Advancement is the process by which youth members of the Boy Scouts of America progress from rank to rank.

Every Scout activity moves a youth toward three basic aims:  character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness.  Advancement is one of the eight methods used by Scout leaders to help Scouts fulfill the aims of the Boy Scouts of America.

Refer to the Guide to Advancement  for the most current advancement policies, procedures, and resources.

Unit leaders can record advancements using ScoutBook and Advancement Report forms.


Cub Scout Advancement

The Cub Scout advancement program is designed to encourage the natural interests of your youth.  Each of the ranks and awards in Cub Scouting (Lion, Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light) has its own requirements.  As a boy or girl advances through the ranks, requirements get progressively more challenging, matching the increased skills and abilities of your youth as they grow older.

Cub Scout Learning Library  – Access Cub Scouting tools, including detailed information on the Cub Scout advancement program and requirements.


Scouts BSA Advancement

Scouts BSA provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method.  Scouts plan their advancement and progresses at their own pace. Scouts are rewarded for each achievement, which help them gain self-confidence.  The steps in the advancement system help Scouts grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

Scouts BSA Advancement Awards - Access Scouts BSA specific resources, requirements and forms.


Venturing Advancement

On September 8, 2020, the National Venturing Committee announced that, effective immediately, the Venturing, Discovery, Pathfinder, and Summit awards will be referred to as Venturing ranks to improve consistency among the different programs within Scouting. The Quest, Ranger, and Trust Awards will remain as part of the Venturing program as specialty awards and are not considered Venturing ranks.

Additionally, certain restrictions regarding prior credit for Venturers have been changed. Effective immediately, Venturing Advisors have the discretion to give a Venturer credit toward Venturing rank and award requirements for work previously completed by the Venturer while a registered member of a Scouts BSA Troop or a Sea Scout Ship. As explained in more detail below, this change aligns the Venturing advancement program with the Scouts BSA and Sea Scouting advancement programs.

Under the current edition of the Guide to Advancement and the latest printed edition of Venturing Awards and Requirements, a Venturer was required to complete all work on Venturing awards while registered as a Venturer, and Venturing Advisors were not permitted to give credit toward Venturing award requirements for work previously done by a youth in Scouts BSA or Sea Scouts. Neither Scouts BSA nor Sea Scouts have these same restrictions. Except as stated in the temporary transition rules covering first-time members entering Scouts BSA after February 1, 2019, in both Scouts BSA and Sea Scouts, unit leaders are currently able to consider work done in any program when giving credit toward completion of rank or award requirements. To improve consistency within the three programs and to encourage membership in Venturing Crews, Venturers may now receive credit toward Venturing ranks and specialty awards for work completed while registered in a Scouts BSA Troop or a Sea Scout Ship.

The next editions of the Guide to Advancement, Handbook for Venturers and Venturing Awards and Requirements will be revised to reflect the two changes to the Venturing advancement program described in this update.

Venturing Awards   – Learn more about available awards within the Venturing program.



Advancement FAQ Related to COVID 19

Click here to view the current FAQ


Proposed Eagle Scout Required Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Merit Badge Delayed

January 7, 2021

The introduction of the proposed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion merit badge is being delayed to allow for the careful consideration and evaluation of feedback received from a wide variety of commenters on the draft requirements. Until further notice, all Scouts working on the Eagle Scout rank should continue to use current rank requirements. Once the Eagle-required Diversity, Equity and Inclusion merit badge is introduced, Scouts in the process of earning the rank of Eagle Scout will be given adequate time to earn it.

Specific questions are welcome via email at


Council Advancement Committee

Position Name Phone
 Committee Chair Jon Jensen Starting in April
 District Rep. (Prairie Fire) Ivan Maas (701) 899-1087
 District Rep. (Prairie Fire) Mike Henning (320) 491-9095
 District Rep. (Northern Sky) Rodger Schmidt (701) 200-3719
 District Rep. (Lake Agassiz) Bobby Dusso (218) 230-4325
 District Rep. (Roughrider)    
 District Rep. (Tomahawk) Les Malnaa (701) 720-6274
 District Rep. (Frontier Trails) Keith Schmaltz (701) 319-0439
 District Rep. (Great Plains) Misty Falcon (701) 774-0320
 Member at Large Travis Anderson  
 Member at Large John Dockter  
 Member at Large Tyler Scott  
 Staff Advisor Darin Steindl (701) 499-0646


Online Resources for District Representatives

Request the current approved Merit Badge Counselor list

Advancement Resources (some items have been updated for 2021, replacing the 2019 edition of the Guide to Advancement)



Reports Required for Rank Advancements

This is a reminder to Scouting leaders that Advancement Report forms are required to purchase rank advancements in the Scout Shops.

If your unit is using ScoutBook (which we encourage all packs and troops to use), or Internet Advancement (which will be phased out soon), you can print the report directly from your computer. The report must be turned in when rank advancements are purchased.

The alternative to the computer reports is manually completing the form (available below).

Without these reports, the council may not be able to have accurate records of what the Scouts have earned. This is especially important for the Scouts as the move through the program as dates of ranks earned and time requirements require accurate records.

When you send someone to the Scout Shop to pick up awards, make sure they bring along the Advancement report!

Advancement Report form


Scouts BSA Merit Badge Program

There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills.  There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career – though these invaluable results occur regularly.  It all begins with a Scout’s initial interest and effort in a merit badge subject,

Followed by a discussion with the unit leader or designated assistant, continues through meetings with a counselor, and culminates in advancement and recognition.  It is an uncomplicated process that gives a Scout the confidence achieved through overcoming obstacles.  Social skills improve.  Self-reliance develops.  Examples are set and followed.  And fields of study and interest are explored beyond the limits of the school classroom.

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Program Information - click here

Merit Badge Requirements  – View the official listing of merit badge requirements


Merit Badge Counselor Registration

BSA policy requires Merit Badge Counselors to be registered adult members. There is no annual membership fee for Merit Badge Counselors. To be registered, all adults (whether they are already registered as a leader in a Pack or Troop), must submit the following items:

  1. Adult Leader application form (fillable pdf)
  2. Merit Badge Counselor information form (fillable pdf)
  3. Unexpired Youth Protection Training certificate (training completed at My.Scouting)

Note about fillable pdf files:

  • Download the pdf file and save it on your computer
  • Open the file saved on your computer and complete the form
  • Save the file on your computer after completing the form

Attach the three files and send by email to the district advancement representative or the Fargo Service Center.  Once received, they will be reviewed by the district advancement representative and district executive. This may take up to 30 days - if there is an urgent need to review the forms, note that in the email.

Once approved, the Merit Badge Counselor's information will be uploaded into Scout Book and made available to troop leaders.

On an annual basis (in December) all Merit Badge Counselors must renew their membership with the BSA. In October or early November, current Merit Badge Counselors will receive an email and letter reminding counselors to renew their membership. Counselors must have an unexprired Youth Protection Training certificate and respond by the end of December to remain a registered Merit Badge Counselor. There are three ways to respond:

  1. Want to remain a Merit Badge Counselor, no changes to the merit badges to teach
  2. Want to remain a Merit Badge Counselor, with changes to the merit badges to teach (submitted on a Merit Badge Counselor Information form)
  3. No longer interested in serving as a Merit Badge Counselor, remove from list

Merit Badge Counseling Guide



More information will be added in the near future. For now, click on the links below for forms and information:

Eagle Scout Resources  – Learn about the steps required to earn the Eagle Scout rank and find resources for service projects and recognition.

Life to Eagle Checklist

Eagle Scout Rank Application

Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook (revised in 2021) - Scouts that have already started planning their project can finish using the old workbook. Scouts that are just starting to plan their project will need to use the 2021 version.


Time Extensions for Completing Eagle Requirements

In rare circumstances, a time extension can be requested for Life Scouts to work on requirements for the Eagle rank after their 18th birthday. For more information, review Guide to Advancement - Time Extensions.

Scouts that need to request an extension should do the following:

  • Send a detailed letter requesting an extension, including all relavent details and information on how to contact the Scout's parent.
  • Email the letter to the Fargo Center for Scouting

The council advancement committee meets on the 1st Tuesday of each month to review any extension requests received.

Questions can be directed to the district advancement chair (see list of contacts on this page).


Eagle Scouts

Did you attain the rank of Eagle Scout in 2020 or later in the Northern Lights Council?

If you did, we would like you to submit some photos that we might use in future social media posts. Use the link below to tell us about yourself and submit photos from your Court of Honor and Service Project.

Submit your information and photos here

Scholarships Available for Eagle Scouts


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