Selecting, Planning, and Executing Your Eagle Service ProjectEdit
The capstone to the entire process that a Scout undertakes from the very first day he becomes a Scout is one of the most daunting tasks that he will ever complete. That task is the Eagle Scout Service Project. As the Requirements for Eagle Scout rank state;
While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to your religious institution, school, or your community. (The project should benefit an organization other than the BSA.) The project idea must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader (Scoutmaster, Varsity Scout Coach, Venturing crew Advisor), unit committee, and by the council or district advancement committee before you start. You must use this Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, No. 18-927D, in meeting this requirement.
Over the ten years since I attained Eagle rank in 1994, I have advised fellow Scouts, helped on their projects, spoken with their Scoutmasters, and even been a part of the Eagle Board of Review. In that time, I have seen projects that were flawlessly executed, and I have seen projects where the young man most certainly did not do his best, nor was he prepared for the outcome.
The Eagle Scout Project Workbook has been designed with the least details possible, opening up interpretation on the local Council or District level, and as any Scouter who has ever worked a District or Council Board of Review will tell you, this leads to a great deal of confusion and frustration on the part of the District or Council Boards of Review, Scoutmasters, and Scouts completing Eagle requirements. In cases where our recommendations are contrary to those of your local Scouting district or council, we encourage you to follow what your local district or council advancement committee has established.
This guide is designed for the Scout and the Scoutmaster, the parent and the benefiting organization head, and all those involved with the selection, planning, and execution of the Eagle Scout Service Project so that we all may benefit a little more from Scouting in the community.
Before You BeginEdit
Most of these steps will be included in a future work describing the process to becoming an Eagle Scout. I am including them here for your benefit, however. In the future, they will be moved to another text entirely.
- Be sure that you have enough time prior to your 18th birthday to continue. Many a time, the Board of Review will see the case where a candidate turns 18 in three months and is rushing to execute a project. Most Boards of Review will not take this circumstance as an extenuating circumstance, so make sure that you budget at least six months to execute a well-planned and well-thought project. My recommendation is to give yourself at least six months to complete the project and prepare for the Board of Review.
- Before executing your project, make sure that a good majority of your merit badges are completed. Environmental Science, Personal Management, Personal Fitness, and Family Life all have timeframes within their requirements. It is far better to start them now while planning your project than wait until the last minute. Once again, leave yourself about six months of time between now and the Board of Review.
- Discuss your plans with your Scoutmaster. Keeping the Scoutmaster informed throughout the process to Eagle will make things a lot easier on you and your Scoutmaster when it comes time to submit the project to the District or Council Board of Review for preliminary approval, final submission, and the final Board of Review.
- If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask your Scoutmaster, other Eagle Scouts in your Troop, or anyone you think might be able to help on your Trail to Eagle.
The requirement, in its most simple form, is to test your leadership skills. Nothing more, and nothing less. So, the details of the project are completely up to you. You will pick the project, approach the group that it will benefit, fund the project, do the work, and then prepare a written report on what you did. So, the project is entirely up to you. Keep in mind, however, the following limits;
- You must lead the project entirely by yourself. This is not your father's project, nor your mother's project, nor your Scoutmaster's project. It is your project, and you are responsible for it.
- The project CANNOT benefit the Boy Scouts of America. It can, however, benefit your chartered partner (the church or school that your Troop meets at), a school, a church, or the community in general.
- The project CANNOT be routine in nature. You cannot cut the grass outside of the school and call it a service project. You could, though, do some landscaping outside of the school.
- The project CANNOT be a fundraiser in itself, however, you can raise funds for materials.
- The project must be planned entirely by you. You cannot use an old Eagle Project plan verbatim, but you can use someone else's idea for it.
- Anyone you choose may help you with your project.
The Internet is a wealth of knowledge on Eagle service projects. I recommend running a basic Google search to find some examples of what some other Scouts have done in the past. If you follow the guidelines above, plus one other major one I'll discuss in a moment, you shouldn't have a problem making yours work.
But most of all, the project must fit you. It must fit your age, your level of maturity, and your level of committment. Most Boards of Review will expect the project to challenge the candidate's capabilities - if the project isn't challenging to you as an Eagle candidate, then you need to pick another project.
Put it on PaperEdit
After you have identified a project idea, and you have discussed it with your Scoutmaster and the other adults at the Troop, it's time to start the paperwork so you can start your project. Remember, you cannot execute your project until it has been approved by four distinct people:
- Your Scoutmaster.
- The head of the organization that your project will benefit.
- The Chairman of the District or Council Board of Review (or the person that generally approves Eagle service projects).
- Council or district advancement committee member.
Also remember, you must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook when you are planning your project. There are electronic copies available at the link above, and I do recommend using an electronic copy to start off with. If you do not have a computer, the old cut and paste method also works. But, regardless, make sure whatever method you use is neat. Use the best grammar possible.
When writing your project up for inital approval, most Scouters recommend including every possible detail so that anyone else could lead your project for you. The intent here is to give as much detail as you can so that the Board can see what it is that you're trying to do. The more detail, the better - most projects are often sent back from the Board for lack of detail or the need to more clearly define a concept or action. Plus, the more detail you provide here shows more effort on your part, which will go a long way with the Board.
- BSA Policies Related To Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project
- Eagle Project Checklist
- scouting.org - The official BSA Website for Scouting in the US.
- MeritBadge.Org - Wikipedia that provides resources to Scouts and leaders in the US.
- USScouts.Org - another volunteer site that provides resources to Scouts and leaders in the US.
- Randy Smith's Eagle Project Planning Guide