After an Eagle Scout court of honor, with all the air-fives exchanged and all the red, white and blue cupcakes reduced to crumbs, it might feel like the end of a young person’s character-building journey.
But for many newly minted Eagle Scouts, their Scouting adventure is just beginning.
Eagle Scouts have a number of ways to continue their Scouting journey after receiving the highest rank in Scouts BSA. And many Eagle Scouts, myself included, find their post-Eagle experience in Scouting to be even more enjoyable than the journey to Eagle.
Eagle Scouts can continue earning merit badges and go for Eagle Palms. They can take on advanced leadership positions, using their hard-earned wisdom to help guide younger Scouts. They can plan longer, more-challenging outdoor adventures. They can join older-youth programs like Venturing or Sea Scouting.
Whether the new Eagle Scout just turned 15 or is 15 days shy of turning 18, the opportunities are limitless. And with the experiences and wisdom they’ve gained while becoming Eagle Scouts, their potential is limitless, too.
Let’s look at five ways that new Eagle Scouts can stay involved after becoming Eagles. If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments section below.
Please note that many of the things on this list can be enjoyed by any older youth — not just Eagle Scouts. I’ve framed it this way because I know there are many Eagle Scouts looking for that post-Eagle spark to keep them motivated and involved.
1. Stay in the troop to be a role model.
When you look at the Scouts BSA rank badges, one stands out. The first six — Scout through Life — show the rank’s symbol on a plain tan background.
But then there’s the Eagle badge, with its bold combination of red, white, silver and blue. When sewn on the left pocket of a uniform, it really pops.
That’s no coincidence. Scouts who wear the Eagle badge should stand out, whether in uniform or not. They should be seen by younger Scouts as role models.
It’s unfortunate to see young people hang up their uniforms for good right after earning Eagle. It’s like a pro athlete retiring right after being named the league MVP.
We should challenge our Eagle Scouts to find new outlets for their hard-earned skills. For some, that might mean taking on a new challenge in their own troop.
They could assume an advanced leadership role, such as senior patrol leader, den chief or junior assistant Scoutmaster — positions where their experience will help them shine.
2. Earn some Eagle Palms.
Scouts BSA’s merit badge program is so brilliant because of its variety.
Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges to become Eagle Scouts, and 13 of those must come from the Eagle-required list. For the other eight merit badges, Scouts can choose from 124 options — from American Business to Woodwork. There are merit badges for pretty much every subject you can imagine — STEM, sports, hobbies, arts and crafts, and more.
Eagle Scouts who earn exactly 21 merit badges have earned about 15% of the 137 available. Why stop there?
Eagle Scouts who earn 26 merit badges or more are eligible to earn Eagle Palms they can pin to their rank emblem.
The Palms offer a great incentive for Eagle Scouts who want to continue learning, growing and exploring until they turn 18.
3. Join a Venturing crew.
While some Eagle Scouts will enjoy the challenge of leading the younger Scouts in their troop and being seen as role models, others crave fresh adventure.
That’s where the Venturing program shines.
Venturing is a coed program for young people who are at least 14 (or 13 and finished with the eighth grade) but not yet 21.
A unit in Venturing is called a crew. Its top elected youth leader is a president, while its top adult leader is an Advisor.
Most Venturing crews are focused on high adventure. Because all members are older, they can plan longer or more difficult camping, backpacking, hiking or paddling trips. These are trips that might be too advanced for every member of a Scouts BSA troop, where ages range from 11 to 17.
(Some larger Scouts BSA troops will split up some of their monthly trips, with the younger Scouts going camping and the older Scouts doing something more involved. But this solution won’t work for every troop.)
Venturing crews can specialize in other areas, too. There are crews based on topics like:
- Arts and hobbies
- Ham radio
- Horseback riding
- Model planes, rockets or trains
- Rock climbing
Because Venturing is so customizable, it can often be hard to define exactly what a Venturing crew can do. But the bottom line is this: If a young person has a hobby, interest or passion, they can turn it into a Venturing crew.
4. Join a Sea Scout ship.
About 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Tell that to a Sea Scout, and they’ll likely respond with: “Challenge accepted.”
Sea Scouts explore the water using vessels large and small. They travel the high seas on giant sailing vessels they learn to navigate themselves. They traverse lakes on stand-up paddleboards, canoes and kayaks. They explore underwater worlds by scuba diving or snorkeling.
Sea Scouting is a coed program for young people who are at least 14 (or 13 and finished with the eighth grade) but not yet 21.
A unit in Sea Scouting is called a ship. Its top elected youth leader is a boatswain (pronounced “bosun”), while its top adult leader is a Skipper.
You’ll find Sea Scout ships all over the country, even in states far from the literal sea. Sea Scouts plan their own water-based adventures that can last a weekend, a week or even longer.
The water is calling, and Sea Scouts answer the call.
5. Work at a council property.
“You get paid to spend your summer at Scout camp.”
For many older Scouts, that sentence alone is all it takes for them to sign their names on the dotted line.
For those who need a little more convincing, there’s this:
- You can save up money. Because food, housing and at-camp activities are covered, Scouts typically end their summer with a decent sum in their bank account.
- It looks great on a résumé for college or a job.
- You’ll make friends.
- You’ll help younger Scouts earn merit badges, advance in rank and make lifelong memories.
Eagle Scouts make great summer camp staffers. Many find that the job offers the ideal combination of opportunities to positively impact younger Scouts while also spending time with young people close to their age.
After the court of honor: What’s next?
What else can Eagle Scouts do to stay involved after earning their badge? Share your ideas below.