Understanding the Various Boy Scouts Ranks by Ethan Draddy

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The Boy Scouts of America has become one of the most recognizable institutions in the country, and the distinction of Eagle Scout is a credential people will carry with them for the rest of their lives. For the uninitiated, the various Scout levels do little to explain the knowledge, skills, and abilities that one must develop in order to receive the honors. During participation in the organization, scouts receive merit badges each time they show proficiency with a certain skill; more than 100 different badges are available, including American Business, Plant Science, Shotgun Shooting, and Woodwork. Here is a brief overview of the various Scout levels that can be attained:

Cub Scouts: Designed for the youngest Scouts, the Cub Scouts creates the foundation for future programs and consists of three subsets: Tiger Cubs for first grade, Cub Scouts for second and third grade, and Webelos Scouts for fourth and fifth grade. While affiliated with the BSA, the Cub Scouts follows a completely different program that focuses on the needs of younger boys.

Boys Scouts: Boys ranging from 11 to 17 years of age can participate in the BSA after completing the basic initiation requirements, while 10-year-olds can be permitted if they have completed the Arrow of Light Award. All Scouts are eligible to earn merit badges at any time after joining, which are a necessity for advancing to the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. Several intermittent ranks must be achieved before reaching Eagle Scout, including First Class, Star, and Life. Each of these ranks requires youth to demonstrate essential survival skills, such as navigating without a compass, identifying native plants, tying various knots, and passing a swimming test.

Eagle Scout: In order to be eligible for Eagle Scout ranking, a youth must hold the rank of Life Scout and have been active in a leadership position within their local group for at least six months. The candidate must also produce a list of references who can attest that they abide by the Scout Oath and Law in all facets of life. A total of 21 merit badges are required, some of which are mandatory, including Personal Fitness, Communications, and First Aid. Potential Eagle Scouts must also complete a charitable service project, take part in a Scoutmaster conference, and undergo an Eagle Scout board of review.

About the Author: Ethan Draddy leads operations for the Baltimore Area Council of the BSA as the Scout Executive and CEO. Since assuming the position in 2008, Ethan Draddy has generated consistent growth among both members and volunteers in central Maryland, bringing total participation to more than 50,000. Draddy maintains responsibility for managing the entire staff and collaborating with the 65 board members.

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