How to find a great idea for an Eagle Scout Service Project

The most rewarding part of my journey toward Eagle?

Walking across the wooden deck that my fellow Scouts and I built at The Heard Natural Science Museum in McKinney, Tex.

My Eagle Scout Service Project was hardly a unique idea — the majority of Eagle projects are construction-based — but it had one key element: It meant something to me. I remember taking countless trips to the Heard Museum growing up. My dad served as Board President there for two years, and while he was stuck in meetings, I explored my second backyard. When it was time to select a project, giving back to the Heard made sense.

Unfortunately, project ideas don’t always present themselves so clearly. That makes Requirement 5 — “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project” — the task that slows down more aspiring Eagles than any other. No surprise, then, that your fellow Scouters called Requirement 5 the toughest Eagle requirement in an informal poll I took this morning.

Here’s where you come in.

Encourage the Life Scouts in your troop to find a project they’re passionate about. More than 2 million Eagle projects have already been completed, so don’t worry if the idea has been done before. Here’s what the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook says on that subject:

Your project doesn’t have to be original, but it could be. It might be a construction, conservation, or remodeling project, or it could be the presentation of an event with a worthwhile purpose. Conversations with your unit leader, teachers, your religious leader, or the leaders of various community organizations can also uncover ideas. In any case, be sure the project presents a challenge that requires leadership, but also something that you can do with unskilled helpers, and within a reasonable period of time.

Still stumped? I’ve gathered a collection of ideas and links that should help.

Ideas from other Scouters

I asked our Facebook fans to share the best projects completed by Eagle Scouts they know:

  • My son in Troop 581 collected 5,000 shoes for the Haitian people in the January 2010 earthquake. He collaborated with Soles 4 Souls to send forth the shoes for shipment. (J.R.)
  • Planters designed and built for a Center for the Blind. Filled with plants that could be identified by touch or scent — labeled in English and Braille. (M.J.)
  • A Scout from Troop 123 in Shawnee, Kan., designed and set up a program at the National World War I Museum where Scouts were trained and used as tour facilitators on weekends for groups visiting the museum. (T.J.)
  • One boy in our troop built shelving for a charity thrift store in the community. (H.S.)
  • My Eagle Scout project was to build a playground structure for the town of Foxboro, Mass. It was seen as over-ambitious back then, but now when I go back there with my kids (who are Scouts) and they look up and see what they can achieve it was all worth it. (D.F.)
  • My son is building a dog park for our community. (L.B.)
  • A Scout from Troop 357 in Dodgeville, Wis., worked with his church to design and build a outdoor altar for the parish in the church’s cemetery so the congregation can have outdoor mass on occasions like Memorial Day. (J.L.)
  • On the heels of the 2008 economic downturn, my oldest son put on a free weeklong football camp for 120 kids of low-income parents. (M.K.)
  • Door-to-door distributing of information about the harm or inefficiency of outdated prescription drugs, then a collection day. (B.A.)

Our Facebook fans submitted many more great ideas. Click here to see them.

My Project Finder — a handy tool

My colleague Dave Harkins, who works for the BSA’s National Supply Group, created a Web site to help boys and girls come up with ideas for Eagle Scout or Venturing Gold Award projects.

The site, which was one of Dave’s Wood Badge ticket items, is a “decision tree” that lets users answer two or three simple questions about their interests and passions.

Once they do that, the site suggests several potential project ideas.

It’s a great resource, and it’s available for free by clicking here. Check it out!

Other useful links with ideas

Here’s a list with hundreds of ideas, from Scoutorama.

Boys’ Life has a few more on this post.

And 100 concepts from which projects can be developed are available on this PDF, from meritbadge.org.

Important reminders

Be sure to have your Scouts consult the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook before getting too far along. Pay special attention to the “restrictions” section (Page 4), which details certain projects that aren’t acceptable — such as fundraisers, projects that only benefit the BSA, or routine labor.

Additionally, Life Scouts now must receive approval on their Project Proposal (Pages 7 to 10 of the workbook) before beginning further planning. This new requirement prevents Scouts from doing too much work on a project that is ultimately rejected.