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

  1. I think 12 years is too young. Does the young man learn anything? Most 12 year olds I see still need to mature. They have not had the time to mature. Advancement has been made to easy for the young scouts today. There is no time in rank, from Tenderfoot to First Class thus the young man does do not mature through time and the positions of responsibliity, instead he gets it in a crash course. I support the young as they progress through the ranks, encourage them to advance.and do there best.

      • Carson Huey-You is attending Texas Christian University to become a quantum physicist. TCU360 reports that Huey-You is starting off his freshman year at age 11, although he was admitted at age 10. The dean of admissions couldn’t recall ever accepting such a young student — or possibly even one with such a spotless record.
        The aspiring young physicist graduated from the Accommodated Learning Academy in Grapevine, Texas, with a 4.0 GPA; he was the co-valedictorian of his senior class. He also scored a cumulative score of 1770 on his SAT with a 620 in math

        JUST DON’T LET HIM BE AN EAGLE SCOUT!!!!

  2. As a troop Advancement Coordinator, in my opinion, the only way a scout can earn Eagle that soon, is if his parents and the leaders of his troop are “actively” planning out and executing his path to Eagle. If the scout must hold a position of responsibility (PoR), AS A First Class Scout for 4 months, AS A Star Scout for 6 months, and then select/plan/execute a Eagle caliber service project while a Life Scout, then the scout is being moved to a new PoR almost immediately after achieving rank. I believe the purpose of the scouting program is to learn and apply life changing skills as they mature enough to benefit from them. However, IF THE SCOUT is really self-motivated and mature enough to apply all that he learns through a condensed scouting experience, then he ABSOLUTELY should be awarded the Eagle rank. My hope is that he will stay with the program, proudly wearing his Eagle badge, and teach his skills to others and continue to grow in the experience.

    • Actually, it has nothing to do with rank. My son has always held a POR. By that I mean every single day he has been in scouts. There are about 15 PORs in a two patrol troop. And alot of troops have around 15 or so boys. It is quite possible to hold a POR at all times

      • Concur with Scott. We have a small Troop of about 16 Scouts. My son became the Historian when they held SPL/PL elections just after he joined last February. The other positions are appointed by the SPL with advice/consent of the SM. My son has been the historian ever since. I think he will be running for PL in the next election as he has his 1st Class BOR next Monday.

        I don’t think there will be probably finding a leadership position in our troop unless we go through an expansion. There are about 10 Webelos that visited us recently so we might eventually have to form a 3rd patrol. That is a good problem to have.

    • The requirement is one or more. If you are a Quartermaster when you make Star and 4 months later you are elected as PL, At the end of the six months, you have been in positions of responsibility for 6 months

    • “IF THE SCOUT is really self-motivated and mature enough to apply all that he learns through a condensed scouting experience, then he ABSOLUTELY should be awarded the Eagle rank.”

      Who decides/determines if the scout is self-motivated and mature enough?

      • Jack, I understand your comment after re-reading my original, so I would like to clarify. I am all for a scout achieving Eagle early rather than late, so long as the whole process is not driven by the parents and the troop leaders, with the scout being dragged along being told exactly what to do and when to do it (self-motivated). The program is supposed to be boy led, boy executed, with guidance and encouragement from the adults. As for maturity, I was referring to things like Personal Management MB or Communications, that are difficult for most 12yr olds to really get yet, not saying none of them can. I don’t mean there has to be some board that has to “decide/determine if the scout is self-motivated and mature enough”. If they can “explain”, “do”, or “demonstrate” to their MB counselors all the requirements as written (nothing more, nothing less), then they should achieve the rank. It should not matter that they are 12 as long as the scout did the work. I did say in my post that it was my opinion. It just feels like they would almost have to be pushed through the system to achieve Eagle that early.

        • The ability to complete a requirement as determined by your use of the word maturity would not be in-line with what current developmental psychology says about “maturity”. Being “mature” and “knowledgeable” while they can be synonymous to each other they can also mean radically different things.

    • “…………..and then select/plan/execute a Eagle caliber service project while a Life Scout,……..”

      This is where a common issue with Eagle Projects comes up quite often. And that is ensuring a certain “caliber” of project but many people seem to have too high or too lofty of goals. These high expectations while they start fairly end up being taken to a level that is not required of the Life Scout. It becomes very obvious, when a unit continually has Scouts with larger and larger and more grandiose projects and this is where my concern lies. Also remember that National does not require X amount of hours in order for the project to qualify. And if people are placing a minimum of hours they are violating the Guide to Advancement (GTA).

      “………….then the Scout is being moved to a new POR almost immediately after achieving rank.”

      Requiring a Scout have to have three completely different POR is is banned as per the GTA. While doing the same POR for all three ranks isn’t the most ideal situation it is still allowed. However, would I recommend that a Scout not try several different positions, probably not but again it isn’t up to the adults to decide which Scout holds which position. That is the responsibility of the youth leaders in the Troop and therefore going against this idea does not allow the youth to have a true Scouting experience where they are empowered to lead and make decisions for the unit.

    • What gives you the right to judge whether a Scout is “really self-motivated” or “mature enough”? Being the advancement coordinator you don’t have the right to determine whether or not the Scout is ready to advance. That is up to the Scoutmaster and doing otherwise defeats the intent and undermines his authority. One thing to make clear here is what the Board of Review (BOR) is for.

      The purpose of the BOR is not to review the validity of the requirements being complete. Once the requirement or MB is signed off, it is signed off permanently, and there is no recourse that can be taken against the Scout. However, it would most definitely be appropriate to inform the person who signed-off the requirement of their mistake. If it is in regards to a MB, the appropriate action to be taken would be to inform your District Advancement Committee Chair of the error and let that particular volunteer sort things out. Additionally the person is strongly encouraged to not contact the MBC as that could possibly lead to a serious conflict of interest.

  3. There has been a lot of discussion on this but, I think we should remember that just because it may be possible to earn Eagle while 12, doesn’t make it probable. Consider the fact that in 2011, the average age boys earning the Eagle rank was 17.1 years. Also, consider that the average age in 1949 (when you had to be 12 to join) was 14.6!

    • There are 3 reasons for that. A shitty program, A lazy scout, and alot more other activities than in 1950. If a scout could make Eagle in two years back then why not now? Hell, it is ten times easier now. My son just finished Citizenship in the World. He didn’t have to wait until I could drive him to a town with a big enough library for a foreign newspaper. Popped on line, bam. Reading a newspaper in under a minute. Easy!!
      Some boys play baseball, etc and are in scouts. Others are fully focused on scouts only.
      When you have a good program and camp EVERY month, and also hike or take a bike trip EVERY month, and have skills instructions in your meetings. Scout to First class is only a few month journey. 10 outings for First class? 5 months tops. Hike and Campout each month is 2 outings a month. throw in 2 service projects, you are now at 4. A boy crosses over 4 months before summer camp. Well, got to take a swim test for camp. Just knocked off those First class requirements. Easy!!!

  4. I’m disheartened so many adults support the current state of affairs that permit a pre-pubescent aged boy to achieve Eagle. Basically the low standards that you all support and put into use everyday means that the rank of Eagle scout isn’t worth much. Just because there are examples of the 1 in a million kid in college doesn’t mean every kid should be graduating college at 13. If 1 in a million kids got Eagle at age 12 or 13, it would occur only once every twenty years. Instead we’re seeing an increase in the number of every year. We need to look in the mirror and reflect on what we’ve done.

    • explain to me how the requirements are easier now? Are there not more requirements now than in 1912? The rank of Eagle scout doesn’t mean anything. You are correct. With the technology today, there is no reason every boy scout should not make Eagle. Need a merit badge book but can’t get to the scout shop? Download the PDF or order online. Can’t get to the library? Internet!! Want to work on a merit badge you can’t find a counselor for? Merit badge day.
      Lazy? You won’t make it then.

      • Lots of lazy kids make Eagle every year. You don’t have to work to earn a merit badge, you just need to show up for a “merit badge class”. The requirements are easier and we do not require people to be able to actually do what is required. It is much easier now that we give away merit badges, we give everyone a position of responsibility and do not require much of them. We explicitly state that they do not need to be leaders. We do not hold them to high standards and we write rules that prohibit scouters from holding boys to high standards. The rules hold kids to the minimum and the result is that we get the minimum. The system has been fine tuned to ensure that we’re getting lots of Eagles, it is not about excellence or quality.

        • Then you are providing a shitty program, and that is the fault of your leadership. Even though BSA rules say a parent can sign off, I do not allow it. In 2013, our troop has 38 nights of camping so far, and has hiked over 120 miles, biked over 150 miles, and canoed over 50 miles. And numerous service projects. The oppurtunities are provided for advancement. All they have to do is take advantage. And most do.
          I am not going to seek out a new scout to sign off a req. If they come to me when leaving for a campout and say they want to present themselves properly dressed for a campout, and hand me their book, the system works.

        • No – not at all. We have an excellent program and we do not emphasize Eagle at all. Our troop has 75 nights camping per year, we have over 25 hikes per year covering over 200 miles. We had two high adventure trips last year and we have five this coming year. We have about 25 service projects per year (where a single kid could serve about 100 hours in a year) and where we donate approximately $10,000 to the community every year in materials. You just mentioned how you break the BSA rules. If you follow the BSA rules – then everyone gets Eagle because the rules are written that way. It is an award that requires minimal effort and has been written to have low standards. The rules say you have to award a merit badge that is fraudulent – but then you can write a letter of complaint after the fact to your council. Instead, the BSA should be writing rules that empower local leaders to do what you do: don’t allow parents to be their MB counselor. Or that allow us to withhold a merit badge when we know a scout has not met the requirements.

        • Yes, I don’t follow all of them. Some are too lax. But, it is the guide to advancement, not the rules of advancement. We are not an Eagle mill, and haven’t had one in several years. But we have 5 12 and 13 year old Life scouts and 3 of them are ready and worthy of the rank of Eagle. The other 2 are not. I also have a 16 year old Life scout that won’t make Eagle unless he changes.
          My son is a 12 year old life scout. he doesn’t give a crap about eagle, he loves the outdoors. but being active he naturally progresses.

        • Does your historian maintain a troop scrapbook? Ours does. Does your librarian check out books and keep records? ours does. Does your scribe take minutes and keep attendance records? Ours does. Does your Plc meet every week? ours does. Does your troop instructor assign older scouts to teach younger scouts during skills instruction? Ours does. And the Quartermaster is responsible for the trailer and gear.
          I transport and make reservations where they chose to go.
          Don’t judge all youth based on your short comings. Get your troop to a boy led troop. It isn’t always perfect, but that’s how they learn.

        • You cannot blame the Scouts, you can only blame the leaders for allowing this to happen. It is the responsibility of the Scout Leader or MBC to ensure the expected outcome of the requirement is meet, with nothing more or nothing less than what the requirements say. If you see MBC giving away MB’s it is up to you to report it to the District Advancement Chair. Additionally you must practice what you preach, too many times have I seen Scouters hold others to the standard but are unwilling to do so themselves. Here are a couple of options when it comes to ensuring the MB requirements are met that ARE allowed according to the GTA (Guide to Advancement):

          1) Get to know the MBC you are having your Scout work with and ensure they hold the Scout to the desired outcome of the requirement. Make sure they understand that they are the keeper of the keys and that they have a responsibility to stand for the high ideals of Scouting.
          2) Use in-house MBC, these MBC tend to be much better and are more willing to hold the Scouts to the expectations of the requirement. Note: I have continually said “to the expectations of the requirement” and NOT “to your expectations”.
          3) Don’t promote MB University (MBU) participation. Note: As a Scouter you are not allowed to “forbid” the Scout from attending a MBU but you are allowed to “encourage” the Scout to seek MBC through other venues.
          4) Sit on your district advancement committee, because that is the one place in the system that allows Scouters to change viewpoints and expectations of other Scouters or MBC.
          5) Don’t gripe about the problem, if your not willing to be part of the solution because that only causes further frustrations. If you are willing to gripe then you MUST be willing to help LEAD change. Too many Scouters, gripe and complain but are UNWILLING to help when it comes time to TAKE ACTION!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Concur with Scott. Has anyone actually looked at the original Scout HB? I found a reprint at Cabellas & bought it because I keep hearing about how the standards have been watered down. Look at the requirements for Tenderfoot: Almost everyone of these is required for the Cub Scout AOL. There were only 3 ranks originally. Life, Star, & Eagle were additional badges for a First Class Scout.

        The major change that makes earning Eagle (IMO) is that Scouts no longer have to learn the Morse Code, Semaphore, or the Myer’s alphabet & send and receive messages at a certain degree of proficiency. In today’s modern world, do we really want Scouts to be able to perform an old time activity. Another change is that Scouts could not earn MBs until they were First Class. Now, Scouts can start earning them the day they become a Boy Scout.

        There were only 5 required MBs for Eagle. Look at the requirements for the various MBs. While some would be tough for today’s youth (see growing 1/4 acre of corn at above the regionally average for the Agriculture MB), most of the others are much easier than they are today. Astronomy only had 3 requirements that including finding the North Star, pointing out 5 constellations & generally telling how the sun, moon, & planets move around the universe. Check out swimming & lifesaving. For a swimmer, both of these could be done in a couple of hours at best. Now days, these MBs take several hours to complete to meet all the requirements. Several of the MBs (such as Athletics) had very little to do (tell the rules for one track & one field event), but then had the Scout write a 500-word essay. Scouting is not school so much of the writing requirements have been dropped for today’s MBs.

        There are reasons that more Scouts that stay until they reach age 18 make Eagle. It starts with more MB opportunities abundant (Fairs, Museums, etc), the ability to travel out of district and even council to attend those opportunities, the Internet to conduct research and find MBCs, pamphlets that almost give out the answers to the requirements if they are read, and worksheets pre-printed where a Scout can take notes about what to discuss with their MBC.

        In my small-town Troop that I grew up in, there was one Eagle Scout between about 1963 & 1995. That was about 1972 (he graduated from HS in 1974) and was the SM’s son. I don’t know how he got 21 MBs because I never saw a MBC other than the SM. Since I was not 1st Class, I could not earn any MBs so there may have been some MBCs in town but I didn’t know about them. After the SM’s son made Eagle, he quite & the troop folded.

        Fast forward to the 1990s, this Troop came back with a passion with two dedicated Scouters who have been doing it together for 25 years now. There is an Eagle almost every year & some years have had up to a 1/2 dozen. Why? They are more dedicated the SM of my youth, better trained, and with the resources mentioned above more Scouts can become Eagles.

        Lastly, there are more Eagles because of parents. Parents know that having Eagle on their son’s resume is a plus and push their Scouts to earn it. My parents never attended a single Boy Scouting event of mine and rarely any when I was a Cub Scout. They were too busy doing their own thing and it was all on me. After my troop folded and I got a newspaper route (6 X a week), I had no interest in returning to Scouts when the Troop began again. If my parents would have pushed me, it may have been a different story.

        While some Troops may be “Eagle Factories,” most are not. For the vast majority, the Eagle of 2013 is probably heads and shoulders above the quality of the Eagle of 100 years ago in terms of knowledge, experience, and probably leadership. After all, there was no Eagle project requirement until the 1960s.

  5. Well, Bryan, I think you have “started a fire with gasoline” with this one. I do think you owe us a bit more context – what are the numbers? I would like to see the percentage of 12-year-old Eagles over the past few years (realizing that 2012 numbers may be a bit skewed due to the 100-year stuff). How significant are the numbers and are they changing year-to-year?

      • Wrong! The numbers provided by National while they may be off, they are only off by a little. Question: Where did you get the stat “80% of boys that stay in till 18 make Eagle”? That doesn’t seem possible or even probable. If this stat somehow applies to units in your area I’d be running to my Unit Commissioner and District Committee screaming something ain’t going right. The only even semi-reasonable explanation and by semi-reasonable I mean just barely reasonable would be in the LDS Church. This is due to the fact that the LDS Church (A) sponsors lots and lots of units or (B) have more Scouts per unit earn Eagle.

        • Do the math. The scouts that do not make Eagle that year, are counted in the percentage that don’t make Eagle. That doesn’t mean they won’t make it, so the numbers are BS

        • What in the world? Where is the logic here? And anyway what makes you so sure that the percent of Eagles earned is calculated based upon the process you are describing.

        • I wrote to the national Eagle Scout service center and asked.
          National has all kinds of info if you ask for it

        • If you want to understand how the numbers are calculated, look at the Annual Reports. For 2012, there were 57,976 Eagles and a total of 848,236 registered Boy Scouts for the reported number of “around 7%” (rounding up a bit). Of course, this number is higher that it has been with 2012 marking the 100th Anniversary of the Eagle and the largest class in history. The few years prior, the numbers have been in the 5 – 6% range.

          The 2012 number is simply the percentage of Boy Scouts registered in 2012 who made Eagle in 2012. This DOES NOT mean that only 5 – 7% of all Scouts make Eagle. The closest I can find on this is an extrapolation of the numbers on the 100 Years in Review Fact Sheet. Those numbers (as of 12/31/2010) are 2,043,375 Eagles (total) divided by 52,077,933 total Boy Scout/Venturers (yes, the Venturing numbers skew it a bit, but those numbers are not very big compared to the Boy Scout numbers over 100 years). That yields about 4% of all Boy Scouts who ultimately earn Eagle. Of course, we have to remember that the Eagle was originally a “super merit badge” and not a rank and that the rate of boys earning Eagle is higher now that it was in the past. This is evident when you consider it took 70 years (1912 – 1982) to hit 1 million Eagles and only 27 years to hit the second million (2009).

          I would love to see BSA numbers for percentage of all Scouts over a given period who earn Eagle, those born from 1990 to 1995 (and turned 18 over the past 5 years). Thanks to TroopMaster, I have complete data for all Scouts who have joined our Troop with DOBs of 1987 to 1995 (those aged/aging out this year). Are rate is 33.9% making Eagle.

          Regarding Scott’s 80% number, while it is anecdotal, I suspect he is close. Remember, he is saying that 80% of boys WHO STAY IN until they are 18, make Eagle. In my experience (7 years as Troop CC), those who stay in, earn Eagle and the others wander off before they age out. In my tenure as CC, we have had 29 Scouts reach their 18th birthday while still registered with the Troop. Only three of those did not earn Eagle before aging out; one was a founding member of our Crew and much more involved there, one had a few academic hiccups and needed to focus on graduation instead, and the third just wasn’t interested.

          All that said, we are mindful that the goal isn’t to make Eagles, it is to make men. We think that having a program that keeps boys interested is the best way to it, but we know that the boys who leave are still positively impacted by their time in Scouting.

    • Look at real numbers, not bullshit BSA numbers. 5% of youth members make Eagle? If you look at the numbers, they use total membership numbers. take out the female venturers, the over 18 venturers, and the venturers not dual enrolled since they are not eligible and now you are closer to 15% make Eagle. Ok, but I said 80%.. Yep. Let’s look at a troop with 50 scouts. (8 11 yo, 7 12 yo, 7 13 yo, 7 14yo, 7 15 yo, 7 16 yo, 7 17 yo) The 7 17 year old scouts comprise around 14 % of the troop. If all 7 make Eagle, we would say 14% made Eagle this year. But the chartered org also charters a venture crew with 50 members and none of them are registered in the troop. So 7 out of 100 youth members or 7% made Eagle. Next year, the troop gets 7 new scouts and the cycle continues. Each year all the 17 year olds making Eagle and everyone thinking it is hard

      • I agree the BSA numbers are misleading, but they never say 5% of all youth members – they give the percentage of registered Boy Scouts each year who make Eagle. In other words (# of Eagle Scouts in 2013)/(number of boys registered in Boy Scouts) X 100. That isn’t the same as the percentage of boys who earn Eagle while in Scouts.

        Regardless, my question at the time is what percent of Eagles each year are 12? I strongly suspect it is a very small number.

        • @ Mike: Concur that the number of 12-year Eagles is extremely low. The average age to make Eagle nationally is over 17 years old. I believe the number on the chart at the Scout Office I saw on Friday was 17.1 for 2012. There must be a ton of Eagles making it at 17 Years & over 6 months since we know of Eagles 13, 14, 15, & 16-year old Eagles.

  6. As the father of a 13 y.o. who just finished his Eagle BOR, I don’t think that age has anything to do with it. My son’s project was to build a prefabricated greenhouse at his middle school which included a foundation, and took over 250 manhours to accomplish. He is a “highly motivated” individual and partakes in many extra-curricular activities outside of scouting. My feeling is that if the boy actually completes the work, he deserves the credit. Regarding adults “planning” his Eagle path, I advised, but did not “tell him what to do.” In fact, due to his numerous other activities, he did not attend scout camp his first year, and had to miss several camping trips due to other commitments, including swim meets, water polo games, family trips or playing as a concert musician. As a member of the troop committee, we’re hoping that his accomplishments will “light a fire” under some of the other scouts. His younger brother wants to shoot for Eagle at 12, and with his older brother as mentor…he just might pull it off.

  7. Scouting is not, and should not be about the race to Eagle. The aims of scouting are: Character Development, Citizenship, and Physical Fitness. I don’t see becoming an Eagle Scout in there….
    One concern I do have is how much role the parents have in this process. If a scout earns eagle that young, who wants it more: the scout or the parents?

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