The real number of Eagle Scout service hours completed is probably much higher than your Scouts report

When I offered an analysis of the 2015 Eagle Scout class last month, something didn’t seem quite right to volunteer Earl Binder.

He read that “young men who earned Eagle in 2015 combined to record 8,503,337 hours of service on Eagle projects. That’s an average of 156.4 hours of service per Eagle project.”

Binder, who sits on Eagle Scout boards of review for the Greater St. Louis Area Council (one of his many volunteer roles) argues that the actual number of hours earned is much higher than 156.4 per Eagle Scout service project.

The numbers come from Eagle Scout Rank Applications, so they’re only as accurate as what the Scouts report. And that’s where you, the Scout leader, can help.

“One thing I have noticed when doing final Eagle boards of review is that many of the Scouts didn’t calculate the hours correctly,” Binder says. “They simply put down a total of their time plus the clock time it took to complete the project — regardless of how many Scouts, friends, Scouters, family, etc. helped.”

Scouts don’t understand that each helper’s hours should be counted separately, Binder says. Ten people working for four hours should be recorded as 40 hours, not four hours.

“When I sit on a project proposal board, I try to remember to explain the difference to the Scout,” he says.

What should be counted

Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Member Experience Innovation team sits on Eagle boards of review in his volunteer time, and he advises Scouts to “count the time they spend on the telephone, and to count the time of the person on the other end of line.

“I advise them to count their travel time to and from meetings with individuals and the project site. If the Scout does not drive, he should count the driver’s time as well. It is recommended that the Scout keep a log or ledger of everyone he spends time talking to in person or on the phone, and all those who, in some way, have assisted in planning, developing and implementing his project. These are project helpers.”

How to calculate time, including helpers’ hours

Let’s say the Scout himself put in 80 hours on the project — being sure to include time spent planning, gathering materials, traveling and actually working on the project.

On the first Saturday of the actual project, he had a group of 20 helpers who were there from 8 a.m. until noon. That’s four hours times 20 workers, or 80 hours.

On the second Saturday, 30 helpers showed up and worked from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. That’s six hours times 30 workers, or 180 hours.

Grand total: 340 hours. And he hasn’t even counted all of the other time he spent, as Lo Vecchio outlined above.

This is something to keep in mind as your Scouts are tabulating their hours worked.

“I am betting that a good number of the 54,366 new Eagle Scouts shorted themselves and that your counts are probably low,” Binder says.

What difference does it make?

Reporting volunteer hours using the same counting method as other volunteer agencies ensures that Scouting as a movement gets proper credit for all the great work our Scouts do.

When we present that number to groups and families not affiliated with Scouting, we want it to be as accurate as possible.

No minimum hours requirement

One more thing.

The goal of an Eagle Scout service project is for the Scout to plan, develop and give leadership — however long that takes. That’s why there’s no requirement for a minimum number of hours that must be worked on an Eagle project.