Details on temporary Eagle exception for new Scouts BSA members

Update: After careful consideration and listening to feedback from volunteers, the BSA has set the maximum length of an Eagle Scout extension length to 24 months, as was first announced in October. The post below has been updated to reflect the official policy.

The Boy Scouts of America will offer a one-time, limited exception to its age requirements for the Eagle Scout award, giving new Scouts BSA members, male and female, a fair chance to earn the program’s top honor.

Traditionally, BSA rules say a young person can no longer earn Eagle once they turn 18. But for 16- and 17-year-olds who are new to Scouts BSA — even those who join on the Feb. 1, 2019, launch day — there isn’t enough time to earn Eagle before their 18th birthday.

By offering this one-time extension, the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Committee is saying that everyone deserves a chance to work toward Eagle. The decision was made public on Oct. 3, 2018. (Read more about the rationale and the decision’s impacts here.)

Who is eligible? Any young man or young woman who is at least 16 but not yet 18 on Scouts BSA launch day: Feb. 1, 2019.

Those who apply for the extension (details on the process below) will have just 24 months from the initial date of registration to complete all requirements for the Eagle Scout award.

Anyone who has earned Eagle knows that completing these strenuous requirements in less than 24 months will require focus and dedication. But as an Eagle Scout myself, I see this as a fair solution for those who, through no fault of their own, wouldn’t otherwise be able to earn Scouting’s top honor.

Additionally, the BSA announced that instead of recognizing a first female Eagle Scout, it will honor an inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. This class is open to any young woman who passes her board of review between Oct. 1, 2020, and Oct. 31, 2020, and has submitted her postmarked Eagle application to the National Office no later than Nov. 2, 2020.

The move gives these Scouts the 19 or 20 months they’ll need to meet all requirements while encouraging them to enjoy the journey toward Eagle, rather than simply racing to the finish line.

Keep reading for more about this temporary transition period.

Who is eligible for the temporary extension?

Eligibility is based on two factors:

  1. The young person’s age on Feb. 1, 2019
  2. The date the young person joined Scouts BSA

1. The young person’s age on Feb. 1, 2019

To be eligible, the young man or young woman must be at least 16 but not yet 18 on Feb. 1, 2019.

  • What about those under 16 on Feb. 1, 2019? They’ll have adequate time to earn their Eagle before turning 18 and don’t need an extension.
  • What about those over 18 on Feb. 1, 2019? They’re considered adults and aren’t eligible to join Scouts BSA. (But should absolutely join Venturing or Sea Scouts!)

2. The date the young person joined Scouts BSA

To be eligible, the young man or young woman must register as a member of Scouts BSA on or before Dec. 31, 2019.

In the interest of fairness, these temporary transition rules apply to all youth joining Scouts BSA during 2019 — both girls and first-time-joining boys.

Boys who were members of a Boy Scout troop before Feb. 1, 2019, aren’t considered first-time-joining boys and therefore are not eligible for the extension. The thinking there is that they’ve always had the opportunity to join Scouting and could’ve started working toward Eagle as early as age 11.

How long is the extension?

Young people can apply for an extension lasting up to 24 months from the initial date of registration.

For example: A young woman or young man who joined Scouts BSA on Feb. 1, 2019, would have until Feb. 1, 2021, to complete their requirements — even if that young person turned 18 during that span.

Why 24 months? The BSA calculated the minimum time needed to complete the requirements for the Eagle Scout award at 19 to 20 months. That factors in time-based requirements like “serve actively in your unit for a period of six months” in a position of responsibility.

How does a Scout apply for the extension?

Youth who want to apply for the extension must talk with their unit leader(s) to request the extension. The leader then accesses the youth’s profile in My.Scouting. If the Scout is eligible, there will be a button the leader can select to indicate the youth has asked for the extension.

This request goes to the National Service Center in Texas. Once the request is approved, the youth, their parent, unit leader and council representative will receive an email with confirmation as well as the expiration date of the extension.

Other things to know:

  • Requests for extensions must be received no later than 30 days after turning 18.
  • Only the National Council may grant extensions.
  • No exceptions to or waivers of any of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Award are permitted under this limited exception.
  • All requirements must be completed while the individual is a registered member of Scouts BSA, or after achieving the First Class rank in Scouts BSA and moving to a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship.

More answers to your questions

Q: Is the BSA changing the Eagle Scout requirements for girls joining Scouts BSA in 2019?

A: No. The Eagle Scout award requirements are not changing.

Q: Can troops, districts or councils amend or adjust the requirements/process?

A: No. Eagle Scout requirements are set by the National Council and cannot be adjusted by a troop, district or council. In fact, the Eagle Scout award is earned when it is approved by the National Council.

Q: Will work completed while girls participated unofficially before the introduction of Scouts BSA count toward Eagle requirements?

A: No. To preserve the integrity of the Eagle Scout Award, all requirements must be completed while the individual is a registered member of Scouts BSA, or after achieving the First Class rank in Scouts BSA. (As specified in the BSA Guide to Advancement, after earning First Class rank in Scouts BSA, an individual may transfer primary membership to Venturing or Sea Scouts and continue to work on Eagle Scout requirements.)

Q: Will work that female Venturers or Sea Scouts completed count toward Eagle Scout requirements?

A: No. Same reason as the previous answer.

Q: Will camping nights from current Venturing and Sea Scouts that count for requirements for the Order of the Arrow, also count for the Eagle Scout award?

A: No.

Q: Will this extension always be available for all youth that enter Scouts BSA?

A: No. These are temporary transition rules and will not be available to any youth who is under 16 on Feb. 1, 2019. These Scouts will have adequate time to earn their Eagle before turning 18.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.