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What was the average age of 2015 Eagle Scouts?

Eagle Scouts are getting older. In 1949, the average age of Eagle Scouts was 14.6 years. In 2015, that number was 17.34 years old.

There are two factors at play here.

For starters, young men are staying in Scouting longer, meaning they’re enjoying the program for a longer amount of time and not feeling the rush to earn Eagle until they see their 18th birthday on the horizon.

But also there are more pulls on their time — school, sports, church, friends, etc. — meaning more to do in the same amount of time.

That average Eagle Scout age has been pretty consistent in recent years:

2009 17.32
2010 17.24
2011 17.32
2012 17.23
2013 17.24
2014 17.31
2015 17.34

How does this compare to the age of Eagle Scouts in your troop?

For more Eagle Scout stats, click here.

37 Comments on What was the average age of 2015 Eagle Scouts?

  1. H. David Pendleton // February 25, 2016 at 7:09 am // Reply

    For those that complain that Eagle Scout is “easier” than the past, how come the age is now over 17 compared to under 15 in 1949? If it was easier, wouldn’t the age be getting lower and not remaining relatively stable during the past 7 years?

  2. Here’s a thought (after reading the comments in the article from a few years ago). Could part of the later age be related to the popular idea in recent years that a boy can be “too young” to earn his Eagle? Could it be that, at least in some cases, scouts who are ready and enthusiastic are being held back because the adults around them feel they should be a little more “mature,” and by the time everything fits into the adults’ idea of what the timeline “should” be, the boy has lost his fire?

    • I think this is true at least in some cases. My son was thought to be moving through ranks too fast so his SM started adding extra conditions on ranks. This is despite sticking to the timeline the SM suggested when he joined. We left that troop. The one he is in now encourages Scouts to work at the pace the Scout is comfortable with. My son is a Life Scout at 14 and has now chosen to slow down a bit and give himself 2 years to complete Eagle.

      • My son did the same. At 14, he’s planning on NAYLE and a trip to Sea Base and just having some fun. While he’s managed to fundraise and pay for his camps so far, seems somewhere along the line, he got smart enough to figure that out that if he goes above and beyond, mom and dad will pitch in for the ‘extras’!

      • I have the same story! As a 16.5 y/o, my scoutmaster made me wait until just now to become eagle. I have had my project done for about a year now, and I had already been a patrol leader for six months, but he wanted a ‘better’ leadership position. Board of Review this Thursday! #thewaitisover

        • anovalogic // March 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm //

          Congratulations! You’ve earned your Eagle.
          As a Scoutmaster who earned his Eagle many years ago, I can only speculate that your SM did what he did to help you be a better Eagle. If it was punitive, then that is another story. That said, as an Eagle, one is expected to be able to lead at a higher, advanced level, and sometimes that requires more seasoning.

          ten or 20 years from now, you may look back on this extra time as being fundamental to your success…which I am sure will be extensive!

      • SM’s are absolutely not allowed to add extra conditions on rank requirements. If this is happening to your son go to the troop board. If that does not work, go to the council and district leadership. You do not need to leave the troop.

        • Thank you Kevin, you are 100% correct. Unfortunately this is still a prevalent problem. I’ve seen some good scouts walk away from scouting because adult leaders continually moved the finish line. It’s wrong and it needs to stop.

    • Simple, scouts that would have dropped out or not earned Eagle are now staying involved an are earning Eagle. This corresponds to more boys earning Eagle. The interesting data to see would be age of Eagle by the different years. Do the same number of boys earn Eagle at age 14 over the many years or not. If it’s steady (or proportional to population) then it’s a story of involvement not ease or difficulty.

    • That’s an easy question: because there are so many other distractions from scouting these days. If scouts are earning Eagle later on average, it’s not because the program is harder; it’s because they have less time per day/month/year to devote to it.

      The upward trend in age is actually counter-intuitive to me, as I frequently grump about 13- and 14-year old Eagle scouts who I’m suspicious are actually capable of carrying the responsibility that Eagle implies. And there are a non-insignificant number of “Eagle factory” troops as well. But I suppose I can see that the average is going up for three reasons:

      1- other distractions force a division of time (as mentioned above)
      2- between the 13- and 14-year old Eagles and the 18-year old Eagles, there’s a significant gap
      3- given the trend (as in a 25-30 year trend) for HS graduates to go directly into college, trade school, or the military, there are likely a significant number of candidates who wait until the last possible moment to earn their Eagle. I know I’m one of those – I earned my eagle 3 weeks before my 18th birthday, and it required a special weekend trip home from college to do my BOR.

    • That is exactly what was happening in our troop. But now the tide is starting to turn a bit. Adults were (and still are) afraid that once a scout earns Eagle he will drop. But for the first time (or at least a very long time), Eagles are earning palms. We also started a Venturing Crew last year and it should help keep them engaged. Our former troop in another state pushed boys to get Eagle by 16 – before they got jobs, cars, and girls (“fumes”). I cannot tell you how disappointed I am at the scouts who do not start anything except m.b.’s until they are 17.5, then the committee feels “sorry” for them and approves their project since they are running out of time.

  3. Can we see more of the age distribution?

  4. I became an Eagle in 1982 at the very end of my 17 years – literally barely making it with a month to spare. My road to Eagle (at least for my troop and my experience) was something that I had to do completely and 100% on my own including merit badges. If I wanted a merit badge I had to figure it out and go and ask adults who would be willing to be my counselor. This is in stark contrast with today and tons of adult leaders around and always willing to step up. This is also in addition to today’s council consistently sponsoring merit badge clinics throughout the year and monthly troop sponsored merit badges. It appears that not only our current troop but many other troops that I’ve witnessed regularly discuss the “road to Eagle” with the younger scouts. This sets up the expectations and opening doors for younger Scouts that was not around in the 70’s and 80’s from my view. Factually speaking, there are so many more opportunities for Boy Scouts to succeed in today’s scouting then 35+ years ago thus making it appear to be “easier.” I think the amount of work is the same or perhaps slightly more in some instances, such as the Eagle package is much more detailed than what I had to do. There’s also more outside influences pulling away kids from Scouting in today’s world than back in those decades I’m referring to.

    FYI: My dad became an Eagle in 1943, two brothers in the 70’s, two nephews in the 90’s, my oldest son in 2014 and my youngest son is an Eagle project away from completing his.

  5. The last three Eagles in my troop made it just before they turned 18. They get so involved in school/sports/band then all of sudden they realize they are going to be turning 18 does scouts come to the forefront. To me, if they do not earn their Eagle before they turn 16, then it will end up being a rush to finish it before 18.

  6. Walter Waholek // February 26, 2016 at 9:26 am // Reply

    The problem of the past in our Troop was the adult leadership consistently saying take your time, what is your hurry, you have until 18. The enthusiasm is out of the sail. Other distractions come into a boys life, and the priority changes. Then the importance comes into play when that first school counselor advises on how to fill out an application for school or work. Bingo! They need to play catch up as they age out. Over a four year period as a parental observer only one had the opportunity to lead as an Eagle and share his experiences with the younger Scouts. The rest did lame projects, made it by the skin of their teeth, and some failed. That has changed. The old leadership is gone and boys are encouraged to achieve. As COR I have six close to flying from the Eagles nest in 2016 ages 14 -16 and another 3 entering. Age’s 13 & 14. The goals set are mentoring the younger youth by the older and reaching out to achieve every possible award offered to expand the Scouting experience.

  7. When my son served as historian in his troop, his project was to contact our troops older eagles and ask about their projects so he could add them to our website. He learned that in the beginning, the Eagle rank was earned by merit badges and time served alone. The Eagle project was added sometime in the 60’s. At that time, a project could be as simple as organizing a trash cleanup on the roadway with no big write up. As I recall, it wasn’t until the late 70’s when the project became a main part of the Eagle rank and the write up became more extensive. When my older son earned his Eagle in 2004, there was little guidance available to help with the project planning and write up. This process has been streamlined thanks to Internet access, so my guess is that we will see the age start to fall again.

    • The need identification, planning, organizing and actual work, and write-up have added six months, I would guess, for the Eagle Project; compared to the earlier rank-MB-leadership requirements for an Eagle in 1950s. {Providing ‘volunteer free labor’ for other Eagle Projects in the Troop, is another topic.|

      Also, in a earlier age, the youth lived in smaller communities and/or had greater mobility to visit MB Counselor’s homes or businesses.
      Today, most younger Scouts are dependent on ‘Mom’s Taxi’ for transportation.

      For my story: I can recall walking on foot 4-1/2 miles to a Citizenship MB Counselor’s office and then back home, and riding my bicycle to several other MB Counselors’ homes in the summer (but not getting the Cycling MB). On some winter school nights, I did get parental automobile rides to a few MB Counselors’ homes, in exchange for extra household tasks.

  8. We just did an Eagle BOR for a Scout last night who turned 18 back on January 30. Paperwork was in and approved before his birthday, so it’s all cool. I wonder how that is figured into the statistic though…?

    We seem to have more of this type of situation than not, at least in our troop. There seems to be a lot of concern about Scouts becoming Eagle at too young an age, and I’m wondering how we get them to get to Eagle at an earlier age! It would be nice to have an Eagle or two around to mentor and be an example for the younger boys. In the 10 years or so I have been involved in the troop, I can only think of two boys out of about 20 who got Eagle before they were on the brink of aging out.
    Food for thought…

    • Nahila Nakne // February 29, 2016 at 9:35 am // Reply

      Yep I wonder how that figures. I too was one of those who had the EBOR after turning 18. Everything else was done prior to turning 18. Only time the district rep could sit in on the EBOR was when I was 18y 1m 6d.

      Then there is the Eagle I know who had to petition for an EBOR. He couldn’t get it done before going to basic training, again district representative scheduling, and had to have the EBOR at 18y 3+ m.

    • My eldest and his best Scout friend both made Eagle the month before their 18th birthdays. Next eldest is ready to begin his Eagle work at just 16. My eldest and I talked about it, and we realized that part of the difference for our troop is more adults active in advancement and merit badge work. I took on the role of advancement coordinator 2 years ago, and have been recruiting parents to become merit badge counselors from within the troop. When eldest was moving along the ranks, there weren’t as many in-house opportunities, and it took longer to get merit badges. Youngest is ahead of both brothers, but I hope he, too, slows down once he is close, to relax and enjoy his scouting time. As eldest said at his board of review when asked what he would miss most “I’m really going to miss it all”….

  9. And then there’s the case of Hugh White, who got his Eagle BoR at the age of 65:

  10. I think there are a couple of other factors that conspire to make Eagle harder for a boy to earn before his 16th birthday, but the big one “range of mobility.”

    We are a post-modern nomadic society. Most of us rely on cars to get anywhere, we’ve shaped our society on that assumption. Well if you don’t drive and your parents are working, how are you going to go after school to visit a merit badge counselor who is 5 miles away? How close is your nearest hardware store/hobby shop/greenhouse/library? How are you getting your crew to a work site for a service project?

    Map out the counselors in you neighborhood. How many different badges can be earned from someone within an mile of your house? Your boy’s school?

    We joke about about getting Eagle before the ‘fumes’ (perfume and octane) set in. But most scouts that I know really start earning their merit badges when they can drive and have a car (their families or their girlfriend’s) to get them and their buddies to where the work needs to be done.

  11. My oldest son crossed into his Troop April of 2014. He went to summer camp and completed the Pathways program at camp. He attained 1st class by Thanksgiving. Star by his second summer camp. He currently is a Life Scout. He and three other Scouts from the same Webelos Den worked and progressed together. They are 3 Eagle required badges and a project each away from Eagle. He intends on having his Eagle requirements completed by his 14th birthday. As do the other three. I have met many Scouts that are “mature” enough by 13 and some that are not “mature” enough by 18. It’s more of a mental ability questions then an age question in my opinion.

  12. I think it’s absolutely easier making Eagle now verses in the 1970’s. There are so many merit badge clinics that are offered, rank advancement opportunities and troops corporately doing merit badges all the time compared to earlier times. Today’s troops also make more options available such as Eagle Coordinator positions that routinely counsel a young man in helping him on this path.

    I also see Scouts in our troop making Eagle at 13 but they have no idea which way is up so it’s beneficial in my view to hold them back until they mature. Those Scouts who are “pushed” by their parents is an injustice to their own kids. Ok, show me a single Scout who makes Eagle at 13 who absolutely did it on his own without significant parental help verses an older Scout who typically does most of it on his own, Our troop has several boys who “earned” Eagle by their parent’s efforts at 13. I strongly feel that they almost cheated their way which is why I think those Scouts were propelled their by their fathers who regretted not having done Scouts themselves or are making up for some other inadequacy.

    • My patrol leader when I first joined my troop in 1978 had already earned his Eagle at age 13. He was hard working, and more than happy for an excuse to walk to the local college or town where most of the counselors were.

      He was a spitfire, but as far meeting requirements went, no chinks in the armor there.

      And, in our district in the 70’s, we had merit badge Pow-wows. The price was cheap — all volunteer. In fact, dollar-for-dollar, there were more MB opportunities available for me than for my boys this decade.

      It is just foolhardy to look at the age of attainment and think “bought-and-paid for.”

    • My son did his Eagle project on his own. I guided him and gave him direction when asked, but he made the decisions, talked to the principle at the school, talked to the property chair at church for tables on his own, among other things. I have seen older scouts who had a lot more invovelment/input with adults than my son did. In fact he went and talked to his principle within two weeks of telling me what he wanted to do, without me even knowing that he had. And he had a principle who was not sold on the project until the day of when he saw the results. My son “EARNED” his Eagle rank, without a lot of support because of his age and he made the choice of when his Eagle Board would be held (before or after his birthday) and I can definetly say that he did not have paternal support as his father is not a fan of scouting. We do a disservice to our younger scouts when we tell them that they do not deserve their rank because of the age they attained it. I would much rather see an eager 13 year old than a 17 year old who is rushing things because he procrastinated.

    • My Eagle Scoutmaster Conference was held 1 day before my 14th birthday. I did the work. I was the one that was motivated. My parents offered their support in so far as I asked for it. My goal since my first day as a Cub Scout was to earn the Eagle rank. I was driven of my own accord. I know many scouts who also drive toward that goal on their own and many who do not.
      I was told after the fact that my Scoutmaster tried to hold me back. My Committee Chair, COR and my parents had to convince my Scoutmaster to allow me to proceed at my pace. I remained active in the troop continuing to attend Summer Camp, participating in the OA and went on to complete an additional 19 merit badges before my 18th birthday.
      As a currently serving Scoutmaster of nearly a decade, I will do nothing to “hold back” a scout from advancing. If the Scout wants to set, work towards and reach that lofty goal, I will do everything within my power to get him the resources I know he needs and the ones he thinks he needs to reach that goal.
      As adult leaders, we cannot modify the rank requirements, including the time based ones. Our job, with respect to advancement is to play gatekeeper to ensure that the scout has learned the intended skill and/or lesson. I have on many occasions told a scout to go back and practice, think or review the skill again. If he doesnt have anything to show for the time spent in the leadership position (because leadership was not demonstrated) he is sent back until he can demonstrate those skills. Being told “No. I dont believe you have learned the lesson.” is often a great motivator to the scout who truly has his eyes set on reaching a goal.

  13. Peter Johnson // February 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm // Reply

    I think the rise in number of Eagles since the late 1970’s has a lot to do with the parents finding out that having the Eagle Rank is very good on a college application. It also looks real good on a post college job application. One young engineer at my company (Fortune 50 Aerospace)told me that his interview was about 10 minutes on his college work and internships and 30 on Scouts and his Eagle project. Project management and self-starting is very important in any STEM type job.

  14. Nahila Nakne // February 29, 2016 at 9:49 am // Reply

    I wonder if the 13-15 year old Eagles stay in Scouting and if they are pressured by parents.

    I know of an Eagle who got it at 13 because dad, an Eagle and Explorer Silver recipient, pushed and pushed and pushed him. Once he got Eagle, he quit Scouts. Didn’t get back involved until his son was a Tiger, 30 years later.

    Then there was his cousin. Very enthusiastic about Scouting, and uncle pushed him too. Was Life at 13y, 11 months, finished his project at 14y 6 months, and just needed a few more MBs. All set to get Eagle at 14.

    But something happened. Cousin got involved in the Order of the Arrow, becoming Brotherhood. Cousin also was selected to attend Brownsea 22, which would be today’s NYLT. Cousin then attended a national jamboree, and did a HA trek in Canada. He was having FUN. While “perfumes and car fumes” did hit, he stuck with Scouting and gave back to his troop. At 17 years, 6 months, SM gave him a swift kick in the butt by reminding him he had 6 months to do 2 MBs, and have his SMC and EBOR. I got the last MB finished 5 days before turning 18, and had my SMC the night before turning 18. Due to the district representative’s schedule, the EBOR was held when I was 18y 1m, 6 days old.

    So who do you think had more fun in Scouting; my cousin the 13 year old Eagle, or me the 18y 1m, 6d Eagle?

  15. My son got his Eagle in September 2015. He was one of 5 from his troop to earn Eagle in 2015. He was just over 13 1/2 when he got the rank of Eagle. He made a goal as a Tiger Cub to earn Eagle by about 14. We discussed regularly the other areas (music, school, work, yes even girls) that would compete for his time as he got older. He is currently his troop’s SPL. The older boys say he has been one of the best leaders for the troop. He recognizes that given his age he must reach out to the older boys and ask for help and guidance. He worked hard and has no intention of leaving the troop. He set his sites on Eagle Palms and fulfilling his Eagle Charge! I am a proud momma of an Eagle Scout!

  16. In a rural area and with a small group it’s not as easy. Where do you find counselors? My 16yo is kind of stalled out because the opportunities to earn Eagle-required badges are hard to find.

    • Julinda: Stalled in a rural area for lack of MB counselors?
      Unless you are talking about _very_exotic_ merit badges (i.e., Oceanography or Scuba Diving in Kansas….), you should be thinking about signing up more MB counselors.
      The white edged ‘required’ MBs are basically Scoutcraft that should be secondhand to any SM or ASM, and the Citizenship MBs are quickly within hand for any knowledgeable registered voter. Family Life and Sustainability MBs, what parent is not qualified to be the MB Counselor?
      Going back to youth hobbies, avocations and adult hobbies, adult volunteer experience, military training, school courses, travel, past job exposures, and current work experience — almost any adult knows more than the average teenager about a range of topics to serve as a good MB Counselor for a dozen (or two …) MBs. Gardening MB is a good example, even if not involved is a formal garden club or taking entries to the county fair. Home Repair MB, Painting MB, Pet Care MB, Safety MB. Who is not able to qualify for Collecting MB Counselor? Reading MB. For Aviation MB you do not have to be an FAA licensed pilot, for Space MB an astronaut, Atomic Energy MB a backyard reactor, … — if you can change a tire and know what a ‘spark plug’ is and need for periodic ‘oil change’, you are most of the way to being an Automobile Repair MB Counselor.

      For you rural (suburban, city, or inner city) area, grow your crop of Merit Badge Counselors. The boys need your help and you can be of service to the Troop(s), with your knowledge, experience, and a little reading of the MB booklet.

  17. As a proud Mom and active troop committee person, I think it depends on the type of community that you belong to. We found that sports was such a big pull for so many of the boys that we encouraged working on badges earlier than other troops seemed to. We really encouraged parents to pick 1-2 badges they were willing to be a counselor for. All 3 of my boys earned their Eagle at age 15 and stayed til 18 yrs old. One did a venture crew til he was 21. All made life long friends even though they have moved from the area.

  18. My son is part of that 2015 Eagle Class. 16.75 years of age when he got it. Since earning Life at 14 he has been to Jambo, done NYLT, been a OA chapter chief for two terms, been SPL, served on Summer camp staff and went on two high adventures with the troop. Could he have finished earlier, sure. But his route to Eagle fit him and he sure had a lot of fun getting there. ( And I had a good time walking a couple paces behind him.)

  19. There are, unfortunately, leaders that will and do impose their own additional advancement requirements, many of which are the result of testosterone poisoning.

    I believe the strong push to reach First Class in the first year exhausted/overwhelmed many Scouts and led many to shy away from asvancement for a while after reaching that plateau. I am happy to see that push to First Class being pulled back in the 2016 requirements.

    I see many cases of 14, 15, 16 year olds allowed to drift with little encouragement because of “what can you do” attitude, leaders self-fulfilling the idea that other opportunities will distract these Scouts from engagement in Scouting. Then the Scout turns 17 and leaders put out a manic effort to “get his Eagle”. I believe this has become a major reason why the percentage of Eagle Scout attainment has risen, adults focused on pulling 17 year olds through the requirements rather than supporting and encouraging younger Scouts that really want to work through advancement requirements. My nephew’s project turned into an 18 month ordeal because at 15 his complete project proposal was not a priority because ” he has time”, and some 17 year olds that had been rarely seen for several years were using up all of the oxygen in the troop. At nephew’s ECOH, at age 17, two leaders made the mistake of commenting about Scouts waiting until they are 17, and received an earful about the example they were setting for last minute efforts.

    • No Scout should be held back.
      FIRST CLASS IN A YEAR continues to be a very good idea [for 95% of Scouts, who attend meetings and make some reasonable effort].

      A good WeBeLoS should get their new Scout rank advancement (and badge presented) within minutes of crossing the bridge from Cub Scouting, a Troop overnight camping experience as a Scout,
      and be awarded their Tenderfoot rank 30 days after the crossover.
      Then Summer Camp.
      Second Class.
      First Class.
      With months to go in their first year as a Boy Scout, plus several Merit Badges.

      A good start.

  20. Regarding leaders that hold back Eagle Scout advancement until they are old enough to handle it – leaders that believe this are not following the spirit of the Advancement method. It is a sequential program, each level building a base for the next level. Advancement is a method of Scouting, evaluate your leadership and guidance to ask yourself if you are viewing it as an aim rather than a method.

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