Boy Scouting has a system of ranks in which Scouts learn progressively more difficult skills and take on progressively greater responsibilities. The highest of these ranks is Eagle Scout. Becoming an Eagle Scout is an important achievement that your son can be proud of his
entire life, but turning out Eagle Scouts is not what the Boy Scouting program is all about. Troop 216 strongly encourages advancement, but we never force it—advancement is the Scout’s choice, and he sets his own pace. Troop 216 does not operate on a “lock-step” advancement system. Many great Scouts, and great men, never became Eagle Scouts. Advancement in Boy Scouts is not automatic. It is absolutely essential for each boy to use his personal initiative if he intends to advance in rank. Troop 216 provides ample opportunity for each boy who joins to advance all the way to Eagle Scout, if he so chooses. However, we do not force any Scout to advance. Each Scout must set his own goals.
The troop formally acknowledges advancements at a twice-a-year meeting called the Court of Honor (COH), usually in the fall and spring. This meeting also acknowledges merit badge completions. This meeting affords the boy leaders important meeting organization skills, including scheduling and publication skills. See the troop Calendar for the next upcoming COH. An example of a Troop 216 Court of Honor can be seen in the video below.
Each rank (Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, Eagle) has a specific set of requirements which must be met before the Scout can earn that rank. The requirements for each of these ranks are included in the Boy Scout Handbook and typically include some type of skill(s) demonstration, tenure at existing rank, tenured leadership, merit badge(s) completion, demonstrable Scout Spirit, a Scoutmaster conference and culminating in a board of review (BOR). The last two requirements apply to almost every rank.
To have a Scoutmaster Conference, a Scout must have completed all but the last two requirements for the rank he is working on. The preceding requirements are signed off by a registered adult leader (Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop Committee member) or by a Scout of at least Star rank. Siblings are not allowed to sign off on each other’s requirements while they are a Scout. The Scout then engages the Scoutmaster for this conference. This meeting typically occurs during Monday night troop meetings.
After the Scoutmaster Conference has been held, the Scout asks the Advancement Chairman for a Board of Review. The BOR consists of adults (Troop Committee members and interested parents) who review a Scout’s record and performance. The board members decide whether he has learned/retained enough knowledge to justify earning that rank. If a Scout passes a BOR he will be informally awarded his new rank immediately. If he does not pass he will be told exactly what is expected of him to pass the next time he meets the board. The Scout is expected to be in full Class A uniform (shirt, neckerchief and slide), have his completed Boy Scout Handbook with him and be current in paying his dues.
Merit Badges are the second main area of the Boy Scout advancement program. Unlike ranks, there is a degree of choice in the merit badge program. A sub-group of merit badges are known as Eagle Required merit badges. To earn Eagle Scout, most of these badges must be earned although some are “either/or” badges. The remainder of the badges help with earning ranks as well as Eagle Palms after the Eagle Scout award has been earned. Boy Scouts may work on merit badges from the time they join a Scout troop until they turn 18 years old. There is no time limit for completion of merit badges other than age 18. Merit badges are required for Star, Life and Eagle ranks.
A Scout wishing to earn a merit badge secures a Merit Badge Request Form, also known as a “blue card”, from the Scoutmaster. The Scout will complete the sections of the card including the name of the Merit Badge they are seeking, their name, etc. The Scoutmaster then signs the card. The Scout, obtains the name of and contacts a merit badge counselor, acquires a merit badge pamphlet/worksheet and then works to comply with the requirements for that badge. Some Merit Badge Counselors utilize the worksheets available online, some use only the pamphlets. A Merit Badge is incomplete until the requested form is signed by the Counselor and returned reviewed with the Scoutmaster. After this review, the Scout then provides the card to the Advancement Chairman to record into the Troop’s records. Counselors will only work with a group of at least two Scouts to comply with the BSA Child Protection Policy. Merit badges are awarded at Courts of Honor.
The Troop maintains a merit badge pamphlet library and our Scouts can check out any of the pamphlets they may need to work on merit badges. These pamphlets are shared with all Scouts in the Troop and should be returned on a timely basis. Parents may choose to purchase merit badge pamphlets for their son(s) at a small cost at A&R Paints-Troy, the Lewis & Clark Council Scout Shop or online at www.scoutstuff.org . The Troop welcomes donations of any pamphlets to expand our library. Additionally, zero cost merit badge worksheets are available online at www.meritbadge.org .
Troop 216 also has several adult Scouters who are in-house merit badge counselors. A list of those counselors are maintained at the Troop website. The BSA Merit Badge system is a robust 137 subject program. Troop 216 encourages all parents to get involved. This is an easy way to insure the viability of our program. Merit Badge Counseling is both non-time-intensive and extremely rewarding. You determine your level of involvement. The benefits for both you and the youth are immeasurable. Instructions for becoming a counselor can be found on the “Welcome Materials” page of the Troop website. There is also a 30-minute video at the bottom of the “Welcome Materials” page that provides very specific instruction on how the entire merit badge system is instituted.