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 meet specific requirements ranging from tenure in a unit and leadership positions to the earning of 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.
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: