First Class-First Year

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In 1998, the expected time to make First class was extended to 12 months with the First Class-First Year program. Here is the current version of First Class-First Year

The current Boy Scout Handbook states on page 14: [1]

"Though you can advance at your own pace, active Scouts will usually earn First Class within a year of joining a troop."



History of Time Requirements (in months)
Rank/Award Prior 1963 1965 1972 1979 1994-Date
Scout --- --- --- --- 0 0
Tenderfoot 0 0 0 2 2 1*
Second Class 0 1 1 3 2 0
First Class 0 1 2 3 2 0
1st Class Total 0 2 3 8 6 1
Star 3 3 3 4 4 4
Life 3 3 3 6 6 6
Eagle 6 6 6 6 6 6
Eagle Total 12 14 15 24 22 16
  • Note: Tenderfott has had a 30 day physical fitness requirement since 1994.

Early Years - No First Class Tenure requirements
Through the 1950's, there were no tenure requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class. Any Scoutcraft requirement could be done at any time. [2]

1963 - First Class Requires 2 Months Total Tenure
By 1963, a tenure requirement of 1 month for Second Class and 1 month for First Class was added. The Scout could still work on his camping hiking, first aid, cooking, swimming, and other Scoutcraft requirements at any time. [3]

1965 - Total Tenure extended to 3 months
The 1965 Boy Scout Handbook extended the First Class tenure requirement to 2 months. For the next seven years requirements for Second Class were to now be done while a Tenderfoot and First Class requirements were to be done while a Second Class Scout. The 1965 Handbook also stated on page 228:

"The early steps put you on the road-but it is only after you take step after step that you can expect to reach the goal that Scouting is aiming for."

"That's why you should strive to become a First Class Scout at the earliest possible moment."[4]

That earliest possible moment to earn First Class was 3 months.

1972 - "The Improved Scouting Program"
On September 1, 1972, dramatic changes occurred. Work for Second and First Class could again be done at any time. For the only time in the history of the Boy Scouts, Eagle required 24 merit badge. Councils now reviewed Eagle Projects for the first time. Scouts no longer needed to be able to swim. Camping merit badge was no longer required for Eagle. Uniforms became optional. Tenure requirements increased to: Tenderfoot - 2 months, Second Class - 3 months, and First Class - 3 months. [5]

1979 saw the Scout Award added and tenure requirements to: Tenderfoot - 2 months, Second Class - 2 months, and First Class - 2 months. Camping merit badge was no again required for Eagle. [6]

In 1994, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class tenure requirements were removed, restoring the pre-1963 no time requirements. [7]


Since the 1960's, the expectation for earning First Class has gone from 3 months to 12 months. At the same time, the requirements have also been expanded.

  • Scout Award: The Scout Award did not exist in the 1960's. [8] Today's Scout Award contains the same essential requriements as the Tenderfoot Rank did in the 1960's. [9]
  • Tenderfoot: Today's Tenderfoot Rank has added requirements for physical fitness, camping, cooking, and first aid in addition to the 1960's requirements.
  • Second Class: In the 1960's, Second Class had no requirements for camping or swimming. Today, Second Class requires participation in at least 5 activities outside of meetings as well as 2 campouts. Basic swimming skills and expanded first aid skills have also been added.
  • First Class: Today's requirements double the the 1960's swimming requirements. Specific strokes are now required. Today's First Class camping requirement is 50% more than the 1960's requirement. In addition First Class now requires participation in at least 10 activities outside of meetings.

Camping merit badge is now required again for Eagle. Since 2001, the requirements for almost every merit badge have also been increased.

On to Eagle

The Scoutmaster Handbook (page 119, First Class Emphasis) states that earning First Class in the First Year gives a Scout a better chance to make eagle:
"A boy who advances to First Class within his first year in Scouting had a better-than-average chance of eventually becoming an Eagle Scout."[10]

The Advancement Policies #33088, page 25 state: [11]
"It is important that the troop committee and the Scoutmaster set an advancement goal for the year. A basic goal should be for each Scout to advance a rank during the year. New Scouts should earn their First Class rank during their first year in the troop. By doing so, these new Scouts become net contributors to the troop and are able to care for themselves and others."

  • First Class - 1 year (Age 12)
  • Star - 1 year (Age 13)
  • Life - 1 year (Age 14)
  • Eagle - 1 year (Age 15)

Through the 1960's, the Boy Scouts stated, "The average age at which Scouts attain Eagle is 14." [12] [13]


  1. Boy Scout Handbook, © 1998, Eleventh Edition, Eigth Printing, 2008
  2. Boy Scout Handbook © 1948, Fifth Edition, Eleventh Printing, October 1957
  3. Boy Scout Requirements © 1960, 1963 Revision
  4. Boy Scout Handbook © 1965, Seventh Edition, Fourth Printing, February, 1968
  5. Boy Scout Handbook, © 1972, Eighth Edition, First Printing, June, 1972
  6. Boy Scout Handbook © 1979, Ninth Edition, Ninth Printing, July, 1985
  7. Boy Scout Handbook © 1990, Tenth Edition, Fifth Printing
  8. Boy Scout Handbook © 1965, Seventh Edition, Fourth Printing, February, 1968
  9. Boy Scout Handbook, © 1998, Eleventh Edition, Eigth Printing, 2008
  10. Scoutmaster Handbook #3309 © 1998, p.119
  11. Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures #33088
  12. Advancement in the Troop © 1950, 1962 Revision, p.27
  13. Advancement in the Troop © 1965, 1966 Revision, p.28

See also

Advancement Policies
Advancement (Report) Scouts BSA (Resources) Service Projects
Rules and Regulations First Class-First Year Eagle Scout Project
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