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How does Advancement work?

When boys start in Boy Scouts, they work on the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class simultaneously.  These ranks focus on basic Scout skills.  This process usually takes 12-18 months but can be shorter or longer depending on the amount of outings and meetings a boy attends.  Boys are encouraged to go at their own pace.  It is not a race.


Once boys have earned the rank of First Class, they proceed through the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle.  These ranks require boys to earn merit badges, give service to the community and serve in positions of leadership.

How do Merit Badges work?

  • "A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout, may work on any of them at any time. Before beginning to work with a merit badge counselor, however, the Scout is to have a discussion with the unit leader. That a discussion has been held is indicated by the unit leader’s signature on the Application for Merit Badge, commonly called the 'blue card'. Although it is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identified from those approved and made available, the Scout may already have one in mind with whom he or she would like to work. The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be." Guide to Advancement

  • When a boy is ready to start a new merit badge, he should contact the Scoutmaster or Troop Committee Chair for the names of available Merit Badge Counselors prior to starting work on the merit badge.  We want to avoid a situation where a boy spends a lot of time working on a merit badge only to find out that he needs to re-do some of his work since he didn't seek guidance at the outset.

  • If a boy needs a signed "blue card" for a Merit Badge University, he should contact the Scoutmaster or Troop Committee Chair at a troop meeting.

  • 21 are required for Eagle (8 Eagle required, 13 electives)

  • Can be earned

    • Summer camp

    • Merit Badge Universities 

    • During troop meetings

    • Working directly with a Merit Badge Counselor


What order should Eagle Required Merit Badges be completed (recommended not required order)?

  • Scout skills (start here): Swimming, Environmental Science, First Aid, Camping, Cooking

  • Citizenship in the World

  • Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Communication 

  • Advanced Scout skills: Lifesaving (or Emergency Preparedness)

  • 90 day requirements (hardest): Personal Fitness, Family Life, Personal Management

  • Citizenship in Society


Which merit badges are best for first year campers?

Swimming and Environmental Science are a good place to start. Depending on your son's interest, he should consider: Canoeing, Kayaking, Insect Study, Fingerprinting or Leatherwork. He can ask the Scoutmaster for recommendations.


How are tent nights for Camping merit badge (Eagle required) calculated? See Tent Nights

  • Minimum of 20

  • Only one long term trip (summer camp) counts

  • Must be tent, not cabin


For Life Scout, what counts as "(a)t least three hours of this service must be conservation-related"?

BSA does not provide an official definition of "conservation-related" and therefore it is at the discretion of the Scoutmaster to define it. The most analogous examples are provided in the Boy Scout Conservation Good Turn Award:

  • Plant shrubs to provide food and cover for wildlife.

  • Build and set out bird and squirrel nesting boxes.

  • Conduct stream improvement projects to prevent erosion.

  • Plant grasses and legumes to provide ground cover in schoolyards, public parks, and recreation areas.

  • Plant tree seedlings as part of a managed forestry plan.

  • Help thin and prune woodlands in a managed tree improvement project.

The Conservation Good Turn Award cites removing litter, recycling and participating in a beach cleanup as examples of good Cub Scout projects. Therefore conservation-related service hours should conserve wildlife, energy, forests, soil, and water. Planting trees, clearing trails of invasive species and the like are examples of conservation-related service hours. While removing litter, recycling and participating in a beach cleanup are good for the environment, they do not rise to the level of conservation-related. Keep in mind that these conservation-related service hours are some of the last service hours before embarking on the Eagle Scout project.


For Star, Life, Eagle; what counts as "be active" and "serve actively" for Positions of Responsibility?

Troop 157 defines "active" as attending at least 60% of troop meetings and at least 1 troop event (e.g. campout, parade, troop service project) during the position period.


What is Order of the Arrow?

The Order of the Arrow is the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America, composed of Scouts who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives as elected by their peers.  To qualify for election, you must have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping within the two years immediately prior to the election.


When is the Order of the Arrow sash worn?

It is appropriate to wear the Order of the Arrow sash when you are doing official Order of the Arrow business or attend an Order of the Arrow ceremony.


When is the merit badge sash worn?

The merit badge sash is worn during formal activities and events such as Courts of Honor and the Veterans Day ceremony, and not during troop meetings or campouts.


Can you wear the merit badge sash and the Order of the Arrow sash at the same time?

The merit badge sash and the Order of the Arrow sash may not be worn at the same time.



BSA Youth Protection Guidelines requires another adult to be present at merit badge counseling sessions.  Further, a Scout must copy another adult on all email and text communications with adults.


Does helping at the Pasta Dinner fundraiser (or any fundraiser) count toward community service?

No, community service is done without the expectation of reward.  During a fundraiser, the reward to the troop is the funds raised and the hours spent do not count toward community service requirements but can be counted as a separate troop/patrol activity for First Class 1a and Second Class 1a.


First Class 1a and Second Class 1a require separate troop/patrol activities.  What counts toward those?

Some of the events that count toward this requirement are: summer camp, day hikes, Memorial Day parade, Veterans Day ceremony, campouts, etc.  Keep in mind that "separate" means that each activity must be a unique event so multiple days at summer camp still count as one activity, even if you sleep at different sites on the same property (e.g. Yawgoog).


What counts as long-term camping?

Camping merit badge states: "One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement."  The Order of the Arrow membership requirements state: " Have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each."  A trip to a property counts as one long-term camp even if you sleep at different locations on that property during the trip (e.g. Philmont, Yawgoog).  Therefore you could count Philmont or a week at summer camp as your long-term camping experience but you cannot count both of them when calculating the Camping merit badge 20 night minimum and/or the Order of the Arrow 15 night minimum.


What if I have questions?

As boys transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts (or start in Boy Scouts for the first time) we encourage them to take increasing responsibility for their Scout experience.  Your son should reach out to the SPL or a leader with a question (keeping in mind to copy another adult on all electronic communication in accordance with the BSA's no one-on-one contact policy).


When parents first start in the troop we understand there will be many questions and the troop leadership is happy to answer those parent questions.  With progression in Scouting, once your son becomes a First Class Scout we expect your son to be asking questions/sending emails rather than parents.


Who belongs to the Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC)?

The PLC is comprised of the senior patrol leader, who presides over the meetings, the assistant senior patrol leader, all patrol leaders, and the troop guide. The troop scribe also attends to take notes and keep the minutes.

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