Of all the Boy Scout ranks, Eagle Scouts hold the highest regard. Being an Eagle Scout means that a young man has been with the Boy Scouts of America for a significant period of time and that he has proven himself to embody the characteristics that make Scouting so special: good citizenship, personal fitness, and self-development. Only five percent of Boy Scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy path, and there are many requirements to be met before the honor is bestowed upon a candidate.
The first requirement for becoming an Eagle Scout is to have progressed through the lower ranks of the Boy Scouts. The ranks preceding Eagle Scout, from lowest to highest, are Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life Scout. Each rank progression has its own requirements, represented by various merit badges.
After achieving the rank of Life Scout, a potential Eagle Scout must meet several requirements. They must remain active as a Life Scout for at least six months. They must show that they have lived, and continue to live, by the oath they give as a Scout. This is proven by providing the names of people who are able to speak to your abilities and attitude, who will be contacted as references. Potential references can be anyone with whom a potential Eagle Scout has a relationship. Possibilities for references include employers, teachers, religious leaders, and parents. On top of this, potential Eagle Scouts must earn an additional ten merit badges on top of the 11 that they have already attained on their path to Life Scout.
Potential Merit Badges
Merit Badges are earned throughout Scouthood. There are thirteen categories from which potential Eagle Scouts can earn badges.
- First aid
- Family life
- National citizenship
- Local citizenship
- World citizenship
- Emergency preparedness or lifesaving
- Sustainability or environmental science
- Swimming, hiking, or cycling
- Personal fitness
- Personal Management
Potential Eagle Scouts are also required to show their ability to lead others. This is proven by doing one of several possible activities, as a Life Scout, for at least six months. Potential leadership opportunities include being in a leadership position in a Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team, or Venture crew. Troop leadership positions include patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow representative, chaplain aide, den chief, scribe, quartermaster, and librarian, among other positions. Leadership opportunities on a Varsity Scout are similar. On a Venturing crew, becoming the president, vice president, treasury, boatswain, yeoman, storekeeper, or other such position meets the leadership requirement.
Life Scouts are also required to show community involvement and leadership two additional ways. They must lead a group in a service project that benefits an organization other than the Boy Scouts. They must also take part in a Scoutmaster conference and finally complete a review by the Eagle Scout board.
As a Boy Scout progresses through each rank, he must take part in a Scoutmaster conference. Progressing to the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout is no different. These conferences are designed to help advancing Scouts set personal goals that line up with their abilities and skills. Scoutmasters work with the boys to analyze progress on current goals and set up new goals.
A requirement for community service is present in all ranks of Boy Scouts starting in the Star rank. The requirement begins with lower-level responsibility in community service projects, and gradually adds more responsibility with each rank. At the same time, the Scout must show leadership within his own troop.
Advancement in the Scouts
There are four steps associated with each level of advancement in the Boy Scouts. First, the Scout must learn. His education will come from his fellow Scouts, as well as from his own participation in the program. The Scouts are well known for learning by doing. Next, the Scout must be tested. This test can come in the form of verbal response, or as a demonstration of skills. After this, the Scout can be reviewed. This review includes an assessment of the Scout’s attitude, his embodiment of Scouting ideals, and the skill on which he is being assessed. Finally, the Scout is recognized for his achievement. This step typically includes the presentation of a merit badge.