When a boy named Arthur Eldred became the first Eagle Scout in August of 1912 in New York, it came as a surprise to Boy Scouts of America officials. In fact, leaders of the BSA were focused on building the organization’s reputation and membership; they thought it would be years before a Scout earned the award, says Bill Steele, director of the National Eagle Scout Association.
“Then, out of the blue, Eldred completed the requirements much quicker than they ever expected,” Steele says.
A century later, Scouting is more than ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award. The award is the theme of this summer’s National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State University. Steele says the conference will include Eagle Scout-themed parties, classes, appearances by well-known Eagle Scouts, and a parade honoring Eagles.
In addition, the BSA has created a special Eagle badge for those completing boards of review in 2012 (at top left). Steele says the badge should be “pretty darn popular,” and he’s got statistics to back that up. From 2005 to 2010, a record number of Scouts earned Eagle. Then, in 2011, the numbers dipped, Steele says. “A lot of Boy Scouts probably decided to slow it down a bit and get [the award] in the anniversary year. We’ll likely see a real surge this year.”
To commemorate the anniversary, a display frame of all 15 Eagle Scout badges is available for purchase through the BSA Supply Group ($199.99; No. 614812). A selection of these badges can be seen at right.
No matter what year the award is earned, its value is timeless, adds Steele. “In 100 years of the Eagle Scout award, the name and logo—a symbol of America, a bald eagle—has stayed the same. The name ‘Eagle Scout’ stands for something very powerful,” he explains. “It stands for kinship, fellowship, and a network of other men who stepped up to the challenge and achieved something great.”
Order in the Court
What’s Scouting’s greatest moment? For many Scouts, it’s the Eagle Scout court of honor. So make sure he gets the well-planned and memorable event he deserves.
Now, just in time for the Eagle Scout Award’s 100th anniversary, author (and Eagle Scout) Mark Ray has released the third edition of The Eagle Court of Honor Book (BSA catalog No. 614446), a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about this important ceremony.
“Every court of honor is a learning experience,” Ray says. “I’ve revised and refreshed content throughout the book, adding ideas readers have submitted and lessons I’ve learned over many years of planning courts of honor.”
The new edition includes eight complete ceremonies, nine planning checklists, 20 pages of charges, poems, and quotations, and much more. Pick up your copy today for $14.95 at
eaglebook.com or scoutstuff.org.