Scouts develop and grow in the program in two basic ways: the first, individual learning and skills development through individual advancement; and second, teamwork and leadership development through positions held in the patrol method. While the two are somewhat interconnected, they are separate, distinct and unique aspects of Scouting. This page and the linked pages below will deal with individual advancement - ranks, merit badges, and special skill awards. There are other sections of the site deal with the Patrol Method.
There are six ranks in U.S. Scouting. The first three - Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class - are geared toward mastering a set of basic skills including camping, cooking, first aid, swimming, various knots/lashing useful in the outdoors and citizenship. The second group - Star, life, and finally the highest rank in Scouting, Eagle - are based on earning merit badges, service, and leadership development. Some of these are required and deal with citizenship, personal development, and advanced outdoor skills. Others are elective and chosen from the 125 different merit badge topics which range from sports, hobbies, nature/conservation, and a host of others which can open to Scouts a life-long avocation or serve as an introduction to what can become a career. The most popular merit badge is First Aid. In 2005 (the last year where figures are available), over 86.000 scouts earned this badge. The newest merit badge is Robotics which debuted in 2011.
These pages may help answer some question or serve as a resource for Scouts seeking to advance in rank or earn merit badges:
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