The first rank of Boy Scouting can be earned as soon as a boy joins a troop, especially if he has earned his Arrow of Light as a Webelos scout. This first recognition is earned by applying and memorizing some important scouting basics.
Tenderfoot is the second rank earned as a Boy Scout. The requirements of becoming a Tenderfoot provide basic skills to begin preparing the scout for higher adventure outings. Earning badges and receiving recognition can be very satisfying to boys. However, keep in mind that the badge is only a representation of a valuable set of skills that a scout has learned and demonstrated. The skills, wisdom, and experience gained through the activities of the scouting program are of much more value than a small badge.
2nd Class Rank
Second Class scouts work on building their outdoor survival and camping skills. Compass work, nature observation, camp tools, and swimming are areas where new skills are mastered and demonstrated. A second class scout, having completed all the requirements, should be able to lead a hike, care for his own equipment, set up a campsite, and perform basic first aid.
1st Class Rank
When the First Class rank is attained, a scout has learned all the basic camping and outdoors skills of a scout. He can fend for himself in the wild, lead others on a hike or campout, set up a camp site, plan and properly prepare meals, and provide first aid for most situations he may encounter. A First Class scout is prepared.
Up through First Class rank, a scout was busy learning skills and becoming a self-sufficient scout. He now moves from being a learner to being a leader. The Star rank is attained with participation, leadership, service, and self-directed advancement through merit badges.
Life Scout Rank
Continuing to develop leadership skills, the Life Scout rank is earned by fulfilling additional leadership positions, service hours, and merit badges. A Life Scout is expected to be a role model and leader in the troop, providing guidance to new scouts and helping the troop however he can. Being a good leader can only be learned by doing and troop leadership positions allow the scout to make decisions, lead discussions, and encourage others.
Eagle Scout Rank
Attaining the Eagle rank is often the end goal of a scout and his parents. It looks good on a resume and shows commitment to a program over an extended span of time. But, just like each rank advancement before it, the Eagle rank is a major advancement milestone, but not the culmination of scouting.
After reaching Eagle, a scout can continue to earn merit badges and be rewarded with an Eagle Palm for each 5 additional merit badges.
He can also continue to lead and guide the troop or he can change his focus to helping Cub Scouts become Boy Scouts. He may become a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, helping the Scoutmaster with projects to improve the troop. Or, he can look for worthwhile endeavors outside of scouting to which he can apply his scouting background.
There are many ways an Eagle Scout can continue to contribute to and receive from the Scouting program.