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.
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 annually, 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 Boy Scout Handbook after the annual release of the Boy Scout Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following December 31 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 Boy 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 must cease.
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,” 22.214.171.124.
If 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.
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 “Electronic Advancement Reporting,” 126.96.36.199, 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, the Summit Award, the Quartermaster 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.
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, “Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility,” 10.1.0.0.