Inside the BSA’s decision to offer a temporary Eagle Scout extension

The Peck family of Idaho (from left): Andrew, Rachel, Phil and Bobbie Jo.

Earlier today, I shared the news that the Boy Scouts of America will offer a limited-time extension to its Eagle Scout age requirements, giving new Scouts BSA members the chance to earn Scouting’s highest honor.

If you haven’t read that post, please check it out.

Now I’d like to share the rationale behind the decision and more info about its impact.

Why the BSA made this decision

The Scouting experience changes lives. No matter when you join, how long you stay or the rank you attain, Scouting prepares you for life.

For some young people, myself included, the pinnacle of the Scouting experience is achieving the Eagle Scout award.

But when the BSA opened the doors to everyone to join Scouts BSA, the organization was presented with a problem. Through no fault of their own, some Scouts who join Scouts BSA for the first time — even right on the Feb. 1, 2019, launch day — wouldn’t have time to earn Eagle before turning 18.

By offering this one-time extension, the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Committee is saying that everyone who is willing to work for it deserves a fair opportunity to earn Eagle.

That’s the rationale behind the limited-time transition rules.

Rachel of Idaho

Consider 16-year-old Rachel Peck of Bayview, Idaho. Growing up, she watched her older brother fill his sash with merit badges.

“It was kind of disappointing,” Rachel told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Ever since I was little I’ve tried to copy my big brother. When it came to Scouts, I couldn’t.”

Without the extension, Rachel would turn 18 before completing her Eagle requirements. But thanks to the temporary transition rules, Rachel can work toward her goal.

“I think it’s a great change,” says Rachel’s brother, Andrew. “I know my sister, when she was young, always looked at the things I did and she was jealous, so I’m glad she’s finally getting to experience some of those same things.”

Well said, Andrew.

Ava of Massachusetts

Consider 17-year-old Ava Smith of Falmouth, Mass. She’s been a member of a Venturing crew and looked on with envy as the guys in her crew earned Eagle.

Now Ava, who hopes to serve as senior patrol leader of the soon-to-be-formed Troop 137, will have the necessary time to earn Scouting’s highest honor herself.

In addition to the adventures she’ll have and the leadership skills she’ll acquire, Ava sees an additional, more-practical reason to become an Eagle Scout.

“It will be good for college,” she told the Cape Cod Times.

Indeed it will, Ava. College recruiters look highly on the words “Eagle Scout” on a résumé.

My thoughts, as an Eagle Scout

As an Eagle Scout myself, I’m incredibly excited to follow the journeys of Rachel, Ava and many other Scouts. I’m confident about their abilities to achieve their goals and join the Eagle Scout family.

My message for them: The road to Eagle isn’t easy. In fact, it’ll probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But trust me when I say the journey will be worth every minute, mile and merit badge.

Fellow Scouters and fellow Eagle Scouts, please help me welcome these Scouts BSA members as they join Scouting. Let’s be helpful, friendly and kind as we support their dream.

The world needs Eagle Scouts now more than ever. Let’s encourage every young man and young woman who wants to become an Eagle Scout to complete that goal.

About Bryan Wendell 2776 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.