Learn why the BSA changed the Eagle Scout Service Project requirements.
Boy Scouting’s most difficult advancement requirement—the Eagle Scout service project—is also its best documented. Scouts have long used the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook to plan and report on their projects. But the latest revision, published last fall, adds a wealth of important information, including the changes noted here.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE EAGLE PROJECT? To give the Scout an opportunity to “plan, develop, and give leadership to others,” as noted in the requirement. Eagle Scout projects are evaluated on the benefit to the organization being served and on the leadership provided by the candidate. There must also be evidence of organized planning and development.
DOES THE EAGLE PROJECT HAVE TO BE THE LAST REQUIREMENT FINISHED? No. A Scout can begin planning his project as soon as he becomes a Life Scout. That said, many Scouts find it helpful to focus on merit badges first and the Eagle project second (or vice versa).
CAN A SCOUT DO HIS PROJECT IN ANOTHER STATE OR COUNTRY? Yes.
CAN A PROJECT BENEFIT AN INDIVIDUAL? Only if the larger community also benefits.
CAN IT EARN MONEY? No. However, a Scout can conduct a money-earning project to pay for project materials.
MUST THE SCOUT LEAD A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PEOPLE? He must lead at least two other people, who may or may not be involved in Scouting.
MUST THE SCOUT WORK A CERTAIN NUMBER OF HOURS? Councils or districts may not require a minimum (or maximum) for the scope of the Eagle Scout service project.
DOES THE PROJECT HAVE TO HAVE LASTING VALUE? No. While projects such as building nature trails are popular, projects like planning community festivals are equally valid.
CAN OUR DISTRICT MODIFY THE PROJECT REQUIREMENT? No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add or change requirements or to require additional forms.
HOW MUCH PLANNING MUST THE SCOUT DO BEFORE HIS PROPOSAL IS APPROVED? The new workbook offers a major change: that only a high-level plan is required before the project begins. This proposal represents the beginning of planning, and it must be detailed enough to show reviewers that the project meets the requirement, that it’s feasible, that safety issues will be addressed, and that the Scout has considered his next steps and seems on the right track for a positive project experience.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? Besides the Eagle Scout Project Workbook (No. 512-927, 2011 printing), the best source is the Guide to Advancement 2011 (No. 33088), which is available at Scout Shops and online at scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf.
Wonder why these requirements changed? Reader Dan Rusin of Havre de Grace, Md., sent us a letter to the editor inquiring why the BSA revised the workbook’s requirements. Christopher Hunt, team leader at the BSA’s program impact department, responded with the following message:
The Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook was rewritten to provide definition on the BSA’s intent for this important requirement. It is true the primary reason had to do with a variety of standards implemented across the country, but especially those standards which called for unnecessary detail. According to the new Guide to Advancement, “It is inappropriate to expect a Scout to invest the time required for detailed planning, only to face the prospect of rejection.”
Councils or districts now approve a project proposal, which represents the beginnings of planning. Further planning as necessary for success continues to be important, but is evaluated as part of the project at the Scout’s board of review.
When we look at any advancement requirement, we consider it from the perspective of our three aims. The Eagle Scout service project provides a lesson in each of them. Planning and development is a mental exercise relating to Fitness; giving leadership—as a Scout deals with different people in different situations—tends toward Character Development; and carrying out a helpful project helps build Citizenship.
To assure this multi dimensional result, each of the three project elements, and their related aims, receives equal treatment. Thus, planning is not over emphasized with detail beyond what is necessary.