The Eagle Project

Recently I had a chat with a number of the Scouts in my troop about their Eagle Projects.  Landscaping, fence building, compost bins, flag pole/ memorials etc… were among the list of ideas that hit the table as these young men begin the process of completeing their Eagle requirements.
There is a trend that I have noticed lately within our District and reading about other Eagle projects within our Council that the Scouts seem to be really taking the easy way out, what I mean by that is very little thought or imagination is going into the projects.
Now to be fair, the requirement (of which a Scoutmaster can not take away.. nor add too) is this;
While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project should benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) The project plan must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and troop committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement.
So thats it.. that is the requirement.. but what is the intent or reason for doing a service project?
Is it so that lots of things get done in our communities?  Is it to teach the Scouts to be of service to the community?  I mean, really, they should have learned that by First Class.  The first line of the requirement says “PLAN, DEVELOP, and GIVE LEADERSHIP”.
And that is the discussion I had with the soon to be Eagle Scouts of my troop.  The intent of the project is not to spread bark dust or build park benches.  The reason they do the project is to demonstrate leadership.
I told our young men that no matter what the project, they should challenge themselves in leadership.  If they insist on bark dust and building fences, make sure that they go through the process of planning, developing the plan, to include resources (man, material, and money) and then Lead.
I think the problem I have with the easy “Cookie cutter” Eagle projects are that they are so easy, that even your average 14 year old really does not get a challenge out of it.
I am not suggesting it be too hard that it overwhelms the young man, but what is this Scouting thing all about?  Learning.. a Game with a purpose.. Character… all of that.  Well, then they need to be challenged in what is the most significant life lasting achievement in Scouting.
Again, we can not add or take away from the requirements, but we can suggest that our young men learn something as they become Eagle Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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2 thoughts on “The Eagle Project

  1. I'd keep in mind that we Scoutmasters see a lot of projects but Eagle candidates do only one. For them it is a new, exciting and challenging experience. I think that is why the project workbook says:Does the leadership service project for Eagle have to be original, perhaps something you dream up that has never been done before? The answer: No, but it certainly could be. As time goes by I am becoming more conscious of the difference between coercion and encouragement. There have been a number of instances when Scouts have taken what I suggest as a direction rather than a suggestion.

  2. Great comment Clarke. I think you are spot on with the comment about coercion. I think that in some cases I have seen Scout leaders that end up in that mode because they spend less time mentoring and coaching. That and a misunderstanding of what our purpose as Adult leaders is.I absolutley hate it when Scoutmasters use the Eagle award as a measure of their success.Challanges come in all shapes and sizes and each Scout will be challenged at a different level. It is the good Scoutmaster that knows what that looks like and can coach the young man through his individual challange.Thanks again for the comment.Have a Great Scouting Day!

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