Advancement and recognition in the Boy Scouts of America
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Advancement and recognition in the Boy Scouts of America is a tradition dating from the inception of the Scouting movement. A fundamental purpose of advancement is the self-confidence a young man or woman acquires from his participation in Scouting. Advancement is one of the methods used in the "Aims of Scouting"– character development, citizenship training and personal fitness.
There are separate advancement and recognition programs for the main program divisions: Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouting (and, formerly, Varsity Scouting). Each program is designed for its age group and goals.
- 1 Cub Scouting
- 2 Boy Scouting
- 3 Varsity Scouting
- 4 Venturing
- 5 Sea Scouting
- 6 Religious awards
- 7 Lifesaving and meritorious action awards
- 8 Nova and Supernova Awards
- 9 Adult leader awards
- 9.1 Cub Scout leader recognition
- 9.2 Boy Scout leader recognition
- 9.3 Varsity Scout leader recognition
- 9.4 Venturing leader recognition
- 9.5 Sea Scout leader recognition
- 9.6 Commissioner recognition
- 9.7 Scouter's Training Award
- 9.8 Scouter's Key
- 9.9 Unit Leader Award of Merit
- 9.10 Leadership and training awards
- 9.11 Distinguished service awards
- 9.12 Service awards
- 9.13 National service awards
- 9.14 Support of Scouting awards
- 10 Memorials
- 11 Unit awards
- 12 Scholarships
- 13 Special opportunities
- 14 Awards from other organizations
- 15 Obsolete awards
- 16 Sources
- 17 Footnotes
Advancement is one of the methods used to promote the aims of character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Everything a Cub Scout does in the advancement program is intended to achieve these aims and aid in personal growth. For advancement, the program has a rank system of Lion, Bobcat, Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, Webelos and the Arrow of Light, which are age/grade-based ranks.
Boy Scout Advancement
The advancement program for Boy Scouts has two phases. The first phase of Scout to First Class is designed to teach the boy Scoutcraft skills, how to participate in a group and to learn self-reliance. Scout is the joining rank, and is awarded when the Scout demonstrates a rudimentary knowledge of the Scouting ideals. Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class have progressively harder requirements in the areas of Scoutcraft, physical fitness, citizenship, personal growth and Scout Spirit.
Focus turns toward individual achievement, leadership and community service once First Class is earned. The ranks of Star, Life and Eagle require a set number of merit badges (minimum of 21 for Eagle Scout, with 13 from a compulsory list), as well as a minimum of time spent in a troop leadership position, and community service requirements, among other things. The rank of Eagle Scout requires the Scout plan, develop and lead their own service project that benefits their community or an organization other than Scouting. In 2010, the Life Scout rank added a specific teaching requirement, where a Star-rank Scout must teach a younger Scout certain requirements for one of the early ranks.
Several religious emblems programs are administered by various religious institutions and recognized by the BSA. These are generally recognized by a medal and an embroidered square knot. Many other advancement and recognitions—such as the 50-Miler Award, Crime Prevention Awards, Emergency Preparedness Award and World Conservation Award —are available to Scouts who show performance in special areas.
Den Chiefs may earn the Den Chief Service Award or the Webelos Den Chief Service Award.
There are also several positions of responsibility within each troop, which is usually divided into patrols, with patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders. The troop itself has a senior patrol leader as its youth leader, along with an assistant senior patrol leader, and several other positions of responsibility, such as scribe, quartermaster, librarian, instructor, historian and chaplain's aide. Holding some sort of responsibility in the troop is a requirement for higher advancement ranks.
Order of the Arrow
The Order of the Arrow (OA) is a program of the Boy Scout division of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It is the BSA's national honor society for experienced campers, based on American Indian traditions, and dedicated to the ideal of cheerful service.
Awards are separate and distinct from the membership levels of Ordeal and Brotherhood. Awards available through the Order of the Arrow include: Vigil Honor, Founder's Award, Distinguished Service Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Red Arrow Award, E. Urner Goodman Camping Award, E. Urner Goodman, Scholarship Fund, National Service Award. Scholastic awards are also available to Arrowmen to aid in education expenses.
Advancement was a key part of the Varsity program. Varsity Scouts could earn any award or recognition that were available to Boy Scouts, including merit badges, ranks advancements, and other awards. There were also several awards that were only available to Varsity Scouts, and sometimes their leaders. Due to the decision by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to cease participation in the Varsity Scouting program, the Boy Scouts of America decided to end the Varsity Scouting program, effective January 1, 2018.
A Bronze Award may be earned for each category of arts and hobbies, outdoor, community and religious life, sea Scouting and sports. After earning at least one Bronze Award and meeting tenure, leadership, personal growth and other requirements the Venturer may earn the Gold Award. To earn the Silver Award, the Venturer must earn the Gold Award, earn first aid and CPR certifications, show leadership and participate in ethics training.
Venturers may also earn expert awards that build on some areas of the Bronze Awards. These include the Venturing Ranger Award (Outdoors); the TRUST Award (Community and Religious Life); the Quest Award (Sports); and the Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouting).
Male members under the age of 18 may also earn Merit Badges and the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks from the Boy Scouting program if they have earned at least First Class rank in a Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team.
Venturing Leadership Award
Both youth and adults are eligible for the Venturing Leadership Award. There are three levels of these awards: council (for those at the crew, district, and/or council levels), region (for those at the area or region levels) and National. A limited number of these awards are presented on an annual basis to involved in Venturing who have made exceptional contributions to Venturing at their particular level and who exemplify the Venturing Code. These awards are similar in scope to the Silver Beaver Award, Silver Antelope Award, and Silver Buffalo Award.
In Sea Scouts, the traditional advancement program consists of the 4 ranks in the following order Apprentice, Ordinary, Able, and finally Quartermaster. Quartermaster is the highest Sea Scout Rank and is equivalent to Eagle Scout or Venturing Silver Award.
SEAL Training, (Sea Scout Experience Advanced Leadership Training ), is the highest level of Leadership Training. The program originated in 1996 and at the time was under the name of Sea Exploring, however in 1998 when Venturing was formed the organization was known as Sea Scouts. The name SEAL training did not change. There are about 4-6 course per year held around the country. Participants age over 14.5 to less than 18 years old. Participants must have earned the rank of Ordinary before attending the course. Approximately 80% of participants pass the course. The course is similar to NAYLE or what was previously known as NJLIC. Upon successful graduation from the course the student may wear the SEAL Pin on their uniform. This is the only youth earned pin that an Adult may wear.
Sea Scouts may choose to earn any Venturing awards, advancement, and training if they wish to. A male Sea Scout who has earned the rank of 1st Class in a Boy Scout Troop may complete further Boy Scout ranks and training from within his Sea Scout Ship.
Lifesaving and meritorious action awards
- Honor Medal With Crossed Palms
- A lifesaving award presented to a registered BSA member (youth or adult leader) who has demonstrated both unusual heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save a life at extreme risk to self; may be awarded posthumously.
- Honor Medal
- A lifesaving award presented to a registered BSA member (youth or adult leader) who has demonstrated unusual heroism in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.
- Heroism Award
- A lifesaving award presented to a registered BSA member (youth or adult leader) who has demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at minimal personal risk.
- Medal of Merit
- Awarded to BSA members (youth or adult leaders) who have performed an outstanding act of service and exceptional character by putting into practice Scouting skills and ideals. It does not need to involve risk to self.
- National Certificate of Merit
- This award may be presented by the National Court of Honor to a registered BSA member (youth or adult leader) who has performed a significant act of service that is deserving of special national recognition. Such action need not involve attempts of rescue or risk to self, but puts into practice Scouting skills or ideals.
- Local Council Certificate of Merit
- This may be awarded by local BSA councils for individual meritorious actions by a registered BSA member (youth or adult leader) that do not merit national recognition.
Nova and Supernova Awards
These STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) awards are for all three levels of youth scouting. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers may all earn up to four Nova awards, each based on one of the four STEM principles. The Supernova award is a culmination of the youth's work on the Nova award and there are a number of various Supernova awards that the scout may earn.
Adult leader awards
Cub Scout leader recognition
Cub Scout leaders who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements are recognized by a system of awards. The Cub Scout Den Leader Training Award is available for Den Leaders, the Scouter's Training Award is for any registered Cub Scout leader, and the Scouter's Key is for Cubmasters. These awards are recognized by a certificate and an embroidered square knot insignia with the appropriate square knot device pin (indicates program or rank for which the award was earned).
Boy Scout leader recognition
Boy Scout adult leaders who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements are recognized by a system of awards. The Boy Scout Leader's Training Award is available to any leader, while the Scoutmaster's Key and the Scoutmaster Award of Merit are only available to the Scoutmaster.
Varsity Scout leader recognition
Adult Varsity leaders may earn the Varsity Letter and activity pins. They meet the same requirements as the youth and must also complete Fast Start and Basic Leader Training (New Leader Essentials and Varsity Coach Leader Specific Training), attend six Varsity Roundtables, and complete a minimum of six months tenure.
Varsity Scout leaders who complete tenure, training and performance requirements may earn the Varsity Scout Leader Training Award. Varsity Coaches may earn the Varsity Coach's Key and the National President's Varsity Scout Coach Award of Merit.
Venturing leader recognition
Venturing adult leaders who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements are recognized by a system of awards. The Venturing Leader's Training Award is available to any leader, while the Venturing Advisor's Key and Venturing Advisor Award of Merit are only available to the Advisor.
Sea Scout leader recognition
Sea Scout adult leaders who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements are recognized by a system of awards. The Sea Scout Leader's Training Award (part of the Scouter's Training Award series) is available to any leader, while the Skipper's Key is only available to Skippers. Seabadge is an advanced leadership program for all Sea Scout leaders. Seabadge can be worn as a pin or a knot with a single trident. Unofficial knots with multiple tridents are sometimes worn to represent a staff member or course director.
Sea Scout adult leaders may also wear the SEAL pin if they, earned it as a youth, served as course director, or served as a course director's mate.
Sea Scout adult leaders may also receive the Venturing Leadership Award
Commissioners who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements are recognized by a system of awards. The Arrowhead Honor is for commissioners who exhibit quality performance and leadership. The Roundtable Staff Training Award (part of the Scouter's Training Award series) is available to Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout and Venturing roundtable staff. The Commissioner's Key (part of the Scouter's Key series) is available for roundtable commissioners, district commissioner, assistant district commissioners, unit commissioners, council commissioners and assistant council commissioners. The Distinguished Commissioner Service Award recognizes commissioners who provide quality service over a period of at least five years.
Scouter's Training Award
The Scouter's Training Award is a set of recognitions for leaders who complete tenure, training and performance requirements.
- Cub Scout Leader's Training Award for the Cubmaster, Den Leaders, pack committee chairman and pack committee members
- Boy Scout Leader's Training Award for the Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmasters, troop committee chairman and troop committee members
- Varsity Scout Leader's Training Award for the Coach, assistant Coaches, team committee chairman, team committee member
- Venturing Leader's Training Award for the Advisor, associate Advisors, crew committee chairman and crew committee members
- Sea Scout Leader's Training Award for the Skipper, mates, ship committee chairman and ship committee members
- Roundtable Staff Training Award for the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout and Venturing roundtable staff
The Scouter's Key is a set of recognitions for primary unit leaders who complete advanced tenure, training and performance requirements.
- Cubmaster's Key
- Scoutmaster's Key
- Varsity Scout Coach's Key
- Venturing Advisor's Key
- Commissioner's Key for roundtable commissioners, district commissioner, assistant district commissioners, unit commissioners, council commissioners and assistant council commissioner
- District Committee's Key for the district committee chairman and members
Unit Leader Award of Merit
The Unit Leader Award of Merit is for Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Coaches and Advisors who meet requirements for tenure, personal training, unit quality and youth training.
- Cubmaster Award of Merit
- Scoutmaster Award of Merit
- Varsity Scout Coach Award of Merit
- Venturing Advisor Award of Merit
Leadership and training awards
Distinguished service awards
Distinguished service awards are presented at various levels to recognize noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth.
- Silver World Award
- Silver Buffalo Award
- Silver Antelope Award
- Silver Beaver Award
- Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
- Outstanding Eagle Scout Award
- District Award of Merit: A recognition for Scouters who give noteworthy service to youth at the district level.
- International Scouter Award
- Community Organization Award
- Cliff Dochterman Award, Rotary
- Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Masons
- George Meany Award, AFL-CIO (is also part of this category, but retains the use of its original square knot)
- Herbert G. Horton Alpha Phi Omega Service to Youth Award
- Marvin M. Lewis Award, BPOE
- Raymond A. Finley, Jr. Sea Scout Service Award, United States Power Squadrons
- Robert E. Burt Boy Scout Volunteer Award, Sons of the American Revolution
- Ruritan Scout Leader Community Service Award, Ruritan National Service Club
- Scouter's Achievement Award, VFW
- Scouting Square Knot Award, American Legion
- United States Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, U.S. DOD
National service awards
- Whitney M Young Jr. Service Award
Recognizes outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for youth from rural or low-income urban backgrounds.
- ¡Scouting ... Vale la pena! Service Award
Recognizes outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for Hispanic American/Latino youth.
- Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service Award
Recognizes outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for Asian American youth.
- ScoutReach National President's Award
- Dr. Frank "Tick" Coleman Service Award
Support of Scouting awards
- James E West Fellowship Award
- 1910 Society
- Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, Theodore Roosevelt and Waite Phillips levels
- Founder's Circle
- Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels
- 1910 Society
- William D. Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award
- Good Scout Award
- National Den Award
- National Quality Unit Award
- National Summertime Pack Award
- Veteran Unit Emblem
- BSA Ready & Prepared Award
- E. Urner Goodman Scholarship Fund
- National Jewish Committee on Scouting: Eagle Scout Scholarship Programs
- AFL-CIO Wood Badge Scholarship Program
- VFW Wood Badge Scholarship Program
- William M Minto Memorial Scholarship For Sea Scouts
- Sons of the American Revolution: Arthur M. & Berdena King Eagle Scout Scholarship
- Boardsailing BSA
- BSA Lifeguard
- Kayaking, BSA
- Long Cruise
- Mile Swim, BSA
- Qualified Seaman
- Scuba, BSA
- Small Boat Handler
- Snorkeling, BSA
- Boy Scout World Conservation Award
- Conservation Good Turn
- Cub Scout World Conservation Award
- Cub Scout Leave No Trace Awareness Award
- Leave No Trace Awareness Award
- William T. Hornaday Awards
- William T. Hornaday Unit Award
- William T. Hornaday Badge
- William T. Hornaday Gold Badge
- William T. Hornaday Bronze Medal
- William T. Hornaday Silver Medal
- William T. Hornaday Gold Badge
- William T. Hornaday Gold Certificate
- Venturing World Conservation Award
- Torch of Gold certificate
- Woods Services Award
- Emergency Preparedness
- BSA Ready and Prepared Award
- Crime Prevention Awards
- Emergency Preparedness Award
- 50-Miler Award
- Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award
- Historic Trails Award
- National Outdoor Challenge Unit Award
- National Medal for Outdoor Achievement
- Service stars
- Veteran Scouter Pin
- BSA Family Award
- BSA Physical Fitness Award
- Donor Awareness Patch
- Hometown U.S.A. Award
- International Activity Patch
- Interpreter's Strips
- Recruiter Strip
- Young American Award
Awards from other organizations
- Alpha Phi Omega offers the Scouting Recognition Certificate
- The American Legion offers the Eagle Scout of the Year Award
- The United States Department of Defense offers the Youth Certificate of Recognition
These awards are no longer awarded, but may be worn by those who earned them:
- Den Mother's Training Award- awarded from 1956, renamed to Den Leader’s Training Award in 1967
- Den Leader Coach Training Award- awarded from 1967 to 2006, replaced by the Pack Trainer Award
- Explorer Silver- awarded from 1949 to 1964
- Explorer Achievement Award- awarded from 1981 to 1995, replaced by the Explorer G.O.L.D. Award
- Explorer G.O.L.D. Award- awarded from 1995 to 1998
- Explorer Ranger Award- awarded from 1944 to 1949
- Explorer Ace Award- awarded from 1942 to 1954
- Heroism Award- a lifesaving award presented to a registered youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated heroism in saving or attempting to save a life at minimum risk to self
- National Camping Award- replaced by the National Outdoor Challenge Unit Award in 2010
- Silver Fawn Award- equivalent of the Silver Beaver Award for female leaders issued from 1971 to 1974
- Tiger Cub Coach Award— renamed to Tiger Cub Den Leader Award
- William H. Spurgeon III Award- moved to Exploring (Learning for Life)
- scouting.org - The official BSA Website for Scouting in the US.
- MeritBadge.Org - is a Wikipedia that provides resources to Scouts and leaders in the US.
- USScouts.Org - another volunteer site that provides resources to Scouts and leaders in the US.
- "Boy Scout Joining Requirements". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved 2006-03-23.
- "Tenderfoot Rank Requirement". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved 2006-03-23.
- "Second Class Rank Requirement". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved 2006-03-23.
- "First Class Rank Requirement". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved 2006-03-23.
- "Star Scout Rank Requirements". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Life Scout Rank Requirements". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Eagle Scout Rank Requirements". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Cub Scout Leader Recognition Awards". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. Retrieved 2006-02-06.
- Scholarships, Grants and Prizes 2007. Peterson's. 2007. p. 494. ISBN 978-0-7689-2314-8.
- Jason Swenson; Camille West (11 May 2017). "Church Replacing Varsity and Venturing Scouting with New Activities Program". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Intellectual Reserve. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
The First Presidency has announced that effective January 1, 2018, the Church will discontinue its Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs for young men ages 14–18 in the United States and Canada, replacing them with a new activities program.
- "Venturing Bronze Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved March 15, 2006.
- "Venturing Gold Award". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on March 3, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2006.
- "Venturing Silver Award". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on March 3, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2006.
- "Venturing Ranger Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- "Venturing Trust Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- "Venturing Quest Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- "Sea Scouting Quartermaster Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- "National Court of Honor — Lifesaving and Meritorious Awards". US Scouts.org. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- "National Court of Honor will fete the scouts of the Little Sioux Scout Ranch". Missouri Valley Times. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Bryan Wendell (29 August 2018). "BSA reinstates Heroism Award, one of three national-level lifesaving awards". Bryan on Scouting. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
The Heroism Award was first presented in 1977 and discontinued in late 2012. Its official reinstatement came after a vote by the National Executive Board in February 2018.
- Boy Scouts of America. "Stem/Nova". Boy Scouts of America.
- "Venturing Leader's Training Award". U.S. Scouts Service Project. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2006.
- "Venturing Advisor's Key". U.S. Scouts Service Project. Archived from the original on November 4, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2006.
- "Venturing Advisor Award of Merit". U.S. Scouts Service Project. Retrieved March 30, 2006.
- International Scouter's Award
- "BSA Community Organization Award fact sheet." Retrieved on May 23, 2007. Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Cliff Dochterman Award Archived 2007-10-19 at the Wayback Machine.
- Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award
- Alpha Phi Omega: National Service Fraternity | Herbert G Horton Service to Youth Award
- The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the USA: Marvin Lewis Awards Archived 2007-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.
- Microsoft Word - 10-USPS Finley Sea Scout Service Award
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2006-10-04.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) :: Community Service Archived 2007-07-10 at the Wayback Machine.
- Welcome to the American Legion Online
- "Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- BSA Press Release
- Ready & Prepared Award
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-02-12. Retrieved 2006-02-10.
- Sea Scouting: Opportunities and Activities
- NSSAR - Arthur M. & Berdena King Eagle Scout Scholarship Program
- "Young American Award". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved March 30, 2006.