The Mechanics of Advancement
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.
Advancement in each Scouting program is designed to be age-appropriate for 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.
188.8.131.52 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. Once a new
or revised requirement appears in that publication, which
is released each January, any Scout beginning work on
his 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 first
introduced in a reprinting of the Scout Handbook after
the January release of the Boy Scout Requirements book,
then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide
what to do. He may either continue—or begin work—
using the old requirements, or he may switch to—or
begin work—using the new requirements. If he chooses
to use the old requirements, he may continue using them
until he has completed the rank. Sometimes, however—
especially for more significant changes—the Scout
Handbook, the Boy Scout Requirements book, 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
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,” 184.108.40.206.
If BSA membership eligibility rules change, and as a
result a former member rejoins a BSA program, still as a
youth member, then that youth may carry on in the
advancement program, picking up where he left off when
last he was a member, but not receiving 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 under the rules
in effect during his youth he was ineligible to earn.
220.127.116.11 Reporting Advancement
All Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Sea Scout
ranks, and all Venturing advancement awards must be
reported to local councils.* The best and most accurate
method is through the BSA’s Internet portal for reporting
advancement (see “Internet Advancement Reporting,”
18.104.22.168, for more detail on reporting). At the council’s
discretion, the paper form, Advancement Report, No.
34403, may also be submitted.
*An advancement report is not required to purchase
adventure loops or pins. However, to ensure that each Cub
Scout’s record is complete and accurate, all adventures—
required and elective—should be posted in the BSA system
using the Internet portal for reporting advancement.
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.
Council advancement committees may elect to accept a
completed Eagle Scout Rank Application that is signed by
the board of review chair and the Scout executive, in lieu
of an advancement report form.
Units should report advancement monthly. 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
22.214.171.124 Age Exception for Youth With Special Needs
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. For details, see section 10, “Advancement for Members With Special Needs,” topic 10.1.0.0, “Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility.”