Twenty-two years ago, over a series of chilly Saturdays in December 1998, I completed my Eagle Scout service project.
Wanting to find a project location that was personally meaningful, I chose a spot I had grown up visiting: the Heard Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas.
Trips to the Heard with my mom, dad and sister offered a welcome dose of nature just a short drive away. I wanted to give something back — to leave that special place a little better than I found it.
And so I planned, developed and led an effort to build a wooden deck and two benches, making a scenic area easier to access and enjoy.
I learned something about myself during those months of work. I learned I could plan a giant project, get it approved and lead my peers — all with very little help from adults.
But the true beneficiary was the museum and its visitors — the 100,000 people who visit the Heard Museum every year. It’s rewarding to know that some of these families sat on the benches and walked on the deck my friends and I so earnestly built.
That’s my Eagle project story. Today, I’m inviting current and future Eagle Scouts to share theirs.
- Current Eagle Scouts: If you’re one of the 2.1 million people who have become Eagle Scouts since 1965, the year the Eagle project became required, you’re invited to take the #EagleScoutChallenge.
- Future Eagle Scouts: If you’re still working on your Eagle project as you read this, you’re invited, too. Describe your plan or share photos or videos of the progress. The #EagleScoutChallenge is for you, too.
I’ve outlined the process for joining the #EagleScoutChallenge below, but it really can be distilled down to just 97 characters: share the story of your Eagle project on social media, and challenge another Eagle to do the same.
How to join the #EagleScoutChallenge
Compared to the weeks or months you spent working on your actual Eagle project, the #EagleScoutChallenge is quite simple.
Step 1: Share the story of your Eagle project on social media
Choose your favorite social media platform or three, and tell the abbreviated story of your Eagle project. Post as many places as you’d like — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.
I was lucky that my dad, fellow Eagle Scout Don Wendell, had digitized hundreds of photos from my years in Troop 1776 of Plano, Texas. He was able to quickly find the Eagle project photos I’ve used in this post.
A few things to consider:
- Tell the what, why and how of your project. Why was/is it important — to you and to your community?
- Keep it short and simple. Challenge yourself to tell the full story in 280 characters, even if you aren’t posting on Twitter and subject to a character limit.
- Include a photo or video if possible. Dig out that box of BSA photos or swipe back through your camera roll.
- Be sure to include the hashtags #EagleScoutChallenge and #scoutingstories, which will make it easy to find other Eagle Scouts sharing their stories.
Step 2: Nominate another Eagle Scout
This step puts the “challenge” in #EagleScoutChallenge.
Pick one or more fellow Eagle Scouts and tag them in your post, inviting them to share the story of their Eagle project.
A brief history of the Eagle project
While the Eagle Scout Award was first earned in 1912 (shoutout to Arthur Eldred!), the Eagle Scout service project was not officially added as a requirement until 1965.
(That’s a good piece of trivia for the next time someone tells you it’s easier to become an Eagle Scout today than “way back when.” I respectfully disagree!)
The 1965 update challenged young people to “plan, develop and carry out a service project” to benefit the community.
In 1972, that was revised to include a leadership component, ensuring that the prospective Eagle Scout would “give leadership to others” while completing the project.
Today, the requirement reads: “While a Life Scout, plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school or your community.”
More than 2.1 million Eagle Scout Awards have been earned between 1965 and 2019. That means there have been more than 2.1 million Eagle projects — each one leaving a community a little better than before.
You can see many of these projects in the Eagle Scout Project Showcase, a service from Boys’ Life magazine.
Let’s do this!
Let’s get the #EagleScoutChallenge going. I look forward to seeing what you share.