Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank.
It Is a Method—Not an End in Itself
Advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is one of several methods designed to help unit leadership carry out the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America.
Experiential Learning Is the Foundation
Everything done to advance—to earn ranks and other awards and recognition—is designed to educate or to otherwise expand horizons. Members learn and develop according to a standard. This is the case from the time a member joins and then moves through the programs of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing or Sea Scouts. Experiential learning is the key: Exciting and meaningful activities are offered, and education happens. Learning comes from doing. For example, youth may read about first aid, hear it discussed, and watch others administer it, but they will not learn it until they practice it.
Personal Growth Is Prime Consideration
Scouting skills—what a young person learns to do—are important, but not as important as the growth achieved through participating in a unit program. The concern is for total, well-rounded development. Age-appropriate surmountable hurdles are placed before members, and as they face them they learn about themselves and gain confidence. Success is achieved when we fulfill the BSA Mission Statement and when we accomplish the aims of Scouting: character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness. We know we are on the right track when we see youth accepting responsibility, demonstrating self-reliance, and caring for themselves and others; when they learn to weave Scouting ideals into their lives; and when we can see they will be positive contributors to our American society.
Though certainly goal-oriented, advancement is not a competition. Rather, it is a joint effort involving the leaders, the members, other volunteers such as merit badge counselors or Venturing consultants, and the family. Though much is done individually at their own pace, youth often work together in groups to focus on achievements and electives at Cub Scout den meetings, for example, or participate in a Boy Scout campout or Sea Scout cruise. As they do this, we must recognize each young person’s unique combination of strengths and weaknesses. As watchful leaders, either adult or youth, we lend assistance as called for and encouragemembers to help each other according to their abilities.
The Methods of Scouting
Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting
|Living the ideals||Ideals||The ideals||Ideals|
|Belonging to a den||Patrol method||Group activities||Group activities|
|Using advancement||Advancement||Recognition (advancement)||Advancement|
|Involving family and home||Adult association||Adult association||Adult association|
|Participating in activities||Outdoors||High adventure and sports||High adventure, outdoors,nautical activities|
|Serving neighborhood and community||Leadership development||Leadership||Leadership|
|Wearing the uniform||Uniform||Though not an expressed method, auniform is available and often worn||Uniform|
|Character Connections®||Personal growth||Teaching others||Teaching others|
From Cub Scouting through Venturing and Sea Scouts, we put the methods to work. Together they lead to mission fulfillment. For example, Scouting ideals, put forth in the timeless instruments of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, represent the most basic method. Moving on, we know young people want to belong to groups. Throughout the Scouting program, we provide a place where the sense of belonging is an outcome of practicing skills, exploring interests, learning values, forming friendships, and enjoying adventure. Associations within families and with a variety of adults are critical methods too, especially in terms of providing support and recognition and in developing mutual respect.
Advancement is the method by which we promote and encourage the ongoing involvement and commitment that keeps members coming back for more. It works best when it is built into a unit’s program so that simply participating leads to meaningful achievement and recognition—and to a continually improving readiness for more complex experiences.