Birdhouses. Toy drives. Hiking trails. Flag retirement ceremonies. Park benches.
Those words describe just a few of the tried and true Eagle Scout projects that are done by countless Scouts across the country each year. There’s nothing wrong with those ideas, but there’s also nothing that says Scouts can’t be a little more creative.
Or a lot more creative, in the case of Skyler Chapman from Lehi, Utah. Skyler made the local news recently for his truly unique project: fixing a traffic problem in his hometown. According to a Fox 13 report, he used a camera drone and a team of traffic observers to figure out just why traffic was building up for long periods at one particular intersection. (Spoiler alert: the problem was the lack of a dedicated turn lane.) Armed with the data he’d collected and the results of resident surveys, Skyler crafted a plan that he presented to the city council. His project was quickly approved and implemented, and tie-ups are reportedly a thing of the past at the problem intersection.
So how can you get your Scouts to think more creatively when they’re looking for Eagle projects? One option would be to have them look around their community for problems that need solving. Another would be to encourage them to talk with local nonprofit leaders about what’s on their wish lists. You could also suggest they spend some time browsing the Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase.
Then, when they come back to you with some apparently harebrained idea, don’t reflexively say no. Evaluate the idea against the actual advancement requirement, not against your experience and preconceived notions. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the project requirement:
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.
Will your Scouts do projects that end up on the evening news? Perhaps not. But perhaps they’ll do projects that excite them more than the same old projects everybody else in the troop seems to do.
And who knows? One of them might even do a project that cuts your evening commute!
Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.