How young is too young for a Scout to earn Eagle? Scouters' opinions vary.

Open for debate: Are boys who earn Eagle Scout at 13 or 14 too young?

What difference exists between a 13-year-old boy who earns the Eagle Scout award and one who gets there at 17½?

That was the subject of a fascinating discussion among your fellow Scouters on our Facebook page this week. Now, I’ll share some of the arguments I found most compelling.

But first, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of Scouts never make Eagle at all. Does that mean their time in Scouting didn’t have value? Of course not. Every minute spent in the program can enhance a boy’s development toward adulthood.

OK, it’s time for your fellow Scouters to weigh in. After reading their responses, share your thoughts by leaving a comment below this post.

Help from Mom and Dad?
“Yes, 13- and 14-year-olds [are] too young [and] don’t have the maturity or leadership. At that age it’s the parents getting it, not the youth.”
- Randy B.

Consider what’s next
“I don’t think ‘too young for Eagle’ is something that can be applied universally. Where I think the problem lies is what do you do at the unit level to keep them interested and involved with the program for the (hopefully) next three to four years.”
- Patrick C.

 Older, but not always more mature
“I’ve seen some very impressive 14-year-old Eagle Scouts and some less-than-impressive 17-year-old Eagle Scouts. It’s maturity, not age. Some boys have a natural skill in leadership and blossom much earlier than the other boys.”
- Michelle M.

Only yourself to blame
“Sorry, if you are questioning the validity of the project, Scouts vs. parents, brilliant or lame, then you as Scoutmaster, Eagle Mentor, Committee Chair, and District Advancement Chair, are not doing your job. You all sign off and approve the project. The Scout comes in and presents and ‘sells’ the project to you prior to approval. Once you approve it, you have no right to complain.”
 - Karl S. 

A journey, not a race
“In my opinion, an Eagle should not only complete the written requirements, but also internalize the purpose along the way. If one is concerned with meeting the requirements as quickly as possible they are not able to focus on ‘Why.’ Eagle becomes simply another award, as opposed to a recognition of personal growth.”
- Iain A.

Going by the book
“If the Scout demonstrates the skills necessary and completes the requirements then he is not too young. He has earned his achievement, and age has nothing to do with it.”
- Jason S.

“Paper Eagles”
“Yes, we call them ‘Paper Eagles’ because they do all the paperwork to get Eagle, but they are in Scouts such a short time, they don’t learn nearly as much.”
- Ryan C.

Speaking from experience
“I was a 13½-year-old Eagle. I resent the question. If the boy has completed the requirements, a bunch of adults, who likely didn’t do it themselves, should not be second-guessing the award.”
- Jeffrey L.

Don’t forget the Palms
“If Eagle were meant to be earned at the end of a boy’s Scouting career, why does the BSA offer Palms? Palms are there to encourage boys to remain in Scouting and to achieve something above and beyond Eagle, in effect living what they have learned.”
- Meredith F-W.

Lacking the basics
“There are no Eagles ready at 13 or even 14. There isn’t enough maturity and experience. We have boys that come back from NYLT [National Youth Leadership Training] each year livid about the kids from ‘Eagle mills’ that don’t have the basic skills to set up a tent or start a fire or cook a meal, let alone show any leadership.”
- Harry S.

A natural progression
“As a Scoutmaster and member of the Eagle Board of Review for our district, I would much rather see a younger boy earn his Eagle in a natural progression, rather than the 17.5-year-old who has been relatively inactive, then hears the clock ticking towards his 18th birthday, so he shows up and goes through enough motions to meet the requirements.”
- John C.

Case-by-case basis
“Some still seem ‘too young’ even at age 18. Others are ‘old enough’ at 14 and 15. In most cases it comes down to who reached Eagle, the Scouts or their parents/leaders. When it is the Scout who reaches Eagle, he is usually ready.”
- Patrick S.

223 thoughts on “Open for debate: Are boys who earn Eagle Scout at 13 or 14 too young?

  1. As an Eagle Scout with a Silver Palm who earned the rank at the age of 14 and now as a Scoutmaster of Troop from Reynoldsburg, Ohio for the last 13 years, I can say it is truly an individualized award. Can a 13 or 14 year old young man earn this rank and uphold the values of scouting and what it means to be an Eagle Scout as well as a 17 year old. Absolutely. I’ve had 26 Eagle Scouts in my tenure as Scoutmaster. I can say without a doubt that the maturity and leadership from a young man varies greatly boy to boy. It just really depends on the person. I’ve had 17 year olds I felt less impressed by then the 14 year old. But have had the reverse be true as well. I think having a boy run interactive program is the key to keep their interest be it earning Eagle at 14 and staying in the troop, or staying active in the troop and earning it at 17. The Eagle Palm’s program is available for youth who have already earned eagle and wish to continue learning through the Merit Badge program, etc.

  2. On the surface, I am opposed to Eagle being awarded at a young age. I will stick by that. However I agree with the commenter who stated “I’ve seen some very impressive 14-year-old Eagle Scouts and some less-than-impressive 17-year-old Eagle Scouts.” The variety of comments prove this more than anything I or another leader can say.
    As for completing requirements, etc., board of review and scoutmaster doing their job, they are not allowed to by many parents today. Case in point, a scout showed up at meetings in order to fulfill the requirements for the badge, and took six plus years to do it. His lack of consistency, unwillingness to demonstrate leadership skills within the troop or to be a part of the team, caught up with him in his scoutmaster’s conference. (He was a legacy scout from a previous scoutmaster). The parents were on the phone immediately calling the district, council, region and national demanding intervention in the case of this “evil scoutmaster.” The sad thing was, his dad was a volunteer with the troop also, and at least somewhat understood the aims of scouting. Mom did not..
    Perhaps the chartered orgs and unit committees should ensure that all of the training and requirements are taught AND reinforced, and when the youth can truly show that he has mastered the requirements and skills required, he can be awarded the Eagle. At whatever age he demonstrates those things.

  3. I think it depends. I find that boys who are mature and responsible for their age or are high achievers, do well as “young” Eagle scouts. However, I have personally witnessed parents who push their child to become Eagles at a young age and the boy is not ready at all. But, because all the right boxes are checked and the process let’s these boys through, they become Eagles. Then these boys end up “growing” into their Eagle rank.

    On the flip side, as noted by others, those boys who wait until the last minute and then expect all the adults and scouts in his troop to jump through hoops for them so they can get their Eagle before they age out is unacceptable to me. “Procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” We had a scout do this to our troop and he still missed the deadline before his birthday. Then, an extension was filed, accepted and another 6 months grace period given to this scout to finish. Did he finish? No. He missed his extension deadline. It was absolutely infuriating to those of us who jumped through hoops for him and he did not take responsibility for his actions, even at 18. He didn’t deserve to be an Eagle before his 18th birthday nor at the time his extension was missed.

    If I had my choice, I would rather have a younger Eagle scout than one who waited until it was nearly too late to complete his rank. As always, every case is unique and we must be sensitive to the reasons why. But in general, this is what I prefer as an adult leader.

  4. It depends on the scout. If at 13 or 14, he can do all of the work on his own–living the scout oath and law, contacting the merit badge counselors, planning and implementing the Eagle project, then it won’t matter how old they are. The parents are there for support and encouragement, as are the leaders. I’ve had 2 sons earn their Eagle award. One was 15, one was 14. The key is in the attitude of the parents and leaders as well–earning Eagle is not the end! There are also Eagle palms, leadership positions, the Varsity Team and Venturing Crew as well! Keep going strong! If the program is a strong, boy-led program, as it should be, age won’t be the issue. I have watched my sons soar even stronger after earning their Eagle award. They are strong leaders and examples to the other scouts and their younger brothers (who are following in their footsteps). My oldest son earned 5 more palms and was the assistant Scoutmaster before the age of 18. (He’s now in college on a full scholarship.) My younger son (almost 16 now) has already earned 5 palms–his goal is 12 palms. He’s also in Varsity scouting and plans to join a Venturing crew when he’s 16. He has also been elected into the Order of the Arrow. There is so much offered to our boys through scouting. But, no matter what award they earn or how full their sash is, the most important thing is that they live the Scout Oath and Law–they develop those characteristics to help them become the great men that they are intended to be! There are so many experiences through scouting that help them to become that if given the opportunity. By the way, I’m a single Mom–their father is not in their lives. So, it can be done! Scouting is filling a place in my sons lives and influencing them in a great, positive way. If they had leaders hung up on the issue of age, they wouldn’t be where they are today!

  5. Show me in the official BSA literature where there states an age when a scout can earn his Eagle award, and I will gladly follow it.

    Painting all scouts with the “too young” paintbrush does a disservice to the scout, the leadership and the unit. I understand that leaders are entitled to their opinions, but I think that they should tread lightly when it comes to implementing their own ideals and policies…

    Our troop will have 2-3 boys that will be Star Scouts by the end of the summer, all 12 years old…they may be Life Scouts by the time they are 13…so… I to make them wait up to 4 years for their next rank?

    One more thing in regards to that…before judging an age for a Eagle, ask one of the guys who were on the moon if they were forced to wait to be older so that they could advance. I don’t have the answers, but I bet that their answer would be “no, I didn’t have to wait”

    • 2 or 3 1st Class 12-year olds? No, you don’t make Scouts wait. But you do make sure they get the experience needed to lead a patrol or be an SPL. A Scout earns respect from others as he progresses through the ranks. While possible, it’s not THAT often a boy matures so quickly. I would imagine an astronaut goes through an incredible amount of training, testing, role-play, etc. before moving up the ladder, so your analogy is irrelevant here. Our Eagles are experienced Boy Scouts. And with that, a true leader emerges.

      • I would imagine that Scoutmaster Shawn’s reference to astronauts was in relation to the astronauts who were Eagle Scouts in their youth, not as a comment on making an astronaut wait.

  6. I have seen great 14 year old Eagles, and lousy “heart attack” Eagles.

    Been sitting on Eagle BORs since 1978, and I can honestly say that age should not be a determining factor — but I sure wish maturity was!

    I have seen young men with the proper maturity reach Eagle by 14 and then go on and earn Ranger & Silver Awards in Venturing, or even Quartermaster in Sea Scouts. Seen them serve for many years on camp staff, and even as Philmont Rangers.

    I would much rather see a mature younger Scout make Eagle, then have him experience even more that Scouting has to offer, instead of the Scout who has heard that he can use Eagle to get into College, and show up after being gone for 3 years.

    (And yes, I was 14 when I earned my Eagle in 1972, and I know I had great Scoutcraft skills because that was a requirement in those days!)

  7. Our troop guide for a newly crossed-over Webelos is a 13yo Eagle. He is simply amazing with wisdom beyond his years. Did his parents push him? Probably. But not much!

    An example that made my jaw drop was when our first patrol meeting was ending, he called the boys all back for a closing and sung Vespers.

    Without directly experiencing this Eagle, I would have said 13-14 is way too young. But preconcieved notions can lead many astray, and I’m glad I held my opinion. Each boy is unique; some are ready, others aren’t. I’m glad BSA policy doesn’t hold go-getters back. I don’t feel a blanket statement would be valid other than: case-by-case basis.

  8. I find the judging and the young Eagles to be in very poor taste. I have sat on Eagle boards and the majority of them have earned their award in the nick of time. They come back after a long absense from Scouting which is reflected in their paperwork showing that it has been years since they last held a leadership position or earned a merit badge. They come back because they realize that it looks good on college applications, job applications or will get them more pay if they join the military. Not one of them has told me they are here because it is an honor to be an Eagle Scout.

    My son earned his Eagle right before his 14th birthday and is still active in our Troop. Our Scoutmaster is teaching the boys that just because you earn your Eagle does not mean you are done. The other boys, older and younger, look up to my son. He is there to help the current leadership in any way. He feels it is an honor to be an Eagle.

    My younger son has progressed at a faster rate and will probably be able to earn his Eagle right after his 13th birthday. He may be small but he is a leader in our Troop. Out of 5 boys nominated for the OA he was the only one the boys voted to be called out. He has more leadership ability than our last two Senior Patrol Leaders.

    As the advancement chair for our Troop I am currently guiding along five Eagle projects. Only one of those boys is truly doing it because he wants to. The rest are left overs from the last Scoutmaster and are doing it because their parents want it. Those are the boys I think devalue the Eagle, not the youngs ones.

  9. As a scout who has made eagle at 14, I will say that 14 is not to young to earn eagle. I am not from a troop that is considered an “eagle mill” and I would not consider myself a “paper eagle”. I completed the requirements just like everyone else and I had the leadership and experience to do so. Earning eagle at 14 has enhanced my scouting career and allowed me the time before I was 18 to give back to my troop.

  10. In my experience as a Scoutmaster and an Explorer Advisor/Venturing Advisor and Sea Scout Ship Skipper over 30 years, I had the great privilege of working with many young men on their trail to Eagle. We did have some very young Eagles, and at the other end of the spectrum, many who earned it just before turning 18. None of the young Eagles were ever lacking in worthiness or readiness for the award. There are some young Scouts who become highly motivated to Earn Eagle at an early age and should be highly encouraged and not discouraged or impeded.

    It is an individual case-by-case situation and a stereotyped view of all 13 year olds being “too young or immature” simply does not apply if the adults involved are doing their jobs properly.

    I have known of some situations where adults deliberately try to postpone or “slow down” the advancement to Eagle for young Scouts in fear of “losing them” as Troop members, or otherwise judging that they are “not mature enough to be an Eagle Scout,” but the fact is that if this is done, the real outcome may be that they will become discouraged, lose interest and drop out, and consequently may never earn their Eagle at all.

    The greatest attrition of membership from Scout Troops occurs at age 14 when young men enter high school and are drawn to interests of teenagers such as sports, band, girls, and cars, so impeding progress toward earning Eagle at a young age would be a travesty.

    If Scoutmasters want to keep youth in the Scouting program after they earn Eagle, they need to make sure that the youth get into “Age Appropriate” Scouting programs such as Venturing, Sea Scouts and also LFL Exploring where they can earn new awards, learn about future careers, and most of all enjoy the programs and activities that they select and plan. Venturing/Sea Scouts is truly ” Scouting’s Next Step” and keeps young men and women in the program often until they turn 21, which is really what it is all about.

  11. I find it comedic that this discussion has been going on for decades. I remember when I was a young scout and hearing parents talk about it, now I hear the same arguments on both sides discussed today. It’s pretty clear that there is no clear age at which a scout is worthy of the Eagle rank. Each boy develops at their own pace and the best we can do is help them in the process. There are no requirements or techniques to judge a person’s character with 100% accuracy. You can find examples of every kind of Eagle scout you can imagine from Astronauts to prisons.

    One important thing that changed my perspective on the subject is when I realized that Eagle rank is NOT the crowning achievement of scouting. It’s a big piece and should be considered a giant milestone and achievement, but the crowning achievement is when a boy matures into a responsible man. That is the goal and what we need to be working towards.

    In an ideal world I would love to see the boys in our troop work 3 full years and earn their eagle by the age of 14, they could then take that confidence and habits into a Varsity Team where they can have greater flexibility to define their own requirements through the pin program, continue their work on merit badges if they would like and give service back to younger scouts, after a couple years of that they would be primed and ready for a solid Venture Crew experience where they take life to a higher level of exploration and learning and prepare for their post high school plans.

    When you realize that Eagle scout isn’t the end and is just a part of the transition it all of a sudden doesn’t become a huge question of, “did he deserve this?” and becomes more of a statement on what direction the boy is heading with his life.

  12. After working as a scout leader with several boys of varying ages who have earned their Eagle, I have to say that the 14-year-old who works consistently and enthusiastically is in many ways better prepared than the 17-year-old who tries the last-minute sprint and gets the last signatures on his paperwork at 11:55 PM the night before his 18th birthday (no, that’s not an exaggeration).

  13. Those on this list who look at the boy’s age and age alone are incorrect. There are many 18 year old’s that are not mature either. The Eagle rank is only part of the scouting journey. There are Palms to earn there is the Order of the Arrow to be elected to and participate in AND there is Venturing to experience. These should all be part and parcel to the Scouting experience. The road to Eagle should allow a boy to find his interests, then, if he chooses, go to a Venturing Crew or Sea Scout Ship that has some or all of the things he wishes to pursue. The BSA should no longer be just a trip from Cubs to Boy Scouts but a journey that allows him to experience everything that our organization has to offer.

  14. While it is true that each candidate is a unique blotter, generally, those over 16 show more maturity and focus. Yet, I have sat on the board of a couple of under 15 scouts, and they were exceptionally goal oriented and mature for their age; but they have been the exceptions for the younger boys coming through. On the other hand, those coming back at the last minute, prodded and nagged by parents, or simply because it will be a good thing to add to a college ap’, often are not high quality, compared to older ones who have stayed semi active, balancing school, sports, and other activities, while working towards completion.

    Personally, I feel we need to reinstate a few time frames in the lower ranks, and strengthen basic skills in some manner. We also need to really look at clarifying what is a minimum level of acceptance on a project, especially the total hours and the balance between prep and actual work with others. We are seeing more and more “cookie cutter” projects that really are simply identical to others, except they are in a different location. I had a mother recently ask me why her son’s project, which is very unique and will end up taking far more than the average hours, is not the level to which many projects attain. My only answer was that every boy has his own reasons, and they know within if they slid by, or did their best. Still, it can be discouraging for a scout to put in two or three hundred hours completing a project, then see another scout slide by with barely 50 hours, and basically a blueprinted plan that simply required restating things for a different school or park.

    Also, we need to work on not undermining the integrity of the Eagle. We occasionally have candidates that do not pass a board for very legitimate reasons, ones that “should” negate approval, period. But councils and National seem to be so afraid of legal things that they end up being approved, which reflects very poorly on the local level.

    Finally, we need to have National make local decisions less subjective on some of the Eagle application items. We are having a major issue with “letters” right now. Apparently, our local advancement committee has decided that we can no longer ask the scout to furnish letters from their references; that if we want letters, the review board must ask for them. This makes little sense, other than running scared from the occasional reference related problem, like not having a church reference or not sending them out in a timely manner, resulting in a delay in their board.

    Thank you for the space to comment on this.

    • While I applaud your desire to make the Eagle rank a worthy goal, I personally feel that BSA has very clearly defined exactly what is required to EARN the rank, and there is absolutely no need to add to these requirements out of some misguided sense of maintaining a non-existent standard.

      It should be no surprise that a 16 year old appears more mature in conversation and action than a 13 year old–that’s natural maturation. More importantly, the topic is moot as there is no “maturity” requirement for any BSA rank, to include Eagle. While we all may have our own ideas of the characteristics of the perfect Eagle Scout, they in fact remains our own ideas and not official requirements approved by BSA.

      Its very important to remember that the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project does not and should not have an “hours worked” requirement for a good reason–projects are specific to the individual and the goal; therefore the numbers of hours spent completing various projects can and do vary widely, as they should. Some Scouts will take on a massive, long-duration project because the work is important to them. Others will plan and complete a project that just meets the minimum requirements. That doesn’t make them any less of an Eagle, because they met the BSA-approved minimum requirements. Should a Scoutmaster that just meets the minimum requirements of the Scoutmaster’s Key not receive it because he or she didn’t go far beyond what BSA expects? Keep in mind, whether a medical student graduates first or last in her class, we still call her “Doctor”.

      I don’t believe that Councils or National are afraid of legal action when overturning a Board of Review rank refusal. More likely, they are enforcing their well-established and very clear prohibition against adding to requirements, which sadly seems all too common among otherwise well-meaning adults wanting to uphold their own subjective standards.

      As adults, our experiences influence our perceptions. I know that without a doubt my Eagle rank holds much different meaning to me now than it did when I earned it as a youth. Back then, I scrambled to earn my Eagle because I saw it as a goal I set and wanted to achieve. I also listened to my father when he told me about his regret for not completing the few requirements he had left for Eagle when he was a boy, and didn’t want to feel that when I grew up. I was one of those 17 year olds that suddenly realized that time was running out after spending my high school years doing other things that kept me away from full-time Scouting, such as being a 4 year varsity letter winner in two sports, captain of the same sports, president of my class for 3 years, and maintaining a GPA to allow me to graduate second in my class and earn an appointment to a service academy. I’m willing to be that many of those “absent” older Scouts today are also busy working to achieve in other aspects of their lives outside of Scouting, and am therefore very unwilling to speak badly of them simply because they haven’t prioritized Scouting over everything else. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to reach a goal; the motivation to achieve a goal shouldn’t matter to anyone else so long as the requirements are met along the way.

      At the end of the day, BSA rightly recognizes that each Scout takes something different from the program, and therefore has established baseline requirements that minimize subjective evaluation and are realistic for youth to attain (remember the SMART criteria for goal-setting). The Scout that some feel doesn’t “deserve” the Eagle rank for whatever reason may very well become a model citizen and Eagle Scout as he ages and learns some life lessons as an adult. None of us can accurately predict the future; passing subjective judgement on a young man today may be very short-sighted and selfish on our part.

      If he’s completed the requirements, he’s an Eagle.

      • “I don’t believe that Councils or National are afraid of legal action when overturning a Board of Review rank refusal. More likely, they are enforcing their well-established and very clear prohibition against adding to requirements, which sadly seems all too common among otherwise well-meaning adults wanting to uphold their own subjective standards.”

        Granted, most appeals are likely as you submit. But I have seen at least three overturned that were declined due to issues very specific to dishonesty and illegal activities that were not misdemeanors or harmless
        pranks common to immaturity. Yet, they somehow were allowed to be approved. When a candidate is caught blatantly forging signatures, lying, or harming others, he does not meet “the standard”, period. And just because the parent screams discrimination or unfair and threatens, it should not matter. What do these rare incidents say to those who made the “right” decision? What does it say to the parents of other scouts who witnessed the events, or were aware of them? What does it say to the community at large who may have been affected by them? As scouters, we still have a responsibility to hold our wards to the intention of the Oath and Law, that thing we call Scout Spirit. Of course, the individuals noted likely should never have reached the point of an Eagle board anyway; but they did because someone was too willing to not hold them to the standard, due to perhaps hurting their feelings.

        These same fears and loose standards are one of the reasons so many kids no longer do well in school and seem unable to recognize the difference between right and wrong, even when it should be obvious. Too much letting them slide because they are insecure, or not ready, or too sensitive.

        Yes, if the candidate meets the requirements, then he should pass. But we need to not simply ignore or allow a pass because we do not want to be mean, or hurt their feelings. We are doing them, as well as BSA, a disservice.

        As far as the project goes, I am well aware that it does not specify a specific number of hours. That is not what I am saying should be done, though perhaps it would help with understanding what is expected. I am saying that we are moving towards prepackaged projects; pick it out of the minimum level choices and run with it, using the basic patterns already developed by others, but made to fit my needs. Some candidates will always have above average projects, just as they are above average in most other aspects of their lives. Still, we may need to simply make the minimum level of the project more clear, as right now, it is pretty blurry.

        Just my own thoughts and opinions. But, it seems to me we, as a society, are expecting too little of our youth, not believing they are better than that. And we are seeing those lowered expectations met, then dropped again. Oddly, give a boy a real challenge, and they more than naught will rise to meet it, or much closer than we might think possible. Put the bar too low, and they walk over it, but learn nothing.

  15. It really is a matter of maturity, not age. Some people say that a Scout can’t appreciate Eagle at 13 or 14; but I earned mine at 18 (fell into the BOR loophole), and I didn’t really appreciate how “big” it is until I was in my mid-20s. Also, having earned Eagle at 18 meant that I didn’t get a chance to go for Palms or have time to try Venturing (because I went off to college). I never even got to wear the Eagle patch on my uniform, because I was already an adult, and I never had an Eagle COH. Furthermore, if a Scout can do in 3 years, what it takes a lot of Scouts 6 years to do, I say congratulations – unless it’s the parents doing the work instead of him, but that’s a whole separate argument.

  16. Scouts earn the rank of Eagle when they have successfully completed the requirements. It’s really this simple.

  17. I am currently a 26 year old Scoutmaster for my troop in PA. During my years in scouting I have had seen 2 scouts earn Eagle at the age of 13. Both of those scouts are on my charter but never show up to the meetings or outings anymore. In my opinion, those scouts should be taking in active role in leading the other scouts. They got their Eagle and are out so they are no longer getting anything out of the program. Scouting has been my life since I joined as a cub scout. I was really into the advancements and focused on getting Eagle, which I received at the age of 17. Looking back I am grateful I took my time and enjoyed the entire journey. I lost a friend I grew up in scouts with, he was only 20 years old. Had I rushed to get Eagle, I would not have had time to enjoy the small things with him. Every year when new scouts come into my troop, I encourage them to advance, but I tell them that the most important part of scouting is to enjoy the journey. I participate in Eagle Scout Board of Reviews for my district and I will leave you with a question I ask in every Board of Review:

    When I look at the scouting program I can break it down into 4 separate parts:
    1. Awards and Advancement (Ranks and meritbadges)
    2. Outings
    3. Values (scout oath and law)
    4. Friendships
    To you, what is the most important part of scouting and why?

  18. Age is not an accurate measure of maturity. If a 13-year-old boy has truly met the requirements for Eagle (and has not been fast-tracked by parents and/or leaders) then he had demonstrated his maturity and deserves the award. But more importantly, we must always remember that the BSA’s mission is NOT to pin awards on boys. Its mission is to prepare young men to make moral and ethical choices throughout their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The advancement program is a means to this end, it is not an end in and of itself. It is entirely possible for a boy to learn and internalize these values without earning a single award. THAT is “true north” and where we must always keep our compasses pointed.

  19. If the boy has learned and accomplished all the requirements for Eagle and actually can continue to do the skills that he has learned then any age isn’t too young to receive Eagle. If the leaders do their part and make sure that the Scout has learned the requirements then the boy will show leadership and be willing to teach other Scouts the skills that he has learned. If the boy receives Eagle by 14 then it enables him to concentrate on the Varsity and Venture programs and progress in building his character through those activities and earning the awards in each of those areas of Scouting. It is up to the leaders a lot of the time to help the boy to continually progress after Eagle to help benefit the individual unit and other boys. That is where the boy will experience great growth and achievement through helping others. That is why we have Scouting today in the United States. A young man helped another man find his way in the fog of London. Let’s all do all that we can to help the Scouting movement progress and grow as it can. We are here as leaders to help boys to become men.

  20. I think maturity is the biggest concern for me, but a blanket statement is not appropriate. I will apply the same standards regardless of age, but I would definitely have greater scrutiny of the maturity of a 13/14 year old candidate. Keep in mind that the “Scout spirit” requirement is subject to great interpretation. Maturity plays a greater role for higher ranks

    However I think the core of the problem lies with BSA pushing for scouts to make First Class in a single year. I think this is just plain wrong. One year should be the exception not the expectation

  21. The only person to blame for these so called paper eagles or mom-and-pap eagles are the scoutmaster, troop committee chair, and the district advancement chairman, the youth is not to blame because you are the ones that approve and sign off the requirements. If the requirements are meet then the boy deserves the rank.

    Anyway besides that 95 percent of the boys that earn eagle when they are 13 or 14 years old continue their involvement in scouting or later in life come to realize the impact the scouting movement had on their lives. The remaining scouts yes may notvrealize the impact or significance of the Eagle rank but then again this usually can not be helped no matter how hard we try as leaders.

  22. This one is easy! The answer is no. There’s no age requirement for Eagle. Complete the requirements and you are an Eagle Scout.

    Some folks seem to think there are different degrees or levels of Eagle Scouts but there’s only one. The rest of it is opinion, speculation and chest-thumping.

    • Agreed, and as I mentioned earlier, neither is there a maturity requirement despite many references to a need for maturity in some others posts. Eagle Scouts come in all flavors; preconceived idealizations of what an Eagle Scout should be have no place at an Eagle Scoutmaster Conference or Board of Review.

  23. To complete the requirements for Eagle, someone with that drive, should not be discouraged. However, the leaders should monitor the scout as a member of the unit. Getting an “A” and not knowing the material does not benefit the scout.

    Back in 1911 (that’s, like, a hundred years ago, folks), the BSA established the requirements for all ranks from Tenderfoot through Eagle. Over the years, requirements for each of the six ranks have evolved, but one thing hasn’t changed: All requirements for all Boy Scout ranks are the same for all American Scouts, everywhere. Now if you take a good look at the timing aspect of the ranks, beginning with the 30 days of physical exercise for Tenderfoot through the ten troop or patrol activities (other than troop meetings) for Second-and-First Class, then the four months, six months, and six months of tenure for Star, Life, and Eagle, and allow for the fact that a boy coming through the Cub Scout program can be a Boy Scout by completing the Arrow of Light rank at about 10-1/2 years old, it’s a pretty basic arithmetic calculation to understand that the BSA figures that the Eagle rank can happen somewhere between age 13 or a little less and 17 years, 364 days, and anywhere in that range is just fine. And of course we all know that there’s a BSA policy that says we can’t add to or subtract from any requirement (we don know that, right?). So, by what stretch of presumptive hubris do we assign to ourselves the authority to add the further requirement to Eagle that, in our infinite wisdom, we will estimate the so-called maturity of the Scout? Isn’t it enough that he’s fulfilled all of the requirements for six ranks and no less than twenty-one merit badges? By what superior knowledge do we make this additional judgment about maturity, when we should know full well we have no right to do so? Pogo was right: We’ve met the Eagle Scout candidate’s worst enemy, and he is us.

  25. Personally, I’ve seen a multitude of boys that start out gung-ho in scouting and as they reach high school age and the influence of such a higher variety of activities start to interfere. Schedule conflicts along with the coming of age to do things with out constant parental authority start to ‘cloud’ their focus. I’m aware of this for my own son along with my fear for not having a strong troop since we’ve lost our last scout master with only one possible viable replacement and a troop of barely enough scouts to form one patrol, I am, as a parent feeling the need to hurry things up before it’s too late to get to eagle. Right now as my son is reaching the age of 13, he is still strong in his love for scouts, even though his circumstances are not the greatest, but every once in a while, I see a hint of a waiver in his interest. It’s a fine line and I see it. For us, it really has everything to do with the quality of the leadership, bottom line. And yes, if a boy has not really earned his ranks appropriately, then the scout should not be signed of.. bottom line. Every scout deserves a trained leader AND trained parents too.

  26. While I agree some may think a 13 or 14 year old may be mature enough to do an Eagle project and live the Scout Oath and Law to the fullest, I must question his true maturity. After all he is 13 or 14 years old. Religious writings are full of examples of young men doing remarkable things, but they didn’t become true leaders until much later in their lives because they weren’t fully mature.

    The idea that things are different now then they were 100 years ago has some validity, but people are no different. They just have more opportunities to learn different things. I don’t think we should mistake knowing how and understanding the principals with the maturity to truly lead. True leadership requires empathy for those you are leading. You can’t learn that from a book or a lecture, you must develop it through experience.

  27. Can a 13 year old lead a project as good as a 17 year old??? NO. Will a 13 year old need more adult guidance and help with project planning than a 17 year old??? YES

    A 17 year 364 day old youth cleaned up a cemetery for his project. If a 12 year 265 day old did the same project would we expect MORE from him?

    To limit age would be insane. Why not leave out people because of race or mental abilitites, too???

    Imagine this Eagle BOR— “You have completed all the requirements for Eagle…but you are black. Sorry…thanks for playing!!!”

    Get off your high horse, turn your epaulettes around, and start serving instead of discouraging these youth!!! Model the behavior YOU expect and get out to serve the youth

    I have worked with Packs, Troops, Teams, and Crews….and see the need for some serious role models— My current registered positions are : Cubmaster, Pack Trainer, ASM, Troop Committee, Varsity Committee, Crew Committee, Unit Commissioner, CUb Scout Round Table Commissioner, EDGE Staff, Wood Badge Staff, Day Camp Director, and Camporee Director.

    • WOW, bringing race into the discussion is totally off the mark. It sounds like the only high horse around is the one you are sitting on and it may even have a chip on its shoulder. Up until your post, I thought this was a mature, age old discussion that will probably never die. The great thing though is that we are FREE to discuss.

  28. I don’t think the argument is as much with the boy who earns his Eagle at age 13 or 14 but the way he earns it. There are too many troops and summer camps where merit badges are earned just by showing up for all the classes.

    When I was a Scout in the 70′s, we had district merit badge counselors, not troop counselors. I had to contact each merit badge counselor, set up an appointment, and work one-on-one (before 2-deep leadershp requirements) with that counselor to meet the requirements. Nobody brought the merit badges to me, like happens too often today – I had to go get them.

    The first merit badge counselor I went to sent me home because I did not wear my uniform – that was a very good lesson. I returned a week later, in uniform, and breezed through the requirements because I was very well prepared. There was no skating through requirements like happens too often today.

    Along with working on my merit badges and rank requirements, I was a leader in the troop and OA chapter chief.

    I earned my Eagle Badge, by my own hard work, at age 14. I then went on to earn my Bronze Palm, OA Brootherhood, and was nominated for (and received) the OA Vigil Honor.

    I stayed active and a youth leader in my troop until I went off to college. When my oldest son was in 1st grade, I joined Cub Scouts with him as a Tiger dad. The following year, I started a Cub Scout pack at a new school and remained Cubmaster until we moved 5 years later. As my boys progressed through Scouting, I was a Webelos den leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Jamboree troop ASM, and am now a Venturing crew advisor, even though my sons have aged out, as well as an assistant district commissioner.

    I’m really not trying to toot my own horn but to make the point that a blanket statement should not be made that boys at age 14 are not qualified to be Eagle Scouts. In fact, since I earned my Eagle Badge so young, I was able to enjoy the rest of my Scouting experience without the pressure of working on rank advancement.

    I have been the Eagle advisor in my troop (that my sons have long since aged out of) for the past 5 years. I have yet to work with a boy who is younger than 17 and enjoying his Eagle work. Every one of them feels pressured by their parents and leaders to get to Eagle and they really don’t know why. One boy, who just had his Eagle ceremony this past weekend, wasn’t allowed to get his driver’s license until he completed all his Eagle requirements. He went for over a year without driving, until he finished the rank.

    I would be surprised to see many of these 17 year old Eagles joining Scouts with their sons or even encouraging them to join. Their last months were not pleasant.


    Randy Bernstein

  29. I was 4 months shy of my 15th birthday when I passed my Eagle Board. I hold six palms (at the time a palm required 5 additional badges and six months of service). Since then I have worked in a Scout camp for four summers, been ASM to my troop until my studies made it too difficult, been on two unit committees,a locacl council’s executive board, and received the District Award of Merit. I also serve as my Diocesan Chaplain for the Scouts (a poistion I’ve had for almost 15 years) as well as being the Advisor to the Training Committe of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and a member of its Advisory Board.

    So if I was too young to really get anything out of the acheivement can someone please tell me why I am still trying to payback Scouting for all I’ve received from it?

    Some have used the derogatory term “paper Eagle” as a blanket term for all of us that obtained Eagle at a young age. I have been involved in Scouting for 25 years now as an adult. I have come across too many “paper Eagles” and the age of the person had nothing to do with it. The attitude that results in a “paper Eagle” is less related to a person’s age than it is to his work ethic.

    I’ve also met a number of men who identify themselves as “former Eagles.” It has been my experience that it is those who squeaked by and “got the rank” just before aging out that have this attitude. You can find good and bad examples of Eagles. Some of them achieved Eagle at a young age, others just squeaked by, and still others made it at 16 or 17. What determines whether an Eagle will be a good one or bad is less related to his age at the time but how well he appreciates what being an Eagle means.

    As has already been said here it is rare for a Scout to obtain Eagle. Not every Scout has what it takes, nor do all of those who do stay in Scouting long enough to obtain Eagle. So when a young man is recognized as an Eagle he has demonstrated that he stands apart from the average. Perhaps those who become Eagles at a younger age are not just that rare Scout who makes it to Eagle but are also that rare younger teen who has the maturity to appreciate his accomplishment.

  30. I know one young man who chose not to complete his Eagle paperwork because in his unit, earning Eagle did not mean much regardless the age. Boys who did not exemplify Scout Spirit, boys who did not know their basic Scout skills, boys whose parents did the work. He believed those boys (and the unit leaders) to be hypocrites and he chose not to be ranked amount them. Sadly, he had too narrow a view.

    But that is the failure of adult leader, not boys. Anyone who wrings their hands about boys earning the Eagle too young should reexamine the boys at any age who obtain Eagle (not necessarily earn it) from the same unit. You will quickly see it us not the age of the boy, but the failure of the adults (including Council review teams) to make sure the program is run well.

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