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Issue 324 – August 11, 2012

• EAGLE – It’s a No-Brainer!
This is for all Scouts; especially those destined to become Boy Scouts in February 2013. Here’s the big idea: EAGLE’S A NO-BRAINER!

That’s right! Who says you have to earn Eagle just in time for it to be another 18th birthday present, and you never get to wear the Eagle badge on your uniform! Here’s a way to do it in style, with the bonus that you get to be an Eagle rank Boy Scout for at least three years before you hit 18.

Let’s start here: It’s near the end of February and you’ve just earned your Arrow of Light in Cub Scouting and turn 11 right around the same time. You join a troop and earn your Scout badge the very first night, because its requirements are virtually identical to stuff you learned to earn your Arrow of Light rank. That’s also the same night you start on your first Boy Scout rant—Tenderfoot—by doing the personal fitness “baseline” requirement no. 10a. Then you knock off the rest of the requirements and, by the end of March or, at the latest, early April, you have your first board of review and you’re a Tenderfoot.

Then, use the next eleven months, including at least a week at Scout camp over the summer, to complete all of the Second Class and First Class requirements. You’re now right about at your 12th birthday. So, what’s next…?

The minimum tenure times for the next three ranks are: Star, four months; Life, six months; and Eagle, six months. That means, if you really apply yourself and you’re in a troop that encourages and supports you with a quality program, you can be an Eagle Scout just a few months after your 13th birthday.

But let’s “cruise” a little bit. After all, Scouting is hardly the only thing you’re into. There’s church or synagogue or temple stuff; school, including homework and extracurricular stuff; outside sports; and of course hangin’ out, Facebooking, texting, Twittering, and whatever your personal hobbies might be. So let’s take a year each for the next three ranks…

For Star, you get yourself elected Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol Leader, or you volunteer for one of the appointed leadership positions, or offer to be a Den Chief at the pack you came from. Meanwhile, you’re making sure you show up for troop and patrol meetings, and troop outings. You’re also showing up for troop service projects and helping other Scouts in your troop complete their Eagle service projects. Give yourself up to a year for this and you’re a Star Scout by your 13th birthday.

Along the way, you’ve started to earn merit badges, since you’re going to need six for Star, five more for Life, and then ten more for Eagle. Merit badges are fun! You’ll get to meet and work with a great bunch of different Merit Badge Counselors who specialize in each of the merit badge subjects and skills, and who love helping Scouts learn new stuff. Along the way, you’re going to learn about things like first aid and emergency situations; the way your town, country, and the world works and the responsibilities of both citizens and those whom we elect to represent us; communication skills; gaining physical strength and leading a healthier life; knowing how to care for our environment; earning, saving, and managing money; camping; family dynamics and responsibilities; and a hundred more different subjects that you can choose among, from robotics to aviation, chemistry to zoology!

So what’s next after Star…?

Life rank. Earn five more merit badges, take on another leadership position or continue with the one you have, continue helping others, and continue showing up, and Life’s in the bag by your 14th birthday.

Now, it’s on to Eagle…

For Eagle, it’s mostly continuing what you already know how to do: Complete your merit badges so you have 21 including all the required ones, continue being active, hold a leadership position, and so forth. There are a couple of added wrinkles here, like coming up with a list of up to six references, writing a concise “leadership bio,” and writing about what your future life plans are at the moment. And then, of course, there’s the Eagle Scout Service Project.

Now most folks talk about the service project as if it’s a twenty-foot high pole vault bar and the pole’s made of rubber, but it’s not. It’s simply putting together what you’ve learned about service to others and how to lead a group and focusing it on something you’d like to do that would benefit your community. The BSA even provides a “template” for doing this, called the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook. The workbook may look a little intimidating, but it’s not. It simply does a lot of the “pre-thinking” for you, so that you don’t accidentally leave something out that throws a monkey-wrench into what you’ve decided to do. Follow it, fill in the boxes, and you’ve got your concept and then plan; after that, you just follow your own “recipe.”

So now you’ve got your Eagle requirements done, and your 15th birthday’s still a ways off. You’ll conference with your Scoutmaster, just like you did for all five ranks before this, and then you’ll have your board of review, where you’ll really shine!

And that’s it! You’re an Eagle Scout right about your 15th birthday, and you still got to do all the other stuff that makes your life fun and exciting!

So what’s the big deal? Why go for Eagle by 15? Hey, lots of good reasons, and here are a few…

You get to wear your Eagle badge for the next three years, showing everyone you’re a top Scout who knows his stuff.

In high school, sometimes classmates joke about guys who are Boy Scouts… I guarantee you: Nobody pokes fun at an Eagle Scout.

Imagine how proud of you your family’s going to be, and the example you’ll be setting if you have any younger brothers!  Plus, you’ll be setting a great example for the younger Scouts in your patrol and troop.

You can also keep finding merit badge subjects you’re interested in, earn them, and receive Eagle “palms” for every five more you earn (plus three months of staying active in your troop). If you want to, you can actually earn as many as four Silver Palms for the 60 more merit badges you can earn in those three years!

Think about all the free time you’re going to have in high school, to get on a Varsity team, or marching band, or orchestra, or choral group, math club, chess club, theater, and more.

How about when you want to be a key leader of your church or synagogue youth group!  If you don’t think Eagle will make a difference in your abilities to lead… think again!

When you go to a National Jamboree or attend your council’s NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training), and then the NYLT Leadership Academy, you’ll go as an Eagle!

Same if you decide to go to NAYLE (National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience) at Philmont or one of the NAYLE programs in the Northeast, Central, or Western BSA Regions.

When you decide you’d like to run for election in your high school’s student service club, like Interact or Key Club, or you what to run for president of the student council, Eagle puts you way ahead of the competition!

Think how you’ll feel going to an International Jamboree as an Eagle Scout, and the troop chooses you as Jamboree Senior Patrol Leader!

Imagine taking a Philmont or Northern Tier trek as an Eagle Scout! Or going to Sea Base as an Eagle. These are the guys who get elected Crew Leader!

Finally, and this one may not be important to you now, but I’ll personally guarantee it’s a “topper”… In just a few years, being an Eagle Scout is going to absolutely delight the parents of your date!

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 324 – 8/11/2012 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2012]


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

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