How Long It Takes to Become an Eagle Scout

Timeline for Going From Boy Scout to Court of Honor

Eagle Certificate

Jackie Burrell

An Eagle Scout applicant must amass ​​21 or more badges, create and complete an Eagle project, write several essays, request five recommendation letters, compile an application binder, and undergo an Eagle board of review before his (and as of February 2019, her) application is approved at the national level. The process typically takes several years, with the most intense and time-consuming aspects coming in the last three to six months.

Here's what your Scout and you need to do and when:

Tenderfoot to Life

Tenderfoot is the second rank for Scouts and it's the first advancement one can make on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout (Life is the rank that precedes Eagle). Preparing for and chipping away at this goal early on can prove helpful. To that end:

  • As a boy advances from the earliest stages of scouting, as a novice Scout and then Tenderfoot, up through Second Class, First, Star, and Life levels, he'll be completing various advancement projects and working on merit badges. Have your child set aside a file to corral all related paperwork (advancement reports, blue badge cards) he may need later.
  • Have your child start a list of activities and jot them in the back of the Scout handbook or add them to a computer file. However you want to keep track of them is fine as long as he (or you) writes down every campout (location and number of nights), service project, leadership position, and badge. You'll both be profoundly grateful for that master list when it's time to submit the binder, which is what gets evaluated.
  • Encourage your Scout to complete two or three Eagle-required badges a year, and heed advice from those who have been through the process as to which to do and when.

Six Months to Eagle

A Life Scout who has completed all of the badge requirements and served in a leadership position for a minimum of six months can complete the path to Eagle process in three to six months, depending on the time of year and any other commitments on his or her time.

Trying to do this while working on college applications or taking six advanced-placement classes is not recommended. But starting the Eagle project and binder work near the end of sophomore or junior year is an excellent plan:

  • Your Scout should get the Eagle application booklet and begin filling out the application form, paying close attention to the requirements.
  • Get the recommendations component underway.
  • Begin considering Eagle projects, which are opportunities for Scouts to demonstrate leadership while performing a project that benefits the community. Be careful to consider not only the national guidelines but the particular quirks of his own troop and council. Your Scout should meet with his troop's Eagle advancement advisor to discuss his thoughts and begin getting the necessary council approval for his project.
  • Start the project, being careful to hang on to every document and to record time spent in every phase. These elements are critical components of the binder.

Three Months to Eagle

The Eagle project should be nearing completion. It's time to begin work on some important documents:

  • Your Scout should start writing up the project report, including a detailed breakdown of hours and tasks. It's helpful to borrow a completed, approved binder from an Eagle Scout friend to see an example of how it's done.
  • The Scout should now write the statement of purpose and ambition, a page-long essay, and the religious essay, if necessary.
  • Start compiling the advancement record, personal data sheet, and any additional paperwork for the binder.

Two Months to Eagle

The heavy lifting has been done. At this stage, the Scout should be focused on final touches and submitting his application.

  • Your Scout should finish the binder and meet with the troop Eagle advisor. Have your troop unit leader and committee chair sign off on the application and binder.
  • Submit the binder to the council and get proof of acceptance. Schedule the Eagle board of review, which, unlike a normal advancement board, is held at the council, not troop level.
  • Double check every element of the Scout uniform, from socks to kerchief slide, belt, regulation pants or shorts, and shirt. Make sure all badges have been sewn on correctly.

The Board of Review

The Eagle board of review is not held at troop headquarters, so make sure your Scout gets the right address and figures out where it is well ahead of time to ensure that he arrives on time or—better—a few minutes early. Many parents attend with their kids to offer moral support. If you go, you will be expected to wait outside. Afterward, assuming all goes well, you will be congratulated along with your son or daughter.

The review board typically consists of three council leaders. Your child's scoutmaster or unit committee chairman enters with your child and introduces him. Then the board asks questions, typically about your child's scouting experiences, Eagle project, the things he enjoyed most about scouting and, sometimes, what aspects he would improve or what merit badge he would like to see added.

As intimidating as the whole thing may appear ahead of time, the actual experience tends to be a fairly comfortable chat, a chance to review and revel in everything that brought your child to this point. Your child should be polite, respectful, and tactful, and should remember to express his thanks, both to the review board and his troop leaders.

The date of a successful Eagle board of review is the date of the formal conferring of Eagle honors. The binder still goes on to national headquarters for review, but barring unforeseen circumstances, this should be a formality.

The Eagle Court of Honor

Once the application has been approved at the national level, most troops start laying plans for the Court of Honor, a formal ceremony honoring the troop's newest Eagle scouts.

Was this page helpful?