How important is it?

Composed by John M. Teske, Southern Trails Advancement Chairman

Advancement is one of the eight methods used to achieve the aims of Scouting

The AIMS of Scouting are Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.

Most of us who came up through the Scouting Program have a pretty good understanding of Advancement and how important it is.

If things aren’t going well in your troop some people will tell you it’s your Program. They will ask exactly what activities and outings your troop is doing and how often.

Even when things are running just fine somebody will ask, “Are you delivering the Promise?” Many leaders will wonder just what we promised, and to whom. Just what is the Promise?

Well, when these young men joined Scouting they went and bought a uniform. And a handbook!! The Official Boy Scout Handbook!! That’s all they got! So that’s it!!! We promised them just what’s in their Handbook!

A quick look at the Handbook and you will see right up near the front, “The Adventure Begins” on page 16 is full of Promises!!  Adventure, Learning, Challenge, & Responsibility This is the Handbook the new Scout will take home and devour.

He will figure out ways to meet the requirements and get to the next rank.  He will dream of earning First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. This Handbook is full of excitement and adventure for these boys.

Some scouts have never been camping. Some have never traveled very far. Troop outings are exciting! The Handbook opens a whole new door for these boys.

Page 17 of the Handbook has the joining Requirements.  That kind of sounds like Advancement! And there are lots pages of information on how to advance!

Then the Handbook moves on to the Tenderfoot Requirements and all the Requirements right up to Eagle. In between is just about everything the scout needs to know to get it done. The whole Handbook is on Advancement!

Do you think Advancement is important? A whole book on advancement!!! What other method of Scouting has a 480 page handbook?

The Uniform Method? The Ideals Method? Advancement is the only one!

Completing the requirements for these ranks is exciting for our scouts. Doing them at Devil’s Lake, Wyalusing, the Black Hills, Glacier, Philmont, Sea Base, or Canoe Base will enhance the excitement There’s a lot of great places right in your state.

NOW: Back to Program!

If you take the Advancement Course at Philmont you will learn that:

  • Advancement = Program
  • Good Program = Good Advancement

Advancement and Program are the same thing!!!

Philmont doesn’t offer a Boy Scout Program Training Course because it is the Boy Scout Advancement Course. Providing Advancement Opportunities equals “Delivering the Promise”.

If the Three Aims of Scouting are Character, Citizenship, and Fitness, Where are the scouts supposed to learn them? Advancement is where all of that gets done!

  • Character is developed through scouts performing in a “Position of Responsibility” and other troop duties and activities.
  • Citizenship is developed through the Citizenship MBs and through service hours to the community.
  • Fitness is developed through numerous related merit badges and troop activities. (Personal Fitness merit badge is required!)

That’s as clear as anyone can make it. Advancement is the core of the Scouting Program! It encompasses all the other methods. Your advancement numbers are a good indicator of how good a program your unit has. If you are not concentrating on Advancement, you are not following the Program or delivering the Promise.


In the Advancement Policies & Procedures booklet the heading is:

ARTICLE X. PROGRAM (ADVANCEMENT) - Advancement is in parentheses right after the word Program. This indicates they are one and the same thing. Below it is.

Section 1. General Principles
Clause 1: "The rank requirements in these phases of the Scouting program, as set forth in the official publications, shall furnish the basis of the activities of the unit."

Page updated on: May 08, 2022

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