Are you ready to earn your First Class rank and start seriously preparing to become an Eagle Scout? You’re actually a lot closer than you think! In earning First Class, you’ll be finishing up the last of your Scouting rank knowledge requirements — and stepping up as a leader, too.
In this guide, I’ll be helping you to learn the skills knowledge you’ll need to complete your First Class requirements and rank up! Remember, this information should serve as your starting point. Keep practicing what you learn, do further research, and be sure to ask others for help if you ever need a hand.
One thing that really separates the First Class from any of the previous ranks is how it’ll prepare you to take on leadership roles in your troop. Keep that in mind as you earn each requirement, and try to do your best. All of this is laying the foundation for your future success! 🙂
First, take a minute to thoroughly read through each of the requirements you’ll need to complete before earning First Class. Then, I’ll be reviewing the answers to each question with you so you can learn the material and advance. You got this, scout? I know you do! Let’s get started…
What Are the First Class Rank Requirements?
- CAMPING and OUTDOOR ETHICS
- –1a. Since joining Scouts BSA, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, at least six of which must be held outdoors. Of the outdoor activities, at least three must include overnight camping. These activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect, such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee.
- –1b. Explain each of the principles of Tread Lightly! and tell how you practiced them on a campout or outing. This outing must be different from the ones used for Tenderfoot requirement 1c and Second Class requirement 1b.
- –2a. Help plan a menu for one of the above campouts that includes at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner, and that requires cooking at least two of the meals. Tell how the menu includes the foods from MyPlate or the current USDA nutritional model and how it meets nutritional needs for the planned activity or campout.
- –2b. Using the menu planned in First Class requirement 2a, make a list showing a budget and the food amounts needed to feed three or more youth. Secure the ingredients.
- –2c. Show which pans, utensils, and other gear will be needed to cook and serve these meals.
- –2d. Demonstrate the procedures to follow in the safe handling and storage of fresh meats, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and other perishable food products. Show how to properly dispose of camp garbage, cans, plastic containers, and other rubbish.
- –2e. On one campout, serve as cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in First Class requirement 2a. Supervise the cleanup.
- KNOTS and LASHINGS
- –3a. Discuss when you should and should not use lashings.
- –3b Demonstrate tying the timber hitch and clove hitch.
- –3c. Demonstrate tying the square, shear, and diagonal lashings by joining two or more poles or staves together
- –3d. Use lashings to make a useful camp gadget or structure.
- –4a. Using a map and compass, complete an orienteering course that covers at least one mile and requires measuring the height and/or width of designated items (tree, tower, canyon, ditch, etc.).
- –4b. Demonstrate how to use a handheld GPS unit, GPS app on a smartphone, or other electronic navigation system. Use GPS to find your current location, a destination of your choice, and the route you will take to get there. Follow that route to arrive at your destination.
- –5a. Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your local area or campsite location. You may show evidence by identifying fallen leaves or fallen fruit that you find in the field, or as part of a collection you have made, or by photographs you have taken.
- –5b. Identify two ways to obtain a weather forecast for an upcoming activity. Explain why weather forecasts are important when planning for an event.
- –5c. Describe at least three natural indicators of impending hazardous weather, the potential dangerous events that might result from such weather conditions, and the appropriate actions to take.
- –5d. Describe extreme weather conditions you might encounter in the outdoors in your local geographic area. Discuss how you would determine ahead of time the potential risk of these types of weather dangers, alternative planning considerations to avoid such risks, and how you would prepare for and respond to those weather conditions.
- –6a. Successfully complete the BSA swimmer test.
- –6b. Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe trip afloat.
- –6c. Identify the basic parts of a canoe, kayak, or other boat. Identify the parts of a paddle or an oar.
- –6d. Describe proper body positioning in a watercraft, depending on the type and size of the vessel. Explain the importance of proper body position in the boat.
- –6e. With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as rescuer. (The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in deep water.)
- FIRST AID and EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
- –7a. Demonstrate bandages for a sprained ankle and for injuries on the head, the upper arm, and the collarbone.
- –7b. By yourself and with a partner, show how to:
- –7bI. Transport a person from a smoke-filled room.
–7bII.Transport for at least 25 yards a person with a sprained ankle.
- –7bI. Transport a person from a smoke-filled room.
- –7c. Tell the five most common signals of a heart attack. Explain the steps (procedures) in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- –7d. Tell what utility services exist in your home or meeting place. Describe potential hazards associated with these utilities and tell how to respond in emergency situations.
- –7e. Develop an emergency action plan for your home that includes what to do in case of fire, storm, power outage, and water outage.
- –7f. Explain how to obtain potable water in an emergency.
- –8a. After completing Second Class requirement 7a, be physically active at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week for four weeks. Keep track of your activities.
- –8b. Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life.
- –9a. Visit and discuss with a selected individual approved by your leader (for example, an elected official, judge, attorney, civil servant, principal, or teacher) the constitutional rights and obligations of a U.S. citizen.
- –9b. Investigate an environmental issue affecting your community. Share what you learned about that issue with your patrol or troop. Tell what, if anything, could be done by you or your community to address the concern.
- –9c. On a Scouting or family outing, take note of the trash and garbage you produce. Before your next similar outing, decide how you can reduce, recycle, or repurpose what you take on that outing, and then put those plans into action. Compare your results.
- –9d. Participate in three hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. The project(s) must not be the same service project(s) used for Tenderfoot requirement 7b and Second Class requirement 8e. Explain how your service to others relates to the Scout Law.
- –10. Tell someone who is eligible to join Scouts BSA, or an inactive Scout, about your Scouting activities. Invite this person to an outing, activity, service project, or meeting. Provide information on how to join, or encourage the inactive Scout to become active. Share your efforts with your Scoutmaster or other adult leader.
- SCOUT SPIRIT
- 11. Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived four different points of the Scout Law (different from those points used for previous ranks) in your everyday life.
- SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE
- 12. While working toward the First Class rank and after completing Second Class requirement 11, participate in a Scoutmaster conference.
- BOARD OF REVIEW
- 13. Successfully complete your board of review for the First Class rank.
First Class Requirements 1a-1b: Camping and Outdoor Ethics
A big part of enjoying the outdoors is respecting it! As a scout, it should be your goal is to enjoy nature without leaving litter or other signs you were there. In this section, we’ll be going over how exactly you can camp ethically and leave no trace — while still having fun! 🙂
1a) Since joining Scouts BSA, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, at least six of which must be held outdoors. Of the outdoor activities, at least three must include overnight camping. These activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect, such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee.
Just like how you needed to attend 5 campouts to earn Second Class, the First Class rank requires that you attend 10 outdoor outings. That’s just 5 more! If you’ve been keeping track of your outings in the back of your BSA Handbook, this should be easy.
Now that you’re a seasoned scout, hopping on a new trip is a little less daunting. To spice it up a bit, I’d encourage you to practice your leadership skills! You can show how much you’ve grown by helping the younger scouts to pitch their tents, cook, or complete requirements.
1b) Explain each of the principles of Tread Lightly! and describe how you practiced them at a campout or outing. This outing must be different from any used for Tenderfoot requirement 1c or Second Class requirement 1b.
Tread Lightly is a non-profit partner of the BSA that heavily encourages outdoor ethics and responsibility for everyone, not just scouts. Tread Lightly has their own set of principles called T.R.E.A.D. which should guide your behavior on outings:
- T: Travel responsibly.
- When going on any outing, stay on the designated paths. Veering off of the path can damage vegetation and other wildlife.
- R: Respect the rights of others.
- Every time you’re out in nature, you’re on someone else’s property and using trails, waterways, campsites, and resources that others will use. Remember to respect those spaces so that others can enjoy them as much as you did!
- E: Educate yourself.
- One of Scouting’s primary goals is to educate scouts on how to be responsible in the outdoors. That includes following local laws, being respectful, and learning basic survival skills to be confident while in the wild.
- A: Avoid sensitive areas.
- Reiterating the “T” in T.R.E.A.D., avoiding sensitive areas also includes staying on designated paths and following local rules. If you see a sign that asks you to not veer off the path, you should follow it.
- D: Do your part.
- Be respectful of the outdoors by giving back to it. Cleanup where you can, and try your best to make any area look better than when you found it.
You’ve probably been following these principles without even realizing it! Think back to your previous outings and make a quick list of the T.R.E.A.D. principles you used. Once you’re ready to complete this requirement, chat with your Scoutmaster! The topic? Outdoor ethics. 😀
First Class Requirements 2a-2e: Cooking
When working towards First Class, you’ll be focusing a lot on meal planning, cooking, and nutrition. If you haven’t completed your Cooking merit badge yet, this would be the perfect time to start your blue card and get a bunch of requirements done!
2a) Help plan a menu for one of the above campouts that includes at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner and that requires cooking at least two of the meals. Tell how the menu includes the foods from MyPlate or the current USDA nutritional model and how it meets nutritional needs for the planned activity or campout.
Planning meals doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. In fact, I’d recommend picking something simple for lunch or breakfast to save time. In my troop, our lunch was often quick ham and cheese sandwiches! For more ideas on simple camp menus, here are some great go-to’s:
- Grilled Cheese
- Noodles with meat and veggies
The main thing to keep in mind is to prepare a well-rounded camp meal so that your patrol has enough energy to do all the fun activities planned for the day. To make sure everyone was always well-nourished, as a scout I’d often keep the Protein-Base-Side Strategy in mind.
The Protein-Base-Side Strategy
The Base-Protein-Side strategy is pretty simple to understand, and it really works when put into practice! First, I’ll let you in on a nutrition secret: You can create a well-rounded and nourishing meal by simply having a base (usually grain-based), a protein of some sort, and a side of fruit and/or vegetables. It’s that easy!
Let’s take a look at a few examples to see how this strategy can be used to make some nutritious camp meals:
- For breakfast: Take a tortilla (base), cook up some leftover meat from yesterday’s dinner (protein), and peel an orange to have on the side!
- For lunch: Take some bread (base), add some leftover meat from breakfast/dinner (protein), and have some celery and apples on the side.
- For dinner: You can make a stew with many vegetables and meats (protein and side). Serve it atop rice (base) and have some fruit (side) for dessert!
So, no more camp meals that are just one pack of cup noodles, alright? 😉 As you can see, by using the Base-Protein-Side strategy, it only takes a bit of thought to ensure that you have a well-rounded meal that’ll fill you with energy. Now you’re ready for some good cookin’!
Before planning your menu, remember to ask your fellow scouts about any allergies or dietary restrictions. Lastly, keep nutrition in mind when planning your menu. For great nutritional tips, check out Second Class requirement 2e, which includes information on the MyPlate model.
2b) Using the menu planned in First Class requirement 2a, make a list showing a budget and the food amounts needed to feed three or more youth. Secure the ingredients.
Now that you know what to eat, it’s time to determine how much food you’ll need and set a budget for your meal plan! Most major grocery stores have a website where you can see prices for all of their products. I’d recommend looking up ingredients and their prices on Kroger’s website.
After you’re finished making a list of ingredients with quantities and prices, it’s time to gather them up! Keep in mind that it’s better to bring a bit more food than you think you’ll need. Extra food can always go back with you in a cooler but too little food is a problem not as easily solved! 😛
2c) Show which pans, utensils, and other gear will be needed to cook and serve these meals.
In addition to food and ingredients, you’ll also need to think about cookware and utensils. How will you cook your meals? If you’ll be frying, you’ll likely need a pan and a spatula. How will the food be served? Do you need extra gear? These are all things to consider when packing cooking equipment.
Once you’ve decided on how you’re going to cook your meals, talk to your quartermaster. They can help you find the right cooking gear in your troop’s storage. With that, you’ll have all the supplies necessary to cook fantastic camp meals!
2d) Demonstrate the procedures to follow in the safe handling and storage of fresh meats, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and other perishable food products. Show how to properly dispose of camp garbage, cans, plastic containers, and other rubbish.
Take stock of all perishable food items. It’s crucial you store food properly so it doesn’t spoil, as rotten food can make you and fellow scouts sick. For an in-depth description of proper food handling, check out Cooking merit badge requirement 1c!
The final thing you’ll need to oversee is the proper disposal of waste. While cooking and eating, you’ll create rubbish so bring plenty of trash bags with you. For a refresher on proper waste disposal, watch this video (1:21) on the 3-bucket method for camp dishes:
2e) On one campout, serve as cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in First Class requirement 2a. Supervise the cleanup.
Now it’s time for you to assume a head chef role! At your next campout, take charge of meal prep, building your fire/setting up the stove, cooking/serving, and cleanup. For a refresher on campfire etiquette and fire safety, definitely check out my guide to the BSA Firem’n Chit.
You can recruit other scouts to assist you, but keep in mind that you should do most of the cooking yourself. This is your final test for the cooking portion of First Class! Good luck, scout! 😀
First Class Requirements 3a-3d: Knots and Lashings
What’s one of the most versatile tools you’ll use in Scouting? Rope! In this section, you’ll learn about different knots and lashings, which will be extremely important during hiking or camping activities. So, grab a rope of your own because it’s time to get started!
3a) Discuss when you should and should not use lashings.
The first types of ropework we’ll go over are lashings. “Lashing” is basically a fancy word for joining poles or sticks together by wrapping them tightly with rope. In my troop, we’d often use lashings to assemble flagpoles and build tepees.
Keep in mind though that leaving lashings behind goes against Leave No Trace principles. Be sure to disassemble your lashings at the end of each outing and bring them with you. Besides, rope isn’t cheap! (Except this Amazon rope, which is cheap and great!)
3b) Demonstrate tying the timber hitch and clove hitch.
The timber hitch and clove hitch are two knots that are used to start lashings. With practice, you’ll become a pro at tying them and determining which is best suited for your situation. For a visual demonstration of both knots, check out the video (6:24) I made below:
For an in-depth description of the knots and tips for using them correctly, check out my Essential Guide to Scouting Knots. I’m hoping it’ll serve as a great resource for scouts either learning or needing a reminder of how to tie these super-important knots!
3c) Demonstrate tying the square, shear, and diagonal lashings by joining two or more poles or staves together.
In addition to the timber and clove hitches, you’ll need to demonstrate the square, shear, and diagonal lashings in order to earn First Class. Don’t fret! Here’s a quick rundown of each one:
The square lashing is the perfect choice if you’re trying to tie two poles together in the shape of a cross. When you join two poles that cross at 90-degree angles, the lash will form a square shape, hence the name. For this lashing, you’ll need plenty of rope as well as two large poles or sticks.
Before learning this lash, make sure that you’ve mastered your clove hitch! The clove hitch is needed to start and end a square lashing correctly. Take a look at this video demonstration (3:07) on how to properly tie a square lash:
The shear lashing provides an easy way to tie two or more parallel poles together. Once tied, the poles can be positioned to create the legs of a tripod. You’ll need to know how to tie a clove hitch to start this lashing, so make sure you have that knot locked down.
Here’s a great example video (2:23) on how to properly tie a shear lashing:
Last but not least is the diagonal lashing. Diagonal lashings are especially useful for attaching two poles together to create an “X” shape. Unlike the previous two lashings that we talked about, this lash utilizes the timber hitch. Check out this video (5:57) on how to tie a diagonal lashing:
The most important thing is practice, practice, practice! Lashing can be tricky, so you’ll want to practice each one several times before demonstrating it to your Scoutmaster. Once you have each lash down, you’re on to the fun part: seeing what you can make! 🙂
3d) Use lashings to make a useful camp gadget or structure.
Almost there! Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Lashings are a great foundation for all sorts of gadgets and structures. Here’s a video (9:06) for inspiration, but I’d encourage you to do some research and come up with your own awesome ideas.
Your gadget or structure doesn’t need to be this complex, but I hope the example above sparks your creativity! Take some time to think of ways you could make camping tasks easier with a nifty creative build. Then, get to it! You got this, scout! 😀
First Class Requirements 4a-4b: Navigation
Whether you’re hiking, traveling, or just going to the store, you should always know where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there. Here, we’ll discuss how to navigate with a GPS as well as with a map and compass, since cell service is something not often found in the wild!
4a) Using a map and compass, complete an orienteering course that covers at least one mile and requires measuring the height and/or width of designated items (tree, tower, canyon, ditch, etc.)
For this challenge, your main tools will be a map, a compass, and your brain! Your goal will be to successfully finish an orienteering course that encompasses (pun intended) locating several items over a distance of one mile or more.
In most orienteering locations, you’ll be given a map with multiple control points marked. Your first task will be to use your tools to reach those destinations. Check out this video (5:29) by a competitive orienteer for further info and guidance:
The second task will require you to measure large landmarks without the help of an app or tape measure. There are many ways to accomplish this task with a bit of creativity. However, here’s one of my favorite methods of approximating measurement:
- Have another scout stand next to the landmark.
- Hold out a small object that appears to be roughly the scout’s height from where you’re standing.
- Count how many object-lengths or “scouts” are needed to measure the full length of the landmark.
- Multiply this number by the height of the scout.
- So, if the scout is 5’6″ and the landmark is about 3x their height, it’s likely pretty close to 16 feet, 6 inches tall!
Also, since this is a big country, not all troops are close to orienteering courses. That’s alright! I’d recommend speaking to your Scoutmaster about when you might be able to complete this requirement. It’s likely that your next Summer camp has orienteering on their agenda!
4b) Demonstrate how to use a handheld GPS unit, GPS app on a smartphone, or other electronic navigation system while on a campout or hike. Use GPS to find your current location, a destination of your choice, and the route you will take to get there. Follow that route to arrive at your destination.
You’re probably already pretty familiar with GPS apps, given that they come with practically every smartphone nowadays. Apps like Google Maps or Waze make it very easy to find locations and routes. Likewise, GPS units are great for areas that lack cell service.
For this requirement, use whatever GPS device you have handy. With either an app or unit, determine your current location, a nearby destination, and the desired route. If service is spotty, download the map data ahead of time and use the path on the map as a guide. You can do it! 😀
First Class Requirements 5a-5d: Nature
A huge part of Scouting is showing respect for nature — and this also includes learning more about it! Being aware of local wildlife can help preserve outdoor recreation areas so others can enjoy them as much as you have.
In this section, you’ll learn more about identifying local plants and anticipating weather conditions. These next requirements will be a fun way for you to explore your surroundings and become more familiar with the area in which you live!
5a) Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your local area or campsite location. You may show evidence by identifying fallen leaves or fallen fruit that you find in the field, or as part of a collection you have made, or by photographs you have taken.
Get ready to head outside and catalog some local plants! Visit your nearest park, or even your backyard and collect samples or pictures of plants and fruit that you find. Keep Leave No Trace in mind and take pictures to avoid touching any poisonous plants!
Now that you’ve collected all your pictures, it’s time to research each plant you’ve found. You’ll need to identify each plant in order to get this requirement signed off. Here are two helpful methods:
- Using a smartphone:
- Download the free PictureThis mobile app. (It’s like a Pokedex for plants! 🙂 )
- Click on the camera icon at the bottom of your screen and then click on “Photos.”
- Select a photo of the plant you wish to identify.
- Using a computer:
- Go to Google Images
- Click on the camera icon to search by image.
- Then, upload one of your pictures to identify the plant.
- Or, simply ask a knowledgeable Scoutmaster or parent what the plants are!
5b) Identify two ways to obtain a weather forecast for an upcoming activity. Explain why weather forecasts are important when planning for an event.
Checking the weather forecast before heading out can help to mitigate hazards on your outing. There are plenty of ways to check the forecast (TV, smartphone, weather.com). Be prepared so you and your fellow scouts don’t get stuck facing a bad storm or extreme temperatures!
Remember that harsh weather conditions should be avoided whenever possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If there’s a chance of bad weather, make sure to let your troop know in advance. Heavy winds, rain, snow, and lightning are all hazards to watch out for.
5c) Describe at least three natural indicators of impending hazardous weather, the potential dangerous events that might result from such weather conditions, and the appropriate actions to take.
There are a few easy ways to tell if bad weather is coming without using your phone. Be warned though, these methods aren’t as reliable as forecasts. I’ve listed 3 common indicators below, but feel free to do further research on your own!
- “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.”
- You’ve probably heard this adage before, and there’s a reason why. A red sky in the morning may indicate storms later that day.
- Smelly rain
- Some people can smell a storm before it arrives, often reporting a metallic scent associated with the rain.
- Appearance of clouds 😛
- This is probably the simplest way to tell if a storm is approaching, but it works. If you see dark, fluffy, low-hanging clouds headed your way, find shelter!
If caught in hazardous weather conditions like thunder, sleet, floodwaters, or pouring rain, seek shelter immediately. Make sure everyone is accounted for and that you’re safe from broken branches, flooding, debris from heavy winds, and too-cold conditions.
Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you’re in a dangerous zone that may need to be evacuated. Even if you don’t need a rescue yet, if the situation is dicey, it’s better that they know your location. Most of all though, postpone your plans if the forecast looks too dangerous!
5d) Describe extreme weather conditions you might encounter in the outdoors in your local geographic area. Discuss how you would determine ahead of time the potential risk of these types of weather dangers, alternative planning considerations to avoid such risks, and how you would prepare for and respond to those weather conditions.
The United States is home to a slew of different climates, each of which come with their own set of extreme weather conditions. Since weather events can differ significantly from one state to the next, I’ve compiled a list of some of the more familiar ones below:
|Where||When||Warning Signs||What to Do|
|Tornadoes||Central US, the South, the Midwest||Typically spring and summer||Greenish sky, large hail, still air, wall cloud, debris cloud, roaring noise||Seek shelter in a basement or first-floor room with no windows|
|Flash Floods||Throughout the US||Spring–fall||Heavy rain, muddy water, debris-carrying water||Get to higher ground, steer very clear of power lines in the water|
|Wildfires||Throughout the US||Summer–fall||Drought, high temperatures, strong winds||Evacuate, call 911, stay away from vegetation, avoid breathing smoke|
|Extreme Cold||Throughout the US||Typically winter||Near-freezing or lower temperatures, sudden temperature drops||Seek shelter, wear layers, cover extremities, drink warm fluids|
On top of these common ones, I’d recommend also doing more research on common hazards in your state to see if there are any other dangerous weather conditions to look out for. To get a full understanding of how to avoid and mitigate hazards, you should check out my guide to the Emergency Preparedness merit badge.
Ready to move on to requirement 6 for the First Class rank? Click here!
Congrats on Finishing Half of Your First-Class Rank Requirements!
Amazing work, scout! You’ve finished just about half of your entire First Class rank. This is a major step in your Scouting career and you should be super proud of yourself! 🙂
Once you’re ready to continue on to part 2 of my Guide to the First Class Rank click here!
Also, if you’re interested in more Scouting tips, guides, and even giveaways, you definitely need to sign up for my ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter! In it, I’ll send you a weekly email to help you take the next steps towards reaching Eagle. It’ll always be free and helpful, so sign up today!