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Exactly when do you become an Eagle Scout, and when can you wear the patch?

Exactly when does a young man become an Eagle Scout?

You’ll find a number of answers if you ask fellow Scouters. It’s after he passes his board of review, some say. Others are sure it’s when the council receives his Eagle Scout Rank Application (No. 512-728). A few claim it’s official when the Scout has his Eagle Scout court of honor.

The correct answer? It’s complicated.

David, a committee chairman from Nevada, had this on his mind when he emailed me recently.

The question

I have questions for you about becoming an Eagle Scout and wearing the Eagle Scout patch.

In our council, the Scouts are told that once you pass your Eagle board of review, you are an Eagle Scout — literally, at that moment. You don’t have to wait to get confirmation from Scout headquarters. Is that an accurate statement?

Next, if that is accurate, does that mean the Scout can start wearing the Eagle Scout patch immediately? I know from reading your blog that a Scout doesn’t have to have an Eagle ceremony, but does he even have to wait for confirmation from National?

Full disclosure: My son is the SPL and will be turning in his Eagle paperwork next week, with a board of review likely in December. I don’t know when we can schedule his Eagle ceremony.

The answer

First, congrats to you and your son. Earning the Eagle Scout rank is a huge accomplishment, and you both should be proud.

Second, it seems your council is mistaken. An Eagle candidate is not officially an Eagle Scout until his application has been validated by the national office.

Once the application is approved, he is an Eagle Scout, and his Eagle Scout “earn date” is the date he passed his board of review.

BSA expert Mike Lo Vecchio has more:

Topic 9.0.1.10 in the Guide to Advancement explains the method by which an Eagle candidate is validated.

We further state in topic 8.0.3.0, No. 11, that the Eagle Scout medal or patch (typically known as the presentation kit) “must not be sold or otherwise provided to any unit or to the Scout, nor should the court of honor be scheduled until after the certificate is received at the council service center from the National Advancement Team.”

To oversimplify things:

  • The application begins with the unit leader and committee chairperson.
  • Then it’s sent to the local council where it’s verified and a board of review is scheduled.
  • After the board of review is passed, the application goes back to the local council for the Scout executive’s signature. (This has to be one of the coolest parts of a Scout executive’s job!)
  • The Scout executive signs the application and then enters it into the BSA system to send to the National Advancement Team.
  • The National Advancement Team validates everything. It’s at this point a young man officially becomes and Eagle Scout.
  • The National Distribution Center (Supply Group) generates the credentials and prints, packages and mails the certificate, pocket card and congratulatory letter to the council.
  • Upon receipt of the Eagle credentials, local council personnel alert unit leadership as soon as possible.

Read more about this process here.

A final thought

The BSA’s Eagle Scout database uses the Scout’s board of review date — not his application validation date — as the date he earned Eagle. That’s true of every Eagle Scout since 1912.

The application validation process can vary from Eagle Scout to Eagle Scout, so the board of review date is most appropriate in the long term.

This fact could be what sparked the rumor that a young man becomes an Eagle on his board of review date. While that date is important in the long term, in the short term a young man has to wait a bit longer before he’s officially eligible to wear that red, white and blue patch and medal or schedule his court of honor.

To paraphrase a commenter from below: When a young man passes his Eagle Scout board of review, he isn’t officially an Eagle Scout until his application is approved. Once it’s approved, he’s an Eagle Scout from the day he passed.

49 Comments on Exactly when do you become an Eagle Scout, and when can you wear the patch?

  1. Is the Eagle Board of Review Date also the basis for Eagle Palms’ time requirement?

    • Yes

  2. When they pass their Eagle Scout Board of Review, I would scouts that while it’s not official until it is approved by National BSA, “once National approves, you will have had been an Eagle Scout from today.”

    • Bryan Wendell // November 9, 2015 at 8:51 am // Reply

      That’s a good way to look at it.

  3. Matt Price, Scoutmaster // November 9, 2015 at 8:17 am // Reply

    I can tell you when a Scout is an Eagle Scout.

    When he walks in the door and he takes great pride in the uniform, holds his head up high, and takes criticism with a grain of salt rather than the reason for life.

    • You don’t have to earn Eagle to be a righteous man. We all need to remember, our mission is to create youth of good character, not necessarily to matriculate Eagle Scouts.

    • I would hope all Scouts acted that way, even the 96% who don’t see Eagle.

  4. Being proud of my 2 Eagle Scout sons, I wish there would be a way for the Scouts to be notified from National the same time as the Troop’s Leadership. In both cases, we had to keep calling our Council’s office to find out they had indeed earned their Eagle Ranks. Neither of the SM they had, thought they needed to contact our sons to inform them that they had received National’s confirmation. The 2nd one had ‘misplaced’ the paperwork by the time we were 1 week out from his ceremony. Luckily he found it, but a nerve wracking time. Sad, as I have heard from several SM who text or call the new Eagle Scout as soon as they open the packet! Wonderful! We also missed the info about NESA, as they wouldn’t share any of the packet info with us until the day of their ceremony. (Which was several months later) I had to ask the size of the certificate so I could purchase a frame. First SM wouldn’t even let me put the certificate in before the ceremony, and didn’t do it himself, either. He handed my son his certificate in the plastic sheet. I can’t fix this, but I hope SMs will learn from this and be willing to work with their Eagle Scouts & parents, even when they don’t like them. Very proud Mom of a 2011 & 2012 Eagle Scouts. Love them, and proud of all the other Eagle Scouts before & after my son’s 😉

  5. The question related to when a scout officially became an Eagle Scout and not about patches and ceremonies. The correct answer is when he passes his E BoR. Not under topic 9.0.1.10. Get it right Texas.

    • Bryan Wendell // November 9, 2015 at 8:49 am // Reply

      Incorrect. Read the question again because it addressed both (“does that mean the Scout can start wearing the Eagle Scout patch immediately?”), and I answered both.

      The date kept in the BSA’s permanent records is when the Eagle passes his board of review.

      But he can’t begin wearing his patches or scheduling his ceremony until his application is approved.

      • I concede I did not address the second part. The important thing is the b o r date. As far as not wearing the rank, when did the lower ranks and merit badges become more important since they can be awarded the day they complete the b o r or mb without council’s final signature and filings. And yes they do,

        • Jourdan Wooden // November 18, 2015 at 5:03 pm //

          Actually, National’s policy regarding ranks and merit badges is to wait.

          “All badges of rank, merit badges, Eagle Palms, and Venturing awards are restricted items. Unit leadership may not purchase these insignia for presentation without having filed an advancement report with the
          local council.” (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf)

          Many Scout Shops and local councils also have policies specifying that an internet advancement report be submitted before badges of rank can be purchased (rather than a handwritten one).

          Regardless, I’d argue that the delay is indicative of Eagle’s importance. You can’t just pick one up whenever, you need to wait until all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

          Hope this helps.

    • Nahila Nakne // November 9, 2015 at 11:04 am // Reply

      Gotta disagree and go with Bryan on this one. I’ve personally seen two cases where the Eagle has passed the Eagle Board of Review (EBOR), but for whatever reason, the council records were incorrect, and that cause a major delay in the approval process.

      In my case, it took about a month of back and forth with the council to my records corrected by them. Found out the registrar used the date she imputed the records as the date the award was earned, not when it was recorded on the Advancement Report.

      In a friend’s case, the council was missing three years of records, and still had him listed as First Class. His was an easy fix.

      I liked how my troop did it. You were an “Eagle Candidate” from the EBOR until the Court of Honor. 😉

      • One way to minimize the disconnect with Council records is to get a print out from the council office prior to conducting the SM Conference to confirm that the council has everything on file and that the dates are consistent with the Scout’s records as well as the Troop’s records.

        • Nahila Nakne // November 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm //

          Another way is to use Internet Advancement..

          Internet Advancement is a tool that most units use now. And it is very helpful in resolving advancement issues. In fact I’ve had to use it to correct Cub Scout records multiple times.

          But the two instances I know about were pre-SCOUTNET.

  6. Bureaucracy should not prevent us from doing the right thing. How many signed applications that get entered into the BSA database after the Board of Review ever get rejected? Once a decade?
    Applications have been checked, eagle books reviewed, young men interviewed. Everything has been accomplished. There is no good reason to stop the young man from receiving his patch and medal.

    This “policy” should be changed. We have changed a lot more important things in the past few years, time to get this one right.

    • I will respectfully disagree. The term “Eagle Scout” has national significance. As a result, we need to ensure that the bureaucracy gets it right and that the data matches BEFORE we confirm the rank of Eagle upon a young man. We, as leaders, must do our jobs correctly to both prevent and correct bad data entry or data management so the Eagle Scout can never have his integrity questioned.

    • Hey John!! Qute a few Eagle applications get returned to local Councils for clarification or for correction of dates…and there has been some returned with letters instructing the Council Scout Executive to contact the Scout and his parents to inform them that the National Center has disapproved his Eagle.

      The policy, as Mike Lo explained, is the way it is (and has been, by the way…this isn’t anything new…) for a reason. We are granting to the young man the highest youth rank in our Boy Scouting program. It needs to be “vetted” with a lot more than just a signature check. The Scout can wait for the awarding of the medal and patch…and most Scouts do. It is MOM and DAD who cannot wait, and that’s disappointing on several levels.

      • Your not “granting” him anything, he earned it.

  7. I’m going to feel it is when he passes his Board of Review. However, in an answer to previous comments, the fact that the Eagle has the right to insert that Eagle Accomplishment on his resume when he is out of school,whether it be High School or college. The Eagle accomplishment profoundly places him above other candidates for employment and other opportunities. It does not matter if you were high school class president or captain of the football team; none of that goes on a job resume. The only thing that will go on that resume from high school or before is if he is an Eagle Scout, not if he was in Scouting, but if he is an Eagle. And remember; no matter how old you get, you never ” was” or “were” an Eagle. You are always an EAGLE !

    • I’m really not sure what you mean about Eagle going on a job resume but that high school class president or captain of the football team don’t. It’s your resume, you can put whatever you want to on it if you believe it’s relevant, and to be honest I’ve never put Eagle Scout on a resume.

      • Ive seen it put on several resume’s as “awards and achievements”..Im not sure why youd find this so strange.

    • It being on my resume has been a good “conversation extender”. But now that I look at a few resumes from time to time, there are lots of “one line” awards that heighten my interest in candidates.

      For college, if an active scout hadn’t earned anything beyond first class, but listed experience as a senior patrol leader or crew president or assistant scoutmaster — maybe with a few leadership courses like NAYLE or Kodiak, he’ll probably be esteemed as highly as the average Eagle.

      Be that as it may, I don’t think the date that the award was earned makes any impression at all.

  8. joselepervanche // November 9, 2015 at 9:56 am // Reply

    A PhD earns this degree at the end of the dissertation defense when the committee members say “Congratulations, Doctor”. People calls you Doctor and PhD is added to your name immediately. Paperwork, diplomas and even graduation come month later. Eagle Scouts and PhDs always remember that day in front a committee approving your work. An Eagle Scout board of review is the real summit of the trail to Eagle. Paperwork, patches, medals, and ceremony cannot match that moment.

    • Although a memorable evening (my committee back then were the nicest group of adults), I’m not entirely sure that was my “summit”, All that … including those last few MB’s … was more of a wrap-up. I still has some palms to try and earn. Eagle provided me a lot of pinnacle experiences, not the least of which were:

      – Gathering my patrol at a buddy’s house and going for a hike in the countryside.
      – Dragging my sled to the top of the hill at night, laying on it as I identified winter constellations, Sliding home in the dark.
      – Getting thoroughly “schooled” on the SM’s orienteering course the day after I had “schooled” the toop on mine!
      – Stopping at the paint store for the last few supplies to start my project.
      – Making that one, hand-drawn diagram for the cover of my project workbook (four pages … triple spaced)!
      – A friend (scout’s sister) who wrote a poem for my court-of-honor program.
      – Seeing a jamboree buddy on summer camp staff and being able to answer affirmatively when he asked, “Did you get your bird?”
      – Finding my name in the “big book” at council HQ, and signing it.

      We adults (and perhaps our procrastinating scouts) have made that BoR such a weighty moment that we think it’s some ribbon at the end of a marathon. But, thank Heaven a boy’s mind doesn’t always work that way!

  9. “Becoming an Eagle Scout” is more than earning the rank. As clarified here, the Scout earns the rank as of his board of review date once the national advancement team affirms it.

    But the process of becoming an Eagle Scout begins as early as the day he goes to his first den meeting. And you could argue that it never really ends. An Eagle Scout is one for life; while he may wear the medal, patch or square knot, he lives his life striving to fulfill the expectations that the rank ascribes to. Who can say that that lofty goal is ever fully reached?

  10. Picky, picky, picky.
    “What do you call the person who is last in their class in medical school?” ,,,,,Doctor….

  11. We did a unique thing (haven’t seen anyone do it before or after) when my son passed his Eagle board. The SM made a photocopy of an Eagle badge, laminated it with a pocket hanger and wrote “PENDING” across it in Sharpie marker. This was presented to my son after his Eagle board in front of the whole troop, just as the SM would do with any other rank. Our tradition is to present the Scout with their new rank badge at the meeting in which they pass their BoR or at the next meeting if the board ends after the meeting is over. My son wore that laminated patch until his ECoH. We made a little ceremony out of removing the pending and replacing it with the full fledged thing and his metal. It was a way to let people know that he was waiting for National to do its thing, but he had passed and done all of his part.

    I think it was a really cool idea. I can’t wait to use it again with our next Eagle in waiting in a few months.

  12. For every rank prior to Eagle, it is based upon when you bass your Board of Review. I understand the need for paperwork, but it doesn’t make sense to me to now suddenly say “ell, effective today, assuming National says it is O.K.”
    By the way, I fully respect the Eagle rank, my boy is working on his, and it is a great honor. But, not every boy gets there! I feel this real sense that if you didn’t “make Eagle” then your scouting experience was less then valuable, you “didn’t make the grade.” B-P always said the goal was “First Class.” That is when a scout learned the knowledge, attitude and skills of scouting. Above that was achievement. I know many boys who never made Eagle but scouting made them “better men.” Isn’t that our real goal?

  13. In our Great Salt Lake Council…the parents get to plan the Eagle Court of Honor…not the Scout Master. Yes there is protocol that is to be followed, and mentors that will guide the parents…isn’t that what most of you allow the parents to do?

    • Different troops do it differently, but it’s usually a combination of parents and troop. I tell the parents it’s like planning a wedding – there are few things you must have/do, but other than that you can personalize it as much or as little as you want.

    • Nahila Nakne // November 10, 2015 at 9:38 am // Reply

      As Balbes stated, every unit does things differently. Some troops only have 1 Eagle Court of Honor (ECOH) a year, and make a VERY big deal out of it. A buddy in one of those troops told me of the charter helicoptor ride all of the Eagles did prior to the ECOH so that they could “truly soar like eagles.” Troop in my current council does one ECOH a year, and the ceremony is standing room only. The troop coveres everything, and invites their former members back for the ceremony.

      Some units have established ceremonies and provide everything. Other units, the Eagle and/or parents provide the refreshements only. My troop had the standard ceremony, all I did was pick who was going to do what part. All I had to do was pay for my reception after the ECOH. I also paid for the post-ECOH reception since I was in college at the time. 😉

      Some units have the ECOH in conjunction with a regularly scheduled COH.

      In a few cases, thankfully not many, the Eagle or his parents received the Eagle Presentation Kit in the mail, and have no ceremony whatsoever. Good friend of mine had that done since he could not get leave to have an ECOH.

  14. So one could say he earned Eagle on November 1st (the day he passed his board of review). On the 2nd he could say “I earned Eagle yesterday.” But he’s not officially an Eagle yet.

    But on November 10th, the Scout is in limbo. He’s earned Eagle but he’s not officially an Eagle yet. He’s waiting for the paperwork to clear.

    He could then say that he’s officially an Eagle on (I don’t know long these things take, but I’ll just say) November 20th after the National Advancement Team validates everything.

    On the 10th he can’t technically say “I’m an Eagle right now”… however after the 20th and everything is “official” he could retroactively say “I was an Eagle on the 10th.”

    • Yep. Although, I gotta say it seems like the National Advancement Team has been a little more efficient in whatever checks they’ve been doing. Most recently, approvals have been coming back far sooner than 20 days. I don’t know if that’s due to fast action on the part of our Council or National.

  15. While technically he could say when he passes his BOR he is an Eagle, when I received my Eagle some 50 years ago I didn’t feel I could say I was an Eagle until I stood in front of the other scouts and (more importantly) other adult Eagles at my Court of Honor and was welcomed officially by other adult Eagles as achieving something that few other adults had accomplished. I felt welcomed as part of their fraternity. That is when I truly felt I had become an Eagle.

    • Nahila Nakne // November 11, 2015 at 6:52 am // Reply

      That was how it was done back in the day; waiting for the Court of Honor to get rank. Yes you were recognized as soon as you passed your Board of Review. But you waited for the COH to get your rank patch. I still remember getting Second Class and First Class ranks in the same night.

      Nowadays with instant gratification, as soon as you pass the BOR, the expectation is to hand out the rank. No ceremony, no making a big deal of advancement.

      Kinda sad in a way.

      • You are correct. I think we short change boys when we discount the importance of ceremony in the recognition process. One of the hallmarks of successful organizations is the importance they place on ceremony in team and individual recognition. We still try and keep this an important part of our troop.

  16. I realize this isn’t part of the question but it’s related to coh. We are completely new to the eagle rank and ceromony. My son just completed his project. Anyone have any unique ideas where we could hold his ceromony and what we could do at his ceromony? We are considering having it in a courtroom and judges chambers. Thanks ahead of time for suggestions and ideas 🙂

  17. How many applications has the national office turned down in the last 5 years? It would appear they are more likely to grant the award when the lock say no than the other way around. I have never heard of one being turned down after a BOR so we give the patch and scarf after BOR. It’s not like the national or local police are going to take or charter over immediately rewarding achievement. This is one of many bad BSA rules.

    • Midas, about 2 to 3 percent of the recommended applications were returned to the local Council in the past five years…a big reduction from the 7 or 8 percent previous to the first edition of the Guide to Advancement and the revisions allowing for a Board of Review in Disputed cases for many Scouts.

      I can share with you and others that the National part of it is NOT a “look see, stamp and placement into a pile” kinda thing. The application is reviewed by several teams, the advancement dates and the registration dates (and any negative information submitted to National on the Scout is also checked), and there is a small delay until members of the BSA’s National Court of Honor reviews and approves the application.

      We had to place in the Guide to Advancement precautions about giving the badge and/or medal before the National approval because there has been cases in which the “paperwork” has been returned to the local Council stating that more information is needed or worse, the application was denied. In the meantime, you have a Scout running around with a medal and patch and telling everyone he’s an Eagle Scout…and that’s not good for the Scout and his family, and definitely not good for the local Council and the BSA as a whole.

      The policy is a good one — if you agree that it’s better for the Scout to wait a few weeks (should be no more than three…) before the National confirmation that he’s indeed an Eagle Scout.

      Someone brought up a good example of this…officers in the various services are promoted via a promotion board. The announcement of the promotion is made through the organization and printed in publications like the Army Times. At least in the Army, officers who are on an approved promotion list may add the “(P)” designator after their rank and be addressed as, for instance, “Major Promotable” or “Select”.

      However, the actual “pinning date” may be weeks or months from the closing date of the promotion for two reasons. One, all promotions are “confirmed by the US Senate” and a Senator has the right to remove a name from a recommended promotion list for any reason. Two, the promotions are approved by the service secretary or his or her delegate.

      So when I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, while my board met over the summer of 2001, I did not pin on the new rank until shortly after the new year. My *date of rank* however, was back in the summer (and which I got the difference between old rank and new rank — a great payday THAT was…*smiling*),

      This explains, at least to me, the difference between completing (not “passing” but “completing” because one does not “pass or fail”) the Board of Review and the public event of him being presented and pinned the rank of Eagle Scout.

      • Waiting three weeks for approval is reasonable. Some people just need to be patient.

  18. So many levels of approval! Why? All the work was done at the unit level. The records are kept at that level and at the Council. It seems like those who worked with the boy, know the boy, and kept the advancement records ought to make this decision. Or is there something else that the national office does that can’t be detected or completed locally? Am I missing something here?

  19. That’s nice, Mike, but we have no Constitutional requirement that appointments and commissions be approved by the Senate.

    This whole process is an anachronism. There is no reason for National to hold up an Eagle application pending their “review”. If a national review is necessary, why can’t it be done before the Board of Review. (Our council does a records check before assigning the Eagle packet to the Board of Review.) What information does national have which isn’t available to the local council or the board of review? How is it that Scoutnet can’t flag a file when an “illegal” date or ineligible advancement is entered? (TroopMaster has had this functionality for the 12 years we’ve used it.). Seems to me this is a dog-and-bush situation. The dog doesn’t really have to pee, it just wants everyone to know it’s been there.

  20. Wow – a lot of chatting over the Eagle process! When I (council) verify an Eagle application, it’s done in Scoutnet, our record keeping software. All the Scout’s records are there, and I verify that that the application dates match. If all is correct, I hit “verify” and he is ready for his board of review. (the workbook and other credentials must be verified and in order as well.) After the BoR, the application is returned to council and I certify in Scoutnet by adding the BoR date, and verify that the Scout Executive has signed the application. Once the last certification button is hit – it’s “sent” to National as complete. If you check your Internet Advancement site and watch the Scout’s rank listing – you should see the Eagle Scout date appear, usually within a few days or so. That means the National office has received and verified the application and sent his information to have the certificate printed. That’s when I would say you are certain that the process is complete. There’s my 2 cents worth!

  21. One of my pet peeves is parents who go to the Scout office to grab their son’s Eagle patch before the Scout is awarded it at his court of honor. Tacky.

    • alwaysaneagle // September 29, 2016 at 3:09 pm // Reply

      So if a court of honor can’t be held for a few months the boy shouldn’t be able to wear his Eagle patch that he has already earned because the ceremony to “award” it hasn’t been held? I counter “tacky” with “ridiculous”. My son is so proud and excited to wear his, and our Troop traditionally has large affairs held by the eagle scout’s family with about a 90 minute ceremony and a full meal. Not being allowed to plan this until the letter arrives from National means at least 3 months for most boys to “wait”…longer if that falls in the unpredictable winter weather months here in the north. What a shame to not allow them to wear their patch in the mean time.

  22. Every Troop functions differently depending on the leadership, so not every Scout has a well-oiled machine handling their Eagle application and making sure it’s going where it needs to go and in a timely manner.
    I read the Guide to Advancement and would never go against protocol with regard to the Eagle process. But it is frustrating to see a Scout work hard and be diligent in living the Scout law and leading himself through the Troop for years, to hand his application to a leader who will do things whenever he gets to them.
    He already had to wait 4 weeks before his Scoutmaster scheduled a Scoutmaster conference and we hoped the leader turned in the application, but how could we know?
    Now he’s waited 5 weeks since the application was turned in at Council level. He is supposed to have a Board of Review soon, but who knows when it will actually take place? He has over 8 months before his 18th birthday so there is no rush, and that may just be the problem. We’ve had several Scouts wait until close to 1 month before their 18th birthday and they had practically no wait time before their Board of Review.
    I’m sure when it’s completed, he’ll be ready to call himself an Eagle, but will wait to get a confirmation from National.

  23. Bear Gibbons // June 10, 2016 at 11:32 am // Reply

    Is there any way to migrate Venturing Ranger work twords the Eagle Rank?

    • Late answer, but here it is:

      Not directly. That’s because each youth’s path in venturing is so diverse, that their accomplishments don’t align 1:1 with any given MB requirement.

      A venturer would have to look over each of the MBs he would like to earn, and see what requirements he may have completed in the process of earning Ranger. For each MB, he would then arrange to meet with a counselor for that badge, and determine if the counselor also agrees with him. Most counselors would. Then, for any remaining MB requirements, he would have to make a plan to complete them. (I suspect, in many cases, these might be “explain” or “discuss” requirements that the boy can complete in the same meeting.)

      This sounds tedious, but relative to the rigors of earning Ranger, should be fairly light exercise. I suspect a week or two of phone calls and meetings and the boy will have leveraged what he learned previously toward Boy Scout advancement requirements.

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