You can’t become an Eagle Scout without ranking up. However, it’s easy to get stuck and stop making progress. Or, to become discouraged because there are so many Scouting requirements that need to be completed. Not to worry! This article will help Scouts to get unstuck, make a plan, and start ranking up quickly.
As an Eagle Scout myself, I can tell you firsthand that Scouting is about the journey, not the destination. If you don’t enjoy the ride and make memories with your fellow Scouts, you’re missing out — even if you do reach Eagle! That being said, why not advance fast and enjoy the journey? 😀
How Do I Rank Up Fast In Scouts BSA? To advance quickly in Scouting, focus on consistently finishing a few requirements each week. Also, communicate with your Scoutmaster to make an advancement plan so that you can work on requirements for every rank at once. Finally, identify your requirement resources and get help from older Scouts.
We’ll be diving into these points in much more detail, so keep reading! Whether you’re a new Scout who’s looking to break your troop’s record for youngest SPL, or you’ve been in Scouting for a while and are a bit stuck on advancement, the keys we’re covering will be sure to help you along your journey to Eagle.
Disclaimer: While these methods do work extremely well, they will still require Scouts to stay focused and work hard. There is no ‘hack’ that will magically make you an Eagle Scout. However, these keys will multiply the effectiveness of your work and have you quickly seeing results! All you’ll need to do is take action. Are you still with me?
If you’re ready to learn and put in the work, you’re already set for success! Buckle up, Scout. It’s time to dive into my first key to quick advancement in Scouting…
Scout Advancement Tip 1: Make a Plan
What’s the Scout motto? That’s right, ‘Be prepared!’ I’m sure you prepare for outings by packing and double-checking your backpack to ensure you have the camping essentials. You prepare for school by doing your homework. But, have you ever prepared to rank up and succeed in Scouting?
By making a plan to advance, you’re taking a page from almost all of the most successful people in history. The trick is to start with your goal in mind, then work backward to see what you’ll need to do to reach your objective in the time you have available.
When proper planning is applied to Scouting, you’ll need to ask yourself 3 things:
- What rank-advancement requirements do you have left?
- How many merit badges do you still have to earn?
- What positions of leadership will you need?
Once you know the journey that lies before you, only then can you create your path! So, take a second to think through where are on your trail to Eagle. You could be a Tenderfoot that still needs to complete 70% of the total requirements, and that’s fine. Figure out exactly where you are and where you’re wanting to go.
Not many Scouts instinctively know to create a plan, but it will truly make a huge difference. If you first determine where you are, you can more clearly see what’s ahead and what you can do to move forward. Once you have your goal, taking action toward it is the next step.
Finishing Requirements and Advancing in Scouting
To take action, first realize that all progress in Scouting is driven by finishing requirements. That’s how you rank up and eventually earn Eagle! So, always try to be finishing requirements whenever possible.
You might be wondering, “That’s nice Cole, but what requirements should I be working on?” Great question! When looking at requirements, it’s important to break them down into 3 categories so that you don’t get stuck trying to do something at the wrong time. Here are the 3 BSA Scout requirement types:
Scouts BSA Requirement Types
- Knowledge Requirements (Most Common – Easiest): Completed by learning an answer or understanding a skill, and then discussing it with a Scoutmaster.
- Example (Tenderfoot req 4b): Describe common poisonous or hazardous plants, identify any that grow in your local area or campsite location. Tell how to treat for exposure to them.
- Event Requirements (Uncommon – Sometimes Difficult): These require specific locations or activities, and are most often completed during special Troop outings.
- Example (Tenderfoot Req 7b): Participate in a total of one hour of service in one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster.
- Time Requirements (Rare – Most Difficult): These requirements are generally the hardest for Scouts to stay on top of, and must be worked on over an extended period of time.
- Example (Tenderfoot Req 6c): Show improvement (of any degree) in each activity listed in Tenderfoot Requirement 6a after practicing for 30 days.
Once you can judge a requirement type just by reading it, it’s time to take action! Below is your next step that you just have to repeat for about 6 months, and you’ll be First Class rank in no time. 😀
Your next step: Pick out 3 knowledge requirements you can finish and get signed off by the end of your next meeting. Also, start 1-2 time based requirements ASAP!
By prioritizing your knowledge requirements and starting your time-based requirements early, you’ll advance in the shortest time possible. Always be keeping an eye out for opportunity to finish event requirements during troop activities as well, and you’ll be a ranking-up machine!
It may sound simple, but this is truly the main key to rapid advancement: plan and finish a few requirements each and every week so you can make progress through the ranks. Once you make planning a habit, Scouting (and everything else you’re doing) will feel a whole lot easier!
I actually created a full course on mastering these principles for Scouting success (and more)!
It’s called TrailMap To Eagle and is jam-packed with helpful videos, resources, and exclusive tools to support you on your advancement journey. Check it out today to see if it’s right for you. 🙂
Scout Advancement Tip 2: Use Advancement Opportunities
Every Scout should try to attend as many troop events as possible to increase their opportunity to get things signed off. However, I’ll let you in on a Scouting secret: certain events are waaay better for advancement than others. For example, summer and winter camps will be your best opportunities for earning merit badges fast.
Below are the best advancement opportunities I’ve seen for completing badges or requirements as a Scout:
Best Scout Advancement Opportunities
- Summer/Winter Camps
- Merit Badge Seminars
- Regular Troop Campouts During Free Time
- Before/After Troop Meetings
- Break Times During Service Outings
- A meeting with a Scoutmaster where you plan to only focus on demonstrating/completing requirements
However, if you still have yet to reach first class, prioritize finishing all of your normal rank requirements before tackling merit badges. By spending a bit of your free time reading your Scout Handbook and practicing skills, you’ll be able to demonstrate advancement skills to your Scoutmaster on the spot!
Scout Advancement Tip 3: Ask The Older Scouts For Help
To make the previous tip even easier, try asking the older Scouts for their advice and help. I’m sure they’d be happy to help you better understand the skill, and you might just make a new friend in the process! When I was an older Scout, one of my favorite things was teaching knots, so you may just make their day too. 🙂
They say that if you’re good, you try to do everything yourself. However, if you’re great, you’ll rely on others to pull you up! Martial artists find a sensei, and you too should find an older Scout who can help you to avoid common mistakes and guide you through your Scouting journey.
I’m going to let you in on a cool fact: People like to help others. Don’t feel embarrassed reaching out to an older scout for their advice. If anything, they’ll feel flattered and want to help. When you’re in their position, you’ll likely feel this way too!
The best way to ask for an older scout’s advice is by requesting a small favor to start off. Don’t rush in and immediately ask them to be your Scouting coach. How I used to approach an older Scout would be by saying something like this:
”Hey, you’re really good at those skills requirements! I was wondering if you’d be able to show me how to do X to get it signed off? I read through the handbook section but a live demo would help me out a ton.
After they give you some advice, thank them, give them a compliment, and let them know that they were helpful. Then, in the future, feel free to ask them for more tips. You could even share with them your plans to advance so they’re encouraged to help you out even more when you need some advice.
By doing this, not only will you gain a lot of valuable information for quick advancement, but you may also make a great friend and mentor. Having an older Scout who’s got your back is a huge advantage when trying to rank up quickly on your Scouting journey!
Scout Advancement Tip 4: Identify Your Scouting Resources
The most time-consuming part of your advancement in Scouting will likely be earning merit badges. With 21 merit badges being the bare minimum, and some difficult Eagle-required badges that all Scouts must earn, you’ll likely spend hundreds of hours working on different badge requirements.
However, when leading service projects, you often prepare by identifying the tools and people you have available, right? Likewise, when trying to earn your merit badges, you should know exactly what resources you can use to help along the way!
The most commonly used resources for earning merit badges are as follows:
- Older Scouts
- The Boy Scout Handbook
- Merit badge guidebooks
- The Internet
If you’re only depending on Scoutmasters, your parents, or the older Scouts to guide you through earning your merit badges, it’s like you’re relying on luck to become an Eagle Scout. These people might be able to help, but also they might not. Time to take success into your own capable hands!
This is why the Internet is so useful! It’s the great equalizer. Anyone can learn anything — if they know where to look. At your fingertips, there are thousands of resources to help you better learn the skills you’ll be needing to complete your requirements. Be sure to make use of that knowledge!
The problem is, it’s difficult to navigate through all of the information. Sometimes, you just need the best way to find all of the answers. There are a lot of Scouting resources out there, and any one of them might be perfect for you. Take the time to find your ideal resource that you can keep coming back to.
Once you find a Scouting resource that you enjoy, bookmark it! Personally, I used to keep a folder in my bookmark bar with useful Scouting websites and would check different ones based on my needs. Here are the best Scouting websites that I would recommend bookmarking:
My Favorite Scouting Resources
- BoyScoutTrail.com: Merit badge requirements and printed worksheets
- Scouting.com: Official Scouting updates and information
- Bryan on Scouting: Quality blog posts on Scouting culture in action
- Eagle Scout Mac Guzman: Impressive videos from the perspective of a current Boy Scout
- ScoutSmarts Merit Badge Difficulty Rankings and Guides ( I work hard for you guys 😀 )
The reason to have all of these websites bookmarked is to keep your Scouting resources in one place. This makes it even easier to start working on your merit badges!
Here’s a resource you should bookmark: To help Scouts reach first class more effectively, I put together rank guides with introductory explanations to each requirement! Make sure to save and study this resource if you haven’t yet reached First Class!
As an additional tip, for merit badges or rank advancement, you’ll ideally want to complete at least 2-4 knowledge requirements each time you decide to put in some work. Typically, this takes around 20-40 mins of focused research and writing.
In doing so, you’ll be able to sign off a larger chunk of requirements with your counseler and see yourself progressing more quickly — keeping you motivated to continue. Not to mention, you’ll also have more time left over to practice the skills you’ve learned and focus on all the fun things in Scouting!
I’m honestly a bit of a nerd when it comes to more productively accomplishing goals, so if you’re interested in finishing more work in less time, I’d encourage you to check out this awesome video (6:56) on the psychology of productivity:
To recap, learn what resources you have available before tackling your rank advancement requirements! By focusing your efforts where you’ll get results, you’ll stop wasting time on things that you don’t need to do. That’s why, right now, bookmark your most-used Scouting sites, and you’ll be able to easily get more done when working!
Scout Advancement Tip 5: Build an Accountability Team
Scouting is a social sport. OK, it isn’t really a sport, but Scouting is still a social activity! 😛 While most people try to do it all by themselves, remember that you’re part of a troop and Scouting community. Use that to your advantage by creating a team!
I intentionally made this point a little vague to encourage your creativity. Get help in whatever way you can! This could mean teaming up with friends to work on merit badges together, getting a Scout coach, or even seeing if you can learn the material better by teaching it to a friend. Try to make progress fun!
A mindset that really helped on my path to Eagle was learning alongside my fellow Scouts — and then acting as a teacher! Trying to understand a requirement in order to teach others makes it much easier to discuss with your counseler, and will give you a greater sense of purpose than just learning for yourself.
Helping others is one of the surest paths to leadership! So, to get started, find a Scout who wants to learn the same skill as you. Then, strike up a conversation along these lines:
“Hey, I noticed you’re working on the first aid merit badge too! It’s a pretty tricky one with skills that we need to demonstrate, so I was wondering if you wanted to work together in doing those? Maybe we can compare notes and show some of the techniques for our counseler together?”
The best part of working on merit badges with others, I’ve found, is that it becomes a more fun process where you could actually start to build a friendship! On top of this, helping others feels really great, so you’ll be even more encouraged to learn all you can. In fact, it usually doesn’t even feel like work!
Take the initiative to build a team, and you’ll quickly see enormous results. Completing requirements will get more fun, and you’ll become a great leader along the way. There’s literally no downside, so the next time you’re working on a requirement and notice that another Scout is on the same page, reach out!
Long-Term Accountability For Scouting Success
This ties back to step one of having a plan. To keep yourself accountable, you need to know what you’re even trying to do in the first place. Once you have a roadmap of your goals, you know how to make progress, and you have friends behind you, accountability will help you to stick to your plans!
Let’s assume that you’re hoping to reach Eagle rank by a certain date. You’ve broken down what challenges you’ll see along the way and the requirements you’ll need to complete to get there. Now it’s a simple matter of just doing it. However, easier said than done…
That’s where accountability comes into play. Here are three main parties that can keep you accountable:
- Your Scoutmasters/parents
- Your Friends/Fellow Scouts
The most effective way to reach your goals is to use all three of them to make sure that you stay on the right track.
- Your Scoutmasters/Parents: Give them a copy of your plan along with the milestones you’d like to hit. Ask them for help to stay on track with your goal. In the case of your parents, maybe ask them to set up rewards for meeting your goals, and punishments for missing them. These incentives can be whatever you want, but the main thing is that these people can help you stay motivated, even when your own will might falter.
- Your Friends/Fellow Scouts: Tell them one or two of your short-term goals. You probably spend a ton of time around these people, so by filling them in on your plans, they’ll be more likely to remind you on a regular basis. Use this trick to constantly move forward, from one requirement to the next, through the power of peer pressure!
- Yourself: Review your overall plan at least once per week. Make your goals manageable, but try to never let yourself fail in accomplishing what you’ve told yourself you’d do. To avoid burnout, think long-term. Success in Scouting and life is all about constantly moving forward, so make the path forward fun and embrace the process.
If you can make progress a part of your life by asking others to hold you accountable, the chances of achieving your goals will increase tremendously! Your only limit will be how much time you’re willing to commit, and how quickly you’re trying to progress. Beyond that, there’s no doubt that you’ll eventually succeed. 🙂
Although this article is centered around Scouting advancement, each of these tips can also be applied to any goals that you have! Through careful planning, friendly support, great resources, and lasting accountability you’ll learn that you can do anything and everything that you set your mind to.
If you enjoyed learning about my best Scouting advancement tips, I’d highly recommend also checking any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- Scout Songs: My 7 Favorite Campfire Songs For Troops To Sing
- The Best Troop Meeting Activities: 7 Fun Ideas For Scouts And Patrols
- The Value And Benefits of Scouting (58 Highlights From Scouts And Scoutmasters)
- The 3 Easiest Merit Badges That You Can Earn Today
- 99 Epic BSA Activities: Scouts Share Their Favorite Troop Adventures
Even just one of the advancement keys covered here can change your life, so I challenge you to pick a few to try this week. Also, if all of this sounds great in theory, but you’re still not quite sure of where to get started, I’d again highly encourage you to check out my Ultimate Scouting Success Course!
The course above is truly my best resource for earning Eagle, and for less than the cost of a video game, I think it’s definitely worth getting. Alright, that’s all for this article! Until next time, I’m wishing you all the best on your Scouting journey. 😀