilities of a council in applying for one? ( and Venturing and Sea Scouts

  1. What is the “ALPS” model in Venturing? (
  2. Are the Venturing, Discovery, Pathfinder, and Summit awards considered “advancement”? (
  3. May a Venturer or Sea Scout work on Boy Scout advancement? (
  4. Who approves a Summit Award service project proposal? (
  5. Do the same restrictions, risk management, and insurance issues for Eagle Scout service projects also apply to Summit Award service projects? (
  6. Is it possible for a Venturer to receive an extension of time to earn the Summit Award? (
  7. What is the procedure for submitting an application for the Venturing Summit Award? (
  8. How are Venturing board of review members selected? (,, and
  9. How are Venturing boards of review conducted? ( and
  10. May boards of review for the Summit Award be appealed? (
  11. Are boards of review under disputed circumstances available to Summit Award candidates? ( Special Needs Scouting

  1. Can a boy with a disability become a Scout? How can he participate and advance? Does he need to join a “special” unit? (
  2. Is it possible for a person with special needs to continue to be registered as a youth member after he or she has passed the age of eligibility for a BSA program? (
  3. What kinds of allowances are made for members with special needs? (
  4. What if a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout with special needs is not able to meet advancement requirements as they are written? (,, and