Alameda District | Golden Gate Area Council | BSA


Scouting Builds Skills/Self-Esteem/Future Leaders Through Advancement and Recognition

The Boy Scouts of America has for over 100 years been the premier program for youth that not only provide group experiences that help youth grow into the citizens of tomorrow, but the skills needed to be successful — both practical skills and personal skills in a framework of ethical decision making.

Since 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has utilized Rank Advancement and BSA Awards and Recognitions to promote personal development.  This system, combined with the Scouting uniform, has made Scouting a distinctively successful program.

Note that BSA advancement and recognition is achievable by all youth, without regard to ethnic background, family income, or spiritual belief system.  Each youth member handbook describes recognitions that can be earned by personal merit — not be competing against other members or other groups.  It is said that “every boy can be an Eagle Scout”, but our highest Scout recognition is not given — it is earned.

Rank Advancement for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts

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—but a means to an end—one of several methods designed to help adult leaders carry out the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America.

Everything a youth member does to advance—to earn ranks and other awards and recognition—is designed to educate and 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, and Venturing.  Experiential learning is the key—if exciting and meaningful activities are offered, and then education education happens. Learning comes from doing.  For example, a Scout or Venturer may read about first aid, hear it discussed, and watch others administer it, but he or she will not learn it under he/she practices it.

Scouting skills—what a young person learns to do—are important, but not as important as the growth achieved through participating in a pack, troop, or crew 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 and Venturing consultants, and the family.  Though much is done individually at their own pace, youth members often work together in groups to focus on achievements and electives at Cub Scout den meetings, participate in a Boy Scout campout, or attend a Venturing superactivity 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 encourage members to help each other according to their abilities.

Advancement Requirements

In order to maintain a sense of both accomplishment and fairness to all, rank and merit badge advancement requirements are standardized by the Boy Scouts of America.  This means that when a Boy Scout or Venturer receives a rank badge or a merit badge, it means that he/she developed and learned at approximately the same level as other youth members who previously earned the badge.  This preserves equity in the program, and reinforces the sense of accomplishment for each Scout or Venturer.  

In Cub Scouting, the motto “Do Your Best” means that we do not hold younger members to as strict an expectation of an accomplishment as for older youth, provided that the boy can say to his parents and leader that he truly did his best.

Specific badge requirements are not updated on this website, but rather in the printed BSA literature and on the national BSA website .

Internet-Based Advancement Reporting for Youth

Internet-based Advancement Reporting is provided as a service by the Alameda Council paid for by the council’s national service fees.  It is available through the Link internet portal, and requires a personal account (as with online training), plus the unit identification number (obtained from the council).

Advancement reports are recording Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturing/Sea Scout ranks; Boy Scout merit badges, and various recognitions available at one, two, or all three program levels.  Units can enter advancement at any time, print advancement reports, obtain current member rosters from the BSA system, and print shopping lists for the next visit to the council trading post.

When Internet Advancement is used, it helps you access official records on file with the council, it alleviates issues in documenting progress as Scouts submit Eagle Applications, and provides for smoother transfer of records from one unit to another.  Consistent and constant reporting also assures accurate records for use by commissioners, other district and council volunteers, and the National Council. These are critical in evaluating unit health, adjusting service delivery, and researching changes in programs and requirements.

Merit Badges for Boy Scouts/male Venturers/Sea Scouts ages 11 to 17

The merit badges of the Boy Scout program have been offered for various badge topics since the introduction of the First Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook by the Boy Scouts of America in 1911.

Merit badges are required for the higher ranks of Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting – Star, Life, and Eagle.  Merit badges may be earned by any registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout up until his 18th birthday.  Merit badges may also be earned by any male Venturer or Sea Scout who earned First Class rank in a troop or team, who is continuing his membership in a crew or ship until his 18th birthday.

The program support of the merit badge program, as with all Scouting programs in our council, is borne primarily by Friends of Scouting donors.  We encourage businesses, organizations, and individuals to become Alameda Council Merit Badge Sponsors, and their financial support helps make the merit badge program happen for hundreds of Scouts each year.  Some of our Merit Badge Sponsors host badge workshops and/or assist with our annual Advancement Day in May.

See the National BSA webpage regarding merit badges for official links to the current merit badge requirements Link 

Note that for privacy reasons, merit badge counselors are not listed on internet webpages.  The Alameda Council merit badge counselor list, with specific badges for which they counsel Scouts, is distributed to unit leaders at our monthly Scouters’ roundtable.  Scouts interested in working on particular merit badges should contact their Scoutmaster, Varsity Scout Coach, Venturing Advisor, Skipper, or designated assistant for names and phone numbers of counselors specifically approved for the merit badge(s) of interest.

Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook and Rank Application are Required for Eagle Applicants

Since 1912, the Eagle Scout rank has been the highest level of achievement for any Boy Scout or Varsity Scout participating in his troop or team.  The Eagle rank may also be achieved by a male Venturer or Sea Scout who completes the Star, Life, and/or Eagle ranks in his crew or ship, but first having achieved First Class Rank in his Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team.

The Eagle Scout service project workbook and Eagle Scout application are located on the National BSA website.  Note that they must be opened using Adobe’s Acrobat Reader program specifically. We recommend that all pages be completed on a personal computer before printing out for signatures. 

Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook: Link

Eagle Scout Rank Application:

SCOUTBOOK: There is also a function in Scoutbook that allows applicants to generate  their Rank Application form — as a pdf file — filled out with all the information the BSA database is able to add.  Scouts can find this function on their Scoutbook account under Reports.


Sea Scouts




Shooting Sport


Scouting for Food

Order of the Arrow

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