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Behind the numbers: Analyzing the 2013 Eagle Scout class

Anyone who attended an Eagle Scout court of honor last year knows 2013 was a great year for Eagle Scouts.

The same is true when you step back to look at the nationwide picture of young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. And today I learned exactly how many earned Scouting’s highest honor last year.

That magic number: 56,841.

That’s the second-highest number of Eagle Scouts in a single year in the 101-year history of the award. It’s bettered only by 2012’s total of 57,976, set during the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout award. You may remember that Scouts who earned the rank in 2012 got a special badge.

The 56,841 number is impressive, but it’s even more striking when you realize what it means. It means 56,841 young men are now prepared to become great leaders, great husbands and fathers, and great Americans because they chose Scouting.

But the Eagle Scouts themselves aren’t the only ones bettered by the journey. The 9.3 million service hours 2013’s Eagle Scouts recorded during their Eagle projects means their communities are forever changed, too.

Let’s look at even more numbers. This year I got more data than in past years, including a breakdown of Eagle Scout awards earned by region, total project hours and the average age of the young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. Find that info after the jump.

2013 Eagle Scouts by region
  • Northeast: 10,670
  • Southern: 15,407
  • Central: 11,450
  • Western: 19,314
Total number of Eagle Scout Service Project hours
  • Northeast: 1,993,867 hours
  • Southern: 2,458,892 hours
  • Central: 1,747,469 hours
  • Western: 3,146,719 hours

Total: 9,347,047 hours

Average age of 2013 Eagle Scouts
  • Northeast: 17.5
  • Southern: 17.18
  • Central: 17.28
  • Western: 16.99

Overall average: 17.24

Number of Eagle Scouts per year, recent years
  • 2010: 56,176
  • 2011: 51,473
  • 2012: 57,976
  • 2013: 56,841


Big thanks to Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant with the BSA’s Advancement Team, for this info.

35 Comments on Behind the numbers: Analyzing the 2013 Eagle Scout class

  1. the service hour average of 164 hours per Eagle project is the interesting stat. Most kids are quite daunted by the 100 hour suggested guideline, and here it shows they vastly exceed it when it’s all done.

    • Addressing Common Misconceptions
      1. No unit, district, council, or individual shall place any requirement or other standard on the number of hours spent on a project. The Boy Scouts of America is concerned with hours worked on Eagle Scout service projects and collects this data only because it points to a level of excellence in achieving the BSA aim related to citizenship…Our family was told on more then one occasion that there is not to be any number imposed or suggested. Even a project that takes 86 hours is worthy.

      Newly minted Eagle landed here in our home last October and the above was in his book and is from the National site.

      • Matt Culbertson // February 14, 2014 at 6:34 pm // Reply

        I’ve always found that the number of hours a scout shows as a total is understated. Here are some categories of times that scouts should be recording: (Thanks to B. Nelson for most of this)

        Research time – Time spent finding a project including all time making phone calls, emails, and face to face meetings.

        Planning time. – Time spent writing your proposal and project plan. Time used pricing materials and services.

        Time spent obtaining materials, supplies and people – Time used to obtain materials and supplies for your project.

        Fundraising Time – As applicable. Contacting potential donors, follow ups and thank yous

        Documentation – Record time spent writing up the project and any supporting documentation, fliers, thank you notes, etc.

        Photos – Record the time spent taking before and after photos, etc.

        Travel time – Include trips to consult with leaders and recipients, trips to price and obtain supplies.

        Labor – Include time anyone spends working on your project. You should also include travel time for all those who help on the project.

        So you can see even a simple project can accumulate a large number of hours if the scout keeps track of them as he goes instead of trying to remember them after the fact.

  2. Mike Lo Vecchio, thanks for the stats. Great information for the units and incentive for the Scouts.


  3. Most definitely #s to chew on. Any chance we can get the total numbers of 11-18 y.o. males enrolled in the past seven years, so we can get a denominator to calculate percentages?

  4. Bryan, What’s the percentage of the registered boy scouts?

  5. Seems odd to me as the number of youth participating falls. The percentage of participants would be telling

    • H. David Pendleton // February 13, 2014 at 7:51 am // Reply

      Could be a number of possible reasons: Fewer Scouts in Troop could equal more personal attention; greater access via computer for research instead of having to go to the local library; better trained leaders who understand the process better (I know that my leader in the early 1970s was never trained); the Scouts that stay are more dedicated; or that the Scouts that stay have more interested parents.

      Just because the percent is rising does not mean that the standard is being lowered.

  6. My guess on the increase on percentage is based on self selection. The average youth joining scouts is more interested in scouting. Youth have so many opportunities on which to spend their time. So those that choose scouting are more likely to put in the effort to reach Eagle. Just my guess, no facts.

  7. joselepervanche // February 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm // Reply

    Reblogged this on Scouting Adventures and commented:
    We need more Scouts…”great leaders, great husbands and fathers, and great Americans”

  8. Make that 56,842.

    I completed my Eagle Board of Review in August of last year, but due to a long saga of clerical errors and communication failures at the District/Council level, the National office has not yet received my application. Meanwhile, I’ve earned a Bronze Palm, turned 18, become an Assistant Scoutmaster, and applied for a NESA scholarship. What can Eagle candidates or adult leaders like me do about incompetence like this?

    Oh, and add 125 to the 2013 total of service hours, too!

    • Yesterday's Scout // February 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm // Reply

      Maybe they were so busy brainstorming over what they could change next that they had no time for an Eagle application. Seriously, this is inexcusable.

    • Congratulations! Best of luck as a “marked man.”

    • WOWWWWWW….and I thought that this only happened to my son! He just had his Board of Review after having completed all requirements by November 2012…Sadly, his LOVE and devotion to Scouting has wavered and it all breaks my heart! Congrats Jonathan B. and keep up the great work!!!

    • Jonathan – So sad to hear this. But lately, it seems incompetence reigns. We were thrilled to attend our Council’s Eagle Recognition Banquet for the Class of 2013 with our son. Appx 530 Eagles Council-wide. I’m sure the speakers did their usual – going on and on about excellence. None of us heard a word…when we sat down and opened the program, we quickly discovered that NONE of the Troop numbers listed with the Eagles’ names were correct. The families at our table and those surrounding were absolutely dumbfounded.

  9. Id love to know what theyou ratio of enroled scout to eagle scout is year over year.

  10. My son made Eagle Dec 18, 2013. When he join scouts as a tiger there was 15 boys and only 4 cross over. We saw 3 boys for the 1st year after that only my son stayed in the troop.

    • Gail, just like searching for the cure for the common cold, searching for the secret of what makes some dens stay together and why some fade away is a noble quest. 2012, I had a Quad eagle ceremony. They started out as eight tigers and seven made it together into scouting. One dropped out in the first year, two moved away (both made eagle) and the four remaining made their eagles. Today, three are in college (Chemistry, Media and Business) and the fourth is a Marine. They all still come to meetings when they can.

      However, like you I have also seen the fade away. After 30 years as SM, I know that 99% of the mix includes the Scout’s own drive, family support, responsable leadership (his and others), opportunities (program, activities, events) and coping with “Adult Polution”. We all need to keep looking for that missing ingredient.

      • Eagle shouldn’t be so easy to earn that a group of 7 will result in 4 eagles. Or even 1. It should be difficult enough to earn and require enough dedicated work that 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 1000 boys gets it.

        No doubt there were merit badges barely scraped at summer camp, and good lord knows that Jamboree participants get a goodie bag full of merit badges. And don’t forget merit badge universities and midways held by districts and councils everywhere!

        You get a merit badge! You get a merit badge! It’s like Oprah up in here.

        These statistics scouters brag on today are numbers I think they should be ashamed of. They show just how silly the program has become, and highlight that a scout from 1950 was twice the man of a scout today.

  11. Peter Dowley // February 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm // Reply

    The Guide to Advancement (Section, para. 7) has suggested “time-in-Boy-Scouting” goals for First Class and Star ranks. What is the average age for these 56K Eagles at 1) First Class, 2) Star, 3) Life? These ages would give some insight into how steadily our “most successful” climbed the ranks – and hopefully support our use of these goals.

    • H. David Pendleton // February 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm // Reply

      Advancement also depends a lot on the Scout and his family support. My son crossed over last February and made First Class 9 months later in November 2013. He should make Star soon after he reaches his 4 months of POR in March/April.

      Another Scout joined at almost the same time. He made Tenderfoot last week. He basically had the same opportunities as my son. One took advantage of them while the other did not.

      I don’t know if the “numbers” for making 1st Class, Star, or Life would tell us much as it depends on whether the statistician uses the mean, median, or mode. As I always tell my bosses at work when they want to delve into numbers, “What is your agenda? I can make the numbers look positive or negative. Just let me know.” Usually they are stunned and leave it up to me and therefore I give the data to them in several formats and let them decide how to read it.

      • dee dee Mariw // October 4, 2014 at 10:27 pm // Reply

        Here is the problem with scouting today..numbers are greater because so many scouts hi
        are in program for minimum requirements and merit badge camps…my son is in a troop and is now a Life Scout in which he has been a SPL of his troop,,multiple times as PL..he has completed multiple 1week backcountry hikes plus a 100mile hike..he is wilderness first aid certified.. And the tragic part is he has fellow scouts in his troop who are now Life who have been assigned simple “leadership” projects from the scoutmaster without being PLs , who only “camping” experience is attending summer camps and merit badge fairs…obviously the program is kicking out some “Eagle Scouts” that don’t even come close to what the requirements used to be geared many 14 year olds who become eagle truly have been prepared like the predecessors…it’s sad that meaning behind the accomplishments the Eagle Scout used to stand for are being watered down by parents and leaders who are spoon feeding the merit badges and watering down the requirements !!!

  12. Peter Dowley // February 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm // Reply

    Can Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant with the BSA’s Advancement Team, provide a table of the numbers of 2013 Eagles who earned Eagle at each age, 13 through 18, and 19&over?

    • Matt Culbertson // February 14, 2014 at 8:38 am // Reply

      Another interesting stat would be a breakdown of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Ventures. I see all three types of applications here.

  13. My son earned his Bronze Palm when he was a Sea Scout. It’s unusual to earn Eagle (or palms) when you’re not in a Troop, but it happens occasionally.

  14. I find the number of Eagles minted makes me sad. It makes me sad because 40 years ago, there were far, far, fewer getting the award per year. And that was back when there were 9 million people in the program instead of 2 million.

    BSA has lost its way here. The first class badge was the mark of a true, outdoor-trained scout. Life, Star, and Eagle were more like graduate school awards for earning merit badges. Most scouts back in my day would be standing around at 15 years old still holding second class and proud of it.

    Today, second class scouts are like wolf scouts – they get it for almost nothing.

    Can I still be proud of my Eagle? I am proud of what I did to earn it. But I am not proud to now be joined by 13 year olds who breezed through on the wings of their parents in a different culture where everything is easier.

    • First off, there has never been 9 million members in the BSA.

      First Class was actually easier to earn than it is today! If you were still Second Class at 15, I would say that you were not going to make Eagle. No matter what year, it is still the most ambitious scouts that make Eagle. I made Eagle in 1981, which was just a little before my 14th birthday. I was not pushed by my parents or leaders, I wanted the achievement!

      Since the 1960s, the expectation for earning First Class has gone from 3 months to 12 months. At the same time, the requirements have also been expanded.
      Scout Award: The Scout Award did not exist in the 1960s. Today’s Scout Award contains the same essential requirements as the Tenderfoot Rank did in the 1960’s.
      Tenderfoot: Today’s Tenderfoot Rank has added requirements for physical fitness, camping, cooking, and first aid in addition to the 1960s’ requirements.
      Second Class: In the 1960s, Second Class had no requirements for camping or swimming. Today, Second Class requires participation in at least 5 activities outside of meetings as well as 2 campouts. Basic swimming skills and expanded first aid skills have also been added.
      First Class: Today’s requirements double the 1960s swimming requirements. Specific strokes are now required. Today’s First Class camping requirement is 50% more than the 1960’s requirements In addition First Class now requires participation in at least 10 activities outside of meetings.

      Camping merit badge is now required again for Eagle. Since 2001, the requirements for almost every merit badge have also been increased.

      Do I think today’s youth are pushed a little more than I was or you were, YES, but they still have to complete those requirements to achieve the award. I would expect the #’s to rise, since those that might have dropped out before, now have many more resourses at arm’s reach away to use at their disposal. The MB skill centers are a huge help and of course the internet provides an unrivaled sourse of information that could not be obtained in such a short amount of time back in 1950 or 1960. They also are being bombarded with so many things to do, that the ones that do complete Eagle should be praised!

      Anyone who has teenaged boys knows how hard it is to get them to do something they don’t want to do and I’m sure it was no diferent back in the 1950’s with teenaged boys to get them to do something they didn’t want to do!

      There is no real reason to hate on these new Eagles, just look at the facts of how they got to where they are now.

      “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.” B-P

    • Steve Pendry // February 26, 2014 at 9:14 am // Reply

      I earned Second Class in the late 1950s, and yes, it took some work as it should have. Today I work with young Scouts every year, and I can assure you that they need to work as well. They build a fire from native materials that they’ve gathered themselves with woods tools they’ve learned to use properly. When they do a five-mile hike, it is a full five mile hike measured by GPS, with plenty of conversation about their surroundings along the way, not just some strolling around the park. And so on… I have nothing on these kids; they earn it just like I did.
      The problems you’re referring to do exist, but they are not problems of the advancement program’s design. They are problems of poor implementation. If we follow the requirements exactly, they are still challenging to young Scouts, and they are fun. If you’re seeing these problems in troops around you, you need to pitch in at the ground level and help their leaders understand that the whole advancement process is a lot more fun if every boy does exactly what the requirements say. No more, no less. We all need to insist on that.

    • Joe Simmons. // March 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm // Reply

      And we walked to school in the snow both ways uphill!

  15. Are there stats on how many Eagle Scouts are able to earn Palms
    and the number getting Bronze, gold and silver

    • Good question Rex! Maybe Bryan can help obtain that info.

    • Rex,
      This is a great question and would be a very interesting statistic, being the average age of most Eagles is around 17+, this would allow enough time for a number of Scouts to earn the Bronze, Gold, or Silver palms.
      Having worked with many Eagle Scouts, the one question I’ve asked them is, “Do you wish you could of completed your Eagle requirements sooner to be recognized for your time and effort completing the additional merit badges beyond the 21 required?” The answer was typically, “Yes!”.

  16. Carey Snyder // February 19, 2015 at 9:35 am // Reply

    To get an idea of the conversion rate, you would need a detailed listing of:
    the number who entered Boy Scouting in a specific year, and the date that each Scout from that year attained Eagle – no entry means did not attain, or did not attain yet.

    Thus, for my grandson, who entered in 2008, and earned Eagle in late 2012, That would be a 1 count for the year 2008. Several from that year attained Eagle in 2013, and some more attained it in 2014. A few are attaining it this year. You then add up all from that class of Scouts who eventually attained Eagle, and divid it by the number entering scouts that year

    You would have a statistic about 7 years in the making, and the 2008 stats would finally be complete in 2015. Then you would have a stat based on the number that entered who actually made it to Eagle. This is the percentage that is meaningful.

  17. This is probably going to be a very unpopular post especially from someone that has never been a Scout at any level. I came to this site to see exactly what kind of qualification etc. it takes to become an Eagle Scout. I came here because from my very limited standpoint, it seams the Eagle Scout honor is becoming watered down.

    The reason I say that is because I have always had a very high level of respect for individuals that have achieved this level. My thoughts on the subject mirror the descriptions of an Eagle Scout depicted on this website: Maturity, Leadership, Responsibility, etc. etc. However that is not what I am seeing in the real world.

    What prompted my inquiry is In the last two months, I have met 4 teenage Eagle Scouts, including a relative that is having this honor bestowed upon him this weekend. In every case, it only took a few minutes of conversation and observation of these individual to ascertain none of them represented what I had considered the maturity and trustworthiness of an Eagle Scout.

    I fear the total sell out of our society (the everybody gets a trophy less we be sued mentality) has washed over into the Scouts, or at the very least, the troops that these individuals came from. It is disheartening that at least for me, it is hard to view any Eagle Scout with the same reverence that I once granted them.

    In the case of my relative, he went through all the steps (the motions). He has received all the badges and completed all the projects but he has the maturity level of a 10 year old. He has behavior issues (some related to Autism) but none-the-less issues unbecoming of an Eagle Scout. He was removed from his school by his parents about 3 seconds before it was demanded for fear he was going to hurt someone or himself. At age 17 plus, he still has to be disciplined by his parents like an eight year old. He is rarely left to his own devices for more than a few hours as his parents worry he will not make good decisions.

    Now I wouldn’t take this award away from him for anything as it means a lot to him and represents a lot of time and effort. However, for every Eagle Scout on the planet and the program itself, it is a severe disservice to the rank. That being said, in a matter a two months, I have happened upon 3 more that are in the exact same category and it makes me wonder.

  18. My 17+ year son is just finishing up his rank of Eagle, with the only thing being left is the Board of Review. (fingers crossed) Of course I am biased and I am extremely proud of my son! I know first hand all of the hard work and dedication he has put into this achievement. I also am involved with his Troop and can understand both sides of this debate. I believe that some troops are not as strict with the requirements and help or assist the boys beyond the standard. Our troop is one that doesn’t believe in 14 or 15 year old Eagle Scouts. There is a maturity needed and drive that usually clicks in as the scout matures. Something beyond the pushing of the parents. A 14/15 year old doesn’t have the capability to perform some of the simple steps of completing this rank. For instance, my son made contact with his project contact on his own. He drove to the facility, followed up with emails and phone calls. He sought sponsorship and fundraising, picked up materials on his own. Sure, I would have driven him around town or helped any second I could but he was adamant to do it all on his own. And this is what is going to make him successful later on. He was apprehensive and nervous but he persevered. Scouts has been a huge part of his life and help to mold him into an amazing person! Just like everything in life, there are different sides to every story.

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