Earning the Eagle Scout Award is something to write home about — literally.
Politicians, astronauts, celebrities and other recognizable figures have been sending hand-signed letters to new Eagle Scouts for more than 100 years.
The very first congratulatory letter was sent in 1912 when the first Eagle Scout, Arthur R. Eldred, received a note from James E. West, the first Chief Scout Executive.
Today, parents and Scout leaders can request these scrapbook-worthy keepsakes from pretty much anyone with a mailbox. But who is known to respond, and how do you contact them? And when do you send off these requests anyway?
To help, I searched the internet and consulted a source closer to home — my dad, who sent away for letters when I received my Eagle.
When to request Eagle Scout letters
The basic rule is ASAP, my dad says.
After a Scout completes their board of review, they’re officially an Eagle Scout. But most Scouts don’t have their Eagle court of honor until weeks or months later, so that’s your window for requesting and receiving letters.
My board of review was in March, but my court of honor wasn’t until late April, so my parents had time to collect letters to include in the scrapbook displayed at my ceremony.
Of course, any letters you don’t get by the ceremony date can still be added to an Eagle Scout scrapbook later.
Whom to ask for letters
- City and county officials: Your mayor, city council officials, school board president, superintendent or parks and recreation director
- Religious leaders
- State officials: The governor, lieutenant governor, your area’s state legislators
- Business leaders: CEOs and executives at major corporations based in your city
- U.S. officials: The president, vice president, first lady, cabinet members, senators, representatives, military leaders, department heads
- Past presidents or elected officials no longer in office
- Prominent national people: astronauts, athletes, filmmakers, actors
- Anyone who means something to your Eagle Scout: Get creative! Does the Scout have a favorite author, athlete, musician or actor? Try to track down that person’s contact information. The letter may go unanswered, but it only costs you 55 to try.
Where to find addresses
Rather than reinventing the wheel and posting addresses here, I’ll just link to this excellent resource from the U.S. Scouting Service Project.
For addresses not listed there, find the appropriate website and look for the “Contact Us” link — usually at the top of the page or at the very bottom.
Some entities rely on the honor system, allowing you to download and print congratulatory letters right away.
Try social media, too
Parents, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to your Scout’s favorite celebrity on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. While this might not generate a physical mailed letter, you might get a nice shout-out for your Scout.
What to include in your request
The U.S. Scouting Service Project recommends including the Scout’s full name, troop number, council and a short description of their Eagle Scout service project. For best results, address it to a specific person, not an organization.
Including a self-addressed stamped envelope makes it that much easier to get a response.
Go for quality over quantity. Think about it: Would your Eagle Scout prefer four or five letters from people that are important to them or three dozen mainly from people they’ve never heard of?
Plus, as the U.S. Scouting Service Project notes, keeping the total number of requests from new Eagles to a manageable size may prevent someone from refusing to accept requests altogether.
What do you think?
Who have you successfully heard back from that isn’t listed here? Post their addresses below.
What are your tips for getting congratulatory letters? Help others by sharing your thoughts below.