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

  1. 12 – wow that is cranking! I want to meet those boys. You can tell if it is parent driven or boy driven. If you have a Home Schooled Boy or Young Boy (December B-Day) in a Hyper Organized Unit and finished Cub Scouts at 10. Has 1st Class – less than 6 months. 2 Years from 1st Class to Eagle. With Merit Badge Days + Scout Camp + Council Merit Badge Programs – OK, I can see it. Recommended?..Depends on the Boy. A boy doesn’t earn Eagle without Scoutmasters, Parents, Eagle Project Coordinator, and 21 Merit Badge Councilors saying – he’s ready.

    I was a 13 year old Eagle in an LDS Unit. I started at Scouts at my 11th BDay – 2 months later my 1st Merit Badge was hiking (22 Mile Hike to the Beach in August), got 1st Class at 12 went to Scout Camp right after my 12th BDay (and set my goals to know which Merit Badges I wanted to do) , was in a VERY Organized Unit – so we Backpacked – every month (excluding Snow Camp & Scout Camp). I came to every meeting, Outing, for 2 more years. 4 months later when I turned 14 – I was hired as a full Time Staff at Scout Camp teaching Swimming & Lifesaving (for 2 Summers). Half of my classes were older than I was. Fast forward 23 years later. Now I am active with my Boy’s Cub Pack (Committee Chair + Founder – 24 Boys – 2nd Year) + Wood Badge Trained (Antelope) + have 2 Boys in Scouts (and they are loving it) + District Commissioner for 45 Scout Units. It can happen. Some of us LOVE Scouting, that’s what we do.

    • That’s CRAZY!!! However there is one minor time requirement for tenderfoot. For tenderfoot requirement 10a, and 10b, you must keep a log of exersizes for 30 days and improve but its still possible.

  2. For all of you Captain Queeg types who think there is a conspiracy to give the Eagle award away, tell me where all the merit badge counselors from camps, councils, districts, troops, merit badge rallies, merit badge midways meeting? How do they decide which scouts get it for free and which have to work for it until three hours before their eighteenth birthday? I think the Wizard of Oz is giving away Scoutmaster patches to a bunch of control freaks?!

  3. If a young man is totally devoted to scouting and driven to earning his Eagle early, “give him his head”. It’s up to the adult Scouters helping him, and his parents, to make sure he’s learning his required skills and doing his best on his required badges. While such a young age gives one pause to wonder if the Scout can really grasp the material in Personal Management or Family Life, if he completes them to the satisfaction of the counselor, he meets his requirement.

    I do think the fast pace should be addressed in both Scoutmaster conferences and Boards of Review to remind the scout that “getting to Eagle” is not THE most important thing in Scouting, and that the world of Scouting has a lot to give him after he achieves that goal. Some young Scouts are just more “into Scouting” and more mature. Age alone should not prevent his advancement. The important thing is to keep him in Scouting because he’ll have a lot more to learn…and earn!

    • What is so difficult about the Family Life MB. For me, as an Eagle Scout, my experience has shown it was one of the easier Eagle required MB. The two hard ones for me were Communications (Horrible public speaker, tons of social anxiety) and personal management (the finance terms went way beyond what I could grasp). And BTW I don’t understand why knowing all the terms in the Personal Management, makes you financially prepared or financially because the majority talk about key concepts that accountants can go to school for years before they under the terms given.” Heck my MBC was an accountant and still had to go look things up himself.

  4. I feel a twelve year old is not mature enough, regardless of his ability to learn quickly and earn merit badges. JD’s comment was that he became Eagle at 13, stayed active for two more years than what. He didn’t say he stayed into mentor younger scouts. I realize that LDS Troops run slightly different than other units. I know most troops like to have those 15-17 year old’s around to keep the younger scouts on the right track. The Trail to Eagle is a long journey not just a couple of weekend campouts and a summer camp. Our lives are moving way too fast, slow down and enjoy the experience.

    • One of our Scouts earned Eagle at 13, then their family moved to Canada. He continued in Scouting and Venturing, earning Chief Scout (highest rank in Canada), and was chosen as the area youth commissioner (similar to a district).

      I would love to have patrol leaders and SPLs who were already Eagle. Wouldn’t that be great experience to build on?

      • Walter..I guess that would be okay unless it was keeping other scouts from serving in a POR since Eagles do not need a POR for Palms.

        • We don’t reserve positions of responsibility for advancement purposes. Those are either elected or appointed by the SPL as part of troop leadership. If a Scout wants a position, they need to run for election or make their interest known to the SPL.

          Leadership development overlaps a little with advancement, but it is really a separate method in Scouting (one of the eight methods).

        • Walter..didn’t say anything about reserving positions. The 8 methods are not in any particular order either but you could argue an Eagle has met and experienced both the advancement and leadership aims where the 1st Class who had never had a POR has not had as much of a chance. I like Eagles as JASMs to advise the younger SPL/PL etc.

        • It is true that you don’t need an “official” Position of Responsibility (POR) to earn an Eagle Palm but then again being “active” in a “official” POR is probably the most straightforward method to complete requirement #3 which states:

          “Make a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability.”

          Another point to consider in regards to earning a Eagle Palm is the standardized method of evaluation for what being “Active” means as per the “Guide To Advancement (2013 Revision)”, which is commonly misinterpreted by many Scouters.

          Finally, to be clear Star and Life Ranks for the leadership requirement (requirement #5 for both Star and Life Ranks) don’t necessarily absolutely require the Scout to be in an “official” POR to complete this requirement and instead may complete the requirement by doing the following:

          “Carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the Troop”

          While this is an alternative option to serving in an POR, IMHO it doesn’t coincide with the intent of the requirement based upon personal experience and other Scouting literature.

    • Jack -

      No I didn’t really stay and mentor others, as that wasn’t part of the culture. At 16 I was on to other things like the beach, dating, driving, paintball, school, and work. I know in Traditional Scout Units, that is expected and the norm. The 2 years on staff were well beyond what my peers both in LDS and Traditional Units. Venturing didn’t exist, Exploring was really about Fire or Law Enforcement, and NYLT didn’t exisit. I think had I been involved with this mysteries group called OA – I may had dobe more. There were very few 16 year old Scouts that I knew. it was time for soemthing different as interests changed. Fast forward, and now I’m making up for lost time and enjoy it again, as an adult.

      • The OA is not a mysterious group. There are no secret societies in Scouting. Things about the particulars of the OA are kept close to the chest so as to not predispose scouts and scouters to a particular experience. It is something that has to be experienced for each person gets something different from it. Since you were not a youth member, why not become an adult member and find out what the OA is really all about.

      • I personally have been constantly involved with a Scout Unit or at the district/council level continuously since I was 8. I’m now 22. I don’t understand why members who temporarily left often say “I’m marking up for lost time” because in reality to me they haven’t lost anytime. More or less what I am saying is that people aren’t just Scouts when they “wear the uniform” or “participate in Scouting activities”, because the truth is once your a Scout, you will always be a Scout. The mantra that expresses this idea most clearly is the saying “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle”. Scouting isn’t just an activity or hobby, it is a lifestyle.

    • Really, Jack? How many 17 year old give you two more active years of scouting right after they earned their Eagle? I think I stuck around for a year, then this thing called college got in the way. I made a point of visiting my troop when I was home for meeting night, maybe stopping by with the girlfriend to say “hi” to the boys at camp. Even now, with my venturing crew, the college/military-bound eagled-at-18 might drop by once or twice a year.

      JD, don’t knock yourself. You led and awesome scouting career! The “the beach, dating, driving, paintball, school, and work” was better off for having an Eagle in their company! Hopefully all of that outside-of-scouting experience will add to your adult leadership.

      And folks, isn’t that the point of Eagle? To give a scout a springboard into all kinds of opportunities that will help him and his community grow into a fine young man? All my troop and crew needs are first class scouts. (Even if they aren’t earning a patch for it, my female venturers need to be first class scouts for us to get the most from our outings). The Eagles are our gift to the rest of the world. Offer them up as soon as they are ready to leave the nest!

    • Maturity is relative, but I think in general a boy of 12 has a way to go yet. I sickened after chatting with brand-new Eagle, age “almost 13″, who was very excited because he was attending his first-ever camping trip. How did this slip through?
      I had a Second Class candidate who “earned” his First Aid MB, but had no inkling of the first aid requirements for Tenderfoot or Second Class (his father was unhappy whe he was turned down by a board of review because the boy had “earned” the MB by attending a lecture in his ward, so thought the BOR must pass him despite inability to answer simple questions about first aid).
      The BOR did not do a “retest”.

      • First off mistakes in regards to signing off requirements or MB completion doubts are NEVER the fault of the youth member. The person who signed off the requirements needs to be informed of the issue instead of taking it out on a Scout. My first question is what do you mean by “The BOR did not do a “retest”” because to me it sure sounded like you did. Additionally, how long was the BOR for the Second Class Scout?

    • Jack,

      Maturity isn’t found in the Scout Oath, Scout Law, or Scout Motto for good reason. What and who defines a particular boy at a particular age as “mature”? It’s too subjective.

      What’s not subjective is the traits in the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Scout Motto – that’s something you can SEE: helpful, kind, courteous, cheerful, etc & being prepared – and these traits are the foundation for every Boy Scout which helps them become a mature, responsible adult and productive citizen.

      Bottom line: if the boy met the requirements for the MB and/or rank, then he earned it. Period. That’s not up to you, me, or anyone else to say, “Well…you’ve did the work to meet the requirements for the rank but….I’m not going to award you the rank because I don’t think you’re mature enough yet…”

      My opinion for what it’s worth.

  5. I haven’t seen any 12 y/o’s but many 13 &14. My concern is not so much if the requirements are done, that is the job of his Eagle BoR. But, whether they understand the meaning and the responsibilities of the title, Eagle Scout. That it’s not just the next advancement

    • I have on a regular basis gotten into arguments with people who share this view because it so distracts from what we are trying to achieve in Scouting. Quite frankly, this attitude is part of the problem when it comes to boys staying involved in Scouting. And therefore it must be stopped if we are ever to stop our declining membership problem. I guess also my biggest fear from this attitude was based upon my own personal experience.

      To start off I want to say my Scoutmaster was a great role model and most definitely helped me to mature in too many ways to count. Additionally, if it wasn’t for him I don’t think I would have gotten the Scouting experience I did and will always respect him. However, one thing that in my opinion held me back was his notion that you can’t be an Eagle before your 16. I will admit that even if my Scoutmaster didn’t hold me back that I would have been a 12 year old Eagle or a 13 year old but the truth is that I could have earned my Eagle before I turned 15. Did me earning my Eagle after I turned 15 make my Scouting experience less significant or less meaningful? Probably not, but for me to be held back because of this notion for whatever justification you can think of wasn’t right in my opinion.

      However, I will say that me earning my Eagle at 15 did change the culture of the Troop and led to multiple Scouts becoming Eagle at 14. Eventually this change of culture led the Troop to having a Scout earn his Eagle when he was 13. And for me to make it possible for this cultural change to happen made me earning Eagle even more meaningful. Finally, I want to say that I have no resentment or harsh wishes for those who slowed my progress to becoming Eagle later than I should have. But it is because of this experience that I have zero tolerance for allowing this notion to be propagated in any Troop I work with.

      BTW, Eagle Scout isn’t just a title, it is so much more than that and to call it a title to me belittles the hard work these young people put in to reach the Rank of Eagle Scout. Finally, I have one closing question…………………….Are you an Eagle Scout?

  6. Boy, the things we will spend our time on rather the main thing. Ok, my two cents. The age should not be the focus, it should be the boy, so these discussions frustrate me. I don’t see Universities turning down 13 year old applicants because they are too young. They celebrate it. The Universities focus on the ability and did the student master their curriculum. Shouldn’t that be where our focus is? National Advancement, rightfully so, measures a set competency and skill level. For anyone to judge outside of these guidelines is off base. Leaders should not make their own policies. If they want an age minimum, they should talk to national to get the advancement policy changed. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, mature, 14 years of age, helpful… really?
    Now let’s get back to building men of character. Let’s have conversations on meaningful programs and getting more boys to join.

    • If the boy did the work and met the requirements for the MB or the Rank, then he earned it. Period. Again, “Maturity” is found nowhere in the Scout Law, Scout Oath, or Scout Motto because who defines maturity for a particular boy at a particular age?

      You can SEE behavior in the Scout Law, Scout Oath, and Scout Motto – and all those behaviors LEAD to a mature, responsible adult. And so what if a boy Eagles at 13…there’s the Palm program to keep him going.

  7. I’ve served on our Eagle Board for about twelve years and in that time I’ve seen a few 12-13 yr old scouts for their finals–maybe 4 or 5. I have to say from my experience these were the best presentations from a scout that I have seen in my tenure. Perhaps I’m the exception, but from my experience I’d say the scouts I’ve seen were truly great scouts and their age didn’t seem to be a factor in their abilities. In the Board of Review they don’t have mom or dad to speak for them and they do fine. I’ve seen few 17 and 1/2 yr old scouts do as well, as they seem to be more under pressure to achieve the rank. As a former SM I tried to steer my scouts to hit the Eagle mark before 15 or 16, as my experience seemed to indicate they rarely made it if they waited beyond that. I feel each scout is different, and if the Troop program is properly run, maturity and goals are the factor to consider–as the SM should be able to aid the scouts during their SM conferences to focus on attaining their goals. From my perspective, I don’t think we can apply any age rule besides the one already in place, and for me it appears to be working. Thanks.

  8. Once a scout completes the requirements and earns Eagle it’s his. But, at 12 or 13 does Eagle become a destination instead of a journey?

    • At any age, it is up to the scout.
      I certainly hope that every boy uses Eagle as a springboard to many other avenues of personal growth.

      • My son is now awaiting his SMC and BOR for completing his Eagle and he just turned 14. I am glad he had the time and determination to pursue it now rather than later. Those in his troop that wait until they are 17, are rushed and doing the project to get it done. Those in his troop achieving it early have the opportunity to take more time with the project so they have more opportunity to grow from the experience. The life skills he has gained from this experience are invaluable. Now maybe it was different for us as HE did this, not my husband or myself, as to why it makes a difference.his interpersonal skills and leadership skills soared because of his project and he is much more confident. Matter of fact, he was nominated for every leadership position for this time of voting, which has never happened before and he is from a large troop. Every boy is individual and unique, age should not be a prerequisite.

  9. I find it hard to believe any 12 year old is mature enough to be an Eagle and he should be encouraged to enjoy the journey of scouting. Advancement is only one of the Methods we employ and there should be a balance.

    • I see where you are coming from, but maturity is subjective. I’m almost 40 years old and my wife says I’m pretty immature, still I earned my Eagle by some miracle. If we went by maturity only the old grumpy Scouters would meet your maturity requirement. I would say the majority of 12 year olds in Scouting are more mature than the adult in Utah that defaced a state park and rocks from the Jurassic Age. We have to make sure they know their skills and satisfactorily fill their leadership roles. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to treat all boys with this one age fits all Eagle requirement. Some are ready for it at 13 and others it may take longer. I don’t think we should hold them up because we think 16 year olds make better Eagles. I don’t know that is what you’re saying, but I agree it has to be handled carefully.

  10. I think that 12 is too young to become and Eagle Scout. The boy(s) do not get the full understanding of everything that needs to be accomplished and I have a hard time believing they retain much of what they did if they are working on so many things at once. It does not seen possible that they could do all of the work themselves with having to go to school. It seems like becoming an Eagle Scout has been ‘cheapened’ and losses meaning when it simply becomes a check list of things to do as fast as you can.

    I work with someone who completed his Eagle Scout in two years by age 12 and compared to other Eagle Scouts I know he has no qualities of what I think an Eagle Scout should have or be. Being an ASM I have asked him questions about his scouting experience to help my sons troop, he has no memory other than to say I was an Eagle Scout by the time I was 12.

    I think that it misses the point of the basic principles of what scouting was intended to do. Like rank and merit badge requirements it seem like there should be a minimum number of years you have to be in scouts. Just my two cents.

    • Sounds like your friend didn’t have a lot of experiences when he was not trying to make Eagle. :(

      Now, if the question were should a boy only spend 2 years on Eagle and 6 years outside of scouting? I’d say no way! Because this is the result.

    • Question………………………Who are you to define what an Eagle Scout “should have” or “should be”? Being an Eagle Scout is a journey unique to the individual. Reminds me of the saying “There are many ways to slice the same but slice you must to get what you want.” The point here is that everyone seems to think that an Eagle Scout should be “this” or should be “that” and all we end up doing is getting caught up in the little details. We have got to stop nit-picking or were going to lose our youth. We are losing youth members everyday because people don’t understand that “Scouting is Outing”. Why not instead of another “advancement night” you get input from the boys and LET THEM LEAD.

      I don’t know how many times I have to explain this to people before they will get it. Maybe this will help:

      “Take some boys camping this weekend and leave them alone.”

      “Go catch your own dinner and when Earth Wind Fire and Water chases your fledglings back to you give them just enough insight to cause them to run back to those stalwarts and test their metal……..”

      “Adult leadership is killing scouting!”

      “Scoutmasters and Commissioners take back your turf!”
      “All scouting is local”
      “All else is vanity”

  11. 12 years old, maybe in extreme cases, but even though they have earned all the badges required, done all the camping, and an eagle project, they still need to understand all that they have learned, how to use it all and be mature enough to fulfill
    the qualities of being an Eagle Scout. At age 12, I do not know many boys who are mature enough to fill the honor of being an Eagle Scout. I do not believe they are ready at that age.

  12. if we want to keep kids in Scouts longer, do we insert a minimum agre requirement for the Eagle rank? maybe not before 14yrs old?

    • If all your Scouts are leaving the Troop as soon as they make Eagle, maybe the Troop needs to do some self-examination to determine the reason(s) why.

      We have a new CC & I hope that we take on this challenge because we have the same issue. Our last SPL is 15 & I don’t think we will see much of him anymore. I have my suspicions why and if he doesn’t show up much, I am going to ask him directly when I do see him.

      If the Troop is truly Boy Led & they are designing the program, why wouldn’t the Scouts want to stay to do the things they want to do?

      • While 12 may be a bit too young, going the extreme opposite (considering Eagle as only worthy of 17 year olds who are “mature”) is just as bad. I’m beginning to wonder if SM’s are subconsciously holding young boys back from rank not because they are immature or not ready, but because they know as soon as that boy makes Eagle, he’s out. The troop needs to be truly boy-led with great adult support for the boys to want to stay in until 18.

  13. Wow. An eagle scout who had never been camping? That is a massive failure on the part of countless adults. You have to go camping to earn tenderfoot. No board of review should approve tenderfoot if a scout hasn’t camped one night.

    I thought it was pretty pathetic when we had a boy from another troop campout on the lawn of our church with us (while we held ILST) so he could earn the camping merit badge of twenty nights before turning 18.

  14. I have a question then….My son turned 12 in June. He started as a Tiger, so he crossed at 10 1/2. He has almost 30 nights camping, 140 service hours this year alone, never missed a meeting or outing, and has 20 merit badges. He just made Life scout. Not because his goal is Eagle, just because of the natural progression of being active and loving scouting. We ran into a Cub Scout Den leader and her daughter the other day that knew my son from staff at Day camp for Cub scouts. She said she had asked her daughter if she knew my son. She thought he was a Sophmore and was shocked to find out he is in 7th grade. The committee on his Life board said they had never seen such a good board of review. There was no doubt he knew his stuff. If he was to finish his project in the next 6 months before turning 13, are you saying he is less deserving than an immature 17 year old that is barely active and only wants to make Eagle?

    • I forgot to mention he was elected to join OA ahead of alot of scouts several years older, and was told he should apply as a summer camp CIT until they realized he wasn’t eligible for two more years. If it makes a difference

    • Hi Scott- I wouldn’t say your son is less deserving. He sounds like he’s having fun, doing everything that is required and then some. My argument would be that earning Eagle is too easy. We give merit badges away – and scouts are not proficient in the subject. Your son might be proficient… but as a whole, we have fifteen year old merit badge counselors at summer camp who do not know much more than the scouts they are counseling giving away merit badges. It used to be if someone was an Eagle scout you would assume that they had some personal initiative to achieve and a drive to overcome obstacles. But that’s not the case anymore. Many have been spoon fed the earlier ranks and then mom or dad helps them cross the finish line. I was talking to a guy in another troop and they have about 7 or 8 kids join their troop every year – so a troop of less than 40. They have 7 or 8 scouts get Eagle every year. So 100% of kids earn Eagle in his troop. Yet we hear a marketing line from BSA corporate about “Only 4%” become Eagle? I wonder how that line goes over at that troop’s Eagle Courts of Honor? Basically anyone who stays in scouts can figure out a way to get to Eagle pretty easily.

      • I agree with that. I think less of the rank of Eagle now than I did when in Cub scouts, or even a year ago. Seeing how easy it is too achieve if you work for it. While my son is thinking of ideas for his Eagle project, his big goal is NOAC in 2015, and going on an OA trail crew at Philmont when he is 16. He also seems more interested in the Outdoor achievement awards and the activities needed to earn. I don’t know when he will make Eagle, or even if he will, but if it is before June, he will have earned it himself, and you can’t take that away because he is 12.

      • @ db: Where in the Merit Badge requirements does it say at what level of proficiency a Scout must reach? Most of the requirements say “demonstrate” something or “discuss” something. There is nothing that says the knots have to be tied in less than 10 seconds or that the 200 yards of swimming must be done in a certain amount of time, the surveying must be done at the professional level, or the diagram of Scout’s bedroom must look the same as one done by an architect. The MB requirements do not usually discuss at what level the discussion with the MB Counselor the conversation must be done at. I have a Masters degree in military history & when I do the American Heritage MB at the local museum, we choose a local Civil War battle that all the Scouts attending research so that we do not have a dozen different events to discuss. Since I have done extensive research on the battle, I know quite a bit about it. I do not expect a Scout to be able to discuss the nuances of the “hammer and anvil” attacks that took place several times in the campaign that led up to the local battle.

        The First Aid Merit Badge is not a sign that the Scout is ready to become an EMT on an ambulance and the Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge is not a sign that the Scout can run the local FEMA agency. Now if the Scout comes to the First Aid Merit Badge with his personal First Aid kit consisting of a single band aid in his pocket, then it probably needs some work. While there are suggestions of what to put in a personal First Aid kit, there is nothing in the MB requirements that says the Scout fails if they leave a particular item out. Moleskin is a good item to have in a First Aid Kit, but I never used it a single time I was in the military even though I was in the Light Infantry and conducted many “hikes.”

        If the Scout meets the MB requirements as written, nothing more & nothing less, they earn the MB. Making the Scout reach a certain proficiency level that is not in the MB requirements to pass the Scout is adding to the requirements. That is not authorized.

        • Hi H. David: We don’t even have to discuss “proficiency” when we talk about how summer camps give away merit badges. I’ll give you an example. Swimming merit badge has a lot of requirements. It says to demonstrate various swimming strokes. It says to dive head first. One of the options is to do a racing dive. I’ve seen scouts who CAN NOT swim receive the swimming merit badge at summer camp.

          At summer camp this summer my son was in a cooking merit badge class. My son did no cooking all week. None. zip. nada. At the end of the week, the counselor signed everyone off in the class for requirement #4 which involves cooking two dinners, a lunch and a breakfast. One scout had every cooking requirement signed off by the counselor – I have no idea how that came to be. A scout with fifteen nights camped was marked completed for the camping merit badge.

          Skirting requirements by legal reading of the letter is wrong. Art merit badge is another example. Summer camps give this one away, too. One of the requirements is to visit a gallery or a museum. How do they meet that? They tack up art work previous scouts left behind onto the walls and call it a gallery. It’s a big joke. The scouts know it is a joke – and we’re teaching them how to do the rig the system as opposed to using the merit badge program to helping them further their careers, skills, hobbies and education.

          I’m not talking about one council with a bad camp. I’ve been around as an adult leader for over a decade. Variations of this goes on at all the camps I’ve been to (10 different camps in 6 different councils), and some are worse than others.

          Earning the rank of Eagle is neither rare nor difficult. All you have to do is show up enough times at the right places where you can receive a merit badge for attending.

        • Hi db: It may be a matter of semantics, but if you used “did not meet standards” instead of “proficiency” I would be with you. “Proficiency” has certain connotations to me such as doing something at a certain skill level. Cooking says to cook so many meals. It does not have to be something we would get at a 5-star Restaurant.

          Concur with you about bad camps, but we need to improve them how we can. Our camp makes those that do the Art MB bring in a statement from SM/Parent that the trip to the Art Museum was completed. I had my son do it one better (as a parent not a MBC) & had him bring in pictures of his visit to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum.

          Concur that some MBs are just given away. The first MB Forum my son went to was in a neighboring District, but we will not be back. My son “earned” his Automotive Maintenance MB & never worked on a car. On the other hand, his Coin Collecting MBC would not sign off on one of the requirements because he forgot to bring in his $1 coin. He also failed to earn his Aviation MB because he did not go on the “optional” field trip the next weekend that conflicted with his Troop campout. Turned out it wasn’t optional if one wanted their MB. We are not going back because of the latter 2 incidents because he completed the Coin Collecting & will eventually complete the aviation. We are not returning due to the former as he did not meet the “nothing more, nothing less” standard the MB. I will have him reearn that MB when he is a little older when he is closer to driving age & hold his driving priviledges over his head if he doesn’t.

          I’ve only been to 2 camps. Both seemed to hold the Scouts to the standards, but then again I had my son read the MB Pamphlet for each MB, & complete as much of the work before camp that I thought would be tough to do in a week. I had my son provide pictures of his animals (Mammal Study), Birds (Nature), etc. so even if the counselor was lax I knew that my son completed the requirements properly.

          I think we agree more than we disagree.

  15. I was told by a superintendent of Schools who talked to his counselors about this, that making Eagle before High School does not look good on scholarship applications or college applications. That they discourage it.

    • Nope, nope, and nope. It boggles the mind how far people will go to prove their point. This is probably one of the goofiest attempts.

    • Please back up your stats and provide sources for your conclusion. Something said by someone who talked to someone else doesn’t prove it’s correct. And anyway how does the fact that HS Counselors know when it is good or when it is bad tto earn Eagle.

  16. As a mother of an Eagle scout and Current Bear Cub, I think if the boy does the work and is that motivated, then so be it. My question would be what are they truly learning, are they able to absorb and apprecite the lessons they are learning and are they practicing what they have learned. M oldest, now 18, earned his Eagle at 14. He was a mature 14 yr old, but I didn’t push him he pushed himself. I think that is what is most important. Every boy is an individual and unique in there own way and should be treated as such.

  17. I think this all depends on the Scout himself. I know of 2 boys that the younger brother seems more mature and will make eagle no problems, and if he did so before his older brother it would not surprise me. The other 11 yr olds in the troop will maybe make it just shy of 18 for how immature they are compared to others. So it depends on the Scout.

  18. My son is one of those 12 year old Eagles. He crossed to Boys Scouts after earning his Arrow of Light and was 10 years old. He knew what he wanted and had his goal in mind. I don’t think it is for every scout but for some it is just their determination to stay on point. Now at 13 he is enjoying OA and working on his palms. His next goal is to earn all the merit badges. I think we shouldn’t look at the age but at the boy.

  19. Sorry if I missed it in one of the replies above, but there was a 1-month long requirement for Tenderfoot the author forget to mention in the article above (the 30-day improvement of exercises). So, it takes at least 17 months for one to get from Boy Scout rank to Eagle Scout rank.

  20. I don’t think 12 yr olds are qualified to be Eagle Scouts. They might tick all the requirement boxes and put in the time, but are in no way mature enough to understand what being an Eagle Scout is. I also don’t believe they are capable of completing an Eagle service project on their own. I’ve found, as an advancement chairman, that the boys who rush through checking off requirements and getting ranks, don’t really learn the skills for the long haul. They’ve just memorized them to get the box checked. (I’m not saying they should wait until they are 17 yrs, 11 mos and 25 days old either.) What’s the rush? Slow down and enjoy the scouting journey. If they’re meant to be an Eagle Scout, they will be. I’m the proud mom of a newly minted 16 yr old Eagle Scout. He could have made Eagle sooner but we helped him to see that it’s not a sprint to the finish, but a marathon with a lot to discover. He’s proud of himself and so are we.

  21. I think is is better that the boy be a little older when he earns his eagle. This gives him adequate time to mature, explore his leadership opportunities, give back to the Cub Scout pack, attend NYLT, Jamboree, and a couple High Adventure bases along the way. He needs to spend time as a quartermaster where he can explore more fully the needs of the unit on outings, he needs to serve as a Chaplin’s Aide where he can explore his faith and encourage other scouts to do the same and he needs to show leadership as a Patrol and Senior Patrol Leader to understand how it feels to be responsible for others. That my friends takes a while. 2 years is not long enough. I think it cheapens the rank. If that trend continues, employers, military, college admissions personnel are going to stop preferring those who have earned the rank. We need to keep Eagle Scout as prestigious as we possibly can and encourage our boys to soar!

    • None of what you just purposed was ever a requirement. Like it not, kid’s today are smarter and mature faster than 20 or 30 years ago. Technology is a great thing.
      And to me a boy that earns Eagle is lazy and rushed at the end. Making Eagle does not mean leaving scouting. Shitty programs cause that. Not making Eagle. And if I was interviewing someone that was an Eagle scout, that would not impress me at all. My first question would be, How many palms did you earn after making Eagle scout? Next question, What other national scout awards did you earn? Hornaday? Outdoor Achievement? Super Nova? Making Eagle might mean something to those outside of scouting, but really, there is only one reason it isn’t earned. Laziness. Your troop activities will carry you to first class if your active. Then it is up to you to do the rest. And Palms and other awards show you went the extra mile. How many palms can you earn if you make Eagle 2 months before 18?

      The problem is that there are too many adults in scouting that failed to make Eagle, so since they couldn’t do it, it should be made harder. Same requirements you had. They just have what it takes at a younger age and you didn’t. Don’t blame them. Beef up your program and keep them active. Encourage them to earn palms, stop trying to hold them back.

      • None of what you just purposed was ever a requirement. Like it not, kid’s today are smarter and mature faster than 20 or 30 years ago. Technology is a great thing.
        And to me a boy that earns Eagle at 17 1/2 is lazy and rushed at the end. Making Eagle does not mean leaving scouting. Shitty programs cause that. Not making Eagle. And if I was interviewing someone that was an Eagle scout, that would not impress me at all. My first question would be, How many palms did you earn after making Eagle scout? Next question, What other national scout awards did you earn? Hornaday? Outdoor Achievement? Super Nova? Making Eagle might mean something to those outside of scouting, but really, there is only one reason it isn’t earned. Laziness. Your troop activities will carry you to first class if your active. Then it is up to you to do the rest. And Palms and other awards show you went the extra mile. How many palms can you earn if you make Eagle 2 months before 18?

        The problem is that there are too many adults in scouting that failed to make Eagle, so since they couldn’t do it, it should be made harder. Same requirements you had. They just have what it takes at a younger age and you didn’t. Don’t blame them. Beef up your program and keep them active. Encourage them to earn palms, stop trying to hold them back.

    • Sorry Daniel, my ideal troop (of highly motivated and “all above average” as they say in Wobegon, Minn) would have half of the Scouts already of Eagle rank and the other half en-route. The already Eagles would be mostly in the background as coaches and resource people, while the others would work on their teaching skills (including that the best way to really learn a subject is to teach it) and leadership as PLs, APLs. The bridge between the two being at the SPL level. The “boy run” Troop would require very little adult intervention or supervision for a sterling program. A 99.9% of the parents would be happy and 101% volunteering at the-drop-of-a-hat. And, herefore, I can be comfortable with a 12 or 13 year old Eagle that has earned the rank. I am also comfortable with a boy, what ever rank, who says that says “thank you” to Scouting, I’ve had a good time, made friendships, learned about the outdoors, useful skills, matured, but going into high school I am ready to new adventures and experiences.

      – But in the real world, I am trying to keep alive my old Troop in a neighborhood that “has changed” (and not for the better). Most of Scouts in this part-of-town find school difficult or are already placed in special ed, have personal and social issues, limited span of attention and concentration, “diversity,” weak self-image, mixed up families, …, attendance problems, …; all resulting in a struggling troop that requires extra effort to just keep going and an up-hill-trail completing advancement work to have quarterly Courts of Honor. If a boy makes First Class in 3 or 4 years and earns a handful of MB, it is chalked it up as a success. The opportunity for more is available, but realistically a few devoted adult Scouters, overextended (grand)mothers, and a sinking sponsoring institution can only do so much. …

  22. Well maybe we have strayed a little too far from the original ideas.

    The 1911 requirements for Eagle are:

    Any first-class scout qualifying for twenty-one merit badges will be entitled to wear the highest scout merit badge. This is an eagle’s head in silver, and represents the all-round perfect scout.

    Also in the 1911 version of the Boy Scout Handbook there are only The Three Classes of Scouts.

    Tender Foot
    Second-class Scout
    First-class Scout

    In this version it specifies that to become a scout a boy must be at least twelve years of age.

    Life Scout
    The life scout badge will be given to all first-class scouts who have qualified for the following five-merit badges: first aid, athletics, life-saving, personal health, and public health.

    Star Scout
    The star scout badge will be given to the first-class scout who has qualified for ten merit badges. The ten include the list of badges under life scout.

    Eagle Scout
    Any first-class scout qualifying for twenty-one merit badges will be entitled to wear the highest scout merit badge. This is an eagle’s head in silver, and represents the all-round perfect scout.

    So it seems that the overall requirements for Scouting have become both easier and more difficult at the same time.

    Easier in the sense that a boy could start at 10 1/2 (with Arrow of Light) and Harder in the sense that the rank requirements are more difficult to achieve other than just getting merit badges.

    I think that Baden-Powell recognized the importance of rewarding and recognizing a boys achievements as soon as possible and probable would squirm at the requirements we have today. He might just state that we are trying to hold boys back and should not. I also think he would firmly disagree with allowing boys into scouting prior to the age of 12.

    After all he was looking to raise young men. At the age of 10 1/2 or 11 you are hardly on the doorstep of manhood. At 12 you are now on the doorstep.

  23. I might also add that with the original requirement there is a greater emphasis on the boys gaining an embedded learning and real utility out of the 21 Merit Badges. The focus was to hone those skills not rush through them. As a First Class Scout you have the basic fundamentals in place. The additional Merit Badges build upon and expand those skills. I would rather have a First Class Scout that was and expert in the 21 Merit Badges than and Eagle who simply ticked off the requirements. remember we are building LEADERS and to be one you have to have real working knowledge and the skills to be one.

    BTW I never made Eagle but sure as heck honed the skills I learned as a First Class Scout and still use almost all of the today…..40 years later. I would be proud of my son if he carries those same skills through life as I have…

    • I’m with Peter. The system the BSA has set up for merit badges is “check box”. The scout does not need to gain any level of proficiency in the subject matter . I’ll take a scout who is proficient in outdoor skills any day of the week over a paper Eagle scout every time.

      Here’s a case in point about merit badges. Last summer I began working with a small group of scouts on their kayaking skills one night per week. Most of them had “earned” the merit badge at summer camp that year or the year before. I asked them about the trucker’s hitch. Trucker’s Hitch? they asked. Yes – it’s a requirement. “Our counselor never showed us the trucker’s hitch”. How about different strokes? Draw? Sweep? Any bracing? Nope. Did you do requirement #8? Nope. The thing is: it’s a real shame. The boys want to learn this stuff. The boys know that summer camp merit badges are a joke, yet we pretend that the boys might know something as a result. Anyway – our little group went through a basic intro to kayaking that covers the requirements that are in the merit badge and some additional instruction in navigation, charts, tides, currents, radios, etc. The boys had fun – and then we had basic preparation before going on our longer trip in late summer.

      • We actually need to take the time and teach otherwise we are catering to the entitlement perspective of “I attended I deserve the award….”. To the boys there is no real meaning other than showing up and you get some bling. needless to say this is not the case for all programs. However I think that National has created a very bad situation for Troops/Districts/Councils to rack up Eagle Scout numbers and not quality young and capable leaders.

        I challenge every adult leader to spot check any scout who has the first aid Merit Badge. Ask them what to do for a compound fracture or something they should know.

        If they don’t get it do you really want your other scouts relying on them?

        We as leaders owe it to our Scouts, scouting and the general public to make dang sure our Scouts are trained correctly and not rushed to make rank….That hurts all of us.

  24. I would be extremely skeptical of any candidate for Eagle Scout who is under the age of 14, and even then…

    With very rare exception, these boys do not have the maturity and life experience to lead in the ways I would expect of an Eagle Scout.

    I’m willing to sit down and listen to their presentation, but I will be asking very tough questions about how they would handle Scouting-related situations. My socks would need to be blown off to say yes to an Eagle candidate this young. I would also be suspicious of how much of the work was done by the scout himself and not his parents, up to and including his project.

  25. So a 12yr old Eagle scout. I don’t know what to think about that. It’s almost impossible. There are time requirements that are there to make sure those boys are learning thongs and can help train boys with what they have learned. I am all for boys who are motivated to become eagles but why rush it? Take some time and enjoy your scouting years.

  26. Wow! I am obviously not alone in having many thoughts on this topic.

    First, I think it is important to note that we are talking about something that is never going to happen often and when it does, the Scout will be almost 13 and not just barely 12.
    * Most states require students to be age 6 by Sep 1 (or something very close to that date) for first grade admission. That means that a Webelos crossing over in late February/early March of his 5th Grade year will be at least 10 1/2.
    * Sixteen months is the minimum time from First Class to Eagle (4 to Star, 6 to LIfe, 6 to Eagle), but the statement above that a Scout could make Eagle in 17 months (with the 30-day Tenderfoot physical fitness requirement) doesn’t hold water.
    * Unless the Troop has an incredible activity calendar and super-human adult leaders, it will take more than 30 days to do 10 patrol/troop activities (other than meetings), three of which need to be overnight camping.
    * There are also the cooking requirements. It will depend on Troop/Patrol size, the number of campouts, and the number of new Scouts how soon a Scout will be able to complete these — there tends to be a bottleneck on these requirements, especially if you use the “New Scout Patrol” approach.
    * I think that 10 – 12 months is a good target for achieving First Class.
    * That puts a realistic minimum time to Eagle at 26 – 28 months. That does mean that a Scout who joined at 10 1/2 – 10 3/4(ish) could make it to Eagle before his 13th birthday IF (and only if) everything else goes perfect.
    * One thing that will have to be perfect will be an open Position of Responsibility when the boy earns First Class. Once again, this will depend on the size of the Troop, the Patrol structure, etc. I know that in our Troop a boy needs to plan ahead and sometimes run/apply for a position before he achieves the next rank in order to avoid a delay and some terms we have more boys wanting positions than there are positions.
    * Eagle projects also rarely come together without a few hiccups and challenges that have to be overcome (that is part of their value). We have two boys in our Troop who are just now finishing their projects that were each planned for this past summer, but there were glitches.
    * That also means averaging one merit badge every 5 or so weeks.

    All that said, a boy who achieves Eagle before his 13th birthday has been very focused. Still. . .

    I prefer that boys be older when the earn their Eagle. All the focus required in a race to Eagle doesn’t leave much time to “stop and smell the roses” and to have fun. I also think that a boy a few years older will get more out of his work on some of the merit badges, such as Personal Management, and I also think they will get much more out of the planning and execution of their project. Additional experience will give them more confidence and competence when leading their project. I know that each boy is different, but my son could not have completed his Eagle project nearly as successfully at 12 at he did at 15. He doesn’t think there is anyway he could have done it. Older Scouts also are more likely to have the confidence (and teenage attitude) to better deal with well-meaning but overly “helpful” parents and adults.

    I will also say, my son, who has been on camp staff for two years (and a year before that as a CIT), is concerned by very young Eagles. Those he has talked to, at camp, about their experience earning their Eagle can’t seem to talk specific experiences – only that they did it by age 12 or 13. That makes him wonder if they only scratched the surface of the requirements and didn’t get the full depth of the experience.

    All that said, my opinion doesn’t really matter. If a boy earns Eagle before he turns 13, he is an Eagle. Period. The only qualification I will make is that he needs to realize that he is a “marked man” and much will be expected of him. He lives up to the Eagle by what he does after that.

    For those who believe merit badges and ranks are just being “given away,” I trust you will be contacting your District Commissioner or Committee Chair to find out how you can help out as a member of the Commissioner Corp, a member of the District Advancement Committee, and/or a merit badge counselor.

    Mike Dunn

  27. I earned my Eagle just before I turned 14, was in a very active troop, 562 Theodore Roosevelt council, have to thank my SM John Bedway for encouraging a shy lad to strive for excellence. My son earned his just before he turned 18, I think a scout earns it if and when he’s ready

  28. So – I have been fairly quiet in that I have a boy who will be an Eagle a month before he turns 13. However, I have seen tons of opinions on if a boy is ready at 12 or not.

    I sure don’t think that a boy at the age of 15 whom you see on occasion or does not show leadership is a eagle candidate when he is 17.99 years old. It shows to me that they don’t have a plan and that they are just being led by their hormones or their wandering interests – and then when they turn 17 is when they come to you and say “I would like to complete my Eagle.”

    I have a 12 year old who is very meticulous, has a plan, works through everything – forgets some things – but ya know what? I have yet to see a Scout in a Eagle Board of Review that has remembered stuff from when he was a Tenderfoot when they are 18 years old. Some kids are there to wander through the roads like a Model A Ford, some have the ambition to do it in a Mosarati. I, as the Scoutmaster should not be at any part of time be telliing the Scout “no, you aren’t mature or old enough.”

    The Scout is going to work through those pressures, in fact some will break down and cry because they aren’t reaching their goals – or some of them get so upset with themselves they slow down naturally. The ones who bridge over at 10 are still in the hard charging mode, and you have to capture that and move them forward.

    I have seen adults who are 30-40 who attained their Eagle – who I don’t think are mature enough for it. Just remember, in 1949, the average age of an Eagle Scout was 14. Today, because of Scoutmaster attitudes, the age is 17.

    I can see a major fundamental change in the program in the U.S. Cubs bridge at 10 to Scouts, Scouts bridge at 15 to Venturing. It’s coming, because Senior Scouts need Age appropriate things to do away from the static of the younger crowd.

    • well said Matt. And just like the massarati made the Model A obsolete, technology has made things change. Boys mature sooner now than 100 years ago. Requirements are easier than 100 years ago. Just like they were 30 years ago compared to 1911.
      They didn’t even have back packs in 1911. Check the history. They had them in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. So, when you think about it, no one has truly earned Eagle in 50 years if we are comparing everything to 1911.
      If a boy makes Eagle and isn’t ready, that is because he was in a shitty troop with shitty leaders. It is that simple. It has nothing to do with age. His lack of skill is the fault of the troop, no one else’s. If you camp monthly and follow the troop program resources, they have to pull their weight and they will no doubt have the skills.
      Most of the merit badges are irrelevant. Life skills merit badges are not. As an adult, you don’t need to know how to pilot a kayak. You sure as hell need to know how to cook and know first aid.
      So how often do you hold a disaster weekend and do First Aid training? Which month is Cooking theme? Do you have a troop feast weekend where the boys work on cooking skills all month long, and then have a campout close to home so the boys can cook a feast on Saturday and parents come out to eat? How many Den Chiefs do you have teaching cub scouts? How often do your scouts staff Cub scout events teaching knots and first aid?
      Don’t blame your short comings on a boys age

  29. If you find it compulsory to deny or discourage a boy because of his age you should either reconsider or donate your uniform and find something else to do.

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