Trail to First Class

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About The Trail to First Class

During the first year of scouting, new scouts work their way through requirements for Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. We call this the "Trail to First Class" or "TFC". These skills give boys an outstanding knowledge of basic scout and camping skills. Each Sunday evening during the normal troop meeting, the scouts meet with instructors in Trail to First Class to learn these skills. Although much will be covered in the weekly troop meetings, it is also essential that your scout participates in the outdoor (camping) program as often as possible to complete many of the requirements. Scout skills for these requirements will be taught during regular troop meetings, camping trips, summer camp, service projects and other events. The goal of this program is to enable each new Scout to reach the rank of First Class within a reasonable time after they join Scouts, within a year or so depending on the Scout.

Our trained Assistant Scoutmaster(s) assigned to our new scouts will work to ensure that new Scouts perform the necessary requirements to achieve each of the ranks. The skill teaching sessions are intended to help guide the scouts on their advancements. Our aim is to support new scouts in reaching First Class, as much as we can by providing training and fun to help them advance.

In order for them to be successful in this journey, it is imperative that the Scouts are regularly attending meetings and camping trips so they don't miss out on crucial opportunities to work on their scout skills.

Success in Trail to First Class

Trail to First Class can be done in the first year of scouting, but that is NOT a requirement despite popular belief. This is the Scout's journey and is their responsibility to participate and progress. The troop cannot force attendance. The troop cannot force participation. The scout must WANT to do this for themselves. The scout MUST attend in order to make progress. If they do not attend regularly, they will miss opportunities for TFC work.


Requirements for each rank can all be found in the Scout Handbook which should be brought to EVERY meeting and campout. The handbook is considered part of their uniform.

The requirements for the Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks may be worked on simultaneously; however, these ranks must be earned in sequence.

CLICK HERE to preview the requirements (PDF)

Parents involvement in Trail to First Class

Because these new scouts are typically younger, we feel that this is most successful when a parent is supporting them, but not doing the work FOR them or being the sole point of contact. Scouting is an opportunity for the Scout to grow in a safe environment. We feel it's best to work with the Scout directly. Parents are always welcome to ask questions, but they really should come through the Scout to give them the opportunity to grow into a responsible young adult. This is their time to learn!

About Trail to First Class

Scouts begin their advancement journey on the Trail to First Class. The journey begins their introduction to key skills they will need as a scout and a future leader. They will start with earning their Scout rank and then advance in rank to Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. After earning First Class rank, they begin their next phase of the scouting journey by earning the Star rank, Life rank and then Eagle.

TFC Ranks - Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class

Scout Rank

Scout rank is the first rank on the trail to first class and the road to Eagle. To become a scout requires you to be at least 11 years old, or 10 years old with an Arrow of Light (the highest Cub Scout rank) and to demonstrate a basic understanding of the Scout Oath and Law. The badge (patch) for the Scout rank consists of a simple fleur-de-lis, which symbolizes a compass needle. The needle points the Scout in the right direction, which is onward and upward.

Tenderfoot Scout Rank

Tenderfoot is the second rank on the trail to first class and the road to eagle. To attain this rank a scout must:

  • Go on a camping trip and help prepare food

  • Have a more comprehensive understanding of the Scout Oath and Law

  • Prove physical fitness

  • Show basic First Aid and knot typing skills

  • Participate in a minimum of 1 hour of service approved by the Scoutmaster

The Tenderfoot badge takes the fleur-de-lis of the Scout badge and adds two stars and an eagle with an American shield. The stars symbolize truth and knowledge; the eagle and shield symbolize freedom and readiness to defend it.

Second Class Scout Rank

Second Class Scout Rank is the third rank on the trail to first class and the road to eagle. Second Class rank is to point at which a scout to become a Patrol Leader or another leadership position. To Attain this rank a Tenderfoot must demonstrate:

  • Basic orienteering skills

  • Cook for the Troop and do all the preparation required

  • Participate in a one hour or more service project

  • Show knowledge of some local plant and animal life

  • Have a more in depth knowledge of First aid

  • Participate in a minimum of 2 hours of service approved by the Scoutmaster

The Second Class badge features a scroll inscribed with the Scout Motto, with the ends turned up and a knotted rope hanging from the bottom. The knot reminds each Scout to remember the Scout slogan, Do a Good Turn Daily, and the upturned ends of the scroll symbolize cheerfulness in service.

First Class Scout Rank

First Class Scout Rank is the destination on the trail to first class and the fourth rank on the road to eagle. First class is obtained by a Second Class Scout when he:

  • Cook for the patrol on a campout

  • Show more in depth orienteering skills

  • Help plan a trip for the Troop

  • Show Lashing skills to make a useful camp gadget

  • A detailed knowledge of First aid

  • Invite a prospective member to a Troop activity

  • Participate in a minimum of 3 hours of service approved by the Scoutmaster

The First Class badge combines the elements of the Tenderfoot and Second Class badges.

Can Scouts completed Merit Badges while in TFC?

With the approval of the Scoutmaster, after your Scout has earned the Scout Rank, your scout can begin earning Merit Badges, but keep in mind that Merit Badge requirements vary in difficulty and should be chosen with age appropriateness and maturity. If you are interested in your scout attending a merit badge workshop, you must get the approval of your Scoutmaster before registering for the workshop.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of work to be done during the Trail to First Class, so merit badges should not distract from the advancement program at this stage.

Scoutmaster conference

The Scoutmaster conference is a meeting between the Scoutmaster and the Scout, and is a requirement for each rank starting with Scout Rank. The Scoutmaster reviews the Scout's progress and ensures all requirements have been met. The Scout is expected to show how he has grown in his understanding of the Scouting ideals, including the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, and how he has applied those ideals. The Scoutmaster will also discuss the next steps in advancement and encourages the Scout to advance.

Board of Review

Beginning with the Tenderfoot Rank, a board of review is a group of three to six members of the troop committee and is the final approval process for Scout rank advancement. The board reviews the Scout to ensure all requirements are met and attempts to determine the Scout's attitude and his acceptance of Scouting's ideals and their application. The board also solicits the Scout's opinions on the troop or team program and on youth and adult leadership.

After the Trail to First Class

After a scout earns his First Class rank they are only three ranks away from Eagle Scout!