Navigators and Adventurers Advancement

Trail Life Main Page


The Navigators program and the Adventurers program follows the national Trail Life guideline. On this page, we will step through the basic parts of each level of advancement, which are the badges, and then move on to secondary and elective advancement.

Navigators, boys (ages 11-13) and Adventurers, young men (ages 14-17) are typically based on age, but in some cases, we assign patrols based on grade (for boys with summer birthdays).

Parents please make sure you can log in to: Trail Life Connect

First Step – Joining Patches

When a Trailman joins a patrol (either by joining the troop or by promotion from a prior patrol), the first thing he will earn is his joining patch. The boy earns this patch by accomplishing the following:

  • Memorize and agree to live by the Trailman Oath.
  • Memorize the Trailman Motto.
  • Demonstrate the Trailman sign and describe when to use it.
  • Demonstrate the Trailman salute and describe when to use it.
  • Demonstrate the Trailman handshake.
  • Give your Patrol Leader’s name, patrol name, and patrol yell.
  • Memorize the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Demonstrate properly folding the American flag.
  • Discuss Troop safety.
  • Discuss advancement program.

The joining patch Recruit Rank (Navigators) and Journey Rank (Adventurers – Must be a registered Adventurer who has earned the Ready Trailman Rank.) is worn on the right pocket of the Class A uniform. The requirements can be found in the Trailman’s Handbook or on

Second Step – Badges

As a Trailman moves from the Woodlands program (which is much more guided), into the Navigators and Adventurers the program will focus more on opportunities for them to grow in the area of Adventure, Character, and Leadership. The Navigators have 9 Core Skills Trail Badges, and the Adventurers have 6 True Freedom Trail Badges to complete.

Developing the Trailman as godly leaders through allowing them to self-lead their patrols, while mastering skills through outdoor activities will be the focus. While all these activities will point the boys towards advancements, it will not be centered on the advancement. Trailmen wanting to advance will need to pursue advancement outside the meetings/activities to complete the badge work. The Trailmaster (Navigators) and Advisor (Adventurers) are here to help guide/coach the Trailman and can check off their work once completed.

The Troop Standard is the official way a Navigator or Adventurer Trailman displays his Trail Badges, as well as the pinnacle award in Trail Life USA, the Freedom Award. Many Troops create their own walking sticks, but can be purchased from the Trail Life USA online store. It is available for the boy who earns the Able Trailman Rank or the Journey Award. The requirements can be found in the Trailman’s Handbook or on

Third Step – Ridgeline Award

The Ridgeline Award is the capstone award for the Navigators program. It is awarded to the Navigator Trailman who earns the Ready Trailman Rank, completes a community service/Area project, and earns the Navigators Worthy Life Award. It is one of the only awards from the Navigators that can permanently be worn on his Troop Uniform. The requirements can be found in the Trailman’s Handbook or on

What does Advancement Look Like?

The Able Trailman Rank is awarded to the Navigator when he completes the requirements (4 of 9 Core Skills Badges, 15 Service hours yearly total, etc.) and the patch is suspended from a button on his uniform, and then he moves on to attain the Ready Trailman Award (5 of 9 Core Skills Badges, 15 Service hours yearly total, etc.) as a Navigator and the medallion is affixed to his Troop Standard (wooden staff).

The Horizon Award (6 True Freedom Badges, 10 Elective Badges, 20 Service hours yearly total, etc.) is awarded to the Adventurer when he completes the requirements and the patch is suspended from a button on his uniform and the medallion is affixed to his Troop Standard (wooden staff), and then he moves on to attain the Freedom Award as an Adventurer.

The silver Service Star is awarded to a Navigator for completing 15 hours of service. The gold Service Star is awarded to an Adventurer for completing 20 hours of service. This Service Star goes on the Trailman’s Standard.

The image below shows a brief overview of the advancement process for a Trailman from Navigators through Adventurers. The requirements, can be found in the Trailman’s handbook or on

Special Awards – Worthy Life

During their time in a given patrol, in addition to the 7 areas of learning and practice, Trailmen may work toward a special faith-based achievement called the Worthy Life Award. This award is granted to those Trailmen who work through supplementary material that focuses on four D’s – Devotion, Discipleship, Discipline, and Demonstration. Accomplishing the requirements in these areas will involve the Trailman investing significant time outside of troop activities, studying scripture, performing acts of service, and bearing witness to their faith experience. Once during their two-year tenure in a patrol, the Trailman may earn a worthy life cross by completing all requirements assigned to his patrol level. For the first worthy life accomplishment, the Trailman will earn the Worthy Life award, upon which additional crosses can be placed, in addition to his first cross. For Woodlands Trail, a total of three Worthy Life crosses may be earned. This award is the only special award that may be worn by the Trailman through is entire time in the troop, from Woodlands Trail through Navigators and Adventurers (where additional crosses may be earned). The requirements, can be found in the Trailman’s handbook or on

Special Awards – Manhood Journey

The Manhood Journey program is intended for Navigators-age Trailmen; however, it may also be used with Adventurers-age Trailmen if the Troop leadership desires. This patch hangs on the pocket of the uniform for participants of the Manhood Journey program. Boys will wear it with pride because it represents a growing relationship with their heavenly Father and their earthly father as well. The requirements, can be found in the Trailman’s handbook or on

Special Awards – Band of Brothers – Adventurers

Band of Brothers is a Christian discipleship-focused program for Adventurers aimed at building young men spiritually through Bible study and faith mentorship. The Band of Brothers program has young men disciple other young men in Christian growth under the advisement of adult mentor(s). You can find details on the Faith Building Activities for Adventurer Advancement document. The requirements, can be found in the Trailman’s handbook or on

The Freedom Award

The Freedom Award is the highest award in the Trail Life USA. It is an achievement accomplished by the few who reach the apex of the Trail Life Program. Earning the award requires a demonstrated mastery of a significant skill set including 15 required and 10 elective Trail Badges, performing 20 hours of servant service each year, and the distinction of having proven himself as a leader among his peers. He must also complete four “Freedom Experiences” in 3 separate chosen fields; complete a Faith Building Activity; budget, plan, and organize a volunteer team to compete a Servant Leadership Project; and complete an advancement conference and formal Freedom Board of Review.

On the Trail to Freedom, one of the most meaningful ways Trailmen come to understand their gifting is through serving. Service in the church and the community is a significant part of the Trail Life program. Outdoor adventure provides fertile ground for relationships to be fostered. As relationships grow, young men begin to learn skills and serve alongside their adult mentors. As Trailmen serve, they begin to find purpose and fulfillment. As Trailmen understand they were created by God for his glory, to be his hands and feet to others, they find fulfillment in service and begin to understand their gifting. As they use their gifts, they hone in on career and ministry paths that will set the tone for the rest of their life. The requirements, can be found in the Trailman’s handbook or on

The Trailman’s Day Pack

All Trailman are strongly encouraged to begin building a day packs prior to overnight trips or hiking events unless stated by the Trailmaster/Advisor. We will be using items from the day pack to practice skills and help earn trail badges.

Items in day pack include but not limited to are:

  • Bible / Journal and writing instruments
  • Emergency Contact Information / Medical Form
  • Trailman lanyard
  • Trailman handbook
  • Pocketknife (Can be on person)
  • First-Aid Kit (small sized)
  • Water Bottle (Lemonade Powdered Drink Mix if desired)
  • Fire Starters (Dryer Lent/Waterproof Matches/Magnesium Fire Starter)
  • Sun Protection / Rain Gear / Insect or bug repellent
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Compass (ideal to also have a map of location)
  • Camping Chair
  • Tarp (Emergency Shelter)
  • Cordage (Paracord works great, can be in different lengths with a total of 100’)
  • Optional items, change of clothes, jacket, knit hat, trail mix (dry food), pocket Kleenex
  • Sleeping bag and pillow if overnight stay (check with troop on Tent)
  • Swimsuits and towels and life-jackets
  • TP for Bathroom (small shovel if hiking)

Trail Life Main Page