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Help! I’m having trouble advancing

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Hello, I’m a tenderfoot scout who just turned 15. I started Scouts in sixth grade, at the age of 12, with no Cub Scout experience. My mom had me repeat kindergarten so I’m months or even a year older then most of my peers. Because of my very low knowledge of anything, I didn’t get scout rank until I was 13 years old, in seventh grade. I got tenderfoot at 14, in eighth grade. I have a lot of trouble getting the requirements done as I’m horrible at memorizing things, as well as not having much time for scouting. I have a few requirements left for second class. 

I wanted to spend this summer working on scouting, but I decided to put myself in a summer class, so I can skip geometry and go to algebra two in the ninth grade. I get a lot of tests and homework from this class so I don’t take too much time on scouting. I also have things to do at home such as caring for my pets, of which consist at least 100 baby fish. I plan to rank up every other court of honor. I have tried to get second class the court of honor directly after tenderfoot but it didn’t work out. 

Im really scared I won’t make it to eagle. I’m starting high school this August and I’m paranoid about it. Since I forget things a lot for some reason, I keep a journal and record my life in it. However I lost my journal recently and I’m still looking for it, and that is what’s been clouding my mind recently. The few requirements I have left for second class includes the first aid, fitness, and compass orientation.

I have a friend in the same troop as me, he is fourteen and almost first class rank. He has seemed to get requirements so much easier then me. For the fitness ones all he had to do was tell a leader that he improved his scores, and he got it signed off. However I had to keep a written day by day record on my fitness, and I hated it and it was really stressful. Also I had to do that requirement twice because they didn’t believe me the first time. 

There are kids in my troop as young as twelve on second or first class rank, and thirteen year olds on star. I feel so ashamed of myself. What can I do to rank up a lot faster?


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Don't be ashamed.  Be proud.  Each scout has his own journey.  Own yours.  ... From what I've read above, I'd be proud to have a scout like you in my troop and I'd be glad to support you in your advancement.  

If you want Eagle, go for it.  ... BUT ... don't stress over Eagle.  It's just a rank.  The journey is much more important.  Building friendships and memories.  Having adventures.  Learning new things.  Also, you have time.  

My recommendation ...  Talk with your scoutmaster or another adult.  Get a scout leader on your side who will support your journey.  Let them know you need help and that you want to advance. 

Edited by fred8033
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Have you earned the First Aid merit badge yet?  Requirement #1 of the first aid merit badge is to demonstrate your knowledge of the first aid rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, so there is some overlap.

There are a few exceptions, but most of Scouting is not about memorizing stuff - it's more about participating and doing.  @fred8033 offers some great advice.  Find an adult leader who can help support and mentor your journey.

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Some of the best scouts never earn First Class let alone Eagle.  They simply focused on other aspects of scouting.  So before putting too much pressure on yourself, really reflect why you want to advance and if it is a goal you want to work towards.  Outside of a few areas, you can participate in fully in Scouts as any rank.  Scouting should be fun and not School 2.0.  

The reason I ask is that it sounds like you already have a lot of other areas you also feel like you need to focus in your life. It is important to prioritize and realize it’s ok if advancement in scouting doesn’t make your priority list... as mentioned before, you can still be a great scout without advancement.

Now, if you do still feel advancement is a priority then you absolutely can make progress.  In addition to seeking out adults, many Troops have Scout Instructors who can help or even mention your goal to your Patrol Leader.  Most scouts I know would gladly help a fellow scout work on advancement when asked.

I believe the two hardest advancement periods in Scouts BSA is Life to Eagle and Scout to First Class, so don’t get too discouraged from your struggles to achieve First Class.  It sounds like you are a mature young man ready to take this on. 

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Just keep in mind there are more of us out here who did not earn Eagle than there are that did.  Eagle is a great accomplishment, but it should not be used to define who is "a good Scout".  Enjoy what time you do have for Scouting- make memories for a lifetime, participate when you can, and just focus on the next step.  If you only have so much time to give to your Scouting per week/month/year, put a little planning- if the troop is camping in August, but you cannot make it, how about September? And if you can make that trip, grab a friend who is already 1st Class and ask them to work on compass orientation with you on that trip.  Talk to your SM, find out who is the First Aid instructor, and make a plan to work with them to get First Aid MB and the 2nd class/1st class requirements done at the same time.  As a MB counselor, I do make the effort to work with a Scout outside of normal troop meeting time when I can, but it is up to the Scout to ask me.  

A week of summer camp can be a huge time to get a lot done as well.  While that wasn't part of your plan for this summer, what about next year? And, keep in mind, it may not be the best fit to attend the same week/camp as your troop, but you can go as provisional.  That may give you some anxiety to not be there with your pals, but you'll be a year older next summer, and given time to plan for it, you might not find it a big deal.  

My son, who is an Eagle, forgets things all the time.  I'd about fall over backwards if he took the 3,000 suggestions I have given him to keep a journal, so recognize you have made steps to keep yourself organized, and you should not at all be ashamed of how you are.  You are you- this is your journey, not someone elses, so don't put a measuring stick on you and anyone else.  Have fun most importantly- you are only going to be this age once.


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At the risk of reiterating what's already been posted, I'll just say don't worry about the ranks.  Just enjoy Scouting and stay as active as you can.  The ranks will come.  This shouldn't be causing as much stress as it is.  I'm going to assume that you didn't join Scouting just to get your Eagle.  Remind yourself why you did join it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Jim2195, welcome to the forums!

It sounds like you are doing some pretty awesome things. Be proud of those. Understand that they may get in the way of rank advancement, but at a certain point they will give you an advantage because you will develop study skills that less academic scouts don't have.

In your scouting career, focus on being a 1st class scout -- the concept, not the patch. What I mean by that is practice every skill in your handbook as often as you can. Knots: just spend time tying them while you study! It's a form of geometry. Land navigation: you'll find direct application to algebra and trigonometry. Swimming/fitness: keep up the habit of routinely exersizing to relieve some stress. Knife/axe: use them to carve an exercise log (literally, cut notches in a log or staff for each type of exercise you do). Camp and hike. Camp and hike. Camp and hike.

One of the biggest lies in scouting is that a scout should achieve 1st class rank one year after joining. This has ruined scouting for lots of boys. Don't let that lie it ruin it for you. Getting that rank is hard. And the fact that you are 15 and still working on it proves that you are serious about mastering those skills and that you don't want any short-cuts.

Finally (to the boredom of every senior member of this forum): the best scout I ever knew aged out at 2nd Class rank. What made him the best? He invited me to join his troop. If all you ever do is give someone else the chance to hike and camp with you and your troop, you will have become the 2nd best scout I ever knew.

Best of luck on your scouting journey. I'm sure you'll do a fine job!

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I agree with what was stated by the others. Don't get so focused on rank that scouting is no longer fun.

If you really do have Eagle Scout as an important life goal, talk to your scoutmaster, or other adult leader about it. You have enough time,  but you are right in thinking you have to focus and get things signed off. 

One of the best things you can have is a mentor who will help you plan your path, and keep you going.

Best of luck to you, and keep having fun.

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