***** Ranks, Badges, Eagle Project, and Eagle Palms *****
Advancement is integral to scouting. It provides a ladder of skills that a scout climbs at his own pace. As more advanced skills are learned, the scout is rewarded and acknowledged with the following rank structure.
There are 7 ranks to “the trail to Eagle.” They are Boy Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. BSA (Boy Scouts of America) requires that in order to become an Eagle Scout, all ranks, badges and an Eagle Project must be completed by a scout’s 18th birthday. The day after the scouts’ 18th birthday, possibility of becoming an Eagle Scout is forever gone. Most boy scouts achieve Eagle between the ages of 14 and 16. However, becoming an Eagle is doable up until a scout is 18 years old. Some scouts take until their 18th birthday, but this is not recommended, as too many things in life, like school, extracurricular activities at school, cars, social lives, college, and major future decisions, can get in the way of a scout achieving his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. If a scout turns Eagle before 18, he may continue scouting activities with the troop as a Boy Scout, up until his 18th birthday. He may continue to work on more merit badges, thus acquiring ranks that are called Eagle Bronze Palms, Eagle Gold Palms, and Eagle Silver Palms based on the amount of merit badges done above and over the original amount of 21 merit badges required to make “Eagle.”
After a scout becomes 18 years old, a scout is considered an adult and may participate in the troop as an adult scout leader, if he so desires.
Boy Scouts are afforded opportunities for advancement in the form of learned skill, services in the community, community activities, scout weekend camping, scout summer camps and the like. Guidance is readily available from adult and senior youth. Qualified scouts and adult leaders may sign off requirements for ranks. A scout is qualified if he is at least First Class and 2 ranks above the applicant.
Not all scouts are in scouting to become an Eagle Scout, but it is certainly a worthy goal. Scouting is about reflection, learning, education and fun.
Once all the requirements of each rank are completed, a scoutmaster’s conference occurs with the scoutmaster and the scout. The scout must ask the scoutmaster for a scoutmaster’s conference and schedule a date for the conference. At this conference, the scoutmaster signs off on the rank requirements and scout spirit in the big book. Then, the scout must request a board of review to be scheduled. Boards of reviews usually take place on the first Wednesday of every month in our troop. A board of review consists of a few designated parties to discuss the activities for the rank tat has just been completed. Once the board of review is completed and the adults have signed off on the scout’s book, then the scout would receive his acquired rank badge on a day called Court of Honor. Courts of Honors occur every 3 or 4 months. Due to time frames, a scout could actually acquire 2 ranks at the same Court of Honor. (You can work on more than one rank or badge at a time, if you like.)
PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: ALL NEW SCOUTS SHOULD, WITHIN THE 1ST YEAR OF BOY SCOUTING, MOVE UP TO FIRST CLASS RANK. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
SCOUTS PLEASE NOTE! ALWAYS WEAR CLASS A UNIFORMS FOR SCOUMASTER CONFERENCES, BOARDS OF REVIEW, AND COURT OF HONORS. IF YOU DON’T, YOUR ACTIVITY WILL BE POSTPONED AND WILL HAVE TO BE RESCHEDULED!
There are approximately 100 merit badges to pick from to do. To follow the trail to Eagle, a scout must complete 21 badges and do an Eagle Project (which generally doesn’t get discussed until a scout becomes a Star Scout). There are a total of 15 Eagle required badges, of which, each scout is required to do 12 Eagle required badges. Each scout must do 9 non-Eagle-required badges that must be completed in order to become an Eagle Scout. The 15 required Eagle badges are the following: Camping, Citizenship of the Community, Citizenship of the Nation, Citizenship of the world, Communications, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Environmental Science, First Aid, Cycling or Hiking or Swimming, Personal Management, Personal Fitness and Family Life. (Incidentally, it is a good idea to do Personal Management and Family Life at the same time. They both have 90-day time frames.) I recommend that scouts do Swimming and First Aid as soon as possible, especially since scouts will need these skills for camping and other activities. The Emergency Preparedness badge is also important. Camping is the first blue card you should get, since you’ ll probably start camping right away.
Which badges to pick? Well, 12 are already basically picked for you. That leaves 9 non-required badges to go on to do. Music, Reading and Scholarship are good badges to think about, most of the work gets done in school. The best way to start this process is for parents or guardians and scouts to read their scout books and make “wish lists”. Then have a family meeting to discuss and compare with each other which badges are doable for the scout and the scouts family structures and schedules. Please keep in mind that this process will often change as time goes by. Also, it is common for scouts to do additional non-Eagle required merit badges over and above the first 9 non- Eagle-required merit badges.
Go step by step. Don’t try to do too much at a time. Small steps add up to a lot of big steps. As an idea, choose a few fun badges and one to two Eagle required badges. Then figure out which one you will do first that fits into your schedules. And so on.
BEFORE YOU START ANY BADGE WORK, YOU MUST (!!!) GET A 3 PART “BLUE CARD” FROM YOUR SCOUTMASTER OR ADVANCEMENT CHAIRMAN (AC). Your scoutmaster MUST SIGN and approve your badge by signing and dating the Applications Merit Badge portion of the blue card, BEFORE you start working on a merit badge. ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR SCOUTMASTERS’ SIGNATUE AND DATE ON THE BLUCARD, then you are ready to contact a merit badge counselor. A merit badge counselor is someone who has expertise in an area of a particular badge. Merit badge counselors are registered with the Boy Scouts to help scouts if they need help or counseling in the area of their expertise. You can get a list of counselors from the council or call your Advancement Chair (me) for counselor information. Generally, our counselors are in Munster, Highland, Dyer, Lansing, Ill, St. John, Schererville, and Griffith.
ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES: A SCOUT VISITING A COUNSELOR MUST HAVE A BUDDY OR A PARENT OR A GUARDIAN WITH THEM WHEN THEY MEET WIT A COUNSELOR. COUNSELORS WILL NOT MEET WITH YOU OTHERWISE. DO NOT START WORK ON THE MERIT BADGE UNTIL YOU HAVE CONTACTED THE COUNSELOR AND HAVE TALKED TO THE COUNSELOR. BADGE WORK ONLY QUALIFIES AFTER THE COUNSELOR IS CONTACTED AND TALKED TO.
Counselors, on the phone, will tell you how to handle your merit badge work. Once the badge work is completed, the scout makes an appointment with the counselor to meet and go over all the badge work that was done. If the counselor is satisfied with his/her question and answer period and feels that all work has been completed correctly, then he/she will sign off on the counselor’s portion and the applicants’ portion of the “blue card”. Once this has been done, take your “Applicant’s Record” portion and get the scoutmaster’s signature and date on it. Then keep in your records for SAFEKEEPING AT HOME OR IN A BANK VAULT until you are at least 18 years old. DO NOT LOSE YOUR “APPLICANT” PART OF THE BLUE CARD! (You will need it for your Eagle Court of Honor.) Turn in the “Application for Merit Badge” portion of the blue card ONLY to your troop Advancement Chair (me), who will then turn your badge information into the council. The calumet council will, in turn, turn your badge information into the District Office. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT DATES ARE VERY IMPORTANT! PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK FOR ALL BLANKS TO BE FILLED! Merit badges are presented at the Court of Honor 3 or 4 times a year.
ALL MERIT BADGES COMPLETED AND ALL NEW RANKS MUST BE TURNED INTO THE AC NO LATER THAN ONE WEEK BEFORE THE NEXT COURT OF HONOR.
WHEN YOU ACQUIRE A NEW RANK, YOU MUST WRITE A NOTE TO THE AC ALONG WITH THE DATE THAT YOU RECEIVED THAT RANK, OR YOU WILL NOT GET YOUR RANK BADGE, ENEN THOUGH YOU EARNED IT. IT IS THE SCOUTS RESPONSIBILITY TO HANDLE ALL THIS.