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How to Become an Eagle Scout

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The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest organizations for male youth development in America. Founded in 1910, this group has ties throughout the country as well as with the larger international scouting community. Boy Scouts of America works to build character, citizenship, and even personal fitness in boys all over the country. Often, Boy Scout activities focus on the outdoors (like camping, hiking and biking) or community service. Boys will usually start as Cub Scouts in the first grade and continue on even through their high school years.

You may be wondering how you can become an Eagle Scout. There are many requirements you’ll need to meet to earn this ranking, but there is also much to be gained from this experience, including organizing and community service experience and valuable practical skills. Keep reading to learn more about the Boy Scouts and the process of becoming an Eagle Scout.

What is an Eagle Scout?

There are seven rankings in the Boy Scouts: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Each rank is earned by completing certain requirements.

An Eagle Scout is the highest rank available within the Boy Scouts. This rank is meant to demonstrate not only practical achievement, but also a high level of moral character, leadership skills, and community service involvement. Because of the time commitment required to achieve this ranking, the majority of Eagle Scouts are usually older than the majority of other scouts, typically in their latter years of high school. The requirements for this ranking must be completed before the Scout’s 18th birthday.

What do I need to do to become an Eagle Scout?

First and foremost, in order to become an Eagle Scout, you need to have been involved in Boy Scouts for at least six months. There are 21 merit badges you must earn, 13 of which are in specific areas. The purpose of these badges is to help scouts determine if they would like to continue to pursue one of these areas as a future career. These 13 specified badges include:

  • Camping
  • Cooking
  • Cycling, Hiking or Swimming
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communications
  • Lifesaving or Emergency Preparedness
  • Environmental Science or Sustainability
  • Family Life
  • First Aid
  • Personal Fitness
  • Personal Management

There is a list of different requirements for each badge. You can check out the different badges and read about their requirements here.

In order to become an Eagle Scout, you must also complete an Eagle Scout Service Project. This extensive community service project will be conceived and carried out by the Scout; its purpose is to allow the scout to demonstrate his leadership skills. Examples of a possible Service Project include restoring a local hiking trail and putting up new signage or running a charitable drive. It’s entirely up to the scout what he decides to focus on for his Service Project, so this can be a great way for a scout to explore his passions and develop essential leadership skills.

You must also be approved by a board of review before becoming an Eagle Scout. Scouts appear before a board in order to discuss whether or not he has fulfilled the requirements to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, and to talk about the quality of his experience.

The process, overall, can be rather long—if you’re thinking seriously about becoming an Eagle Scout, it would be wise to speak to your local leadership and get started on requirements early before you turn 18.

What are the benefits of becoming an Eagle Scout?

Becoming an Eagle Scout can offer you many professional and personal benefits. It’s a well-known award that speaks highly of your leadership skills, community involvement, dedication, and character. Given that this ranking takes a serious amount of time and maturity to complete, it is also a recognized qualification that can be useful for college and scholarship applications.

In joining the Eagle Scouts, you’ll become a part of a community of distinguished adult men–in fact, over forty astronauts have been Eagle Scouts. You can learn more about this community through the National Eagle Scout Association website. There are scholarship opportunities for college available through the Boy Scouts organization, and there is even a possibility of a higher rank in the U.S. military if you ever decide to join: those who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts or have been awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award in the Girl Scouts of the USA will be awarded the rank of Private (E-2) upon joining the military. This rank is typically earned after six months of service.

Aside from all of the resources and connections available to you when you join the Eagle Scouts, joining this organization and completing all of the requirements can be greatly beneficial to one’s personal development. Not everyone can say that they took the time and the effort to better themselves and help their local community. It takes a particularly motivated and dedicated individual to be able to follow through on such a significant commitment and meet all the requirements for this ranking.

If you refer to the list of 13 badges that are required to become an Eagle Scout, they range from swimming to camping to family life to first aid. Boy Scouts are encouraged to develop skills across a broad range of topics—in completing this program, you’ll become more well-rounded and knowledgeable in all sorts of different subjects.

In addition, completing a service project requires you to have problem-solving skills and a strong understanding of what it means to be a leader. Being able to follow through on a labor-intensive project in order to benefit your community is no small feat.

Not to mention the fact that standing before a board of review is nerve wracking even for adults. To be able to do so before you’ve turned 18 demonstrates a serious amount of bravery and resolve. Learning to deal with stressful high-stakes situations at a young age can be extremely useful later in life, especially when it comes time to deal with often dreaded college interviews and job interviews.

In conclusion

Becoming an Eagle Scout definitely isn’t something to be taken lightly. It requires a serious amount of resolve and commitment—that being said, there are many professional and personal benefits to those who decide they want to work hard and earn this prestigious rank. The Boy Scouts are a generally well-regarded organization with a long history of providing development opportunities for young men, and becoming an Eagle Scout is the culmination of what the Boy Scouts stand for. For more information from the official Boy Scouts website about becoming an Eagle Scout, click here.

For more information about extracurricular activities and creating a cohesive college application, check out these blog posts:

What Counts as an Extracurricular?

A Guide to Extracurriculars for Homeschooled Students

Creating a Cohesive Application: How to Stand Out to Adcoms

How Much Do Extracurricular Activities Matter in College Admissions?


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Devin Barricklow
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).