eagle-certificate

Tuesday Talkback: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts?

Tuesday-TalkbackA select few very motivated boys are now earning the Eagle Scout Award before they can (officially) see a PG-13 movie.

Yes, the latest members of the “youngest Eagle Scouts ever” club are 12 years old.

First, the facts. It is, technically, possible to earn Eagle at 12. To join Boy Scouts, you must be a boy who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old.

Reaching First Class comes with no time limit requirements. But once there, a boy must be active four months as a First Class Scout to earn Star, six months as a Star Scout to earn Life and six months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. Add those numbers together and you get 16 months, or the minimum length of time from joining Boy Scouts to earning Scouting’s highest rank.

Let’s say we have a 10-year-old boy who earns the Arrow of Light and joins Boy Scouts. It’s quite possible he could complete all the requirements for Eagle Scout before he becomes a teenager.

So it’s possible, but should we encourage it?

I asked a similar question more than two years ago, and that post has now generated 190 comments from Scouters like you.

It’s time to have the discussion again. So for today’s Tuesday Talkback, tell me: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts? Leave a comment below.

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566 thoughts on “Tuesday Talkback: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts?

  1. The problem here, so to speak, is a troop leadership problem not a scout problem. It is our job to judge a scout’s maturity and skills and guide him to grow and develop. We need to have the guts to tell a scout that even though he has checked all the boxes he isn’t displaying leadership, taking initiative, demonstrating skills, whatever the case is. There is more to being an Eagle scout than checking off boxes of things “done”. The requirements through First Class are skills that require practice, not things you do once and check off and move on. It’s a rare boy who is truly a mature Eagle scout at 12 or 13. For this reason we shouldn’t regulate at what age a boy can be Eagle. We should simply do our jobs, including not signing rank advancements and Eagle apps until the scout has achieved the rank and we are are comfortable endorsing him.

  2. I feel very strongly about this because my son earned his Eagle at 14, doing most of the project work at age 13. As many things go in life, I feel the “readiness for Eagle” should be a case-by-case basis. Just like Kathleen stated, the scout needs to be truly ready and has the desire to go ahead with the project.
    What does concern me are leaders and advancement chairs who only look at the age of a scout and not their ability. My son actually had a very hard time getting his project approved because the district advancement chair determined him to be too young. After reassurance from the SM that he was more ready than some 17 year olds, he was reluctantly given approval. His project was a huge memorial refurbishment and rededication on a base, that required him to interact with the Garrison Commander, DPW, a garden center, a carpenter, the post historian, etc. He learned skills in communication with adults, how to write up a proposal and be prepared for and run a meeting, and how to shake hands and speak with adults in all positions.
    However, at his Eagle BoR, the district advancement chair, after finding no problems with his book, receipts, letters of recommendation, etc. and passing him, commented that he still didn’t feel like he should award an Eagle to someone so young. A year later, his project was chosen as the Eagle project of the year for 2011 in our council, out of 300+ projects.
    Since then, our son has bristled when he hears of a 17 1/2 year old that does a very meager project and is rushed through the process with help of the advancement folks because he is “short on time.” Unfortunately, he is right. Too often I have seen an older scout squeak through at the last minute with a project that may not have been approved if the scout had more time to do a “decent” project.
    Our son is a junior now and is busy with sports, NHS, and a heavy load of AP classes at school. He follows his Eagle pledge and gives back by being an active member and president of a venture crew. He is very proud to have earned his Eagle and is very happy to have gotten it out of the way before he got so busy in high school. He would certainly have no time to do such an involved project and have the opportunity to learn so much from the execution of it.
    So is this the best route for all scouts to get their Eagle so young? Probably not. But in some cases, it is the way to go. And I know what you are thinking, did he do it or the parents? We helped him set up a time line for when different parts should be finished, splitting the project up into smaller, less intimidating chunks. All we provided were reminders of deadlines and encouragement when he got frustrated with adults who didn’t return emails or phone calls and drove him where he needed to go. That is all. Everything else he did himself!

    • Hats off to your son and for you for letting/making him do the project. I do have one issue with something you said though: “He is very proud to have earned his Eagle and is very happy to have gotten it out of the way before he got so busy in high school.”
      To me, making Eagle is not something you “get out of the way.” That makes it sound like it’s just another task on a list of chores. Maybe you didn’t meant it that way…

      • I agree with you. We had a talk with our son about goals he wanted to achieve. He wanted to attain Eagle, have a job by 16, and start taking college classes at 16 as well. We discussed and he agreed, working on the Eagle rank first, was where he should put his priorities. He worked HARD for 2 years accomplishing what he needed. Most of his project was completed this summer at age 13. He did it all, only asking my husband and I for direction when needed. We are just waiting for a memorial stone to arrive, then the BOR. He also wants to attain leadership positions in OA and has those plans for later.we encourage, but it was his desire. Kudos to you and your son. I would rather boys get it early than have my son participate for a couple of years, drop out, then come back end of 11th grade to get the project done during senior year.

      • Some youth set their goal to earn Eagle, make a plan and are extremely happy to accomplish this goal. They usually have other goals in Scouting and getting the Eagle finishes one goal, they can put more time and energy on these new task. The Parents should be more worried by the distractions of G&G, Girls and Gasoline, dating and other social events are very important to teenagers, plus studies, sports, band, choir, debate, etc. Accomplishing Eagle before G&G distractions makes everything easier.

        • Personally, I hate it when people talk about getting Eagle out of the way before the scout succumbs to the fumes (car fumes and perfumes), because part of leadership and growing is being able to balance everything that you have to do within the 24 hours a day that you have. I was one of those scouts that earned my Eagle when I was 17, and I didn’t even have my board until just after my 18th birthday when I had already moved for college, but the things that I learned during that two years of planning and execution were the most important thing I learned during high school. I hadn’t even finished my project when I graduated, I did it when I came home from working camp staff on Saturdays. During my time as a leader afterwards, I have yet to see a scout that was ready to conquer their eagle project and truly understand what everything up to that point meant when they were 12-14 even. Don’t take me wrong, I have seen many that when they were 12 I could tell would become Eagles, but not usually until they are 15-16. Most of them have agreed with me that when they were 13 or so they couldn’t have understood what it was to be an Eagle and they actually held themselves back and focused on the unit instead.

  3. As a retired Scoutmaster I had to confront this situation on two occasions. both times I had to sit with the parents and the scout to explain the process of advancement with the Eagle rank as the goal. Once the parents understood that their son will be required to show leadership in a leadership role, do a couple of projects not including the Eagle project, must complete 21 merit badges 10 of which are required with at least two of them taking 3 months to finish and learning the basic scout skills that is needed to advance the parents better understood that their son needed to take his time and enjoy scouting while pursuing the Eagle rank.
    It takes the adults in the troop to ensure that the Eagle candidates are qualified in every aspect of scouting before the earn the Eagle rank. Very, very rare do we find a scout of 12 or 13 years of age that possess the leadership and skills to earn, not win the Eagle rank. The scoutmaster and the assistants need to be firm but fair when conducting the Scoutmaster conferences’ and let the scout know he has some short comings that need to be addressed before advancing. IT IS NOT the board of review responsibility to address these shortcomings.

    • I agree that “unqualified” Eagle candidates are a symptom of a series of failed SM conferences. It’s not the BOR’s responsibility to police whether the boy is ready to advance. The SM needs to fulfill his responsibilities.

  4. As a former District Advancement Chair, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Everyone talks about leadership. I agree that in most cases, a 12 year old does not have the same experiences as a 18 year old. To me the question is does the 12 or 13 year old show leadership. Are they trying to get better and grow in leadership. This is all you can ask from a scout. That they try to get better and keep growing. Most 18 year old Eagle scouts I have done a EBOR had the following scenario. They were either Star or Life going into high school. They rarely participated in scouts in high school and then right before they turn 18 they get their Eagle Scout. What value were they to their troop the last 3 years? My son got his Eagle Badge at 13. My son was told by one scoutmaster he didn’t show leadership at 13. It was because the troop was adult led and he didn’t lead the way he would have done it. He transferred to a different troop and they were boy led and they said he was the best leader they had. The difference is the 2nd troop let him lead instead of trying to control the leaders. To many times, we as adult leaders try to control and dictate how the scouts should show leadership. We want leadership the same way we do it. Who is to say we are right in our leadership style. We can’t control leadership. We need to help the scout grow in their own leadership style. There is more than one way to lead a group. Just look at the leadership style of great leaders.

  5. I am not in favor if a boy earning Eagle at such a young age. I was a young Eagle at 14. Looking back I think that was too young. Scouting, like life, is a journey not a race. Take time to enjoy the experience along the way.

  6. My Younger son was 13 when he earned life. He is now 15 and has his BOR. This Sunday. At first I was frustrated that he took 14 months to complete his project. Now however I see that he wasn’t mature enough and had to complete it when he was ready. If the scouts do it on their own, I say God bless them. I suspect however that there was some shall we say encouragement to accomplish this feat. I know when my son was 12 and 13 and serving in leadership positions it was challenging to say the least to have the older scouts take direction from him. These scouts must be extraordinary.

  7. As with anything in life, mistakes are made when you rush. As leaders, we should not promote a rush-for-rank. Fun is more important than most people will admit.

    Eagle by 12? I agree, it should be on a case-by-case basis. However, as leaders, we need to help our Scouts keep their eyes on the prize. And, while they might not understand this, we should… the prize is not rank.

  8. I appreciate all the comments made thus far. Maturity during the middle school and high school years is a thing that isn’t necessarily defined by age, although I would argue that age has some influence amidst the many variables that contribute to it. In our Troop, the one concept that our Scoutmaster emphasizes is that each merit badge and rank advancement be earned, not just handed out. In this sense, I agree with those who have voiced concern over using a “check off the boxes” method. With my son approaching his Eagle BOR in less than a week, I look back over the 5 year journey it took, and although he has often been jealous of those in other Troops who got the rank at a younger age, I am proud that he actually earned every merit badge and rank advancement along the way. As Kathleen mentioned concerning First Class rank, the program of Scouting is designed to teach skills, and I would add to that that those skills are not just the outdoor skills for First Class rank, but also life skills that go beyond rank. The BSA Mission statment is this: “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is 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.” This cannot be achieved through simple actions (learning skills, working on projects. etc.) – it must be achieved through coaching and mentoring boys over time. You can’t instill values using a checklist, and it takes time. How much time? That goes back to individual maturity levels, but more importantly speaks to the involvement of all the leaders with the group and also with each individual Scout. There is no substitution for simply time well spent.

  9. Of course all children are different, but I do not believe most boys that are 12 or 13 are mature enough to be getting their Eagle. I prefer them to be close to 15 – before driving, jobs and dating! They get the time to show REAL leadership – during outings and with leadership positions. Younger boys haven’t had TIME to LEARN how to be a leader.

    I think the title of EAGLE SCOUT will lose some of its luster if it keeps getting easier to earn. It has always been held in such high regard because of the difficulty, hard work and leadership shown while obtaining it. However, it seems to have become pretty easy to obtain over the last 10 or so years. If it isn’t really difficult, what makes it special? I just don’t like the program being “watered down”, we have Troops becoming “Eagle factories” and really young Eagle Scouts are one result. We give them the title which says they are a good leader, but are they really? Are they old enough and have they had time to demonstrate consistent leadership – enough for us be able to say they are good leaders? I will agree that this is due to the adult leadership in the troops. I think they look at the book and say he met the requirements, so I have to sign off on it and pass him along.

    It is a tough call, because there will be the exceptional child who DOES show great leadership early and have the drive to move forward. Although it would not hurt him to wait, should he have to wait? It is a hard question. Also consider that when you let Mr. Exceptional go through young, Mr. Mediocre who has also completed the official requirements wants to go through young as well. Boys and parents don’t want to hear that Mr. Mediocre is not as ready or mature as Mr. Exceptional and they will both advance the same – most leaders will not want to deal with the negative reactions.

  10. 300 Comments before another topic is posted! This one is generating some heated debate! What does that tell us about how the vast majority of scouts and scouters feel about being an Eagle Scout at 12? In my (admittedly biased) opinion, there should be more requirements for time in leadership positions making it impossible for a scout to make Eagle Scout until AT LEAST age 13! Merit badges used to be the standard by which scouts were advanced. Later, we added service hours and time-in leadership positions as well as the service project. For most people, this was sufficient to ensure that a scout was ready when they completed their Eagle Scout requirements. Today, I’m not sure that the requirements are sufficient anymore.
    Merit badge conferences and their like have made acquiring merit badges quite easy! My son is 12, a Star Scout, and he has earned 25 merit badges already! He still needs 2 more required for Life Scout and he needs to serve in a leadership position but he will be ready for Life Scout sometime next year. I refuse to push him. He is at that point in his scouting career where HE needs to show the initiative! He has informed me that he wishes to be a Den Chief for a Webelos den. He also volunteers for helping out with various projects so service hours are never a problem. He is a pretty good Star Scout and, with a small amount of pushing, he would be a Life Scout before the next Court of Honor but he’s not quite ready yet! He still has responsibility issues and his leadership skills could also use some more honing. He will get there! He will be a Life Scout by summertime give or take a month.
    As far as making Eagle Scout, he has time but it should be HIS decision and not mine! I am confident he will get there and when he does, it will reflect upon his character, maturity and leadership, essentially what the Eagle Scout award is all about! Because of this, I can’t agree with the pell-mell race to get to Eagle Scout even if it’s theoretically possible.

    • Remember the back end: if you increase the minimum time to earn Eagle to 2 full years (thereby eliminating the possibility of 12 year old Eagles) you also guarantee that any boy who joins the program over the age of 15 will not earn Eagle either. Conversely, if you add an age requirement to the rank, you prevent quite a few highly motivated young Scouts from “doing their best”.

      • A boy that doesn’t join scouting until he’s 16 isn’t going to earn Eagle now. (at least it would be very unlikely). I don’t think we should worry so much about 15 year olds that have never been in the program not being able to get Eagle (truth be told, while some exist they are a very small number) so much as making sure those scouts that do earn Eagle have truly shown themselves to be of a caliber worthy of the rank.

        I wouldn’t have a problem with extending the “time in rank requirements” to 3 months each for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, and upping Star to 6 months. It would give the scout more time to mature and really show off their leadership and character. Plus it gives more of an opportunity to hone the scout skills learned in the first three ranks instead of rushing through them to get to Star.

        I would also approve of a National change that no scout can have the same Merit Badge Counselor for more than three badges. We all know some scouts have mommy or daddy sign some questionable blue cards; this would prevent that and actually require scouts to learn to work with more adults.

        Some will probably say that doing this would lower the percentage of Eagles. I don’t see that as a problem. Better quality than quantity.

        • I didnt say over 16, I said over 15. And I just badged a Scout who did that very thing a few months ago. When he joined, I asked him what his goal was and he quickly stated the he wanted to be an Eagle. I explained the time requirements and went so far as to write in the “drop dead” dates for 1st Class, Star, and Life in his new book so he would know that going beyond any of them would end his chance to earn Eagle. There was virtually no “slack” left in his time requirements. But he made it.

          I bet the number of 15 yo new joins who aim for Eagle is probably lower than the number of 12 year old Eagles. But I am not interested in denying either group the opportunity. Extending the requirements by a few months wont provide ANY measurable increase in “maturity” or “leadership”. It will just reduce the number of Eagles.

          If you have an MBC problem, you need to let your District or Council Advancement team handle it. If mom or dad isnt properly registered as an MBC, you dont have to accept the card. If they are registered for 10 or 20 badges, then you need to contact your advancement team and let them know it’s a problem and give them the names of some other MBC’s you have recruited to fill that void.

          As far as gatekeeping on Eagle > how can the quality be lower if the requirements are tougher now than they have ever been?

        • Actually the debate over whether Eagle is harder today than in the past is a good topic for another Bryan Tuesday Talkback.

          A couple of historical points that suggest it was “harder”:

          Camping MB was 50 nights – not 20 and no long term camps counted
          Each MB required a scout to go before a BOR to get it approved
          There were really no Group Instruction MB opportunities…each one was basically a one-on-one experience
          Troop Warrant Positions were only a few – now there are many more that you could argue make the requirement easier
          Swimming and Lifesaving were required MBs and there were no optional ones. Lifesaving also required Swimming
          EP introduced in 1965 but even today it is not hard for an 11 year old to accomplish

          There are others but I’ll save them for the Tuesday topic in the future

      • Unfortunately the forum software doesn’t let me reply too far down the chain, so this is in reply to your latest post.

        If you re-read my post, I’m saying that there’s already an upper age limit for joining scouts and getting your Eagle. 16 year olds can’t really do it, so I find the argument of “well, then someone that joins at 15 couldn’t make it” unconvincing.

        And I disagree that more time in service doesn’t provide an opportunity for showing leadership. Which is harder, being a leader for 16 months or being a leader for 2 years?

        As far as going to the District/Council advancement chair to report bad merit badge counselors – that is very much a “by the book” answer that doesn’t reflect reality. I bet the District Advancement chairs were looking the other way on those 12 year old Eagles and no amount of pointing it out would change anything. I want a policy that reflect the reality on the ground, not the reality that National dreams of.

        And as far as “the requirements are tougher now than they have ever been”? I’m going to need some evidence because that sure isn’t the case from where I sit.

        • I didnt say “someone who joins at 15 couldn’t make it”. In fact, I just gave you an example of one that did. Is there already an upper age limit to start the journey to Eagle? Yes, technically it is 16 years and 7 months old. Highly unlikely? Yes, but possible if he can get 10 troop/patrol activities and 3 campouts done under a month. I’ve never seen it happen so I dont see the value in increasing the requirements even further just to preclude the possibility. Your point here seems moot.

          As far as the opportunity for showing leadership (setting aside the whole leadership/position of responsibility distinction which you evidently aren’t trained on) – the question isnt “Which is harder?”. Carrying that logic out to it’s conclusion, we could say 5 years of leadership is harder and simply make Eagle virtually impossible to obtain. The real question is “Is it likely that the Scout will grow significantly while serving in the position over 4 or 6 months?” and the answer is yes, he will.

          As far as having a dysfunctional district and council advancement team – your best bet is to read the manual thoroughly and then volunteer for those teams. When you see an adult going outside of the rules, hold them accountable – publicly. If you arent willing to hold adults accountable, you have no business holding children accountable either. Own that, brother. You want a policy that overlooks the fact adults are holding each other accountable? No thanks.

          Dont believe the requirements are tougher now? See for yourself:
          http://www.troop97.net/bsaeagle.htm

      • Chet, you’ve misinterpreted my comments about the upper age limit for Eagle twice. I’m not sure what else to say when my posts aren’t being read!

        Instead of making snarky comments about whether a position of responsibility can be called a leadership role, you could see the bigger point, which is that there’s a difference between a short-term committment and a long one. Eagle is supposed to be a lifelong commitment, I don’t think asking a scout to put two years in is onerous. Actually, I wouldn’t even have a problem with your five year comment. Then the youth that earn Eagle would be the ones that really wanted it, not the ones that start it as an afterthought at age 15 or have their parents push them through at 12. Having fewer Eagles is not a problem.

        As far as taking a new role every time I see a problem, that’s glib but not practical. I’ve already got 3 hats I wear in scouting – sure, load someone down with more jobs until they don’t have time to do any of them. That will keep them from pointing out problems on the ground!

        And I looked at your link. Doesn’t look like it’s getting harder since the 70s. In fact, looks easier to me. If you want to say it’s harder than the first Eagle requirement ever, then I think you missed the point.

        • Yeah, we’ll just have to set your point about the upper age limit aside because I cant tell if you are agreeing, disagreeing, or making an entirely different point in response to my initial post about not lowering the max age to join and earn Eagle. Making it impossible for 15 or 16 year olds to join and earn Eagle serves no Scouting purpose. You can agree or disagree. No worries.

          And, Im not making a snarky point. It’s entirely legitimate: Calling 4 months “short term” and 6 months “long term” is silly, especially in regards to a “life long commitment”. Increasing the requirement for Star to 6 months wont have any measurable benefit long term – I challenge you to provide one. Taking a new Scout and saddling him with a 9 month restriction is a BAD idea because those ranks are NOT designed as incremental steps to Eagle, they were designed to indicate that a Scout had demonstrated basic skills competency and some basic experience. That’s why the requirements are not sequential. (Your admission that 5 years of required leadership would suit you is about as compelling as saying that starting Scouting at 15 is an “afterthought”. Geez, we are here to provide an opportunity, not shut boys out.)

          As far as taking a role in advancement – hey, you got to pick your battles. You either have a dysfunctional advancement team or you don’t. If it’s not worth your time to switch hats and take on the challenge, it’s not worth the rest of the program’s time to change the rules to suit your dysfunctional district. Help fix it or sit down. Pretty simple.

          If you read the link I sent and still think the requirements have gotten easier (even with your contrived starting point in the 70′s), then you need to re-read: 1970 – 4 requirements. 1972 – 6 requirements (and a brief increase to 24 MB’s), 1978 – 6 requirements, 1999- 7 requirements, 2009 – 7 requirements and a specific Eagle workbook, 2013 – 7 requirements, a specific workbook and 2 new required MB’s. So, yeah, we have the hardest requirements ever. What point exactly am I missing? That boys are still achieving it so we should move the goal post AGAIN? No, I got that point – I just think it’s silly, petty, and largely indicative of adults with grossly inaccurate perceptions of their role in the program.

    • Hi Steve. The requirement is not “leadership positions” for S, L, & E, it is “positions of responsibility.” Then with Eagle, it is leadership in completing the Eagle project.

      • Yep, thanks for the clarification! I was imprecise (and that can get you in trouble!) While I’m answering your post, I’d like to address Kane and Chet’s back and forth thread if I may.
        They seem to be looking at the flip side of the coin in this argument: if we increase the time necessary to attain Eagle Scout, then we risk having more older boys that want to start scouting unable to achieve the Eagle rank.
        I would submit that it would be the rare exception to have a boy of 15 want to start scouting with the goal of attaining Eagle Scout. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened but it would be exceedingly rare! Why, it the boy is so driven, didn’t he start earlier? To wait until (essentially) the very last moment to start requiring this individual to do everything absolutely right with no room for error is highly unlikely to say the least! With that in mind, having the cut-off be 6-8 months earlier doesn’t weigh as heavily (in my opinion) as preventing someone from getting their Eagle rank 6-8 months later.
        What do we want in an Eagle Scout? For me, looking at my son, I want a responsible young man that personifies the Scout Law, that exemplifies leadership and demonstrates a maturity in all that he does and someone I am proud of! No, he doesn’t have to pull off his glasses, rip open his shirt and reveal a big red S on his chest! Sometimes it seems like that is what we expect of Eagle Scouts…
        It is the exceedingly rare individual that would be able to demonstrate the determination, perserverance, leadership and maturity that the Eagle Scout rank exemplifies at the age of 12. What is the downside of requiring some demonstration of leadership (above and beyond “position of responsibility”) as part of the learning process toward Eagle Scout that, as a consequence, would make 13 the earliest eligible age for Eagle Scout?
        There is so much more to scouting than just getting the Eagle rank!! Scouting is a journey and Eagle Scout is NOT the end! It is a milestone in and along that journey. In fact, I’m not sure if there really IS an end to the journey as long as one is willing to keep going! I earned my Eagle Scout rank at 15 but I was active in scouting until I was 18. I then started down a different scouting path as a scouter. I left the scouting path for about 25 years and then came back when my son was ready to start down his path. The journey continues and where it will lead is anybody’s guess but rest assured it will be one for a lifetime!
        Sorry, I sometimes go all “nostalgic” like that but maybe you’ll understand why I feel the way I do about this rush to get to Eagle Scout. It’s not a race! There is no finish line! Scouting is one of a number of processes (in my opinion, one of the best) whereby a boy matures into a man through a series of experiences and challenges which will forge and temper the individual’s character and leadership skills, all of which requires time and experience. Perhaps some will get the full benefit from this tempering process by age 12. I leave it to you to decide.

  11. Fantastic, the Boy Scouts need more highly motivated Youth. The Eagle Rank has no requirements concerning maturity. But it takes a lot of self motivation and maturity to accomplish this at a young age. Other youth look up to a Young Eagle and try to learn from his example. Young Eagles want to work on staff at Summer Camp and want to serve Scouts thru the Order of the Arrow and maybe join a Venturing Crew. I always say it’s better to have a very talented 12-13 Eagle than a 17 4/5 year old Eagle that has hanged around Scouting and is only motivated by his parents telling him he has to make Eagle. Usually a youth that is 17 1/2 can’t remember what requirements he passed for any of his merit badges, etc.

    • It’s nice for a young man to earn Eagle, but it should be his choice, not his parents. NOT ALL YOUNG MEN ARE QUALIFIED TO BE EAGLE SCOUTS, PERIOD. If a youth learns the Boy Scout camping basics and learns patriotism and duty to God and learns some lifelong values, then the Boy Scout Leaders have accomplished something worthwhile. Some youth don’t become mature until they are in there mid-twenties, before that, they don’t do any real thinking and rely on their parents.

  12. Poor leaders and parents who think Scouting ends at Eagle. There is so much more to experience, achieve, and serve once that nice Eagle is on the left pocket. Don’t make the requirements any easier … and certainly don’t make them any harder. Encourage, coach, and inspire those whom you serve to be their very best … and to be the best. They will thank you later.

    • Exactly! Some of these people make it sound as if Eagle is the end of the road! The Scout continues to learn, grow, mature, and have fun, why not with the Eagle on the pocket.

  13. If there is not at least one (or likely two) parents intensively involved in scouting, there is no Eagle, regardless of the age. Younger than 16, you will always have at least one parent in leadership in their scout’s troop. Kinda funny that way. Or from low income families? yeah right.

    • Just not accurate. We average 4 eagles per year and 3 of those will have no parent in our adult leadership. Our eagles range in age from 14 to 17.5 years.

  14. First, a couple detail corrections. The Tenderfoot rank requirement number 10 requires 30 days. Those 30-days in addition to the 16 months you mentioned, make the fastest one could possibly earn Eagle 17 months.
    If a boy were to complete 5th Grade and earn Arrow of Light shortly after his 10th birthday, he would then be eligible to join scouting. Adding 17 months to that scenario, means that the earliest a boy could possibly fill all the time requirements for Eagle would be at the age of 11 years and 5 months.

    Now for the opinion part:
    Should a young scout hurry through the rank advancement requirements to be an Eagle at 11 or 12? Usually not, but there may be circumstances where it would be reasonable.
    Is it possible that a young scout has truly shown the leadership required? Could he be mature enough? Could he possibly have done the required planning for the project? Possible, yes, but such a youth is rare.
    Is it fair for someone to look at a young Eagle and assume that he didn’t “really” earn it? That his parents/leaders pushed him too fast? That leaders/parents did too much for him? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
    Should a leader stand in the way of a scout advancing quickly, because the boy is young? NO
    Is it better that a boy take his time to advance and earn Eagle after more time and experience? Usually
    Is it better that a boy never really get motivated to finish until he is up against the age deadline? Rarely.

    I have served on dozens of Eagle Boards of Review. A few of the boys were young. More of the boys were older. In my experience, it is the boys who are 17.9 whose qualification is more in question. I’ve never had a young one come to the BOR who hasn’t been able to show understanding, leadership, and maturity that they should.

    • I also wonder how these 12 year old scouts get around the “10 troop activities” required for first class. Meetings are explicitly excluded from those, and even with Courts of Honor, Service projects, and a very active camping schedule, I have a hard time seeing that take less than 5 months or so.

      • I hope that are not ‘getting around’ the ten troop and/or patrol activities.

        I can imagine a couple ways they could do it:
        For the 3 camping nights, a troop weekend camp can be 2 nights, and then they only need 1 additional night, which could be from a patrol campout, or the troop campout the following month.
        If the troop has some boys working on their Eagle projects, there could be several times that they meet to help.
        The patrol might go for an extra patrol activity just to have fun, or to work on some of their scouting skills.
        The new scout and his troop or patrol might go to a district/council sponsored activity.
        The new scout and his troop or patrol might attend a local a merit badge pow-wow/midway type event.
        They might go to a local charity or business that sponsors an activity or a merit badge event.
        The troop might have an activity outside of their regular meeting times, or instead of having a meeting.
        Some troops count attendance at a court of honor toward their 10 activities.

        If the troop and patrol don’t have enough activities for the speed the boy wants, there is always the option of being dual-registered with a second troop. That is not uncommon here. Boys who really like scouting are registered in their locally sponsored church troop, and also registered with another troop that has a different charter and doesn’t play by the same church rules.

        • Scoutaholic..the requirement is not 3 nights of camping it’s 3 separate camping events

          Recheck being dual registered…you can be in a troop and a crew but not 2 different troops…maybe Bryan can check policy for us on that

        • I hadn’t reread the exact wording on the 3 camping nights. They must be 3 separate activities. There are still plenty of opportunities to do that in a short time period. If you are only registered in one troop, and your troop only does one camp each month, then (,depending on when the camps fall during the month,) they could be completed within 6 weeks (one the end of a month, one at any time in the middle month, and one at the beginning of the third month). It could be even faster if there is a patrol camp, or a second troop, or another activity (say a multi-day conservation service project) that includes an overnight.

          You can recheck the dual registration rules if you like. I know boys who are dual registered. I’ve never seen them do it for this reason, but it is possible.
          In my area, 99+% of scouting units are sponsored by the LDS church. Some LDS units are not well organized and don’t do scouting at the level that some boys want. When that is the case, the boys tend to stay registered in the church troop with their peers, but at the same time, they seek out another troop that does scouting at the level they prefer. They go to 2 troop meetings every week, and attend activities of both troops when they don’t have conflicting schedules.

        • The actual requirement is:

          “Since joining, have participated in 10 separate troop/patrol activities (other than troop/patrol meetings), three of which included camping overnight. Demonstrate the principles of Leave No Trace on these outings.”

          That’s three camping trips, not two.

          And really, if you’re trying to dual register to game the system, you’re doing it wrong.

        • I got the reference from our registrar and you can be dual registered in 2 BS troops. If they are I would think one has got to be the lead troop for advancement for requirements completion recording, Blue Cards, BORs etc

      • My son has gone to almost every possible Troop & Patrol Activity since he joined the Troop. It still took him 3 months to reach 10 activities because of the 3 separate camping activities. Any Scout that can do First Class in a month must be camping every week . . . and I don’t know any Troop around here that does that.

        • I don’t know of any troop that does that either, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

          Looking at just the activity requirement, that would be 10 activities (3 of them overnight) in a month. Add 4 troop meetings into that and you are doing some scouting activity every-other-day.

          Remember that not all of these activities have to involve the whole troop. Some can be patrol activities. Most will not be attended by everyone.

          If you have several older boys all trying to get their Eagle projects done over the summer, you may be invited several times to help.

          Sometimes a troop will cancel a regular meeting in favor of doing an activity instead.

          My troop didn’t do that, but I have had months where I did it. As an older teen, I was involved with my Explorer post, and was JASM for my troop, and was Chapter Chief for my OA Chapter, and was heavily involved in the OA dance and ceremonies teams. There were plenty of weeks that I did scouting at least 6 days of the week. There was at least one summer that I didn’t spend a weekend night in my bed for the entire summer. There were times that my bed went unused for over a month.

          I pointed out in my comment above how it would be possible, even if your troop only camps once each calendar month, to get three camps within 6 weeks. It all depends on when the camps are planned, and If you luck out and start your 30-days of Tenderfoot requirement 10 at the right time to coincide with the planned camps.

          What if the boy were to serve as a Den Chief and go to a pack or Webelos den camp? Some scout leaders might count your Den Chief duties as a troop/patrol activity. (No, I’m not interested in fighting over the correct interpretation of the exact wording of the requirement. Read it for yourself, and decide if you think it is worth asking the Scoutmaster.)

        • Our troop has the activity level required to meet the requirements. So far this month, we had a bike trip overnight campout the first weekend of October; a backpack trek the 2nd; and this weekend we’re going to a state park for some fun, but will include a hike and a service project. The last weekend of October has four activities – two service projects, a night hike, and then we play “boffer sword” on Sunday with nerf swords and shields. I’m not sure what the final count is of the number of activities is for the month. But it is not possible for a scout to do them all because they overlap. Typically a scout in our troop will take 6 to 8 months to reach Tenderfoot, and 16 to 24 months to reach First Class. Can they reach first class in 3 months? I guess theoretically they could. But in practice, there are young scouts learning and older scouts teaching and guiding and things get mucked up and things take time and things get repeated. It is messy but it is fun. We advise parents that if the primary focus is to get Eagle (and get it quickly) we are probably not the right troop for them.

        • From this description, it appears that there might be enough, depending on who does the counting and how they count them.

          I count 7 activities if you count each mentioned once.
          If you count the bike trip separate from the campout, and the fun, the hike, the service project, and the overnight at the state park each separately. Some might count this schedule as 12 activities. (Does one have to return home between activities to make it a separate activity?)
          db didn’t mention if there was a possible overnight on the 4th weekend that has 4 listed activities. That would make 8 (or 13) activities in the month with 4 overnights (or only 4 weekend activities if you prefer to count it that way).

          I still would not encourage every boy to earn First Class in his first month and Eagle in 17 months, but this schedule for October appears that it would be possible to get the needed activities done that quickly.

  15. Frankly, I do not see how a 12 year old can truly understand and appreciate the maturity that is (or should be) a product of the path taken to Eagle. Is the 12 year old truly completing the substantial service project? As one can read from my comments, I believe a 12 year old is just rushing through the scouting experience, is this really in his best interest? Slow down, enjoy, it’s not a sprint.

  16. We’re all familiar with the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

    This so aptly applies to teenagers and explains why so many Scouts are approaching their 18th birthday before their Eagle Board of Review. It’s usually in middle school when they start discovering all sorts of activities, both in and out of Scouting and school. They get involved in student council, join the soccer or hockey team or receive the dreaded X-Box for their birthday. Along comes high school and they become involved in more sports, join the quiz bowl team, start taking advanced placement classes, keep playing their X-Box to chill out, go for their driver’s license, get a part-time job, start dating … all of a sudden they realize they’re 17 years old and they’re looking at doing an Eagle Scout service project on top of everything else and they still have three merit badges to go! The paperwork for one Eagle in our troop I know slid across the counter at council just two days before his 18th birthday.

    While I don’t believe in parents pushing and shoving their children in ten different directions and not letting them be children, and I certainly don’t agree in having a Scout rush through being a Scout at 12 or 13 just to get his Eagle wings, you must admire the tenacity and persistence of those who do, as they’re likely to be the go-getters in life (but also as likely to stress-out and have a heart attack at 45). If the Scoutmaster is in touch with the Scouts, he should be able to see through parental pushing at Scoutmaster conferences and encourage the Scout to slow down and have fun, too. Note I said encourage, not demand. If it’s clear it’s the Scout motivating himself, who are we to stop him?

  17. When I earned my Eagle, I was 18. It was the norm in scouting back in 1991 that boys didn’t get their Eagle’s until they were old enough to show leadership and mature enough to make decisions. At 18, a boy can vote and can go into Military Service. Not too many 12 or 13 year old boys would I trust going to war and making decisions about other people lives. When I got my eagle, only 1% percent of all boys were getting their eagle award. Now, with changing standards and the low bar we set on earning merit badges (some earned in a day), that percentage has grown. As an adult leader, I see the difference in these young men who earn their Eagle when they are young, and don’t have the mentality of “Do your Best”.

    • BSA has never been focused on making boys into soldiers. Your approach to assessing leadership and maturity via “readiness for war” has not ever been a part of rank advancement.

    • As a combat veteran, I can wholeheartedly confirm the age that a Scout earns Eagle is totally irrelevant to his suitability as a warrior. Two totally different things (thank goodness).

      However, younger Scouts generally DO have the mentality of “Do Your Best”, after all, it is the Cub Motto.

    • What does military service and voting have to do with earning the rank of Eagle. And as a matter of fact that 1% figure has not increased that much.

      • The current rate is about 4% from the latest literature I have seen. That is quite a bit of difference from 1%.

        • The # published by the BSA says 4%, but if you do the simple math yourself, you will see that getting Eagle is no longer rare. Approximately 25% of boys who become boy scouts now achieve Eagle. I agree that if Eagle were difficult, then only 1 to 4% of scouts would achieve it. But with summer camps, helicopter parents and merit badge university give-aways, getting the Eagle rank is now common place and is simply a matter of putting in your time.

        • Sorry to take us a little off-topic, but percentages can sometimes be confusing/misleading. Four percent of *what*, exactly? Four percent of all registered Boy Scouts are Eagle at a particular point in time? Four percent of registered Boy Scouts earned Eagle during a particular time period (e.g, calendar year)? Are Venturers included? Or is it four percent of all scouts, including Cubs?

          Bryan, you would do a big service to scouting if you can provide the data and methodology used to calculate that percentage.

        • Wade – what “simple math” do you base your 25% number on? There might be a couple of small units that are producing numbers like that (and more power to them if they are doing it by the book).

        • Sure thing, Chet. There were approximately 850,000 scouts in the BSA in 2012. There were approximately 60,000 Eagle scouts. Simple math means that 7% of scouts were Eagle. But that’s not an accurate representation of what really goes on. You know that includes scouts who just joined and still have six years to finish their Eagle. So if you were to look at how many new scouts joined in 2012, there were probably about 250,000. Let’s be generous and say 300,000. It is hard to know – because the BSA doesn’t publish that number. If you take the 60,000 Eagle scouts divided by the 300,000 who joined scouts in a given year, you see that about 1 in 5 boys who join scouts will end up as Eagle. 20%. If the number who joined was 240,000, then the number of Eagles is 25%. The 4% is some BSA marketing number that is used to make it seem that Eagle is difficult and rare, when in fact it is easier than ever to achieve and it is common place.

        • I believe that the number might be 4% of “all Boy Scouts” earn Eagle in any given year. I take that from the statement on this page that says that in 2012 (the 100th anniversary year), “About 7 percent of all Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2012.” See http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/ScoutingFacts.aspx. I believ that 2012 is not the norm because some Scouts purposely delayed to earn in the Centennial Year while others speeded it up. If you look at the number of Merit Badges earned (previous post by Bryan), the numbers were rising leading up to the Centennial. http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/ScoutingFacts.aspx

        • jack, the 4% is based on the number of registered boy scouts at any time. I’ve never seen any figures showing otherwise.

        • WadeI can personally see the numbers in my district and we are nowhere near 25%. In fact, we arent even close to double digits. YMMV

      • The only to accurately calculate the number of boys who join Boy Scouts that become Eagle would be to track a cohort from a given year until they reached 18. In 2012 in our council, we had 11,338 Boy Scouts. In the same year, 850 Scouts earned Eagle for 7.5%. I know our council is higher than many others. As a District Commissioner, I sit in on meetings where our retention rate is discussed. If 25% of any cohort was reaching Eagle, I don’t think that retention would be so high on the agenda.

        When I did my Scoutmaster OLS last spring, there were about 25 of us. About 5 were females leaving 20 males. Only 2 were Eagle Scouts & 1 of those was a HS senior that just turned 18. There were, however, about 5 of the males who reached Life, but did not. The others, like me, didn’t even achieve that rank or were never in Scouting.

        • You said that the only accurate calculation would be to track all the new scouts when they join until they are Eagle or 18. Then you gave us a number based on the inaccurate calculation of 2012?
          Many of those 850 Eagles turned 18 in 2012. How many new scouts joined in 2004 or 2005 when they were new scouts? Of the new scouts in 2004, how many stayed in scouts and made Eagle?

  18. We need to remember that the purpose of Scouting is not to create Eagle Scouts. It is to produce exemplary citizens of high moral character and leadership ability. Becoming an Eagle Scout is only a by-product of that process…not the measure of success. If we generate Eagle Scouts who have not shown personal growth in citizenship, moral character and leadership, then we have failed Scouting and those Scouts.

    Unfortunately, too many parents and Scouters (volunteer and professional) seem to lose sight of that fact.

  19. Here is a rule I would like to institute: The requirements to be a registered adult leader should exceed those of Eagle Scout. To my mind, it’s pretty hollow for a bunch of adults to harp on “low standards”, “maturity”, and “appreciation of the journey” etc when most of them won’t even take the time to get their basic training, much less buy and read the relevant manuals.
    Much like the Board of Review member who demands the Scout be in full uniform when they themselves aren’t OR SM who enforces his own requirements but cant figure out why his Eagles fly the coop OR the advancement coordinator that questions every completed merit badge but wont recruit MB counselors the “real problem” is not 12 year old Eagles or any Scout for that matter. It’s adults who WILLFULLY join an organization and agree to abide by it’s policies and guidelines…….and then don’t.

    Scouting has it’s own set of mathematical axioms. One of them is this: There is an inverse relationship between the prevalence of gatekeepers on the rank of Eagle Scout and the prevalence of gatekeepers on Scoutmasters and other adult leaders. Increase one and there will be less of the other…..guaranteed.

    • That door swings both way…..

      You also have the scouts in adult led units who never actually have a position of responsibility or earn a merit badge away from a summer camp or merit badge university.

      We have adults and youth lawyering requirements. Dicing words to get around or minimizing the work required to earn the award.

      I have experienced parents arguing with me about me about SM recommendation and scout spirit requirements….

      Sorry your boy was suspended for fighting I think he needs work on his scout spirit.

      Sorry your boy was caught shoplifting I think he needs to work on his scout spirit.

      Despite your sons rank he still cannot take care of himself, so I cannot sign his recommendation to join the Order of the Arrow.

      Well Mr. SM your wrong, my boy is an angel and would never do that, I think I will take it up with the Committee Chairman, he is only a boy and it was a mistake, you can’t hold it against him. If the Committee Chairman backs you up they will simply go troop shopping. Unless the new SM calls you will never know, Then you will see an announcement in the District newsletter announcing he earned it.

      We have an Eagle candidate whose Dad signed off on every single requirement and merit badge for his eagle, are bullys, get caught using drugs on Troop outings, shoplifting at the Jamboree Shakedown, pulling knives on troop members, Caught with nekid girlfriend pics on their phone, having relations with stuffed animals on a troop outing…….on and on.

      Yet, somehow they are given their Eagle an all too short time after all of these incidents.

      If it were up to me I would have never give eagle to a single one of them…..

      • Let me respond to your situations in turn. They seem to have piled up on you:

        “You also have the scouts in adult led units who never actually have a position of responsibility or earn a merit badge away from a summer camp or merit badge university.” Answer: If it is not your unit, there is nothing you can do about it. Contact your council advancement team if it bothers you that much and then let it go. The merit badge issue is not against the rules, however.

        “We have adults and youth lawyering requirements. Dicing words to get around or minimizing the work required to earn the award.” The requirements are generally written on about a 6th grade level. Most of them have no room for “interpretation” and if they do, it’s usually on purpose. If adults are altering requirements in your unit and you have expended all means to change the situation, I’d find another unit.

        “Scout spirit……..” Straight up, signing off on Scout Spirit was never intended to be a disciplinary tool for the SM, it’s a growth tool for the Scout. If you havent addressed and corrected a serious issue prior to the Scout asking you to sign off, you have already missed an opportunity. If you did address it, and the CC doesnt back you up or attempts to sign in your place, you should talk to the COR or leave the unit. If the Scout and his family bail, you can let your head hit the pillow knowing you did your job to the best of your ability and the rest is out of your hands.

        “We have an Eagle candidate whose Dad signed off on every single requirement and merit badge…..” Well, that either means his Dad is simultaneously the Scoutmaster and the world’s most prolific properly registered MBC -OR- the SM of that troop needs to assert himself and let folks know that only he can sign off on requirements and only registered MBC’s can sign off on MB requirements.

        “drugs, sex, crime” ? At troop activities? Why are these people still members of your troop? Sounds like either you or your CC/COR has lost sight of the basic disciplinary process, forget the advancement side. You guys need a commissioner intervention………and fast.

        • Not my unit unit…..But a compilation of things posted on another scouting website…..I do have first hand knowledge of the theft, nekid girlfriend pics, and the knife. The boys were not from my unit and all involved were the sons of Scoutmasters and the home units chose to ignore as did the District Exec when he was informed.

          One of the Scoutmasters reply was, “What you expect me to kick out my own son?”

        • Hi Bob- There was an assistant scoutmaster in our troop that did just that: he basically kicked one of his son’s out of the troop. It is a tough thing to do – the young man had a lot of growing up to do. He’s fine now and a success, but his teenage years were troublesome.

        • Who said I was using scout spirit as discipline.

          Clearly fighting, shoplifting, and drug abuse all violate scout spirit.

        • Come on Bob. You posted your first post as if you had personal knowledge, then when challenged you say it was actually things posted on other web sites. Wow.

        • I did not say that in the first post old kimble.

          I said in a later post very specifically what I have first hand knowledge of.

    • Yeah, I didnt expect to get a whole lot of amens on that one. Adult accountability is not a popular concept these days.

  20. My problem comes when it’s the scouts family who pushes the award, not the scout. Too many times a young Eagle’s earn the award and then steps away forgetting how he got where he is. You have older boys who earn with days, maybe hours to go before they turn 18. They stepped away then came back and want us to bend over backwards to help them “earn” the Eagle. My son earned his Eagle between his 8th and Freshman year. He gave back to the troop until his 18th birthday. I’m proud of him – he earned his Eagle and a friend he brought into the troop as well earned his Eagle.

  21. Reblogged this on Patrick Lynch and commented:
    I do not agree that 12 year olds should be getting their Eagle Scout award that early, wait until high school. Grow a bit in the troop, get some experiences before working on Eagle, or you will be sitting around for years with nothing to do, or dropping out to do Venturing, OA, Sea Scouts, etc.

    • I’m sorry, is there something wrong with Venturing, OA, Sea Scouts, etc … ? Maybe there’s more good to do in the world besides your own troop, and your boys should hussle up and knock out that Eagle so you can git ‘er done. Who knows? Maybe they’ll pick up the qualifications to come back and enable your troop to tackle some big adventure.

      Y’all talk about young Eagles as if the life of a slacker is a foregone conclusion. Many of young eagles that I’ve seen (including my patrol leader when I was a scout who earned his bird at 13) give back YEARS of time and talent to their troops and other units.

  22. It is exhausting when I think of all these adult “leaders” that place an age on achieving Eagle. These are the same leaders that wonder why their numbers are down in their units. They are the same ones that later complain about the “fumes.” (car fumes and perfumes) I have also noticed that these badge protectors have rarely achieved the rank themselves. As the Life to Eagle Coordinator for my district I have dealt with too many scouts trying to finish their Eagle before their 18th birthday. Almost every one of their parents say these boys were set to earn their Eagle at 14 or 15, but the district representative or the unit leader believed should be 16 or older when you earn Eagle. It’s a maturity issue these leaders claim. The boys are mostly waiting for their project, but once these adults intervene the boys get into high school and you lose them for a couple of years. The boys then scramble for either leadership time or a service project. Rarely do I see an Eagle candidate that just checked the box. I think this topic says more about the adults who volunteer in scouting than the boys who are attempting to advance.

  23. If a Scout gets Eagle at age 12, I wonder whether doing so was his idea or his parents. If it was his idea, fine. If it was his parents’ idea, what was their motivation: Was it a trophy to put on a resume? Was it to make themselves look good? And did they push rather than encourage their son to get Eagle? I use “get” because it is rare that a 12-year-old is so highly motivated than he would earn Eagle without a shove from his parents. And what meaning does such a race for Eagle have? A guy recently thru-hiked the AT in 60 days. How can someone enjoy such an excursion when the scenery is just a blur, and he doesn’t pause to meet anyone, explore a town, or look around the outdoors? In the Sixties I knew a Scout who got Eagle at age 12. He quickly became bored and quit Scouting.

  24. I don’t think there needs to be a managed time limit here. There will be the rare and exceptional youth that moves through the requirements, accomplishes the leadership roles and project on a faster timeline. I would say they probably have to overcome a great deal of adult extra evaluation as they are “so young.” I would say the problem is more the expectation to drag on the program so adults get 17 year old Troop leaders but the scouts never get to own the Eagle rank and participate in the Troop as the Eagle scout and example to others. The earned it 5 minutes before my 18th birthday and all the adults passed me off on requirements on a wing and a prayer is more of an issue. I rather enjoy seeing 15, 16, and 17 year old Eagle scouts leading, teaching, and participating in our Troop rather than watching exiting scouts get handed the Eagle badge they will never wear as they are 18 by the CoH. I have 3 sons that I hope will all reach Eagle, but I know if they do they will do it at their own and very different paths and paces..

  25. Here’s a question for mikemenn and anyone else not consumed with Kimble Jr’s curriculum vitae:

    It seems that Scouting is evolving into an activity primarily designed for 11-14 year old boys. Most troops see the 15-18 year old crowd flee for a variety of reasons, with only a few coming back at 17.5 in order to get an Eagle at the last moment. Venture patrols and other means really haven’t stemmed this tide.

    Given this fact, should Scouting further tailor itself to this demographic? How best to do that? Should 14 yo Eagles be commonplace?

    What does this trend toward younger scouts mean for Philmont and other high adventure camps – should they offer programs that are open to 11-12 year olds?

    • I’m getting the feeling that every council, district and unit is different. What “seems” like is going on in one place, may be the opposite or entirely different in another. A lot of the vitriol from this blog post is probably due to this. One person’s unit or district isn’t going well, so one deduces from that that that the entire BSA is like that or vice versa.

      I work mostly with Cubs so I don’t have a feel for the Boy Scout side as much as others. But here in Atlanta, I’m not sure I’d concur with your assessment of the trends toward younger scouts. I’d rather look at it that retention is getting better from Webelos to Boy Scouts and maybe there’s just an influx of younger scouts than older ones.

      Without some economic study or hard data from BSA, we can’t deduce trends across the board here in Bryan’s little forum.

      … and I exhale slowly …. ahhhhhh…

  26. Just a couple of thoughts here… I really think the worry about 12 year old Eagles is unnecessary. They are going to be the rare exception rather than the new norm. 14? yes that will be much more common in the next few years. We’ve had one 13 and one 14 year old earn Eagle in the 8 years I have been associated with the troop. Yes, there was a lot of concern about how young they were, and the validity of one project, and mom’s role in the advancement. But you know what? As the 13 year old grew up he really did live up to his acheivement and the 14 year old seems to be doing the same and has just earned his first Eagle Palm. So… As I think I stated in earlier post, I am used to having a scout on my doorstep on the eve of their 18th birthday looking for a CC signature more often than worrying about how young they are.

    Joining at 15? Have seen just one scout in those 8 years who joined at 15. And that was so he could attend Philmont with his older brother… he is the oldest First Class scout in the troop however…

    Looking at our troop’s history, we reached 50 Eagles at the end of 2012. The troop was 24 years old at that point. With an average of 30 scouts per year registered in the troop, that works out to about 7% of scouts each year in the troop have become Eagle.
    So I don’t think it’s become too commonplace… yet.

    • This got me think what our Troop’s historical numbers are. I don’t know when the troop began, but the 1st Eagle was 1991 so it was probably 3-4 years before that year.

      In the past 23 years, the Troop has had 52 Eagles or a mean (average) of 2.3 Eagles per year. The high number was 1998 with 6 Eagles & then there are been 3 years w/o any Eagles (1994, 1996, & 2006). The mode (most prevalent number) was 2 during six of the years. The median (even amount above & below) was also 2 Eagle Scouts.

      Our Troop currently numbers about 20 Scouts. In the past, they had 3 patrols so it must have been slightly larger. Not knowing the previous troop size, we will use 20 as the base number. Thus, approximately 11% (or less) of the Troops’ Scouts earned Eagle in any given year.

      These numbers are higher than the national average of 4% or 2012 average of 7% (both numbers skewed by the methodology, but is probably the same used by national & my calculation). I don’t think 2 Eagles a year is too much for a Troop our size, but if one calculates the number of Scouts that stay in until 18 the number is probably quite a bit higher. The biggest reason for Scouts to not making Eagle is probably quitting, not the failure to complete the requirements due to running out of time.

      • Hi H. David:
        The interesting thing would be how many scouts do you have join each year?
        Do you have 4 or 5 scouts join each year? If so, then what you have is 40% or 50% of kids who join scouts become Eagle. (2 per year) If you have 10 scouts join each year and 8 of them dropping out… and a yield of 2 Eagle scouts… then you have 20% of youth who join scouts become Eagle. For you: if you had the 4% national number that is quoted… you would have to have 50 scouts join each year. Given that your troop is 20 kids, I’m pretty sure you don’t have 50 new members each year.

        • db: I haven’t been in the Troop for a year yet. Even though the Troop is small, we have 9 Asst SMs as well as the SM. Only one of them currently have sons in the troop, but all previously had them & they achieved Eagle. The current parents are very active on the Committee. Looking at the names of our Troop’s past 4 Eagles (based on the plaque on the wall of the church), 2 of their parents’ are very active. One’s parents were the CC & the Advancement Chair.

          We currently have three Life Scouts working on their Eagle Projects. One’s Father is an Asst SM & another are very active on the Committee including our Eagle Coordinator who is also the Cubmaster of his younger son’s Pack.

          We only had two Scouts join last February: My son & another boy who joined Scouting at the end of his 4th grade year. Unless some more boys my son’s age join, the Troop will likely end up with at least a 50% success rate as my son is his troop gadget away from First Class. The other Scout, however, has not reached Tenderfoot yet.

          With a small Troop & highly involved parents, that is probably the reason for our higher Eagle numbers than the national figures. The parents are not doing the work for their son, but making it a priority to get their Scout to the Scouting events & campouts demonstrates the importance of Scouting. I know that I make it a priority as Scouts comes just after school for my son. My son really enjoys doing Scouting stuff. We spent last Saturday at the local JOTA as I manned the International Table for the event. After talking on the radio to Scouts around the country and world, he wandered over to watch a woodcarver work on a Totem Pole, his Wood Badge ticket item. The woodcarver’s son was there & the two spent the rest of the day together when things got a little slow in the radio area. Tonight is the weekly Scout meeting & he volunteered to go on Wednesday to the District’s “Meet the Troops” where Webelos (from both years) can go to one place to see all the Troops in the District. We have between 15-20 Boy Scout Troops in our District, & five within just 3 miles of where we live.

          It will be interesting over the next 6 1/2 years to see how many Scouts in our Troop reach Eagle, drop out, or top out at a lower rank.

        • Thanks, H. David. I can see how in a small troop with parents who prioritize scouting may have 50% or more of scouts who join become Eagle. The point is, the stated number that people quote of “4% make Eagle” is inaccurate. The number of boys who join scouting and become Eagle is much higher. Most seasoned scouters I know estimate that it is 25% nationwide. Oh – and your troop is not small. Your troop is about the average size for the BSA. So if your troop is having 50% of scouts become Eagle – there is no reason to doubt that the other troops in the nation are not as well.

        • Compared to most of the other Troops in our District, we have one of the smallest Troops around. We have several that are well over 50 & a couple that are north of 100. I think that the 100 may be too large, but they don’t want to break it up into smaller ones. It seems to be working for them.

  27. We’re at about 30% in the past couple of decades. Lots of boys register but most quit after a couple of years. Of the boys who stick with it, 80% make Eagle. Talking senior scouters, we haven’t made it any easier. It just seems that when you have a culture of boys doing the work to earn Eagle, it inspires other boys.

    I could easily see if you had a culture of boys earning it by 14 one or two 12 year olds would step and do what it takes to advance all six ranks right quick,

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