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There are two broad aspects to advancement. One can be thought of as vertical and the other as horizontal.

Vertical advancement is a progressive system where scouts start at the bottom level and work their way up, possibly to the highest level. The first step of advancement is when a scout is invested. When a scout is invested they will learn the minimum information needed to join scouts. Once they are invested they are members. and can start working on their Pathfinder, the first level of advancement.

Each level of advancement covers certain areas of scouting such as first aid, mapping, pioneering, community service, etc. As a scout progresses through the levels the level of knowledge and leadership and organisational skills required increase. As the scout matures they become more capable of handling the increased responsibilities. The levels of advancement are:

  • Pathfinder;
  • Adventurer
  • First Class;
  • Explorer
  • Springbok

From First Class and above, there is a far higher reliance placed on the motivation of the scout to complete the badge. As a result, fewer scouts achieve the higher levels of advancement with only a relative few achieving Springbok Scout. This is IMG_1683entirely natural. We do expect, however, all our scouts to achieve First Class before they leave scouts in the ordinary course of things.

It is important to note that scouts can progress too fast through the lower advancement levels. As First Class requires self initiative and also responsibility for other scouts on camps and hikes (with no adults present), we may slow advancement down around the First Class level to ensure that the maturity of the scout is commensurate with their responsibilities. This is a risk reduction measure to ensure the safety of our scouts when unaccompanied by an adult.

Springbok Scout is the highest award achieved by a scout. It requires significant work on the part of the scout and considerable support from the parents. While we encourage all our scouts to attempt Springbok Scout, only a few actually achieve it. Springbok Scout should be achieved before a scout commences matric or at the very latest by the end of the first term of matric. It must be achieved before the scout turns 18.

When a scout commences First Class, the scouters will discuss with them whether they intent to achieve Springbok. If so, badge courses and markers for achieving advancement levels will be set out. Without this plan a scout is less likely to achieve Springbok Scout. The plan is adjusted as the scout progresses.

Horizontal advancement is concerned mostly with badges. Some but not all badges can potentially be earned at two levels: Scoutcraft and Interest. Other badges can only be earned at either Scoutcraft or Interest. Several badges courses are run on an annual basis; these are the badges that are considered core to vertical advancement and are a requirement to achieve Explorer. Badge courses are run by the region and there are entrance requirements for each badge. Experience has shown that attendance on a badge course is of great benefit to the scout as well as to the troop and we encourage all our scouts to attend badge courses.

However, experience has also shown that it is best to place scouts on courses according to their maturity and advancement, rather than allowing them to attend a course at will. As a result we inform our scouts of when they should attend each course. They are not, of course, obliged to attend that year and can attend a subsequent year. This also ensures that scouts are informed of each course. We have previously found that some parents remain blissfully ignorant of badge courses untilIMG_1155.jpg it is too late. An organised system of attendance is beneficial both the scout (who will enjoy the course more if they are better able to cope) and the troop.

There are two specialised courses which we encourage our scouts to attend. The first is Patrol Leaders Training Course which provides a theoretical concept of what it takes to be a Patrol Leader. Regardless of whether a scout is or even will become a Patrol Leader or Assistant Patrol Leader, we encourage them to attend this course. The second is the Patrol Leaders Training Unit which is an intensive 10 day course for leadership skills. Competition to attend this course is intense and the more advanced a scout is, the better their chances. As with other courses, the troop determines when these courses should be attended.

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