Here’s the number of Eagle Scouts per year from 1912 to 2016

How many young men have earned Eagle Scout each year since 1912? I thought you’d never ask.

Perhaps you’re an Eagle Scout and want to see how many other young men earned the rank the same year you did.  Or maybe you’d like to see how the number of Eagle Scouts per year has changed throughout history.

Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the 2,429,979 young men who have become Eagle Scouts since the award was first presented in 1912.

Number of Eagle Scouts per year, 1912 to 2016

1912 23
1913 54
1914 165
1915 96
1916 103
1917 219
1918 222
1919 468
1920 629
1921 1,306
1922 2,001
1923 2,196
1924 3,264
1925 3,980
1926 4,516
1927 5,713
1928 6,706
1929 6,676
1930 7,980
1931 8,976
1932 9,225
1933 6,659
1934 7,548
1935 8,814
1936 7,488
1937 7,831
1938 8,784
1939 9,918
1940 10,498
1941 9,527
1942 8,440
1943 9,285
1944 10,387
1945 10,694
1946 10,850
1947 9,733
1948 8,016
1949 9,058
1950 9,813
1951 10,708
1952 15,668
1953 9,993
1954 12,239
1955 14,486
1956 15,484
1957 17,407
1958 17,548
1959 17,360
1960 21,175
1961 24,637
1962 26,181
1963 27,428
1964 29,247
1965 27,851
1966 26,999
1967 30,878
1968 28,311
1969 31,052
1970 29,103
1971 30,972
1972 29,089
1973 46,966
1974 36,739
1975 21,285
1976 27,687
1977 24,879
1978 22,149
1979 22,188
1980 22,543
1981 24,865
1982 25,573
1983 25,263
1984 27,326
1985 27,173
1986 26,846
1987 27,578
1988 27,163
1989 29,187
1990 29,763
1991 32,973
1992 34,063
1993 33,672
1994 37,438
1995 31,209
1996 37,715
1997 40,296
1998 41,167
1999 47,582
2000 40,029
2001 43,665
2002 49,328
2003 49,151
2004 50,377
2005 49,895
2006 51,728
2007 51,742
2008 52,025
2009 53,122
2010 57,147
2011 51,933
2012 58,659
2013 56,841
2014 51,820
2015 54,366
2016 55,186


Hat tip: Thanks, as always, to Mike Lo Vecchio for these figures. Photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by MTSOfan


  1. My year, 1973, held the record for the most Eagles, for 25 years. Now the numbers are even higher even though our generation of Baby Boomers was the largest. Why do you suppose the numbers are so high now?

    • This discussion on the increase in Eagle Scouts has occurred here on Bryan’s blog, LinkedIn, & Facebook. There is little chance of finding the exact reasons for the increase in the number of Eagles over time. Some factors that need to be considered, however, include: (1) Changes in the requirements such as the elimination of learning Morse Code or Semaphore for advancement to 1st Class; (2) Addition of the Eagle project; (3) Change that Scouts can earn Merit Badges immediately instead of waiting until they reached 1st Class; (4) Increased training for Scouters so that more understand the program; (5) Change in focus for some summer camps from a week of outdoor activities to earning 3-8 Merit Badges in a week; (6) Eagle Week at some camps; (7) Troop Eagle Advisors; (8) Easier access to Merit Badge Counselors through the Internet; (9) Proliferation of Merit Badge Forums/Fairs/Roundups; (10) Helicopter Parents who perceive the value of the Eagle Scout rank on college applications.

      I am sure that others could list additional reasons for the flucuation in the numbers such as the large increase so Scouts could earn the special patch during the 100th anniversary year of the BSA.

      • To me this is the biggest reason.

        (3) Change that Scouts can earn Merit Badges immediately instead of waiting until they reached 1st Class;

        Both my sons had more than enough merit badges for Life by the time they finished 1st Class, which considerably helped in their achieving their Eagle Rank.

      • My Eagle year was 1970. Boys today are earning more merit badges faster than when I was their age. When I was a Scout, there was no such thing as a merit badge fair (not even once a year). With 17 districts in my council, it seems there is one every couple months somewhere in the council, plus a monthly one called Scoutmaster Bucky which is very popular. I don’t have any problem with that,because boys are being exposed to a lot of subjects in the process, which is part of the purpose of the merit badge program.

        Parents who push their sons to earn Eagle for college applications are a really big component as well.

        Hornadays: in my council, an average of 780-800 boys earn Eagle in a given year, and only 2 or 3 earn a Hornaday Badge. Only 1 boy in my council has earned the Silver Medal in the last 5 years, and no one has earned the Bronze Medal in that time. Part of the reason the Hornaday is so rare (2/10 of 1% of Eagles) is because (a) most boys want to double count their Eagle project as their Hornaday project, but most boys choose an Eagle project other than a conservation project, and (b) most boys seem to complete their project when they are 17. The combination of what the boys do for their Eagle protect and when they do it combine to eliminate them from earning a Hornaday. I know these stats because I am one of the adults who reviews Hornaday applications for my Council before the application is forwarded to National.

        • Our family did it more out of expectation than reward per se. Of the men and boys in my family and first cousins.. about 80 percent have eagle scout. Although i have to admit.. going to philmont 4 times was a decent perk lol

      • Prior to 1972, one had to earn Lifesaving Merit Badge to Eagle without exception, which back then was more equivalent to Red Cross Senior Lifesaving, so average swimmers need not apply.

        As a result, Eagle was nice, but not the obsession it is today. While a a nice accomplishment, It’s one rank of six (and unique to the US) in the Advancement program, and Advancement is but one of the eight methods of Scouting.

    • Jeff – I suspect that it is because more Scouts are aware of how good it looks on college / job applications. Parents push their Scouts harder to earn it or drag them kicking and screaming across the finish line.

      • Yes, I admit it. There was some “steel-toed-boot” motivation in getting my boy to finish his Eagle. 🙂 He definitely fell into your second category of “kicking and screaming”. I knew it was something he’d be proud he’d finished, so in spite of the extra gray hair, I pushed him. But, HE did the work and earned it. Not I. And I think it may be one of his proudest achievements, even if he doesn’t mention it much. (“Told-you-so” happy Mom dance here.)

        • i am a recent graduate and applied to a job. I did put my eagle scout on there and one of the interviewers asked specifically about my eagle scout.

    • Instinctively I go with the “helicopter parent” answer, but I think that is too simple. I do think that kids these days are very motivated and are really hard workers. I look at these kids, I look at these eagle scouts every year and I am more and more impressed. I don’t know if it is simply my view of my area, but I am very optimistic about the future of our country.

    • You will find this represents a higher percentage of boys achieving Eagle scout now than ever before. There are several reasons:
      – There are now more leaders who were Eagle scouts. So, rank advancement is better understood among troop leadership.
      – There are as many leaders/relatives out there who didn’t make Eagle and, looking back, wish they had. Boys coming into troops now get that message.
      – More boys come into the program with an eye towards earning Eagle some day.
      – In the nineties, the question was asked among many benefactors of scouting: “Why aren’t more Life scouts making Eagle?” One result at our summer camp was a “Trail to Eagle” area where First Class Scouts were encouraged to visit. (For a couple of years they were given pocket-knives if they did!) There, they could set goals and map out a plan for advancement for the next year.
      – The internet. This lowered the cost of advancement by making available alternate forms of learning … the most notorious being merit badge worksheets.

      Some of this resulted in unintended consequences … troop meetings focusing on advancement to the exclusion of the boys actually planning/cleaning up from their outings … parents becoming more involved in their boys’ advancement undermining the fundamental objective of building self-reliance and resourcefulness … service being mainly defined as helping the next Eagle candidates project.

      Needless to say, boys who don’t want to be “pushed to advance” beyond First Class avoid the program, and that has some say in our decreasing membership numbers … which further increases the percentage of Eagle scouts. The jury is still out as to how much better a program the average troop has as a result.

        • No offense to you Brad (and Bryan), but not gonna play that semantics game.

          Since 1960, it’s been strictly a youth award. I don’t consider myself more “advanced” after all these years than my boys’ SM who never earned Eagle but could do so today at the drop of a hat. The only difference between the two of us is what we did as kids — in the slightly distant past. I was, he wasn’t.

          Today we both are a lot of good things. And any good thing he isn’t, I ain’t either. 🙂

        • I don’t regret not making Eagle, my path took a different turn with Leadership Corps (anyone remember it?). I began to focus more on the younger Scouts, rather than myself. I also spent a week at summer camp away from my troop, although it was there. Instead, I was leading a patrol of Scouts who came alone. If you’ve never tried to take a group of boys, all strangers, and turn them into a cohesive unit in a matter of days, well, you haven’t lived, lol.
          Between the Corps, my parents divorcing and a bone disease that put me down for a long while, there was no way I’d make it. In essence, LC was my Eagle.
          My grandfather finished at Life, my father reached Eagle and I reached Life. it’s nothing to sneeze at.

      • REMEMBER Once an EAGLE SCOUT ALWAYS AN EAGLE SCOUT. There is never a reference to an Eagle Scout , “Used to be an Eagle Scout”. Check the second paragraph for reference to the statement I cited for correction by all who refer to an Eagle Scout. Thank you.

    • Simply kids don’t earn it parents sign off and push them through. Parentsin scouts equal eagles in a troop went to an eagle party a couple years back
      And got robbed as an eagle I hate this to be true but it happens and we had one hand knot tieing competition something I never did but was faster then most even with there tricks they learned if they could even tie them at all with two hands this is why there are so many eagles

      • I don’t believe this at all… First off, IF parents are signing off requirements for their sons, thsts just wrong on all levels. I have been a Scoutmaster for nearly 35 years now. Parents are not allowed to sign off their child’s requirements.

        • Snapper Captian, You will always have parents that push and pull their sons to Eagle. I used to fight it. And overtime the young men blow me away by the ownership they take in their accomplishment. I am a firm believer that those (especially the young eagles) will grow into their wings, no matter what path they took to get there. Our most recent Eagle’s father was a pusher, puller, facilitator…. We joked that he was earning his 2nd Eagle. In conversations with him and his son through the whole process we simply put everything on the Scout. And he owned it. At his board of review, even the most critical of the parents method of encouragement (read as Dad is doing it) were also blown away with the depth of ownership the scout had for his accomplishment as well as the awareness of his fathers role (both perceived and real). It was the best Board of Review I ever sat on.

    • I would think the addition of the Eagle Scout Leadership Project (number 2) would NOT help increase the numbers. We should also consider that there are more choices in required MBs. For example I was required to earn Lifesaving MB to become an Eagle Scout (although my project effort was not the same as we see today). A number of my contemporaries were stuck at Life because they just couldn’t get through Lifesaving.
      I wonder why with less membership in Scouting the number of Eagle Scouts goes up? There are three data points to consider. Total membership in the BSA (so we can look at the percentage of membership earning Eagle; total NEW Boy Scouts in a year (to understand the churn of membership) and lastly the percentage of available youth in the US who are Scouts, year over year.

      My hypothesis is that numbers go up because the population of the US has more than tripled since the inception of Scouting (US census 1910 92 million; 2010 309 million). There are more Eagle Scouts simply because there are more people.

      That doesn’t explain the percentage increase I think exists. It’s not caused by one factor, like Eagle Mentors or Merit Badge Forums. I think it may be more fundamental. Boys who join Scouting today are more dedicated to being Scouts. There are so many more activities and events for boys today so the ones who choose Scouting are more dedicated and more motivated/driven to become Eagle Scouts.

      • Most scouts are leading service projects of one kind or another throughout their tenure. The only challenge with this one is the amount of paperwork. Proposals and reports are skills that many younger scouts are still developing. Thus the age shift.

        But, now that there are two generations of scouters who understand how this all works, boys have better coaches, and are less intimidated. Honestly, what stands in a boy’s way these days is a willingness to start the conversations with adults who are waiting to help him.

      • The chart presents raw number of Eagles per year. That doesn’t really tell much. How many scouts are there now as a percentage of the population? How many Eagles as a percentage of the number of scouts.

        The number of scouts hit its all time high at right about the same time as the number of eagles peaked in the 70s. The population of the country has probably doubled since then. The number of scouts hasn’t. So the number of Eagles is way higher as a percentage of the scouts, but may be tracking to the population.

  2. I think it would be most revealing to see the number of registered Boy Scouts (not Cubs or others that cannot earn Eagle Rank) along side the number of Eagles.

    • Unfortunately, there are many Chartered Orgs and Troops that have become “Eagle mills”….handing
      out the award to any kid that can do the Merit Badges.

      • More likely Troop websites have a webpage showcasing their Eagles and having someone who is familiar with the Eagle process guiding them, rather than this Eagle mills thinking. There is much more awareness of what an Eagle is and what they need to do, They are still doing the work for their Eagle but with more resources within their troops like adults who have Eagles themselves or have helped other scouts work on their Trail-to-Eagle journey.

        • @Jeff Price. Define “Mill”. My troop is a very large troop. The largest in our district. We are also the most active, by far. We turn out several Eagles every year. The perception by several other troop leaders is that we hand our boys Eagle. I know that we don’t. The boys do the requirements, as written. We have plenty of registered adults, so we have plenty of opportunities for our boys. Campouts are well attended. Somebody is always available to teach a MB class. We are always making sure the boys have their books with them and are getting things signed off. Even so, we still have to remind some of them, if they’re doing the work, why not get the recognition? If your troop is functioning properly, attaining rank, even Eagle is not that difficult. Then again, maybe we just set higher expectations for our boys. Either way, our troop is not a “mill”.

  3. I heard that it used to be much more difficult to get Eagle. Everyone had to get Lifesaving and if you couldn’t bring up a giant sack of potatoes from the bottom of the pool, you couldn’t earn the award.

    I earned Eagle in the late nineties and some of the requirements were easier at that time than they were even in the eighties. I wish the rigor would have remained because I wanted Eagle and would have done anything to get it. It would have been a better challenge for myself.

    • Neil: Some aspects of getting Eagle are easier, but others are more difficult. Once upon a time there was no Eagle project required. There was also less paperwork to navigate as a Scout now has to visit with district or council representatives to get project approval.

      Some Merit Badges were much easier to obtain. I don’t have my reprint of an early Scout Handbook with me, but remember that Swimming had ONLY 3 requirements with the most difficult one being able to swim 200 yards. Astronomy had only 5 requirements & basically it was telling how the planets & moon moved & pick out a few constellations.

      The Internet, Merit Badge events, Troop Eagle Coordinators, & Eagle Summer camps all make the process easier.

      The outside demands have also changed. I had little homework when I was in school & was able to work 30-40 hours a week while maintain an A average. Homework starts early & never ends in schools today. Back “then,” high schools were often close by. In many places (such as rural areas), there are now only 1 high school in the entire county. Thus, parents have to do more transportation (and thus organization) for their non-driving children. When I was a kid, I would walk the 2 blocks to the church where our troop met. My son’s troop is about 3 1/2 blocks from our house. During the summer, he sometimes rides his bike to a meeting when I don’t go (which isn’t often). My wife would not let him walk that distance in the dark even if I would let him.

      Times change and we have to adjust. Isn’t that something that we learned in Wood Badge?

    • Neil, I failed Lifesaving MB twice; was a good swimmer but wasn’t strong enough to pull up the High School linebacker who was twice my size from the bottom of the pool. If only he was a sack of potatoes! I had given up on Eagle until the program changed in 1974, providing Emergency Preparedness as an alternate to Lifesaving. Going with the new program meant I had to quickly earn all new required badges and skill awards. I finished my Eagle on the night before my 18th birthday in 1975 – the lowest Eagle year between 1960 and now. I doubt I would have been a volunteer for 32 years without that change.

      • I was in the same boat. A skinny 110 lb Life Scout who couldn’t earn Lifesaving MB because it was the equivalent of Red Cross Lifesaving back then.

        Ironically, I turned 21 (the max age for an Explorer back then to become Eagle) three months before the Emergency Preparedness option became available. And since I had learned Rock climbing (rope work and rescue was originally emphasized in EP) in ROTC, guess who then got to become the 21 year old Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge counselor at our camp in the summer of 1972? But no complaining, because I learned as a Scout to do your best and be cheerful.

        Once again, Eagle is just one kids rank in the advancement scheme, which itself is just one of the EIGHT methods of Scouting. I know many Scouters who show more Scouting spirit as adults than some who earned Eagle as a kid. And the rest of the world seems to fulfill Baden-Powell’s vision without such a big emphasis on what rank beyond First Class and adult had earned as a kid.

  4. I admit I’m a bit of a data nut, but I wonder why 1973 was so high, and then just three years later (1976, when I got my Eagle), the numbers were about 1/2 that? Makes you go “hmmm….”

    • My memory is that the “Improved Scout Program” came into use and 1973 was the last year that a Scout could earn the Eagle using the older requirements. Among other things, again if my memory is correct, Eagle under the Improved Scout Program required 24 merit badges. So Scouts rushed to complete Eagle using the old requirements.

      • The spike in the 1973 figures are really really easy to explain (and I am on of the 46,000,) It has been explained to a minor degree. Yes there was a significant change in requirements (this is the time that skill awards were introduced and we also lost the word “Boy” in our name… oh what a debacle) But most significant for those pursuing the rank of Eagle was that if you didn’t complete your Eagle requirements by the close of 1973 you would have to earn not 21 merit badges but 24. Many like myself saw the finish line pushed further away and decided to cross the line before the rules changed. (BTW I earned over 24 merit badges before I aged out). Many many Eagle that earned their eagle that year also have the date of earning the rank as 12/31/1973 most likely the most eagle recorded for any single day… since many many Eagle Board of Reviews were conducted after the close of the year.

        • I was one of those 24 merit badge Eagles. Not only did the number of required merit badges change, but the set of required merit badges changed significantly. Now I had to earn the Citizenships and Environmental Science and others. That was pretty disruptive and I suspect part of the reason for the significant drop in numbers.

    • I suspect one reason 1973 was roughly the high point of BSA membership – which has seen an annual decline ever since. I know that in the troop I was in as a boy – 1973-1975 saw a handful of eagle scouts because there were a large group of high school aged boys. But after 1975 and onward, there was less than a handful. Eagle actually got easier at that point in time – because swimming wasn’t required for the first time. You could earn Sports MB instead. And lifesaving became optional. Those probably also help explain the spike. Lots of members – and alternate requirements for scouts who couldn’t get certain MB’s. Nowadays those scouts could have easily gotten difficult MBs like swimming and lifesaving – all they would have to do is show up at summer camp. Forty years ago – that wasn’t the case. Back then, you actually needed to be a proficient swimmer.

  5. The Boy Scout program went through a serious decline in the 70’s when the program was changed to deemphasize the outdoor program and traditional scouting activities. This will be evident when the membership data, or at least the % get posted and the membership extrapolated.

    I expect the rates for Eagle are currently at an all time high. In our area, advancement seems to take center stage over the experience as parents push for it to be on college applications.

    • Ahhh, a new post for Bryan, membership data. Love the things we learn from reading comments when posts like this go up of all the changes that boy scout requirements go through. Makes me wonder what correlation there between BSA changes and Eagles earned.

  6. Bryan, can you find numbers on how many Sea Scout earn the Quartermaster Award each year. I know in the 1960’s when I received mine there were about 160 nationwide, last couple years around 33 or so. Thanks for any info.

  7. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the rate year by year of the number of boys who join Boy Scouts (not Cub Scouts) and the number who earn the Eagle rank. Last year it was about 34% earned Eagle based on the statistics from the national office (No it is not 1%). I think the numbers would show that this rate has gone up significantly. When I started keeping statistics in 1991 it was about 25%. If the number of boys joining the Boy Scout program is not available historically, comparison of the number of Tenderfoot ranks to the number of Eagle Scout ranks would give an approximation which should be available somewhere at the national office.

    • Hello Tom,
      Your numbers are just about exactly the same that I have calculated.
      If the question being asked is “What percentage of Scouts earn Eagle in any one year” the answer is indeed currently about 6%.
      But if the question is “If 100 boys join as Boy Scouts, what percentage become Eagle Scouts”, I believe that your 25%-34% is correct.

      The reason is that in the former case, the Scout only appears for one year in numerator of the calculation, the year that he becomes Eagle. However every Scout, whether they earn the Eagle or not, appears many times in the denominator for each year that he is a member.

      Until recently, the national record keeping did not permit tracking of individual Scouts throughout their time in Scouting. But, exactly as you have done, the percentage can be approximated with the number of boys joining or, slightly less accurately, with the number of boys who earn Tenderfoot.

  8. Bryan – a side-by-side comparison (by year) of Eagle Scouts, Quartermaster Awards and Silver awards would be very helpful and informative. How many Silver Awards have been presented since the start of Venturing by year?

  9. It looks like the 1973 class was very large for the time. I wonder what caused that, as well as the 2013, which I think had something to do with the 100 year patch.

    • See my comment from above.
      “My memory is that the “Improved Scout Program” came into use and 1973 was the last year that a Scout could earn the Eagle using the older requirements. Among other things, again if my memory is correct, Eagle under the Improved Scout Program required 24 merit badges. So Scouts rushed to complete Eagle using the old requirements.”

    • The largest birth year of the Baby Boomers turned 16 that year. As others said, the coming program change prompted many to finish before 1974.

  10. These numbers speak for themselves by showing that Scouting has become more about churning out Eagle scouts than anything else.
    How many summer camps now offer “Eagle week”? How many councils hold merit badge seminars now? How many troops base program solely around merit badges? How many troops have their own adults covering the Eagle based merit badges?
    We all know the answers to these questions. It’s a shame.

    • Patrick – You hit it on the head. When I was a Scout in the late 60s, early 70’s (yes, part of that class of ’73), the Troop worked with the younger Scouts to get them to 1st Class. After that, you were on your own, working on MBs individually and contacting MB counselors to set up appointments. My son earned his Eagle in ’06 and I don’t think he earned a single MB that wasn’t part of summer camp or a MB class.

      • Absolutely right. “Back then” most of my merit badges were earned on my own with a counselor who I selected and after I had made an appointment to meet with him. Very few of my merit badges were earned at summer camp and there was no merit badge university/college/day. In our troop today we have Scouts who pretty much refuse to work on merit badges outside of summer camp or structured merit badge classes.

        • Does anyone know when BSA summer camps switched from being fun places to go for a week or two of outdoor activiites to a week of school where non-qualified 15 year old MB counselors hand out merit badges to scouts for merely sitting quietly in class and listening to their boring lectures?

        • Not I. But I do know that my sons’ summer camp experience is very different from mine. I asked them when they had free time for swimming. They told they did not, that the water was in use for swimming or lifesaving classes all day every day. In any event, they could not have gone swimming even if there had been free time. Their days were packed from one end to the other with merit badge classes. A couple of boys even had classes at night.

        • I regret the MB mills summer camps have become. When one of my Scouts wanted to swim in the middle of the day and retook Swimming MB, I was cool with it. But several other adults commented he was wasting his time.

          I tell my Scouts to schedule a free period and make sure they have fun. I recommend the free period during free swim and shooting, at those camps that still offer those. It seems as if all the free time activities in my day are only offered at nite now.

    • It would be inversely proportional to the number of Scouts earning Eagle at 17 years and 364 days. 🙂

  11. Though not in the same league as the Eagle, Quartermaster or Silver awards, it would be nice to see a report on how many Varsity Scouts earn the Denali Award; which is the highest Varsity award. I just had three young men in my Team earn the award this month. We did the award presentation at our District Round table because no one in our Council knew what the award was .Being the only Varsity Team in the Council and in the State does pose challenges.

    Of the three young men, one is a Life Scout; one an Eagle; and the third completed his Eagle BOR the night of the presentation.

  12. In 2013, 56,841 Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank.
    From 1912 to 2013, 2.3 million Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank.
    Around 7 percent of all Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2013.
    In 2013, the average age of boys earning the Eagle Scout rank was 17 years of age

    For all of you concerned about “churning” – you could expect that if there was a lot of push for this to be on the college application, the average age would be earlier – for a lot of kids in the troop, getting it at 17 means that you are getting it after the application process. Let’s agree that Scouting is expensive. From there I would say that being an Eagle Scout – in absence of anything else that would show you to be special – is economically not worthwhile. Related, I have read somewhere that the average age to be an Eagle has increased over time, which is an indication that it is harder accomplish, not easier.

    The decrease in Scout membership did not occur because of a de-empathizing of outdoors in the program, rather it was the other way around, some of the Scout requriements because less interesting to youth. BSA is, above all, a business. You go where you perceive the market is going. You see that now. Kids are not joining Scouts in favor of “X” games, so the BSA build “The Summit” for High Adventure to try and compete – knowing full well how well the other special places like Philmont are popular.

    I agree with H. David Pendleton – there are a myriad of reasons for the increase of Eagle Scouts over the Years. Let’s assume that for the majority the overall reasons are the honest pride of accomplishment and the prestige of the Award. Let’s not denigrate today’s generation of Eagle Scout with rude comments that the greater numbers today are a result lowering of standards or hovering parents. That is just plain wrong to do.

    • Al: You made some great points. This is the 1st time I have seen a rebuttal to the reason Scouts are getting Eagle is to put it on their college application. Since many of the Eagles have their BOR after their 18th birthday, yes it is entirely possible that they have already applied to college w/o being an Eagle.

      The overall emphasis (overemphasis?) on safety means that there are some teenagers that would rather participate in sports not sanctioned by BSA and thus eliminate joining BSA as an option. I saw an article about living in Europe & how they think it is inane to have to put protective rails on mountain trails or signs up that say, “Stay away from the edge. It’s a long ways down” as they believe that common sense should tell the individuals to do so. Not so in America with a lawyer waiting at the end of the trail to sue someone. Many other Scout organizations around the world allow their Scouts to do activities that the BSA would never sanction such as fencing to canyoning.

      And yes, the average age of an Eagle Scout has never been higher. 50+ years ago, the average Eagle Scout was about 14 years of age. If it was so much more difficult to get Eagle, how come it happened on average 3 years earlier than it does today? There is a segment of the Scouter population that will never accept the fact that obtaining Eagle is still a difficult process and equivalent to what occurred during their “generation.” These are probably the same people that had to walk 5 miles to school each way, uphill, in snow, & barefoot to obtain their high school diploma.

      • When they say earned is that the dat of the project? the date of the last MB? The date it is presented? I suspect it is the date the council approves, which means they are already done, which likely means they had it done by 16…

        So carry on about how the age has increased. There are Troops with much lower ages…

  13. I chair Eagle Boards in District 5 of the Northern Lights Council in Fargo ND. I have had the privilege of fledging 85 – 90 Eagles in the years I have done this. It seems that no matter how old the Scout is he exemplifies the best of our youth. I am proud of the Eagles whose Boards I have chaired and look forward to many more. I really have no opinion on the increase other than to note the special Eagle patch for the Scouting centennial and probably for the Eagle centennial. My congratulations to all who earn the badge and my thanks for the volunteers who get them to the threshold.

  14. When I held the Asst. Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster position in our Troop, I always told our boys that the only thing that could hold them back from Eagle was themselves. We planned our yearly program around getting Scouts to the First Class rank by using our monthly camp outs as a way to complete rank requirements. The older boys would teach the younger scouts the skills needed to complete these requirements. We would then have a game or activity to test the things they learned and the boys would complete requirements without even realizing that they had done so. Every boy that stayed in our troop until they were 18 earned their Eagle Scout, sometimes in spite of themselves. We were not an Eagle Mill, we encouraged and mentored our youth to become Eagles.

    • “… earned their Eagle Scout, sometimes in spite of themselves.”

      I am not one to throw around “mill.” But generally speaking that word applies when something is ground into something else in spite of itself.

      I am proud to say that many boys stayed in our troop until 18. Not every boy who did earned an Eagle. They all had the opportunity. Some didn’t want to. Others wanted to but failed.

  15. I see War & Conflicts a major issue in those years + low areas.
    First Thing i thought about. Back then at 17 you joined a service and went off to fight. Then it was 18 and drafted.
    But As An Army Brat & EAGLE MOM . i know where my dad & uncles & husband were. Not Eagles. Not in College. But ROTC + then in a War Zone.
    Goal for My Eagle = Honors College + “Eagle to FBI in 10 years “

  16. Bryan, could you find more information on other awards? Like the Denali Award for Varsity Scouts, Quartermaster Award for Sea Scouts, Silver Award for Venturers (now Summit Award). I heard that the goal of the Summit Award was to equal or be better than the Eagle in 10 years. That being that it is as well known and as prestigious as the Eagle.

  17. In 2010 and 2012 there were special Eagle patches – gotta wonder if Scouts hurried up or slowed down in order to hit those years. If 500 Scouts did that, it would be a 1,000 Scout swing in the numbers. It may sound silly but I know of at least one in our troop who hustled to get it done at the end of 2012 for that reason.

    • I say that’s a safe bet. There was a lot of push from boys of all ages (and their parents and leaders) to complete as much advancement as they could in 2010 to get the special 2010 rank advancement patches. And with 2012 being the Eagle centennial there was a big push to get those done then as well. Near the end of 2012 the district representatives who sat in on Eagle BOR’s here my way were booked solid and each getting scheduled to sit on EBOR’s almost daily…and sometimes more than one a day.

    • Nice to hear that worked out in some part of the country. It wasn’t even a blip on our boys’ radars. In fact, our peak year was 2013! I wished at least a couple of those boys had hustled up. The summer was chock-full of courts of honor combined with grad parties!

  18. There were new requirements for Eagle in 1972. Some older scouts had a grace period to get there Eagles done with the old requirements in 1973. In 1973 the 12 regions were reduced to 6 regions and 35 councils were also lost that year. Scouting reached it’s peck membership from 1971 to 1973 (6.4 million in 1971, 6.5 million in 1972 , and 6.4 million in 1973, 5.8 million in 1974, 5.3 million in 1975, 4.9 million in 1976, 4.7 million in 1977, 4.5 million in 1978, and 4.3 million in 1979). On 9/1/1994 Family Life became required so there were probably a surge of Eagle Scouts in the summer of 1994.

    • “O 9/1/1994 Family Life became required ….”
      Please note that Family Life MB was a repackaging of the “Citizenship in the Home” MB that was part of the three required Citizenship MBs, and much earlier a single Civics MB. .

    • Hi Carl, as of 1952, Eagle was for youth only. Some adults kept earning it anyway – and in 1965 youth leadership positions became required and so at that point, it was impossible for an adult to earn Eagle.

      • [Somewhat off topic]
        At various time, the idea of a ” BALD EAGLE” award program, pops into my mind.
        It would be for Senior Citizens with achievements equivalent to the various youth Scout ranks and merit badges, with allowance for life experience and declining physical ability.
        As mentioned, Scout advancement was open to adult in the past, so this is not unprecedented in the history of Scouting.
        It would provide a second_chance for persons who did not complete their Scout program, for what ever reason, and for people who did not have the opportunity to experience Scouting in their youth.
        It would provide a challenge for Senior wanting to do more – more than sit around and play bingo.
        For Irvine HQ, it could provide a new source of membership ….. {$}
        Just some out-of-the-box thinking out-loud.

  19. As an Eagle Scout and a AM I believe it’s much easier to attain the BA ‘ S highest rank today. When I got my Eagle rank in “65 there were zero merit badge camps. You really worked hard.

    • I’m in the Eagle Scout Class of 2010, There is no denying that it was much harder to obtain Eagle in the 60’s. But yet I see it great too for the BSA to have many Eagle Scouts coming back to be Scout Masters and hosting these Merit Badge Camps. I couldn’t have got my Eagle without the help of these former Eagle Scouts. The BSA is such a great organization with many former scouts and Eagle Scouts running it 🙂

      • Thanks, Joshua. I never considered the effect that having eagle scouts return as adults and their contributions to helping the next generation in attaining eagle.

        • That is the part of “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle. And the obligation to give back for all of the help the youth received on the path to Eagle

  20. I strongly expect that there is a strong correlation between the increase in Eagle numbers (and %) and the increase in average age. There are a lot of competing demands and opportunities on today’s youth. I think the boys who choose Boy Scouts (over other activities) are more likely to be in it for the duration and have their eye set on Eagle from the get go. As a result, they stay in and those who stay in are more likely to make it to Eagle.

  21. What percentage of Scouts become Eagles?
    A couple years ago or so, I saw that BSA said their records show there had been just over 2 million Eagles (now it’s 2.3 million), and something over 100 million Scouts since 1910. That works out to less than 2% who earn Eagle.

  22. I can’t figure out how the number of Eagles has risen so dramatically in the last 20 years…when the number of boys enrolling in scouting has dramatically fallen. Logically…fewer scout would result in fewer Eagles…not more.

    The only logical explanation for it seems to be the loosing requirements…they are pretty much giving the Eagle award away.

    • Having earned my bird 30 years ago, and seeing the boys in my troop earn it now, I’m sure it’s no easier. But, more boys and parents are focused on Eagle. When I was a kid, it was the SM, his assistant, three or four committee members (who we saw only on review nights, and only if we stayed later for reviews) and forty of us! In my sons’ troop every family fields at least one or two scouters (between parents and older siblings).

      All those cheerleaders make a difference!

      Fortunately our cheerleaders love our boys even when they aren’t making rank. I would encourage scouters everywhere to keep an eye out for boys who have no interest in advancement but otherwise would love the brotherhood of scouting. If you’re attracting those types, you’re succeeding.

  23. Bryan, some of us noticed the patch on the right pocket in the picture with your article. It is from Camp Barton near Ithaca, NY in our Baden-Powell Council and were curious about who the Eagle was in the picture.

  24. Bryan, I made Eagle in ’68 and the first Troop I Scoutmastered had very few Eagles, just the opposite of the second Troop I Scoutmastered. When parents get involved, the program tends to be more friendly toward advancement.

  25. Someone earlier asked about eagle palms. I think that would be interesting data to explore.

    I see three types of scouts:
    those who do not earn eagle
    those who earn eagle then leave scouting
    those who earn eagle and continue on in scouting.

    Some earn eagle and are out because they cram it in before they turn 18, others leave because that is all they came for – I know its a broad brush statement and probably an over-generalisation, but how much scout spirit did they really have – they (or their parents) were after the award and the rest didn’t really matter?

    I think the eagle scout wanting to stay invovled in scouting needs new challenges – the eagle palm process is not that challenging or stimulating. My son has three palms and is working on his 4th but more stimulus is needed. There are several other scouting awards and also many beyond but they could do with being more accessible to leaders and scouts and of course there are other awards such as the PVSA or the Duke of Edinburghs award or the congressional award that could stimulate a scout in a scouting setting. Also, not forgetting that the OA also offers an amazing opportunity for leadership.

    Of course, as well as there being three types of scouts, there are only two types of readers of my comment:
    1. those who agree with me
    2. and those who dont 🙂

    Bryan, I wonder if more of this data could be released to the community so we can do some analytics on it? Just a thought – crowd source the analysis and see what hypotheses the big community of scouters can come up with!!!

    Keep up the great work.

  26. Good conversation on why the increase in eagle scouts. While we all know that their are some parents who push their kids through at the cost of the boy not learning what scouts is supposed to teach. That could be said for school, sports and many other good endeavours. I personally believe that scouts is seeing an increase in eagles while experiencing a stall in total scouts enrolled has more to do with our new culture.
    Twenty years ago a large majority of boys started working to earn money around 16 where today less than 10% have regular jobs so you tend to see youngmen stick with scouting longer.
    Second I believe that by 12 years old if a boy has not chosen a sport or other hobby to focus on then it is almost to late to start. As recently as twenty years ago three and four sports for a youngman was common because they only played them during the given season. By 12 they have to dedicate year around to one and maybe two sports. This has two effects; the first depleting the pool of boys who participate in scouting and second the scouts who join do so for the long haul.
    That is my thoughts

  27. many interesting comments here, good to have SOLID data including the nice bar graph.

    I joined a local Troop in 1973; can’t answer nor explain the high data point that year.

    Personally, I thought it was harder to earn the Eagle Scout Award in the 50’s, 60′, 70′ & 80’s. However, the numbers clearly show a trend:

    a. as membership has decreased steadily from the membership highpoint of the early 1960’s, more Eagle Scout Awards have been earned.

    b. the same applies the same way with fewer Troops in the same time period.

    Therefore, something has occurred within the program and/or society, in general, to cause the noted INCREASE in Eagle Awards over the past 50 years. The BIG QUESTION is what?

    How or Why too many Troops made “earning the Eagle Scout Award” their sole focus than the tangible assets of the outdoor program, community service, etc.?

    Summer Camps are a symptom of this trend – they too are a business Unit of the BSA and have adapted to stay solvent and serving their customers.

    I see too many Troops whose sole focus is producing, as an assembly-line, Eagle Scouts. Some of these Troops are so focused, non-interested Scouts drop out over the emphasis of “Everything Eagle”…

    Does anyone want to have fun, go outdoors, enjoy the time with others these days..??

  28. While interesting, this would be a lot easier to read and interpret as a chart, especially if the percentage were plotted on a secondary axis of the same chart. I’d be happy to do that if you can post it.

  29. It is great to know and see these numbers. Since 1912, the requirements and process for applying for the rank of Eagle Scout has also changed allot. What number I would also like to know is what the average age of a scout when he completed his Eagle Board of Review. I know from a BSA graphic, that shows the average age just over 14 years old in 1949, and now averages just over 17 years of age today. Is there data out there to plot this for each year since 1912?

  30. I wonder what percent of eagles scouts have parents involved in scouting. It would be interesting to see if having a parent in the troop helps boys to become eagle scouts.
    For example: The amount of paperwork is massive to become an eagle scout. For example, having to send in all of your dates of merit badges earned on your eagle application. In my council, only people involved in the terop can access that info. Thus having a parent involved who can get those things for you is much easier than having to wait for someone from your troop to get them.
    I’m not trying to start a war here, I just think it would be an interesting statistic.

  31. This is a great thread! My son is about to earn his Eagle. He will be the third generation in our family (his dad and both his grandfathers). Any stats on how often this might happen?

  32. Scouting as changed drastically in the last several decades. The socio-economic level of our scouts is now mostly middle class or upper middle class. Today scouting has abandoned the lower classes. It was founded in the slums of London. In the US many poorer kids used to belong. Today it is too expensive and in many ways too demanding of parents for most lower class families.

    I helped organize and worked with a Cub Scout program designed for poorer families. I worked in several capacities for 18 years as a Cub Scout leader. We paid the dues for many students, bought shirts (pants are too expensive, we only expected the boys to wear shirts), purchased books, provided pack tents, paid for summer day camp, picked up boys to take them to meetings, etc. We had a lot of success. 7 of our boys went on to earn their Eagle Scout award. None of our poorest boys earned it. Boy Scouts is not very inviting to the poor kids and families.

    So, why is the percentage of boys earning their Eagles so high? I believe it is because most of the boys in Scouting are now from upper middle homes where the parents push their sons to achieve. Scouting is now closely identified with our shrinking mostly white middle class. This does not bode well for Scouting.

    Jerry Hoyle

    • Jerry, my feelings are mixed about Scouting having changed into an upper middle class (suburban) program.
      (1.) The view that there were substantial numbers of lower class and minority (“negro”) members in the 1920 and 30s is more of a rosie colored view of the past. Scouting has never been strong on Native American reservations or populations. The 1930 BSA effort to extend Scouting to rural youth never got very far and remains far behind 4H and FFA for a dwindling population.
      (2.) With upward mobility, today’s suburban upper middle class are the successful grandchildren of yesterdays urban lower middle class clerks and factory workers. They have fancy college educations to do modern versions of what sharp eight-grade graduates did as skilled workers, draftsmen, salesmen, clerks, school teachers & farmers did in a simpler world. They have nicer adult toys and bigger air-conditioned houses, but not that different economic status in inflated dollars (and consumer debt) than earlier generations. “Right side of the tracks” still means about the something, even if the community is much larger and the railway tracks have been pulled up years ago.
      (3.) Intact two-parent households is a major factor. Also regular church … attendance/membership/identification is also a factor in who are Scout families – again the word “family”. Again, considerable overlap with who-were-Scouts in the earlier generations and now a smaller part of the overall US population.
      (4.) Public support for Scouting, both at the local and national level (including favorable press) has evaporated. Ignoring Gay issues and their backers, it is fair to say that our national priorities have moved on and Scouting has been left out. Also, the multiplication of organized youth activities and the dominance of on organized competitive sports (e.g., try to find a ‘fishing’ page or article in the daily newspaper). .
      (5. – we agree) The cost of the program to the individual and family. This structural cost growth is frequently a problem when programs become institutionalized (including: layers of paid employees – Christ never met a payroll). BSA has reduced the quality of uniforms, shopped overseas, and tried to develop money generating programs. But, keeping cost down has not been big issue for national BSA attention and action. (for example, allowing units to adopt ‘uniforms’ that are not the Authorized version sold by BSA, online free merit badge booklets, …v. costly national Jamborees and High Adventure Bases). .

  33. I would have earned eagle in 86 – 88. Our troop did what some of you suggest and reacted to the non-green bar bill program with an emphasis on outdoors to the exclusion of advancement. We do lots of high adventure ans OA stuff but no one pushed eagle. In fact it was discouraged as it was no longer worth what it once was. Fast forward to today and I get to give my “life for life” is my biggest regret story. Nope, not on my watch. If a boy is starting to Peter out I try to motive…does not always eork, but if you get to life you stay life only if you really want to.

  34. There are many boys who are worthy of the rank of Eagle and will earn the rank with or without helicopter parents. The problem is when you have scout leaders who are afraid to deny a boy the rank for fear of trouble from parents etc. I have seen too many boys who are bullies or are too immature to be Eagles. That ruins the significance of the Eagle rank for all.

  35. Do you have any idea of the number of Eagles earned by youth under 18 prior to 1950? Adults were able to earn the rank alongside their sons for many years. Thank you!

  36. I hate to say it, but it has become easier to become an Eagle Scout compared to when I was a scout in the 70s, it was a lot if hard work, with nothing laid out on a plate for you. If you wanted to be an Eagle back then, you had to really work hard finding counselor’s for merit badges and fulfilling the requirements. I am involved in scouting with my son and I still love the program, but merit badge fairs, and summer camp has my 12 year old star scout almost ready for life scout before his 13th Birthday, out if 50 kids in our troop we have 5 eagle Court of honors last year with a possibility if having more than that this year.

  37. I am going to agree exactly with Duane above. I was 1973 and you HAD to search down a merit badge counselor… The total year’s my troop ran… 1966 to 1991 there was probably 500 to 750 that came and went….. total number of Eagle scouts……7……… Far and few between.. And they made it hard on you…. I had to wait 1 extra year after total completion before I was awarded… Merit badges could not be earned till first class and THAT in itself made it more difficult…. The COMPUTER age probably more than anything has made it much easier.
    …But I cant help to think the same thing Duane says….. They are dishing it out Much much easier … Im sorry..but it’s true… .. I remember once going for Corn Farming…. I remember the poor guy was the ONLY one in the entire state and came to see me …. cause the corn fields could not come to him… Poor guy probably had to come half way across the state!!!

    I loved it…. Never will forget it !!! Peace to all, ~Wingding~

    • Youngest I know about was a CA scout who got it at 12 years 6 or 7 months. Got it a few year back, I think 2012 or 13. There was a lot of controversy on that one.

  38. I’m going to join the conversation. The requirements are similar to those that I had to complete. I think many remember a harder time, I believe a motivated Scout can accomplish these tasks in a rapid time period. I was 12 and a half when I was awarded the Eagle badge way back in 1972. We had 24 merit badges and 18 months of leadership “position” and we had a service project, not built in a PMP deliverable like today but we had the same requirement to lead Scouts, improve our community and serve that community. I have three palms, am brotherhood OA, and several Scout of the quarter brass awards, been to several National Jamborees and served as staff on one. I cannot tell you how gratifying and important Scouting was to me. I am currently participating as a troop committee member and just completed a trek to Philmont. I didn’t have sons, just daughters, so I will be handing my Eagle pin to the son of my closest friend this weekend.

  39. I think the rise in the number of eagles is attributable to two factors: 1) Information (merit badge worksheets, counselor information) is much easier to track down, and 2) activities in general are more structured than they were in the past. I think sports is a good analogy. When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, we played baseball and soccer in the backyard in pickup games. Now, all of these sports have developed organized leagues, select teams, etc. – when was the last time you drove by a schoolyard and saw neighborhood kids playing a pickup game of baseball?

    The same thing has happened to scouting. Sure, there were requirements to get to Eagle back in the day, but the focus (at least my recollection) was getting together in the church basement and camping. At summer camp, there were no ‘classes’ – it was run like seeing a counselor at home. You practiced and did paperwork at your campsite and then went to the nature lodge or other program area to talk with the counselor whenever you wanted. Now we have more structured activities – merit badge clinics, summer camp classes, troop-only merit badge counselors, Eagle scout coaches/advisors. I think the outdoor emphasis is still there, but there are just much more in the way of resources now.

  40. I’ll echo a comment made earlier in this discussion: boys who are in scouting are more committed to it. In my community, participation in scouting has dropped by about 90% since I was a boy. The boys who stay in our Troop today do so not because “everyone does” but because they have decided to prioritize scouting over lots of other structured opportunities in their lives – far more choices than we had. They’ve self-selected to be a much more committed group of boys, most of whom will likely achieve Eagle.

  41. So I’d love to see this chart with some extra columns. Total number of registered scouts (Yes everybody), Total number of registered Boy Scouts (Just troops), and another for number of registered youth that can earn Eagle (aka Boy Scouts, Crew,…). Would love a column of Eagles outside of a normal troop but I’ll bet they don’t have that.

    I know of a few crews in my area where boy’s “Moved over” to the crew and stopped going to troop meetings. In our area most crews are not tied to a troop but pop up around a cluster of troops and girls scouts units. The crew I’m Asst Advisor for is 65% girls but a few of the boys finished their Eagles in the crew thanks to the new experiences and motivations they get from being in a crew.

    This year was #4 overall for the number of most Eagles. 2012 was #1, 2010 was #2, 2013 was #3.

  42. Why did the number of Eagle Scouts drop off so dramatically in 1975 (which was the year I earned my Eagle rank)? There were nearly 47,000 in 1973, approx 36,700 in 1974, and then only 21,285 in 1975. That was the lowest year since 1960. After the low in 1975, it took 24 years for the annual number to reach and once again exceed 47,000. What happened and why?

  43. I think that it would be interesting to see some additional information to help give a clearer comparison.

    According to the book FOUR PERCENT: The Extraordinary Story of Exceptional American Youth, by Michael Mallone : scout membership has been on a steady decline compared to its zenith in the mid to late 60s with the baby boomer generation.

    Which begs the question; why has there been a steady increase in Eagle awards year-by-year if there has been a decline in overall membership year-by-year?

    Has it become too easy to earn the rank?
    Has the focus shifted too much to a checkbox on a college application?
    Was it much harder to earn the rank 50 years ago?
    Has a more inclusive policy encouraged more parent participation which has aided advancement?
    Has the BSA itself made improvements to the process that makes the goal more achievable?

    Someone else in the comments mentioned a percentage variable which I think would be illustrative.

    If we have 55K Eagle awards in 2016 and 28K eagle Awards in 1968, how do those numbers reflect on the total number of Eagles per year as a percentage of scouting overall? And most importantly, what does it say overall about the focus of scouting?

    And finally, just as something to for us to consider In the overall arc of scouting history; is an Eagle award earned when there were fewer scouts reaching Eagle somehow ‘more valuable’ than an Eagle earned today?

    In other words, if someone earned their Eagle award when only 3 percent of scouts per year earned the award, is that somehow more valuable than a scout who earns his Eagle when there 8 percent of scouts who earn the award?

    • Lot’s of questions Jim, but regarding it being harder …

      Yes, I’d say it’s much harder. More book-work required badges, more bean-counting of service hours and activities, counselors must be BSA-registered, there’s a project management requirement (including lots of paper-pushing and fighting with computers), there’s a pedagogy requirement. The average age of attainment has shifted from 14-15 to 17. Indicating that where in the past, Eagle was within the reach of Jr. High graduates, most of them are intimidated by the prospect of hustling up and getting it done, or they are distracted by other things.

      Relative to when I was a kid, my son’s had it rough. But, they had dozens of adults who had advanced that far when they were kids … I had none. I had to buy or borrow every MB pamphlet, they could download requirements at home or on their mobile device. They had folks who pestered them on how soon they were gonna get it done. Nobody, not even my SM, offered me a nudge one way or the other (outside of boards of reviews, my next rank was hardly discussed).

      As to value? Well that’s determined by what people pay for it. And if they are working harder than every before, and still gladly doing it. It’s gotta be worth something, eh?

      • Right, so you are saying that perhaps it is harder now? It may be. My son is 14 and he is closing in on his Eagle probably this year. There certainly seems to be a lot of paperwork involved in the Eagle Badges at least. But that again, doesn’t jive with the numbers. If it is harder now to get Eagle ( the service project is a relatively recent invention within the last 50 years or so ), then how is it that so many more boys are getting the award. Yes?

        • Sorry for that terse reply, here’s a little more detail … I explained how I think this has happened when I replied to this post when it was originally made in 2015 (

          The bottom line: adults have promoted Eagle rank more than ever before. It is discussed with boys more than ever before. (E.g., my mother-in-law approached son#2 one day and said, “Now, I don’t want you to worry, but Grandpa and I aren’t getting any younger, and we’d sure like to see you get your Eagle.” 😮 I ‘m sure her parents or in-laws never said anything of the sort to my brother-in-law when he was a scout.)
          I think most times that’s a good thing. We don’t give our boys much credit. They often rise to challenges and do well. So increase the likelihood that a boy will hear the challenge, increase the likelihood that a boy will meet that challenge.

          Best wishes to your son, l’m sure he has many great days ahead.

  44. It would be nice to set a line added to the same graph representing the total number of registered boy scouts in each year.

  45. I feel that it has something to do with the Troop they are in . If the Troop makes more opportunities for the scouts to do Eagle related things ,then the boys naturally do it. Our troop gives each entering scout a binder to start organizing all of their items and will in the end become their Eagle binder. The book is set up with Eagle application, places for MB cards and rank cards and more. We also started a Life to Eagle monthly meeting , after my son became a Eagle Scout,for all of the Life Scouts to attend and get information. We have Eagle Scouts and Eagle Scout adult members who are available to help guide the scouts.

  46. Are the percentages of boys earning eagle running about the same over time? How has the number of overall scouts changed in comparison to the number of Eagles? Obviously scouting has grown over the course of the same time.
    That would be a more informative presentation.

    • The percentage has grown over the decades (from around 2% up until the ’80’s to the current 4-6% of scouts, depending on how you calculate it). The numbers of Boy Scouts has been steadily declining since the mid ’70’s.

  47. I’m late to the party, but a few thoughts. The universal trait of crotchety old guys (I’m afraid I include myself in this group at the age of 52) is that we think everything was harder back in the day. It wasn’t – it was just different. As a 1979 Eagle Scout and the father of 2012 and 2014 Eagle Scouts, here are a few ways:

    1) Merit badges are easier, but only for some and there’s a good reason. Here in suburban DC, merit badge events happen nearly every weekend. We also offer most of the Eagle-required merit badges through our Troop. As the merit badge coordinator, I can tell you that this largely has resulted from the proliferation of paperwork required of our counselors. In the late 70s, the shop teacher was the counselor for drafting, the banker was the counselor for Personal Management, and, yes, the local beekeeper was the counselor for Beekeeping. These same folks did this for DECADES! Do you think they filled out an application? Did YPT? At least in our small town, I don’t. Today, you might get the parent interested in chess to become a counselor once, but the 2nd time – when they’ve had no takers and they have to do YPT again – good luck!

    2) Eagle projects ARE harder. I’ve watched the bureaucratic quagmire that Eagle Projects have become. Sure, the work is the same, but the level of reporting is easily an order of magnitude greater. I’m confident many Eagle Scouts spend more time on the reporting than on the days they actually do the project.

    3) I certainly understand the argument that Swimming and Lifesaving were huge hurdles to Eagle Scout and I came in sometime after those particular requirements were relaxed. But have you actually looked at the requirements for Hiking and Cycling – the current alternatives to Swimming? I did all of those bike rides and most of those hikes with my sons and they are NOT easier.

    4) … and the biggest difference – school! My sons were both Eagle Scouts before they entered High School. They weren’t awarded Eagle – they earned it by completing the requirements as written. They’ve gone on to earn a raft of subsequent awards, but High School is all consuming with the focus on academics needed to get into college today. There easiest classes are probably more challenging than my hardest high school classes. I don’t envy their experience and it obvious isn’t typical, but the late age of most Eagle Scouts probably reflects shifting focus between the ages of 14-18 rather than any substantive change in the program itself.

    As I said, different – not better or worse – just different.

  48. Are there any statistics out there on LDS vs Traditional? i’d be curious to see those two graphs broken out separately as each program has its own nuances.

  49. I’d like to add some more fun statistics…

    From 2011-2015 (the only 5-year period for which all data has been published) the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award and rank was presented to 1,210 adult Eagles when compared to 273,619 Eagles for the same half-decade. That equates to 0.444%, or about 1 Outstanding Eagle per 226 Eagles. When taken over the entire history of the BSA (which isn’t a very fair statistic as the NOESA has only been around since 2011), that percentage plummets to 0.05% or 1 Outstanding Eagle for every 1,962 Eagles.

    Similarly, the much-more-rare-and-prestigious Distinguished Eagle Award and rank has been presented only 2,150 times since 1969, a period of 47 years. In that same time, 1,828,518 made Eagle. This is 0.001% or 1 Distinguished Eagle for 850 Eagles. Likewise, when taken over the entire history, the Distinguished Eagle percentages drops a little to 0.0008% or 1 Distinguished Eagle for every 1,130 Eagles. This number is more common than Outstanding Eagles only due to the newness of the NOESA…give it a few more years and the DESA numbers will fall well below NOESA as it should be. Using the 1 Eagle : 226 NOESAs : 850 DESAs is the best statistical comparison as it negates the effects of award age.

    (I love math.)

  50. Wow, I think I totally reversed the numbers on my conclusion a few minutes ago. It should read:

    1 NOESA : 226 Eagles
    1 DESA : 850 Eagles

    Also I forgot to swing the DESA decimals…they should read 0.1% and 0.08% respectively.

    That’s what I get for trying to roll it into one line. Sorry guys. I love math, but I’m obviously not perfect at it. 😉

  51. Very nice to keep track of Eagle Scouts since time immemorial.

    TOO SAD that nobody bothered to keep track of Sea Scout Quartermasters, which is the BSA equivalent to Eagle Scout.

    Even rarer than Eagle, only about 0.5% of sea scouts make the rank of Quartermaster.

    • Actually, I’d wager those numbers are just as well kept, but no one cares enough to insist they be published. I do a lot of historical research in scouts and (though I’ll admit I don’t remember the source) I did find a bundle of statistics from decades past. The ones I did write down:

      Explorer Ace Award (1942-1954): 723 total
      Explorer Ranger Award (1944-1951): 2,782 total
      Explorer Quartermaster Award (1930s-1998): thousands…maybe more

      It is interesting to see that the original Explorer Program (founded 1933) mirrored something else in the 1940s and 1950s…the U.S. military embroiled in WWII and Korea. The Ace Award, Ranger Award, and Quartermaster Award each used a 4-rank system mirroring the one used by today’s current Venturing Program (since the 2014 changes). Basically, without advertising it, the BSA was preparing American young men for service in the air forces, army, or navy. The Ranger Award was the first cancelled in 1949, but given a grandfather period for scouts to finish. The Ace Award was cancelled in early 1954 and both Ace/Ranger programs were lumped into the Exploring Silver Award (v.1) starting in 1955. This new award lasted even shorter than either of its predecessors and the Explorer Silver (v.2) was begin in 1956. These three ranks (Ace, Ranger, Silver I) each had a unique square knot that were all obsolete before 1960. The knot representing Silver II was made retroactive to cover its three forebears and even today still represents the Exploring Young American Award.

      Only the Quartermaster Award survived this massive Exploring purge of the 1950s and survived until 1998, when it was seamlessly removed from the Sea Explorer Program and rolled into the Sea Scout Program.

      When I did my research, I found (but did not write down) Quartermaster statistics for most of the 1940s and 1950s. The program peaked during WWII with 121 Quartermasters in a single year. The other two awards, lasting only 13 and 8 years respectively, were easy to find complete statistics for…but somewhere out there is a by-year tally from 1933-1998 of Sea Explorer Quartermasters and from 1999-present of Sea Scout Quartermasters.

  52. Would be very useful to see the number of registered scouts each year along with how many earned Eagle. It would also be interesting to see numbers for other ranks and awards. Like how many make it to First Class and beyond. I am sure the information is some where in the BSA, and while there are possible negative things that could come out, there are many more positives. If the number of Eagle Scouts keeps going up, it would also mean the number of other ranks is going up.

  53. Merit badges are too easy to get now, When I was in making past 1st class was hard, with the swimming and the Morse code badge, which is not part of the merit badge rank process, Those were the two that kept me from advancing when I was in the 1960’s after I got out because of age, they changed the badge requirements to make it easier for boys to get. I was a merit badge counselor for five years and never had a boy ask for any of my badges. They made it so a shop teacher could sign off on the badge, for woodworking and metal working, I had many field and camping, they did them at summer camp, and were signed off on, I would question the boys when they got back about items on the badge and I would get part of an answer, so to me the boy didn’t complete or didn’t total understand the reason for the badge. My oldest made his Eagle badge and he complete all tasks and at his Court of Honor I was the only male that didn’t my Eagle badge, still made me proud that he was my son, He is a proud Eagle, it has help him get doors open for jobs.

  54. The jump in 1973 and 1974 was due to a major change in Eagle requirements and general rank requirements. Number of merit badges went from 21 to 24, there was the addition of skill awards and other changes. If you were along the advancement way you had to complete the work by 12/31/73 or had to work under new requirements, thus the rush. The drop in the later 70’s was likely a result of the change to more urban camping (lost on a hike, ask a cop where you are), the Boy Power / Man Power membership scandals, etc,

  55. I was in Dallas in January and stopped by the Museum to visit with the BSA Archivist. He was kind enough to share some of the material he had on the Far East Council which is where I earned all Scouting ranks culminating with the Eagle Award in 1971 while part of Troop 116 on Okinawa.

    Are there statistics, year-by-year, of how many Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout in the Far East Council?

    Bob Cylkowski

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