Boy Scout Program

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Boy Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America. It is available to boys under the age of 18 who meet any of the following qualifications:

  • boys at least 10 years old who have completed the fifth grade
  • boys who are at least 11 years old.
Prior participation in Cub Scouting is not required.

The Boy Scout program is designed to develop a boy's character, citizenship, and personal fitness using the following methods: a structured advancement program, high ideals, the patrol method, outdoor activities, adult association, personal growth, leadership development, and uniforming. This program and development structure is referred to as the Aims and Methods of Scouting.


Structured advancement and recognition


See Ranks for further information.

The Boy Scout advancement program is divided into three main areas. The first and primary advancement area is a series of Ranks that the Scout progresses through known as the Eagle Scout trail. The rank system occurs in two distinctly different phases.

After earning the Scout Badge (which is simply the way boys join Boy Scouts, not a rank), boys work on the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. During this phase, all three ranks may be worked on at the same time. These ranks focus on Scouting skills - the outdoors, physical fitness, citizenship, patrol/troop participation, and personal development. After completing these ranks, a Scout should be adept at participating in all of the activities in the Boy Scout program, literally a First Class Scout.

During the second phase, Scouts work on the Star Scout, Life Scout, and Eagle Scout ranks. These ranks are worked on one at a time and must be earned in order. Here the focus of advancement switches from Scouting skills to personal development and community service. Merit badges are an integral part of this part or rank advancement.

After earning the Eagle Scout award, a Scout still has the opportunity for advancement recognition by earning Eagle Palms.

Merit badges

See Merit Badges for a list of individual merit badges.

Merit badges are the second main area of the Boy Scout advancement program. Unlike ranks, there is a degree of choice in the merit badge program. A sub-group of merit badges are known as Eagle required merit badges. To earn Eagle Scout, most of these badges must be earned although some are "either/or" badges. The remainder of the badges help with earning ranks as well as Eagle Palms after the Eagle Scout award has been earned.

Boy Scouts may work on merit badges from they time they join a Scout troop until they turn 18 years old. There is no time limit for completion of merit badges other than age 18.


See Boy Scout awards for a list of awards.

Awards are the third area of the advancement. Unlike the first two areas or advancement, awards are completely optional and carry no special privileges with them. However, they are still an important part of the program providing opportunities not available in the other areas.

Aims and Methods

See Aims and Methods for the list of aims and methods.

The Aims and Methods of Scouting are the purposes for which Scouting tries to instill in its members and the ways it attempts to do so.

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