Eagle Scouts

The Eagle Scout Award, the highest award in Boy Scouting, has been awarded to young men for more than 100 years. Since 1912, approximately 4 percent of men who were Boy Scouts have earned the award, totaling approximately 2 million young men who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Over the years, requirements for the Eagle Scout Award have changed to meet the needs of the time; however, certain elements of the program have remained true from the original Eagle Scout requirements. A Scout must demonstrate citizenship and caring for his community and others, leadership qualities and outdoor skills that show his self-sufficiency and ability to overcome obstacles. Today, a Scout must earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than required for the Life rank), including these 13 merit badges:

(a) First Aid, (b) Citizenship in the Community, (c) Citizenship in the Nation, (d) Citizenship in the World, (e) Communication, (f) Cooking, (g) Personal Fitness, (h) Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving, (i) Environmental Science OR Sustainability, (j) Personal Management, (k) Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling, (l) Camping, and (m) Family Life. 

Beyond the merit badges, an Eagle Scout candidate must also plan and carry out a service project to benefit the community. In addition, he must have held a troop leadership position during his Scouting tenure. Finally, each Eagle Scout candidate undergoes a rigorous review in which his district, council and troop leaders evaluate his “attitude and practice of the ideals of Scouting.” Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout must happen before a Scout’s 18th birthday.

Eagle Scouts: Merit Beyond the Badge

By Sung Joon Jang, Byron R. Johnson and Young-II Kim
Baylor University, October 2010

This nationally representative survey revealed significant differences between Eagle Scouts and other Scouts as well as non-Scouts. Eagle Scouts consistently indicate their experience in Scouting contributed to positive and prosocial development as measured by responses to a wide range of issues and subjects, including the following:

  • Eagle Scouts exhibit an increased tendency to participate in a variety of health and recreational activities.
  • Eagle Scouts show a greater connectedness to siblings, neighbors, religious community, friends, co-workers, formal and informal groups and a spiritual presence in nature.
  • Duty to God, service to others, service to the community and leadership are traits that are especially strong in Eagle Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are more likely to engage in behaviors that are designed to enhance and protect the environment.
  • Eagle Scouts are more likely to be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals.
  • Eagle Scouts show higher levels of planning and preparedness than do other Scouts and non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are more likely than other Scouts and non-Scouts to indicate they have built character traits related to work ethics, morality, tolerance and respect for diversity.

In summary, when compared to Scouts and non-Scouts, Eagle Scouts exhibit significantly higher levels of health and recreation, connection, service and leadership, environmental stewardship, goal orientation, planning and preparedness and character.

Eagle Scout Study