Eagle Scout Projects -What's the dope?

Whenever I read about some young man attaining this highest of scouting honors I have to wonder about the project they have chosen to enrich the community. A wooden picninc table? A wooden bench? Landscaping dirt mounds at the VFW hall? Is that it? What would Buzz say about it?

I don’t expect the moon, but I expected more. I thought Eagle was the toughest rank to acheive yet what gives with the easy/peasy little projects. How tough is it to tackle building a park bench? IS Eagle Scout still considered a prestigious accomplishment today, one that will be put on a resume or even listed in your obit( I just read one old guy’s obit today, he was a very successful business man, established charitable foundations etc etc, AND he was an Eagle Scout, though I doubt he built a bench…)

Is it easier to gain that rank today than in the past? Eagle Scout Dopers would you share your experiences?

I was an Eagle Scout. I did Projects for each rank above First Class, and I can’t recall what they all were. I know that for one of them I completely re-arranged and coordinated all the books in our town’s library. I was a regular library user, and it frequently annoyed me to find that the books were severely out of order. Our town librarians were older women, much imposed upon, so it wasn’t surprising.

I’m not sure if that was my Eagle project (I don’t think it was), but that’s the type of thing called for. It was a help to the community and it was definitely needed.

What sort of thing were you expecting? Balancing the town’s books? Re-routing a waterway? Have you tried landscaping mounds of dirt or building a bench, by the way? It’s a bit of work.

By the way I am a homeowner so yeah, I am familiar with a “bit of work”. I have not built a park bench but I have helped heft dozens of landscape timbers, build a garage, a wooden playset, install cabinets, lay flooring, carry in appliances and load crap to take to the dump.

And to answer your question, Yes I am expecting BIG things from an Eagle Scout otherwise what’s with all the fuss aobut it? It’s not like the bench builders are doing something any other group of volunteers couldn’t whip out in one weekend.

Can you give a for instance?
The work of becoming an Eagle Scout isn’t in the final Project, which is expected as a final capstone. It’s in earning the 21 merit badges required for that rank (along with the expected duties of helping run the troop – not explicitly stated, but if you’re in Scouting long enough to get 21 merit badges you’re probably in Senior Patrol by then.)
Listings of Eagle Scout Projects, by the way, from scouting sites:

http://www.scoutorama.com/project/

http://www.boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/eagle-scout-projects.asp

http://www.eaglescout.org/project/eagleprj.html

I work in municipal government, so we often get requests from Eagle Scout candidates to help them choose a project. They are often related to Public Works (parks, signs, landscaping, recycling, cleanups). This seems to be because they are 1) manageable for a young adult to handle; 2) are “visible” to the community; and 3) are small projects that are usually the type put on the back burner for a municipality, so we appreciate it being “taken off our hands” by volunteers.

I think the best ones are when the Scout organizes a group of boys to complete the project; it helsp him develop and demonstrate leadership skills, organizational skills, and problem-solving skills. It’s not so much the actual result, but the work involved to get it completed satisfactorily.

We had one where the Eagle Scout organized a bunch of scouts to go around town and remove signs from all the telephone poles (unsightly, and also illegal), and another who organized scouts to create nature trails at a local park. Yes, these are seemingly “minor” projects (the telephone pole signs would be back up in a couple of weeks), but the Scout learned a lot from the implementation - hopefully he learned skills he’ll carry forward to his career and life.

I’m an advancement coordinator for our Cub scout pack, and did not attain Eagle when I was in scouts…here’s what I can contribute:

  1. There are good Eagle scouts and bad eagle scouts. You can have someone that did all the requirements, get the badge, and amount to nothing…You can also have Buzz Aldrin.

  2. Scouting is NOT about hitting Max Score and attaining all the merit badges. It’s about exposing the kids to good role models, giving them experience in areas they wouldn’t normally have access to, (and here is where it deviates from your yardwork example), do things for other people.

The goal isn’t to end world hunger, the goal is to look beyond your selfish self-interests and do something for other people. Beyond that, it’s to assist in the guiding of kids to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Brave, Clean and Reverent(*)

  • = which is surprisingly NOT necessarily Christian in nature.

Attaining Eagle takes a LOT of work, creates a pretty desirable kid, and can be a short-cut codeword for: This boy’s alright.

My project was to rebuild a trail area, building erosion control barriers and other improvements. It all had to be done by hand. I had an army of guys that I had to organize and motivate to finish. I think that last part was the real learning experience.

I see, by the way, that the leadership part now is explicitly stated in the requirements for Eagle Scout. It wasn’t when I got mine, but was still expected.

Which is more or less the ides of an Eagle Scout project. It is not supposed to be public works program that will provide electricity to the Tennessee Valley. Or even a lasting piece of work. It is supposed to be a project that improves the community and one that requires the boy to use leadership skills to accomplish.

One project I worked on was a two day clean up of a vacant lot. Nothing was done that a city work crew could not have done in less time. But, the project required the coordination of volunteers and equipment, providing refreshments on a hot Texas day, and arranging for debris to be hauled away.

My project was building toy storage for a women’s shelter. It was a much more low key affair. But I still had to arrange for the materials and get other scouts to come to my house and help build and stain the cabinets. I had to work with the shelter on delivery and installation, as they understandably wanted to keep the disruption to a minimum and keep the location known to as few people as possible.

There are some Eagle Scout projects that are very elaborate, but most are not or at least are not meant to grab attention. Its not the size of the project, its that the boy has undertaken to lead the project at all.

Mine was to build a picnic area (AND picnic tables, by God…although there were 6 of them) and a kick-ass baseball field on a community church’s unused land. The local kids used both for years. Made me proud, and was great experience. It’s odd being 16 and calling up local businesses to hit them up for donations of material, but I got all of it. Every telephone pole and length of chain link fence for the backstop, every ounce of sand and dirt for the infield; everything was donated. And, of course, I coordinated the volunteers and we built it in two long weekends of work.

This is a required difference between a project for Eagle, and a project for the rank of Star or Life. A project performed for the rank of Eagle is specifically supposed to provide and opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate leadership/organizational skills; he’s supposed to be in charge of the project to a much greater degree than if he were working toward Star/Life.

As I recall, this requirement was explicitly stated in the Boy Scout Handbook.

Park Bench? The Eagle candidate would be expected to coordinate with park officials as to where the bench will go, and obtain approval of the design (even if he didn’t necessarily design it himself). He’d be expected to coordinate the efforts of other scouts working on the project, and coordinate the presence of the necessary tools and adult supervision (if needed). OTOH, a scout working toward Star or Life rank who needs project hours could simply be one of the manual laborers taking directions from the Eagle candidate.

I am an Eagle Scout. I ran a project organizing service hours for scouts, spending time running social programs at a local nursing home. Leadership/organization involved coordinating schedules between scouts and the needs of the nursing home, and organizing the efforts of the scouts who were working there at any given time. It was maybe not the most amazing Eagle project out there, but the folks who make decisions about these matters were satisfied. This was in 1988.

I built a sandbox for mine. A lot of people raise an eyebrow to that, because it doesn’t sound like much. It certainly wasn’t the most grandiose eagle project I’d ever heard of, and I wasn’t exactly the most motivated scout, but it ended up being a lot more involved than I realized.

Like DivineComedienne said, I got the project from the local government, who seemed happy to get it off their hands. This involved making a meeting with the city manager or whatever they called him and discussing his list of potential projects. The city provided all the materials, and in that respect I felt like I’d lucked out, but I did have to coordinate delivery. My first day was a disaster – I’d failed to secure enough help. I planned better for the following weekend, and then had to finish up on a 3rd.

Again, it wasn’t the most impressive project, but it did trick me into underestimating the amount of effort involved, and I was exposed to a few new concepts, like public works and motivating a team. Probably nothing I wouldn’t later learn from a summer job, but then I’m not sure what the point of an eagle project is supposed to be. I know I had to get it approved before I started on it, so someone higher up must have decided it was sufficient. I know I was bitter around that time because kids seemed to be getting away with picking up trash on a Saturday or other stuff that I deemed in sufficiently challenging, but I gather other kids were probably saying that about me.

For the record, my sandbox is still there, and my kids play in it every time I go to that park. It’s a neat feeling. And yes, I still put Eagle Scout on my resume. Not because of all the hard work it took, but because of all the weekends I missed socializing like a normal kid.

In both my troops, we used to only count it if you could organize and direct a group of fellow scouts to assist you in the project.

Great one: we refurbed a whole playground, using 20 guys and donated paint/implements.
Bad one: Painting curb numbers. 2 guys, and 1 was the Eagle scout candidate.

I arranged a collection of worn and damaged American flags in my town. It involved distributing information flyers to all of the town residents (~2500 households), obtaining permission for and setting up collection boxes at several locations in town, holding a ceremony to properly dispose of the old flags, and working with a local flag manufacturer to donate new flags for the town’s four schools and library. To do this I had to coordinate the efforts of my ~25 scout troop while working with the various businesses and the town government. When I look back on it, it doesn’t seem like much, but it sure was a learning experience for a 16 year old.

Missed the edit window.

I remember when we had the burning ceremony, which was done on a monthly camping trip, a father of a young scout was clearly not aware of what was going on. He saw us burning the flags from across the campsite and came running up, screaming at us and trying to stomp out the fire. I calmly told him what were were doing and showed him the ceremony plan I had written up based on my research. He got beet red and stormed off back to the adult area of the campsite where the other dads were having a good laugh.

:smiley: Yikes!

My project, which I did for and in conjunction with my local government, involved documenting the amount of litter on our local streets. I had to take slides of a number of local streets (something like 50), project them over a grid, then count the number of pieces of litter in each grid square.

As one of my son’s troop’s Eagle advisers, an Eagle Project can (and often does)require the candidate to spend up to 50-100 hours of his personal time preparing, obtaining permission, coordinating materials, fund raising, drawing plans, and otherwise laying groundwork for the project, before the actual work is commenced. Our Council requires the candidate to meet with a ‘pre-approval’ committee to insure each Scout’s project is worthwhile and ‘weighty’ enough to qualify for Eagle rank.

When you add in the other volunteer hours for the other workers, it can come up to a grand total of 150-200 man/boy-hours from start to completion. And when you consider that these young men are also balancing school, family, (and usually) church life as well, an Eagle Project is quite a feat for those 14-17 year olds to tackle. And, yes, some projects sound rather mundane, but for all those young men, the amount of work that goes into their project is anything but minor.

Sure, but at the same time, I remember a time when the Eagle Scout projects in my troop became much too easy. There was a kid whose dad was a scout executive, and his dad was a hardass go-getter type. He was bound and determined that his son was going to earn his Eagle faster than anyone else in the Area Council. This resulted in him relentlessly hounding the kid to work constantly, and do a quick, shitty project for his Eagle. The troop spent a Saturday repainting lines in the church parking lot, with paint and a line template that his dad bought. After that, there followed a series of “parking lot projects,” where it became routine to spend a day painting some parking lot or other in order to get your Eagle. It was pretty disgusting.

Husband is Eagle, as are two of my ex-boyfriends (still current friends) and three more of my other male friends.

I know it makes a difference to the military, if you join up there.

It also tends to be a shorthand for “is active in community, and is a go-getter” for hiring purposes. I’ve taken applications for 4 very different businesses, and all of them have specified that I flag the Eagle Scouts for the top of the call pile.

I don’t think we do slacker projects around here.

Projects I know of for sure:

Husband: Repacking, grading, and providing in-situ steps for a local hiking trail. Hard-ass work, and took a loooong time to complete. It was a joint project with a lot of other scouts, some going for Eagle, some not. I think each Eagle wannabe took charge of a section of trail and a crew? Something like that. Trail still looks awesome, going on 15 years later.

1st Ex: Some fancy kind of special birdhouses for a nature preserve to attract some special kind of endangered bird. Not hard to build, but he made like 50 of the suckers and had to go traipsing around in wilderness to plant them in the appropriate sites, and then set up a remote monitoring system to insure that they actually got used.

2nd Ex: Community awareness project that got his town to “adopt” a local spillway and clean it up, plant water-purifying weeds, and get local businesses to pledge to keep it litter-free. (He was the least… outdoorsy of my exes.)

1st Friend: Another bird-house project, but this one was in Charleston, and involved some type of sea-dune-protective thingie… apparently it was complicated.

2nd Friend: I recall it having to do with painting some important historic place in his community, but that’s all.

3rd Friend: He was another of the “flag replacement” projects, but he didn’t get yelled at by crazy misinformed patriots. :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t think they collected individuals’ flags, just businesses’. I’m pretty sure it was also a “patriotism drive” to get more local businesses to display flags in the first place, so there was more giving out than collecting anyway.

All of those seem pretty valid choices for a 16-year-old to complete as proof that they’re contributing to their community and that they have leadership and project-management skills.

I also agree that painting a parking lot is pretty slack. Mental note to ASK future Eagle Scout applicants about what their project was. :smiley: