Homepage Forums Boy Scouts (Scouts BSA) Trail to First Class

This topic contains 7 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Gary Spisak 10 months ago.

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  • #79882 Reply

    Gary Spisak

    I am thinking of helping out with my Troops Trail to First Class program. I would like some suggestions on how I can get it back on Tack and what I could so to help the Scouts get to First Class in the First year. Our program has been in limbo recently and we have quite a few scouts that are not to that rank yet and have been in over a year. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • #79924 Reply


    Most importantly, Abandon all notion of first class first year It is a failed, morally bankrupt, strategy that should have never been promoted. Only a fraction of boys will be able to advance three ranks in a year, mastering every skill. Both my sons and I took years to become first class scouts, meanwhile most of those FCFY boys did no better in terms of rates of advancement through upper ranks.

    What we scouters need to do is identify convenient places to camp locally and fun training programs (first aid meets, orienteering clubs, etc…) and service opportunities. Provide a nice menu of opportunities for your PLC at their annual planning meeting. Then, be sure that PLs are clear on signing off on rank requirements.

    Throughout the year coach PLs in tracking who of their boys needs what for their next rank, and encourage them to plan a weekend’s activities accordingly.

    Then, focus on the few boys who haven’t advanced in the past year. Find out if there is something that they really need help overcoming (e.g., a fear of swimming), or if they simply aren’t engaging the program enough. If it’s the former, find them a skilled trainer; if the latter, talk to the parents.

    • #114117 Reply

      Eric Emry

      Thank you. When I was scout it took me almost two years to get to First Class, and I felt like I was a failure. Some of the things that might have complicated that is I was diagnosed with autism as an adult, and the troop was failing. (not enough outings I think.)
      I agree pushing the boys to get ranks at a certain pace is a disgraceful practice. This program is about making boys into men and needs to be done at there pace.
      As a scout master I find this frustrating, but I still think it has to done at their pace.

  • #80196 Reply

    Elder Wand

    Scouters should not be involved selecting convenient places for programs, nor should a scouter offer opportunities especially at PLC and annual planning sessions. Boy led means boy led. It is up to the patrol leaders and the SPL to ensure that the program is is theirs to own. Stepping out of the way is the only way. Will failures increase? Of course. But scouts learn through failing much better than the successes that the adults guide them through.

  • #80699 Reply

    Just an observer

    Have to disagree with elder’s post. Boy led does not mean boy led into a corner. I see nothing wrong with providing scouts with multiple opportunities to choose from, or totally disregard if they desire. As an adult you have a wealth of information that teenagers in leadership roles have not acquired yet. Helping them to see opportunities is helpful, especially if they have no other exposure to what is available.

  • #80977 Reply

    Steve Savoie

    We need always remember the journey is more important than the destination. The journey to get to first class should be memorable, not just speedy. I know scouts who have sped through the ranks and they have very few memories of the trip. They also tend to do something once and move on which does not help them learn their scout skills and make that knowledge permanent. Scouts should move through the ranks at a steady pace that is right for them, not a artificial deadline set by well-meaning adults.

  • #81307 Reply


    Our program is more like 18 months and very few scouts get there in that timeframe. The key is to make sure you provide opportunities to actually fulfill advancment requirements. For example to do parts of a boat for First Class its good to have a paddle outing available, need paractical uses for knots? buy dining flys and make them retie tautline and bowline every campout. 5 mile hike – you’ll need that too. Make sure the troop has access to a GPS and teach an older scout Instructor how it works and how to teach other scouts.

    Its ok to let the PLC know that they should plan opportunities for specific requirements. The PLC should make the plans and run the meeting and campouts but they should also take input and advice into consideration.

  • #82234 Reply

    John Gaunt

    Gary: There is a lot of good advice above. I discredit “First Class in the First Year” as follows:

    1. It puts to much emphasis on advancement, which is only one of the eight methods of Scouting.
    2. 99% (in my opinion) of Scouts who make First Class in 1 year have been driven there like cattle, when it should be the Scout learning how to drive his own advancement at his own pace – all kids are different. It is up to the Troop (eg, boy/adult leaders) to provide opportunities; it is up to the Scout to take advantage of them.
    3. I really do not believe that it is possible for a Scout to learn and experience the confidence from truly learning and applying skills if he rips through everything just to get to First Class. He’s going to miss out on a lot of rewarding experiences while he’s “jonesing” for sign-offs.

  • #90533 Reply

    Fred VonFirstenberg

    Forget any notion of first class in the first year. It is, at best, counterproductive.

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