"A boy cannot master the skills of the outdoors without learning something of the skills of living and working with others outdoors or in. Indeed, the advancement program may well be the most effective tool we have to stimulate in a boy the personal growth we want him to develop through Scouting."
...from the Boy Scout Handbook
How Boy Scout Advancement Differs from Cub Scouting
Just as the Cub Scout program was tailored to your capabilities, so too the Boy Scout ranks increase in difficulty and challenge. Several big differences exist, though:
The ranks are not tied to a particular age group. In fact, you can work on your Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class requirements all at the same time, although the ranks will not be awarded out of sequence. See your Scout Handbook for a list of all rank advancement requirements.
Individual effort is the foundation of advancement. You are responsible for knowing which skills you need to earn your next rank or merit badge, making the personal effort to learn those skills and letting the Scoutmaster know when you are ready to demonstrate those skills.
Instead of Troop leaders being the sole instructors, we encourage the experienced boys to work with others in their patrol or the Troop on the skills they need to master.
As it was with the WEBELOS, your parents can also help with your learning. But, they cannot sign off the approval for your requirements. That is the responsibility of the Scoutmaster and the registered merit badge counselors.
Four Steps to Rank Advancement
Learning. You learn new skills by taking part in Troop and patrol meetings and outdoor activities. The requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class are largely hands-on requirements, with each rank getting more challenging. The Troop Guide and senior Scouts in Instructor positions, as well as the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters, may be involved in helping you learn the basic Scouting skills. Your parents can help you at home, too.
Testing. Your progress is the natural outcome of your active involvement in regular Scouting activities. When you think you have mastered a particular skill, let the Scoutmaster know. When the leaders see that you have mastered a given skill and satisfied a given requirement, they tell you so and record your achievement in your Handbook, and in a computer database maintained by the Troop Database Coordinator.
Review. After you have passed all of the requirements for your next rank, you will meet with the Scoutmaster for a conference and then with a Board of Review.
The Scoutmaster Conference (SMC) will help you get to know the Scoutmaster and help him get to know you. This conference is usually short (about 10-15 minutes). You and the Scoutmaster will talk about what you have learned (the Scoutmaster may test you on some of those skills), things you like and dislike about the Troop, how you're getting along with the leaders and other Scouts, and your Scouting goals. To request a SM conference, please follow the procedures, which are available here.
The Board of Review (BOR) is a small group of parents (at least one of them is a registered Troop Committee member - at least three adults in all) you will meet with after your Scoutmaster Conference. The board's job is not to re-test you, but to make sure you have met all requirements for the rank, and to learn how you feel about your experiences with the Troop and with Scouting. To arrange a BOR, please contact the Advancement Chair.
For an SMC and BOR you are required to have your Scout Handbook, wear the proper uniform and have a paper copy of your advancement report from the database.
Award. When the Board of Review has approved your advancement, you will receive your new rank badge as soon as possible, normally in a ceremony at the current or next Troop meeting. You will also be recognized again at the Troop's next Court of Honor. Our Troop has a Court of Honor every three to four months.