An Eagle Scout project is a major community service undertaking that requires a teen’s organizational and leadership skills, as well as physical abilities. Every project must be approved by the scout’s troop leaders, as well as his council, and it is critical to get that approval before any work is begun.
Boy Scouts of America publishes formal Eagle Scout materials and guidelines, but you should be aware that many troops have their own requirements in place.
You can contest their decisions, of course, and Boy Scouts of America will back you on it, but here's the thing: it's rare that a teenager is that eager to cause dissension within his troop over, you know, planter boxes.
It's helpful to glance over Eagle Scout project ideas, but what's even more important is for your son to look at the types of projects his troop's Eagle Scouts have already completed. If no one has done a particular kind of project it may be because troop leaders, fellow scouts and their parents don’t view them as good options, for whatever reason. It's best to know that before your son invests his time in researching projects. Here are five things to think about when brainstorming an Eagle Scout project:
Eagle Scout Projects: Things to Consider
- The type of project. Some troops prefer projects that have lasting significance and they are more likely to encourage and support those that involve semi-permanent or permanent structural work: building park benches, clearing trail heads, etc. Others approve event-type projects, such as backpack drives, youth carnivals or flag retirement ceremonies. Some troops allow teens to take over an existing event, like a youth group's annual Halloween haunted house, which then becomes an Eagle Scout project every year.
- Funding issues. Some troops - and when I say "troops," I mean troop leaders, fellow scouts and/or their parents - expect scouts to help raise or source the funds for a project themselves. Again, this is an issue on which the national council offers guidelines, but many scout troops have a way of saying things like, "But that's how we've always done it." Plus, your son's peer group - and your peer group of troop parents - can be a judgmental bunch.
- Hours. Some troops have very specific expectations about hours expended and those expectations run the gamut. Some say it explicitly: 40 hours for the Eagle Scout applicant, for example, and another 50 hours spread out over at least five other scouts, whose work is supervised by the prospective Eagle. Others simply specify a "major project" that involves "leadership," without stipulating specific hours or manpower.
- Location, location, location. Some troops prefer projects that are done within the scout’s own community. Others, particularly in more affluent areas, may prefer projects to be done in areas of greater need.
- The binder. The one area where every council seems to agree upon is in the creation of the Eagle project binder. Every document, every sketch, every photograph and journal entry goes into that binder, so make sure your son jots down every phone call he makes and every hour he or one of his worker bees spends on the project.
More About Earning Eagle Scout Rank
- A Sampling of Eagle Scout Projects
- How to Assemble an Eagle Scout Binder
- 21 Merit Badges Required for an Eagle Scout
- Helping Your Son Earn Scout Badges
- The Value of Earning Eagle Scout Rank