The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special
significance, not only in Scouting but also as he enters higher education,
business or industry, and community service. 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; only about 4 percent
of all Boy Scouts do so. This represents more than 1 million Boy Scouts who have
earned the rank since 1911. Nevertheless, the goals of Scoutingcitizenship
training, character development, and personal fitnessremain 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
ranksTenderfoot, 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 more
than 100 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout.
Of this group, 12 badges are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the
Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications,
Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family
Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness and
Lifesaving and a choice among Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming.
At each of his rank advancements, a Boy Scout takes part in a Scoutmaster
conference. These conferences help the Scout to set goals for himself in line
with his individual talents and abilities. At each conference, the Scoutmaster
helps him evaluate how well he accomplished his present goal and then works
with him in setting new goals.
Service and Responsibility
Beginning with the Star rank, and continuing through Life and Eagle, a Scout
must demonstrate participation in increasingly more responsible service projects.
At these levels, he also must demonstrate leadership skills by holding one or
more specific youth positions of responsibility in his patrol and/or troop.
Steps in Advancement
Advancement, one of the eight methods by which the aims of Scouting are
achieved, has four steps through each award level.
First, the Scout learns. Much of his learning comes from other boys in
his patrol or troop and by active participation in troop program. His patrol
activities are directed toward the skills he needs. Every troop hike, camping
trip, or other activity offers potential learning experiences. A Scout learns
to pitch a tent by pitching one, to use a compass by finding directions, and
to cook a meal by having to prepare and eat it.
Second, the Scout is tested. The specific requirements determine the kind
of testing. Verbal testing is sufficient in some instances. In other instances,
a Scout must demonstrate his skills by doing.
Third, the Scout is reviewed. The purpose of the review is to ensure that
all requirements for advancement have been met. This includes a check of the
Scout's attitude and practice of the ideals of Scouting, in addition to his
Scoutcraft skills. The decision regarding whether a Scout has met the required
standards to qualify for rank advancement begins with the troop and, for the
Eagle Scout rank, is approved by the district, local council, and finally,
the National Council.
Fourth, the Scout is recognized. The final step in advancement involves
presentation of the badge, usually at a ceremony before the entire troop.
Boy Scouts With Disabilities
Boy Scouts with disabilities may qualify for the Eagle Scout rank. Each Scout
must earn as many of the required merit badges as he can. He then submits an
application for alternate merit badges. His BSA local council determines the
alternate merit badges for him to earn.
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
or by contacting the Eagle
Scout Service at the national office. An application may also be
downloaded from the BSA Web site.
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award was established in 1969 to acknowledge Eagle
Scouts who have distinguished themselves in business, professions, and service to
their country. Only Eagle Scouts who earned the Eagle Scout rank a minimum of 25
years previously are eligible for nomination. The award is given by the National
Eagle Scout Service upon the recommendation of a committee of Distinguished Eagle
A Sample of Famous Eagle Scouts
- Willie Banks
- Olympian, Former World Record Holder, Triple Jump and Long Jump
- Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr.
- Former Secretary of the Treasury and Former United States Senator, Texas
- Bill Bradley
- Former United States Senator, New Jersey
- Milton A. Caniff
- William C. DeVries, M.D.
- Surgeon and Educator
- Transplanted first artificial heart
- Thomas Foley
- Former Speaker of the House and
- Former United States Congressman, Washington
- The Honorable Gerald R. Ford
- 38th President of the United States
- Michael Kahn
- Stage Director
- Academy Award-Winning Film Editor
- John Koncak
- Center, Orlando Magic, National Basketball Association
- James A. Lovell Jr.
- Apollo Astronaut and Business Executive
- The Honorable Richard G. Lugar
- United States Senator, Indiana
- J. Willard Marriott Jr.
- Chairman of the Board and President, Marriott Corporation
- Sam Nunn
- Former United States Senator, Georgia
- H. Ross Perot
- Founder, Electronic Data Systems Corporation and The Perot Group
- Harris Salsbury
- Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
- Steven Spielberg
- Film Director and Producer
- Togo West
- Secretary of the Army