During the years when I served as an Eagle Coach and District Project Approval Chairman in the Mount Nebo District, the most common question I was asked was, “How do I pick an eagle project?” or “How can I know if the project I want to do will be approved?”
This answer can be found in the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook. My response was always the same: “The first thing that you AND your parent(s) should do, is read the workbook completely. Once you have done this, we’ll talk again and pick a project you want to do.”
As an Eagle Coach, I made a practice of reading the entire workbook 3-4 times per year just to refresh my memory. This also helped me know when to approve a project or suggest that more work was needed to qualify. I cannot over emphasize the importance of this course of action for scouts, parents, and leaders.
The Workbook states: “Before completing any of the four forms, read with your parent or guardian, the ‘Message to Scouts and Parents or Guardians‘ on pages 5 and 6. If your project is worthy and meets Eagle Scout requirement 5 as written, the message will help you successfully present your proposal through the approval process.” Reading these two pages is the minimum a scout and parent(s) should do; but, you ought to read the whole thing. The workbook is the definitive source and filled with good information regarding what kind of projects will be approved.
It is also stated in the Workbook: “Eagle Scout projects must be evaluated primarily on impact—the extent of benefit to the religious institution, school, or community, and on the leadership provided by the candidate. There must also be evidence of planning and development.”
- The scout must show that he is planning this project himself.
- The scout must show that he is developing the project himself.
- The scout must show leadership himself.
There are a few other requirements enumerated in the workbook which must be followed (such as doing projects for a non-profit organization), but those three items above are the basics. Let’s look at each of them in more detail.
If a scout approaches an organization and asks if there is an Eagle project he can do, and if the organization has a planned project for him or tells the scout that he only needs to provide labor or other prescribed assistance, this will not be a valid eagle project. The scout must be the one to plan out the project (even with an organization’s help).
Should a scout choose a project that is his parents’ idea, for example, and proceed to follow his parents’ direction, simply performing the work; this would not satisfy the developing requirement of an Eagle project. There is nothing wrong in getting ideas from parents and/or others, but each scout must build on it and make the project his own. The workbook also specifies that it should not be routine labor. Routine labor does not provide an opportunity for the scout to develop any part of the project.
In past experience, I’ve seen scout after scout get a project approved, then be afraid to get other people involved. The scout then proceeds to complete all the work on his own. It is important to remember that the project is not the important thing. It is the growth process and the experience the scout will gain in exercising leadership and learning how to be a leader. In order to show leadership, a scout needs to get others from the community involved. He should not perform all the work. He should direct and lead the project, not just do it himself.
It is asked in the workbook: What Is Meant by “Give Leadership to Others …?”
“Others” means at least two people besides the Scout. Helpers may be involved through scouting or otherwise, and of any age appropriate for the work. Councils, districts, and units shall not establish requirements for the number of people led, or their make-up, or for time worked on a project. Most importantly, an Eagle candidate must exhibit leadership.
In conclusion, there is no set number of hours required for an Eagle project. I have seen projects range between 70 – 1,800 hours. Pick a project of which you will feel proud; one that will challenge you; and one that will show the Eagle Board that you intend to plan, develop, and show leadership, and it will be approved.