What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts?

It could be one of the most-quoted statistics in Scouting: the percentage of Boy Scouts who go on to become Eagle Scouts.

For a while the common response was 4 percent. So common, in fact, that it spawned an awesome book about Eagle Scouts called “Four Percent: The Story of Uncommon Youth in a Century of American Life.”

As the years go by, though, that 4 percent number has become outdated. Which leads to the natural question: What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts these days?

I’ve got the answer, plus a year-by-year analysis, after the jump. 

2014’s Eagle Scout percentage

In 2014, 6.01 percent of eligible Scouts earned the Eagle Scout award.

That number is a tick down from 2013’s record-high 6.02 percent.

To be clear, that number was calculated this way:

  • The total membership number for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers (males under 18 years old) in 2014 was 861,898.
  • The number of Eagle Scouts in 2014 was 51,820.
  • 51,820 / 861,898 = 0.0601 (6.01 percent)

Lifetime Eagle Scout percentage

Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, 2.01 percent of eligible Scouts have earned Scouting’s highest honor.

So even though the percentage has been trending upward over the years, the award is still incredibly rare.

Here’s a chart (click to enlarge). Find the raw data at the bottom of this post.


My two cents

I feel two points need to be made here.

1. An upward trend in the percentage is a good thing.

We should see the increasing percentage of Boy Scouts becoming Eagle Scouts as a positive thing.

More Eagle Scouts means boys are staying in the program longer and it means they’re leaving the program Prepared. For Life.

Consider this: What would the world be like if 100 percent of 18-year-olds were Eagle Scouts? That’s a world I’d want to live in.

2. Earning Eagle Scout isn’t the only way to have a successful Scouting experience.

About 2 percent of Boy Scouts throughout history went on to become Eagle Scouts.

So what about the other 98 percent? They still are better men because of their time in Scouting.

Even if a boy only stays in Scouting for 6, 12, 18 months, he still leaves the program a better man. Scouting changes lives from Day One, so we shouldn’t see earning Eagle Scout as the only judge of whether a boy succeeded in Scouting.

Year-by-year Eagle Scout percentages

Here they are, for all you number-crunchers out there. What was the percentage the year you earned Eagle?

1912 0.04%
1913 0.09%
1914 0.16%
1915 0.07%
1916 0.05%
1917 0.11%
1918 0.07%
1919 0.13%
1920 0.17%
1921 0.33%
1922 0.49%
1923 0.49%
1924 0.60%
1925 0.67%
1926 0.74%
1927 0.96%
1928 1.12%
1929 1.10%
1930 1.28%
1931 1.39%
1932 1.41%
1933 0.99%
1934 1.06%
1935 1.19%
1936 0.99%
1937 1.00%
1938 1.06%
1939 1.12%
1940 1.15%
1941 1.01%
1942 0.88%
1943 0.96%
1944 0.98%
1945 1.01%
1946 1.03%
1947 0.94%
1948 0.79%
1949 1.15%
1950 1.03%
1951 1.09%
1952 1.70%
1953 0.72%
1954 0.79%
1955 0.92%
1956 0.96%
1957 1.05%
1958 0.97%
1959 0.93%
1960 1.10%
1961 1.27%
1962 1.30%
1963 1.32%
1964 1.37%
1965 1.29%
1966 1.25%
1967 1.39%
1968 1.25%
1969 1.40%
1970 1.30%
1971 1.33%
1972 1.21%
1973 1.96%
1974 1.71%
1975 1.10%
1976 1.60%
1977 1.53%
1978 1.46%
1979 1.53%
1980 1.51%
1981 1.56%
1982 1.49%
1983 1.35%
1984 1.36%
1985 1.32%
1986 1.31%
1987 1.34%
1988 1.31%
1989 1.40%
1990 1.41%
1991 2.43%
1992 2.54%
1993 2.48%
1994 2.73%
1995 2.26%
1996 2.65%
1997 2.74%
1998 3.40%
1999 3.87%
2000 3.44%
2001 3.60%
2002 3.72%
2003 3.82%
2004 3.97%
2005 4.18%
2006 4.43%
2007 4.43%
2008 4.46%
2009 4.60%
2010 5.02%
2011 4.55%
2012 5.55%
2013 6.02%
2014 6.01%

Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s numbers guru, Mike LoVecchio, for the stats.


  1. You use the terms “Scouts” and “Boy Scouts” interchangeabley in the article. Are these numbers based only on the total number of Boy Scouts or is it based on the total number of Scouts – including Cub Scouts?

    • “The total membership number for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers (males under 18 years old) in 2014 was 861,898.”

      The answer is right there. Why would he include Cub Scouts? They can’t earn Eagle.

      • well you would include Cub Scouts if you were talking about a percentage of boys that start at the very beginning of the BSA program. If Cub Scouts weren’t a part of the BSA program then why would I make my checks out to BSA for my son who’s a Bear right now? You would start at Boy Scout only if you were trying to either a) use data that goes back further than the Cub Scout program or b) if you were trying to make your percentages higher since a lot of boys never continue on from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. You’re pool number would be higher making your percentage number lower.

        • The Percentage is how many Scouts that CAN earn Eagle Scout actually earn Eagle Scout. Cub Scouts CANNOT obtain Eagle Scout Rank thus they are no included in the calculation? It would be like including Girl Scouts, or carrots or adopted Greyhounds into the calculation.

        • Let’s see what the statistic really tells us:
          It only tells us: at the end of the year what percentage of all members made eagle that year.
          If we want to know what the percentage of boys is that reach eagle at one point in their career and that is a more relevant number then we would have to divide the membership number of 861,000 by the average number of years a boy stays in scouting (because a boy who makes eagle in his 6th year, will be counted 5 times as a scout not making eagle that year until he finally counts toward making eagle).
          If we assume that the average boy stays in scouting for 3 years, then the percentage of boys reaching eagle is 18.03%.
          If we assume that the average boy stays in scouting for 4 years, then the percentage of boys reaching eagle is 24.04%.
          If we assume that the average boy stays in scouting for 5 years, then the percentage of boys reaching eagle is 30.05%.
          If we assume that the average boy stays in scouting for 6 years, then the percentage of boys reaching eagle is 36.06%.

      • I feel like the year by year statistics don’t give a good judge, if a Scout earns Eagle before they’re 18, and most do, they would be counted as an Eagle in membership the year after as well. All the year by year means is 6% of all youth members are Eagles, that doesn’t say how many earned it that year or what percentage of scouts make it before they’re 18. It’s a hard calculation because there’s no way to know if a younger scout will make Eagle until they drop out or age out yet they’re counted in each year as one who didn’t make it. The 2% calculation is probably the most accurate. I’d be interested to see how they made that calculation.

        • The number who make Eagle each year divided by the total Boy Scout membership is a statistic created to feed the myth that Eagles are something very unusual. I agree that making the Eagle rank is a significant accomplishment, but it is not very unusual. For boys that join Boy Scouts, currently about 33% make it to Eagle. Most boys are in Boy Scouts for more than 1 year, so the 6% number is really not relevant and seldom described accurately.

        • When we apply statistical analysis it is incumbent on the analyst to acknowledge his assumptions and biases. It is equally important to acknowledge the error introduced each time we use averages that are derived from further assumptions which bias the outcome even further vice definitive data. As a case in point, the example above reaches an answer of 36.06%. It fails to even consider the size of the pool each year. As an active Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout, I can attest the number of 17 year old Scouts in my troop is a fraction of the number that started six years prior. In fact, the number drops off significantly one they enter high school and encounter the “fumes” … that’s car fumes and perfumes. My bottom line is becoming an Eagle is still a lot of dedicated hard work. Please do not trivialize this accomplishment via statistical manipulation. Rather, encourage and support your sons and boys who are on the trail to Eagle.

        • As long as they made 1st Class before switching to Venturing, they are eligible to receive their Eagle as Venturers.

        • Male Venturers who earned First Class as a Boy Scout/Varsity Scout can continue working on Boy Scouting advancement (including Eagle Scout) until they age out at 18.

      • Unfortunately, the BoyScouts is not what it used to be. BoyScouts used to learn real skills, these days the requirements are watered down and many counselors just sign-off for the scouts to complete the merit badge requirements. The real percentage should not be more than 2%. These days local boy scouts councils use boy scouts to generate revenue to pay for their salaries and other expenses. Its simply becoming a marketing for revenue generation.

      • I’m not sure but both my sons did it from tiger to eagle. And in our troop in the last 5 years we have had about 8 scout do the run from tiger to eagle. I don’t know about earlier. The troop is 30 years old and has had 47 eagles in that time. We also are a small troop averaging about 15-25 scouts a year.

  2. So, who is an eligible Scout? What is the number a percentage of? For example, is that 6.01% of all boys under age 18 who were registered as Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers in 2014?

    • Dan, you’re exactly right. The percentages are of boys under 18 who were Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts or Venturers during that year. Basically, only those eligible to become Eagle Scouts. (In other words, Cub Scouts aren’t counted in these numbers.)

      • But an 10-year-old who just joined isn’t eligible to become Eagle Scout…at least no more eligible than a Webelos Scout.

      • And a Scout who already earned Eagle (say he earned it last year) is not eligible to become Eagle again…. yet he’s counted in the number of “eligible” Scouts for this year.

      • Only male Venturers under 18 who had previously earned First Class through a Boy Scout Troop or Varsity Team would be eligible. Those who were never in a Troop or Team or who were but did not previously complete First Class rank wouldn’t be eligible.

        In the Crew I’m associated with, we have a young man who was never in a Boy Scout Troop and another who was briefly in a Boy Scout Troop but never completed First Class rank before switching to Venturing. Neither are eligible to complete Eagle without first joining (or re-joining) a Troop or Team and completing the requirements for First Class.

        Also wondering if dual-registrations are accounted for? For instance, my son is one of those Eagle eligible young men, at 15 years old and holding the Life rank. Last year he was both a registered member of Boy Scout Troop and a Venturing Crew. Does he get counted twice? He also worked at our local council’s Cub Scout camp, for which he was officially registered to Dan Beard Council Venturing Crew 438 (all DBC camp staff employees are registered to that Crew). Would that count him 3 times?

        • Generally, the membership is counted based on “primary”, i.e. whichever unit paid your rechartering fee. So, I think the stats are based on non-overlapping counts.

          Yes, a venturer who never earned 1st class is not immediately eligible; however, for the few such boys in my crew, I offered to find them a troop who would help them work through the trail to first class. Then they could choose to continue rank advancement through that troop or solely through the crew. So adding those few boys to the denominator is not that far fetched.

        • Kyle, I believe the calculation is based on what percentage of youth Scouts are Eagle, not how many earned it in a particular year. So I believe Eagles who earned it last year and are still youths are still counted as Eagles this year.

    • Thanks, Bryan. I can see the interest in other statistics, such as the total number of youth who ever registered in a BSA program vs. the total number of youth who ever became Eagle Scouts. Or the total BSA membership in 2014 vs. the the total number of registered Eagle Scouts in 2014. Or any number of other other statistics. But every formulation has things it tells us and things it doesn’t — it is easy to poke holes in any statistic. What I like about the calculation you have given is that it isn’t about how many Scouts _do not_ achieve the rank of Eagle, but about how many Scouts _do_, year after year. And I think the long line of Eagle Scouts stretching back to 1912 that is being consistently added to year after year is certainly a point worth emphasizing. Highlighting the accomplishments of the Scouting program by talking about how many Eagles have been produced is certainly as valid as highlighting the accomplishments of an individual Scout by talking about how few Eagles have been produced.

      • It is a good thing that boys are earning Eagle, even if the real statistic is that around 30% of the boys who join Boy Scouting earn Eagle.

        At the same time we have to ask ourselves why we are producing more Eagles than ever even though we have fewer scouts than ever. That can be because we’re doing so much better than we ever have been at teaching kids, or kids are so much better now than they were 50 years ago…. or it can be because we’ve watered down our interpretation of the requirements so much.

        After all, the Guide to Advancement has slowly been deleting all of the old statements like “A badge represents what a Boy Scout is ABLE TO DO, it is not a reward for what he has done.”

        A world where 100% of boys earn Eagle could be a very good world indeed. Or, more likely, it could be a world where the Eagle scout badge has come to mean nothing at all.

        • Removing “Able to do” language from the Advancement Guide and adding language prohibiting the BOR from asking scouts to demonstrate knowledge or skill of the advancement requirements allegedly being reviewed by the board has made it impossible for boards to “review” much of anything. We see scouts at Star, Life, and Eagle boards who are not “Able to do” Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class advancement requirements; AND, “by the book”, they don’t have to. By the book, the BOR is don’t ask, don’t tell, rubber stamp, eye wash. We are cheating the boys, but we are producing many more “Eagles”. This is not a new trend in scouting. Pioneering merit badge ceased to be “Eagle Required” in 1963. We had to be more “Urban Scouting” friendly. I’m sure they didn’t expect that change, (where Eagles no longer have to know advanced rope work and woodcraft), would lead to a day when Eagles not only wouldn’t know second and first class knots and bends, but review boards would be forbidden to check. You can’t ask a scout at an Eagle BOR to recite the scout oath. The advancement guide forbids it. But we are producing more Eagles. And, they are great young men. I hope they never learn how we have cheated them.

    • This is all great, but I would love to see the number in a slightly different way.

      If I take a group of scouts – lets say 10,000 so it is actually statistically viable – looking at the entire time this group is in scouting, what percent of them at some point earn their Eagle?

      I know in the troop my son is involved in, we are currently planning 6 seperate courts of honor, including one ENTIRE patrol of boys that has been together since Tigers. If I look at them as a group, that is 100% earned their Eagle, not 6%

      • Sean, Excellent suggestion. When you hear about (for instance) high school graduation rates, what you are suggesting is what you get. When a school or a school district boasts a (say) 90% high school graduation rate, they mean that 90% of the students that were in school in 9th grade ended up graduating from high school.

        It seems possible to do what you are proposing to do. In fact, we may already have the necessary data to look back and make this calculation.

        My experience with scouting has been similar to yours. My son was in two Boy Scout Troops and around 75% of the boys made Eagle. Though I certainly realize that these two Troops may not be representative of all Boy Scout Troops in the country.

  3. This is terrific, Bryan. The data really puts the debate to rest. Now I would like to know what happened/changed in 1991–or within the 5-6 years prior that began the “meteoric” rise in Eagles. Future article, maybe?

    • In August 1989, “Operation First Class” was intitiated which did away with time requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scout ranks. Instead of having to have X number of months for Tenderfoot, X number of months as a Tenderfoot for Second Class, and X number of months as a Second Class for First Class, a Scout could go from Scout to First Class in one night!

      I remember sitting on three BORs for the same scout when the new rank requirements went into effect. We didn’t know that one BOR could cover all three ranks (nor that Scouts could no longer sit on BORs like they could do in the 1970s and 80s). So we had the Scout come in for his Tenderfoot, then wait for another Scout to have his BOR, then he had his Second Class BOR, wait for a third scout to have his BOR, then had his First Class BOR.

      While he went from Scout to First Class in one nite, it did take him 3 months in the troop to meet all of the requirements. And the First Year Camper program at summer camp helped tremendously toward getting him his skills.

    • The internet happened. The internet makes scouting logistics so much easier than it was “back in the day”.

      I also think it is a function of the overall population. One can argue that the same population of boys who **really** want to earn Eagle still exist, while those who are marginally interested are behind the decline in enrollment.

    • Eagle Factory troops. Tick off the boxes for advancement as fast as possible. 14-15 year old Eagles. But I’m sure that’s another topic for another day.

      • And thank heavens for those 14-15-year old Eagle Scouts! Leaders in their communities and schools while they’re still young enough to *be* Scouts!

        (My son was 14.5 years. Did an exceptional job. Completed every requirement, which is more than I can say for a lot of almost-18-year-old Eagles.)

        • Leaders in their community? I’ve been in scouting a long time and most 14 year olds are still kids and have relied on adults for badges and don’t grasp the importance of eagle and have completed every requirement( wink, wink) I’ve seen it on more than a few occasions. Personally I think there should be less 14 and 13 year olds as Eagle Scouts and more training and time required for them to learn. Sorry but a lot of kids get it because of mothers. And what about the eagle projects, maybe a few less projects that are easy and more beneficial to communities, food and book drives are nice but a joke. Kudos to your son though, I’m sure he’s a fine young man.

        • I am always a strong supporter of the boys who make Eagle at 14 or 15. My general observation from the 900 Eagle boards of Review I have run over hte last 25 years is that there is generally an inverse relationship between age and maturity AT THEIR BOARD OF REVIEW. In other words, the Scouts who make Eagle at a younger age tend to be more mature and stronger Scouts even at that young age than the Scouts that are past 18 when they make Eagle (about 50%). One of the most mature and dedicated Scouts I have ever known was 13 when he had his Eagle board of review, and he remained active in Scouts and Venturing until he was 21. He only got better as he got older. Many of the Scouts that today squeak by and get pushed to complete Eagle just in time in the past would not have made Eagle. This largely explains both the increasing number of Eagles and the increasing age. The average age is about 17 1/4 and the median age is about 18 now.

      • I think Eagle Factories contribute only a blip in the percentage. There are simply more resources these days to get the requirements one needs to earn Eagle. For example, merit badges. When I was a scout in the 80’s/early 90’s, the only place to earn merit badges was summer camp. These days there are also winter camps, merit badge universities, and third-party workshops at which you can earn a merit badge anywhere from once a year to once a month. A driven boy could earn upwards of 20 merit badges in just his first year.

      • It makes me sick every time someone who doesn’t know anything dismisses accomplishment with a broad brush.

        And why can’t (or shouldn’t) a 14-15 year old be an Eagle? It is a YOUTH award, is it not? It doesn’t have to be some magical capstone of a scouting career bestowed at 17 years 364 days old.

        • Thank you! I was scrolling down the comments waiting to see how long I could go without the accomplishments of exceptional youth being attacked and claims made that Eagles under 17 are not legitimately earned. I was on a grand jury panel when someone complained about the prosecutors being twenty-five years old and they were too young for such responsibility. I replied that if they call 911 the paramedic may be 21, the doctor in the ER may be 25, the pilot landing a supersonic jet on a dot in the ocean on a moonless night just got out of college two years ago. Their mothers did not take their exams. There are exceptional people and some of them are Eagle scouts. And a few of them are fourteen.

        • I just saw a university has a summer camp to earn merit badges for Eagle Scout. I am guessing there is money to be made.

  4. is the 6% based on the number of elegible scouts at the time the Eagle is earned? If so then I would say that out % is getting lower. My son just reached Eagle yesterday. When he joined scouts 7 years ago he was in a group of 11 scouts. There were only 5 still in scouts when he finished. If that is an average drop rate then I would say that the total % of boys who join scouts and reach Eagle rank would be on the order of 3%.

  5. Can you better explain what #s you used?

    “In 2014 6% of eligible scouts earned eagle”.

    What does that mean? Are only life rank scouts eligible?

    Assume the calc is (# of new Eagles) / X

    What is X?

    Total # of non-eagle Boy Scouts?

    • X is the total number of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and under-18 male Venturers. That is, the total number theoretically eligible to earn Eagle. It does include brand-new Scouts who would have no way of meeting the Eagle requirements within that year.

  6. With Utah having the highest number of Eagle Scouts (based upon a previous post), is it possible to see the numbers for LDS vs non LDS sponsored troops? Would those churches that push Awana and Royal Rangers benefit their boys better with supporting Scouting?

    • Throw utah out of the ranking, I live here, am a scoutmaster and have watched as 90% plus get their eagle here. Whether they deserve it or not….

      • Why are they achieving the rank if they don’t deserve it, wouldn’t a scoutmaster or BOR question that ??? It sounds like a failure in leadership, and only cheapens the honor for those who do deserve it…

  7. Interesting to see the uptick in the 1990s. Also interesting to see that the percentage of Eagle Scouts is increasing while the overall membership of scouting has been decreasing.
    What caused the difference starting around 1990?

    • In August 1989, “Operation First Class” was intitiated which did away with time requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scout ranks. Instead of having to have X number of months for Tenderfoot, X number of months as a Tenderfoot for Second Class, and X number of months as a Second Class for First Class, a Scout could go from Scout to First Class in one night!

      I remember sitting on three BORs for the same scout when the new rank requirements went into effect. We didn’t know that one BOR could cover all three ranks (nor that Scouts could no longer sit on BORs like they could do in the 1970s and 80s). So we had the Scout come in for his Tenderfoot, then wait for another Scout to have his BOR, then he had his Second Class BOR, wait for a third scout to have his BOR, then had his First Class BOR.

      While he went from Scout to First Class in one nite, it did take him 3 months in the troop to meet all of the requirements. And the First Year Camper program at summer camp helped tremendously toward getting him his skills.

    • It is Possible that the Awana and Royal Rangers would benefit boys better than the “politically incorrect” Boy Scouts if they don’t allow gays. Let the lbgt community sponsor their own scouting program along with their incessant political agenda.

    • Check regs in the scout book you now don’t have the time crunch after second class to get your merit badge like before 1990. People higher up have to keep up with education.

    • Although the percentage of Eagles has ticked up, the pure number of Eagles is relatively the same as it was 10 years ago. The increased percentage and decreased enrollment in scouting are both connected: as there are more and more youth programs available compared to 20, 30 or more years ago, boys have to choose what interests them most. So, scouts today really are making a greater commitment and sacrificing time over other program possibilities. At the same time, the program has increased its focus on advancement a bit (i.e, first-year, first-class), in part to meet the needs/desires of that more-engaged group.

  8. Bryan, thank you so very much for this data (and thanks to Mike LoVecchio for pulling it together). However, I need some help to understand the figures. For example in 2014, the figure is 6.01%, of what? Is that 6% of all the youth registered in the BSA, or just of the Boy Scouts registered in the BSA that year, or just of the 14+ year old Boy Scouts, or is it 6% of the Boy Scouts that have been registered for the past seven years?

    Also, I REALLY would like to see the raw data numbers compared against the raw data numbers of the actual total number of Boy Scouts registered in the BSA for the past 100 years. For example 50,000 Eagle ranks in one year is a completely different percentage when compared against 2 Million members (in let’s say 1970) than it is 1 million members in 2012.

    Let’s better state exactly what this percentage is, and put in within the context of membership growth (or decline) to give these Eagles their due.

  9. This number is presented very misleadingly. When we ask the headline question–“What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagles”–we’re talking about what Scouts do over the course of their entire Scouting careers.

    The 6% number is the number of Boy Scouts registered in 2014 who earn Eagle THAT YEAR–not in their Scouting careers. After all, some Scouts who earned Eagle in 2013 or 2012 continue in the program–they’re Eagles, but not counted in the 6% for 2014. And all the Scouts who earn Eagle in 2015 and 2016 will be boys who were registered in 2014–but again, they are not counted in the “6%” for 2014. (And many 2017, 2018, and 2019 Eagles will also have been registered Scouts in 2014.)

    Basically, the number is somewhere over 20%, probably around 25%.

    If you don’t believe me, try a simple experiment. If you’ve been in Scouting a while–take two pieces of paper. On the first paper write the name of six Eagle Scouts. On the second paper, write the names of 94 Scouts who left without getting Eagle. Repeat the process–six more Eagles, 94 more non-Eagles–until you are no longer able to find enough names.

    If only 6% of Scouts become Eagles, then you should be likely to run out of Eagles and non-Eagles at about the same time. In fact, most of you would be able to fill the Eagle list several times over before filling the non-Eagle list. That’s because over 20% of Boy Scouts become Eagle.

    • Dave is precisely right in this post. It is the difference between:

      1) In any given year, what percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts? That is the question answered with this data and

      2) If 100 boys join the Boy Scouts, what percentage will become Eagle Scouts? That is the way that the question is normally presented and, as Dave very correctly points out, that percentage is much, much higher.

      Which, as Bryan pointed out, is a very good thing. Those Scouts are meeting the requirements to be Eagle Scouts.

      But as was also pointed out, advancement is one of 8 methods. There are many wonderful Scouts who, for some reason, never made Eagle Scout. And there is no way they are anything other than great successes.

    • Yes, Dave is right. This blog post should say 6% *per year* earn Eagle. That is WAY different than saying that 6% total earn Eagle. Very misleading.

  10. And remember advancement is just one of the eight aims of Scouting. Don’t ever get discouraged if your Scouts don’t reach the rank of Eagle Scout!

  11. I only made it to Life and stopped just a couple of merit badges and a project short…….gasoline and perfume got me…….but I had an amazing Scouting experience……..got a picture of Lady Baden-Powell at the 1969 Jamboree and saw Neil Armstrong step on the moon while watching a Scoutmaster’s “snowy” remote tv. While reaching the pinnacle of Eagle Scout is a remarkable feat, here is what makes it even more selective. While 2% – 6% of eligible Boy Scouts reach Eagle, think about what a fraction of a percent of ALL boys make Eagle since so many boys choose not to enjoy Scouting or may not have the opportunity. Truly, it is a very select fraternity and a remarkable achievement taking real dedication on the party of the youth and the parents. Congratulations, Eagles !

    • The percentage of all youth becoming Eagle Scouts is about 1%. If you take the girls out of the denominator it becomes about 2%. By the time you get down to just the boys who stay in Scouting all the way until they turn 18, it is close to 75%.

      • Of course, it would make sense that a Boy Scout who was in for 8+ years (10 1/2 to 18) would have a better chance to achieve Eagle than a Scout who joined at 10 1/2 & dropped out at Scouting at 13 or somewhere else along the path.

        I had 18 Webelos 1s in my Den. 15 made it through the 2nd Webelos Camp & started their Web 2 year. 13 made it to crossover. Only 11 of them are still active. I will be interested how many of them reach Eagle (they are 13 years of age now).

        I don’t really care what percent the number is really, as long as they are meet the standards . . . nothing more . . . and definitely nothing less.

    • I too, after becoming life, became a ‘girl scout’ and that took up much of my time. I did receive the honor of having my son become a Eagle Scout.

  12. My guess – retention of scouts has been dropping which caused the percentage of Eagle Scouts to increase. I was a Cub Scout for a year and a Boy Scout for a year.

    • Actually I think it’s the reverse of this. That is, the % of Scouts who earn Eagle is going up because the % of Scouts who join for only a year or two and then drop out is going down. The boys who, decades ago, would join for a while because their friends were doing it and then drop out quickly are now boys who never fill out an application to begin with.

  13. Brian does the percentage include those who are already Eagle Scouts under the age of 18. For instance if a boy earns his eagle at the age of 15 is he included in percentage that did not earn Eagle that next year? So this asks the question do we have a significant amount of boys who are eagle scouts in the program under the age of 18.

    • Yep, this is right. If a boy earns Eagle at 15, he is counted as a non-Eagle in the percentages for the years he’s 16 and 17. And he was also counted as a non-Eagle in the percentages for the years he was 11, 12, 13, and 14. Basically, if an Eagle Scout is registered with the program through age 17, this counts him as an Eagle in one year and as a non-Eagle in the other six years. That’s why the number is so much lower than the real percentage.

  14. Could also be a trend towards a “participation soccer trophy” mentality. After 88 years, the percentage finally crosses the 3% line in 1998 and has been trending at an average increase of about a 5th of a percent per year, every year since.

    • In August 1989, “Operation First Class” was intitiated which did away with time requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scout ranks. Instead of having to have X number of months for Tenderfoot, X number of months as a Tenderfoot for Second Class, and X number of months as a Second Class for First Class, a Scout could go from Scout to First Class in one night!

      I remember sitting on three BORs for the same scout in one night when the new rank requirements went into effect. We didn’t know that one BOR could cover all three ranks (nor that Scouts could no longer sit on BORs like they could do in the 1970s and 80s). So we had the Scout come in for his Tenderfoot, then wait for another Scout to have his BOR, then he had his Second Class BOR, wait for a third scout to have his BOR, then had his First Class BOR.

      While he went from Scout to First Class in one nite, it did take him 3 months in the troop to meet all of the requirements. And the First Year Camper program at summer camp helped tremendously toward getting him his skills.

    • Better training of leaders; Unit Eagle Coordinators; Better Information on procedures; Internet access to find Merit Badge Counselors in the district, council, or even further afoot; change from no Merit Badges until 1st Class to earning them as soon as crossing over; Merit Badges earned at camp (I went to 2 camps & never earned a Merit Badge because I only made 2nd Class); Merit Badge events put on by councils or districts; Merit Badge events put on by museums or other places such as Geocaching by Garmin; and lastly interested (maybe even helicopter parents) who ask questions.

      My parents never asked me any questions about my 2 years in Boy Scouts, never attended a COH (I can’t remember even having one in my small town Troop of less than 10 Scouts), or even dropped me off at a troop meeting. I was on my own. Not so much anymore.

    • Or maybe we’re just drumming out of the program those old leaders who wanted to keep the percentages down…

      • More like drumming out leaders who believe that scouts should EARN IT, not wanting to keep percentages down. Let’s raise the percentages and make sure no one has hurt feelings if they don’t become an eagle. Unlike most scouters I believe a kid should get an eagle award if he earns it not because someone doesn’t want him to not have that feather in his cap( which he didn’t earn) and nod more lie to put on a job application.

  15. Curious – for all Eagle Scouts, what percentage started as Cubs vs started as Boy Scouts? Wondering about impact of Cub Scouting on reaching Eagle.

    • This! I would like to know, also.

      What is the average length of stay at each rank joined?

      How many scouts make Eagle vs. how many boys join scouts at all? I do agree that the standard statistic used above and oft quoted is only how many made it that year.

    • In our Troop maybe 90% of the Eagles were Cubs. However, Boy Scouts who were never Cubs get Eagle at 2x to 3x the rate of Cubs. Those who join later are more motivated; those who cross over from Cubs as friends many are in it for the friends and not the program.

  16. Eagle is an earned honor, not necessarily a goal. I have known many Scouts who were “eagles” but never earned the rank.
    And, the requirements have changed over the years. I had to prove my service to the greater community , but did not manage a particular project like my Scoutson did. The additional requirement of the Service Project was a good thing, in my opinion.
    And how ’bout back when Scoutmasters (adults! ) could still “earn” an Eagle? Are they included in this?
    “Inquiring Scouts want to know!”, Brian!
    I also agree with the above commenters: What sample does this 6.something percent come from? All boys who ever registered as a (Cub, Boy, Venture, Varsity, Explorer) Scout? Only (Boy, Explorer, Venturer) ? Any boy who signed up after age 11? If a first grader signed up but six months later the mother says she didn’t read the back of the application closely enough to see the requirement to believe in a “Higher Power” and then resigns her son from Scouts, is he included?
    Statistics need to be defined to be really useful.

    But it is still a number to smile at…..
    Shall we discuss Merit Badge Colleges, anyone?

    • The number for 2014 is (# of Eagles awarded in 2014) / (# of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and under-18 male Venturers registered in 2014).

  17. What these stats show to me is that as scouting has become less popular, those in it are more committed to attaining its highest honor. Basically less marginal scouts so you end up with a higher percentage of committed ones.

    • Maybe…

      Except that I don’t believe our retention rates are any better than they have been historically. Presumably more committed scouts would be reflected in higher retention rates, but my impression is that retention rates have been pretty much the same over time. Certainly not enough to account for having more Eagles than ever while reducing our membership by 2/3.

      I wonder if anyone has those retention figures.

  18. My question Brian is are the numbers going up dramatically, or because of membership decline is it artificially raising the percentage? I don’t know the answer, but am curious if this is playing a part in the increase.

  19. I love the numbers, but being a numbers guy I ‘m concerned that these are not very helpful numbers.

    What is meant by “number of eligible Scouts”? It’s not clear at all how the denominator is measured. A first year Scout in 2015 is not eligible for Eagle in 2015. Are they included in that measure? Is it really “eligible Scouts”? Or is it registered membership?

    If it’s registered membership, how much does a decrease in national membership contribute to the increase in percentage of boys getting Eagle? There’s a self-selection into Scouting. As fewer of the “marginally interested” continue in Scouting, that leaves a higher percentage of determined youth (or parents) which would result in a higher percentage of Eagles not because we’re churning out more Eagles, but because we’re attracting fewer Scouts.

    • Good point. These numbers aren’t perfect. But they are the numbers reported by councils to the national office.

      And yes, self-selection certainly attributes to the percentage increase.

    • I totally agree with your evaluation. Eagle requirements are more stringent than they were 30-40 years ago, so I think the overall drop in membership is what’s driving the percentage increase. A higher percentage of those joining now are more devoted to the program and it’s goals.

  20. In order to see the real percentage of Boy Scouts who reach Eagle, what you really need to do is record the number of boys who entered scouting in a certain year. Then you need to record which of those boys reached Eagle in subsequent years.

    Let’s say “N” boys entered your troop in 2008. Assuming that none reached Eagle in 2009 or 2010 (it takes time to reach 1st class, generally a minimum of a year, and then the time in a leadership position for Star and Life take 10 months, minimum). Then of course the Eagle project and everything associated with it, including all of the merit badges. So record the number of those boys reaching Eagle in 2011 (probably small), 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. 2015 will probably be the last year, based on age.

    So then
    is your percentage of boys reaching Eagle who started Boy Scouts in 2008.

    Your complete stats would run about 7 years behind, but it would accurately represent the percentage of the Boy Scouts who became Eagle. Hard to do, but better than dividing the number of Eagles this year by the number of scouts this year. I’m attempting to develop those numbers for our troop, and will report when I get it done.

  21. Knowing percentage of Scouts that earn Eagle each year is interesting, and seeing that the percentage is rising is also interesting, but since membership is also shifting…although the percentage of Scouts earning Eagle is going up, the number of Eagles earned could be staying the same or going down. Would be nice to also just have the total number of Eagles for each year to see which year(s) produced the most Eagles.

  22. Perhaps this could be another article, but I would be interested in learning what percentage of scouts remain in scouting to the age of 18 whether they attain Eagle or not. For every 100 boys that crossover from Cub Scouts in a single year, how many from that group are still active in scouting at age 18? Or extend it furtther. How many former Tigers eventually crossed over to Boy Scouts? How many of those eventually aged out as active scouts?

    It would be interesting to know how many Scouts from a single class that started together as either Tigers or crossover first year Boy Scouts eventually reach Eagle. I bet the 6% gets smaller if the base number you start with tracks an individual class from year to year.

    • Randy: I am tracking my son’s Tiger Den. When he joined, he was the 8th in the Den. By the time we were Webelos 1s, we had 18 because our den was so active. From that highwater mark, we had 15 go through Webelos Camp (2nd one for most of them) between their Web 1 & Web 2 year. For some reason 2 of them dropped out at the start of their 5th grade year, one for sports & cannot remember the other reason. The 13 all earned their AOL & crossed over. I know that 2 of them are no longer active. It will take some time to figure out the exact number because they are only in 7th grade now with most of them 13 years of age.

  23. What percentage of First Class Scouts make it to Eagle? Probably much higher. There are probably a lot of cross-overs who drop out or others who register on paper but don’t become active that skew the numbers.

    • My son started with 10, I think, in his tiger den. He is the only one to make eagle and he and one other boy aged out as active scouts.

      • If 6% is the actual number, then 1/10 in a Tiger Den would be about the expected number. It is on antedotal information though.

  24. Thanks Bryan for putting this information together in a meaningful manner and thanks to Mike LoVecchio for getting us the information.

    Personally, I think we, the adult Scouters, are to blame for these meager numbers. Sure, 6% is a growing number, and that’s good, but think about that number for a minute.

    If we start out with 16 Tiger Cubs in the first grade, we end up with 1 Eagle Scout. We lose 15 Scouts along the way to other school activities, parents getting bored, kids getting bored, moving, girls, cars, and a host of other reasons. There is a huge potential to get more scouts to the finish line.

    I am so thankful for Scouting resources from National, BriteIdeaScouting.com (for Cub Scout Leaders), and ScoutmasterCG.com (for Boy Scout Leaders) thay are actively trying to Lead, Train, and Inspire Leaders to help move the needle towards more boys having a great Scouting Experience.

    – D3

  25. I have to disagree with this comment: “More Eagle Scouts means boys are staying in the program longer…”

    At least in my District, I’ve seen an increase in the number of boys getting their Eagle before they get to high school. We still see a growing trend of boys “Eagling out” of the program.

  26. I’m reading these comments from my university office and laughing a little. Statistics and averages can be a game or an obsession. I too logged in to ask for clarification based on the word “eligible”. Bryan, you might want to report these numbers out in four or five ways, that way the result can be viewed through multiple lenses. Or make the data available and we can crunch the numbers for you.

    • The comment on statistics and averages brings to mind several quotes:

      “82.3% of all information on the internet is of dubious reliability or veracity”
      – Abraham Lincoln

      “79.3% of all statistics on the internet are made up on the spot”
      – Unknown

      “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
      – Garrison Keillor

  27. BSA’s goal is not to get the boys to Eagle but to First Class. What percentage of boys achieve that rank?

  28. Like most people who quote these numbers, you have quoted a very misleading number. People will read this number as only 6.01% of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts. That would be true from your numbers if the average tenure in Boy Scouts was 1 year, but it is not. A more useful number is the percentage of boys joining Boy Scouts that earn Eagle Scout (number of Eagle Scouts divided by number of new Boy Scout registrations). This number is currently about 33% (2013 number, I have not yet done the analysis for 2014). This is based on the data provided by Mike LoVecchio to the national advancement team statistics and research task force for all 289 councils. To be most precise one should use the number of new registrations from about 6 years ago divided by the current year’s number of Eagle Scouts since this year’s Eagle Scouts probably joined about 6 years ago. Another interesting number is the percentage of boys who stay all the way through age 18 that become Eagle Scouts. I do not have data for all 289 councils, but in my council it is about 75%.

  29. I believe that there is too much emphasis on the number of Eagles. There has been a general lowering of the standards, as I see it, in an effort to raise the numbers. When I was a boy, it took two years to become First Class. When the time frames were removed, it developed more Eagles but less quality. The Skill Awards helped to instill more quality but that, too, was removed. I still believe in the BSA but the standards need to be held high. It is less valuable when it is easier.

    • I agree with you. Skill Awards gave you immediate recognition for “mastering the skills” associated with the specific skill. One of the few things I liked about the “Improved Scouting Program” fiasco of the 1970s. And with the time requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, it gave a Scout the time to truly”master the skill” as the BSHB stated at the time. And even with the time requirements, it was possible for a Scout to earn First Class within a year if he was in a “Hiking and Camping Troop” and was active.

    • I think someone has the right idea.Standard where harder in my wolf book in 78 tying your shoes was a required to get your wolf badge now it is elective. You had a scout book which you could survive in wild with to book you start a fire with.Dumbication of our youth is more in society today than ever.Expect more from our youth andwilly will rise to the challenge. But a scout of 14 sometime doesn’t have the maturity that a 16 year has.

  30. This is a very important nuance of statistics that needs to be part of this discussion. The 4% (or 2%, or 6%) number that is often quoted, not just in book titles but at Eagle Courts of Honor, has always seemed both suspiciously low and high to me: low compared to the Scout population, low compared to the total population. I understand that, at a Eagle Ceremony, we want to be able to cite congratulatory numbers. Other squishy data I often hear is that “~100% of FBI candidates/astronauts are Eagle Scouts,” or “Eagle is a requirement for service academy acceptance.” (Both, to my knowledge, not true).

    I would like to know two statistics that, in my opinion, would be much more useful than the “4%”:
    -What is the percentage likelihood that any Scout will become Eagle? I agree that it’s probably close to 20%, but I’d like to know what it is exactly, how it has changed over time, and how it varies depending on whether a boy (a) participates in Cub Scouts/earns his Arrow of Light, (b) joins Scouting at the earliest possible time (~5th grade/age 11), or (c) joins when he is older. This higher number, I believe, will be reassuring, especially to younger Scouts/Cubs who hear the hype and count themselves out before they’ve even begun.
    -What is the percentage of Eagle Scouts of the entire male youth population of their age group–and how has this changed over time? This will be much less than 4%, and is really the indicator of how rare and elite the Eagle Scout is. The total number, and the percentage of the Scout population, may have increased, but I believe that this statistic has grown smaller. They really are “marked men.”

  31. Seems like no matter what numbers Brian provides, there is a lot of nitpicking and dispute with the method or the stats. I am not a numbers guy… but it seems to me, if the reporting mechanism is consistent from year to year, it seems like the real message is in the change of the number, whether it is 6% or 26%. The fraction of boys earning Eagle has steadily increased over the past 20 years and has about doubled in that time. That’s a good thing!

    In our troop and in my son’s year group, there were about 10 boys that crossed over the same year. About half of them dropped out along the way. The other half stayed with it and all earned their Eagle. I think they were an exceptional group and not representative of national numbers or even historical troop numbers. But, that means 100% of them made Eagle! Proud of them all!

  32. Face it, being an Eagle Scout is not as prestigious as it once was. I know so many Eagle Scouts who earned their rank with Bugler and Scribe being the only position they ever held……rather than REAL leadership positions like SPL, ASPL or even PL. It is sad seeing Scouts being pushed to get Eagle without having to display any actual leadership skills.

    • The “PL’s” have never been the exclusive positions of responsibility to qualify for Eagle. It’s wrong to presume leadership by the patch on the sleeve. If a troop has Reveille every morning and Taps every night and all the other calls in-between on *every* camp-out for consecutive years, then your bugler has just out-lead any of your PLs.

      • There is a difference between responsibility and leadership…….anyone can be responsible, but not just anyone can be a leader. If you dont hold a position that has leader in the title, then that shouldnt count towards leadership experience for the ranks of Star, Life and Eagle in my opinion. Eagle Scouts should be the best of the best and if there is no evidence of people in your troop seeing you as a leader, then you really shouldn’t be considered for the top youth achievement that really exemplifies leadership above all else in my opinion.

        • It’s a Position of Responsibility (POR) NOT a Position of Leadership. We are not trying to make them the next MacArthur, Pershing, or Eisenhower. If the Scout fulfills the POR, then they have met the requirement.

          If some Scouter doesn’t like the list of PORs, they need to go through the process to give the “easy” PORs removed from the system. Intead of complaining about it, do something about it.

        • OK David,

          Let’s do that –

          Senior Patrol Leader
          Assistant Senior Patrol Leader
          Troop Guide
          Patrol Leader

          Sure, you wouldn’t Say an Assistant Patrol leader is MacArthur-esque or would you? Let’s say in a standard 4 patrol troop there are 6 month terms for each position that would be 7 opportunities of leadership every 6 months and over the course of a boy scouts career spanning 7 years there would be 49 LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES TOTAL! A re you saying that an Eagle Scout shouldn’t be expected to take advantage of at least one of those 49 leadership opportunities over the course of his time in Scouting? I don’t think that is too much to ask.

        • SJC: All troops are not the same. I know a troop with over 100 Scouts in it. If we only do the positions you listed, all the Life positions will be fighting over those leadership positions in order to qualify for Eagle. Then, how do the 1st Class & Star Scouts get their POR for advancement?

          Our troop (not the big one) has some Troop Guides. I haven’t seen much out of them in leadership. It appears as the holding pattern for Life Scouts and/or the former PLs that aren’t SPL/ASPL. I wouldn’t call Troop Guide a leadership position in our Troop.

          As for ASPL & APLs, their job description is only as much as their immediate supervisor wants to put on them. Since most Scouts (or the ones I have seen in my Troop) lack the ability to understand “delegation.” Thus, the SPL & PLs probably do way more than they should when they should be giving some of the work to the ASPL/APL.

          I believe (and my Advancement Chair who has done the job for several years believes the same thing) is that the Scribe is one of the most difficult positions in the Troop. In our Troop, the older Scouts seem to palm that job off on one of the recent crossovers. In my 2 years (4 terms of office), I have never seen a Scribe that had more than a 12 months as a Scout when they held the position.

          Caveats on my point of view: I’ve only been a Scouter for 7 years & been in a Troop for 2 years. I have done all the training to be a SM/ASM, but have not been asked to join them because I am “too much by the book.” In other words, I hold everyone to the standard, nothing more & nothing less. I also spent over 23 years in the Army training Soldiers including future officers through ROTC for 4 years. I helped produce over 300 Officers for the Army, Army National Guard, & Army Reserve. ROTC uses a very similar model to the BSA in that the Senior Cadets run the program overseen by the Cadre while doing Leadership Lab or weekend field training exercises. We did not step in unless the Cadet was teaching something wrong or there was an unsafe situation.

          I use the same thinking when it comes to the Scouts. The only difference is that I do not have to decide if I want the individual to lead my son on the battlefield. That was the criteria I used whenever I was worried about the leadership qualification of one of my Cadets. If I would not trust my son to serve under the Cadet, I did not recommend his commissioning. Boy Scouts is not life & death so we should not hold the Scouts to a similar standard.

          This is windy, but my point is that if we want to change the POR to a POL (Position of Leadership), we need to do the proper processes to make the change. Without it, we go by the 7th point of the Scout Law. If the Scout meets the POR standard for the troop as outlined in the Guide to Advancement, the Scout receives credit even if the Scout’s leadership skills may be lacking.

        • Since a military analogy has been used, let’s continue using it. Eisenhower had been described as a “clerk” by MacAurhur because he was a master of logistics. Marshall bumped Eisenhower in rank and gave him command of North Africa becasue of that skill, it was needed to organize the expedition and get troops to the location.

          Now Eisenhower was weak in tactics initially. And he had a poor commander in the field. Eventually Eisenhower replaced that general with Patton, and Marshall suggested Eisenhower add Bradley, a master tactician, to his staff. That was a winning combination as they all learned from each other and worked together.

          Point is you do need a support staff of quartermasters, scribes, instructors, etc.in order to have an efficient and truly boy run troop. By serving in a variety od PORs, you see different aspects of operations. By working with your peers in the various PORs you not only learn your job and how it relates, but other jobs as well and how they relate to the running of the troop.. So they do make you a better leader.

          Also let’s not forget, unlike the military where you are appointed to a command, the patrol method operates like our democratic republic with the patrols electing their own PLs and the troop electing the SPL. So a person can definitely become and Eagle without hold being a PL or SPL. I never serves as an SPL.


          One of the biggest differences between being in the military, and being a Scout leader is that it is an “art” and not a “science.” A lot depends not only on the troop’s culture, history, traditions, but also on the individual boys. Sometimes a troop’s culture is based more on the traditional way of running things than on the current way. Best example I can give is that my troop growing up used mixed-aged patrols and an older scout patrol (Leadership Corps at the time) because when we tried a NSP, it was a complete disaster. We went back to the ways that were pre-1989 that had worked for the troop since it was started.

          just take it easy, read all you can on Scouting ( I recommend anything by William “Green bar Bill” Hillcourt), and have fun.

        • How about this……Tenderfoot – First Class go for positions of responsibility (POR), Star – Eagle go for Positions of Leadership…..If any Eagle Scout never even attempts to run for a position of leadership, he should not be deemed qualified to be an Eagle Scout….I find it ridiculous that you consider a Scribe a leadership position, i mean seriously. It has a decent amount of responsibilities, but to call it a leadership position is a bit of a stretch.

        • In the district-level junior leader training (Still waiting for the replacement, National.) the learners were to be asked, “Who is the leader.” The official answer was, “The Patrol Leader.” Most knew the correct answer: “Whoever is actually leading.”

        • SJC, agreed, there is indeed a difference between responsibility and leadership. SPL (or any of the PL’s for that matter) are merely positions of responsibility.

          Leadership is when a kid (patch or no patch on his sleeve) says to his buddies, “Hey let’s build a catapult and launch our empty water bottles at the scoutmaster’s tent!” And they all jump in! 😉 Heck, if the SM assigns the boy the project of building the catapult for the betterment of the troop, that kind of leadership could count towards his position of responsibility for Star or Life. I suppose if the town needed a catapult, it could count as his Eagle project.

          If you read the requirements, *leadership* is always linked with *service* … not with offices held.

          Back to my original analogy, if the bugler is the one who musters all the boys, including the SPL, in the morning … if he’s standing by the flag, staring at the SPL to get him to call the boys to attention … if he’s the one the boys are waiting to hear from in the evening … who’s the leader?

        • Hello SJC,

          There are many different types of leadership and many ways that one can be a leader and lead an organization. Suppose the Scribe in your organization built a careful list of every member of the Troop, kept careful track of the completion of advancement requirements by each Scout, gave Patrol Leaders before each campout a list of what requirements each member needed and, as a result, Troop advancement substantially improved. Would you say that Scribe was acting as a leader.

          Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean platoon leader type “Follow me over the hill!” type leadership. There are those of us who aren’t “natural leaders.” We do our best to contribute as best we can according to our God given talents. I’d hate to think that we couldn’t aspire to be Eagle Scouts.

        • You may hate to think you couldnt aspire to be an Eagle Scout because you were unable to get out of your comfort zone to run for Patrol Leader, but that is what scouting is about – attempting to try new things that you wouldnt have tried otherwise. To say that someone waking up early to blow a horn is satisfying the leadership requirement really surprises me.

          I have seen shy kids enter the troop, who eventually became an assistant patrol leader or patrol leader or even SPL. They deserve the Eagle rank………someone whose leadership consisted of waking up early and blowing a horn does not qualify as leadership.

          You may want 100% of Boy Scouts to earn their Eagles and I respect that……but the way the Rank of Eagle has been promoted by BSA and how nit is considered by society signify something completely different. This isnt to say you cant have an exemplary scouting career without becoming Eagle – you can. You can have a wonderful scouting career devoid of a leadership position (sorry, bugler aint it) without being an Eagle Scout. Not every scout is Eagle Scout material. We need to divorce ourselves from this idea that the only successful scouting career is one where you earn Eagle Scout.

        • Nahila: No one in the military would ever describe leadership as a pure “science” despite classes for most ROTC classes are labeled “Military Science” by the college/university. The Army thinks that there is a leader in everyone that they commission or they wouldn’t be commission. Some will top out at Lieutenant or Captain While others may eventually become the Chief of Staff for the Army.

          There are many similarity to leadership no matter whether the group is the military, Boy Scouts, or 4-H. You understand (and I believe we are in agreement) that there are more than one way to lead and that it is up to the Scouters to develop that leadership in every Scout. Every Scout WILL NOT reach the same level & what is success for one may not be the same success as another. All victories do not look the same and all leadership successes are not the same so we cannot hold every one to some ideal standard. If the Scout meets the minimum requirement, that is all we can ask from them. There will be many that exceed & those are the ones that will rise to the SPL position.

          As for Eisenhower, he was an excellent staff officer & served as MacArthur’s Chief of Staff. He was really never a Logistics Officer (he may have been an S-4 or Supply Officer on staff at some point) even though he did lead a convoy across the US in the 1920s to show it could be done, which later led him to lobby for the Interstate Sytem in the 1950s that we all enjoy to this day. Eisenhower was a trainer of troops. That is what he did all during WWI, after WWI with Patton at Fort Meade MD with the armor corps, & did throughout the 1930s including time in the CCC. Ike spent 18 years as a Major & was not promoted until LTC until 1937. 7 years later, he had moved through 6 ranks to a 5-Star General. While Ike was good at tactics & strategy, he was an expert at getting the best out of his subordinates including the cooperation with all the allies (and their prickly personalities). My undergraduate degree is in European History with a Masters in Military History. I have read over 500 books on the Western Front in WWII including at least 5 books on Ike or primarily about Ike. Ike, MacArthur, & Patton were all leaders in WWII, but each had a different style that made them better at different jobs.


          Every unit/organization (military included) has leaders. Some are leaders on paper & others are the de facto leaders that everyone follows. The true leader in my troop was the Scout that made Eagle at 14 & served only a 6-month stint as SPL. He is on the football team & has a part-time job now so misses many of the meetings now that he is 16 years old. When he is around, however, that is the Scout who every Scout turns to in the troop when they have a question that the current chain (APL, PL, ASPL, PL) cannot answer. No matter that the Troop has had 3 or 4 different SPLs since that Scout left the position, if you were to ask any Scout who the true boy leader in the troop is, you would get his name before anyone else’s. Not every SPL is going to reach that one Scout’s standards so we should not hold them to it. Each Scout leads in his own way & each Scout’s success will be different. It’s the journey not the destination so that each Scout improves upon what they were before.

        • I look at the Gold Award for Girl Scouts and that displays a level of prestige that far outstrips the Eagle Scout (https://www.girlscouts.org/program/highest_awards/gold_award.asp) . This idea of every scout that stays until 18 earning Eagle Scout and if they don’t earn it they are considered unsuccessful really needs to stop. You are right, not everyone is considered a leader and there should be something for non-leaders…but it shouldn’t be Eagle Scout……maybe a BSA equivalent of the Silver Award is in order – so they have something to put on their resume because obviously Life Scout is considered not a success by some.

        • SJC – thanks. The Gold Award says it is for high school aged youth – so right there that adds a lot more prestige than what we’re currently doing with Eagle Scouts and having an eleven year old get the Eagle award. Plus it has a minimum number of 80 hours required for planning of their project, another thing the BSA expressly prohibits us from requiring of our boys. And the awardee of the Gold must do the planning, not the mom or dad. So yes – without knowing much about the award – I can already tell that it requires higher standards than what we require of an Eagle.

        • I’m sorry some scouters have never seen a troop where the bugler leads as much or more than the SPL. It’s a rare thing, I myself didn’t witness it until I was an adult, so I’ll pardon his ignorance.

          I think there is a problem in which troops demand less of service positions than they should … so maybe some scouters who’ve seen those positions really work can testify to their “Eagle-worthiness.” I’ve created a couple of forum topics where you all can discuss it further ….


          It is a mistake to elevate the typical glorious rise from APL to PL to SPL because like any other position an SPL can mark time in that position for six months and show no real leadership. If the PLs are tight, he wouldn’t need to!

          A deserving nod has been given to the GSUSA gold award. And I am indeed proud of the leadership my venturers have shown in attaining it! But it does not require a “position of responsibility”, so arguing that it is more prestigious than Eagle is simply admitting any POR including SPL/PL is superfluous.

          I’d rather just challenge scouters to expect as much of your scribes and historians as you do of your SPL … or rescind the position until the boy is willing to hold it with a full measure of scout spirit.

    • I’ve known only one Bugler. And he did a lot more than just play the bugle throughout the day. He worked with younger Scouts, help do skills instruction, helped run game time, etc etc. Yes he did become SPL eventually, but he used Buglere for either Star or Life.

      As for the Scribe, that can be one pain of a position. Having to keep the troop’s records can be very challenging. Plus the Scribes I’ve known also did additional duties to keep the troop running.

      • A good scribe would call the SPL in advance with the agenda for the next meeting. He literally outlines the life of the troop.

        There aren’t many good scribes among boys or men.

  33. half of 10 would be 5. If 5 of the 10 made Eagle, that is 50% not 100%. This is still above average. Congratulations to those young men and to the troop that supported them to achieve this accomplishment.

    • Yes, I meant 100% of those that stayed.But you are correct, 50% of those in that group who joined at the same time made Eagle.

  34. Whatever the actual number is – it’s continued to go up over the years. I believe that Councils are pumping Eagles out – and the kids are not necessarily earning their merit badges. How the heck can kids really know a merit badge with only a couple of days in summer camp?? So according to your chart I’m part of the 1.25% in 1968. Which leads me to the question – why did they use the number if 4% on this new book?? Honestly, I think it’s insulting to older Eagles. Just my 2c

    • The purpose of the Merit Badge Program is not to give them a Masters in Forestry or even a Bachelor’s degree. It is exposure to a subject & the adult association with it.

      Straight from the Guide to Advancement “There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur
      regularly. The uncomplicated process—beginning in a discussion with the unit leader or a designated assistant, continuing through meetings with a counselor, and culminating in advancement and recognition—provides several learning experiences. It gives a Scout the
      confidence achieved through overcoming obstacles. Social skills improve. Self-reliance develops. Examples are set and followed. And fields of study and interest are explored beyond the limits of the school classroom.”

      If a place is a Merit Badge Mill, then go through the process to get the Merit Badge Counselor removed. It’s in the GTA. As for the summer camp Merit Badges, our camp provides a minimum of 3 hours of contact time for some of the Merit Badges (Leatherworking) or 6 hours for the more difficult ones (Swimming, Lifesaving, or Climbing). Many of these Merit Badges require the Scout to come with prerequisites complete in order to leave Camp with a Merit Badge. Many of those that go to our camp DO NOT go home with every Merit Badge they started.

      The best thing for those that they Merit Badges are watered down to do is to become a Merit Badge Counselor & hold every Scout to the standard, nothing more & nothing less. Volunteer to be a Merit Badge Counselor at the District or Council Merit Badge Forum/Fair/Opportunity or whatever they call it in that part of the USA. That way, there will be at least one more Merit Badge Counselor doing it the right way.

  35. Here’s a sample – I have records (via Troopmaster) of our Troop from 1995-current.

    We have 151 Scouts listed during those years (including all who joined, whether for 3 months or from Webelos-18 and stayed as adults), of whom 25 have made Eagle (that I know of – there may be a couple who moved elsewhere and earned it after they left).

    So that, for the Troop is a 16.56% earning ratio over a 20 year period (plus – since the 14 currently registered include only 1 Eagle and will likely have at least a couple, and hopefully more).

  36. Hi Bryan: is the percentage calculated the same way each year since 1912? (Or are the old dates just recorded somewhere and copied – not knowing how they were derived?)

    • Yes, each year uses the same method: Number of Eagle Scouts awarded that year (divided by) number of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and male Venturers under 18.

  37. So I’m going to wonder now in addition to Eagle, what percentage of boys earn all 4 of the highest ranks in Scouting; Arrow of Light, Eagle, Venturing Silver, Quartermaster. Of the above, the QM award is the most rare of course.

  38. I think your first question would be better asked to the General Young Men’s Presidency than here. It would be an interesting question but don’t think here is an appropriate place to seek that answer.

    As for the other questions, as long as they are promoting their duty to god and mirroring the scouting program, they are accomplishing a great thing. I would think they may benefit from not having to re-invent the wheel but at least they are promoting a program that will benefit their youth too in a way that they feel better represents their standards.

    I would have like to have seen more involvement in the National Level to have their voices heard than just doing their own thing! I grew up in a small town and was disappointed to find out that there was another troop besides the one I was a member of. The disappointment came from the fact that our LDS unit didn’t get involved with the other unit in any way. I think we need to all reach out and recognize that the scouting program is not a competition but a brotherhood and family that needs to work together.

    Just my 2cents!

  39. Sorry my last comment was supposed to be attached to Ed Schermerhorn’s comment above. I think a better question to ask is what is the number of Eagle Scouts that remain active once they have earned that rank? That shows the ones who get the program and realize that need for continuing to develop and share their leadership not just reaching a goal and then quitting!

  40. Okay, admit I did not read all comments, damnation having to actual work instead.

    Did anybody ask where the changes to the program occurred in this analysis? Were changes to the program responsible for the increase in the program or are there more helicopter parents pushing the boy? How does this stack against other awards, please forgive my ignorance to other organizations, 4H, Girl Scouts, FFA.

    I am worried that Eagle is/has become diluted just as IT certifications have. If, metaphorically, everyone earns the award/certification, it becomes worthless. Before you jump on that phrase, think it over. I have seen boys in my district and council that cannot plan an escape out of a paper bag with the Eagle Badge emblazoned upon their chest.

    How do you create a program where today’s helicopter parents cannot just tick off Eagle Badge?

    All programs need to be revamped from time to time; but, this time rather than staying just relative maybe we need to pump up the Eagle brand and promote the hell out of it. “HEY EMPLOYERS and SCHOOLS, we are sending you our very best, stop and take note.” If you earn Eagle, you are what employers/schools are bending over to get.

  41. I agree that it would be more telling to know how many Scouts became Eagle compared to the number who started in Scouting at the same time. However, realistically that would be impossible. You’d have to take each Eagle then go back and figure out how many started at the same time. Even though this may be imperfect, a consistently applied imperfect measure may still be useful.

    I would disagree with those who says it’s because things are easier. What I see in my District is people holding to the actual BSA rules and not making things harder than they really need to be. I also see the Eagle process not being owned by a small group of people, but by a cross section of leadership across all the Troops. Yes, you are always going to have individual cases where people let things slide. Personally I can’t imagine anyone less than 14 being an Eagle and having gotten anything useful out of the process. However, I think we do everyone a disservice when we make things difficult just because that’s how it was done back in the old days.

    Maybe this is actually a sign that more boys are working harder towards the goal and more adults are working harder to help them get there.

  42. From my own perspective, I was the only person that joined my cub scout pack that made it to Eagle. The next nearest dropped out after getting to Star Rank. To me, that would be an interesting stat to know. How many boys start out in cub scouting and make it to Eagle? If there were 100 boys that joined with me in cub scouts (and we had a very large pack back then)…. and I was the only one to make Eagle, wouldn’t the percentage be 1%? Interesting comments by everyone…

  43. The rechartering process requires units to indicate boys who 1) move to another city, 2) transfer to another unit, 3) drop out, and 4) age out. Since it is specific to the boy, there is also data on his rank at the time of recharter. While those data would have been impractical to analyze not long ago, we now have the computing capacity to do a fairly straight-forward longitudinal study of all Scouts starting after some point in time and tracking the true percentage of boys who join Scouting and make it all the way to Eagle before aging out. It wouldn’t give us the entire history, but it would do a better job of explaining what’s going on now.

    BSA IT…can one do that?

    • Realistically, here in the 21st century, it should be possible. BSA knows every scout’s history obviously, because ranks are tracked at the Council level and kept in the computer. Every Scout and Scouter have their own ID # that tracks them for their scouting life. However, BSA’s I.T. structure is NOT in the 21st century (as anybody who’s tried to use that horrific thing they call “online rechartering” can tell you). They are firmly stuck in 1989 and until they progress, I doubt we’ll be able to get any better statistics out of them. The numbers Bryan has are probably the best he can get out of National at the moment. A multi-million dollar organization and we have the digital bones of a dinosaur. Ugh.

      • BSA says I completed training in 1910, was a District Chairman (for a district that did not exit then) in 1933, 1934, and 1935, and was never a Boy Scout. One result of this state of BSA record-keeping, is that I have no confidence in BSA’s record-keeping.

        As I told Dan Beard, “Trust but verify.”

  44. The problem with these statistics, and with the number of Eagle scouts, is that they distract us from our mission. People like Kenneth Delp think because their troop has 85% rate of scouts earning Eagle is that they have a great troop. They may indeed have a great troop, but it is not because a lot of scouts make Eagle. What we’re trying to do here is help young men become self-sufficient, have good moral character, be helpful to others, and be good citizens. These are probably impossible to measure. But focusing on advancement and on Eagles is really distracting us from the game we should be playing.

    • “Scouting is not, and should not be about the race to Eagle. The aims of scouting are: Character Development, Citizenship, and Physical Fitness.”

  45. First there was not an under 18 requirement until 1953. Have Adults been factored into the percentages from 1912 to 1952 (There were over 18 Eagles back then). Second and I do realize that coming up with this information my be next to impossible and lost to history. If an under 18 year old male who is already Eagle registers for the next year. Would that person be considered eligible to earn Eagle or should they be exempted from the count because they already have Eagle. Example 861,898 total Boy Scouts,Varsity Scouts, and Venturers in 2014. 30,000 of the 861,898 were Eagle before 12/31/2013. That leaves 831,898 potential Eagle Scouts for 2014.

    • Lance,

      You beat me to the Adults who Earned Eagle question. Which was allowed until the 1950s according to one website.

      And let’s not forget those of us who had their Eagle BORs after their 18th birthday. I know I had to wait 1 month and 4 days after turning 18 before the district could send someone to be part of my BOR.

      And I had a friend who had to get permission to have his EBOR approx. 5 or months after turnign 18. District could send a representative to do a EBOR before he reported tobasic training, and when one was scheduled after he returned, we found out he missed it by 1 day, and had to appeal for an extension.

      I think basic training to serve his country was a legitimate reason for an extension for the BOR. 😉

    • You are right that there is some conflating of “incidence” and “prevalence” statistics. But, up until recently, that percentage error was small because advancing to Eagle was a rare event.

  46. While it is nice to track and analyze trends; more likely the more relevant number is the total number of Eagles earned over time and that number continues to remain just above 2% despite recent trends which may or may not continue.

    A rate of 2.01% since inception solidly illustrates how elusive and special achieving this rank truly is for these young men.

    • A rate of 2% would illustrate how elusive and special it is – but as others have already posted in this thread, the actual rate of kids who join boy scouts who then go on to earn Eagle is probably closer to 25% – and may be close to 30%. So it is not very elusive. I cringe every time I hear someone say “only 2% of scouts become eagle” (or 4% or 6%) because we know how the number is calculated, and the low percentage doesn’t mean that.

      • 2% of all males? I’ve never heard that one before. Where’s the data? Bryan has provided the eagle scout numbers. Where do you get numbers for the numbers of boys in the US every year since 1912?

      • Bryan gave the number of eagles in 2014 as 51,820. The US Census Bureau (www.census.gov) for the 2010 (the most recent) census reported 8,711,434 people age 16 or 17, or about 4,355,717 per year. The sex ratio (males per 100 females is 105 at birth in the US decreasing each year due to higher male mortality at all ages) for 17 year olds was about 105, so there are about 2,230,977 males per year. 51,820 divided by 2,230,977 equals 2.32%, or roughly 2%. It would be possible to use old census data and old Eagle numbers to find this ratio historically, but that exercise is left to the student who is interested.

  47. If my older brothers’ vs. mine vs. my sons’ experience is any indication, there have not been overwhelming changes to the requirements or their implementation since the ’50s. The culture has changed.

    My older brother’s scoutmaster, for example, left town with all of his blue cards. There was no oversight or training to help another adult “fill the void”, and there was no concept that a boy shouldn’t bear the brunt of an adult’s administrative flaws. He was never encouraged to join a neighboring troop and catch up. Many boys might have been Eagle material … but few, besides the boy, were bothered if they did not get awarded for it.

    I had a responsible scoutmaster who managed records well. The committee of three or four supported him and made sure they knew each of us boys personally. There was a sense that if a boy was sticking around, he should be given opportunities that matched his interest. One of those opportunities, of course, was rank advancement. But, there were plenty of others, and nobody worried if a boy wasn’t advancing. The best scout I ever knew aged out at 2nd class. What made him the best? He recruited me into that awesome troop!

    When my oldest son was crossing over, some donor at a council level asked the question: “Why aren’t more Life scouts making Eagle?” Specialized programs started appearing at summer camps where dedicated staff would talk to every 1st class and Star scout challenging them all to advance one more rank in the following year. Within our troop, a number of Eagle dads were very good coaches. I contributed as well with my experience of “what it took” as well as my brother’s regarding “what could go wrong.” For the same number of boys, our committee was twice as large. Even if projects are complex, there are adult experts willing to lend a hand. And for a while, every boy advancing one rank per year was a stated goal. (We backed off of that when the SM and I realized our boys didn’t want to be pushed so hard.)

    So, I think over the years as more experienced Eagles filled our adult ranks, the process turned from something a boy “might do” to something he “could do” to something he “should do.”

    • If every Eagle Dad encouraged at least 1 of their sons to become Eagle, wouldn’t those that encouraged 2, 3, or 4 of their sons (or even surragate sons) to become Eagles. The Den Leader for my son 7 years ago was not an Eagle, but he is going to have 3 Eagle sons. Wouldn’t some of this account for the increased percent?

      Just a possibility.

      • It’s definitely a factor. As a former Eagle, I can tell any boy who will listen that they have it in them to achieve it. In fact tonight I told 16.7 year old First Class scout that the only thing standing in his way is the fella in the mirror.

        In my day, I did not know a dad in my neck of the woods who had the credentials to be able to say that to me and my buddies.

        • Q: I’m with you. The SM never sat down with me for a SMC that I can remember nor can I remember going thru a BOR. I believe I was 2nd Class when the troop folded as I was studying Morse Code at the time. I think my small town troop only had 1 Eagle from 1964 to sometime in the 1980s. That was the SM’s son. The SM then called it quits after his son made it & no other Dad was willing to take over the SM position. Since then the troop has rebounded & with 2 Scouters they have had well over a dozen Eagles because the 2 have been doing it for 25 years or so even though their sons aged out many years ago.

  48. The overall problem here is what were the guidelines, parameters, used for these statics. I am not a statistician; however, I have used statistics on each side of an argument. They only tell you what you want to see and what you want to prove. My father went as far to say, “if you want to learn to lie, statistics are never wrong.” If you go looking, you will get the answer you are looking for.

    Now, as Bryan has said the stats were calculated on such a limited parameters; then, we either accept it or we do not.

    Scouting has a vested interest in showing an increasing percentage of Eagles. They have chosen the parameters which shine the best light on the program. Which anybody promoting a program is apt to do!!! There is no fault here. However, banging away at this blog with changing parameters does not get us anywhere. The question is will the raw numbers be released so the rest of us can do analysis? The answer should be no. Why would they? What happens if the percentage increase in Eagle is due to a decrease in Scouts? Why would BSA want any numbers out there like that?

    • I disagree about the vested interest. In fact we might soon want to ask ourselves “Why aren’t we retaining the boys who aren’t working on Eagle?”

      • I believe vested is right. Would you work at a place that is constant losing market share and would be in danger of shuddering? Would you join an organization that is consistently losing ground to organizations like 4H or would you join 4H? Like I said, i do not fault them. Every enterprise must present a face that is positive or you will not get any investment, in the BSA’s case, Boys.

        The answer to that question is Parents. Parents take the path of least resistance, if soccer is a drop and go activity, then let’s play soccer. Scouts require involvement. the best troops and packs have the most parent involvement. Those programs survive. We have a local school that has chartered at least three times in the last 5 years. They flounder because the parents think they are getting babysitting for an hour. They don’t like to be sucked in. It is we, the one’s who cannot do math- one hour a week, that drive the program. Sometimes it is not enough.

        BTW, I have no child in 4H and my area doesn’t even have a 4H that I know of, so basically, I have no idea why it is my goto for all examples today. Go 4H!!!

        • ” It is we, the one’s who cannot do math- one hour a week, …”
          OMGosh, thank you for the laugh this morning. This is going to be my quote for the week!

  49. According to the Boy Scouts of America as of 1:09 PM EDST today:

    “Around 7 percent of all Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2013.” [56,841]

    Given the 7.4% fall in membership and about 55,000 receiving Eagle in 2014 according to the Boy Scouts of America, the percentage for 2014 is about 7%., or a slight increase over 2013.

    For whatever reason, the NESA says it’s about 5%.

    I would love a world where 100% of Scouts EARN Eagle rank, That world already exists in
    Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.”

  50. Looking at cumulative numbers is another way to get at this figure. Over 100 years (http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/100_years.aspx) there:

    2,043,375 Eagles per 52,077,933 Registrations in boy scouts/venturing

    gives us 3.9%,

    This number is also a little fuzzy because the denominator includes multiple registrations. However, this cumulative calculation meshes with the “on-the-street” experience that you are more likely to meet a fellow who enjoyed being a scout, but never made Eagle.

  51. Again, according to BSA now – right this minute – 7% in 2013 and slightly over 7% in 2014 according to the BSA website.

    Already posted but missing.

  52. Interesting stuff1 Do I hear a Statistics MB? I think most of us are happy, when asked, to reply, “About six-percent.”

      • Okay, I’ll bite 20-25%? BSA is saying 6%. Do you have special insight in the BSA? Are they tricking us? I knew they were sneaky BAST**DS!!!!! You cannot spell BAST**DS without BSA and well in a different order; but, you know what I mean. 😉

        • 6% is the percentage of Scouts registered in 2014 who earn Eagle in 2014. It counts as NON-EAGLES all Scouts who earned Eagle in 2013 (or before) but stayed registered as youth, and it counts as NON-EAGLES all Scouts registered in 2014 who will earn Eagle in 2015, 2016, 2017, or later.

          Given that ALL 2015 and 2016 Eagles will have been registered Scouts in 2014, just those three years would move the estimate up to 18%. And any credible estimate of the 2017+ and 2013-and-previous Eagles will get you comfortably past 20% and well on your way to 25%.

  53. The problem with this metric is that it does not take into consideration the downward trend in new membership. Generally a boy will take 4 to 5 years to achieve the rank. Even if he number of new Eagle Scouts remained the same, as each year’s new membership drops, the “percentage” goes up, even though the number of Eagles has not changed. To say 6 out of every 100 boys that join Scouts go on to become Eagle you would need to look at the boys that joined in 2009 or 2010 and are Eagle now to get a proper representation.

  54. Assuming most of these commenters are Boy Scouts/Former Boy Scouts, it is very apparent that reading comprehension is not a skill taught within the program

  55. Hold up… let’s just look a little deeper at the past 5 years (given the numbers Bryan posted of the percentage of boys who become Eagle, and the total number of Eagle Scouts each year that Bryan posted here: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/02/12/how-many-eagle-scouts-in-2014/).

    2010: 56176 Eagle Scouts ÷ 1,119,044 “Eligible Scouts” = 5.02% become Eagle
    2011: 51473 Eagle Scouts ÷ 1,131,275 “Eligible Scouts” = 4.55% become Eagle
    2012: 57976 Eagle Scouts ÷ 1,044,613 “Eligible Scouts” = 5.55% become Eagle
    2013: 56841 Eagle Scouts ÷ 944,203 “Eligible Scouts” = 6.02% become Eagle
    2014: 51820 Eagle Scouts ÷ 862,230 “Eligible Scouts” = 6.01% become Eagle

    So while the “percentage of Eagles” has increased from 5% to 6% over the past 5 years… the actual number of Eagle Scouts has decreased by over 4,000 (over an 8% drop in Eagles produced from 2010 to today). Tracking percentage of Eagles is misleading when the pool of “eligible Scouts” continues to shrinking. Despite the increasing percentages, a 2014 Eagle is much rarer than a 2010 Eagle.

  56. Data can be sliced and diced and slanted a gazillion ways.

    My concern has always been what is typically said at Eagle COHs. It is usually something like: “only 2% (or 4% or whatever) of boys who join Boy Scouts become Eagles.” Bryan’s data does not show that. As pointed out by several people, what his data says is that in any given year 6% (or 4% or 2% in the past) of current Scouts become Eagles. Nothing wrong with Bryan’s statistic, but it’s not the same thing. The backup for the Eagle COH claim could be roughly determined by dividing the total number of Eagle Scouts to date by the total number of Scouts to date. You could do this calculation for each year since inception to get an idea of a trend.

    While I can’t back this up with any statistics, my impression is that a higher number of Scouts reach Eagle now than when I did (1961). But I do think there are more and harder requirements now — e.g., I didn’t need to do a project. However, I do also sometimes see a lack of quality assurance in completing merit badges and other requirements. But I think the biggest difference is helicopter parents now and a bigger focus on pushing boys to reach Eagle.

    • I think the other big difference—which some folks have referred to above–is that a lot of our membership declines have come from among the relatively less attached/committed boys. That is, the Scouts who used to drift away or age out without bothering to finish are now boys who never join in the first place.

  57. I’d like to know what percentage of these Eagle Scouts begin as Tigers and go all of the way. As mom to a Tiger-Eagle and a Tiger-Life Scout (soon to be Eagle) I’d like to know how being a Cub Scout affects the Eagle percentage. Our pack struggles with being the “red-headed step-child” that is, the Boy Scouts in our Council have first priority in everything and many times the packs suffer because of it. It would be great to be able to show how important being a Cub is with a few statistics to back it up.

    • The Cubs are vital to Boy Scout survival and we should do anything we can to help our Packs to survive and flourish. I know that in our troop, maybe one out of 10-12 kids joining the troop each year did not go through the Cub Scout program. Our experience is that about a quarter to a third are lost just in that transition from Cubs to Boy Scouts. In addition, it’s really difficult to recruit boys who are 10-11 years old as they are already so involved in other sports and activities, let alone anybody older than that.

    • Hello Samsmom,
      Congratulations on your two sons. I hope you’re having fun with Cub Scouting also.
      All of the statistics that I’ve seen suggest that over 90+% of Boy Scouts have been Cub Scouts. I don’t have the figures committed to memory for the percentage who are graduating Webelos Scouts, but I believe it is a high percentage.
      As far as Cub Scouting being the “red-headed step child”, I assure you that’s not the case for the National Council nor for most local Boy Scout councils. But individual units, individual leaders, individual District, it does happen.

    • Of my son’s original Tiger Den, one dropped out (along with his mom, I became Den leader on very short notice), one left early in boy scouting, another switched troops and I do not know what happened to him, the other 2, my son and another boy went all the way to Eagle, as did several of the boys who became part of the den further down the road. So 2 out of 5 of the Tiger Den, but of the eventual Webelos den 5 out 8 became Eagles, and another made Life.

    • Keep in mind Cub Scouting Started in 1930 as a 3 year program for 9, 10 and 11 year old’s. Then in 1948 it was changed to 8, 9 and 10 year old’s when min age for joining Boy Scouts went from 12 year old’s to 11 year old’s. Tiger Cubs started in 1982 for 7 year old’s when cub scouting went from a 3 year to a 4 year program (Not all councils started Tiger cubs in 1982.). Then in 1986 Cub Scouts went from a 4 year program to a 5 year program when Webelos went from a 1 year to a 2 year program. Tiger Cubs was changed from 7 year old’s to 6 year old’s.

  58. Samsmom’s comment is interesting. I think it is just the opposite in our Council. Emphasis is more on Cub Scouts.

  59. Does “The total membership number for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers (males under 18 years old)” exclude boys that are active and already earned there Eagle?

  60. Two thoughts.

    1) it would better answer the question if you did the analysis in cohorts. I.e. of those boys entering Boy Scouts in 2000, how many earned the Eagle rank.

    2) If I compare my experience as a Scout in the 80’s to the experience of the Scouts in my Troop today, I think there are more opportunities available today that help Scouts on their journey to Eagle. This shows a program focus on helpingthe Scouts achieve, and probably accounts for the increased percentage over the years.

  61. There are two ways of calculating this percentage.

    1. Just as the author of this article did #of boys enrolled in scouting / # of Eagles
    but there is (which I believe is a much truer number)

    2. By Class, #of those of a class (born in 1990) that are or were once scouts / # of Eagles

  62. As to someone questioning the rise in % starting in 1991 I can tell you what has happened – BSA has made it easier for Boy Scouts to earn Eagle now. It’s that plain and simple. With exception to the Eagle Project in the 70’s and early 80’s it was harder for me to reach my Life rank that it was for my son to get to his Eagle rank in 2014! Like everything else it has been watered down partly due to the nature of our society now and partly due to everything being so restrictive because BSA fears being sued and loosing yet another wad of money.

  63. We took our son to visit a college recently. Upon learning that he was an Eagle Scout, an admissions officer remarked “Wow! That’s getting to be very rare.” We were surprised at his response because we had heard the “percentage” of Eagle Scouts was increasing. We weren’t sure how those “percentages” were calculated and wondered if the “rarity” of Eagle Scouts might be related to fewer boys joining Boy Scouts (particularly as a subset of “all eligible boys”). This article and subsequent discussion certainly point out the difficulty in analyzing “the numbers”. In any event, it was good to hear that college admissions officers continue to look upon the attainment of Eagle Scout as a remarkable achievement!

    • If the percent of Boys joining Scouts is going down, the percent of college males applying would also be down even if the percent of Boy Scouts who gets Eagle is on the rise. Makes sense to me.

    • Also, fewer Eagles are earned before college applications are sent in. So an admissions officer is less likely to see them in applications.

      • Q: Yes, with the average age of Eagle approaching 17 3/4 most HS seniors have already sent in their application before they completed the Eagle requirements. Thus, seeing someone come to their school to visit would make them a rare bird indeed.

    • …and employers. My dad, (Scoutmaster in the 1970’s) was a manager in the aerospace industry at the time and he tells me that if he had two candidates that he was considering, the Eagle Scout would always get the job. Along the same vein, my now 24 year old, when applying to college at 17 years old, was offered admission to every university he applied to and the university that he ended up going to, did cite the Eagle Scout as an impressive qualification. He also has this listed on his work resume and when looking for a job, got offered the first job that he interviewed for and they also mentioned his Eagle Scout as an impressive part of his resume. My experience has been that the Eagle has been very beneficial for my older son in both his professional and personal life.

  64. Our son, Don, made Eagle and God and Country and we are so very proud of him. It does,
    However, take a total commitment from the entire family. And do not leave out an extremely
    Dedicated Troop Master. The journey is not an easy one. Our son went on to graduate
    College and after military service made rank to Lt. Col. Through the Army Reserve Program
    While a successful civilian career and father of three. He often mentions being in Idaho at
    National Scout Camp and the Conversation with the men walking on the moon. We firmly
    Believe it makes a well rounded man to be in scouting. Gordon and Ann Dison

  65. BRIAN: Thank you for the previous clarifications. I think we now understand what the statistics represent, we just wish they had been presented more clearly originally. It was a bit misleading, the way it was worded. I see the column comparison is more enlightening. Less boys each year, but more being awarded Eagle out of that pool, leads to perhaps less Eagles per year, but a greater percent of the yearly pool.
    What I read here is a desire to see more representative statistics. Please ask the number crunchers to calculate the following:
    1) Total number of boys who registered(joined) in ANY Scout program, EVER, since 1912? (Cub, Boy, Explorer, Venture) once, and reached Eagle : ES/Total S….
    2) Total number of boys who registered (joined ) once, in Sea Scouts who earned Quartermaster. : QM/Total SS
    3) Total number Air Scouts, and compare to whatever…. I’d just like to hear about the Air Scouts….

    In answer to a previous comment about 4H: Scoutson was active in 4H too. His Eagle project concerned renovating a barn at the County Fair ground. I guess he “double dipped” some, because he was also awarded the 4H Diamond award, involves service and activity success. 4H can be active in urban areas, just depends on the adults to want to organize the activities, and let the kids have fun. 4H Rocket club, Pet club, Carpentry club, History club, I see lots of different types . 4H doesn’t go camping, but does have a summer camp.

  66. I e-mailed a spreadsheet to Bryan Wendell with the raw counts of eagles from 1910 thru 2014. So he can post it tomorrow.

  67. Did the graphic designer for the top infographic intentionally mirror – image the “scout-sign”? Great article. Thanks to all for the analysis – that was educational. Thanks to Bryan for the great job as usual.

  68. A Scout is not supposed to have a POR “for advancement.”

    He is supposed to occupy a POR so he can develop into a better citizen by exercising responsibility.

    He can do that under the Patrol Method simply by being a member of a patrol in a Boy Scout Troop – if he can find one.

    All this business of Scouting being “about” advancement or about Scouts getting Eagle helps explain why we have wandered off course.

    If Scouting were only seen as important, what might be done?

  69. An Eagle Scout is an Eagle Scout. Don’t over think the statistics and embrace the fact that these men are better off from partipitating in this great program.

  70. How dumb is it that I have to scroll through 145 comments to the bottom to “join the conversation.” Anyhow, this percentage also needs to take into account how much BSA overall membership has declined drastically since their high in the 1980s. I’d say the scout families that are here now are more hardcore and less casual which warrants the higher percentages.

    • Hardcore? I find many are hardcore about the resume, not Scouting, They are perfectly OK with a totally adult-run indoor program so long as their son gets that Eagle on the resume. Speaking only from personal experience.

  71. I would be interested is seeing what percentage of youth who join as Tiger Cubs and go all the way to become Eagles would be. My son made it all the way through and I wonder how unusual that it.

  72. This seems like flawed math to me. If a high school of 400 students (100 in each grade) graduates 100 seniors this year, is their graduation rate 25%? That appears to be the formula being applied here. The only true calculation would be the percentage of current and former Boy Scouts who turned18 in 2014 that achieved Eagle rank during their Scouting career.

    • Hello Steve,

      I believe you have come up with the absolutely perfect analogy to explain what the BSA is saying.

      The analogous statement for your case would be:

      “In 2014, 25% of the students in the school graduated.”

      There is no flawed math here; the math is perfect and the statement is totally accurate. However, it says nothing about the graduation rate with a lot of extra work and if you are looking for the graduation rate, the statement is useless. The problem, if there is one, is in presentation and interpretation. Misinterpretation of this statement is exceedingly easy.

      Some other ways that things can be said which can cause misinterpretation:

      “In 2014, only 25% of our students graduated.”

      “Wow, we had a bad year In 2014. Only 25% of our students graduated.”

      Still the same statement, still no flaw in math, and still potentially quite misleading.

      Now let’s look at the statement from the original blog:

      “In 2014, 6.01 percent of eligible Scouts earned the Eagle Scout award.”

      Exactly the same situation. Absolutely no error in math, absolutely no error in the statement as it is written and absolutely no information at all about the “Eagle rate.” This data is not saying “If 100 Scouts join the BSA, during their time in Scouting, how many will become Eagle Scouts?” Yet that is very commonly the interpretation that I hear given to the 2% –4% — 6% rate. Even in best selling books.

      Perfect analogy, Steve. Thank you so very much.

    • It indeed depends on the drop-out rate. If every year, attrition is 50%, then you would have to recruit 50 freshmen, 50 sophomores, 50 juniors, and 50 seniors — 200 students total every year — to maintain your census. So for your 100 graduates, you will have enrolled 800 students in the past four years, so of your potential seniors in this very distressed school, only 12.5% will actually graduate.

      When the percentage was low and stationary, it hardly mattered. But now that it is shifting upward, different calculations will give divergent indices.

    • Since you’re talking about all high school students, 25 percent graduation rate would be the goal. If you mean seniors, that would translate to 100 percent. The Scouting calculation looks at the entire population, and 4 or 6 percent earning Eagle in a year would be about right. You’re not saying they’re all eligible, and it’s true they didn’t earn it.

  73. There are been a good, if not excellent, discussion on the correct algorithm to calculate the person. One item to consider is: not every Boy Scout is eligible to be an Eagle Scout given the tenure requirements – the time needed to become 1st Class when the boy enters the program and then specific tenures for: 1st class to Star; Star to Life; Life to eagle.

    Then, take the ration of total time a boy can be a Boy Scouts, say 10.5 yrs to 18 yrs, OR 7.5 yrs (90 months). see where this is leading.

    Separate note: go back to the graph in the beginning of the report showing the percentage earned by year date.

    I would appreciate seeing an overlay plot of Boy Scout membership vs. year date in the same format.

    My point: we all know the decline in membership over the past 50 yrs. I believe the two curves are MIRROR IMAGES of one another. Meaning, the actually number of Awards earns as a weighted average is the same constant over the past 50 years!!

    There are just fewer eligible Scouts in the program the past 25 years which make the Percentage appear LARGER….

    RELATED POINT – I would be more concerned with the percentage or number of Scouts becoming First Class or STAR each year as the key stepping stones should the Scouts decide to make the Eagle Scout Award their GOAL.

    Then, this becomes a more measureable and realistic statistic to measure with the discrete tenure periods therein between First Class up to Eagle..

    • Hi Mike,
      The raw counts of Eagle ranks awarded has increased. (I referenced a link to that data up above.) So this measure is more than an artifact of declining membership.

      You have a point that a 17.6 year old Star scout and a 17.1 year old 1st Class scout don’t have a chance at Eagle, but most boys I know earned those respective ranks between ages 12 and 16. So there are very few who are not “in play” because of age.

      It would be interesting to know likelihood of each rank given a boy’s current rank. We have one parent above asking about the likelihood of a Tiger making eagle.

      From my very small sample: I have found that most scouts crossing over from cubs have Eagle in their sights from age 10, but that doesn’t tell you when they’ll make rank. An “early Star” has the same odds as a “late 1st Class”. Scouts who join from other sources: about half aren’t so interested in advancement. Adventure’s their thing. The other half are happy to start at 16 and make Eagle by 18. I found “first class first year” for 11 year olds to not change the percentage of our boys making Eagle in the next 7 years. Past performance just does not seem to be a predictor of future results. 🙂

      • I made Eagle Scout essentially when I became eighteen and I shot through the until ranks pretty quickly the pace slowed when I needed to earn merit badges and then I just puttered off being a life scout for almost four years wearing my 2010 anniversary life scout patch. I just got lazy for awhile and didn’t really want to put the effort into advancing trying to make excuses why I couldn’t do it but like some other scouts in my position I had around a year left and decided to get my act together and do it. The result being my eagle board was held a week after I was eighteen and the paper work being turned in the day before my birthday. So regarding the opportunity it was there but I wasn’t doing anything for a long time.

  74. I am in total agreement that the more boys (and people) involved in Scouting and becoming Eagles is a (very) good thing.
    However, the 6% figure is an illusion and measures only the “internal” impact of Scouting.
    The real percentage that needs to be factored is the percentage of youth in Scouting and Eagles in relation to the general US population.
    Scout and Eagle numbers may be going up, but as a percentage of eligible youth in the US, are the numbers also increasing or are they decreasing?

  75. MP partials are now immortal and so can be finished at next summer camp.
    I am personally aware of Scouts receiving (verb carefully selected) eight MB’s at every council summer camp.

      • I vaguely recall some stipulation as a youth, I just can’t recall if it was spelled by national (on the blue card, maybe?).

        • My printed documentation only goes back about 25 years, all clearly stating that a partial is good until 18. I would expect that any restriction on the length of a partial was a local or personal rule. My personal experience goes back to the early 60’s and there was no limit then (St. Louis Area Council), but like many policies, they are made up by someone and spread as if they were official policies.

        • 1990? Yesterday.

          “I was born. I blinked. It was over.”

          I’ll see if our museum has old advancement guides.

          I do recall 1/3 sheet pink slips for “Partial Completion _____________ merit badge.” They had had a line that said “This partial expires on ________________ (six months)”

          Never thought to confirm this “rule” beyond council level.

  76. I was upset when they changed the rules in 1989. I earned my Eagle in 1991 and by then the percentage was growing. But having that change was nothing like seeing scouting numbers decline so much in such a small amount of time. That’s the real travesty here.

  77. Hi Bryan – thanks for this discussion! I was thinking about it at a recent Court of Honor (where we consistently mis-represent these numbers). The script asserted that, “of 100 boys who join the Boy Scouts, only six become Eagles”. Of course, if we are actually seeing 6% of the entire Scout population make it (rather than 6% of any one year cohort), then that means that of 100 boys joining Scouts, about 45-50% actually make it to Eagle.
    These numbers don’t bother me. My Troop has seen about 10% of our Troop strength make Eagle for the past five years, and I can attest that we are not an Eagle factory, nor do we pencil-whip any of the requirements. I think that if Eagle numbers are higher today that it is more a result of goal-oriented parents and boys, a far better understanding of the requirements (augmented by the internet), and better trained adult leaders.

  78. Back in pre history (Scoutson says History class was easier for me than him because I had less to remember), I joined a Scout Troop. It was, it turned out , fairly new, only about four years in existence. Did not know that at the time, I was only concerned with camping and hiking and cooking on a fire. The older Scouts there ahead of me were fun, accommodating guys, taught me lots of stuff.
    I made First Class and found out about Merit Badges (you could not earn them except if you were First Class back then). Then, a boy joined whose dad was a Naval Officer, often came to Troop meetings in his dress whites. This boy did some math ( there were time limits for earning each rank) and announced to us that he would be Eagle in so many months (?19?).
    Well, us older Scouts got together and decided we really couldn’t allow this “newbie” to be the first Eagle in the Troop, so we connived and conspired. We did our own math. We had some MBs from Summer Camp. We found Merit Badge Counselors (had to phone call them ourselves, weren’t any in the Troop) by calling the Council Office. I can do that? Yes, SM said, you can.
    My Aviation MBC was about forty miles away, my dad drove me and a bud over to his house TWICE. The High School PE coach became our Physical Fitness MBCounselor.
    Among the group of us, I became my Troops first, my best bud became the second, the newbie was third three months later (about a year late for his schedule!) and the rest of our little group made it soon after in the following year. The award plaque on the wall of the CO does elicit memories.
    No “service project” was required, but other things were different , then vs now. Won’t bore you with all the details. Morse Code Wig Wag anyone?

  79. I just turned an eagle scout in 2015 and I was wondering, How many of the eagles have started when they were tiger cubs in cub scouts? Cuss I was a tiger cub to an eagle scout.

  80. You have to keep in mind that Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are two different entities even though they are both part of the same organization they are very different. When the boys move into Boy Scouts from Cubs some find it’s not what they thought it was going to be, others find that Cubs is far enough down the path and go into sports and other activities. It take a certain boy to be a Boy Scout that’s why so many fall away between Cubs and Scouts many of these boys can’t except the responsibility or don’t want to so including them into the equation I can see where you wouldn’t want to. I believe a real feel for how many boys go through and complete to Eagle would be to take the numbers from those make Tenderfoot Rank up. By then the boy should have decided if Scouts is right for him or not then you can get your percentage and determine why they didn’t finish to Eagle. Was it the program too demanding on the boy or the parents, or did the program loose the boys interest, or did life just get in the way (Jobs, Girls, Sports and Cars). I have seen many good Scouts get so close then just stop caring because of thousands of other things start to become just as important as adults sometimes we need to continue to remind the boys so they can keep one eye on the goal of getting their Eagle and still be able to be a teenager.

  81. I loved the article. I enjoyed most of the comments from interested folks. I am interested in how many Eagle Scouts earn palms. How many palms do Eagle Scouts earn and what is the record number of palms earned?

  82. I’m interested in knowing how many boys between the age of 11 to 18 yrs in the entire population become Eagle Scouts. I bet that’s a very tiny number! And that would really exemplify the rarity of an Eagle Scout.

    • Hi Susan – we know exactly the number of boys between 11 to 18 who became scouts: it was 51,000 last year. And if I read the tables correctly, there are approximately 11 million boys in that age bracket in the US. Maybe you’re correct. This is the way to make it sound like it is rare. Because in scouting – getting Eagle isn’t rare anymore. Basically, anyone who sticks with it until age 18 will earn it.

      • Lets try to get the numbers right here. If the numerator is 51,000 PER YEAR, then the denominator (number of boys in the population) should also be PER YEAR, or about 2,168,000 (2012, from US census bureau). This comes out to about 2.4% of all boys in the US become Eagles. As for those who stay to age 18, it is about 75%, there are always some who love Scouting and stay but are not interested in advancement or becoming Eagles, and a few that intended to make it, but run out of time (read did not plan ahead enough).

        The fact that most boys never become Boy Scouts, and thus never become Eagles, contributes to its rarity, does not really contribute to its importance or significance. The significance of the Eagle Rank is the experience and character gained in becoming an Eagle Scout, whether it is 1% or 50%.

  83. I achieved Life rank as a Scout. People tell me all the time that I “fell short.” I didn’t “fall short.” I earned Life rank and I am very proud of it.

  84. To me the question is what is the % of boys who join Boy Scouts that actually earn the rank of Eagle. The 6% number would be usefull if every boy who started Scouts stayed until they were 18. Since, based on our Troop and those I’m familiar with, only about half the boys who join at age 10-11 make it to age 14, I suggest the number is much less.

    • The 6% is the number of all Boy Scouts members (not Cubs or Venturers) who become Eagle Scouts in A SINGLE YEAR. The answer to your question is about 33% of all those who join Boy Scouts will become Eagle Scouts, and about 75% of those who stay until they are 18 will become Eagle Scouts. Yes these numbers are much higher than most people will quote you, but they are based on actual data, not desires or assumptions.

  85. How many registered Boy Scouts (not the others) have there been since 1910? The article lists 2% as the overall average. I know that the 2 millionth Eagle Award was presented only a few years ago (2009). Based on that, there has to have been over 100,000,000 million registered Boy Scouts over the course of time. That’s alot!

  86. After reading most (and skimming some) of the comments, personally, i think the number of 6% is flawed unless you say “annually” after it. Personally, I think each Boy Scout should only count once from the time he is a registered member until the time he is no longer registered. Each Scout only counts once. They either earn it or they don’t. My son earned Eagle in 2014. He is 16. He is still active in his Troop in 2015. To include him in this year’s numbers as “not earning Eagle” because he isn’t eligible is ludicrous. If one Scout joins a Troop at eleven years old and stays until he is eighteen, that means he was counted in the statistics a minimum of seven times. To say he didn’t earn Eagle six times and did earn it once will DRASTICALLY reduce the percentages of boys who earn Eagle. He is still only one Scout and should only count one time, not seven. I would love to know the real number of how many registered Boy Scouts eventually earned Eagle.

    As far as others comments about what constitutes an Eagle Scout shows how wide the gap is in what various people think an Eagle Scout really is. In my time as an adult leader in our Troop and Council, I have seen some Eagle Scouts that are what I consider “weak” and others that I have considered “strong.” I put that responsibility solely on the Scoutmasters and Eagle Boards for what they are accepting as Eagle Projects. In many instances, it is human nature for us to do as little as possible to complete a task. Why do we expect a teenager to be any different? As Scoutmasters or Eagle Board Members, we will only see better Eagle Scouts if we raise the bar and quit accepting sub-standard Eagle projects. But then, that opens up an entirely different can of worms…what is acceptable?

    As far as the statistics go, thank you Bryan, for explaining how the statistics are figured. At least now I know it’s an annual percentage and has nothing to do with the actual number of Scouts that earn Eagle during their Scouting career.

  87. I think a more telling comparison would be the number scouts earning their Eagle each year. To me, it makes sense for the percent to go up as overall membership goes down. At first that may seem counterintuitive, but if the overall popularity goes down you are left with the more dedicated and motivated as well as possibly a higher leader to scout ratio.

  88. I think length of stay involved in scouting is only one portion of the rise. I believe as with so many other activities in recent years, background parental involvement, and perception that just being involved for years means that the scout has earned it.

    I know in my former troop, there were scouts who probably shouldn’t have been awarded it, and others who definitely had parental assistance in achieving the award, and a huge number of 11th hour scouts who did maybe the minimum to achieve it when they were 17yr 10m or older… I’m not saying that is how it is in all troops, or a majority, but I know I wouldn’t trust several in the last 15 years to be able to pass a knowledge test on the basics from my old troop.

  89. I agree that we need more eagles in the world but I am pretty sure that these past 2 years or so the Quality of those that were awarded Eagle has slipped. I Have been involved in scouting since I was 6 years old. My life goal at the time was Eagle. At age 14 I saw something that changed my mind. A 13 year old Eagle scout. Now in and of itself that isn’t that bad, but this boy was different. He ordered an 11 year old tenderfoot around, basically bullying him. When the other boy asked why his answer was “I am an Eagle Scout you have to do what I say.” I never could find out what troop he was in, but If I could have I would have logged a complaint to the council. They need age limits on Eagle.

    • I do NOT agree that a 13 year old CAN NOT be Eagle – BUT – in this case some one must have NOT followed the requirements and TRAINING (JLT) for the required leadership time and positions. NOT many 13 year old’s CAN really LEAD and complete the project. UNFortunately when you get a PARENT as the leader – stuff gets signed off. As a UNIT commissioner and a member on many EAGLE BOR – I make sure that the leaders understand it is NOT just a collection of merit badges that make a REAL Eagle scout. I once asked a 13 year old Eagle candidate to explain how he coordinated his project. His answer – My dad did it. I did not vote to approve that Eagle at that time – but was overruled.

  90. This is the same kind of bad math that gave us the “50% of marriages end in divorce” number. Someone saw that the number of divorces in a given year was half the number of marriages and voila, 50 percent. The problem is, that number doesn’t take into account the people who were married in previous years and remained married in that given year. Based on proper math and my own experience in our Troop, I would say the 25-30% figure is probably in the ballpark. Sorry that doesn’t sound as good at a COH.

  91. I think the rapid change in the slope of the line around 1990 is because there was more emphasis put to the Scouts about the importance of becoming an Eagle Scout. Sometimes pushed so hard it makes the boy think he failed if he doesn’t become an Eagle Scout.

  92. I earned my Eagle badge in 1964 – one of the UNDER 2 percent years – and I think it was a lot more difficult then than even for my son (Eagle scout 1993 at about 1 of 2.5 percent) HOWEVER – just like soccer trophys – when everyone gets one – they do not mean MUCH. AND unfortunately like soccer trophys parents push for their kids to get one!

  93. I don’t know what the actual percentage is. In my troop we have had a lot of success with Eagle Scouts, and so it would seem the number should be higher. But then again, we all tend to forget about those scouts who joined during their Webelo crossover, but disappeared 3 months later.

  94. I really don’t care how you count as long as it is done consistently. My bigger concern is has BSA dumbed down the requirements or “looked the other way” for Jon Scout as “mom” and/or “dad” and/or Scoutmaster completes the Eagle requirements for them.
    Having earned my Eagle Scout rank in 1980, I don’t want my accomplishment cheapened because of easier requirements or parents/leaders/ and/or Councils pushing scouts through because it makes the parent/Troop/Council “look good”.

    • Like you I got mine in the 80’s, worked hard to get it to. They have dumbed down the requirements. Skill awards went away, time requirements went away. I takes no time for a scout to make eagle. I was in the scouting program from 1976 thru 1985. Each level that I progressed, you bet I earned it or the BOR would not let me advance. Now a scout can go right thru the program on paper with little or no effort at all.

      • As you said things have changed I went through to Eagle 78 – 87. The scout movement has to change because of as you put it the dumding down of scout movement this is a society problem as well in our educational system. You time to mature in and earn those skills. Cooking now is a eagle requirement it was a skill award. As my cub scout got his wolf shoe tying was elective not a requirement. They gone the way of sports everyone a winner attitude. The last great book was written by Green bar you could actually use if you on Island yes we have computer knowledge is at our finger tips but what if they fail. It is the skills you learned and know as instinct that will save you. The official that be need to understand there history of boy scouts to better prepare the boys of the future.

        • I think that is dependent upon the troop, Don says it takes no time… yes, Scout to First Class can be done very quickly, there are time requirements and leadership requirements for boys earning Star, Life and Eagle… If the Troop doesn’t require this “that is the issue”… and usually that is caught by council anyways… Please do not compare a Cub Scout Wolf Requirement, to anything to do with Boy Scouts, an entirely different situation, I was active all through my boys years in scouting, I would expect my son as well as the other boys to learn and earn their ranks, it is unfortunate when Helicopter Parents run a troop… that did not occur in ours… We have about 55 or so boys active in the troop, about 4-5 make Eagle a year, and that changes based upon patrols close to aging out and how many are in their patrol… It’s amazing I see other Troops where a boy may not have held a leadership position make Eagle, how is that possible, “Lack of Adult Leadership” both at the Scoutmaster and Committee Positions… I was a Scout in 73, and learned quite a lot, we have our troop camp in January at 14 below zero in pop up canopies, we do not lower the skill level, we require a 66 percent attendance at meetings, and at campouts, otherwise that will not get a Board of Review for their next rank advancement… again, it is dependent upon the troop, If the adult Leadership does not mandate it, that’s when the program goes down the tubes… And we are pretty pro-active in making sure an Eaglel Project is worthy as being an Eagle Project.. It is a shame when the program gets cheapened…

  95. As a very involved Scout parent, the sharp increase in the number of Eagle Scouts also concerns me. It should not be easy and should be earned. My son has it twice as hard as other Scouts because I want him to understand the meaning of commitment and working hard to accomplish something. I do see Scouts earning Eagle that probably struggle tying a square knot. This is the reason I get as involved as I do, I do not want the rank of Eagle to be just another check in a box.

    • I think that is dependent upon the troop, Don says it takes no time… yes, Scout to First Class can be done very quickly, there are time requirements and leadership requirements for boys earning Star, Life and Eagle… If the Troop doesn’t require this “that is the issue”… and usually that is caught by council anyways… Please do not compare a Cub Scout Wolf Requirement, to anything to do with Boy Scouts, an entirely different situation, I was active all through my boys years in scouting, I would expect my son as well as the other boys to learn and earn their ranks, it is unfortunate when Helicopter Parents run a troop… that did not occur in ours… We have about 55 or so boys active in the troop, about 4-5 make Eagle a year, and that changes based upon patrols close to aging out and how many are in their patrol… It’s amazing I see other Troops where a boy may not have held a leadership position make Eagle, how is that possible, “Lack of Adult Leadership” both at the Scoutmaster and Committee Positions… I was a Scout in 73, and learned quite a lot, we have our troop camp in January at 14 below zero in pop up canopies, we do not lower the skill level, we require a 66 percent attendance at meetings, and at campouts, otherwise that will not get a Board of Review for their next rank advancement… again, it is dependent upon the troop, If the adult Leadership does not mandate it, that’s when the program goes down the tubes… And we are pretty pro-active in making sure an Eaglel Project is worthy as being an Eagle Project.. It is a shame when the program gets cheapened…

      • I was not using the wolf badge as a mark as change in scouting movement. In the 80’s you earned the scout badge first. Then the tenderfoot you had to be in 2 months before you got this badge and had citizenship skill award.Then for 2 month then first aid and hiking znd one more skill award. At first class you started to get merit badges and more skill awards 4 months more.It more time to earn your Eagle badge and as star you had hold a position in the troop. It let the scout mature with more responsibility. That is what I was saying.

  96. I have got my Eagle in 1985, worked hard to get it. Was Assistant Scoutmaster in the 90’s, program has changed and they giving them out like candy. I resigned as ASM because I refused to be a part of the Joke

  97. I disagree completely that having achieved Eagle Scout means nothing. Every young man I’ve known who earned his Eagle Scout has learned the value of setting and attaining goals, working hard, and serving the community; but self-confidence is the main benefit.
    Almost every successful man I’ve known has risen far in the ranks of Scouting or has earned his Eagle Scout. I chose my doctor (I was his 5th patient in the ‘real’ world) because he displayed his Eagle Scout award amidst his medical degrees and the other degrees and awards he had received (and through the years, he has earned many more). He is a compassionate, considerate, witty man and has been honored in his field and in our community.
    I don’t care about percentages or how they ‘found’ them except to say that I wish they were higher. We would all benefit from more Eagle Scouts.

  98. Have we factored in that the requirements for Eagle have changed down through the years? For example, when I earned my Eagle rank, Bird Study Merit Badge was a requirement and was perhaps one of the most difficult to attain. And there were other difficult badges And let’s not forget that some summer Scout camps have a reputation of being a merit badge factory.

  99. Achieving Eagle Scout is a solid accomplishment, independent of the percentages.

    That said, the attainment statistics are misleading and should be presented using “unique starts” as the denominator …. this avoids counting a Scout on the pathway to Eagle as a someone who has not attained Eagle in the 5-6 years while he is actively pursuing the rank. Each Scout should only be counted once. Perhaps a random sample of 1,000 12 year old scouts all starting in the year 2000 and ending in 2008 (2001 ending in 2009, etc.) would give us a better measure.

    I suspect it is over 20%. We’ve been in two troops and the percentages are even higher than 20%.

    • As stated previously, the actual percentage of boys who join Boy Scouting (a troop) who eventually make Eagle is about 33% nationally. That number has been rising. I do not have hard national numbers from 25 years ago when I started keeping these statistics, but in my council it was about 25% then, and we match the national number of 33% now. Of those who stay until they are 18, in my council the number is about 75% or a little higher who have made Eagle.

  100. The number I always heard was number of boys that join scouting end up being a Eagle Scout. You need to take into consideration every boy that joins (cub scouts and boy scouts) and stays until he becomes an Eagle Scout. Being an Eagle Scout shows you are committed to and able to complete a mult-year goal.

  101. You say , “More Eagle Scouts means boys are staying in the program longer and it means they’re leaving the program Prepared. For Life.”

    This is a HUGE leap of a conclusion. What we see in the field are more Scouts making Eagle, sure, but they are making it earlier (say 13-15) than before AND they are not sticking around. They are checking the box and leaving. Also, we see far more kids making Eagle that “learn and forget” what they learned on the trail to Eagle; compared with Eagles from yester-year who really were the Norman Rockwell picture of Eagles.

    More is NOT necessarily a good thing.

    • Bob
      If you look at the data nationally, boys are actually making Eagle later. There was some data a few years ago that pointed out the 40 years ago (I believe this is the correct time) the average age of becoming an Eagle was 14 and now it is 17.5. A few years ago I did an analysis in our council of the median (not the mean) age of becoming an Eagle and it was 17.997, or 1 day before their 18th birthday. Remember that the official date is the date of the board of review. This says that half of the Scouts had their Eagle board of review on or after their 18th birthday (most within the 3 month window). There are lots of possible reasons for this trend, but that is a different topic for discussion.

  102. So actually, following a cohort of 100 boys who enter scouting together, way more than 2, or 4 or 6 will become Eagle Scouts.

    in a year (not after just one year), 6% will earn Eagle, and some will drop out.
    The next year, 6% of those remaining will earn Eagle, and some more will drop out.

    This repeats, until we see that some larger population than 2%, or 4%, or 6% of the original 100 earn Eagle.

  103. All this really shows is that the rate of Eagle Scouts is increasing. Assumptions are made as to why this is, quoting retention, etc, but none of those figures are apparent. It could very much be as simple as… it’s easier to become an Eagle Scout in this day and age. Gone are the days of actions having consequences. In is the Era of Entitlement, where participation alone earns you a trophy, because you can’t reward people differently…. even for hard work. Yes, the BSA is following suit with the world. That is what is apparent.

    • If you believe this is the age of entitlement, you need look no further than your own troop…Your committee and scoutmaster should be setting standards, if the troop is not, then lack of leadership is what is occurring …. forget council, and forget the boy, what does the troop require, for active participation, in addition to requirements, our troop accesses Eagle Projects prior to submitting to council, if something is lacking, well it needs to be fixed prior to the scoutmaster or committee chair signing off on the project… This is an Adult Problem, not the boys problem…. again a lack of leadership… fix it…

  104. Does this percentage take into account the devastating decline in total membership? Do we have those numbers over the years? How bad have we slipped in total sustained recruitment?

  105. How many people on here posting comments and assumptions are Eagle Scouts? To say that earning the rank of Eagle Scout is easy is pure ignorance. Also, to say that a scout does it alone is ignorance. A scout needs the support and confidence of his entire troop from the Tenderfoot to the Scoutmaster. Family and community are equally as important. I can speak from experience. I earned my Eagle rank in 2002 and without my family, community and troop it would have been impossible. Quite frankly, without them it would have been pointless. Furthermore, as Eagle Scouts our job was to encourage the other members of our troop to stick with scouting and, teach them the skills and morals required to become Eagle Scouts as well. To do our good turn daily if you will. If this makes it easier for other scouts to earn the rank of Eagle then I would argue that we are producing better quality scouts and leaders within the troop. This would be my assumption as to why there are more scouts earning the rank of Eagle Scout. I would definitely not say that the BSA is “handing out” the rank of Eagle because we are in an age of entitlement. Don’t get me wrong I do agree that we are in an age of entitlement but, who is to blame for that? I would venture to say that the BSA is a ray of hope in changing that entitlement culture. Nothing is “given” to a scout. The essence of scouting is outlined in the scout oath and law. Scouts that follow both will learn that hard work and kindness will take you where ever you want to go in life. Lets congratulate these young men, their troops, families and communities for staying the course! My hat is off to the young men that have EARNED the highest rank in scouting! Their journey was no less difficult than my own. “Once a scout always a scout!”

  106. I think there’s a certain amount of ‘expectation’ by parents that results in them strongly encouraging boys to become Eagles…that’s the negative. But the positive is that because of Order of the Arrow, High Adventure, and a more adventurous program in general more boys are staying with the program longer…and this results in more Eagles. Let’s look at that 6% as a good thing.

  107. Percentages are just that. What are the numbers? We all know enrollment has been on the decline for years. So 6.01% is how many Eagle Scouts. And when it was 4% how many boys made it to Eagle?
    Bottom line is are we getting more Eagle Scouts or just a higher % because of less boy joining?

  108. Once again – the way to figure out the percentage of Eagles fo a year is to count the number of scouts who entered Scouting in a year – say 2008 – and then count the number of those who made Eagle in 2011 (sort of early), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, sum up those numbers and divide by the number who entered scouting in 2008, and that gives you the percentage for that year. The stats will run up to 7 years behind, but the number will be meaningful. Simply dividing the number of Eagles for a year by the number of boys in Boy Scouting gives an interesting number to track, but I don’t raslly know how meaningful it is.

    • I cant help but to think that the increase may have a lot to do with the requirements not being followed as harshly. I have seen many different eagle scout projects be carried out from building new dugouts from the ground up, to overhauling an entire neighborhood playground clear down to just painting the lobby of a business to clearing brush and of late installing a solar powered light outside a band room entrance of a school building. The 1st 2 options are eagle scout projects the later 3 are no bigger then what you would complete in requirement of a family life requirement MB. How can 1 boy do a massive project and another boy do a simple project and still receive Eagle award. Just my thought on it.

  109. Why include Venturing? Unless the Venture Scout is dual registered as a Boy Scout he isn’t working toward the Eagle Rank and isn’t earning Merit Badges.
    It doesn’t seem to me that this group should be included. Also, for Venturing scours that are over 18 are they still included even though they are too old?

  110. My question is …. of the number of boys who ever signed up for boy scouts …. what percent become eagle scouts? Because taking the total number of current boy scouts in a given year, and how many become eagle scouts that year is not really a good number? How about this – of the number of scouts who ever signed up for scouting – how many became Eagles before they turned 18? YIKES. I have Four sons, and Four Eagle Scouts. WHICH IS AMAZING.

  111. In response to point #1, the percentage of boys earning Eagle rank could also be increasing because the requirements are not as heavily enforced as they used to be. I personally know families that troop-hop about every 18 months when the road gets bumpy. They are not against cutting corners. And what about merit badge drive-thrus? It’s sad when you can “earn” a handful of merit badges in an afternoon, and forget what they even are by dinner time. Oh well…

  112. Reading this discussion from top to bottom over the last couple of hours has been an amazing ride. It brought about moments of fond memories, some questioning of long held believes (2%) and even a little anger here and there..

    There are really two discussions going on here. One is what is the most accurate accounting and accounting method to the question of what percent of boys who start Boy Scouts who eventually make Eagle. The other is the question, “What does it mean (and what should it mean) to be an Eagle Scout?” Those who like the smaller numbers, 2% 4% 6%, don’t do it because of a lack of math skills.. ok some of us have no math skills… or out of a willingness to to misrepresent facts, if in fact that is a statistically invalid number. And those who use the higher figures, 20% 25% 50%, “wouldn’t it be great if 100% made Eagle?!” don’t for the most part intend to discount the achievement of the rank of Eagle Scout.

    These simultaneous conversations have run together and at times run over each other.

    The troop I was in was originally chartered in 1911 making it one of the older troops in the U.S. Except for a brief time during WWII it has remained an active troop with a tradition of “doing it the right way” what ever that was. Both my father and my uncle had been members of that troop when they were scouting age. My uncle earned Eagle but my father did not. He told me more than a few times that that was one of the biggest disappointments in his life. He was very proud of me when I earned the Eagle rank in 1970. As a Navy veteran of the Pacific theater he told me when I left to attend the World Jamboree in Japan that if any one had told him a few years earlier that his son would go to Japan as a Boy Scout he would have said they were crazy. The world changes.

    I wanted to be an Eagle Scout from the day I joined. Even before. It was a goal. And it was a hard goal to achieve. Back then Swimming and Life Saving were required merit badges. They may be now. But when I started scouting, I didn’t swim. I was afraid of water over my head. I lea rned to swim, earned Swimming and Life Saving merit badges, not because I wanted to swim but because I wanted to be an Eagle. I even earn Scout Life Guard and Mile Swim patches. It took a lot to overcome my fear of water. But that is how much I wanted to be an Eagle Scout. The desire was stronger than my fear. Swimming and Life Saving were removed from the required list and boys who joined the year after I did could choose alternate badges. One boy in my troop was also scared of water. He opted not to learn to swim. He went on to be an Eagle too. I have to admit that for a long while I always considered him an Eagle with an *. Those of you who are sports fans get that.

    Earning Eagle was hard. Real hard. It should be. And I am proud to this day to say I AM an Eagle Scout.

    I am also proud to be the father of two Eagle Scouts, my twin sons. Their scouting journey was a little different than mine. I complete my rank requirements when I was 14. They completed theirs just after they turned 17. They were Life for a long time. But they were also outstanding athletes and were Varsity in three sports in high school and they played in the orchestra and they were active in church and they had their own lawn mowing business. They were busy. Sometimes parents have to help motivate. So the deal was they could get their drivers licenses when they finished their Eagle requirements, projects completed, BORs passed and paper work turned in. Believe me, my wife and I wanted them to drive as much as they did. We were tired of driving them to sports practices. Their big experience was a long trek at Philmont. That stuck with them. One son took his wife backpacking in Yellow Stone for their first anniversary.

    My troop was decidedly old school. Their troop was decidedly not so much. I was the pain in the ass parent that believed scouting should be fun AND challenging. I was also the only dad who was an Eagle Scout. I didn’t let my boys “get by” and I did my best to ensure the troop had high standards for all advancement. I do believe scouting has been dumbed down, and maybe made easier, though that is more the fault of troop committees and parents. But there is no * to their Eagles. Their framed Eagle certificates are still proudly hung in our dining room. They both have had babies this year. “Two more Eagles!” we say.

    I don’t care if its 2% 20% or 50%, as long as every boy who earns the Eagle rank can look back on it as a man and say, “I’m really proud to be an Eagle Scout. It wasn’t easy to achieve.” It’s not something you get just by hanging around long enough.

    Employers don’t care if a man can tie a clove hitch. They want to know that you can set a difficult goal, stick with it and achieve something that most others don’t. Eagles should always stand out in a crowd. The day that is no longer true Scouting has failed.

  113. Another way to figure this would be to take all Scouts who were born in a given year, say 1997 Next determine the number who became eagle in say only 2015. Divide that number by the number of 1997 born Scouts who became Eagle plus the number who dropped out of scouts. You will be able to get a trend line of Scouts becoming Eagles for each group of each year. Look at 2000, 2001…2014 to develop a trend.

  114. There are many, many apples and oranges in this analysis that nake comparison now with times past misleading. The path to earning Eagle Scout rank did not always involve planning, leading and completing a service project, for example. I spoke with my uncle who earned Eagle Scout rank in the late 1940s and he did not have to do such a project.

  115. Over the years what are the “actual numbers” of scouts year by year in the program? It doesn’t mean anything to say that there are more scouts the program when we have been seeing a decline in scouts over the recent years…

    Need to compare those numbers with the percentages you are reporting of Eagles, year by year.


  116. Interesting thread, although my eyes glazed over at times while reading arguments about percentages, etc. I was a Scout during the 1960s until I graduated from high school at age 17 in 1966 (a year in which 1.25% of Scouts made Eagle, according to this thread), and I recall at the time that very few of us made Eagle – our troop had a plaque showing the names of all Eagle Scouts in the troop since the end of World War 2, and there were still plenty of spaces left. I would guess that we had at most one Eagle every 3 or 4 years, and we were a troop of 30-40 boys. What I do recall from those days of Scouting was that there were a lot of very difficult Eagle-required merit badges, like swimming, life-saving (very hard to earn, because the big, burly Assistant Scoutmaster playing the drowning victim always tried to drown his “rescuer”), pioneering, etc. I also recall not being able to start working on merit badges until I had reached First Class rank,and of course there were time requirements for each rank. Earning merit badges was a daunting experience for young boys then – calling a stranger on the phone to make an appointment, then going to see him (alone, no “two-deep” adult presence and no group merit badge classes like in today’s troops). I ended up as a Life Scout, having spent most of my time in my final year of Scouting earning the God and Country Award instead of trying for Eagle. I rejoined Scouting as an adult leader in the 1990s when my son became a Scout, and I noticed a lot more pressure from parents and troops for boys to become Eagle Scouts, and much, much more assistance for them in doings so – group classes to earn Eagle-required merit badges, merit badge fairs, lots of merit badges offered during summer camps, Life-to-Eagle counselors, etc. So I am not surprised to see many more Scouts earning Eagle rank. All in all, I think this is a good thing, as long as the boys show initiative themselves rather than being spoon-fed by their parents and troops. And not every boy has to become an Eagle in order to benefit from his time in Scouting. Despite not having been an Eagle, I have recently completed my 20th year as a Scouter and frequent Wood Badge staffer, long after my son graduated from Scouting, and I still think this is the greatest program for young people.
    Yours in Scouting,

  117. Bonjour !
    Je suis Scout d’ Europe (France)

    Quelles raisons expliquent la forte montée en pourcentage des Eagle Scouts de 1 (1920) à 3% (1952) et à 6% vers les années 2000 ?
    Baisse des exigences ?

    Nous avons dans notre Mouvement (France seulement) l’ Engagement Raider, qui s’ adresse à nos meilleurs Scouts (15-17 ans en général, souvent Chefs de Patrouilles), qui comporte diverses épreuves exigentes.

    Merci! Fraternel salut scout,

  118. I would think a better representation would be achieved by looking at the number of Eagle Scouts in the number of boys leaving BSA in a specific year. Calculating a percentage based on boys who haven’t yet reached their full potential is premature and pads the number (in this case, pushes the percentage down.) Figuring by the status of boys that leave would be a true accounting, because there’s no more potential once they’ve left. (I would assume the number who leave and come back would be small enough to not affect the outcome.) Just not sure how one would account for boys who earned Eagle at 14 but didn’t leave till they were 18, or if it would even matter.

  119. I think the only correct way to state the percentage of Scouts that achieve Eagle is to compare the number of each unique boy that started the Scouting program and the number of those that completed Eagle. To compare the number of Eagles awarded in a given year with then number of registered Scouts that year skews your results because not everyone that joins stays the full time; dropping after a year or two. Similarly, I think the upward percentage trend is due to a downward enrollment trend, not an increase in Eagle awards. But I understand the annual registration count and annual Eagle count are the easiest numbers to pull from the database. Since individual tracking is not considered in the annual percentage rate published each year, I think the 2% number is the best number if that represents the total number of boys that ever signed up ONE time vs the total number of Eagle ranks ever awarded.

  120. No one wanted to be an Eagle Scout more than me, but trying to get a skill award signed off was worse than pulling teeth. And getting a merit badge signed off was next to impossible (three merit badges I could not get simply because I couldn’t draw well enough to win them). And Eagle Scouts were the worst scoutmasters. It became pretty clear that they felt that if anyone else had earned an eagle badge theirs would be worth less and if everyone could earn one theirs would be worth nothing.

    If a scout earned his merit badges by doing the requirements rather than the suffering and begging. And eventually earned their Eagle Badge they would call him a ‘Paper Eagle’. They believe that it should be earned by very few and very painfully.

    I couldn’t even win (nothing was ever earned, but won) a Totin’ Chip card (which I thought I’d get on my first camping trip) even though I’d been in two scout troops. The first troop was bad. It had bullies and a scoutmaster that wouldn’t allow very much to be signed off. Only one bully made eagle. Then I moved to another rotten troop without bullies but still impossible to get anything signed off.

    I think every boy should be able to advance at least one rank every year, but my scoutmasters didn’t see it that way.

  121. It is not badge but the experience. As a scout my troop drove across the country from Upstate NY to Philmont NM which was about 2500 miles. I got to see the United States in way rarely seen by most Americans. As an Eagle Scout, I still tie a clove hitch but not a bowline. I always forgot how.

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