What was the average age of 2016 Eagle Scouts?

Eagle Scouts are getting older, and that’s not a bad thing.

In 1949, the average age of Eagle Scouts was 14.6 years. In 2016, that number was 17.35 years old. (That’s 17 years, 127.75 days.)

I see two explanations.

First, young men are staying in Scouting longer, meaning they’re enjoying the program and not feeling the rush to earn Eagle until they see their 18th birthday on the horizon.

But also today’s teen is busier than ever, with school, sports, church, friends and a job all competing for his time.

That average Eagle Scout age has been pretty consistent in recent years. Indeed, the change from 2015 to 2016 was just 0.01 years — or 3.65 days.

2009 17 years, 116.8 days
2010 17 years, 87.6 days
2011 17 years, 116.8 days
2012 17 years, 84.0 days
2013 17 years, 87.6 days
2014 17 years, 113.2 days
2015 17 years, 124.1 days
2016 17 years, 127.8 days

Discussion question: How does this compare to the age of Eagle Scouts in your troop?

What’s the regional breakdown?

On average, Eagle Scouts are younger in the Western Region and older in the Northeast.

     Western 17 years, 29.2 days
     Southern 17 years, 113.2 days
     Central 17 years, 164.3 days
     Northeast 17 years, 200.8 days

For more Eagle Scout stats, click here.


Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Mike Lo Vecchio for the data.

36 Comments

  1. Lot’s of reasons for the “three year age shift” between the middle of last century and the start of this one.

    But, I’m blaming the 3-day shift between 2015 and ’16 on the increasingly tedious online project workbook! Takes some families that long just to figure out how to download the thing. 😉

  2. Two Eagles in my troop last year. Both were 14. Two more having their Eagle Boards this month. One is 14 and the other is 13. None were rushed and the boys are remaining active in scouts. Three of the four want to go on to earn the Hornaday Awards. 5 More boys at Life ready to start Eagle work. All are 13-14 years old.

    My troop also has a boy ready to do his project that turns 18 in May. He earned 0 merit badges for a period of nearly 3 years. He was captain of the high school football team and had many other interests. His Eagle will be every bit as valuable at 17.9 as it is to the boy who will get his at 13.3

    Some critics will want to call my troop an “Eagle Factory.” I disagree. As a Scoutmaster I expect the boys to lead, make decisions, and participate. While I wish I had more parent participation at times, I can honestly say that the boys I am entrusted with are doing it the right way. The key is keeping them interested and balancing activities with their other schedules. .

    Some will say that all of these boys are too young. I see boys turning into men that I have been honored to work with since they were brand new Wolves at the age of 8. It is a marvelous feeling to have a boy come up to me to tell me that he will receive 6 required merit badges in one Court of Honor. These were earned not because of someone hovering over him. He wanted them. He gets his Life at the same Court of Honor this month.

    What I see is the character that is built, not the age of the boy. If a boy is motivated and earns his Eagle at 13, good for him. If a boy goes AWOL for 3 years and then is motivated to return and complete the work. Good for him too. If a boy chooses not to do the work for Eagle, but becomes a man of character, then that was good enough for me.

    • Kudos to your Eagles on their achievement! I have to admit, I’m struggling a bit with your timelines and the statement that none of these scouts were rushed. Not a criticism, but the math is a bit tight. Starting Wolf at age 8, with wolf, bear and W1 and W2 to complete with a year spent on each. Then assuming starting Boy Scouts at 11 exactly, getting through first class (assuming a year, very possible, but usually aggressive) with enough time for 16/18 months of leadership (4,6,&6 required) each ending right at Scoutmaster conference on the day of leadership requirement due. Even this makes 13 difficult without pushing or adult planning, especially when it occurs with several scouts. At 14 is more possible (really almost 15), but still tight given that the Eagle project will take several months and cannot be started until achieving the Life Rank. (Still seems a bit rushed given my deep understanding of the program and having conducted many Scoutmaster conferences myself – not impossible but I’ve never seen it without adult pressure/help).

      • My son is highly motivated and made Star in just under 12 months and Life exactly 6 month after that. He took 14 months to complete his Eagle requirements and will do his board review within the next 2 weeks. He is 13, the SPL, the OA Spirit Chief, and loves scouting. I am sad to say he probably would have completed earlier if he hadn’t been discouraged by some leaders strictly because of his age. We as leaders have to not judge as a group but take each person (scout) on an individual bases. My job as a leader and as a parent is to make sure my son (or your son, my scout) that they have the information, guidance, support, and proper assistance for them to achieve the goals they have set. As a former Cub Master I decided to not be a Scout leader the 1st year of my son’s Boy Scout adventure. He wanted his dad at that time not another scout leader. Since then I have become an ASM and help teach leadership skills to our scouts. I hope this is helpful to at least 1 person.

    • Warning to parents: I’ve seen more boys quit than make rank because of excessive pressure. Some come back when their folks agree to turn the heat down.

      But if a bunch of boys around you are racking up badges, working as hard as their SPL in their position of responsibility, camping the tar out of their countryside, and lining up service projects … you’re more likely to imitate them.

      Who says, by the way, that an Eagle project should take several months? See a project you want to do, in the next week, write a proposal to do it, next week get approval, next week materials and line up your patrol, next week work. Next week done.

      Even if it takes longer than that, a boy could start the minute he obtains Life, and wrap it up while serving in his POR. That and any remaining merit badges can be done well within six months.

    • That’s been my point every time under achieving adults want to slow scouts down. I want to see the distribution that I suspect shows thatv13 and 14 year old Eagles are few

    • I suspect we’re talking about the mean here. The numbers making rank at each age over time would be a neat, albeit obsessive tabulation.

  3. Being a data science professional, any time I see a statistic, I tend to ask one or two more questions (often ad-naseum). I’d be far more interested in understanding distribution of ages.

    I do agree with comment about the PDF workbook. It seems each scout I work with has varying degrees of frustration with getting their information entered in the workbook, especially the proposal budget area. I am guessing a skilled Adobe PDF forms creator person could improve this thing in a day or two’s worth of work. The form shouldn’t be so persnickety just to enter information.

    I’ve never cared much for the “what’s the right age for a boy to earn Eagle” discussion.
    I’m much more interested that they earn it for the right reasons.

  4. I joined Scouting in 1957. At that time my Troop had boys from age 11 to 14. If a Scout wished to earn the Eagle rank he had to do it before the age of 14 unless his unit had a “Senior Scout” Program or, like me, he joined the Explorers, who were prohibited from earning merit badges and advancing to Eagle.

    Additionally, in those days a Scout could not begin earning merit badges until he had attained the 1st Class rank. I was a Life Scout and felt no shame in that. The Swimming and Lifesaving merit badges were also required at that time, no exceptions. I am surprised at the number of Eagle Scouts today who are not good swimmers.

    I get tired of the excuses whenever I hear that the workbook is “too hard” or “too detailed” or “too tedious” My Eagle Scout son had to write his out in long hand then type it for his BoR. His boys are happy to have the fillable PDF to work with.

    The Eagle Scout rank should be a challenge to attain, not a rubber-stamped honorary achievement easily achieved. Whenever I hear of a Scout receiving his Eagle at age 17.999 year of age, I have to ask what he’s been doing for the last 6 years.

    • Hmm. That would be my son who earned his Eagle Scout Rank at 17.9999 after completing a time consuming civic project for alternate water resources in case of an seismic disaster broke water mains while he rowed competitively 6 days a week all though high school; held the leadership role as ASPL and played in the pep band. By the by, he was the only bs youth member of the local BSA Council, staffed NYLT, participated in Jamboree, Philmont and numerous summer camps. He never took a break from scouting-scouting was healthy part of his life for 7 years-Eagle Scout Rank is an honor he worked for and earned. It was not about the age he earned it at but about all the steps that made up his individual journey as a scout.

  5. My son was 15 (almost 16) when he earned his Eagle rank and he didn’t have any issues with the PDF file. Maybe he just got lucky because he’s no computer scientist.

  6. Eagle Scout gets his Eagle and he’s shortly out of scouting…where’s the giving back as the Brotherhood of Eagles asks?

    • I have a Venturing Crew that has 100% Eagle Scouts. If they are not Eagle Scouts, they are given 8 months to start collecting their junk to get it.

      They hold Camporees, a Merit Badge University, and several other things in which they teach and give back. They learn the value of reaching back and brining everyone up to their level.

      They crash Troop Camping Trips by showing off in competitions – it makes Scouts motivated to be that proficient.

      There are methods – but you can’t put barriers up for a Scout to give back,

    • Well, he might have a community outside of BSA who needs his cheerful service.
      He might rather camp and hike independently with his mates.

      Rarely has such a boy “games the system”.

      By the way, numerically, I’ve seen as many (maybe more) of our 18yo Eagles as 14yo leave without looking back.

      So in general, there’s no excuse for such bitterness toward our boys.

  7. As much as I tell scouts to get their Eagle by the time they are 16, they end up getting it right before they turn 18. After 16, they get so involved with school activities and scouts falls by the wayside. They wake up when they are filling out their college applications and all of sudden want to get their eagle completed. It has been a long time since I have seen a scout get his eagle before he turns 16.

  8. It seems that waiting until the absolute deadline doesn’t seem to be the best characteristic of a leader. If these are the averages and we know there are a lot who earn it in 14-16 years old, then there must be a crazy amount who are 17.99999.

  9. The calculation is EBOR date minus birth date. Some EBOR are more than six months after the 18th birthday so the average date will be higher. The scout has no real control over when the EBOR is if the references sent out by the council don’t come back in a timely manner. I wonder what the average would be if it was SMC minus birth date?

    • Eagle awards are dated by the scoutmaster conference. That’s when the paperwork goes to National to be reviewed and permission to schedule an EBoR is given.

  10. With all the data prepared on the 2016 Eagle Scouts this week, data can be “manipulated” in any fashion to show trends, SWAT’s, etc.

    I post the following: why do we leaders put so much stock in to “the number of Eagle Scout Awards (or other pinnacle “awards”)?

    What about the unmeasurable values: what values or experiences does the average Boy Scout, Cub Scout, Venturer take away from their Scouting tenure to apply later in life?

    What affect did the Scouting program have on these members, who joined for the fun, friendship, a promised exciting program which was not delivered, etc., I could type all night..?

    What about these former Scouts?

    Consider all the energy and effort placed by many to get a boy to earn the Eagle Award?

    Why do so many Eagle Scouts fail to return to the program and give back to future Scouts?

    I welcome your comments on these questions…

    Yes, I am an Eagle Scout of 36 years…..

    • Good points, Mike.
      My “soap box” is about training up first class scouts (the concept, not the patch). Other scouters put it differently. That said, these stats tell us something about how that pans out nation-wide. The main reason: we all know that this award is well within the average scout’s grasp. Yes it takes adult volunteers, community members stepping up to council badges and grant service opportunities, districts to organize prompt review of paperwork, families to provide places to camp, etc …, but we’ve all worked hard to put those in place.

      But, making rank still takes some grit and long-term vision that most people don’t believe exists in young men. Clearly, 94% of eligible scouts don’t believe it exists in themselves. That said, even if a boy doesn’t earn Eagle, he still has a lot to be proud of.

      I am constantly approached by people who don’t hesitate to tell me about the fun times they had as a scout, and the skills that they learned and still use today. There are also some folks with bad experiences, but mostly good … and the good reports even (especially?) come from those who never earned Eagle.

      As far as giving back to BSA’s program. I never put that on Eagle scouts. There’s a world full of hurt, and I am proud wherever they find their calling to do good in it. I’m simply grateful for all the first class (the concept not the patch) scouts and scouters who took time out of their busy lives to help my boys and my daughter get everything they could out of their troop and crew. Among those are a full share of Eagle scouts (youth and adult), and I figure I have no business begrudging those other Eagles who find their calling outside of BSA.

      Bottom line: when birds soar, sometimes they fly away. That’s okay, it just leaves more room in the nest for the next generation.

  11. Every year that age gets way too close to 18 years old. I think it’s time to start kicking some Scoutmaster buttocks in motivating their youth.

    I tell the parents my job is to give them the opportunities to get to Eagle – it is the Boys responsibility to take them. If they don’t – I pull out my steel toe boots.

    I have heard it all – They are unmotivated (try Bored), They have school reasons (Nope – a rationalization), They are in Scouting longer (because the Troop Leadership is dragging them for 7 years), but the fact of the matter is – they need to be at Life at 14. Then they need to start working on a project proposal.

    Yeah, yeah – you can say they can’t start working on their proposal until they have completed their Merit Badges – but you can’t show me in the book where it says “After completing your merit badges….” STOP IT. You are lying to the kids for your own selfish and Narcissistic reasons. In fact, it is almost mental abuse what Scoutmasters and overpowering leaders do to kids.

    They’re too young – They are not Mature enough – Just knock it off. If you think the age of Eagle needs to be raised until after they have their first kid – then petition National. Otherwise, stop standing in the way of the Scout.

  12. Back in the late 90’s, when I first started a scout troop, I learned about Eagle scout rank and was very impressed with it. However, the reality that I see nowadays with scouts going into a two – three hour class and walked out with a merit badge card approved. I find that Eagles scout rank now being treated similar to a trophy league where boys do not have to do much but still earn a trophy. If we keep up with this trend, twenty to thirty years from now, nobody will take this Eagle rank seriously. Why did I write such a statement? Because at one time, I served as a MB counselor for one Life scout who never went to hiking once and did not know the different types of tents. This was a “Life” scout, everyone!

    • If a Merit Badge Counselor is “giving away” Merit Badges, they need to be reported. If Merit Badges events are doing the same, there is recourse for that. Yesterday, my district completed Day 2 of its Merit Badge Forum. Day 1 was 4 weeks ago. I facilitated the American Heritage and Scouting Heritage MBs. I don’t like to call it teaching. After Day 1, all 17 Scouts were given requirements to complete in the intervening time. Most did the work, but some did not. 12/17 completed the American Heritage requirements & earn the MB. Only 10/17 completed the Scouting Heritage requirements (most failed to contact the Scouting Museum or interview the required people). One Scout showed up for the 1st meeting and not the 2nd. Another Scout showed up for the 2nd meeting, but not the 1st. Neither one earned either MB. Those that did not complete the requirements, received my Business Card if they want to contact me to do so or they can contact another MB Counselor.

      Many of these MBs can be earned in 2-4 contact hours as long as they do their “homework” or prerequisites. If us as MB Counselors hold the Scouts to meeting the requirements as written, nothing less AND nothing more, then there is nothing being “given” away.

      My son has earned a few MBs and attended many different types of Merit Badge events and only on rare occasions was I dissatisfied with what the MB Counselor required my son to do. On those occasions, I sought out the event coordinator and told them so.

      Let’s hold the Scouts to the standards, but we are not trying to make a Scout an EMT or a Chemistry Professor. If they meet the standard as written, they have earned the MB.

  13. I was so proud of my son as I watched him get his final sign-off on his Eagle Scout paper work on the 364th day of his 17th year. His road to the Eagle rank was as unique as every other past and future recipient and will be the fodder for many good stories down the road. The lives of our kids are packed with “packaged” activities. Sports, school work, etc. are but a few of the big time commitments that kids, for the most part, show up and are led by teacher/coaches. Scouting and the Eagle project, on the other hand, were “driven” by the individual scouts – all while juggling the hundred other activities that take up their junior and senior year in high school. While my advice is always to finish early, I truly give Kudos to the scout who finishes up in the senior year of high school – they truly learn the importance of time management, communication, and mentorship.

  14. I think it would be interesting to look at the average age of life scouts over the same period, I think the trend of most Eagles at 17.999 years is a result of a last minute push driven more by parents and a look toward college applications. In my experience (as a Scoutmaster, and other unit and council volunteer) Scouts get to life rather quickly, then stall, often for years, before picking up the baton and pushing to the finish line.

  15. My husband has three older brothers–all two years older than each other. It is the late 70s/early 80s. The first earned Eagle when he was almost 17. The next 16. Then 15. My hubby 13.5. Our son was 14 in 2008 when he earned his. He had big footsteps to follow! His goal was to complete it before high school so he could focus on other things yet still have fun with his troop. Every boy is different and Eagle is not for everyone. As long as the boys are having fun and participating, then they are all succeeding! ⚜️

  16. I have been reading all these comments with a smile on my face. There are so many factors that affect the percentages of Eagle Scouts. No one has commented on what was going on in the world to influence the results. I happen to grow up in a small town in Central California during WWII. When I moved there, there were five troops in town. I joined a troop in February 1940, by May we started losing adult leaders to the draft. It was not long before the only Scout Master in town was an older man but, bless his heart, he helped all of us. We managed to keep the troop running throughout the war without a Scoutmaster. Gas was rationed and we had great difficulty going camping but we were able to do some. I got my Eagle in 1943. How do you bring these conditions into your percentages?

  17. I earned my eagle rank in the 70’s. I made it just before my 18th birthday. I loved every minute of the experience and would not have wanted to be raised to the rank any sooner. I spent my time enjoying and mastering each merit badge, leadership and project requirement. I was curious and wanted to know all I could about the task at hand. I wear my Eagle ring rather than a high school or college ring. I firmly believe I learned more of my skills and am who I am because of my experience in climbing through the ranks in scouting rather than the lessons from any school I attended. Some boys have the inclination to do become an eagle sooner, some do rise at the last minute, what does it matter. We may all different in our motivations, but we are all Eagle scouts.

  18. When I received my Eagle in June 1950, ( 1 was 15) the current Eagle Project and over done write ups were not required. I believe that was a major contributor to the age of the Eagle Scouts since.

  19. Good Evening Brian,

    My name is Brian Evans, Eagle Scout class of 1991. I’m working on a MBA assignment and studying the number of Scouts that obtained the rank of Eagle in 2016. Which your article on that subject is perfect for my research project. My second variable in this research project is determining the average age of the Scout earning the Eagle by state. Is there anywhere I can obtain that information. This report gives me the data by region but I need the data by state. Is that something by chance you would have or could direct me where I can obtain it?

    Thank you,
    Brian Evans

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