An Eagle Scout applicant must amass 21 or more badges, create and complete an Eagle project, write several essays, request five recommendation letters, compile an application binder and undergo an Eagle board of review before his application is approved at the national level. The process typically takes several years, with the most intense and time-consuming aspects coming in the last three to six months.
Here's what to do and when:
Tenderfoot to Life
- As a boy advances from the earliest stages of scouting, as a novice Boy Scout and then Tenderfoot, up through Second Class, First, Star and Life levels, he will be completing various advancement projects and working on merit badges. Have your son set aside a file to corral all those little bits of paper - advancement reports, blue badge cards - he may need later.
- Have him start a list of activities - jot them in the back of the Scout handbook or add them to a computer file, anything's fine as long as he (or you) writes down every campout (location and number of nights), every service project, leadership position or badge. You will both be profoundly grateful for that master list when binder time rolls around.
- Encourage your son to complete two or three Eagle-required badges a year, using these tips to choose which to do and when.
Six Months to Eagle
A Life Scout who has completed all of the badge requirements, and served in his leadership position for a minimum of six months, can complete the path to Eagle in three to six months, depending on the time of year and any other commitments on his time.
Trying to do this while working on college applications or taking six advanced placement classes is not recommended. But starting the Eagle project and binder work near the end of sophomore or junior year is an excellent plan:
- Your son should get the Eagle application booklet, and begin filling it out, paying close attention to the requirements.
- Get the recommendations component underway first.
- Begin considering Eagle projects, being careful to consider not only the national guidelines but the particular quirks of his own troop and council. Your son should meet with his troop's Eagle advancement advisor to discuss his thoughts and begin getting the necessary council approval for his project.
- Start the project, being careful to hang on to every document, and to record every hour and every phase. These elements are critical components of the binder.
Three Months to Eagle
- The Eagle project should be nearing completion. Your son should start writing up the project report, including a detailed breakdown of hours and tasks. It's helpful to borrow a completed, approved binder from an Eagle Scout friend to see an example of how it's done.
- Write the statement of purpose and ambition - a page-long essay - and the religious essay, if necessary.
- Start compiling the advancement record, personal data sheet and any additional paperwork for the binder.
Two Months to Eagle
- Your son should finish the binder, and meet with the troop Eagle advisor. Have your troop unit leader and committee chair sign off on the application and binder.
- Submit the binder to the council, and get that approval signed off. Schedule the Eagle board of review, which, unlike a normal advancement board, is held at the council, not troop level.
- Double check every element of the Boy Scout uniform, from socks to kerchief slide, belt, regulation pants or shorts and shirt. Make sure all badges have been sewn on correctly. Find the handbook.
The Board of Review
- The Eagle board of review is not held at troop headquarters, so make sure your son gets the right address and figures out where it is well ahead of time to ensure that he arrives on time or - better - a few minutes early. Many parents attend with their sons to offer moral support. If you go, you will be expected to wait outside. Afterward, assuming all goes well, you will be congratulated along with your son.
- The review board typically consists of three council leaders. Your son's scoutmaster or unit committee chairman enters with your son and introduces him. Then the board asks questions, typically about your son's scouting experiences, his Eagle project, the things he enjoyed most about scouting and, sometimes, what aspects he would improve or what merit badge he'd like to see added. As intimidating as the whole thing may appear ahead of time, the actual experience tends to be a fairly comfortable chat, a chance to review and revel in everything that brought your son to this point. Your son should be polite, respectful and tactful. He should remember to express his thanks, both to the review board and his troop leaders.
- The date of a successful Eagle board of review is the date of the formal conferring of Eagle honors. The binder still goes on to national headquarters for review, but barring unforeseen circumstances, this should be a formality.
The Eagle Court of Honor
Once the application has been approved at the national level, most troops start laying plans for the Court of Honor, a formal ceremony honoring the troop's newest Eagle scouts.