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Why are so many boys taking so much longer to reach Eagle Scout?

You can’t blame this one on inflation.

More than 60 years ago, the average age of a boy earning Eagle was 14.6. Today it’s 17.1.

As we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award this month, it’s a good time to ask: Why the increase?

Are boys simply taking time to enjoy the journey toward Scouting’s top honor? Are they busier with school or extracurricular activities? Or is some other factor at work here?

I do know this: More boys earn Eagle today than ever before, a sign that the program is working. But at the same time, more boys wait until they’re 17 years and 11 months old to finish the journey — raising their parents’ blood pressures in the process.

What do you think?

Why are today’s new Eagle Scouts so much older than Eagle Scouts from a generation ago? Join the discussion below.


Graphic adapted from this official BSA infographic.

169 Comments on Why are so many boys taking so much longer to reach Eagle Scout?

  1. Sports…

    • Lots of reasons, mostly all the technology and other options for stuff to do out there. School activities, sports, etc so Scouting takes a back seat. By 16 they are driving and have boyfriends/girlfriends. Gotta get it before 16 or you lose a lot of them

  2. because of technology? they hooked on the internet for too long?

  3. the question isn’t how old they are when they get Eagle, but how long they are a Life Scout. I suspect the average age of a Life Scout hasn’t changed much. Right around 13 1/2-14. I think parents are recognizing the value of Scouting, and know that once a kid makes Eagle, the phrase “Eagled Out” comes in to play. In the green scout shirt days, kids that were Eagles hung around.

    Now, for better or worse, Scouting doesn’t draw the “high functioning” kids the way it did 50 years ago. We get a greater percentage of kids with “issues” than we used to, so it takes those kids longer to make it.

    Or it could all be because of global warming. Take your pick.

  4. scoutdaddygene // August 14, 2012 at 10:55 am // Reply

    I believe the reason is many fold; an increase in the amount of varied opportunities available to young people (school sports, extracurricular school clubs & organizations), the practice of some Scout leaders to hold back Scouts because they are not “mature” enough in their slanted opinions, and most importantly Scouts procrastination and holding themselves back.

  5. I would like my sons to earn it earlier (the first of my 6 sons earned Eagle at age 16 1/2). My third son, age 12 and a First Class scout, already has a timeline and would like to earn it at 14. However, his father (one of the assistant scoutmasters) seem to think Scouts need to be older in order to handle leading a successful Eagle project. Even at our district summer camp, most of the Eagle-required badges offered were only available to ages 14 and up. I think if a boy is motivated to work through the ranks at his own pace, let him excel!

    • Elizabeth,
      On this subject I seem to agree with the father on this one. I have been in the scouting program for over 10 years (Mind you I’m 18) I have run 3 youth leadership training conferences, so I know first hand that true leaders come to us at all ages, Even so, in all my years of scouting never once have I seen a Prepared, Mature-enough, Leader, at the young age of 14. I earned my Eagle Scout rank at the age of 15 and even that is slightly young. Even with my opinion I mean no disrespect to you or your son, Every person is different. He is on a pathway to a great, high honor, that will open a life-time of opportunity. I wish him good luck.

    • Elizabeth, I believe you are partly correct. A Boy should work at his own pace. However, there is something to be said for holding them back just a bit so that they mature into it. I believer you Husband makes a valid point about handling a succwessful Project a littlr past 14.

  6. In 1949, the only requirement was to earn 21 merit badges. The question would be more meaningful if it tracked from 1965 when the service project and troop leadership requirements were added; changes since have been minor.

    • On the other hand, you could not earn merit badges until you made First Class— that changed with the Improved Scouting Program in 1972.

      • Thanks for that clarification. Our scoutmaster recently gave my son an old handbook and we were comparing the changes made over the years. The path to Eagle is far more complex than it used to be. Then again, some of the skill sets required of some of the badges have been simplified over the years, too.

    • I was about to ask how comparable those two numbers really are. If we’re getting into details like age, we should keep it comparable with relate-able requirements. How about we track the number over five or ten-year increments, as well as percentage of scouts getting Eagle and standard deviation of the age calculation.

      And why was 60 years ago picked for this statistic? It’s the 100th Anniversary, so I would have expected 50 years ago. Was it because 60 is the oldest ‘good data’ on hand or was it because it was a much younger age than 50 years ago, making a more exciting story?

  7. I think sports is one thing plus all the other things kids have to deal with today.

  8. I think the first two reasons have been around for a while – fumes; perFUME and carFumes. But young people now have more thnigs pulling at their time than I (and many of us) did when their age; schools, sports, technology, the internet. I had church, cows and school. I have yet to find many (NOT ANY) coaches that think scouts is an ok reason to miss practice, even though it works ok the other way so the boys have to make a choice, I guess we can be grateful they are still deciding to get it even if it takes them a little longer.

    • I didn’t make eagle until I was about 17 and 11 months (though I’d been working on it for a year before hand). And the trick is with coaches and school function directors is to not give them a choice. Scouting is a very valuable program in my opinion, more-so than any school activity. I was in my school’s marching band for all 4 years of high school, and when it got to be crunch time for my scouting career I made sure the director knew that HE was on borrowed time.

  9. Unsaid here, is the lack of encouragement, or active discouragement. What do I mean? I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard a scout told to “slow down” don’t be in a hurry, why do you want to make eagle before you’re 17? Often, I’m sure, with the best of intentions. We have established 17 as the target date, rather than when the scout wants to achieve it….to the disservice of our youth and the failure of our mission.
    What I’ve seen now, in observing the “younger” eagles or the higher achievers is that they are often involved in many outside activities from sports to academics. They’re self driven to achieve. Compare the Eagle project of a 17 year old building 2 benches at a park to the 14 year old co-ordination relief to Haiti or building a massive pavillion for the enjoyment of others. It just seems that the Eagle projects I read about in the paper for 14-15 year olds are far more impactful and ambitious than the 17 1/2 year old who’s in a hurry to finish up before his 18th turns him into a pumpkin.
    But far too often we fail our mission as adults. We should not try for equality of outcome (everyone eagle at 17 1/2 who sticks around) but to insure the maximum opportunity for scouts to achieve whatever they seek. No cutting corners…but no adding roadblocks. Its should be a Trail to Eagle…not a trial. In doing so we’ll build better men for the future, and show them adults really care about their hopes, dreams…and their outcome.

    • Damon, I would challenge your assessment of 14 yr old Eagle Projects vs 17 yr old Eagle Projects. Could it be that at 14, parents are still very involved in guiding their sons, and by 17 boys are much more independent? I don’t have experience with many Eagle Projects, but with the few that I have seen, the younger one’s are very suspect.:)

  10. I have noticed the boys in my sons troop taking a long time to complete eagle required merit badges. They have plenty of non-eagle. In fact, we have three boys who have halted at their current ranks for 18 months and we try to motivate them at every turn. Some seem more motivated by seeing younger scouts surpass them. My son is 12 and will earn his Life rank next month, he has motivated one of the boys who halted at First Class to pick up his pace a bit!

  11. I think it’s hard to analyze this question properly without knowing all the facts. First of all, how many Eagle Scouts earned that rank in 1949 and 2011? What is the break-down by age for those 2 years (and other years, too). Without having this information, I think that speaking as a parent of an Eagle Scout, and as a Scoutmaster, that a) young people have far more activities at school than ever before; b) there is more pressure to get into college and have Eagle Scout on your application (and thus the final push to get it done just before the college application process ; c) programs get stale – and Scouts need new activities e.g. fresh program or venturing; d) girls.

  12. Our expectation of them academically is way above and beyond what it was in 1965. We have middle schoolers taking high school classes. In high school, they are really pushed to take either AP or Duel Enrollment classes. We have quite a few completing their Associate’s Degree when they graduate from high school. All this combined with the back to back booking of our kids so that they are busy has to have had an effect on the age to complete Eagle. But I would also like to see how the requirements have changed over the years as well.

  13. I am a 19 year old “recent” Eagle. I have to say that for me it was a combination of work, school and other extracurricular activities that caused me to be 17 when I made Eagle.

    I am also a firm believer that with the amount of troops that seem to be pushing boys through the program, just to say they have more Eagles, diminishes the program. I feel that in today’s program the majority of 14 and 15 year old Eagles, also lack the maturity to accept the rank, unlike those from the 40′s-80′s. Times are changing and I am confident that the age at which you receive Eagle has less to do with it than your level of maturity.

  14. In out troop we are seeing a trend down from the 17.9 year olds. We probably had five out of the last seven just make it. (My own son included). Now there is a core of motivated boys, in some cases younger brothers of the Eagles, that are keeping a steady pace of advancement. Either they experienced the stress of the other boys or our program is now better organized. We offer classes for the citizenship merit badges every year and encourage the boys to take Eagle-required badges at summer camp. Having a strong Life-to-Eagle counseler has made a big difference also. The troop has grown from 12 to 60 in the last four years so we have plenty of boy leadership positions available which also helps both advancement and maturity leading to Eagle.

  15. It’s all about options! Scouts have many more things competing for their time – band/orchestra, sports and part-time jobs, to name just a few. We never ask a Scout to make a choice between Scouting and other activities. As a Scoutmaster, we expect Scout attendance to be cyclic and encourage a balance of activities. In the long run, this leads to a more well-rounded Scout and better prepares them for life after Scouting.

  16. Why would a scout want to become a “young” Eagle when they overhear 14yr.old Eagles being told “I think fourteen is too young to be an Eagle. At fourteen, your just too young to have the leadership skills to be an Eagle”. The Eagle Scout explains that he met all the requirements and tells of his grand-sized project and that he has enough badges for two palms, etc. Still the Scouters concur that he is just too young to be an Eagle. I’m thinking “He is an Eagle Scout and who are we to validate or not validate it. ” I piped-up…”You sure served like a fine Eagle today on my Cub Day Camp Staff! You have great maturity!”

    The program produced a fine young man willing to serve beyond filling a requirement and WE MUST STOP SAYING AGE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH BEING AN EAGLE SCOUT! Fourteen was good enough in 1949, why are we questioning it now?

    I honestly think some boys just take a break for a while and then come back to finish after turning sixteen just so the are not “young” Eagles who have to prove anything to anyone.

  17. It may have something to do with technology. But in my honest opinion, I think scouts should wait until they are older because of all the life lessons. A 14 year old kid may not get the same outlook as a 17 year old did. Just my $.02

  18. Michael Duminiak - 1990 // August 14, 2012 at 11:31 am // Reply

    I will not speak for any others, but I could have been an Eagle when I was 14. I chose to put on the breaks and spend more time helping others, taking on leadership roles and doing more than just meeting the minimum book requirements.

  19. Stuart Seeger // August 14, 2012 at 11:33 am // Reply

    One explanation may lie with employment. 60 years ago the employment rate among of 16 to 19 year olds was around 48%; by 2006 that fell to 37% and with the current economic situation has dropped by another dozen percentage points. Given that the number of boys earning Eagle has increased, I think there’s a good chance that growth is just in the older bracket and perhaps more boys are sticking around longer than in 1949. This will skew the average out to the 17+.

  20. I can only speak for myself, but I could have been an Eagle at 14. Instead I chose to put on the brakes, take time to help others and take on leadership positions. I wanted to do more than just meet the minimum book requirements. When I meet a 14 year old Eagle Scout, the first thing that pops into my mind is, “when did you have time to help anyone else?” Each troop is different and opportunities for leadership and mentoring present themselves at different paces. I think a Scout should seek to be an Eagle when he feels ready to carry that weight. There is much more to Scouting than rank and the mad dash to advance has the potential to risk missing out on other things the program offers beyond merit badges and service projects.

  21. My son is a year ahead in school, and was ready for his Eagle Board of Review about a month or so before he turned 13. We were cautioned that even 13 was super early to become an Eagle, and we should at least wait until his birthday to ask for the Board of review. 12 was just way too young. His friends are all a year older, and no one seemed to think that the boys in his same grade were early. What is the big fixation with the age of a kid reaching Eagle? Our son is an only child, and as many only children are, he is quite mature. He managed his Eagle Project just fine and had helped on several over the years, so he knew how they go. Part of the maturing of being an Eagle is the leadership roles you have to fulfill before you even qualify. Putting together the project and overseeing its completion mature a boy just in the execution. The proof is in the pudding. No one should try to say a boy is not mature enough to reach for Eagle, if he has been mature enough to fulfill all of the requirements.

    We are very happy he reached Eagle before High School started, with the added academic and extracurricular activities that come along with it. And the interest in the girls… :) Very distracting!

  22. I see everyone so far has blamed the change on the boys, but what about the adults? There seems to be an attitude among adults that 14 is too young. Too young to show adequate leadership, too young for the honor.

    I know a boy who, at 12 yrs, 11 mo, had finished his merit badges, finished his project and was told by some leaders in his troop that he was too young and those leaders put roadblocks up. Other leaders disagreed. The district and council advancement committees sided with the boy and he had a successful BOR shortly before turning 13. The troop, however, split in two and has yet to recover.

    Another boy I know was told by his troop committee, just before his 13th birthday that he needed to wait 6 months for his BOR (despite having completed all of the other requirements) because they felt he needed to mature a little. Last I checked, maturity was not defined as a requirement for Eagle, and if it were, I know a boy who finished his SM conference at 17 years, 364 days, who was lacking the maturity I’d have expected of an Eagle candidate. The 13 year old didn’t argue over the maturity issue, waited the 6 months and had his successful BOR at that time.

    I have heard troop leaders from different troops say that their troop policy is not to allow boys to begin Eagle projects until they are 15 or 16 years old. I have seen 17 year olds do seriously lame projects that technically meet the requirements, but a 14 year old presenting the same project is told that he can do better and since he has plenty of time, he should make improvements or pick something else.

    Boys have to show the initiative, but their behavior, their desire to succeed is going to be a reflection of the adults around them. Instead of progressing through the ranks at the pace indicated by the requirements, (ie. length of time in a position of responsibility, time needed to complete merit badges, etc.) they are encouraged to not worry about making Eagle. It’s not important at 14 years old, don’t rush, kick back and enjoy, but then all of a sudden, he’s a junior in high school, he’s looking a colleges, scholarships, a career, etc. and his parents and leaders point out how good Eagle looks on a resume.

  23. When I got Eagle in 1978 it took until age 17.99999, 1 day before my 18 th birthday. It was not planned but did happen that way. Bach then boys were not playing on 3 or 4 sports teams, I only played one,baseball. Now days kids have multiple sports and activities to take up their time. Believe it or not some kids have admitted to me they only do certain activities or sports to please their parents. It is a much busier world for boys today, but scouting helps keep them grounded.

  24. I believe that this is completely good, healthy and normal for eagle scouts to take longer time to earn their eagle scout. Heres my reasoning: If they are taking longer then obviously they are having to work harder to get there making it all the more meaningful to Eagle Scouts like me that the fellow eagle scouts are truly earning and work as hard as i have. Secondly, I believe they should be taking this long because eagle scout is not about working for yourself towards a higher rank, but by working to serve your troop and in return obtain the rank of Eagle Scout! I personally earned my Eagle two days before my birthday, but does this make me a procrastinator? Does this make me a slacker? I dont believe so, i think that it just shows i served my troop, my lodge, and my council before myself. I Believe that it paid off also because at the age of 18 i earned the Vigil Honor, at the age of 20 i earned my first Mentor Pin. I think i did it just fine! I am proud to serve my troop and know that i have fully earned at a mature age my Eagle Scout.

  25. My friends it is just soooo many opportunities for so many other activities [or in-activities.]
    When I received my Eagle, You were “expected” to play a couple of sports [at least in my HS.]
    But the sports were much more restrictive back then, not everyone was able to play. If you weren’t good, you were cut from the Team. By the time you were old enough for Scouts, you knew whether or not you would be joining Little League.
    Now…EVERYONE has to have an opportunity to play, whether they are any good or not. We also didn’t have the volume of video games to play…not to mention that we were more interested in being outside than in front of the tube, even if it was just a game of pickle or catch.
    As an ASM for one Troop and a Committee Chair for another, I can’t tell you how many we lose during the summer months. It’s pretty tough to delever a “good” youth-run program when the majority of youre youth leadership doesn’t show-up to meetings, because they have other activities.
    Now thsat there are “Youth Leagues” for pretty much every sport, it’s even tougher. One of my Troops is brand-new so we can’t really offer anything which might be considered “High Advanture” because they are all 11yo, and their parents are still worried that they are not ready.
    So what I wind-up with during the summer is a short lesson followed by either baseball, or soccor, or something else.
    During the winter months, activities and meetings are great and well-attended.
    The parents [and most Scouts] understand the value for the long-haul…it’s getting them to make the commitment for the long-haul which is tough.

  26. Right or wrong, leaders and parents are encouraging scouts to take their time getting to Eagle (and sometimes creating troop rules that slow scouts down). Adults make verbal suggestions along the way to “slow down, you have years” and also make it more challenging to get into some of the badge programs or even leadership by age-basing some of the requirements in the troop (you have to be 14 to take this badge, forcably mixing younger boys in patrols with older so the older boys have a better opportunity to lead, having age/rank requirements for troop leadership positions).

    My main observation is that active young scouts are often happy scouts and many times stay happy and active. Inactive young scouts are not as happy with the program and drop out or don’t go for the rank advancement. Couple that with knowledge that high school sees an increase in focus on cars, dating, jobs, school work / college that a younger scout does not have.

    The focus should be on the boy. If he’s interested and ready, the troop and parents should support that. If he’s not, we should be encouraging him and making sure he knows his options and opportunities, but it’s ultimately the boy’s choice how fast (or slow) he goes.
    There are scouting opportities for older scouts (eagle or not): high adventure, venturing, leadership (JASM, SPL), Philmont/Sea Base, etc.; have them look forward to that rather than having to look forward to Eagle.

    I agree with a comment above “no cutting corners, no roadblocks”.

  27. James Richter // August 14, 2012 at 11:57 am // Reply

    Personally, as an Eagle Scout myself. I’ve taken a longer time to reach it because of my high involvement in school activities. I wrestled, I played in the marching band, my junior and senior year I was highly involved with my church. As these are great activities, it does take away from the time I should have spent on Eagle. I am blessed to have achieved the rank, but I wish I attained it at an earlier age.
    Another reason is the high amount of distractions each boy has nowadays. Internet, girls, friends, other extra activities. Its alot, and many boys want to be involved in their communities

  28. Chris McCabe // August 14, 2012 at 11:58 am // Reply

    I think that with all the outside influences, sports, school, friends, Scouting is being pushed to the side for other pursuits. No one wants to wait till the last minute, but as long as it is done, it’s good.

  29. As one of the 17/11 Eagles from many years ago, I was actively discouraged by my Scout leader that I would not be allowed to be an Eagle before 16, was his belief that a boy needed to mature with age….and to be fair, he had seen a handful of boys hit Eagle at 16 and “Eagle Out” of the troop. My boy is starting Tiger cubs this year and I hope he makes it to Eagle someday, at his pace. Every boy is different, I think the key to a young Eagle is keeping him engaged with the troop, mentoring all the scouts, mentoring the Cubs and Webelos and working continuing to mature and learn with the troop. To this day I feel I did the troop a disservice by waiting to get my Eagle til so late….I don’t think I had one single meeting with the troop after getting my Eagle…..it was off to college and I never went back. Very happy to start all over again with my son and finally give back to the organization.

  30. I’m certainly seeing more Scouts stick around and earn Eagle than was my experience as a Scout back in the 1970′s. As I recall I was one of 3 or 4 Scouts to earn Eagle in my Troop of 40-50 Scouts during my 7 year tenure. I don’t recall having an “Eagle Mentor” or Coach helping me along the way. As Scoutmaster in a smaller Troop we’ll have that many Eagles in a typical year. Most of my friends drifted away before earning Eagle.

    With respect to the “high functioning” comment above, I’d have to disagree. In my Troop most of my Scouts are involved in Sports or Band or Theater or a combination of these. Most are active in their church youth group program. The older Scouts have part time jobs and pretty demanding school schedules with honors and AP classes. In the past 3 years we’ve had 2 fourteen year old Eagles, most are 17+. My own son sat for his Eagle BoR a month after his 17th birthday. He got serious about finishing Eagle during his 10th grade year. In eighth and ninth grade Scouts were a pretty low priority though he did go to summer camp and went camping on most of the outings. The only “incentive” I offered my son was I’d take him to Philmont if he got Eagle. We did Sea Base the summer before he finished his Eagle. We did Philmont last month, incentive delivered!

    I make the opportunities for the Scouts to advance, it is up to the Scout to take advantage of those opportunities. I won’t carry them across the finish line. I didn’t with my own son, and I certainly won’t with someone else’s. Once a Scout puts his mind to it he can finish Eagle in 6 months. Sometimes that is 6 months after earning Life, most time it is 2+ years since earning Life.

    Funny they called the 1972 rewrite the “Improved Scouting Program”. As a Scout from that era I’d hardly call it an improvement over the program I started with in 1971 as an 11 year old. Thankfully they killed that one off.

    • In editing my post above I took out the fact that only 1 Scout in my Troop aged out without earning Eagle in the last 3 years. We’ve had a couple Scouts transfer to other Troops but so far none have quit the Troop during my tenure as SM. We had 4 Scouts earn Eagle so far in 2012 with one waiting for his BoR next month. This is in a Troop with 24-30 registered Scouts the past 3 years.

  31. Yeah, I’m going with the more difficult requirements (e.g. project and MBs like communications, personal management and family life). I don’t buy so much the argument about programming. Kids have always had tons of opportunities.

  32. Until the early 1960 a scouts journey was over as a Boy Scout at 14 and he had to graduate to an explorer program. Many earned the necessary metit badges and got their Eagle before moving up or out which was the direction many used to go. When the new Ex[lorer/Venture program began and the membership in a regular Scout troop was extended to 18 years of age the pressure to finish was off and the added requirements slowly raised the age because boys at that age just don’t see the value in getting things done befor the dead lo

  33. The comparison is invalid, Byran. Here’s why.
    First, it’s not the age of the young man at the time of earning Eagle which should be compared; rather it is the *length of time* from the time they joined Scouting until they earn Eagle which should be compared and studied.

    We have a LOT of young men who will join Scouting at age 10.5 and take two years and a bit more (12.8) to earn Eagle. We have them, but the BSA doesn’t acknowledge them because it’s “not a race to see who can earn Eagle the fastest — but rather that the feat has been accomphished!

    More than those Scouts, however, are those who will start work toward Eagle and stall out at age 14 or 15 (well before the “fumes” that many have referred to here) for a variety of reasons. They’ll leave Scouting and return to Scouting at somewhere around 16 or in many cases 17 and ask for extensions to meet everything before they turn 18.

    Their TOTAL TIME SPENT as a Scout, therefore, is only between 2 and three quarters (2.9) and 3 to 3.9 years. They join at 11 or so, leave at 13 or 14, and come back at 17 (if we’re that lucky — most come back at 17.6 and ask for that extension — and get it!)

    Then they leave right the medal’s pinned (or mailed) and we don’t hear from them again (which is why the National Eagle Scout Association is working hard to locate all of those Eagle Scouts who “outgrew the nest”.)

    Some observations:

    - Most Eagle Scouts today have no firm clue as to what their value is. Since they had little time to develop that value in a Troop after they have earned Eagle; and little time in developing that value after they left the Troop and perhaps working at summer camp or something similiar

    - Most Eagles view earning Eagle as “something I need to place on an application because I’ve been told that Eagles get looked at; others don’t”. Most of their parents view this in the same way.

    - Employers and college folk are looking at QUALITIES of an Eagle Scout moreso than the mere “title” on a piece of paper. I tell new Eagle Scouts that “anyone can purchase a $30 medal on eBay, a $3 patch and proclaim that they are an “Eagle Scout” and most people won’t even question it. It it what YOU DO which distinguishes you from those wannabes and forces people to not only confirm but also believe that you ARE an Eagle Scout

    - Whether it takes 21, 24 (in my personal case) or 50 merit badges; and whether or not you had to do a service/leadership project — the fact remains that Eagles spend time helping others to get up to the nest to fly off… most of our Eagles today do not do this.

    So the question should be reframed into “the length of time taken to earn Eagle back in the day as opposed to today”. You’ll find as I’ve have — that the time is about the same, give or take a month or two.

    It is what the Eagle DOES AFTER HE EARNS EAGLE which should be a source of concern.

    • Excellent comment. My son achieved Eagle rank, re-certified his BSA Lifeguard to do swim tests for his troop, volunteered over 100 hours with his former high school marching band this summer & worked as a lifeguard/swim instructor at the YMCA. He hasn’t had time to do his own Eagle court of honor but is honnoring the ranck.

  34. My son was the first Eagle in our troop that was not 17 at the time of earning Eagle in at least the prior 6 years. He was often told “Don’t worry, you have plenty of time”. His bridge project at 15 was held to a higher standard than a bridge project for a 17.5 yo scout. “Revise this, don’t worry, you have plenty of time…” The thing is, kids don’t have time to wait. Every year of high school is busier than the one before. We would lose senior scouts who would get Life, then disaapear for two years and get pushed thru to Eagle when they came back at age 17.5. The scouts believed they could not get Eagle before 17 as that was the unwritten, but understood, philosophy of the troop. This does not help retention. It does not help create a cadre of leaders for the younger scouts. It does not create a visual goal for the younger scouts (I want to be Eagle like so and so…). I don’t support pushing through unprepared candidates. But we need to support the ones who are ready.

  35. What does it matter the age when they get their Eagle as long as they get it. I got mine in 1992 but I worked a job, was super active in school, band, and other activities. AS long as the scout wants to get the Eagle, I don’t think the age should matter. As for the parents they need to encourage but not push the scout too hard. If it is a priority they will finish it. I think we should be glad to see scouts stick around until they age out. Many drop out after a few years. I was in a very small troop so staying active in small units is hard too. Also finding dedicated and consistent adult leadership can be challenging. I was lucky to have only 2 scoutmasters in 7 years.

  36. They do take longer, and I think it’s a good thing. Back when I was in Scouting, and there were “time in grade” requirements for all ranks, I figured out that I could make Eagle in two years, by age 13. But I believe that most who make Eagle that young — or even before age 15 — don’t get all that they can out of Scouting.

  37. My son just made Life scout at age 13. We just joined a new troop and we were discussing my son’s Eagle project idea. Now, he has 3 more badges to complete, and his leadership requirement, but we were throwing around ideas. Already, I have been told, “I wouldn’t start him on that for a long, long time.” so I would absolutely agree that adults nowadays are discouraging boys from finishing young. I was also told by another parent that if a boy makes Eagle by 14, then people assume that the parents did the work, not the boy. I think this completely invalidates motivated kids. I know my son will be distracted by girls in no time, and I will support him moving forward at his own pace, regardless if that is fast or slow. This is about him.

  38. I earned my Eagle at age 17 and 10 months old, but wasn’t able to have the Court of Honor till almost a year later due to a move in between. The program has changed greatly since I first joined the scouts. Back then they had Skill awards, and Merit Badges didn’t help with advancement until First class IIRC. Then I got caught out when the current program (which I believe spread the skill award requirements through the first three ranks, so that you can earn them very quickly). The only requirements I struggled with were swimming, largely due to low muscle and fat mass making floating hard during my early scout years, I also was heavily involved in Sports, Ran Cross Country and Track, Wrestled 2 years in and Marching and Concert bands in high School. But while they took time, I still made it to most meetings, I think I was trying to have consistent growth, which really was what was the expectation from our Troop early on. I saw so many boys earn so many badges early they were star or life well before I was even First class, and then they flamed out and never made it to eagle. One boy, I believe had an injury and then just never got back to it in time to get his if memory serves, making me the only one of my class upon entry to our troop to make it to eagle. 1 out of 4 at that.

  39. I don’t know about other Scouts, but I can tell you why mine did. All three of them served at least two 6-month terms as Senior Patrol Leader in very boy-led troops. Their own advancement pretty much stopped dead while they were busy leading the troop. In addition, each of them had at least two projects fall out from under them (benefiting organizations changing their minds or not understanding and waiting for the approval process). On the other hand, they did almost everything in Scouting that you could do–National Jamboree (twice each), NOAC, Philmont, camp staff, OA ceremonies teams and lodge officers (and one lodge chief), etc., and enjoyed every minute of it (in fact they literally cried when they turned 18). My fourth earned Life at a younger age (14) than his brothers, but we had a protracted move which has held him back, even though he’s currently registered as a Lone Scout. We’re gearing back up this fall with a troop, and he still can earn Eagle with enough time for several Palms, something his brothers didn’t have enough time left for after earning Eagle. The youngest is newly bridged over from Cub Scouts, and both have watched their older brothers, learning from their experiences.

  40. My son earned Eagle a month after his 16th birthday. I think for him it was an appropriate age and HE made the decision to do so. He halted most extracurricular activity in school (school sports) his sophmore year so he could focus more on his grades and completing his Eagle scout. His project was awesome and had been told what a huge undertaking he had accomplished. He now can enjoy the last 2 years and help others achieve Eagle. Without the focus on requirements he is enjoying himself more and has also started participating and enjoying activities with Venture Crew.

  41. So much is based on how they choose to spend their time. Do you spend an
    hour a day on a badge or project before you spend 2 hours on the Wii ?
    Don’t want to be too harsh on today’s youth (or video games), but we all know how video games have given our young men a false sense of accomplishment.
    Why work hard on something when I can save the world in just minutes.
    Also, there is so much more to do in Scouts after you finish Eagle. There are other
    service awards and Palms. Maybe we need to encourage them to look beyond
    the goalpost.

  42. Complexity. The fundraising and paperwork process for your eagle project is stressful, confusing, and you need someone to guide you through the project workbook. It discourages the “get’er done” attitude most boys have when they begin because its not 14-17 year old friendly.

    • Greg,
      The new workbook is a bit friendlier than the old one. You just need a very basic outline of your project not a full blown plan. You still need to do the full blown plan but the concept is what gets approved. The full blown plan is reviewed by the BoR after the project is completed. That said, your point is taken.

  43. gary m. kubancsek // August 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm // Reply

    how silly your answers are. it doesnt matter. each youth is different and the role of a leader, parent, or mentor, is to help each one succeed at the youth’s pace. Or, are those statistics something that boy scout professionals worry about – you know the “numbers”?

    yes, i am an eagle scout, class of 1976

  44. I have worked with scouts for about 10 years now and see that many scouts seem to take a break for about 2.5-3 years at around age 14. By then most have completed all the non-requried merit badges they need and 10 of the 12 required. They have already earned their Life Rank by then and have completed their leadership requriement- and then they take a break. For whatever reason, they stop earning merit badges, especially the “personal”s, slow down their participation, find excuses not to go to camp, and basically let the middle/high school mentality kick in that scouts is childish. But by age 17, they realize the importance and kick themselves back in gear before its loo late. It seems a shame to lose those 2.5-3 years, but I have found that if they get their Eagle before this happens, they hang around and pass on their knowledge to the younger scouts because that is still cool.So why not do everything we can to help them earn it before they decide to take the break? There is no maturity requirement factored in the handbook, so lets get over that, give them a mentor to help get the paperwork done and help them earn their Eagle by 15, and let them take the break they need. Eagle scouts find thier way home eventually, some faster than others and then they are an asset to the unit. I think sometimes we scout leaders are our own worst enemies when we try to put our personal values on the worth of an older Eagle and try to slow their tempo. Or we try to hold onto them longer instead of encouraging their success and subsequent transition to Venturing so we can maintain our quality unit numbers. If we are going to lose them, why not lose them as Eagles to Venturing- than as Life’s who lost the motivation to endure our timeline.

  45. Gary Wilson // August 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm // Reply

    A couple of reasons, mostly that there was no service project requirement in 1949, nor really any until after 1972.

    As Baden-Powell intended from the beginning, First Class is the primary rank in the Scouting movement. From my copy of the the 1948 Handbook for Boys , all a Scout needed to then get the Eagle “Award” was to get the required 21 merit badges and “His record of satisfactory service as a Life Scout have been for a period of at least six months”.

  46. I was told by a Scout Executive, ” Do the BSA Program. If someone becomes Eagle at 12 and leaves the Program, good. Why have someone around for years that doesn’t really care.”

    I am troubled by so many Scouts who are frustrated that they were forced to wait for Eagle. Their Scoutmasters saw it as a graduation out of scouting. They are not involved in scouting as adults.

    And, I am confused by adults who have to make up all these rationalization to justify not approving an Eagle before say age 16. They are lying to themselves and others.

    How hard is it to just do the BSA Program?

  47. In my troop, we have banned the phrase “Eagle Out” and have changed it to “Eagle On”. A number of scouts who have earned their Eagle in the 14-15 year old range have stuck around. Now that the pressure is off to earn badges, they are enjoying their time as mentors to younger scouts, take part in activities or badges that interest them and earn Eagle palms from the their “extra” merit badges. We encourage them to take advantage of staff opportunities and high adventure opportunities, as well as, involvement in the Order of the Arrow if they are members. Perhaps what has them most excited is if they are 16 and have earned their Eagle, they can become Jr. Asst. Scoutmasters which entitles them to cook and eat with the adult patrol on camping trips. We actually have scouts counting down the days to the first camping trip after their 16th birthday.

  48. There are a myriad of reasons, but the major one are:
    1. The internet and video games
    2. More of them are involved in multiple activities, such as sports and other clubs
    3. More and more are from broken homes which makes it difficult for there to be a consistent approach to getting anything done.

  49. Scouter Scott // August 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm // Reply

    I’m one of those who made it at 17 yrs and 11 months (roughly 25 years ago). It wasn’t procrastination on my part. It was a troop that was a bit dysfunctional my last few years. I completed Life and my Eagle Project at 15. I spent the remaining 2.5 years trying to find MB counselors for my last two MB’s. If it weren’t for a change of adult leadership in the troop (who then found me those last to MB counselors), I wouldn’t have been able to finish the requirements on time.

    As for today, a lot of what I see is a combo of what’s already mentioned: The three W’s (women, wheels, work), sports, other activities and old fashion procrastination.

  50. My son’s Eagle project was delayed 9 months due to the red tape involved by the public entity he was providing a service to. Too many who claimed to be in charge that weren’t. He persisted until he discovered the true “chief” to gain approval for the placement of his project. He truly learned a great deal with his project about bureaucrats and being persistent. I am glad he started early and proud that he overcame the obstacles involved.
    I also believe many of these young men are involved in multiple activities. Deadlines work well to motivate them.

  51. My oldest son recently earned his Eagle at 17.9. He hit all his other ranks right on schedule and when he made Life, I told him to “enjoy Scouting.” That is what he did: he was active and continued earning merit badges. He also hated paperwork and the Eagle project is a lot of paperwork.
    He had some starts and stops, but at 17 I started asking him for a commitment. He had to start paperwork over because the new form came out in 2012. I handed him his personal profile from our Council and he was responsible to fill both the porject workbook and application. He had me look over his work (I was also his committee chair) and point out errors or omissions (which I did and do for other Eagle candidates). He struggled with the paperwork and at one point the snowball started rolling down the hill at breakneck speed. Again, he ignored the final paperwork for a good two months. Finally, he got it in and his board of review.
    At one point I asked him if I did him a disservice by encouraging him to enjoy scouting. “No, I wasn’t mature enough back then. Working on the Eagle helped me to mature.” Sweeter words never came to my ears. We are glad that he did the work and the paperwork for his Eagle and I have encouraged other parents to do that rather than filling out even the application for their son.
    In general, I don’t believe young men are as mature as they were 100 years ago. Living on a farm and the unavoidable work connected to a farm are not common nowadays. Many young men either helped to support themselves or their family financially at earlier ages. I also see many young scouts who haven’t really mastered the skills they were signed off on for the first three ranks. Many of those skills were used more commonly in every day life–but are still used around the house and in the wilderness.
    Earning an Eagle is not the end purpose of being a Scoutmaster, committee member or parent. Most life skills are earned by first class. Let the young man, not the parents or troop be the drive for an Eagle. Let them self-initiate, let them problem-solve, let them start again, let them commit, let them own the Eagle.

  52. Keith Westergaard // August 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm // Reply

    There are so many more opportunities to do more things which pull scouts away from the scouting program which forces them to multitask and require more time for advancement.

  53. I’ve seen this for awhile now…
    What I believe is that unfortunately a lot of our scouts, just don’t want to be identified as scouts, like they did back then.
    Sure if you ask a Scout if they’re in scouts they will admit it. But when was the last time you saw a Boy Scout, in their full Class A, Uniform, at school? You also had more interest because there wasn’t as much Media intrusion(TV, News Paper, Computers, Cell Phones, Internet)
    Plus the country was much more Patriotic, and worried about being Drafted, so they wanted to finish before they were ever called.

    • Take heart Todd! My son just became an Eagle Scout at 17 years and 11 months. He has proudly worn his uniform to school. He knew other students would think it was not cool but he did not care what they thought. He was proud to be a Boy
      Scout and proud to wear the uniform. As it turns out, not a
      single student made fun of him. As to why it took him so long?
      He just was not ready for the responsibility. We, his parents,
      pushed him a bit but he was the one to finally decide when he
      was ready.

  54. I think so many boys are taking so much longer, because attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in American society is not as glamorous as it used to be, the rank of Eagle Scout has more requirements (a good thing) than it used to, and the rank of Eagle Scout sets the highest standard of character possible.

    Superior character and citizenship wasn’t as hard to find in years past. Building superior character and citizenship in today’s drought of good citizenship and attacks on quality character takes longer than it used to.

  55. Steven Hinson // August 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm // Reply

    TOO many distractions, ie: computers, games etc. that take up there time. Then it comes to the Girls, Jobs and more demanding school work. As the generations change so do what is important. I made eagle in 1977 at 16 my son made eagle in 2004 at 16. I worked hard to keep his focus, but once he went to Philmont and NSJ his focus changed and he was Eagle Bound. I did not have the community and Nation beating down the BSA as he did. I might have been made fun of once in a while but, at the end they were just a pround of me as my family. The rules and regulations that the BSA was forced to put in place because of Law Suite took alot of FUN out of the program. I am still in scouting after 43 yeas of service.

  56. For starters, I’ll state that there is no age requirement for the Eagle rank and until National decides to impose one any Troop or Scoutmaster who tries to impose one is wrong. Absolutely wrong.

    So some young men make Eagle at 14, or thereabouts, and then “Eagle Out” of the program. Why do they do this?
    1. Fumes. They get distracted, and were going to leave anyways. But if they get Eagle first, then we say they “Eagled Out”. How does that make sense?
    2. High School. Sports, activities, and homework eat away at a young man’s time. He was going to leave anyways, but since he has his Eagle first then we blame the rank. Why?
    3. Parents. Don’t overlook this. Mom & Dad encouraged that young man to earn that Eagle rank, and now they’re encouraging him to do something else. See above. Don’t blame the rank.
    4. Council & Troop program. Does your summer camp interest your older boys? Does your Troop program tempt their interests? If summer camp is seen as being for younger Scouts, and your unit’s program plan doesn’t entice the older boys to stay, then why are you blaming them?
    5. O.A. Some Scoutmasters resent the O.A. (and Venturing) for drawing off the older Scouts, especially the Eagles, to “do something else”. But, honestly, they wouldn’t be drawn off if there was something for them “at home”. So don’t blame the organizations, or the rank, look at yourself.

    If you have a young Scout who is on fire to earn his Eagle rank by his 14th birthday, and has set this goal for himself (with or without parental encouragement) then your challenge as a Scoutmaster is to harness this firebolt. Don’t let the moment slip past, and blame the rank. Don’t stifle the young man’s goal for your own selfish reasons.

    • Many Troops and Scoutmasters in my area “add” a minimum age requirement or a “leadership” requirement as hurdles to Eagle Scout rank to prevent advancement before the (in their opinion) “right” age. I have seen this discourage Scouts and enhance distracting activities, so some boys leave Scouting having never earned Eagle Scout rank.

      • I have seen this discourage many scouts too. Rank advancement, just like merit badges, can’t have anything added to or subject from them unless approved at the council level. I’ve worked with two special needs scouts who attained their eagle scout well after 18. Even with a clearly special needs scout I had to submit information about why some rank advancements had to be modified or changed. I hope the troops and scoutmasters around the nation get more training about this.

      • I know this happens. I know this is wrong. It hurts the boys, it hurts the Troops, and it hurts the program.

        Sometimes this is done subtly, just “suggesting” that the boy wait a little bit or maybe talking with the parents to explain why “he should wait another year”. Regardless, the damage is done. It is hard to fight “subtle” unless you’re alert to it.

        Sometimes this is done overtly, through a Troop or Scoutmaster policy. It is easier to fight this. An appeal to the District or Council level generally is all it takes. But if Mom & Dad don’t know that the Scoutmaster’s rule isn’t exactly “the final word” they might not push the issue.

  57. Mantowagan Takashin // August 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm // Reply

    As an Eagle myself, I enjoyed my climb up the Eagle mountain and was a Second Class Scout for two years. I know there are many parts to scouting I missed out on, however I am now also a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, received the Founders Award in the Order of the Arrow, and did have enough time to ‘over achieve’ with a bronze palm for my Eagle rank.

    I have told many scouts through the past years of working a summer camp that I do not respect rushing the journey and not enjoying your own personal achievements because you were too young to appreciate the accomplishments.

  58. I think there are a lot more distractions. Most high schools now require a kind of “service project”, there is pressure to be involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities that can be used as “resume points” on college applications. As has been mentioned, there’s been a lot of bad media for the program and more boys and some parents are less enthusiastic about admitting affiliation with such an upstanding group. That Eagles are getting their award in the last months of their eligibility indicates there are probably a lot of parents pushing them at the last minute to complete the requirements before they are rendered ineligible.

  59. Mantowagan Takashin // August 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm // Reply

    The ultimate adventure of camping in the Boy Scouts of America, the boy is searching for in the National Camping School emblem, encompasses more than a rank.

  60. More extracurricular activities. Social networking and other technologies also serve as distractions. Lack of support can also be a factor.

  61. I am 17 with only 4 months to go. I understand that I have to do some major work but I am aware and ready. We wait because we choose to enjoy scouting. Taking time allows us to learn skills and perfect them. I have nothing against scouters but I believe when a scout earns Eagle at 14 or 15 he has not perfected the scouting skills and taking your time may be a little dumb, but it shows how much you truly loved it.

  62. cody hulverson // August 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm // Reply

    i am a life scout and ii am 14 i hope to have my eagle very soon i have all ranks and badges i think kids are just finding more things to do then scouts

  63. Jacob Huber // August 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm // Reply

    The Eagle Board in my area rejected Eagle Scout applications from boys who were younger than 16, at least they said some of the boys that applied at age 13-14 were too young to get Eagle because they said they would quit Scouts after they got Eagle. If the Eagle Board in my area did that I’m pretty sure a lot of others did that too, which in my mind is unjust

    • As a Scoutmaster I would appeal that one.

      • scott rudisill // August 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm // Reply

        when i reached eagle at 14 i was just getting to the next step. Explorers: Philmont Boundry waters etc etc I think I stayed in up to 17 then high school events took over

    • I would appeal that decision as the Eagle Board is not the council itself and cannot add an additional age requirement. If the scout has completed the requirements, they should receive the eagle scout rank.

  64. More things going on. Sports, school, GIRLS, computers, work, etc. Or, in my case, I was more interested in camping, and hanging out with my buddies in scouts. It was just months before my 18th birthday that I accidently got enough merit badges to advance to Eagle. All I needed was a project, which I did. Took my board less than a month before my 18th birthday.

  65. Jarrod Cook // August 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    There are to many distraction as a youth i can say it from technology to girls. but also there isnt a push like there was i am lucky and had many wonderful leaders but most leaders and parents dont push like they should because we’re boys and we cant see the good behind it tell we are older

  66. I feel that the reason (at least in my council) is that there are so many hoops to jump through before the project is actually able to be carried out.

    • However, with the new “requirement 5″ for 2012, there shouldn’t be as many hoops.

      • The new Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook now has 21 pages (previous version was 16) and asks for much more detail than the previous Workbook. This will help the scout be more organized and better plan his project but there are a lot more hoops in this requirement now.

  67. scott rudisill // August 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm // Reply

    I agree with the consensus. I achieved mine at 14. Todays world is much more complex and filled with distractions. Even in 1971 there were many things to distract me. My high school buddy was also striving for Eagle so we had a healthy run for Eagle. As the post says “Always and Eagle”

  68. Because I have seen Scoutmasters delay advancement based on their own agendas and not on the program. Some have inserted rank/age requirements on Eagle Req’d MB, some have mandated attendance to rank, some have delayed Scoutmaster conferences because they either do not feel the Scout is “worthy” or simply because he does not feel the Scout is ready. Part of the problem is the adults involved.

  69. Sunny Ananth // August 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm // Reply

    Being a Boy Scout who did his Eagle at the age of thirteen, and plans to continue until at least eighteen, I believe that many people are ashamed to be a Boy Scout. I am not; at all. I would run down my school hallways proclaiming it and still feel no shame for being in a great program that teaches many useful skills. But this is hardly the usual case: many of my friends through Scouting ask me not to mention camps or things relating to Scouts at school, and say that they would hate it if their friends knew they were Scouts. I am yet to understand why they consider it bad…

  70. I made the Rank of Eagle at 14.9 years old on September 10, 1968. I was married with children by 17. In years past, people grew up quicker and became, in most cases responsible for themselves. People also just acted older. Frank Sinatra and the others of his time looked and acted really old when they were 40. They typically did not ride bikes, jog, etc.., Today we have people in their 40′s who Skateboard or ride a 20″ bike for a living. People are trying to stay young longer and have adopted the attitude that they are going to not stress so much and enjoy their life. But what it means is that we have more people are not responsible for their actions and the burden is placed more on the parents. When the Eagle feels it’s time for the little Eagles to get out of the nest, she picks them up and throws them out. She is there for guidance, but she does not do their work for them. Do we have too many young Eagles who are too comfortable in the nest?

  71. I like many others obtained my eagle. There was an enormous support system within the troop and camp dynamic in the Old Hickory Council. Camp was fun and we had a large troop so it required 2 campsites to accommodate us. We were active as a troop and my mentor was an Eagle Scout that took me under his wing so to speak. I was asked a question in my leadership review board for Tenderfoot to verify that I had completed the requirements and to ensure I was ready for the journey to Second Class. I had obtained all of the skill awards required to complete Tenderfoot and the typical knowledge questions were asked. Finally my mentor, may he rest in peace, asked me “What is your goal?” “What will you get from Scouting?” “What will Scouting get from you?” My answer to the first was to get one more palm than you did. (he smiled and told me good luck) The second question’s answer was knowledge on how to be a better person. The last answer was that I put back in as much as I get out so there will be something for others to learn later.
    I never knew the impact that my mentor and Scouting would have on my life or the impact that the Eagle Scout rank still makes in my life today I earned my 4th palm to not only meet my goal but, to keep a promise to Victor (my mentor). I dedicated the palm to him when I received it, as he had died earlier in the year with an aneurysm at the age of 21. He was motivational for me and to me.
    Scouting is not about teaching, it is about mentoring future leaders and the Eagle Scout rank embodies all of the drive, dedication and hard work needed by leaders today. The country could use a few Eagles in our government including the office of the President and bring the values we learned in Scouting and mentor the Nation in the direction we should go.
    There have been 3 different Boy Scout Handbooks used in my lifetime and 2 of those I used on my trail to Eagle.

  72. From when the Boy Scouts first started, there are more requirements to earn Eagle now. As far as youth earning their Eagle at ages 13, 14 and even 15, I would suggest they slow down. When boys earn eagle at that young of an age, they cannot completely transform through the journey. The biggest part of earning Eagle is developing from a boy to a man and developing into a strong leader. When kids are trying to rush through the program, they are defeating the purpose. To get Eagle as fast as they can is not what being an Eagle is all about.

  73. Michael Burgess // August 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm // Reply

    I beleive it takes longer to get the eagle today because around the age of 14 or 15 the boys start getting pressure from other areas. They are not proud to be a scout and will not wear the uniform. After the boys are a life scout it takes a lot of work to get the eagle. The boys do not want to take away from the other things they are doing to get the Eagle rank. To tell the truth I do not beleive it is as important to them as it is to their parents. When they get closer to 18 the parents apply a lot more pressure on the boys and they get it done.

  74. Ralph Wooden // August 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm // Reply

    An Eagle is an Eagle, so we need to avoid thinking of this as any sort of a problem. In fact, it might be safe to say that a Scout who earns his Eagle two-and-a-half years later is involved in the program two-and-a-half years longer, giving us that much more time to achieve our mission (“to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”).

  75. It wasn’t until the mid 1960s that the Eagle service project became a requirement. The project sometimes looms as a a “big deal” for Scouts who find it hard to come with a project idea and then proceed with execution. In addition, there are far more things today competing for a teenager’s attention.

  76. I think they should let adults wear the eagle rank on their uniform. This rank should be the only exception. Not just a little “knot” Most “young” scouts does not know what the “knots” are. They see adults or 18 to 25 year old wearing their eagle badge, it may give them the drive to get it and want to “be” like them. If the average age is 17.1 then we don’t have a whole lot of scouts “wearing” the eagle rank patch, then why have it?

  77. There is no honor in scouting for example the camps usurping the requirements for merit badges making camp a a merit badge mill BSA inspectors over looking accreditation policies, scouts who have a scoutmaster that has “here you go policy” and leave the scouts to there own devices. Men and women who have don’t have a clue on how to teach young men. Scouting chooses quantity versus quality it makes the bean counters look good and of course $$$$$$.

    Scouts are not proud: on the way they look, do projects, or their writing skills (something I work on every day). I believe their should be a certain amount of discipline within the troop….actually lot of the discipline should come from the parents, but the break down of the family causes a lot issues in scouting.

  78. It isn’t rocket science why it takes longer. In 1965 was the first time we saw the modern requirements of 21 merit badges and a list of 11 required badges; and for the first time required specific leadership and a community service project. Prior to this it was merit badges and rank advancement. I would also add that having 4 sons in scouts, 2 have achieved eagle rank, one a life scout and a current 1st class scout that the adults involved are frequently OVER ZEALOUS. Meaning that these adults too often create obstacles and requirements not listed in the project workbook. I have had to step in and ask that a final list of “extra requirements” be put in writing as a contract so the project to begin. I have no problem with the leadership and service project requirement. None, zip, nada ~ no problem. I think it is a very good thing. But, I think the adults cause the ‘final year scramble’ which results in the boys being older before eagle completion.

  79. It would be interesting to see the age getting Life. In my experience, we see many boys make it to Life very quickly (13 to 14) and then wait years (17+) to get it wrapped up. As advancement chair, it always gave me gray hair.

  80. I earned eagle a few months after my 14th birthday, Sept 22, 2004. I almost had it at 13 if it weren’t for the excessive paperwork. Worked up to brotherhood in the OA, and got a bronze palm on top of my Eagle. I left scouts at about age 15 or 16 to focus on other things I had wanted to do. What do u achieve by waiting to get eagle till ur 17? If one has the ability, i think giving all u got to reach ur goals is important, i was very driven and its a great lesson i still practice. In my experience a lot of people in my 9yrs of scouting werent there to reach a goal. My philosophy is very goal oriented, but it doesn’t make taking ur time and enjoying scouts wrong, i think people are just gradually becoming more carefree.

  81. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed. Then add the pressure to make sure the scout has a full resume for college (scouts, a job, other activities, sports and academic excellence, apply to and visit colleges) – it’s no wonder boys take longer to become an eagle scout. I also think that as long as a boy is still in high school, they should be allowed to stay in scouting and work on their eagle.

  82. I believe that the age is more dependent on the maturity of the boy. I think that there are some parents and mentors who push kids to get their Eagle rank as fast as they can, and this makes the journey that less meaningful. I want my son to take his time and enjoy all that Scouting has to offer. In my opinion a 14 year old boy is not mature enough to understand what it means to be an Eagle Scout.
    I am an old Eagle and my son is now a Life Scout at age 15.6. He is NOW old enough in his thoughts and actions that he is ready for the honor that becoming an Eagle Scout means. I know that he even understands that some of the kids that get their Eagle at a younger age are not ready for it. He has voiced this to me because he hears it at school from those kids that think its a competition to see who gets Eagle first. I reassure him that he is doing it the right way.

  83. Michael Reagan // August 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm // Reply

    I could be wrong and I am sure someone will tell me I am regardless but here goes. In 1949 Childhood was shorter. Kids were required to be working full time at a younger age, on the farm in a shop or some sort of family support position. The boys that were interested in achieving Eagle knew they had to finish it before they took a full time job and had to quit scouting. Today that is not as rampet as it was then. Scouting as a whole has declined over the years and yet today there are more Eagle Scouts promoted every year than there were back then. So whatever the reason, I think we are doing something right!

  84. I was one of those scouts that passed the board-barely- with about three hours to spare. The board members were hesitant to pass me until I gave them more details on how my project went and how it benefited the community. Since I was scheduled to depart for the Army in a few days I got my Eagle Award mailed to me. I’ve never worn the patch, but it sits prominently in a shadow box in my office. I had the usual distractions of a kid growing up in the late ’70s, but the biggest holdback was that I am a horrible procrastinator to this very day. Sadly, neither of my sons chose to follow me on the Eagle Trail. Maybe my grandchildren will take that route….

  85. Brian E. Loos // August 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm // Reply

    But why the increase? Eagle is mainly an American award. Though Boy Scouts or tough “Rain, Snow or Shine the Boy Scouts are always fine”, is it because leaders have gotten soft? Did scouting lower it’s standards? A lot of leaders seem to be in the “Don’t push/encourage” them arena now. When I was a kid, the parents that cared were always on the push. Finding a merit badge counselor was not part of the challenge, it was “Who did you get stuck saying yes to doing a badge with?” You couldn’t not be working on at least one badge all the time. If you showed up to 1 meeting a year, you were still working on a badge. Paperwork is also an issue. Adults and Scouts are just buried in it. It’s not so much a procrastination on doing the work as it is doing the paperwork. Again, this compounds. The Scout avoids doing it and the adults avoid/delay both distributing and processing it.

  86. Both of my sons completed Eagle just before their 18th birthdays. I think it is because they did not fully understand the meaning behind earning this rank and what it really means until they realized they were so close but still had a lot of work to do.

    The oldest completed everything and had his Scoutmaster’s Conference the day before his 18th Birthday in 2003. At that time he was also involved in Speech and Debate Club, Technical crew for the Drama Club and occasionally acting for the Drama Club.

    The youngest we hoped would have done differently but he also completed his requirements and had his Scoutmaster’s Conference 2 days before his 18th Birthday. Although not involved in a lot of extracurricular activities he set a goal to retain himself in the top 25 percentile of his class which he has done. During that time he completed Hiking, Family Life, Personal Management and Personal Fitness Merit Badges. His project was initially nixed and he had to scramble to find another one. The second time it was approved and he started at the end of June. The problem was the lumber company did not deliver the lumber for the project until 2:00 PM. The ground was prepped but the time to work was ending for the day. His troop then left for Summer Camp which he had opted to not attend in order to get the project completed. He spent afternoons and two weekends with his brother and mother along with the mentor of the project to complete it. It was finished the weekend before his Birthday and then the rush was on to get the application completed and insure the letters were sent to the Advancement Chair. Everything was completed on July 18, 2012. Council approved the application for the Board of Review and that was completed on August 1, 2012. National Eagle Scout Day.

    I think both of them understood along the trail the importance of achieving the highest rank in Scouting but just were not ready to accept it until they were close to their 18th Birthdays. As a Father and Scouter who have led both of them along the trail, I am proud of them as I am proud of all the young men who have achieved this honor along with all youth in the Scouting Programs. Yes, my daughter earned her Silver Award through the Venturing program.

  87. John Eppinger Jr // August 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm // Reply

    In the 80s when I was a Scoutmaster the average age of an Eagle Scout was 15 – 16 Years of age. It was a good age because then you could tap their experience to be an Instructor or Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. So did people “Eagle out”? They did when I was a youth member in the 60s. I knew some Scouts in one troop who when they achieved the rank of Eagle and were appointed to the position of Jr Assistant SM, they were scarcely at a troop meeting. But of course there was their Senior year in high school also. Now, the average national membership is much higher. Tenderfoot and Second Class Scouts can earn merit badges now whereas we weren’t allowed to work on any merit badges until we were First Class. As with all things, the Boy Scouting program changed after studies were conducted by the National Board. Is it easier nowadays? Maybe…but I am of the opinion that Scouts are drawn to many things these days such as youth sports leagues, travel teams, band, high school sports, etc. We didn’t have these, except for middle and high school sports, from the 60s through the 80s. Some Scouts are lucky to have very supportive parents and earn the rank early on while in the 10th and 11th grades. Others appreciate the outdoor activities a lot more than achieving the rank of Eagle. It’s all up to the individual. Is the rank of Eagle Scout any less because the national average annually has increased from 2% of all Scouts to 5% in 2011? I don’t think so because today the Eagle candidate has to learn to be a manager of people, a goal-setter, etc. My conclusion: it’s all up to the individual.

  88. Thomas Dillingham // August 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm // Reply

    There are many, many reasons that the average age of the boys who achieve Eagle, is going up.

    1. The Eagles themselves; Eagle Scouts who are now adults are the worlds WORST when it comes to approving the completion of requirements. These Men, who themselves were once Boys, seem to think it should be as “hard” as it was for them. In doing so, they almost ALWAYS overlook the fact that what is “hard” for a man is near impossible for a 12 to 14 year old. Things are relative, and Adult Eagle Scouts, have standards that are too high.
    2. Adult leaders who have the attitude that an Eagle Scout must be “mature”. This is CRAP, CRAP, CRAP… This one get’s under my skin, a boys physical, mental and emotional “age” will vary wildly between the age 12 and 18, and you CANNOT expect every Eagle to have the “maturity” of a grown man. “Maturity” is subjective, it is not absolute. Requirements are absolute, and the subjective approach taken by so many leaders is extremely unfair to Scouts who are 12 and want Eagle by 14. It can be done, but all it takes is ONE HARD HEADED ADULT to get in the way, and then the dream is crushed, because of the Adult and Scout learns nothing. When failing to meet a reasonable goal of Eagle at 14, is the failure of the Adult to provide the proper environment for success.
    3. Distraction…? I don’t agree! A Boy who wants Eagle, and is motivated by the achievement and fun of Scouting, will put the proper focus on Eagle. If they don’t want it at 12 they won’t want it at 17.9.
    4. Eagles with Broken Wings! Too many Boys are, so called, earning Eagle at a late age because Mom, Dad, Guardian, or someone else is attaching non Scouting related motivations to the completion of this Rank. Scouts who earn Eagle to get a new car, or to get a promotion in the Military, or to get into a College, or just to get someone off the issue, ARE NOT EAGLES. Often these are the Boys who become Men, that are Eagle Scouts that make it so difficult on the 12 year olds who want to earn Eagle… “If I couldn’t do it, well there is no way these kids can!”… I have heard this, and it makes me sick to my stomach.
    5. Lazy Adult Leaders!!! Yes, YOU all of YOU who take the easy way out as leaders, and allow poor meeting, activities that are not fun, you don’t camp enough, you don’t lead by example, you were given everything on a platter by your parent, now you are in your 50s and don’t want to work too hard, never worked hard a day in your life, and NOW you get to wear a uniform and be a leader. So, it’s “your way”, which is the “easiest” way you know. This is a poor example, and when you just set around the camp fire and say, “Let the Boys do it”, “They will figure it out”, “Boys lead, so I don’t have to do anything”… If those leaders would get up, and “be a part” of the Troop, be the first to setup a tent, the first to prep the gear, the first to be ready to help someone, be the person Scouts come to for advise, be the person to uses teachable moements, your Scouts would be Eagle at a much earlier age… … You know who you are, and if you are offended, Well…

    For the Record… I am not Eagle, I am a Life for Life, and have LEARNED more from my “failure” than I would have ever learned from earning my Eagle!!!

  89. Brian Kindron // August 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm // Reply

    I don’t think that it is a bad thing, especially given that more scouts make Eagle than ever before, 4 or 5% I think? When I made Eagle in 1986 it was about 1%. I made Eagle at 17 and I think many things get in the way but I think it gives a boy the chance to grow into being a leader.

  90. On Brian’s comment above: Yes, I agree the paperwork has compound things especially with the changes in the Eagle Application and the Eagle Leadership Project Workbook. Both require more detail from the Scout along with the Advancement Chair who has to ensure all of the Merit Badges are correct with the right dates the Scout has earned them. Then they have to match what is currently on Scout.Net and the On-line advancement records. Plus the project now has to be entered on the Good Turn for America site in order to be counted along with the total hours and numbers of the youth and adults who participated in the project.

    Paperwork is not only involved in the application and project process. It is also involved in the Merit Badge process. Worksheets have been developed so the Scouts can now enter their answers, achievements and findings in completing the requirements for the different merit badges. They are great and allow the boys to work on their own or in groups but the Merit Badge Councilor is to council, advise and now explain, demonstrate, guide and explain the requirements and tasks needed to complete the merit badge.

    With information and technology, accountability of a Scout’s progress is important for the bean counters but what happen to the first law of the Scout Law, A Scout is Trustworthy?

  91. I earned my Eagle in 1991 at 15 years, 5 months. I was shocked that my age was closer to the 1949 average than 2011′s, but not surprised by the average numbers.

    I firmly believe that it is a combination of factors that has led to the average age gap between the two eras (please forgive me in advance for the lengthy analysis; I tend to think this way):

    1) Competing activities like sports, music, and art, in addition to the Scout’s studies. Growing up in the late 80′s and early 90′s, something had to give. For me, it was piano lessons/practice. Between Scouting, school sports, and my studies, I was able to achieve a successful balance.

    2) The increased societal value of the automobile among teenagers between 1949 and 2011 is another huge factor. More teenagers have cars now than in the late 40′s and early 50′s. With the automobile comes independence, which allows for teenagers to travel further on dates–not just to the nearest place for some ice cream, but to the movies in the next county for a date. With more automobiles being driven by teenagers, teenagers are exposed to additional expenditures like gas, tires, oil, etc., which brings me to my next point.

    3) More teenagers are working part time jobs now. Go anywhere–whether it’s a fast food restaurant or a discount store–and more often than not, you are waited on by a teenager. The good teenage workers tend to get more hours and, as a result, organized activities like Scouting may take a hit.

    4) Advancement beyond Eagle is not well publicized, recognized, nor encouraged, in my opinion. When I transferred from a troop in Indiana (where I earned my Eagle) to a troop in Illinois, some of the Scouts questioned as to why I was still there. In other words, even though every Scout’s handbook had information about Eagle Palms, they were never really discussed at great length. Hence, I believe I became the first Eagle in my troop’s history to earn a Bronze, Gold, and Silver Palm before I turned eighteen.

    5) The mainstream media’s portrayal of Scouting over the years has not been positive. They somehow have managed to create a “stigma” that the values that Scouting promotes are of the minority and are outdated. I believe this contributes to some Scouts questioning whether they want to stick around, which is sad when an entity external to Scouting is deliberately attempting to erode our membership from within. Admittedly, I went through that in my journey to Eagle and beat down that perception by sticking to the Scout Law with everyone, even my non-Scout friends.

  92. I passed my board in 1999 at almost exactly 17.5 years old. I had earned Life by the time I was 13, mostly because I had gone to camp twice one summer. There was talk among the adults in my troop that I would be an Eagle by 14. This was probably the first motivation I had to slow down. I had always been kind of teased about being younger than all of the guys I crossed over with. I agree with a lot of what has been said on here about why the average age has risen. During the 4.5 years between my final advancement (I did earn two palms), I did SO much in scouting: SPL’d my troop twice, became more involved in OA, serving in inductions several times (and being awarded Vigil later in 1999, visited Sea Base, NOAC, and Jambo (SPL of my troop in 1997). I served my troop, district, and lodge for a number of years while a life scout. Now, I probably waited a bit too long to finish. I did work part-time and was very involved in band during high school. However, I believe that one of the most important things that came out of my waiting to earn my Eagle was the maturation that comes with time and with continued service. I will also say that I would probably have not appreciated all that I received from Scouting if I had gone ahead and been an Eagle by 14. For this, I am grateful for a bit of light teasing about my age.

    I have been working in a college/higher education environment since beginning college in 1999. The longer I have been around college students the more I realize just how many social/practical skills that today’s young people are missing. I feel that if more young men were involved in scouting and pushed to stay involved until they were 16, 17, or 18 they would be a lot better off. Many of the college students I meet are somewhat inept at being responsible, appreciative, and having common sense, yet I see many who make it through the scouting program who are better equipped than those who don’t. I think that by having young men earn eagle at a younger age and then “be done with it,” they are missing something that they could benefit from by staying involved. Of course, this isn’t all-encompassing, but I do feel it is true. Part of it also comes from having well-trained leaders and parents who fully understand that their sons can gain much more than recognition from being involved in the Boy Scouts. I think it would be interesting to compare numbers for troops of the number of boys who earn Eagle each year from their troop and the average age of those boys. My guess would be that those who average a high number of Eagles each year have a lower average age for their Eagles and vice versa. I question those troops who do produce a large number of Eagles every year and the quality of troop program they offer. I feel that my troop, at least while I was involved was very good about having a boy-run troop with well-trained leaders who looked to produce high-quality Eagle Scouts. Thanks for reading!

  93. Mom of a Scout // August 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm // Reply

    I think so many scouts are involved in many activities. For instance, last year my son played on a school sport team each season (cross country, wrestling and lacrosse). In addition, he got a lead role in a musical at a local theatre that ran 5 weeks — 6 shows per week at night and was not home until 11 pm most nights. He also sees an organizational tutor each week and takes private voice lessons. He is in 8th grade this upcoming year and is just now First Class (he joined scouts in 5th grade). We as parents of course allowed all these activities but in the end he was up to the challenge and actually has one of his best years academically.

    My son’s troop also is very boy led. And as such, the focus on advancement can be lost. Parental involvement is minimal. So each scout has to find their own ambition.

    Also, I think being a Scout has somewhat become politcally incorrect in many eyes. Many feel that scouts are discriminatory and it’s hard to argue that when you are a young boy, so I wonder if more boys don’t join or drop out.

    We are hopeful he will get to Star and Life Scout this school year. And perhaps take a few years to reach Eagle.

    I must say that our experience and more importantly our son’s experience has been nothing but fantastic. This is the one activity that he is involved in where all the boys really seem to care for one another and are willing to help each other. There is a spirit of comradery that we have not found elsewhere. The focus among the Boy Scouts is not competition but success for everyone.

  94. In 1949, Sea Scouts and Exploring, which is today’s Venturing, were more well known and had larger membership numbers than today’s Sea Scouts and Venturing programs have. Boy Scouts could move to these programs at 15 to work on Quartermaster, and the Explorer Ranger Award (the highest Explorer award from 1944-1949), and Explorer Silver Award (highest Explorer award from 1949- 1964). So Boy Scouts had an incentive to get Eagle and move on to the next challenge.

    I would like to see stats on all three awards from then and compare them to today’s stats on Eagle, Quartermaster, and Silver Awards.

  95. Scouter Dad // August 15, 2012 at 9:54 am // Reply

    My older son got excited about earning Eagle Scout rank when he worked at his first Eagle Scout Project just after he became a First Class Scout. He planned out his progress with the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout before high school, and he did it.

    With my younger son, I have issues because my ex-wife does not support his involvement in Scouting. If he were to advance to Eagle Scout as quickly as his brother did, she would pressure him to stop participating. I have to balance his rank advancement with other activities, such as more elective merit badges and OA, to keep his interest and avoid her interference.

  96. I spent quite a bit of time at Tenderfoot focusing on getting all of the skill awards (the metal belt tokens that have since gone away). In the mean time I was also earning the various merit badges. After that, 2nd, 1st, Star, and Life came fairly quickly. I also spent a while at Life just to enjoy all of the troop activities.

  97. I got the Eagle rank a little before I turned 17 (beginning of junior year), which was the earliest out of my group of friends in my troop. I think the huge disparity in the average age of Eagle Scouts over the years is mainly attributed to one of two things: 1) Getting into college has become so much harder over the years, that students cannot become one-trick ponies and solely devote their time to one extra-curricular activity. When applying for colleges, a student has to show that he is versatile with a wide-array of activities, and therefore puts attaining Eagle on the back-burner a bit and focuses on college. This I think was very rampant among my friends as we all came from an extremely competitive high school (#1 academically in CA at the time).
    2) The Scout is just plain lazy. Getting to Life is relatively easy compared to what a Scout has to do beyond Life (i.e. Eagle Project). So many from my old troop at least got to Life relatively fast, and had a period of 2-3 years where they would procrastinate on their Eagle Project, and then in the last 6 months realize that they were going to turn 18 and rush everything after that. There was a 14 year-old Eagle Scout in my troop, but that was extremely rare. I would say that over the course of the past 3 years, 95% of the Eagle Scouts were in the last 6 months of Boy Scout eligibility.

  98. Sebastian Vera // August 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm // Reply

    An Eagle Scout is dedicated, so if he needs to take time for school and an extracurricular activity he will because he’s dedicated. Also why rush such a wonderful experience?

  99. James Scheppers // August 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm // Reply

    You also to see the requirements added to rank advancements. Back in 1910 there were FAR fewer requirements than there are today, it’s tough to finish those. I know some people are just lazy, or get sidetracked with school/extracurriculars, but there is a true challenge there. Granted, we have access to the internet, but we still gotta DO IT. Times are tough now, especially with the service project required for the Eagle badge, I know my eagle project was relatively cheap ($500) but it’s hard to raise money for it. I also believe it’s better for the young men to earn it at an older age.

    It may be crazy that the average age is 17 yrs and 11 months, but they also learn valuable skills in time management, leadership, and even, if it happens, regret. The current scoutmaster in my troop says that his biggest regret is not earning eagle scout, and if a young man fails to reach that goal, he will most likely regret that. It may be tough, but younger guys (12-13 year old) wont understand that as well as 17 years.

  100. I got my Eagle Feburary of this year. I was 17 and 7 months old. It took me that long cause I had sports (Football, Wrestling, Swimming, Track, Golf and Cross Country for all 4 yrs) I had lots of Homework, I had History Academic team, 4-H, FFA and work to do around my family farm. But the biggest reason that it too so long was cause I took my time and enjoyed what I had at the time I knew that once I got my Eagle scouting wouldn’t be as fun for me as it was and I was right scouting was boring for me until July when my troop went to Philmont. But those are my reasons. I had a friend in my Troop who I was competing with to get Eagle First. Well when I joined he was first class and I was a tenderfoot (moved to a different area so had to join a new troop). Well I started working my butt off and finally caught him and he the started working towards it. we both became Stars at the same time but he stopped after that cause he got a car, a girlfriend and a job. His girlfriend always distracted him and would ask him not to come to the meetings and some of his new friends made fun of scouting so he just stopped coming entirely.

  101. The comment of one of the discussants seemed to indicate that it is not within regulations for adult scout leaders to wear Eagle pins they had earned as scouts. When I was a scout in the 1950′s in Ohio, scoutmasters and other adult scouters who had earned the rank as scouts would wear their Eagle medals (but no other awards) on special occasions such as troop courts of honor. It very much inspired us as scouts to see this. Is this the current policy of the BSA?

    • A very common misconception is that you cannot wear your Eagle medal for special occasions, i.e. COHs, Blue and Golds, district banquets, etc., because you are wearing your Eagle knot.

      It is OK per the Insignia Guide to wear the Eagle medal, or any other medal, with the knot on special occasions.

    • JK wrote and asked: “The comment of one of the discussants seemed to indicate that it is not within regulations for adult scout leaders to wear Eagle pins they had earned as scouts.”

      Here’s the skinny: adult Eagle Scouts wear a small cloth red/white/blue square knot emblem on their uniforms — that denotes that they have earned Eagle. Add the highest combination of Palms earned (and if they were honored as a Distinguished Eagle Scout, the gold Eagle lapel pin “device”) and that’s how they display the fact that they have earned the Eagle award *informally* (like at a Troop meeting, a regular district or council meeting, regular Troop courts of honor, camping in the outdoors, etc. etc. etc.)

      During FORMAL events, however (Eagle Scout courts of honor, district or Council dinners, national dinners, etc. etc. etc.) Eagle Scouts are ENCOURAGED to wear their medal with the highest combination of palms earned on the ribbon of the medal — which is worn with or without the “square knot emblem” on the uniform shirt (most Scouters only have one shirt and they wear that informally as well as formally).

      The other pins — Eagle mentor, parent of an Eagle, etc. — are worn ONLY WITH CIVILIAN (“street or dress”) clothing — they were NOT DESIGNED for uniform wear. We turn our backs a lot, however, because we know how proud those people are at being recognized as either an mentor of an Eagle Scout or as the parent of one of us.

      “When I was a scout in the 1950′s in Ohio, scoutmasters and other adult scouters who had earned the rank as scouts would wear their Eagle medals (but no other awards) on special occasions such as troop courts of honor. It very much inspired us as scouts to see this. Is this the current policy of the BSA?”

      It is…but most Eagles prefer to wear the Eagle medal itself only during Eagle Scout courts of honor, whereby the honor is much higher and the recognition of “being a part of a distinctive group” is something special indeed. I don’t know how many Eagle Courts of Honor I’ve attended whereby all of those who have earned Eagle surpassed all of the Scouts in the Troop. We seem to come out of the woodwork for those events — but having many (most) of those same fellas to show up at a regular Troop meeting….nah….

      (The Eagle square knot emblem is the adult “display” of the Eagle Scout award…)

      • Your comment about the Eagle Mentor, Eagle Dad pins is spot on. I get irritated when I see them being worn, and get irritated comments when I make a polite comment that the pins are not uniform items.

        • I’m usually a bear on proper uniform wear but I find it hard to get worked up when someone adds something that adds to the spirit of Scouting like the Eagle Mentor or Eagle Dad pins. Surely we have more important things to annoy volunteers with. ;)

      • Do formal events include Scout Sunday (1st Sunday before the BSA anniversary) at church?

  102. My son – now 18 – earned his Eagle at 17 years, 4 months. When he joined Scouts at age 11 from Webelos, he was super eager and motivated. He went on every campout, every hike, attended almost every meeting, and earned merit badge after merit badge. He advanced rapidly up the ranks. That all came to a screeching halt at age 15 when sophomore year began. His interest waned and he barely stayed in Scouts. High school with all its distractions derailed him (as did computer gaming). What brought him back was Philmont. He hiked Philmont twice, once at age 14 and again at 16. The 2nd hike rekindled his interest and he went on to earn Eagle. He says it was the penultimate achievement of his life and he is very proud of it.

  103. Ajapeu Ajapeu // August 16, 2012 at 6:27 am // Reply

    As a 35 year Scouter, I’ve seen my share of young men attain the rank of Eagle. I’ve been affiliated with 4 different troops (ASM, SM & UC) in 2 different states and I’ve seen a range of troop cultures. One common denominator I’ve observed is that boys follow the example of their piers. Two of the troops had a “tradition” of late career Eagles, typically boys earning Life by their 13th or 14th birthday and then coasting, often becoming very inactive in the troop until they close in on their 18th birthday and reappear, often in a panic to complete their Eagle. The other 2 troops had programs and leaders that inspired the boys to keep their momentum and when achieving their Life rank helped set their goal to complete Eagle promptly. These Life scouts often attained Eagle at late 14 or early 15 years of age, ahead of the “fumes” distraction. One of the 2 “early” Eagle troops in particular realized the importance of a challenging program for the older scouts and had an active venture patrol to keep the older boys interested in the program while serving as role models for the younger scouts. It was rare that the older boys didn’t attend an outing. I was the charter SM for this troop and the of the 6 boys who started this unit, 5 attended Philmont, 4 became certified scuba divers and all 6 attained Eagle and remained active in the troop and went off to college, leaving the troop as ASM’s. The troop grew to over 32 boys within 3 years. I didn’t discourage my own son from completing his Eagle at 15 (the second of the group to earn his Eagle) and he left the troop with a silver palm, Philmont, National Jamboree & OA Vigil. What all 4 troops had in common was a culture that the young Tenderfoot scouts observed and emulated – if it was “cool” for Joe to lay low for a couple of years to complete his Eagle, then it is okay for me. These 6 Scouts all had a life outside of scouting as several boys were active in the marching band, athletics etc. but still found time to be active in the unit. Put on a program to keep the older youth interested, attend out-of-council camps on occasion (for variety) and don’t discourage the boys from attaining Eagle. “Eagle Out” should not be in your troops vocabulary.

  104. David Smothers // August 16, 2012 at 8:31 am // Reply

    Our son earned his Eagle at 15 and is now working on his second Palm (still 15 yrs 5 months). His wants to be an example for the younger scouts and this seems to really drive him to be a mentor for these guys that on on their Eagle Trail. As a parent, I have watched older guys drop out but worse ridicule young guys that aspire to get their eagle. My Eagle..Matt Smothers…wants to change this in our Troop and it working hard to do so. I see more Scouts in our Troop moving ahead now and will break the trend of the 17.1 age. Proud of my Scout and Scouting!

  105. Not having been a scout as a young man, but having a son who has been involved in Scouting (Cub and Boy Scouts) since 2004, I have seen a fair share of Scouts who seem to be on the “fast track” to earn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. I see several Boy Scouts within our troop, at or below age 14, that are one requirement or so away from Eagle Scout. A good number of scouts and adults think this is a wonderful achievement. I am in the minority, and believe that at age 14 most (not all) boys that I have seen, do not have the personal, emotional, and social maturity to completely appreciate what achieving Eagle Scout rank really means. It becomes a race to some, to get their Eagle badge at a younger age than the last scout achieving that rank. I know that our Advancements Chair loves it, because it makes our “Journey to Excellence” (previously Quality Unit Award) statistics look really good, and shows that we are equalling or exceeding our previous years’ numbers. As a parent, who sought for a way in which my son would grow personally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially, along with having the virtues of the Scout Oath and Law mean more than just some memorized recitations, I have no issues with my son taking longer to achieve his Eagle Rank. As far as “raising their parents’ blood pressures in the process” (from the article above), it’s not really about the parents – or at least it shouldn’t be. Eagle Rank will be my son’s achievement, and only his. Yes, his mother and I will guide him along the way, and will offer advice and help when requested, but at this point in his life, this level of achievment MUST be his effort, and only his effort. The life of a young man today offers so many opportunities – opportunities that in my opinion, contribute to the whole of the future Eagle Scout. High School activities, clubs, sports, plays, acedemics, and social life, all contribute to solidifying what the virtue of scouting attempts to instill in our young men. If it takes longer, but keeps my son actively involved during that longer time period, then that’s a win-win for the troop and my son. If his interest wanes, then just maybe his heart wasn’t really in it, or he may need to take a break to understand where scouting fits into his life. And if a scout reaches 18 years old, and only gets to 1st Class or Star Rank, but was actively involved and had a great time with his scouting friends and enjoying the outdoors, I will always see that scout as having been much more successful than a 14 year old Eagle Scout, who reached the top too early, stops participating in Troop activities, and isn’t mature enough to know the value of what he has achieved. I don’t believe the 18 age limit would have been set to that age, unless some insightful people years ago didn’t think it was for a good reason. Life throws curveballs to everyone, youth and adults alike. Allowing a scout the time to get back on track, regardless of why he stopped, drifted, or was distracted, is the least that we can still offer to complete his journey. Oh, and by the way, more scouts are achieving Eagle today than before. And if it takes longer, it takes longer. Deal with it….

    • I can’t disagree more. Attaining Eagle at 14 shows the potential of this scout is high and the challenge for the scouters is to keep him engaged to encourage younger scout to achieve the same. Nothing but total benefits this scout who can wear his eagle badge for four more years of learning and growing. It shows he did not slough off in attaining his goal to become an Eagle and will continue to attain great things. Don’t hold these kids back! You only do a disservice to them, your troop and the scouting program. I earned my Eagle when I was 15.

    • "Atticus Finch" // August 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm // Reply

      Dan H, couldnt agree with you more! I have seen a lot of Boys in our District who are racing to beat the other boys, and they have no idea why they are doing rank requirements and/or MB’s. In my opinion, a 14-15 year old Eagle cant understand Leadership, except to recite what he has been told to recite. It does not surprise me that the percentage of Scouts attaining Eagle has gone up. It seems obvious to me that many organizations – in my opinion – are making it more and more easy to get to Eagle, so they can boast their organization’s achievment. And the threashold of quality seems to be getting lower and lower….for the organization’s achievment sake.
      Sat in on several Eagle BOR’s last night. By far, the older scout’s answers, comments and interaction displayed a depth and complexity of reasoning obviously missing in the younger candidates.
      Finally, dont get me wrong…. Eagle, whenever you can! And enjoy the ride even if you dont Eagle!

    • I WAS a Scout as a young man and have been a Scouter for nearly 25 years now and I agree. I would much rather have an Eagle Scout who truly knows his stuff and exemplifies what the general public thinks of as an Eagle Scout than a 14 year old who has been run through the mill and is unprepared. That’s not to say I’m against 14 year old Eagle Scouts but the majority I’ve met have not measured up to what I expected of an Eagle and could have used another year or two of seasoning.

      • Being the Eagle Chair and have had almost 20 Eagles under my watch, the 17 year, 363 day Eagles are not getting the benefit of the rank and returning to contribute to the troop and act as mentors/ leaders. They just get their rank and leave, usually for school.

        Now on the other hand the boys that got Eagle at 14-15 years old stay around, develop their leadership skills, and are able to be mentored by the adult leaders. They might not have been “mature or ready” at that age but almost all of them have gotten the benefit and passed on the torch to the younger scouts through their growth to maturity.

        • Our Troop has had a fair number of 17 year 364 day Eagle Scouts as well. My experience has been that those boys can and do show leadership and give back to the program during their entire Scout careers. They don’t have to have that Eagle Pin and rank patch to show those skills. Having just helped my own son reach that pinnacle by providing information (addresses for the thank you letters, etc.) and proofreading for typos and inaccuracies, the paperwork is truly mind boggling. I don’t think it helped him any that his project was valued at almost $6,000, not including labor costs (800 + service hours recorded for his project!) I have watched him and his cohorts provide leadership and service throughout their time in scouts. It’s just icing on the cake that they made eagle before they aged out from my perspective.

  106. Tamara Butler // August 17, 2012 at 9:13 am // Reply

    Both of my sons got their Eagles at 171/2. For us in our troop it was not a pleasant ride. Trained leadership has been a huge issue. Not getting the boys and parents info has been a greater issue. We just had our sons Eagle Court of Honor and as nice of an event as it was, I was still disappointed in the fact that the Scoutmaster was scolding scouts for not showing up in uniform and he himself was not in uniform. He was asked to participate in the ceremony, of course. But also changed some items to the program which was unacceptable. I’ve been very discouraged with our program in our unit but can say proudly that both of my sons earned, worked hard to make sure they earned their Eagle.

    • I do agree…
      It iratates me too when Scouts show up not in uniform. But a lot of them are just getting out of their sports activities after school. So their excuse is that they don’t want to carry their uniforms into school with them. I have suggested putting at least your Class A Shirt, in your parents car the night before, and wearing your pants that day. Or they could at least roll the pants up and put them in their gym bag, till after practice, the Game to put on.
      Still there are Units out there that don’t require pants, and socks, because of the fact that the Scouts, are going through a lot of growth spruts, and are just happy when you show up.

    • Deaf Scouter & Eagle Mom // August 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm // Reply

      I’m stunned to read the Scoutmaster didn’t even show up in uniform for the Eagle Court of Honor. ALL Court of Honor are CLASS A events!!! We even have neighboring Troops, Council and District leaders showing up at ours in FULL UNIFORM to lend their support and congratulations to the newest Eagle for earning this highest honor even if they themselves are NOT participating in the ceremony. Your Scoutmaster show should be quietly and privately rebuked with a simple if they aren’t one should look at their own dress code to set the EXAMPLE.

  107. In my experience in sitting on many Eagle Board of Reviews I have found that a 14 year old can give answers with just as much interaction, complexity and dept of reasoning as many 17-18 year olds. I have also reviewed 17-18 year olds who could not interact or give any depth of reasoning to their answers any better than a younger scout. There is no requirement for the board to review to judge his maturity or their appreciation for the rank. I have found that if a scout early his Eagle early is just as proud and appreciative of his award as any. I have also found that the 17+ year old is too busy cramming in the last of their requirements to meet the cut off age that they do not get a chance to wear their Eagle badge very long on their uniform with the pride that a younger scout can. I have not seen any 17+ year old even bother to sew their Eagle badge on their uniform due to having to switch it out in a few months for the adult knot. Any scout earning his eagle at an early age should be noting but celebrated! Eagle at 14 years old, ROCK ON!

  108. Deaf Scouter & Eagle Mom // August 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm // Reply

    Distractions is the main key as other activities compete with Scouting. Its not just for the Scouts who have distractions but also distractions in Adult Leadership and families who provide the support to the Scouts. For the Adult Leadership, there is succession, learning new roles and providing a Scout program that can make priority lists quicker than the Eagle projects. (This is why its important to have a Troop Eagle Coach who’s priority is helping with Eagle projects.) Families juggle many things within their family unit that can put the Eagle project on hold until the last year of the youth leaders’ (Scouts) when emphasis is placed on the family (Scout) that they only have one year until their son reaches his 18th birthday.

    As for the earlier comment on EBOR (Eagle Board of Review), none should be making an age requirement as there is none stated in the BSA (National’s) Advancement Rule book except that a Scout must make it by their 18th birthday. Councils should not be making changes to this and forcing youth leaders (Scouts) to wait until later ages at the EBOR level. Some youth leaders and their support systems are realizing the advantage of doing the Scouting program of the Trail to Eagle at an earlier age before distractions hits. The youth leaders still learn and fulfill the same requirements at rank/ advancement regardless of their age. Their Eagle project may reflect their level of ability. By this I mean that a younger youth leader may have a less complicated Eagle project based on their skills and ability yet still have the same steps to obtain and learn in doing an Eagle project.

  109. Dan Kurtenbach // August 20, 2012 at 9:32 am // Reply

    Bruce (Aug 14 Comment) has it right: “It isn’t rocket science why it takes longer. In 1965 was the first time we saw the modern requirements of 21 merit badges and a list of 11 required badges; and for the first time required specific leadership and a community service project.” I would add that, unlike Tenderfoot through Life, Eagle Scout rank is a bureaucratic paperwork drill, made that way by “gatekeepers” who think Eagle Scout rank is sacred and want to keep the number of Eagle Scouts down. If Eagle Scout rank requirements were just like Star and Life (merit badges + Position of Responsibility + service hours + teaching), the number of Eagle Scouts would skyrocket and the average age would drop back to 14.

  110. This notion that you can get your Eagle award too early is very short sided. I would say that that scouting program actually encourages the boys to attain this award before they turn 14 or at their 14th birthday. The venturing program starts for a boy at age 14. If he does not have his eagle by 14 then his involvement with the program is fragmented and split between venturing and attaining his eagle. The awards in the venturing program are designed for older scouts and the challenges and work build on the scouting program that they for a lack of better words “graduated from” . Before thinking about taking the long road to eagle perhaps take a moment to look at the venturing program all the awards and things it has to offer a boy who is ready and can focus on it.

    An eagle scout award by itself is impressive. But a boy with an eagle with multiple palms, along with a venturing ranger award, silver award, trust award, and quest award is very, very impressive.

    • While I agree with the point about venturing, I will add that this is only valid if there are sufficient Venturing Crews nearby. When i was in the scouts the closest Explorer Post was an hour or more away and it was prohibitive with other things I was involved with to attend. Hence why I stayed with Boy Scouts for so long. Note this still shouldn’t mater in terms of when Eagle is earned, but not everyone has good access to Venturing, yet.

      • Take the venturing program out of the equasion. Still Why would a person want to delay the lessons a young man learns with the work that comes in earning an eagle award? A boy who has earned his eagle by 14 has had 6 board of reviews for rank advancement, they have sat in front of merit badge counselors at least 21 times and been accountable for the work they have done. They have done a project that required planning, delegation, follow up, and hard work as they have completed an eagle project. They have had to make the choice to work on what needs to be done with scouting to get all of their merit badges with in deadlines. They have managed their money and time, know about fitness and health, know how their government works at a local and national level, they have confidence and pride in starting and finishing projects. Why wouldn’t you want a boy to have these experiences as early as possible?

        • Maybe you misunderstood the entirety of my Point. Venturing is a separate program and really IMO should not have bearing on the time frame for getting eagle, earlier or later. I agree with Roy, to a point. there is one thing I did see when i was a boy, was boys just racing through MBs at camp for the first few years, and then seemingly not wanting to be active in the troop outside of the Summer months. But I agree a boy who has all those requirements at 13, 14, heck Age should not be a factor for Eagle Scout.

    • “If he does not have his eagle by 14 then his involvement with the program is fragmented and split between venturing and attaining his eagle.”

      If a Scout has earned First Class by the time he joins Venturing, he is still able to work towards Eagle within the Venture Crew.

  111. I think this points to a shift in other interests that scouts participate in now. But also a shift away from Patrol to Troop. The natural organization for adults is Troop, especially if older scouts are the youth leadership. We have found when we get better operating Patrols, we actually get more involvement and advancement. My father and grandfather’s experience was more Patrol within a Troop versus Troop with weak Patrol assignments. I prefer the strong Patrol method and observe when adults need for efficiencies skew this to Troop down organization. An Eagle should get to own and wear the rank not put it in his pocket 5 minutes before his 18th B’Day.

  112. Alright. My troop has an average of turning in their Eagle papers at the age of 17 years and 364 days. That definitely raises the blood pressure of many of the adults (not just their parents). That’s just tradition, you could say.

    I think the reason why is that the requirements have changed. If I’m correct, there originally wasn’t even a Star or Life rank. After First Class, you went straight to Eagle. Also, the overall Eagle requirements have lengthened. More MBs total, more demanding requirements overall.

    • Requirement changes causing 17/363 is an excuse. No reason to be completed between 14-16 years old if there is a desire.

  113. Eagleparent@13 // December 4, 2012 at 6:13 am // Reply

    BSA requirements do not set an age floor, only a ceiling. So, if the scout is on a roll and feels inspired to complete the requirements they should never be held back.
    I’ve also seen very mature 13 year olds that showed more leadership skills than than their 17 year old troopmates.
    Chances are good they will seek other interests and not complete their eagle requirements.

  114. Frank D. Lupton, Jr. // January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm // Reply

    Leadership opportunities increased greatly for me when older scouts in our troop left to join a new Explorer Post. I chose to remain in the troop to provide needed leadership. I got my Eagle in two years when I was 14 in 1946 when boys had to be 12 years old to be a scout. I believe that there are great differences in maturity and some scouts are more ready for leadership than others. All scouts should be encouraged and supported to the maximum to work toward becoming an Eagle Scout. The maturity will surface for those scouts who work to be leaders in the troop with great support from adult leaders who are sensitive to their own responsibilities. Scouting needs great role models in every troop to show the trail to Eagle for all scouts.

  115. I think it is a lot of things. First of all, as a society, adolescence isn’t what it once was. It used to be a short time of transition between childhood and adulthood. Now, it is this very very long (8/9/10-25/26) of much freedom and limited responsibility. With that comes little incentive to work hard at anything. There are also a lot more things competing for a scout’s attention (at ALL levels)

    I do think you can attain Eagle too soon….my brother did (a few days shy of 13) and he regrets it. On the flip side, I don’t think it should be rushed at the end of scouting either….as it cheapens it. Take the TIME to do it right, those memories will last a lifetime.

  116. In 1974 I had my Eagle BOR two weeks after my 16th birthday. The two other Eagles from my troop at the time and the prior three all had their BOR’s after they were 18. In recent years I was an advancement coordinator and found myself arranging for BORs for scouts within hours of their 18th birthday. One factor is that these guys were Life scouts at 14 years old, just before they entered high school. They were now focused on college and found at 17.5 years they were missing up to five Eagle badges and a project. The other factor was obstructive scoutmasters who made up their own rules in violation of the Guide to Advancement in the face of unknowing parents and committee members. I meet many leaders who think they can put minimum age requirement on the rank so they can force the boys to be active until 18. A cub master asked me to use my “power” as a unit commissioner to “stop these 14 year old Eagles” I replied’ “stop them from doing what?”. He thought that if a boy finishes his requirements at 13 or 14 its because we are giving away the rank. That’s some conspiracy of all the merit badge counselors in the district, camp and all of the leaders signing off Tenderfoot requirements to get a scout to Eagle at 14. All scouts are not the same. Someone on the other side of the district or council should not be judging boys they will never meet. Why should anyone undermine or sabotage someone who is already showing that they have great ability.

  117. One word answer: Lazy

  118. Well as a parent I can understand why it takes so long for a boy to earn his eagle if you live in the tar river district because they make up there own rules.

  119. I agree with Lizzie of Tar River District. As a parent and active Scouter I have heard some bizarre comments (from other Scouters) and encountered some equally bizarre unit “requirements” that are in direct violation of BSA Policy. I have found that the problem is that almost no one reads the current BSA published documentation (Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmasters Handbook, SPL Handbook, Patrol Leader Handbook, Guide to Advancement, Guide to Safe Scouting, Committee Guide, etc.), and very few truly understand what LEADERSHIP is. Almost all are going by the “what someone told someone chain” or “we’ve always done it that way” rationale, and NONE of these hear-say excuses are written/published anywhere – you just discover them by the landmine method (unknowingly stepping on one of them). It appears to be more prevalent among the more “experienced” Scouters. The solution is to READ, READ, READ; and DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Go to the Unit Key 3 (Unit Charter Representative, Unit Committee Chair, and Scoutmaster) politely with what you have learned, documented, and recommendations. If they refuse to bring Unit policy into compliance, you will have to go up the chain to the District Executive; but tell them before you do it so they have the opportunity to reconsider the folly of their intransigence. I have had contact with Scouters from several other councils, and they ALL have the same problem. The only way to stop this problem is constant vigilance and polite, but insistent, pushing both from the bottom up and from the top down.

    Odie

    • Pat,
      You hit the nail on the head. Your experience is NOT unique. I wish I could say it was, but it isn’t. Your approach is really only one that might work. Sometimes however, your told to just leave because you don’t fit in when you want to follow the BSA guidelines and policy. Adding “requirements” to what are the published requirements have been one of the reasons I have seen an increase in time. The other is the addition of an “age requirements” by the local Scoutmaster.

  120. Scoutmasters.

  121. There are numerous reasons in different units, districts or locales. First there are parents who take no interest in knowing what the program is, what it offers and that there are rules and guidelines. They rely on what the adult leaders tell them. Some scoutmasters and their youth run great programs that continually offer everything needed for a boy to reach Eagle by age fourteen. Many think that the entire BSA program occurs in a single room where a troop meets. They don’t know that there are opportunities out there in the council, region, country or the world that you access starting at age 14. As a result many scoutmasters slow the process down so they can hold onto the boys by holding advancement over their heads. My opinion is that if you can become an Eagle earlier you have time for the OA, camp staffing, regional and national programs and being available to the council for events. You will also have and the time to complete a more meaningful leadership project other than a quick garbage can and paintbrush job. You get more scouting because you are not almost an adult and chasing the last merit badge. If a boy is college bound and not at a higher rank before high school they now have a higher workload in school, more choices of clubs and teams and less time for advancement. Scouting is dropped during the critical junior year and picked up at seventeen and a half chasing the last five merit badges and possible doing a short-cut project. There are some that point to the last minute Eagles and say that a fifteen year old can’t be an Eagle because they are not as mature as the seventeen year old. But the scout that can read the requirements, organize their time and develop a work ethic and finish earlier is actually more mature. You should not expect a fourteen year old to perform the same way in a board of review as someone who is about to turn eighteen. Scouts that are Eagle earlier can enjoy their accomplishment and provide a good example for younger boys. Scouts that go to a board of review three hours before their 18th birthday never get to wear their patch and go directly to the square knot and may never return to scouting. I have a real distain for scoutmasters that make up their own rules and committees that rubber stamp everything. Not all boys are the same. Some scoutmasters go by the school year. In a typical junior high school class there are students of three different ages. In our case, we had a change in leadership where the new scoutmaster held fourteen and fifteen year olds back more than a year so his son could catch up and become an Eagle first. Only then were the other boys allowed to pursue their projects.
    This is not Fidel Castro’s pioneers. We as parents do not give up our rights to our children. Parents have plans for their children and a scoutmaster should not get between children and the parents nor should the scoutmaster interfere with family operations or marriages. We are of the opinion that scouts should try to reach the Eagle rank before they are loaded up with high school classes and activities and enjoy their last years as scouts as true leaders and examples to the community.

  122. In my sons troop they are also making up their own rules. Boys who are earning their Star or Life badges can do so only if the they plan, organize, and staff their own service projects. The guide to advancement clearly states that they only have to participate in service hours and specifically points out that the scouts do not need to plan and supervise. My son helped out on other scouts eagle projects and was told those hours don’t count. One family that took this issue to council was eventually pushed out of the troop as trouble makers for making a fuss against a scout master who has been deemed “untouchable”. After this at least 3 families have left the troop. Those scout that remain will do as they are told and be stalled.

    • I must disagree with this previous comment. But, of course, I would have to observe the actual practice in action. It seems to me that boys who plan a service project for Star and Life accomplish many things:
      One the greatest being – Leadership Experience. As long as the requirement isn’t being done as a “right of passage”, the belief that Community service done as advancement for rank aught to be more than the ‘good turn’, we all should be doing as an active Scout and/or Scouter.
      2) Valuable experience in putting on a project. (surely the minimum 6 hours is still much less than the dozens of hours required for a proper Eagle project) And I believe this previous experience increases success on an Eagle Project.
      3) Plus, in contrast to what Rick says, the Scout book does actually state: “Service Projects are ideal opportunities for Scouts to use skills of self-leadership and leading others. A Scout should ‘have a vision of what a successful project looks like’ and be able to ‘figure out the steps to get there”.

      Hopefully, Scoutmasters use the Service Project in this manner, and not as a barrier/hurdle for advancement.

      • I agree that that planning and leading a project has more to accomplish but that is NOT what the requirement states. BSA have spent of lot of time into these requirements and a poor scout shouldn’t have to end up following some made up rules that some lousy scoutmaster said just because he thought it was more valuable. Once again I agree that leadership is important but the scout will get to that for Eagle.
        Do what the requirement states, it is made to make things fair, not easier.

  123. I understand that up until the 1960′s an Eagle Service Project wasn’t even required for the rank of Eagle. My son just finished his project and is gearing up for his Eagle BOR. He is 16 (14 when he started) and the project was HUGE, he had some stumbling blocks, and it was not easy for him to navigate with so many moving parts in the process. I know of many younger scouts who have earned their Eagle Rank and it makes me wonder how much “help” they had. Many of the steps needed to complete the project are concepts that a teen has never experienced before. So doing it all on his own without any help would make the project unattainable. We helped our son, guided him in his navigation of all the hoops involved and helped him stay on track and organized (along with his scoutmaster and project advisor) for over a year now. We were very careful not to take over the project or do too much for him. I think it may have been easier to do if he waited another year or 2 and had been more mature. But the experience as a whole has be invaluable to our whole family, and especially to him.

    (And when I say “Eagle Project” I mean the whole process – the physical execution of the service portion of the project was the easy part!)

  124. Kathe – the point of an Eagle Project isn’t for a boy to do all on his own. The point of an Eagle Project is for the boy to show leadership, which means getting other people to help him, and direct them in doing the work…

    • Yes, the scout must show leadership. I did not take the remark by Kathe that her son did the entire project on their own but that there are those projects that have much collaboration with parents and others who act as leadership surrogates thus depriving the boy of his experience. I knew some boys so busy with other activities we suspected the parents finding the project and performing most of the project behind the scenes.

  125. About an hour from now, I am headed to the Scout Office to participate in an evening of Eagle BORs (I usually chair one or more boys’ BOR each month). The Council I am in is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, an area full of ambitious parents and fo youth who are heavily involved in a large number of activities, ranging from heavy enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, to soccer, Little League, and other sports, to school-sponsored (and required service projects). The pressure is high for academic achievement and getting into the “best” schools. Given all the other, non-Scout activities combined with parental pressure to “do it all”, the youth have a hard time squeezing in the required Merit Badges, Scout leadership roles, Scout service projects (demands from Charter organizations), and ultimately their Eagle projects.
    BUT – a lot of the boys manage to do it. During my tenure as SM for 5 years, I had 19 boys complete Eagle (including my own son at age 15 – though many kept saying w5 is too young). Over half finished at 17+, including 2 SM Conferences at age 17y 364 days at 8PM.
    The BSA rules are followed very closely (thankfully). But the pressure from parents and the huge amount of other activities does delay many of them. OTOH, I had one boy whose parents decided to take an extended world tour, insisting their son go with them, at his age of 17 1/2. This left him with not enough time to finish 2 merit badges plus get an Eagle project organized and done.
    There really is no single problem that covers all situations.

  126. I was one of those 17 year old Eagles. I was very involved in the HS cross-country ski team. I then moved up to the Jr. National Team. I still went to summer camp and to some of the fall and spring activities, but I was so busy with school and racing I almost missed my Eagle window. I finished the project in August and the last two merit badges in Sept. and October, and had BOR in November. I turned 18 in January, had my Eagle Court in Feb. with 3 other boys I had gone through the years from the beginning. We were all 17.5-ish. We had a really big and very active troop so leadership positions were very hard to land. Over the years I had been ASPL, PL, historian, QM. At 17 I needed a leadership position but missed the election meeting. I ended up being a den chief for our feeder Pack’s Webelos den. It was probably the best leadership role for me, I learned so much. I was lucky because the den leader was the same man who was my den leader in cubs, his oldest son was in the troop with me. He had been an ASM with the troop over the years, now he was back in Cubs with his younger son. One of the most thrilling moments for me was on a Webelos den overnight. I was staying in a tent by myself a little ways off. I helped the boys and their dads set up their tents and the rest of the campsite, then went off to set up my own and get my gear squared away. I overheard the leader Dan talking to some of the boys when they asked him: “…he’s going to sleep over there all by himself?” Dan said, yup, Mark is almost an Eagle Scout. We’re lucky to have him.When you’re in Boyscouts you will learn to camp and do things for yourself too.

    In reality, I was lucky to be there and to have woken up in time to finish!

    After leaving scouts for a while, I pursued ski racing further in college, competing at the division 1 level and racing at the national level for a few years after that. Then I buckled down, got my teaching license and was able to spend a couple of years at scout camp as the senior commissioner. I volunteered a few years with a local troop as an ASM and took the opportunity to finish my Woodbadge (the Eager Beavers of NE-1-185).

    Then I left scouting again to build a house by myself, get married and have kids. Now I’m back, in what I’m figuring out is my third scouting milestone: working my way through Cubs again, this time with my son! We’re just finishing up our Tiger year…

  127. Woof T Doo // May 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    There are as many reasons why earning Eagle rank takes longer as there are individual scouts. The most recent revelation I have found is Scoutmasters using their own son’s capabilities as the benchmark which the measure other scouts. In other words, no scout younger than their son should become an Eagle. A classmate of mine from an adult training course told me he had to start a new troop so his son had a place to advance. The old troop’s scoutmaster’s sons ran into trouble and if they couldn’t make it no other scout would advance past them. There is a troop in my council that is geographically isolated and rarely leave their island. They only have one thing to say when they come to the mainland. , “We have to stop these fourteen year old Eagles”. I reply, “stop them from doing what?” They want to control the advancement of every scout in the country that they don’t know! “How many are there? They don’t know any but they want to control the world and stop anyone more talented, motivated and more mature than their son from getting to the Eagle Rank before him.

  128. Mike Dunn // June 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm // Reply

    I haven’t read all the posts, so forgive me if this isn’t a new thought. . .

    I strongly suspect that there has been an incorrect assumption behind the whole question. I think it is likely that the issue isn’t taking longer to earn Eagle, but more boys staying in until (at least) they do.

    In the post WW II boom, joining Boy Scouts was the thing to do yet the annual rate of Eagle Scouts was only in the 10,000 – 14,000 range. Even at Scouting’s membership peak in the late 60′s and early 70′s, the number was only around 30,000. Today, the annual rate is over 50,000, with fewer members.

    I suspect the high school students then were faced with their own distractions (school, cars, girls, working to help support the family after dad didn’t return from the war, etc.). The Eagle rank had not developed the same level of prestige with fewer Eagles (didn’t hit 500k until 1965), no astronauts, presidents, or captains of industry (the first Eagle Scout was only 53 in 1949). Given all that, I suspect the boys who hadn’t earned Eagle by a certain point had a tendency to fade out. I know that was the case in my Troop in the 70′s.

    While the boys today have a lot on their plates and many choices, some of those choices, like sports and other major hobbies, are even more prevalent at earlier ages than in the past so that many of the boys who join boy scouts now have already made choices. Others quickly decide their interests are elsewhere and leave in the first year or two. At least in my current Troop, most who make First Class stay and earn Eagle. I strongly suspect the fact the Eagle rank also carries more history and prestige is a factor for the boys who stay.

    We still have gung-ho Scouts finishing at 14.9 years, but we have a greater percentage of boys earning Eagle. Ultimately, comparing the average age of Eagle Scouts today to those in 1949 is like comparing your laptop to grandma’s typewriter.

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New York OA Trader | Today’s Links August 16, 2012
  2. 20 Questions to ask at your next Eagle Board of Review « Bryan on Scouting
  3. An Eagle Board of Review study guide, created by Scouters « Bryan on Scouting

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