During their time in the scouts, boys progress through seven ranks, finishing with the rank of Eagle Scout. In order, these ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Troop 8 has a proud List of Eagle Scouts.
Scout ranks reflect increasing level of skills, maturity, and leadership. The Scout rank is earned as part of the joining requirements, and is almost identical to the requirements for the Arrow of Light in Cub Scouting. Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks are earned by completing a “laundry list” of requirements that include basic camping skills, first aid, and citizenship. The “field ranks” of Star, Life, and Eagle Scout require completion of merit badges, leadership within the troop, and service to the community. In order to earn a rank, a boy must complete all of the requirements by having them “signed off” by a scoutmaster or a scout of field rank. Next, the boy must have a personal conference with the scoutmaster, where he must demonstrate his knowledge. Finally, the boy must appear before a “board of review” composed of troop adults and satisfy them that he deserves the change in rank. It’s a great experience for developing confidence and interviewing skills.
Merit badges are recognition of advanced skills in a particular area. Merit badges are awarded for outdoor skills, citizenship, hobbies, and career-related achievement. Twelve merit badges are termed “required,” because they must be earned in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout (citizenship, camping, first aid, etc.). To earn a merit badge, a boy must fulfill all the requirements for that badge and be “signed off” by a merit badge counselor who is knowledgeable in that particular field. Counselors are always troop adults, either scoutmasters or parents. In addition to ranks and badges, scouting and Troop 8 each have a number of additional awards and recognitions for boys who have developed particular skills or participated in noble activities.
One of the highlights of scouting are troop award ceremonies, called “Courts of Honor,” where boys receive recognition for their achievements.
No. This is a big difference from cub scouts. In boy scouts, you as a parent will not sign off your own son’s requirements, and in Troop 8 you will not be assigned to serve as his merit badge counselor. Older boys and adult scout leaders are the ones who can do the signoffs for rank requirements, and your son must use someone other than a relative for a merit badge counselor. This way, your son gets the full benefit of the experience of working with different adults, and there is no possibility that you can be too easy or hard on him!
There’s a wide variation in times, depending mostly on how often the boy comes to meetings and on troop outings, how focused he is, how interested he is in advancement, and other factors. As a loose rule of thumb, one rank per year is pretty good. Practically speaking, though, boys usually go in fits and starts. They seem to not do much for a while, then all of a sudden push and get a bunch done.
Rank advancement in Troop 8 is pretty low-key; each boy moves at his own pace and we don't pressure kids. The youth and adult leaders do keep track of how kids are doing, and will work to move them along over time. While we hope that you will encourage your son in all his scouting endeavors, and occasionally help him keep track of requirements, we would ask that you not impose any deadlines or rules that aren't imposed by the troop. Rather than you pushing, it works much better if you let us pull!
Yes. In particular, the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks can be earned out of order. The ranks, however, must be completed in order. Typically, when a boy earns one rank he will already have about half of the requirements done for the next rank.
The requirements for the field ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle are very different from the "laundry list" of items for the lower ranks. These boys must demonstrate leadership within the troop and community service. They are allowed to act as an adult in signing off younger boys’ requirements, teaching skills, planning outings and events, etc. First Class Scout represents a boy who is a strong camper and able to manage himself in the field year-round. Star, Life, and Eagle Scouts are boys who are taking their personal strengths and using them to give back to the troop and community as organizers and leaders. These boys are usually eligible to participate in Venture 8 high adventure programs.
For the rank of Eagle, a boy must (on his own) put together a large community service project: soliciting funds, directing adults and younger scouts, etc. to help a community agency. This allows him to demonstrate all of the personal and leadership skills he has learned in his scouting career.
Most of the scout requirements say “demonstrate,” as in “demonstrate first aid for...” To meet the requirement, a boy must be able to do a good job at the task on his own, without help or prompting, usually “in the field.” He must really have mastered the skill. Teaching is just the first step. Learning a skill takes coaching and lots of practice, but the reward is real ability and self-confidence. For this reason, the troop will never sign off a requirement at the same time it is taught.
Scout spirit is a behavioral requirement, which reflects enthusiasm, participation, and good “expedition behavior” on campouts and outings. The requirement is different for different ranks. At Second Class, participation and cheerfulness are key. For Eagle, leadership, character, and integrity are the deciding factors. The scoutmaster will sign off this requirement when he sees your son demonstrate the appropriate level of maturity and behavior on outings. This is often the last and toughest requirement for rank.
For the rank of Eagle Scout, we will also ask for reference letters from different people in your son's life outside of scouting - from you, from his teacher(s), his employer(s), his religious leader(s), his coach(es) and his peers.
In Scouting, there is no such thing as failing. There is simply being ready for an award and not yet being ready. We work to recognize young men when they are ready - when they have mastered skills or developed habits of character at different levels.
Along the way, conferences with adult leaders and review boards help us to check in on how a boy is doing, and on how our youth and adult leaders are doing in terms of instruction. After a conference, the scoutmaster may send a boy back to his patrol leader to "brush up" on a few things, or may send him along to a board of review. A board may similarly either award a rank or encourage a boy to keep working with the scoutmaster in some area. All decisions are arrived at by consensus, and must be unanimous.
Merit badges can be earned at any time. Usually, we recommend that new scouts concentrate on the Tenderfoot and Second Class requirements, though, because the skills required for most merit badges are set at 8th grade / early high school level and might be beyond their level of physical and mental maturity. Good first merit badges for a boy to try include anything that he already has some skill in. A boy who is a strong swimmer should work on Swimming MB his first summer, for example. Another good initial merit badge is Family Life MB. Crafts merit badges are sometimes used during summer camp to introduce boys to the process.
Quite often, a boy may complete some of the requirements for a merit badge but not finish. This can happen when he misses some part of the instruction, or when he completes the book work for a badge but hasn't achieved the level of physical skill, or when he's demonstrated the skill but hasn't done the book work. Or sometimes when he's started a badge and decided that it just wasn't for him!
The troop will try to keep track of merit badge "partials" to remind boys to finish up. Sometimes, merit badge partial lists or "blue cards" may be brought home, and you can help with the encouragement. Ultimately, it's up to the boy to take the initiative to finish up.
The troop generally does not recognize "stale" or old partial merit badges, because a boy is expected to have proficiency in all of the skills at the time the badge is earned. So if more than a few months goes by, your son will typically have to re-demonstrate his MB skills to his counselor.
Absolutely! If you have a professional or hobbyist background in some area which is covered by a merit badge and you are willing to share that with boys who are interested, we would love to hear about it.
Merit badge counselors register with the BSA, and must complete St. Thomas background & reference checks as well as BSA and Catholic Church Virtus youth protection training. Counselor training is also provided by the troop. Generally, for your first few times counseling a badge, an experienced counselor will co-teach or assist, until everyone is comfortable that you know the system and are working well with the boys.
A board of review is the "interview team" that evaluates a scout for a rank award. If this is your first time on a board the Advancement Chair will be aware of that, and you'll be included on a board that has some experienced members to help guide you through it. There will be a paper review guide which will provide information on specific skills and requirements for each rank.
Boards of Review serve three purposes. Our first purpose is to make sure that a scout has learned what he needed to for the rank. Scouts are expected to be proficient in their skills. Usually a board will ask some specific questions to "spot check" several of the requirements and what his understanding is of them or how he achieved them. Our second purpose is hear feedback from the boy about his experiences that we can pass along to the scoutmaster. And our third purpose is to asses the boy's growth in character and understanding of the Scout Oath and Law, and encourage him to further achievement.
Depending on the type of board you are asked to serve on, the focus will emphasize different things. Younger boys will typically be asked more specific and skill-based questions instead of abstract questions, in relatively shorter boards. Older boys will be asked more abstract questions about character and leadership. You'll find the experience will give you an interesting insight on the troop and how the boys grow during their scouting experience.
YES! Many troop awards happen by "magic". The youth and adult leaders quietly observe your son during his outings with us and when he has reached proficiency in an area he will be awarded the badge. In addition to rank and merit badges, the troop has many special awards, as well as patches for participation in various events. Despite what he may think, it is possible your son may in fact be earning some awards.
More important, though, is that scouting is a team. While it's nice to get something, that's not why we participate in awards ceremonies. We participate in awards ceremonies to cheer for our friends and celebrate their accomplishments, because they're our friends. Your son should come because he's part of the team, and that's what friends do for each other. Next time, his buddies will be cheering for him.
The added bonus is that often when a boy sees his friends getting recognized, it motivates him and inspires him to achieve as well!
Yes! In addition to being nice awards, the cards are your son's proof of achieving those things. Our experience has been that the BSA's national computer system is not the best at keeping accurate records. So if you move to a new troop, or when your son is applying for the Eagle rank, those cards may be helpful.
In scouting, there is also a tradition of collecting and trading patches from events. It's not hard to find older boys and adults with large patch collections and patch blankets which detail their trail through scouting as youth and adults. While Troop 8 does not traditionally have a lot of patch traders, your son might find this hobby worthwhile. At very least, the patches and cards make nice personal momentos to bring back memories of good friends and fun times.
Food, setup, and teardown for Court of Honor ceremonies are the responsibility of the parents, since we're honoring the boys' achievements. Typically, food for regular courts of honor is a dessert potluck. For Eagle Scout honor courts, a full dinner is normally provided. We appreciate your help in providing a special time for all the boys!