Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others. As The Boy Scout advances in rank, he learns new skills and is provided with leadership opportunities within his troop. He will be able to recall on these experiences for a lifetime.
Boys start out at the beginning, no matter what age they join. Scouts progress and earn ranks in the following order: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. The rank advancement process has the ultimate goal of the Boy Scout reaching the highest rank in Boy Scouts, Eagle Scout.
Boy Scouting also provides the oppotunity for boys to earn merit badges. Some merit badges are required to be earned as part of the advancement process. Others the Boy Scout can earn to learn skills and participate in activities that interest them. Boy Scouts can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as they earn merit badges. There are currently 137 merit badges offered. (13 of which are required to Advance to Eagle Scout)
Any Boy Scout may earn a merit badge at any time. A Boy Scout doesn't need to have had rank advancement to be eligible. A Boy Scout must talk to his unit leader (Scoutmaster) about interest in earning a merit badge. The unit leader will give the Boy Scout a signed merit badge application (the "blue card"). Then the Boy Scout can contact a merit badge counselor to begin work on the requirements. There is a merit badge pamphlet that is required reading for completion of each merit badge. These can be purchased at the local council office, or the Scout can check with the troop Librarian for availability of merit badge books to borrow.