Debunking an Old Scouters’ Tale

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One of my favorite projects for Eagle’s Call magazine is writing about outstanding Eagle projects, typically those that have won the Adams Award at the national, regional or local level. Some projects fascinate me because of their creativity, others move me because of the tragedies that inspired them, and a few awe me because of the jaw-dropping number of hours they took.

When a Scout and his volunteers log hundreds of hours, I like to mention that fact. When a Scout finishes his project in a day or two, I never do. I don’t want to draw the wrath of Scouters who mistakenly think that an Eagle project must take at least 100 hours, 200 hours or some other mythical number.

This old Scouters’ tale comes up so often that the current version of the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook rebuffs it in two separate places. Read the second rebuttal, and you get a sense of the frustration members of the BSA Advancement Committee must feel:

If you have been told you must meet a minimum number of hours, then you may lodge a complaint with your district or council. If you have given leadership to an otherwise worthy project and are turned down by your board of review solely because of a lack of hours, you should appeal the decision.

Section of the BSA’s Guide to Advancement (which every Scouter should study carefully) says much the same thing:

No unit, district, council, or individual shall place any requirement or other standard on the number of hours spent on a project. The Boy Scouts of America collects data about time worked on Eagle Scout service projects only because it points to a level of excellence in achieving the BSA aim related to citizenship.

There’s an old medical school joke you’ve probably heard: What do you call someone who finished last in his med school class? The answer: “Doctor.” It’s the same with Eagle Scout candidates. Whether they spent 10 hours or 1000, they are equally qualified to wear the Eagle Scout badge, assuming they met all the real requirements–not those invented by old Scouters.


Need more great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.

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