Scouting BSA Advancement

Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Scout plans their advancement and progresses at their own pace as they meet each challenge. The Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

Rank Advancement

A Scout who is unable to complete any or all of the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank because they are physically or mental disabled may complete alternative requirements.


Scout rankMeet the age requirements. Be a boy or girl who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old, but is not yet 18 years old. The first badge of Scouting can be earned as soon as a scout joins a troop, especially if they have earned their Arrow of Light as a Webelos Scout. This first recognition is earned by applying and memorizing some important Scouting basics. 


Tenderfoot is the first rank earned as a  Scout. The requirements of becoming a Tenderfoot provide basic skills to begin preparing the Scout for higher adventure outings. Earning badges and receiving recognition can be very satisfying to the scout. However, keep in mind that the badge is only a representation of a valuable set of skills that a Scout has learned and demonstrated. The skills, wisdom, and experience gained through the activities of the scouting program are of much more value than a small badge.

Second Class

Second Class Scouts work on building their outdoor survival and camping skills. Compass work, nature observation, camp tools, and swimming are areas where new skills are mastered and demonstrated. A second class Scout, having completed all the requirements, should be able to lead a hike, care for their own equipment, set up a campsite, and perform basic first aid.

First Class

When the First Class rank is attained, a Scout has learned all the basic camping and outdoors skills of a scout. They can fend for themselves in the wild, lead others on a hike or campout, set up a campsite, plan and properly prepare meals, and provide first aid for most situations he may encounter. A First Class Scout is prepared. 


Up through First Class rank, a Scout was busy learning skills and becoming a self-sufficient Scout. They now moves from being a learner to being a leader. The Star rank is attained with participation, leadership, service, and self-directed advancement through merit badges.


Continuing to develop leadership skills, the Life Scout rank is earned by fulfilling additional leadership positions, service hours, and merit badges. A Life Scout is expected to be a role model and leader in the troop, providing guidance to new scouts and helping the troop however they can. Being a good leader can only be learned by doing and troop leadership positions allow the Scout to make decisions, lead discussions, and encourage others.


To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Although many options are available to demonstrate proficiency in these areas, a number of specific skills are required to advance through the ranks—Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. To advance, a Scout must pass specific tests that are organized by requirements and merit badges.