The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance.
The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank. This represents more than 2.25 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1912.
Nevertheless, the goals of Scouting—the mission of the BSA, citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness—remain important for all Scouts, whether or not they attain the Eagle Scout rank.
To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Although many options are available to demonstrate proficiency in these areas, a number of specific skills are required to advance through the ranks—Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. To advance, a Boy Scout must pass specific tests that are organized by requirements and merit badges.
Merit badges signify the mastery of certain Scoutcraft skills, as well as helping boys increase their skill in an area of personal interest. Of the 136 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout.
Of this group, 13 badges are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving, Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming, and Environmental Science and Sustainability.
While a Life Scout, a Scout plans, develops, and gives leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, school, or the community. In addition to providing service and fulfilling the part of the Scout Oath, “to help other people at all times,” one of the primary purposes of the Eagle Scout service project is to demonstrate or hone, or to learn and develop, leadership skills. Related to this are important lessons in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.
Merit Beyond the Badge
One hundred years after Arthur Eldred of New York earned the first Eagle Scout Award, researchers with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) and Program on Prosocial Behavior released findings from a nationwide, scientific survey that demonstrates the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society — from holding leadership positions in their workplaces and neighborhoods to voting and volunteering, and from protecting the environment to being prepared for emergencies.
The study, titled “Merit Beyond the Badge,” found that Eagle Scouts are more likely than men who were never in Scouting to:
- Regularly participate in outdoor and non-outdoor recreational activities in their leisure or free time.
- Be goal oriented and have higher levels of planning and preparation skills.
- Network with others and have closer relationships with family and friends.
- Volunteer for religious and non-religious organizations.
- Donate money to charitable groups and work with others to improve something in the neighborhood.
- Be in a leadership position at their place of employment and in their community.
Famous Eagle Scouts
- Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon
- Stephen G. Breyer, associate justice, United States Supreme Court
- Steve Fossett, world record holder, first person to circumnavigate Earth solo in a hot air balloon
- Bill Gates, Sr., CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates
- James A. Lovell, Jr., retired U.S. Navy officer, former astronaut
- The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, United States senator, Indiana
- J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO, Marriott International
- H. Ross Perot, founder of Perot Systems Corp., former presidential candidate
- Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel
- William S. Sessions, former federal judge, former director of the FBI
- Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning film director
- John Tesh, recording artist and performer
- Togo D. West Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- Dr. Robert M. Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and the BSA’s 35th National President
National Eagle Scout Association
Founded in 1972, the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) maintains contact with Eagle Scouts to sustain their interest in Scouting. Any Eagle Scout may join the association. Applications for membership in NESA are available through your local council, on the BSA Web page (www.scouting.org), or by contacting the Eagle Scout Service at the national office.