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Rank Advancement

There are six ranks of Boy Scouting: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. In addition, there is an introductory level of Boy Scout - this is not an official rank, but it gets the boy off to a good and easy start. It is not difficult to advance in rank in Troop 61. All it takes is some initiative on a Scout's part, some guidance on a junior leader's part, and some interest on a parent's part. 
The requirements for the various ranks can be found in the Boy Scout Handbook under title "My Trail to Eagle." The ideal time to work on these requirements is on a campout. After the completion of the requirements for a rank, he must ask the Scoutmaster for a Scoutmaster's conference. Then he is ready for the Board of Review. If this interview is successful he has earned his rank.
Merit Badges: Merit badges signify the mastery of certain Scout craft skills as well as serving to increase skill in various areas of personal interest. Of the more than 220 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle, 12 of them being specifically required. When a boy chooses a merit badge to work on, whether it is a required one or one in his particular area of interest, he must obtain the Merit Badge Book for that badge and then see the Scoutmaster for a "blue card" authorizing him to work on that badge. It is the National Boy Scouts of America policy that a boy works only with an approved Merit Badge Counselor. A list of certified Counselors is available from the Scoutmaster. This, by the way, is an excellent opportunity for parents of Troop 61 Scouts to become involved in the program. If you have expertise or interest in a particular area and would like to become a Merit Badge Counselor, please see the Scoutmaster.

Participation: In order to advance in rank, a Scout must be “active in patrol and troop activities.” Many of the requirements for the early ranks need to be completed on campouts so attendance is very important for the younger boys. Just as an athlete cannot earn a letter by failing to participate in competition, the Board of Review will not promote a Scout if he is not active in our program. Beginning with the First Class rank, and continuing through Life and Eagle, a Scout must demonstrate participation in increasingly more responsible service projects. At these levels, he must also demonstrate leadership skills by holding one or more specific youth leadership positions in the troop. In Troop 61, a Scout is encouraged to achieve at least one rank advancement per year, with the exception of the Life and Eagle ranks. If a boy does not advance within a certain period of time, he will invited before a Board of Review to find out if he needs any specific encouragement on his Trail to Eagle.

Steps in Advancement: Advancement, only one of the eight methods by which the aims of Scouting are achieved, has five steps through each award level.

First, the Scout learns. Much of his learning comes from other boys in his patrol or troop. The troop program also helps. His patrol activities are directed toward the skills he needs. Every troop hike, campout, or other activity offers potential learning experiences. A Scout learns to pitch a tent by pitching one, to use a compass by finding directions, and to cook a meal by having to prepare and eat it with his patrol members.

Second, the Scout is tested. The specific requirements determine the kind of testing. Verbal testing is sufficient in some instances. In other instances, a Scout must demonstrate his skills.

Third, the Scout takes part in a Scoutmaster Conference. These conferences take place at every level of advancement and are designed to help the Scout set goals for himself in line with his individual talents and abilities. At each conference, the Scoutmaster helps him evaluate how close he came to accomplishing his present goal and then helps him to set a new goal.

Fourth, the Scout is reviewed. A Board of Review, composed of at least three Troop Committee members or other interested adults, interviews him. The purpose of the review is to ensure that all requirements for advancement have been met. This includes a review of the Scout's attitude, attendance, and practice of the ideals of Scouting. In effect, he will be learning how to handle himself in future job interviews. The decision regarding whether a Scout has met the required standards of performance to qualify for advancement to the next rank begins with the troop and, in the case of Eagle Scout, is approved by the District, local Council, and finally, the National Council.

Fifth, the Scout is recognized. The final step in advancement involves presentation of the badge of rank, usually at a ceremony before the entire troop.

Courts of Honor: Courts of Honor are scheduled periodically during the year, and parents are not only cordially invited, but they are urged to attend. Public recognition with their parents attending is a very important part of the goal setting and personal growth process for the boys. This public recognition takes place at a Troop Court of Honor. During a Court of Honor, the normal Troop meeting is suspended, appropriate ceremonies are conducted, refreshments are served, and you, our parents, are given a chance to see how healthy and vibrant a unit Troop 61 is.