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

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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. ;)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    • 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.

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  17. 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.

    • 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. Pingback: 20 Questions to ask at your next Eagle Board of Review « Bryan on Scouting

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. Pingback: An Eagle Board of Review study guide, created by Scouters « Bryan on Scouting

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