Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable challenges and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
The first badge all Boy Scouts earn, is the Scout Badge. After earning the Scout Badge, the Scout proceeds to work on advancement specific to the next rank. In addition to the rank badges, boys work towards earning the Merit Badges required for each rank badge.
Merit badges are awards earned based on activities within an area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn merit badges. There are more than 100 merit badges. Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. You don’t need to have had rank advancement to be eligible.
The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or avocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn't met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstrating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.
Each merit badge has a pamphlet (booklet) published by the BSA associated with it; the pamphlet contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. Scouts must meet up with their Scoutmaster to receive a signed blue card in order to begin working on a merit badge. The Scout then contact a counselor that is registers for the particular merit badge they are interest in doing to see which requirements they need to complete before meeting up with the counselors. The Scout would meet with a counselor to demonstrate that he's completed the requirements. The counselor would then 'sign off' on each one. After completing the merit badge, the Scout can then buy his merit badge patch.
The award of a merit badge is represented by circular patch with an image representing the badge's topic. The patches for the Eagle-required merit badges are distinguishable by the silver ring on the outside edge. Merit badges are displayed on a sash which can be worn with the uniform on formal occasions. Every year the National Council reviews and updates a certain number of merit badges. Most recently, the Geocaching, Inventing, and Scouting Heritage merit badges were introduced in 2010 and 2011. The latest merit badge is Chess, which was released on September 7, 2011. Welding merit badge was announced for a release in December 2011, and the Search and Rescue and Kayaking merit badges were announced for 2012.An overview of the Boy Scouts rank requirements are listed below, click on a rank to learn the most recent requirements to reach it: