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. I am an Eagle Scout (1985) and a Scoutmaster. First, I think we should reinstate the time reqirements for all ranks. Second, the leaders must not advance a Scout to the next rank simply because all of the requirements have been completed with a checkmark. Part of the Scoutmaster Conference is to verify everything has been completed, but to also assess to see if the boy is ready for progression. Has anyone ever seen a boy not pass the BOR to the next rank? The only time is when it was found that a requirement was missing, but even that is rare. Too many merit badges may be earned in simply a few hours. It is often worse at Camps and Merit Badge Univeristy events. As Eagle Scouts, we must protect the honor and not allow a Scout to be named an Eagle when he is not ready, does not show the maturity, or does not display the spirit of the Scout Oath. In general, 13/14 year old boys are too young, but not all. Rushing a Scout through to get all of the checkmarks is a disservice to the program, the Scout, and cheapens the Eagle honor.

    • Since BSA has clearly stated that neither Scoutmaster conferences nor Boards of Review should be retests of completed requirements, has deliberately removed tenure requirements for lower ranks and has reviewed and approved the requirements for merit badges, perhaps the better solution would be to establish another youth organization that employs stricter, more demanding requirements and evaluations so that the “honor” of the top rank in this new organization isn’t “cheapened”.

    • I do not think there is a requirement for Eagle that states a Scout must be “mature”. A Scout is ready for Eagle when he has completed the requirements, including a demonstration of Scout Spirit. I do not think Scout Spirit and maturity are the same thing. If fact, I’d be hard pressed to define maturity in a general sense that covers everyone. Perhaps that’s why it’s not a requirement?

      • The problem does exist where we have merit badges being earned in very short periods of time… merit badge universities, camp, etc. Perhaps that is a totally different discussion than 13/14 year old Eagles. I am not sure what you mean by ‘what you are describing is not Scouting’. The Scout Oath is not something you can put a checkmark against and say, “Completed Task”. It is totally subjective. However, all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout (SPL-check, Community Service Hours-check, merit badge requirement-check) are objective… ie, blocks to be checked. Once all of the objective blocks are checked, the Scout is an Eagle Scout. I see the foundation for an Eagle Scout is living the Scout Oath. In your opinion, if a Scout has met all of the checkmarks, does he automatically advance? If so, is there anything that would cause him not to advance? If he commits a crime should he advance even if he has completed all of the checkmarks? If the Scoutmaster simply feels that the Scout is not ready for one reason or another, should the Scout be advanced anyway because he has the checkmarks? Where is it the Scout is measured against the principles of the Scout Oath and once measured and not fair well, does the Scout advance anyway because ‘he has met the requirements (checkmarks)’ ?

  2. I had a particuliar view on this issue but after reading some of the comments I have altered my feeling regarding a young Eagle. I think one issue that hasn’t been addressed is council’s devaluing of the Eagle award. Scouting College, is a merit badge mill. They throw out required badges like they mean nothing. You can not earn Emergency Prep in two meetings. Everytime I turn around the Eagle numbers rise, 3% to 4% to 5%. Are we turning out better Eagles, no, just more because we are making it too easy. Scouting has alot of issues. It tries to be a money making machine. Scout uniforms are over $100 for a new scout. Look at the price of the awards. I spend over $1000 a year just on badges. I’ve not been happy with the program since I have rejoined and try to run my troop using the best of today while keep the best of yesterday alive.

    • Rob,
      I feel your pain. I too am upset with the merit badge mills and the rising cost of uniforms and badges.
      In my troop we run a few BIG fundraisers and annual individual ones (Popcorn, Mothers Day Flowers & Vegtables, Cheese (2 or 3x’s a year) in order to help the boys pay their own way. The average cost for a boy in our troop is about $700 a year for summer camp, outings, uniforms etc. We try to fundraise as best we can.
      I am not a HUGE fan of popcorn because it is expensive and not that great in quality, but we do it because district and counsel harrass you if you don’t.

      I model my leadership after my old Scoutmaster, Joe Roma, from Troop 333 in Monmouth Counsel and an old-time Scoutmaster I met my first year in scouts. I sat with this man at a Scoutmaster Fire for HOURS and just listened to his stories and techniques.

      Basically, we just all do what we can to make the BEST Scouting Experience for the boys we are charged with.

      Yours in Scouting….

  3. I was a 14 year-old Eagle Scout. However, I attempted (and did not pass) a board of review at age 13. I believe it depends on the individual and thank my board of not passing me when I was not ready. It was a great learning experience then and continues to be 30 years later.

    • If I may ask, why did you not pass the BOR? Many believe that if you met all of the requirements, you should not be denied. I am not in that camp, but know MANY who are.

      • So long as you understand that should the Scout or his parents appeal your subjective denial, you’ll very likely be (rightly) overturned and will garner a whole lot of new attention on just how you’re delivering the Scouting program, then you should do what you feel is right.

  4. I concur with many of the comments listed above. It comes down to maturity of the scout not their age. My oldest completed his Eagle at 13.5 He is now 16 and has been SPL twice, two terms as President of the Crew, just starting his second term as OA Chapter Chief and a JASM, Jr Climbing Instructor, and now has four palms. He was ready to complete his project at 13 and did it all on his own. Once Eagle was behind him so many other opportunities opened up to him and he was not worried about having to earn his Eagle. He became a mentor to others and helped them get on track. For him, he wanted to earn his Eagle before he went off in other directions.

    My second son earned Life at 12 and is waiting until he is mature enough to run his project. He is now 13 and his thought process are maturing.

    My third son is 11 and Star. He will earn Life within a week of his 12th birthday.

    All three of my sons are very different people and each will be sufficiently mature at different points in their lives. There is no “right” age.

    I abhor Scout Masters that try to add requirements that BSA has not implements. At round table I have heard some of these people talk about how they hold the boys back by failing the SMC and telling them they are not ready when really they were saying you are not old enough. I am sorry to be the one to tell you this but, that is not your call.

    • James,

      The funny thing about those SMs “failing” a Scout during a Scoutmaster conference is that the requirement isn’t to “pass” (there is no failing or passing) a SMC; the Scout merely has to “participate in” or “take part in” a SMC, according to the requirements. Thus, once the SM meets with the Scout to hold a SMC, the Scout has participated or taken part, and therefore has completed the requirement. If the SM refuses to sign off on the requirement, he is violating BSA policy and the Scout and parents should meet with the District Advancement Committee to discuss how the SM is deliberately ignoring BSA advancement requirements.

      • If the Scout is simply not ready but all of the ‘blocks have been checked’ is there anything to keep him from advancing until he is ready? If he commits a crime or is in detention at school all day for bad behavior, but has ‘checked the blocks’ should he still be promoted?

    • Just my humble opinion:
      My oldest is a Life Scout. I was an assistant scoutmaster when we joined and I am now the Scoutmaster. I DO NOT SIGN OFF on ANY of his requirements. I leave that to the assistants. This way their is NEVER a question as to him earning it or me giving it away.

      Just my two cents.

      • We can hold a Scout back. It is not against policy. It is under the law of “Scout Spirit”. A scout does not fulfil this req. until we know he is ready. It isn’t just about be a happy kid but rather a changed man. With every SMC, the boy must show growth. Not only on paper but in mind and more importantly, heart.

  5. The year was 1973 and I was a 15 year old Eagle Scout. I hold this award to be my highest award I could ever get. It will depend on the scout and the troop. The one thing I don’t like to see is to just have merit badge training and give them away. We as parents MUST let these kids be kids. But hope that they learn things that will get them through life. I think back at some of the times that was very hard for me and yes I had people that would help me along the trail.. And I thank them for that. Lets just hope that SCOUTING stays SCOUTING and kids still want to be Eagle Scouts.
    Thank you BOY SCOUTS…

    Eagle with a silver Palm

  6. My son earned his Eagle scout at age 14. He was mature beyond his years when he earned the rank and had already served as SPL twice because we had no one else at the time. He went on to earn 81 merit badges and four Silver Palms before he aged out. He immediately signed on as an Asst. Scoutmaster. His scouting journey has truly been an amazing adventure. He attended NOAC, served as an officer in his Lodge, was selected SPL of his Jambo troop. One of our young scouts told me he wanted to grow up to be just like my son! I think he is a true inspiration to all those scouts who will follow behind him. Age really is just a number, which in no way reflects the maturity and commitment of the scout. I have seen many scouts procrastinate until they are 18, having spent very little time supporting the troop in their final years because they had met the majority of the Eagle criteria when they were young and just “Held ” on to the end.

  7. Last year there was a letter in the editorial pages of our local paper about the Scouts in Troop 229 and their behavior at a Memorial Day Service. That letter and those responses were published nationally by the BSA and by Google News. The Senior Patrol Leader at the time was a 12 year old Scout who responded with a letter that appeared the next week, along with 3 other letters from adults. His was the best response by far and he is one of the best Senior Patrol Leaders Troop 229 has had in its 5 year history. As a Scoutmaster, would I recommend him for progression to Eagle if he fulfilled all the requirements? Certainly. But, he IS an exceptional young man.

    • There was a similar article in our newspaper regarding a 12 year old éarning’ Eagle scout. Reading and learning the requirements, specifically age/grade (at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade) to enter Boy Scouts and the time needed to earn rank e.g., 4 months active for Star; 6 months active for Life, etc., I do not see how a young man could possibly earn Eagle earlier then 13 years of age. The young men earning Eagle scout should never be criticized… if in doubt look to the leaders. Troop leadership is responsible for approving and ensuring the requirements are followed and met.

      The most troublesome is the helicopter parent who will not allow their scout to go on a troop camp out unless the dad goes… and does every thing for the scout! I don’t think it is right but you know what…. I see my son growing into a mature and responsible young man and scout by learning and doing for himself rather then having everything done for him. Parents who show their child they trust them to learn and grow up responsibly are giving them a priceless gift – maturity! Let them go… you’ll be surprised at what the scout can do when given the opportunity!

  8. I took over a troop just over four years ago. There was the Scoutmaster I relieved that stayed until her son received his Eagle, and then both were gone. He was pushing 18.
    As I built a “Boy Led Troop”, I have seen the difference in maturity between boys of all ages. I have seen 17 year olds who were less mature then 14 year olds.

    One boy in my troop earned his Eagle with distinction at just under 15 years of age. He went on to earn 9 Eagle Palms with over 50 merit badges. He was a Senior Patrol Leader before his Eagle, and remained as a Jr Assistant Scoutmaster after he reached Eagle.

    Another boy joined our troop just shy of his 16th birthday and worked his tail off, handing in his paperwork just days prior to his 18th birthday. He knew he was up against the wall when he joined (he was recruited by the priot scout I spoke of) but he was determined to get his eagle. He did everything he was required and more, and was an excellent leader for the boys.

    I can see a boy or two in my troop now, that if they apply themselves to the dream, can attain their Eagle rank by their 14th birthday. I am not saying they will, but they have the tools and maturity to do it.
    There are other boys I see that no matter how much I push or prod, I do not see Eagle in their future, but that does not stop me from trying to inspire them.

    Boys with special needs are another ball of wax all together. I have an autistic boy in my troop who will be an Eagle. He is brilliant and tries very hard to overcome the difficulties in his way. There is another who uses it as a crutch, and is allowed to do so by his parents.

    As a Scoutmaster, we can only do what we can do. We get ourselves trained, try to get to PowderHorn, WoodBadge and other training. We take weekends and weeks off for trips and summer camp, sometimes without pay. But the time we invest always comes back to us in one way or another. I know one of my Eagles has asked me to stay as Scoutmaster until he returns to the area after college so he can be an Assistant under me and take over when I am ready to step down.

    Of the 6 Eagles I have had the pleasure of leading through the program (for at least the last half of their hourney) I have been honored with one Eagle Mentor Pin and it is the proudest piece on my uniform.

    So, to say if a boy is too young, you cannot say that with any sense of truthfulness unless you have worked with the boy and seen his maturity and how he accomplishes his goals.

    The last thing I will say is that there is an old saying about scouts an old time scoutmaster passed on to me: “Boys don’t ruin Scouting, Adults do”. I have seen this happen MANY times, and its always parents who do not understand the guidelines and principles of scouting. Try to educate them. If you did the right thing, District, Region and National will always stick by you.

    Yours in Scouting,
    Seth Hazen

  9. I think the Eagle Scout requirements are currently age appropriate. I’ve seen some 13-year-olds show initiative, leadership and mastery of scout skills to warrant the completion of Eagle Scout requirements. It can be done.

    Advancement is only 1 of the 8 methods of scouting. Unfortunately for many scouts, parents, and adult leaders, advancement eclipses the other 7. They feel that Scouting exists so a young man can get his Eagle. Don’t misunderstand, achieving Eagle scout is a worthwhile goal, but it not the only thing a scout gets from scouting.

    Here are some strategies I employ to help scouts and parents to view advancement appropriately. When a scouts asks, “Do I have to wear my uniform?” I answer, “Only if you want to be and Eagle.” When a scouts says, “I’m not going on this campout because I don’t need any more camping nights for my merit badge, I respond, “Eagle scouts show leadership and your patrol needs you. You want to be an Eagle don’t you?” Questions like these can be created for each of the methods of scouting.

    When a parent calls to set up a Scoutmaster conference or Board of Review, I kindly answer, “I make appointments with scouts, not parents. Please have your son call me for an appointment.”

    After 7 years experience as Scoutmaster, my mantra has become, “I’m here to help your son become an Eagle; not just get his Eagle.”

  10. I think we’ve beaten his horse to death. I would like to stop getting emails on this particular subject. I hope by this comment and not checking either check box this time that they will end.

  11. Every child is different. Each one has a different level of maturity and development and younger ones may be capable of carrying out the leadership and work involved with Eagle. As most commenters have, I’ve seen mature 14-year-olds as well as 17-year-olds who can barely tie their tent flaps and needed lots of parental prodding.

    The thing for us as adults in the program is to remember to apply the requirements as written, and apply them consistently, regardless of the age of the candidate. How many would give a “free pass” on an easy project to a 13-year-old just because we don’t think he’s capable of more? How many of our troops don’t examine the project proposal carefully at the committee level? For many years, the boys in our troop were told to go knock on a committee member’s door and ask for a signature. Now, we require an actual presentation to troop committee members before the committee chair gives approval, and we make it clear that we won’t jump through hoops because the scout didn’t plan ahead in a timely manner. We do not put up obstacles, but we must ensure that the aims of the program are met, and that the methods are used consistently.

  12. An Eagle is one who has shown growth as a person and one who can mentor those after him in their quest. I have met a few amazing young men who deserve the rank, however, I have met many more who brush it off as another award. It is truly an individual debate. The issue here is not in the scout. As much as I hate to say it, this is a leadership issue. I have held a boy back for years because he was simply not ready and it showed when he quit for another troop and was awarded Eagle within a month. We can not sign off to simply sign off. The way I see it is if you were teaching a CPR and First Aid class would you pass a student who could not properly perform the task? If he had, and the student was faced with a situation where those skills were needed and he did nothing or worse, made the situation more costly, that’s on us. As leaders, mentors, and teachers it is up to all of us to make sure we have given the boy everything we can to perpare him for the rank of Eagle. It is not an award. It is not a medal. It is a lifestyle and it should be honored.

  13. OK, i have read a lot of the comments, and it makes me crazy that we put an age on being a Eagle Scout or in any case an age on any of the ranks. If the young man has worked hard and is active in their unit and has the drive and the vision to be an Eagle Scout who are we to stop that Vision. I have met parents that think some boys are moving to fast for their age. We are not here to judge. I love the Scouting program and I have seen the changes from boys to Men and it is awesome. You want to be an Eagle Scout go get it ,it is in yours to reach.
    from a mother, advancement coordinator and Assistant Scout Master of a 14 year old life scout working on his Eagle project..

  14. If a scout has earned his Eagle he has earned his Eagle. Remember, some of these 13 and 14 year old boys have been going through the scouting program since they were in first grade. They have been camping and learning scout skills at a very early start sometimes. Some even at an earlier age if they have an older brother and have earned there ranks in the program two times- once in doing with his brother unofficially and once on his own. They have camped and done service projects and clean ups. Both my sons have earned all Webelos pins. The younger one has made first class in a year. He knows his knots and how to set a tent better than some older boys in the troop. His question is always what is next? He may even pass his brother in his quest for Eagle. That is up to him to earn. That’s right Earn. If he does, then it should be his.

  15. Recently there has been a 14 year old boy who has gotten eagle in my troop that I feel shouldn’t have received the award. For his “leadership” he was assistant senior patrol leader but all he did was sit back and mess around the whole meeting letting me, the senior patrol leader, do everything. Now that he has gotten the award, he hasn’t shown up to one meeting since then.

    • Alex,
      This is a travesty and a bad mark against the Eagle Award and your adult leaders. I would suggest that if your troop is not BOY LED, that you get it boy led as soon as possible. Lookup TroopWISE on the internet for the manual on how to make your troop Boy Led.
      Call your Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders, Patrol Leaders, Scribe, Troop Guide, Instructor and Jr. Assistant Scoutmaster (if you have one) for a meeting to form your Patrol Leaders Counsel. This is the group of young men you will work with to run the troop.
      Review the TroopWISE manual with them. Go over the troop meeting plan forms. Go online to find meeting plans pre-made by Boys Life (used to come in their Scouting Magazine).
      Meet with your adult leaders and ask for a “Peer Review” process between the PLC (Patrol Leaders Counsel) and the adult leadership to discuss the prospective Eagle Scout so you can offer your opinions PRIOR to a Scoutmaster Review of the boy.

      Nothing you can do now about the boy, he got what he wanted and is gone. I have seen my fair share of them. As leaders we do the best we can, but a Boy Led Troop means that the troop direction is in the BOYS hands.

      Theres a saying in Scouting that rings TRUE every single time: “Boys don’t ruin scouting, Adults Do”. That means through poor supervision, mentoring and planning Adults can mess the program up for the boys. A Boy Led Troop, the way Lord Baden Powell designed the program, is the only way to truelly teach leadership through trial and error. The adults are there to back you up and offer advise and assistance (and final level of discipline when needed).

      Lastly, if your troop does not have a Policy and Procedure manual adopted by your adult committee, I would consider drafting one. This is the final piece that locks it all in together. I would be happy to email you a copy of ours (which is still a work in progress).

      Don’t give up…. Life is a series of challenges. Its about how you face them. I am proud of you for speaking up and sharing your thoughts. A sign of a good leader.

      Yours in Scouting,
      Scoutmaster Hazen

  16. We are just back from two weeks of camping at S-F. My son went with his old troop one week and with his new troop the next. He swam the mile swim both weeks even though he had stitches in his leg. He took four merit badges both weeks. As we were leaving the camp the last week he picked up a brochure for being a staffer. He was distressed to learn that you had to be 15 to be on the staff. He is only twelve and is already a star. He told me that he already knew he would be life in November. He wants to get his eagle by 13. He also wants to earn all his palms. At his first week of camp he was tapped for OA, during the second week he talked to his fellow scouts about what it took to get tapped. The boys also asked me about requirements for OA. He is leading by example and I am NOT doing the work for him. He is five eagle required short and has enough non-required badges to make eagle. He WANTS to do this and has already started contemplating what he wants to do for his eagle project.

  17. Many of the responses focus on the maturity level of the scout, but none have pointed out that age may have little correlation to the time that the youth has actually been a scout.
    Take two boys from the same Webelo den who cross over at the same time. One youth has been red-shirted because of a summer birthday and is old for his grade and is just getting ready to turn 12 when he crosses over into scouts. His buddy was very sharp and skipped second or third grade and turns 10 just before he crosses over. Both of them are on track and make reasonable progress, but don’t fly through the program as fast as they can and take about three and a half years to finish their Eagle projects and be ready for their Eagle board of review. One is 15 and the other 13, but both have spent the same time as scouts. Both have been to the same summer camps, same outings and leadership trainings. Maybe the fifteen year old is a bit louder, but maybe not. As far as their scouting life they are exactly the same age.

    Not many things can make a 14 year old decide to drop out for awhile more than seeing roadblocks thrown at them because of their youth while 17.75 year olds are lead by the hand.

    • Mr. Hughes, with an attitude like this I would not want my son in your troop. As a Chartered Organization Representative I would be questioning your qualifications as a Scoutmaster. As a UC I would suggest that you be retrained or get trained if you haven’t already been trained.

    • Hughes…..
      Your lack of respect for others is disturbing to say the least. Now, lets put everything aside and just deal with the MATH first.
      A boy joins at 10 years old and the only TIMED requirements for ranks are 4 months from 1st Class to Star, 6 months from Star to Life and 6 months from Life to Eagle. That is a total of 16 months or a year and 4 months.
      Lets say that the boy is a cheater, he will have his Eagle by the time he is 11 years and 4 months old.
      Lets say he is HIGHLY motivated with an ACTIVE BOY LED TROOP that averages one outing every 45 days (month and a half) AND goes to Summer Camp. Your looking at another year to reach all of the requirements for outings and such. So now the boy is 12 and a half years old.
      Perhaps another 6 months for some merit badges to be completed….. it is QUITE POSSIBLE that an extremely intelligent, very motivated, quite capable young man who is part of a very active troop with dedicated parents and leaders COULD INDEED reach Eagle by 13 or 14 years old.
      Your generalization proves to me my theory that “Boys don’t ruin scouting, adults do”.

      Now, is this the norm??? Absolutley not. But I have a boy led troop that is very active. We have four meetings a month: 1 Troop Meeting, 1 Merit Badge Meeting (2 merit badges, boys choose one), 1 Fun meeting and an outing weekend. I have had boys Eagle during their last few months before their 18th birthday, others that have hit it at 16 or 17 and two or three that are working on the possibility of them reaching it by their 14th birthdays.

      It has to do with motivation and mentoring by good leaders and involved parents.

      Your attitude is what drives boys away from the program. I would hope you would think regarding your blanket statement.

      Yours In Scouting,
      Scoutmaster Hazen
      Troop 1
      Athens, PA

  18. How dare you accuse people of cheating. My son will be getting his life in November. He has been an active scout since the first grade. He does community service above what is needed for ranks. He takes on positions of responsibility, including having just run for spl. He didn’t get it but is going to be the scribe. He needs five more eagle required merit badges for his eagle. He has more than enough non eagle required. He has already started to think about his eagle project. He has been tapped for OA and has undergone his ordeal. He wants to get his eagle at 13 and is working hard to accomplish this. On top of this he is an A student taking gifted classes and is involved in various activities. It is his choice to get his eagle at 13 and he is working hard to accomplish that goal. For you to say he is cheating is horrible.

  19. i agree with Alex. I have always said that the boys should not be judged by their age but by how they achieve their goals. My son was life at 13 and has been working toward Eagle with him now at the age of 14 almost 15 he should be in front of the board by this November. And the only reason it took this llong was because of the project itself and the hoops to jump having to work with the City for permitting. He is active in OA, and has gone to NYLT, and has worked at Boy Scout summer camp as a CIT.

  20. This debate is not going in the right direction. The focus needs to be redirected. I feel that this discussion CANNOT be generalized for EVERY boy. However, the topic of “Is 13 too soon” is fair. Alex, your son takes it upon himself to strive for a high level of achievement and i hope he stays in Scouting to help other boys along. I have been on both sides of the fence and know that not all boys hold on to the values and morals taught in Scoutings foundations when the uniform comes off. I have know a few 13 year olds who, upon leaving the meeting, go and cuss up a storm and be really mean. I put those boys in the category of Scholarships dogs. These boys, or parents, pursue high amounts of awards and badges for the “look” on paper. It’s sad but awards like Eagle Scout of the Year has gone to horrible young men before. I know Vigil members of the OA who drink underage in large amounts and are bullies. This type of debate in on an individual basis only. Personally, I was 17 when I achieved Eagle. I could have gotten the award at 15 but make a decision to wait. I had more to do. I had more to learn. It was the best decision I made. I can tell you things that I have done in detail because I took my time and wasn’t after the badge so much as I was the skill and knowledge. I tell my scouts that “a scout is patient” is the 13 point to the law. We want to help prepare these boys for a life of achievement and meaning so we cannot let them done just for the label. My final word is about the word “cheating” I don’t like this word. Where I am from we call this “Pencil Whipping”, and it means the leaders are signing off the boy so they advance quickly. These leaders are normally either the boys parent or a Scoutmaster who wants the “Best Troop” award. In most cases you can determine which boy is pencil whipped at the Eagle board of review by asking him questions about specific merit badges. However, to turn a boy down on this basis alone is not allowed…thus we have a large number of “Young” Eagles skewing the data. The “2%” of yesterday is not “5%”. but I like to think that only “2%” still truly earned it.

    • This has to be looked at from the broader view, at the big picture, kids are more advanced now, and experience things sooner than we did as kids decades ago. I have the opposite view, they should strive to get their Eagle badge no later than age 16. Reason- once they start driving, and start dating girls, they will quickly lose interest in camping with the boys, and earning paper and cloth badges ! Once a kid gets to 9th grade, the odds are great he’ll be ribbed about his membership in scouts, in most peer groups. The best scenario would be, have your Eagle badge by the beginning of 9th grade in high school- because high school is a whole new set of challenges. Having to juggle an Eagle Scout project, and school/sports/social life, can overwhelm a high school kid. I’d shoot for summer after 8th grade project completion, an no later than your 16th birthday for the Eagle badge. Why ? I’ve seen a lot of prospective Eagle candidates, give up and quit, when they were so close to getting the badge requirements. We had 4 Eagle prospects quit in our troop, at the Life scout level, because they got along in the high school grades 10-11 and it just seemed like little kid stuff to them, at that level. They also need to cut the paperwork involved, and focus on the Eagle project and application. If the badges are there, and the project done, the kid should get the badge- period. None of this multiple paperwork. They have now the Eagle project workbook, Eagle badge application, checklist, road from Life to Eagle, and also all the Eagle requirements 1-6 to get signed off in handbook, all for ONE badge ! They keep changing the requirements and paperwork almost yearly. This makes scouts just give up. It takes a parent just to dig through all that paperwork, and an above average parent at that. Not even an 18 year old would do it easily, nor a 35 year old. What does that say ?

  21. I think age matters! You honestly can not say that a 13 or 14 year old has the knowledge to pull off a project by themselves. Really how can a child at that age really lead. Come on we all think our child is capable but its not always really true. My son is 13 and has all his merit badges for all his ranks and palms. He is a life scout right now and his troop is pushing him to do his project but he keeps saying he’s not ready. SO BE IT let him decide. I did not help my 17 year old do his project and it took him 5 months just to plan and set it up. He is proud of his Eagle badge and can honestly say he did it himself.

    • I admire the wisdom of your 13 year old, however, age is a number that defines the time we’ve spent on earth, not our abilities, wisdom, maturity or skill. My son EARNED Eagle at 12. In doing so, not only did he meticulously pass off each and every requirement, he had to do so while combating all the adults who said he couldn’t…or wouldn’t do it himself. Thankfully he had a principal who, when confronted with the question of what can I do to help my school, gave a thoughtful young man the time and attention to present needs that could be filled – never expecting all to be done. At my son’s court of honor, the principal had a teacher represent him and read a statement about how he tried to dissuade my son from taking on the entire project, thinking only a portion of the over 700 linear feet of retaining wall planting beds would be difficult. He further stated that after speaking with my son, seeing his plans, and watching the progression, he had complete faith in his abilities to perform the work.

      I have watched my son labor at learning the skills and developing his abilities as he matures throughout the scouting program. He puts in many more hours than required in all he does…and demands excellence from himself. He has had to overcome the stigma of “being too young”, and, has in every case that someone was willing to sit down and talk with him, overcome their preconceived notion that 12 is too young, or that he didn’t do it himself.

      Please be mindful that stereotyping is a dangerous thing to do; I’m sure you meant no harm, but the attitude you presented is one that has detracted from the awesome feat of becoming and Eagle, regardless of what age you do it at, and made it a battlefield which does inflict wounds and pain.

      If we require our scouts to do the requirements, then the only time age comes into question is if they are old enough to be a scout…and haven’t aged out yet.

      Proud Mom of Self-Earned Eagle Scout

      • Listen, I could be wrong and a little off base but, in my opinion, this is whats wrong with Scouting today. Council and troop leaders should not have allowed this to happen. In my scouting experience 20 years ago, this would not be allowed. Merit badges demanded a great deal of study, practice, and preparation. Scout Leaders were very strict when it came to rank advancement and the Board’s of Reviews were harsh.

        Perhaps your son didn’t have any other activities going on and 21 merit badges in 2 years was possible. I’ll assume the logistics of that is possible. But how many of the badges did he earn with zero input from you? I mean other than buying necessary materials the he asked for (without prompting from you)? How many Merit badge counselors did he personally look up, call, and set appointments with all by himself with no prompting? Again, I can be wrong but I remember what it took to get some of the badges and the type of parental involvement required for a 12 year old to safely, legally, and competently complete the requirements wouldn’t be allowed.

        Hardly any parental involvement was allowed with the Eagle Project as well. For the eagle projects I remember helping with, it would be logistically impossible for a 12 year old to accomplish. Not that some might have wanted to though. Researching the engineering requirements, code requirements, soliciting donations, accounting of money, researching materials, purchase of materials, delivery of materials, communication with council board, communication with scouts, research of vendors, communication with vendors, etc etc. You are telling me that your 12 year old did all of this with little to no input or help from you?

        I accept that I might be wrong with all of the above but one thing he can’t do at that age though, is be a scout, a student, or a leader as a teenager. Unless he has emotionally AND physically matured at a scientifically unhealthy level, a 12 year old cannot face the tests, challenges, and temptations that a 15 or 16 year old does. Being a scout at those age levels is as different as night and day. It is a lot harder to be a dedicated scout and follows the scout laws when you are in High School.

        The board reviews I had to pass required me to prove and show examples of my scout spirit and how I followed the Boy Scout Law under difficult situations. Situations that a 12 year old is extremely unlikely to ever face. Sure, plenty of 12 year olds face hard times and have to act more mature than others their age. But none of them had to do it when they were a 15 year old in the midst of puberty, with a drivers permit, with 8 page essay’s due, all the while navigating the social structure and influences of high school. The standard was such that those types of example must have been present.

        Some may say that the standards I describe are too harsh, and I respect their opinion. Please just realize that if your standards are low then achievement means much less. There are plenty of pre-teen boys out there that accomplish a great deal in other fields where all components of the scout law are required and we don’t award them as greatly.

        • I’m sorry that all your scouting experience has left you without the distinction of knowing an exceptional young man. I realize that without having experience with a person with the skills, talents, intelligence, and wisdom that far surpasses their years, you would have no way of knowing what I am talking about. It is sad that people lump sum all boys together, based upon the average, or, what they have experienced, without realizing there are exceptions to their rules. My son has had to live with your type of bias since he was extremely young; it is very hard on a kid to always be questioned.
          My son did call each and every merit badge counselor, my son did solicit all donations from companies, and my son had to basically argue with his scout master to get him to stop telling him to “scale down” his project as he felt it was too large a project for ANY scout. Yes, I did help him…he needed someone to drive him to the various companies and the correct permitting agencies as he wasn’t old enough to drive. I did offer to make some cookies for the day of the project, although he had already taken care of getting donations from local grocery stores and pizza restaurants to cover donuts, water, fruit for snacks, and pizza for lunch. He even knew, on his own, exactly what to do the morning of the second day of his project when he smelled natural gas…and took action to call not only the gas company, but also the school district maintenance department (on a weekend, no less).
          Clearly you have your mind made up and are not available for insight. I would invite you to talk with any counselor he used or the principal of his middle school where he did his project; obviously you aren’t going to take my word for it but maybe you’ll take theirs. He has gone on to serve as Varsity Team Captain for the past year and earned the Denali Award. There are plenty who want to pull down those who have risen to the top, in an attempt to make themselves feel better…you aren’t the first. I hope, however, that by sharing this with you and others, someday, it will be the last. He has worked hard…on his own (his father left when he was one and died when he was 5, so perhaps you’ll start to understand he has had to grow up fast…he also started his first business when he was 8 years old, and has invested his money in mutual funds for years…he has a second business now and has been able to earn his own money for both National and World Jamboree, as well as every science camp since 4th grade and every scout camp he has attended)…and deserves the recognition just as much, if not more, than any 17 year old scout. I would suggest that he would give any aging Eagle a run for their money. My guess is you couldn’t come up with even one boy who could match what my son has done, as watered down as you may feel it has been.
          Please be mindful that words can and do hurt many times much more than any physical pain. Your comments shout volumes as to who you are, however, they also are hurtful as well as inaccurate. I would think with all your experience you would know that building boys up is much more effective in creating character and increasing potential than tearing them down with negativity and rash generalizations. I hope this will be used as a teaching moment for you…or at least a reason for you to stop and think before being so judgmental.

        • I think it depends on the area of each scout. Someone mentioned you have to be 15 or 16 to be under pressure. In the area my scout troop is in, many of my scouts are approached to join gangs or use drugs by 11. Futhermore, many of them are the father to younger brothers or sisters at an earlier age because their fathers left, in jail or deported and their mother has to work two jobs. This means they cook, clean, take care of a household. I know many 16 and 17 year olds who could not handle that pressure. I would not want to discourage a scout from obtaining Eagle because they are not old enough. My scouts, no matter what age they are, have to call their own counselors to earn their way. While I do believe 12 may be to young, I would not turn down a 13 year old from being Eagle because of there age…. The legal drinking age is 21 and some 21 year olds are mature enough for that … age shouldn’t be a factor, character should

        • I have met many younger scouts who have more wisdom than there older counterparts. What makes 17 the magic number? My son is only 13 and has already earned a high school credit by taking Algebra I in 7th grade. I stink at math and couldn’t help him. He is in the gifted program. He had to pass certain requirements to be in that program. Requirements with which I could not help. He is a now a life scout and is planning on getting his eagle in the next year. He will also be getting four more high school credits while in 8th grade. He knows what he wants to do with his life and also for his eagle project. Do I drive him places? Yes. He makes the appointments, he does the work. As for wisdom, this is what Websters has to say.
          the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
          scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.
          wise sayings or teachings; precepts.
          a wise act or saying.

          Nowhere does it say you have to be a certain age to be wise. It is not how many years you live but what you do with those years. I would say that he has experienced much in his thirteen years. Your comments make light of what he has accomplished, and of who he is. You also are doing a disservice to those younger boys who do meet the requirements and do have the wisdom. As for watering down this accomplishment that is a load of garbage. I have very high expectations for my child and for others. This can be seen in my dealings with my son, my students, and with the scouts with which I deal.

    • I have a 12 year old in my troop, when he was 11 he organized a student council, a talent show, and assisted organizing a carnival at his school; he forced teacher and the principal to help, he also yesterday organized a clean up of firework debris at his apartment complex … none of this was for Eagle, but it showed leadership abilities that an Eagle would have

    • I EARNED my Eagle at age 14. Did my dad help? Yes he did, but he only helped me with some computer programs to put my thoughts onto paper (Powerpoint/excel). I earned the merit badges, and I thought of the design. The only help I got was him teaching me how to use a program effectively and efficiently. For those of you who say that 14 year old’s can not learn the skills; I had learned how to set up a tent by the time I was an Eagle. The age does not matter, it is the scout himself, we are all different and therefore you cannot fairly generalize anything. That all being said, I do believe there are some scouts who at ages 13/14 can do the requirements but not be ready, but there are also 16/17 year old scouts who aren’t either.

    • Age is NO SUBSTITUTE for experience. A thirteen year old child with the same life experiences as a fifty year old man is more than capable of leading and becoming an Eagle Scout. The true question is what does that child do afterwards? Being an Eagle is not about awards, that is where people become mistaken. A true Eagle does simply because it is inherent in him to be the example for the change he wishes to see in the world, not for reward. Anyone who would tout about how many awards and merits he has IS NOT a true Eagle. Case in point: a thirteen year old boy from North Carolina was honored as an Eagle Scout in 1989. That boy, by that age, had already saved many people’s lives and earned all the merits required to be an Eagle Scout. However, the rest of the boys in his troop were perplexed when he was given the honor because he didn’t have any badges on his uniform. That boy grew up to be a hero and continued to save lives and earned such high esteams as the Silver Star Medal for Bravery and was even knighted by the King of Saudi Arabia, but still wears not a single award. To those around him he is simply another face in the crowd that people see doing good deeds without seeking reward, and no, I’m not talking about the President. That is what it means to be an Eagle. If the youth of today were more concerned about doing the right thing, because it is the right thing to do, than earning merits, then you would not be facing many of the problems you face today. Once you realize this then you will become that change you wish to see.

  22. With all due respect, not all 13-14 year olds are the same and cannot be stereotyped as such. I personally had some 13 and 14 year old Eagles in my troop who were very organized and capable of conducting a complex Eagle Scout project which they did with great effectiveness and a minimum of guidance and counseling. They were also our “super Scouts” and went on to be leaders and then moved into Venturing and Sea Scouts with similar high achievements. One graduated 7th in his class from the Naval Academy and is now a Marine pilot with a double degree in aeronautical engineering and space sciences.

    Conversely, I had some 17 year olds who had to be given substantial guidance to get through the same experience, so it is simply not fair or realistic to apply blanket generalizations about individuals of any specific age group. Each youth is different and you must make allowances for those capabilities and differences on a case by case basis.

  23. how can 13 or 14 year olds get their Eagle when they can’t join untill 11 and most of the postitions requires at least 6 months and the merit badges that are required if done by the scout requires time and effort to do. I believe they are giving Eagle scout to boys that does not earn Eagle scout. How many 13 and 14 year olds graduates High school.

    • My son crossed over at the age of 11. He got his scouting book before he crossed over. The night of crossover he talked to the scout master about getting his first merit badge started, and started the month requirement for the physical training. So one month later he had his physical requirement done, and earned a merit badge. He has had positions of responsibility since joining scouts. He has been the troop librarian, assistant patrol leader, and is now the troop historian. When we moved he started with another troop, but is still involved with his first troop. Last summer he did a week at bsa camp, and a week long troop trek with his original troop. This summer he did two weeks of camping, one with his old troop, and one with his current troop. He is now waiting for three days to pass so that he meets his time requirement for life. He has done his ordeal for OA, and volunteers at any events that are available. As of today he has four eagle required badges to finish and he has already started thinking about his project. On top of all this he has straight A’s and is in gifted classes. He will be finishing seventh grade with two high school credits. One in math and one in French. He works hard, and for people like you to say that he is given his Eagle demeans his hard work. He is proud to be a member of scouting, and we are proud of him.

      • I read all of this and it sounds awesome!!! Yes, you should be proud of him! But, no where do you say anything about your son having fun. This is what is missing from the majority of these posts!! FUN-should be first and foremost in a scouting career!!!!! As parents and some leaders seem to forget!!!
        I am a Scoutmaster from a Large Troop- I would never allow a 12 yr old to obtain his Eagle rank!
        This in itself is detrimental to the Scout, the Troop and the community!
        There is way more to be learned/earned in Scouts than merit badges and ranks.

        • “I would never allow a 12 yr old to obtain his Eagle rank!”

          I’m sorry, but you need to become trained or removed IMMEDIATELY. This is NOT your decision! We teach boys “the rules.” They each receive a copy of “the book” when they join Scouting. You believe that you know better and produce a better product by following your rules, but this isn’t called the Tim Houk Scouts, it is still the Boy Scouts.

          What you are teaching them is that even if they work hard and do everything they are told to them, there is absolutely ZERO possibility of success because you have a rule that the Boy Scouts do not – you must be 13, or 15 or whatever you decide to make up arbitrarily that the BSA does not have.

          Quite frankly I am flabberghasted by the number of adults who read that you can “not add to or subtract” from any requirements, yet continue to make statements like this. Very few 12 year olds may be ready for this – but some most certainly will be. You need to encourage and BUILD those younger Scouts.

          Leadership is about LISTENING and helping those you lead get to where THEY want to go – not about you telling them what you want, believe or *think* should happen! This is what is detrimental to Scouting, the Troop and the Community.

          I’ve been through Scoutmaster training 3 times. Also Cubbing, Venturing & District training, and held positions throughout Scouting including as Committee Chair, Trainer, Unit Leader and more. I *earned* my beads. I am on our council training staff. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education from PK-Adult. I have many years of experience working with Adults and Youth both in Scouting, and in other programs. Yet, I am willing to bet even if you read this, you still will insist that you know better.

          Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader. For the past few years the BSA has been pushing 100% trained leadership for recharter specifically to try to save the kids who are unfortunate enough to end up in these situations. As Bryan on Scouting reported a few months back, the average age of an Eagle in 1949 was 14.1 years old. Today it is 17.1.

          No Eagle should ever be “given.” But to deny a young man who has worked hard and put in the effort based on age is simply wrong. And you don’t have to take my word for it – the BSA is quite clear on this because it is NOT and has NEVER BEEN in any Scout Handbook EVER.

        • First! You take that line completely out of context and make it mean spirited, which it was not intended to be. It is a discussion point! You also disregarded and didn’t address the main reason for Scouts which is FUN!!!!!!!!!
          By the way- I am a trained LDR with 25 yrs of experience working with the 10 to 18 yr old age group.I also have medical,wilderness,and group building training and experience-that the beads don’t account for.
          In regard to any 12yr old possible Eagles! I have seen and heard of a few. This is commendable by those few!!!!!!
          But I have as yet seen one actually worthy. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist!
          I hear from Scouts from our Troop and others that these young Eagles don’t know their stuff, i.e. knotts,lashings,fire building skills. This frustrates the Scouts themselves!!!!!
          It is our job as Scoutmasters to protect the Scouts from themselves and others by holding to an attainable expectation. We are here to assure that a Scout is proficient in his knowledge at every Rank before he is awarded the achievement.
          A Scoutmaster has the right to refuse a signature if he deems a Scout unworthy of a Rank! But, a Scoutmaster must let the Scout know where he is deficient so that he may work on those deficiencies.

    • The age requirement isn’t 11… It’s 11, unless they have earned the Arrow of Light and are at least 10. My son crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts when he was 10. He became a Life Scout 2 months after his 12 birthday, and could conceivably make Eagle Scout shortly after his 13th birthday.

      He is the only boy scout in his troop that has attended every camping event without a parent, so I know that all the skills he is learning on his camping trips are done without the influence of his parents.

    • The rule is age 10 1/2 if they earn the Arrow of Light and complete the fifth grade. My son, who has always been accelerated in school, earned his Arrow of Light at 10, was able to become a boy scout at 10 1/2 and has now just earned his Eagle at age 12. He is also a Freshman in high school, has earned his Varsity letter in baseball, and is now on the wrestling team. Not all boys mature at the same rate. Some are exceptional, some not so much. My 5 year old son, however very bright, has a completely different personality, interests, and motivation than my older son. I don’t expect him to necessarily accomplish the same goals in the same timeline as his brother.

  24. See my previous comments above.

    The advancement guidelines permit such advancement legitimately at younger ages provided the requirements are met, without “…giving Eagle Scout to boys that does not earn Eagle Scout…”

    Graduating from high school at age 13 or 14, in fact does happen, although rare. One of our Eagle Scouts [who earned Eagle at age 13] had an IQ that was “off the charts”, graduated from high school at age 13 with a 4.0 grade average and honors, entered the University and graduated Summa Cum Laude at age 17 with two degrees and is now completing his doctorate at age 20 with a very promising career in science and mathematics. Morever, he is an accomplished musician, composer, and concert pianist among many other outstanding attributes.

    No one gave him anything, he earned every thing he ever attempted with flying colors.

    “One size does not fit all….”


  25. I just completed my project, and my paperwork is in, I’m just waiting for my Board of Review. I’m 17 btw. I have also volunteered at a summer camp for the last three years and taught kids usually from 11-14 Reptile merit badge. In those three years I’ve seen only one 13 year old that’s mature enough IMO to get his eagle at age 13. He actually was on pace to get it at 13 but decided since he wanted to go into the military it would look better if he got it at 16-17 so he waited.

    This is my problem with 13 year old’s, 90% of them are too immature, and usually are pushed by there parents so much to get it that scouts becomes less fun for them. Kids need to enjoy scouts, and they should want to get eagle on their own. I’ve been SPL a number of times and we had a kid recently that was so immature and was hated by most kids in the troop because he was annoying. He joined the troop at 10.5 because of the new rules, and he was too immature for boy scouts and should had still been in cub scouts. His dad pushed him to do it, and got it into his mind that he needed to get it done so he could have time to do other things in high school. So if he does get his eagle he would just leave scouts. So he wouldn’t get the experience of years in scouting. Many kids do this, I know a lot of them.

    Now I waited until I was ready, until I said to myself I wanted it, and I thought I could do it. There was no way I was ready at 13,14, 15. 16-17 should be the range to EARN it. Simply put it, 13-14 year olds might get it, but most don’t EARN it.

  26. Parents should be very proud of their children for their academic successes. However, they should not be confused with leadership ability, which is at the core of earning the Eagle Rank.
    Most 13 and 14 year old children simply do not have enough life experience or maturity to be effective leaders. There are of course exceptions. This should be evaluated case by case. I agree that earning Scoutings highest award too soon does run a risk of diminishing its significance to that Scout.

    • And 16-17 years old have that?

      Let’s consider 2 Eagle Candidates. #1 has been to 8 weeks of summer camp, 3 Winter Camps, NYLT, and EDGE training. He has volunteered to staff numerous Day Camps and Cub SCout event in the district. He has earned 60+ merit badges, eat/sleeps/breathes Scouting, is active in OA and serves on ceremony teams. His father is an Eagle Scout and has been teaching him Scout skills since birth. For his project, he needed some guidance and help from parents.

      #2 Has attended 3 weeks of summer camp. Not much other camping experience or Scouting involvement. 21 merit badges. His mother did 40-50% of the groundwork for his project.

      Which one would you rather have as an Eagle??? Which one deserves and has worked for it?

      I would say Candidate #1.

      Here’s the tricky part, #1 just turned 13…. #2 is almost 18. Both are in my troop. #1 passed his Eagle Board last week with flying colors and astounded the Board members. #2 is still a candidate and hasn’t completed his paperwork.

  27. I agree with the “case by case” argument. When I was in the fourth grade, I learned that Steven Spielberg earned his Eagle at a young age. I thought that was amazing so I set a goal to do just that. It was that drive that led me to get my Eagle at the age of 13 (almost 14). I went on to earn five palms and stayed involved through high school. It is that same drive that allowed me to earn two bachelors degrees in four years (mechanical engineering and mathematics) when it takes a good portion of my colleagues five years to earn one. I was also the vice president of the only all Eagle Scout fraternity, Epsilon Tau Pi (

    On the other hand, my parents had to literally bribe my younger brother to earn his Eagle before he turned 18. He got it and it does mean something to him.

    I believe that no matter what age scouts earns their Eagle, it means something to each and every of them.

  28. Most troops push the boys to complete the first class requirements in one year. In that same mindset they can complete the requirements up to Life in the next year. Then Eagle in the six months to a year. 13 years old.

    In my opinion, Scouting is about the experience it is not sitting in a lecture.

    I am fine with kids getting the requirements, merit badges and basics out of the way. The question I have is if they are having fun in the program.

    Now comes the Eagle Project. There is no requirement on its size so long as planning, development, and leadership are shown.

    A person who runs a marathon in 4 1/2 took the same planning and development as the person who ran in just over 2 hours. Of course they were not leading a team and that is where the argument is being made about what age can one be a leader?

    To be President of the United States you have to be 35 so under that case nobody would ever be old enough to do an Eagle Project. Now if we look at Student Councils and Student Board Representatives they are selected by their peers and in generally do not have an age limit. This is the same for leadership roles WITHIN the Troop such as SPL and PL.

    BSA says that you an option to serve in one of many roles of leadership prior to your Eagle (hopefully more then the same role – assumed although not specially mentioned so cannot be required – nothing added or removed) for at least a 10 months and actively for the 6 months after obtaining Life Rank.

    So the actual questions should be not about age BUT if 12 hours of helping on service projects, using the EDGE method in teaching certain skills and 16 months serving in a leadership role prepares you to lead an Eagle Project? If not, what length of time should be required?

    • If as an author you are indeed 13 years old, and since a Scout is Trustworthy I will accept that you are, you have come to this wisdom and insight of:

      “…the actual question should be not about age BUT if 12 hours of helping on service projects, using the EDGE method in teaching certain skills and 16 months serving in a leadership role prepares you to lead an Eagle Project? If not, what length of time should be required?”

      Then I have GREAT faith that something we are doing is indeed the right thing. The fact that two people have already given you thumbs down leads me to believe that we have a long way to go in helping the Boy Scouts recover from the corruption of untrained and bad leadership that has been our hallmark these past few years.

      Earning Eagle is but one checkpoint along the way. There is much to Scouting beyond Eagle – especially putting those Leadership skills to practice in your Troop and helping lend a hand to young Scouts climbing behind you to join you.

      I salute you Alan! Congratulations, and thanks for making us who try to follow the program and live by the Oath & Law proud. Keep up the great work!

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