Scouts BSA Advancement & Awards

BSA Mission Statement

The mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.


The Aims of Scouting

Every Scouting activity moves youth toward three basic aims: character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness. Advancement is one of the eight methods used by Scout leaders to help them fulfill the aims of the BSA.  Guide to Advancement



Step 1 -- The Scout learns - A Scout learns skills by taking an active, hands-on part in troop and patrol meetings and outdoor programs. This learning, as we said above, is the natural outcome of regular Scouting activities -- "on-the-job" training.

Step 2 -- The Scout is tested. When leaders see that the Scout has mastered a given skill and satisfied a given requirement, they tell the Scout so -- and record the achievement.

Step 3 -- The Scout is reviewed. When a Scout completes all requirements for a rank, the Scout appears before a "Board of Review" composed of members of the Troop Committee. Their purpose is not to retest, but to make sure the Scout has met all the requirements, to chat about their feelings in getting along with the troop and its program, and of course to encourage the Scout to keep advancing.

Step 4 -- The Scout is recognized. When a Scout is certified by the Board of Review, the Scout is awarded a new badge of rank as soon as possible, normally in a ceremony at the next troop meeting. It should be recognized again at the troop's next Court of Honor.


Merit Badges

You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn merit badges. There are more than 135 merit badges, and any Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or any qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may earn any of these at any time.

Pick a Subject. Talk to your unit leader about your interests. Read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you, and pick one to earn. Your leader will give you the name of a person from a list of counselors. These individuals have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are interested in helping you.

Scout Buddy SystemYou must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents or guardian, a brother or sister, a relative, or a friend.

Call the Merit Badge Counselor. Get a signed  MB Application "Blue Card" (fillable), No. 34124 or No. 34130, from your unit leader. Get in touch with the merit badge counselor and explain that you want to earn the badge. The counselor may ask to meet you to explain what is expected and to start helping you meet the requirements. You should also discuss work you have already started or possibly completed.

At the first meeting, you and your merit badge counselor will review and may start working on the requirements. In some cases, you may share the work you have already started or completed.

Unless otherwise specified, work on a requirement can be started at any time. Ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to know or do. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Many troops, schools, and public libraries have them.

Show Your Stuff. When you are ready, call the counselor again to make an appointment. When you go, take along the things you have made to meet the requirements. If they are too big to move, take pictures or have an adult tell in writing what you have done. The counselor will test you on each requirement to make sure you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.

Get the Badge. When the counselor is satisfied you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application. Give the signed application to your unit leader so your merit badge emblem can be secured for you.

Merit badge requirements are revised as needed to reflect updated information and technology. Refer to the latest Boy Scout Requirements book for merit badge requirement updates. The current Boy Scout Requirements book is available from your local Scouting merchandise distributor. It may also be ordered online at

Requirements. You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less. You must do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you must do. Just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” and “collect,” “identify,” and “label.”

The requirements listed on the Merit Badges link (above) are the current and official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America. Occasionally, the requirements will not match those in the printed Boy Scout Handbook, the annual Boy Scout Requirements book, or some merit badge pamphlets because of the timing of their printing schedules.

If a new edition of a merit badge pamphlet is introduced with updated requirements after the Boy Scout Requirements book has been released, a Scout who is starting the badge may choose to follow either set of requirements until the end of the year. At the start of the new year, Scouts who are beginning must use only the new requirements.

If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition of the pamphlet is introduced, the Scout may continue to use the same pamphlet and fulfill the requirements therein to earn the badge. The Scout need not start over again with the new pamphlet and revised requirements.

There is no time limit for starting and completing a merit badge, but all work must be completed by the time a Scout turns 18.



Tracking the Scouting Experience from Tiger to Eagle Scout

From the first knot tied to final hours of service performed, the Scouting experience is a journey like no other. Scoutbook ensures not a moment is missed - tracking advancement, milestone achievements and all the fun along the way. 

Click HERE to link to Scoutbook

If you are not using Scoutbook, you can update the NEW Internet Advancement tool from BSA.  You need to be a Key 3 or Advancement Coordinator to have access.

Click HERE to link to Internet Advancement


Eagle Scout

Since 1912, the Eagle Scout rank has represented a milestone of accomplishment—perhaps without equal—that is recognized across the country and even the world. Those who have earned the Eagle Scout rank count it among their most treasured achievements. “Eagle Scout” is not just an award; it is a state of being. Those who earned it as youth continue to earn it every day as adults. That is why an Eagle Scout IS an Eagle Scout—not was.

Over the more than 100 years since the first Eagle, a formal application process has evolved that is important in maintaining the award’s well-recognized prestige. It is in the interest of the entire BSA, and in fact our nation, that all youth who join Scouts BSA in 2019 should have an opportunity to earn their Eagle Scout rank should they diligently and promptly complete all requirements. Click here  to review the temporary transition rules for youth over 16 but not yet 18 years of age on February 1, 2019 interested in earning the Eagle Scout rank.


Awards Listing

Click on the above link to a complete BSA Award listing at "Awards Central" on the National BSA website.


What Does “Unit Leader” Mean?

Throughout this publication the term “unit leader” refers only to a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity team Coach, Venturing crew Advisor, Exploring Advisor, Sea Scout Skipper, or Lone Scout friend and counselor. “Unit leadership” and “leader” are used as generic references to any registered adult leader in a unit and as such would include the unit leader.


FAQ's for Advancement

Q: Other than being licensed for Internet Rechartering, what agreements are needed to use Internet Advancement?
A: None. The Internet Rechartering license grants the council authorization to use Internet Advancement.

Q: In what way is the Internet Advancement PowerPoint presentation used to support the council in its training of staff and volunteers?
A: The Internet Advancement presentation is useful for a variety of audiences. Show it to unit leadership, the council executive board, council and district advancement committees, council and district commissioner staff members, and the district committee, and use it to orient the council staff.

Q: Will the Internet Advancement application work through any Internet connection and with any browser?
A: Internet Advancement is supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher. It is recommended that compatibility mode be turned on when using Internet Explorer version 8, 9, or 10. Other browsers have been tested with Internet Explorer compatibilities installed, including running a virtual copy of Windows with Internet Explorer within a Mac. The system works with a minimum 56KB dial-up modem connection to the Internet. Faster connections such as DSL and cable will speed up the process.

Q: How does the unit get its unit ID number for Internet Advancement?
A: The council provides it. The council can print the unit list and unit labels from Web Admin > IADV Admin. The list and labels have the unit ID. The council decides the best method to distribute unit IDs to the units. As long as a unit is renewed as a reregistered or separated unit, its unit ID will not change. The unit ID may or may not be distributed each year to all units; the council should decide if this is necessary.

Q: Can the unit ID provided by the council be used to see another unit’s data?
A: No; each unit has a unique unit ID that must be used in combination with the proper unit type (pack, troop, team, crew, ship, or post) and four-digit unit number to register the unit. When a unit processor first registers, he or she will create a password. This password and the unit ID will allow the user to log in as a returning user the next time Internet Advancement is used. The unit ID for Internet Advancement is the same as the unit ID for the Journey to Excellence Service Hours website. Internet Advancement and JTE are completely separate applications, however.

Q: Should the council provide guidelines on Internet Advancement for its units?
A: Yes. The council should tell unit leadership how to turn in the unit advancement reports from Internet Advancement and how to handle reports for awards that could not be entered online or through uploaded files. Because the Eagle Scout rank cannot be submitted online, the leaders of troops, teams, crews, and ships must also know how to follow the Eagle Scout advancement procedures.

Q: What is the local council’s role for support and administration of Internet Advancement? A: The council serves as the front-line “help desk” for its units using Internet Advancement. Selected council staff members must know how Internet Advancement works so they will be able to answer questions from units. Councils administer the process by providing units with their respective unit IDs, monitoring unit activity, changing passwords, resetting profiles and unit data, and creating reports requested by council management for staff and volunteer use. If the help needed is beyond the scope of what the council can provide, contact the National Support Center via email ( or phone (972-580-2489).

Q: What about the use of unit management software and advancement file uploads?
A: The council may accept files from units for processing in ScoutNET as before. If the council has not been entering advancement to individual records, then an upload file from unit management software can update member records for the benefit of the unit and council. If there is a problem with a file, however, it is the unit’s responsibility to contact and request assistance from the vendor that sells and supports the software.

Q: What other support materials will be available to councils for training and communicating Internet Advancement?
A: The national Advancement Committee’s Education and Webinars Task Force is considering producing helpful tools such as sample Web pages, newsletter articles, and suggestions for implementing Internet Advancement training. Watch Advancement News for announcements. (To subscribe to Advancement News, send a “SUBSCRIBE” message to

Q: What ranks, badges, and awards may be recorded through Internet Advancement?
A: Based on the unit type and program, each unit will have an appropriate list for the entry of ranks, badges, and awards for unit youth members. Packs may enter only ranks, activity badges, belt loops, and awards. Troops, teams, crews, and ships may enter ranks, merit badges, and awards. LFL Explorer posts may enter only awards. No nominated awards—including meritorious action awards and awards controlled by other organizations, even if approved for uniform wear—can be recorded. Lapsed units may enter advancement only for dates prior to their unit expiration date. If a unit is dropped, the unit advancement processor will not have access to Internet Advancement.

Q: How does the council prevent a specific unit from using Internet Advancement? A: The council may block units by using the Block Unit process in Unit Management. When the Block Unit feature is activated, a unit cannot load its roster until the block has been removed. Changing the password is only a temporary means of blocking a unit, as is not providing the unit ID. The council management should determine if and when a unit’s participation should be blocked and explain to unit leadership why it is ineligible to use the online process.


Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to members with special needs. 


Mandated Procedures and Recommended Practices

This publication clearly identifies mandated procedures with words such as “must” and “shall.” Where such language is used, no council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to deviate from the procedures covered, without the written permission of the National Advancement Program Team.

Recommended best practices are offered using words like “should,” while other options and guidelines are indicated with terms such as “may” or “can.” Refer questions on these to your local district or council advancement chairs or staff advisors. They, in turn, may request interpretations and assistance from the National Advancement Program Team.


The Guide to Safe Scouting Applies

Policies and procedures outlined in the Guide to Safe Scouting apply to all BSA activities, including those related to advancement and Eagle Scout service projects.