Mr. Scoutmaster…..What’s a good Eagle Project?
Let’s start by looking at your Scoutbook…..Eagle Requirement Number 5 says:
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 must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement.
So, what do you think that means?
I guess I have to be a Life Scout before I can start my project.
Almost….You can start to think about your Project before you are Life and share your ideas and get input before you are Life, but you must be a Life Scout before you start the Planning and Approval Process required by the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook.
So is that it?....Make Life, complete the Workbook, get it approved and knockout the Project?
Yes, but a bit over simplified. By the time you’ve made Life, you fully understand the meaning of the Scout Oath and Law, have learned Leadership as you’ve progressed through the ranks and know the meaning and importance and honor of the Eagle Scout Rank. You should consider all of this, as you work to select a Project.
I can think of lots of Projects to do around town for my school, my church, maybe at a Park. I’ve seen pictures in the papers of other Eagle Scouts who painted fences and flag poles, or built benches in a park or school. …..or maybe a Fundraiser for the Cancer Society or Red Cross.
Fundraisers are not allowed and neither is regular maintenance, like pulling weeds or periodic painting. These are all good ideas to start with, but I’d really like you to give some thought as to whom your project will help and the impact it will have on the community. I like to see Scouts find Community Service Projects which help people and organizations with a real need (and in today’s connected society……”Community” is really the whole world). I also like to see Projects where the Scouts you are leading, learn from the experience, by being exposed to people and situations they would not come in contact with in their normal routine. Take your bench idea for example. Rather than build benches in our town park, find a school a few towns over, in an underserved community, where they could use the benches and a podium as an outdoor classroom. You could lead you’re workers (fellow Scouts, friends and family) to do the building at home in your garage, then deliver them and plan an activity at the school, and meet the children and teachers who will use the outdoor classroom. This is the kind of Project you can proudly discuss on a college interview, and shows you really understand and live by the Scout Oath and Law.
What is approval process, and how do I know if my Project good enough?
Your Project Proposal is reviewed by a number of people on the way to getting approval, and they all have expectations of what makes a good Eagle Project. There are no requirements for the size of an Eagle Project, the number of hours required to complete a project or the number of people (but at least you and two others) who work on the project. You are required to demonstrate your ability to plan, develop and provide leadership on the project you select. I’d like you to find a Project that will be a challenge to accomplish, one you will be proud to have completed. It must be your Project, and you must take the lead in doing the work. For starters you can talk to me as your Scoutmaster, and we can brainstorm for ideas. You may need to go talk to the organization you will do the project for, to make sure they like the idea, and see if they have any particular requirements. Next step is to select an Eagle Project Mentor which can be any of the dad’s in the Troop, who will help you complete the Eagle Service Project Workbook. Then you submit the Workbook to your Project Sponsor, Committee Chair and Scoutmaster for their review and approval. Then the completed Workbook is submitted to the District Advancement Committee for a final review and approval. Once you have the District okay, you can start work on your Project. I know this sounds a bit complicated, but your Eagle Project Coach will help you….and in some Troops there are additional resources, like an Eagle Project Review Committee, who review and comment on the Workbook before the Committee Chair and Scoutmaster sign.
So once I get District approval, I do the Project and I’m Eagle?
Not so fast…..your Project should take a while to complete, maybe a few weekends over a month or longer. Your sponsor must sign off on your Workbook, indicating they accept your Project and it is completed. Remember, you must complete your Project, all your Merit Badges and Leadership Assignment before your 18th birthday, so timing is important. Once you have all the requirements done, you have one last Scoutmaster Conference, and then an Eagle Board of Review. A representative from the District will be present at your Board of Review, and the Board must be satisfied you completed all the Eagle Requirements (and accept your completed Project), before you are awarded Eagle.