eagle-project

How to find a great idea for an Eagle Scout Service Project

The most rewarding part of my journey toward Eagle?

Walking across the wooden deck that my fellow Scouts and I built at The Heard Natural Science Museum in McKinney, Tex.

My Eagle Scout Service Project was hardly a unique idea — the majority of Eagle projects are construction-based — but it had one key element: It meant something to me. I remember taking countless trips to the Heard Museum growing up. My dad served as Board President there for two years, and while he was stuck in meetings, I explored my second backyard. When it was time to select a project, giving back to the Heard made sense.

Unfortunately, project ideas don’t always present themselves so clearly. That makes Requirement 5 — “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project” — the task that slows down more aspiring Eagles than any other. No surprise, then, that your fellow Scouters called Requirement 5 the toughest Eagle requirement in an informal poll I took this morning.

Here’s where you come in.

Encourage the Life Scouts in your troop to find a project they’re passionate about. More than 2 million Eagle projects have already been completed, so don’t worry if the idea has been done before. Here’s what the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook (No. 512-927, 2011 printing) says on that subject:

Your project doesn’t have to be original, but it could be. It might be a construction, conservation, or remodeling project, or it could be the presentation of an event with a worthwhile purpose. Conversations with your unit leader, teachers, your religious leader, or the leaders of various community organizations can also uncover ideas. In any case, be sure the project presents a challenge that requires leadership, but also something that you can do with unskilled helpers, and within a reasonable period of time.

Still stumped? I’ve gathered a collection of ideas and links that should help.

Ideas from other Scouters

I asked our Facebook fans to share the best projects completed by Eagle Scouts they know:

  • My son in Troop 581 collected 5,000 shoes for the Haitian people in the January 2010 earthquake. He collaborated with Soles 4 Souls to send forth the shoes for shipment. (J.R.)
  • Planters designed and built for a Center for the Blind. Filled with plants that could be identified by touch or scent — labeled in English and Braille. (M.J.)
  • A Scout from Troop 123 in Shawnee, Kan., designed and set up a program at the National World War I Museum where Scouts were trained and used as tour facilitators on weekends for groups visiting the museum. (T.J.)
  • One boy in our troop built shelving for a charity thrift store in the community. (H.S.)
  • My Eagle Scout project was to build a playground structure for the town of Foxboro, Mass. It was seen as over-ambitious back then, but now when I go back there with my kids (who are Scouts) and they look up and see what they can achieve it was all worth it. (D.F.)
  • My son is building a dog park for our community. (L.B.)
  • A Scout from Troop 357 in Dodgeville, Wis., worked with his church to design and build a outdoor altar for the parish in the church’s cemetery so the congregation can have outdoor mass on occasions like Memorial Day. (J.L.)
  • On the heels of the 2008 economic downturn, my oldest son put on a free weeklong football camp for 120 kids of low-income parents. (M.K.)
  • Door-to-door distributing of information about the harm or inefficiency of outdated prescription drugs, then a collection day. (B.A.)

Our Facebook fans submitted many more great ideas. Click here to see them.

My Project Finder — a handy tool

My colleague Dave Harkins, who works for the BSA’s National Supply Group, created a Web site to help boys and girls come up with ideas for Eagle Scout or Venturing Gold Award projects.

The site, which was one of Dave’s Wood Badge ticket items, is a “decision tree” that lets users answer two or three simple questions about their interests and passions.

Once they do that, the site suggests several potential project ideas.

It’s a great resource, and it’s available for free by clicking here. Check it out!

Other useful links with ideas

Here’s a list with hundreds of ideas, from Scoutorama.

Boys’ Life has a few more on this post.

And 100 concepts from which projects can be developed are available on this PDF, from meritbadge.org.

Important reminders

Be sure to have your Scouts consult the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook before getting too far along. Pay special attention to the “restrictions” section (Page 4), which details certain projects that aren’t acceptable — such as fundraisers, projects that only benefit the BSA, or routine labor.

Additionally, Life Scouts now must receive approval on their Project Proposal (Pages 7 to 10 of the workbook) before beginning further planning. This new requirement prevents Scouts from doing too much work on a project that is ultimately rejected.

25 thoughts on “How to find a great idea for an Eagle Scout Service Project

  1. I love this article and the links! We did a similar thing with our oldest son. I had him brainstorm what he was interested in, what previous Eagle projects from fellow scouts he liked or didn’t like, then he browsed a list of hundreds of ideas. He had said he liked reading, then found a project related to cataloging books in a library. While that wasn’t interesting to him, it prompted him to make an appointment to talk with the local librarian the next day. He came home from that visit with a complete project plan, carried it through, and now his project will benefit teens in the library for generations to come. One Eagle son down, five to go, so I’d better bookmark this article!

  2. I love this article, I will be bringing up some of these ideas as some of our present Star scouts ask about ideas as they close in on getting to their Life rank. Now a great follow up article would be ways to fund their Eagle projects, i.e. ways they can ask companies to help, fund raisers many have come up with and successfully pulled off, etc. to get the needed items they required. I don’t know how many times I have had scouts asking how to raise the funds and beyond going to one of the big box construction stores and asking for donations of materials, spaghetti or some such dinners, I always have to send them to other people in the hopes they can come up with some new good idea.

  3. I recently returned from a year long deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan. There, a faithful group of international service members and local scout leaders were working together to build the scouting program for Afghanistan. And since then, Afghan Scouts has formed an interim national committee and is working towards getting government endorsement. To support the scouting program mature, the group developed a checklist with supporting documentation to guide Eagle candidates in a project to provide materiel support to the scouting program in Afghanistan! See the “Scouts for Afghan Scouts” Facebook page to for a link to the document

  4. Projects are available anywhere in the community regardless of where one lives. Afterall a scout does have an organization that sponcers them or a religious organization to which they belong. The project is to give back to the COMMUNITY and not to send things overseas or out of the area. Should an Eagle candidate find Requirement 5 difficult it is because they have not been required to do this type of leadership in troop, OA or other service projects. This also is the failings of senior leadership as well as adult leadership. All to often the scout does the project or does not SUPERVISE the total project. BSA’s new requirement to only PROPOSE a project will lead to increased failures or substandard projects. This in no way produces the Eagle Scout that scouting of long ago envisioned. Eagle Boards must mandate that the projects are worthy of Scoutings Highest Rank and achievement. This in spite of TEXAS’s political correctness and lowering the standards. Increase the boards membership if needed to hold regular reviews without overburdening the board membership. Keep the high ideals of scouting furthermost in the mind of the scout. Quality not quantity is the key to maintaining scoutings Highest Advancement. Now, Let us go out and Happy Scouting.

    • Mike B.

      Please remember that the World Crest on your uniform puts us as Scouts and Scouters in a much larger world community and brotherhood of Scouting. I think we forget that it is more than a purple patch sometimes. International projects have great impact not only on the world by the hearts of the people who participate in them back here. We are very blessed to be lucky enough to win the world’s lotto and live in America. Many take that for granted, but if they ever travel outside our country to impoverished nations they will learn quickly not to take our wealth, blessings, and opportunities for granted. Doing something for the least of us in the world should be commended and encouraged. Our Oath has us “help other people at all times…” I wish more boys with that tiny little purple world crest would be exposed to the global Scouting scale, and more Adult Leaders work toward that exposure. It will connect us as an organization to a much larger opportunity for changing lives and further away from the instant recognition patch hungry units many have become. It has never been about the patch, it has always been about the boy. Remember BP organized this movement as a way for world peace through brotherhood. If anyone should be leading that charge it should be past, present, and future Eagle Scouts!

      I am and have an Eagle Scout son along with my AOL son who has seen the World’s stage. When I ask them what do you want for Christmas and the response is to feed, and help others in need… their Eagle Scout Dad can’t help but praise God. When they have set the example for others and raised awareness and now I have other Scouts wanting to help other countries and cultures for their projects the fruit is now growing from the seeds I’ve planted as a leader all those years ago. While I’m not asking you to plant trees… I am asking you to plant seeds! Water them, mold them, and certainly not discount projects that will one day hopefully bear fruit! Trust me…it is an amazing thing to see Scouts impacting the world.

      .

  5. Mike B, those of us in the active duty military community don’t really have a “home”. Our boys move every few years and are often members of 3 or 4 troops as boy scouts alone (that doesn’t even count the 3 different cub packs they might belong to). If a boy feels to be more a part of his military community than the civilian community that he happens to live in during the time he’s looking into Eagle projects, then I think (and our DE’s have agreed as well) the boy can choose to help his community of deployed military soldiers, or help them with their efforts to build schools overseas, etc., because those soldiers are a part of that boy’s community. I would like to leave it to the discretion the board, and encourage boys to use those Communication skills to effectively explain why they are choosing a specific group to benefit.

  6. Pingback: Eagle Service Projects | Troop 113's Blog

  7. At some point (reaching Star?) the Scout needs to shoot an email off to his school and/or school board and/or PTA-equivalent, his church, and his mayor (and if his town has a city engineer and/or a city planner, add that person as well) soliciting ideas. If these folks do not have a perspective on what an Eagle project is, the Scout could list recent local projects or frame it as “this is usually a construction-type project that would require 75 – 125 man-hours, including planning time”. (I know there’s no man-hour requirement, but I think it will help the recipients to filter out the too-small and the too-big tasks.) Probably would not hurt to email the adults in the troop soliciting ideas, and to ask the Scouts in the troop who have finished their project if they had any other good ideas that didn’t make the final cut. I’ve seen some “cumulative” projects recently – one Scout builds the pavilion for the Church, 6 months later another Scout builds tables and benches for the pavilion, and 6 months later another Scout … There should be enough diversity in a given troop with different churches and schools

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  15. If anyone is looking for a good Interactive Eagle Project Hour Log- I have one that I made up that is perfect. You input the time in and the time out and it calculates for you. My project is an Emergency Preparedness Fair, so I added a section where it would multiply the number of people at a booth by the total elapsed time. It’s PERFECT for tracking the 700+ hours I’ll have by the end of my project. Any questions- email me at mattbusi@me.com

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  18. 36 years ago my Eagle project was planting trees in a highway median (a very wide one) along I-81 west of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg PA. I worked with a person from PENNDOT to do the project. I originally wanted to do it in a cloverleaf near my home but he suggested the other location. I still get a kick out of see “my trees” when I’m in the Harrisburg area and drive by that section of highway.

    Cool projects our Scouts have done that didn’t involve pressure treated wood shaped like a bench: epoxying signs of storm drains that say “Flows to the Neuse River” to remind people not to dump stuff down the drains. Meals for a local ministry that teaches low income people life skills, and provided child care while they are offering the parents a class. A safety fair that offered smoke detectors in a low income neighborhood. The scout wanted to install them but the project review team rejected that idea due to two deep leadership and safety requirements going into stranger’s homes. Another safety fair to offer Radon testing and information about it. The Scout was passionate about nuclear science and tried very hard to get a project dealing with this subject. He’s now a sophomore and NC State on a full academic scholarship studying nuclear science.

    There have been many that were building projects of various types. I can’t recall any in our troop that were benches, but I’ve reviewed many Eagles at the DEBOR that were benches.

  19. I love this my son is a AOL and wasn’t sure if wanted to continue next year we read through this and he has agree to keep going!

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