Troop 501 Eagle Scouts

Andrew Jackson - 2011

Project: Recycle Bins at the World Bird Sanctuary

William "Billy" John Fisher, III - 2012

Project: Fire Truck Reading Center at Arnold Branch Library

Christopher "Blake" Hufford - 2013

Project: Flag Pole Installation and Beautification Project at New Hope United Methodist Church

Paul Morton Claeys - 2013

Project: Playground Renovation and Update; Construction and Installation of Benches at New Hope United Methodist Church's Preschool

Drew Vitello - 2014

Project: Development and Installation of interactive, 3-D, educational playground mural at New Hope United Methodist Church's Preschool

Five big takeaways from today’s release of the 2013 Guide to Advancement

2013-Guide-to-AdvancementBy Bryan Wendell, Eagle Scout, senior editor of Scouting magazine.

Here’s one for your browser’s bookmarks bar: The newest edition of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancement released today.

The PDF version contains answers to pretty much any advancement question that might come up, and it’s essential reading for your unit’s advancement chair and others who like to be kept in the loop on all things advancement.

You’ll want to spend some time with this user-friendly guide. Consider downloading the PDF to your tablet for portable reading. Or print off a copy on recycled paper and keep it handy.

There’s so much inside the guide that it’s pointless for me to go into too much detail here. But I did want to draw your attention to five takeaways I gathered from a first look at the guide:

1 – No unauthorized advancement changes (Page 2)

Right there on Page 2, the Guide to Advancement answers one question I hear from quite a few Scouters: “Can my unit tweak this requirement in this way?”

The answer is no. While program elements are customizable at the unit, district and council level, advancement is not. In other words:

No council, committee, district, unit or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with special needs. For details see section 10, “Advancement for Members With Special Needs.”

2 – Significant changes to the 2013 edition (Page 7)

Section is a great service to Scouters who have been handling advancement in their unit for some time.

It painstakingly outlines all of the changes, additions, deletions and clarifications to requirements since the last Guide to Advancement was published in 2011.

On example of a big change is, which now states that:

… [In] situations where a Scout is earning a large number of badges from just one counselor, the unit leader is permitted to place a limit on the number of merit badges that may be earned from one counselor, as long as the same limit applies to all Scouts in the unit.

Other changes apply to the merit badge program, boards of review, the Eagle Scout rank and the mechanics of advancement.

3 – Frequently asked questions (Page 9)

If you have a question about advancement, Section should be your first stop. The questions are organized by program, and the answers are a location within the Guide to Advancement where the full explanation can be found.

What does “active participation” mean? May a Scout choose any registered merit badge counselor? How is the decision of a board of review appealed?

It’s all in there, plus more.

4 – The big picture — and the little one

What I’ve always appreciated about the Guide to Advancement is that it explains the overall aims of the advancement program within the Boy Scouts of America before focusing on the little details. That’s still the case in 2013′s update.

The guide covers the four steps in advancement: learning, testing, reviewing, recognizing. It reminds us all that advancement is just one of Scouting’s many methods, meaning there’s a lot more to the program than badges, belt loops and beads. And it explains that “personal growth is the primary goal.”

It’s only after prefacing the advancement program with those reminders that you get the drilled-down details.

5 – Contact info

If after reading the 100-page guide cover to cover you’re still lost, that’s fine. The guide includes some suggested ways to contact the BSA’s friendly Advancement Team:

Note that the national Advancement Team addresses many questions through its Twitter feed (@AdvBSA) and through the e-newsletter, Advancement News. To subscribe to Advancement News, send your name, email, and council name to

The national Advancement Team is available for recommendations or for questions that cannot be handled locally. Suggested corrections to this publication are also gratefully accepted. Send questions and comments, or mail them to National Advancement Team, Program Impact Department, S209, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, Texas 75015-2079.

Suggestions for new merit badges should be directed to the BSA Innovation Team at

And, of course, I’m always available to help track down your questions for my Ask the Expert series.

What No One Tells You About Your Son’s Eagle Project

12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before My Son Started His Eagle Project

By: Mitchell BanksYahoo! Contributor Network, Jan 19, 2012 “Share your voice on Yahoo! websites. [Edits are bracketed, and in Italics.]

A boy who achieves the rank of Eagle is one who forever will be viewed as a leader, as being capable, competent and independent. You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know that being an Eagle Scout is not only a tremendous honor but also a tremendous achievement. You don’t need to even have children or have ever been in scouting to know what it means to be an Eagle. Being an Eagle Scout can also open doors for a young man, employers and colleges take notice of applications from Eagle Scouts.

Getting to the rank of Eagle is a long and arduous journey; it’s not something you can complete in a week, a month, or a year. It takes years of work and dedication. And that is just to get to the point where you can start your project. The Boy Scouts of America reports than less than 2% of scouts will reach the rank of Eagle. And having just been through the Eagle process with my son I see why.

I never imagined that it would take my son a year to get through the Eagle process, but it did. Along the way my son and I learned some hard lessons and hard truths. Now that he has finished his project and turned in all his paperwork I sat down and wrote a list of things that I wished someone had told us at the beginning.

Finding a Project – The first challenge was actually finding a project. Whatever project he picks it has to be done for a public entity or a non-profit organization such as a church, school or youth group. It has to benefit the community or organization in some way. I was surprised that there wasn’t a list of prospective projects available through the scout council. There was absolutely no help provided by the scout council in finding a project. It took a lot of phone calls and personal visits to parks and local non-profit groups before he found a project. As early as 14 or 15 you and your son should be fleshing out prospective projects by looking around your community. In the end you will probably have more luck talking to friends and neighbors. Somewhere amongst your friends, relatives and neighbors you know someone who is involved in some community group who knows of some project that needs doing. Once you get one, turn over the rest of your list to your troop to help other scouts find a project. [While a Scout must choose a project for himself, there are many resources/ ideas available on the web.]

Qualifying the Project – Once you pick a project it doesn’t mean that what you have chosen will be approved by the advancement committee [in our Council, this approval is left to the District’s Eagle Board]. The project must first be proposed, in writing. You will need pictures, diagrams and a write up. Pictures should be printed with descriptions next to them. Diagrams should have measurements. His write up should reference photos and diagrams by number or letter for ease of reference.

Not a Maintenance Project – This was actually something that I’d never heard of, that an Eagle Project can’t be a Maintenance Project. This was confusing to me and my son because most Eagle projects that I’ve seen involve building, painting or refurbishing something. Yet when my son first turned in his proposal he was told that it did not qualify since it was just a “maintenance” project. He was instructed to re-write it and to use words like “install”, “build”, and “construct” and not “re-furbish” or “fix”. The difference between an Eagle project and a maintenance project is in the write-up.

Demonstrating Leadership – I used to believe that the purpose of the project was simply a giving back to the community. I did not understand how much emphasis was placed on the leadership aspect of the project. Your son will have a much easier time of getting a project approved if he has a couple of paragraphs detailing how leadership will be demonstrated during the project. This was one of the most difficult parts actually for my son because he hates writing about himself.

Details, Details, Details – It’s all in the details. The more detailed the project write-up the better. My son’s project had several appendices for photos (before, during and after), meal plans for workers, safety concerns and first aid, emergency contact numbers for the work site, address and map to the nearest emergency room, work team assignments, permission slips and more. There were pre-written risk assessments and safety briefs, tool sign-up sheets, volunteer sign-up sheets, and draft thank you letters. And the workbook should be completely typed, neatness counts. The more detailed the workbook the more he will demonstrate how much thought has gone in to the project planning.

Getting an Eagle Adviser [Mentor] – It took almost 8 months from the time my son first asked for an Eagle Adviser before one was assigned. I was shocked at how long this took until I spoke to a friend of mine who has two girls who said that when his daughters did their Gold Projects (the Girl Scout equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle project) that it took them months to get their advisers assigned. This is a key feature because without an adviser the boy can’t start his project. Our troop was small and we did not have an Eagle adviser within the troop so they had to get one from the district. My advice would be to make sure that your troop has their own Eagle advisers. You can’t be the adviser to your own son but you can be an advisor for another boy in the troop. So set the example and volunteer now, I just did. [In our Council, a Scout may select his own Eagle Project Mentor. He may not select his Scoutmaster, nor his parents. We have Mentors in our troop. If this process takes more than 30 days, please let an Assistant Scoutmaster know.]

Fundraising – You can’t just pay for your son’s project out of your own pocket [you can, but you should not], your son is supposed to raise the money for his project, at least some of it. And it isn’t supposed to be your son going out and mowing lawns or doing all the labor to earn the money, they’re supposed to demonstrate leadership by organizing and managing some kind of fundraiser. The other thing to remember is that he can’t begin raising money for his project until your project is approved and his Eagle adviser gives him authorization to begin fundraising. On the other hand there are some ways of raising money that you can start at any time without violating the rules. If you want to have a garage sale you can start getting family and friends to donate stuff to you that you just store until ready to sell. My son and I collected cans and bottles for over a year and didn’t recycle them until after he got permission to start fundraising. My neighbor’s son did a garage sale and made over a thousand dollars. The recyclables in my back yard brought in over two hundred dollars. [In our Council, it is permissible to receive donations, directly from family members. Fundraising is not always required.]

Donations – Your son can accept donations for his project but again, the parent shouldn’t be the largest contributor. I did end up donating money from my company to my son’s project, but he also received other donations both cash and materials, plus he had a pizza fundraiser and the recycling fundraiser.

Project Log – Your son needs to log the hours he spends on the project from the moment he decides to do a project. The day he starts looking for a project is the day he needs to start his log. My son kept a log but some months he estimated hours for some items. Your son probably has a account (dad, gmail is so much better that all other mail programs) so have him put stuff on his Google calendar every time he does something.

Confidential Appraisals [Letters of Recommendation] – One thing that we did not know until after my son’s project was done was that he needed to send out confidential appraisals to specific people: Parent, Religious Leader (if any), Employer (if any), Teacher and 2 friends age 21 or older. Had we known he could have done this earlier. We made up the cover letter for the appraisals on the computer and pre-printed envelopes to go with them. We even put stamps on the envelopes to make it easy for the recommenders. These recommendations need to be mailed to your Eagle adviser directly. Get this done sooner rather than later, as soon as your son gets an Eagle adviser have him send these out. [In our Council, the Scout is provided with cover letters and envelopes by the Eagle Scout Association, and our Council. The Scout solicits references, directly, and they are returned to the Scout, in the sealed envelope. The Eagle Project Mentor is not involved in this part of the process. Nonetheless, a Scout should not wait to request these letters, which can be solicited as soon as the Scout has earned the rank of Life, and has decided to pursue his Eagle.]

Save Everything – This goes along with “details”. I’ve been to district roundtables several times and seen Eagle books from a lot of scouts and was surprised how terrible many of them were, and how thin. I’ve watched as boys have explained that they didn’t save the receipts from their project or didn’t get permission slips from participants, didn’t have sign-in sheets. The more he has in his book the better. And make sure that there is at least one parent taking photos during the project work days.

You Can Help – Nothing says that the parent can’t help. It may come in the form of nagging, I mean “reminding”. You may have to help make phone calls, pick up supplies, help them with drawing or with the writing of their workbook to help them find the right words. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate leadership and a good leader is not too proud to ask for help when he needs it.

In the end only one thing matters; and that is that he completes his project and turns in all the paperwork before his 18th birthday. Which my son did just today. He just got back from getting the last signature from his scoutmaster and dropping off his workbook with his adviser. All that is left is his board, which really is merely a formality at this point.


Cooking Merit Badge Becomes Eagle-Required

By Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, senior editor of Scouting magazine, and author of the Bryan on Scouting Blog at


Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, this badge will get a silver border.

Moms and dads, prepare the needle and thread!

Sustainability and Cooking merit badges will join the list of Eagle-required merit badges over the next 14 months, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board announced today.

Sustainability, a new merit badge, will join Environmental Science as an Eagle Scout option after its debut at the 2013 jamboree.

Cooking, meanwhile, will become Eagle-required as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The total number of merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award will remain at 21. In other words, instead of 12 Eagle-required badges and 9 elective badges, a Scout must earn 13 Eagle-required and 8 elective badges.

Why the change? The goal is to “reflect a better balance of the needs of youth and our nation today and in the future,” according to the BSA’s resolution. Personally, I like it. Keeping up with the ever-changing world means questioning the way things have always been done.

Sustainability becomes more important as our population increases while resources decrease. And a boy who reaches Eagle without skills in cooking and healthy eating habits hasn’t become fully “Prepared. For Life.” in my opinion. I think the BSA’s board got it right on here.

What do you think?

For the list of Eagle-required merit badges as it looks now — and as it will look in 2014 — follow the jump.

Current list of Eagle-required merit badges

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

·                     First Aid

·                     Citizenship in the Community

·                     Citizenship in the Nation

·                     Citizenship in the World

·                     Communication

·                     Personal Fitness

·                     Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving

·                     Environmental Science

·                     Personal Management

·                     Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling

·                     Camping

·                     Family Life

List of Eagle-required merit badges, effective Jan. 1, 2014

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

·                     First Aid

·                     Citizenship in the Community

·                     Citizenship in the Nation

·                     Citizenship in the World

·                     Communication

·                     Personal Fitness

·                     Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving

·                     Environmental Science OR Sustainability

·                     Personal Management

·                     Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling

·                     Camping

·                     Family Life

·                     Cooking

Significance of the Eagle Scout Rank

The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting but also as he enters higher education, business or industry, and community service. The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank; only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts do so. This represents more than 1 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1911. Nevertheless, the goals of Scouting—citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness—remain important for all Scouts, whether or not they attain the Eagle Scout rank.


To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Although many options are available to demonstrate proficiency in these areas, a number of specific skills are required to advance through the ranks—Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. To advance, a Boy Scout must pass specific tests that are organized by requirements and merit badges.

Merit Badges

Merit badges signify the mastery of certain outdoor skills, as well as helping boys increase their skill in an area of personal interest. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout. Of this group, 12 badges are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving and a choice among Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming.

Scoutmaster Conferences

At each of his rank advancements, a Boy Scout takes part in a Scoutmaster conference. These conferences help the Scout to set goals for himself in line with his individual talents and abilities. At each conference, the Scoutmaster helps him evaluate how well he accomplished his present goal and then works with him in setting new goals.

Service and Responsibility

Beginning with the Star rank, and continuing through Life and Eagle, a Scout must demonstrate participation in increasingly more responsible service projects. At these levels, he also must demonstrate leadership skills by holding one or more specific youth positions of responsibility in his patrol and/or troop.

Steps in Advancement

Advancement, one of the eight methods by which the aims of Scouting are achieved, has four steps through each award level.

First, the Scout learns. Much of his learning comes from other boys in his patrol or troop and by active participation in troop program. His patrol activities are directed toward the skills he needs. Every troop hike, camping trip, or other activity offers potential learning experiences. A Scout learns to pitch a tent by pitching one, to use a compass by finding directions, and to cook a meal by having to prepare and eat it.

Second, the Scout is tested. The specific requirements determine the kind of testing. Verbal testing is sufficient in some instances. In other instances, a Scout must demonstrate his skills by doing.

Third, the Scout is reviewed. The purpose of the review is to ensure that all requirements for advancement have been met. This includes a check of the Scout’s attitude and practice of the ideals of Scouting, in addition to his Scoutcraft skills. The decision regarding whether a Scout has met the required standards to qualify for rank advancement begins with the troop and, for the Eagle Scout rank, is approved by the district, local council, and finally, the National Council.

Fourth, the Scout is recognized. The final step in advancement involves presentation of the badge, usually at a ceremony before the entire troop.

Boy Scouts With Disabilities

Boy Scouts with disabilities may qualify for the Eagle Scout rank. Each Scout must earn as many of the required merit badges as he can. He then submits an application for alternate merit badges. His BSA local council determines the alternate merit badges for him to earn.

Bass Pro Shops to Partner with Boy Scouts

Troop 501 is  proud to announce that Bass Pro Shops has selected the Boy Scouts of America as a promotional partner for its upcoming 2012 Summer Family Camp promotion.

Bass Pro Shops is inviting every family, friend, and supporter of Scouting to visit the local Bass Pro Shops store at some point this summer from June 9 through July 15, 2012.

In its fourth year, this multi-faceted event gives families the knowledge and ideas they need to maximize their enjoyment of the outdoors. The following events are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends for the duration of the promotion (remember, everything is free!):

  • Workshops for youth (suitable for ages 8 to 12) on subjects like fishing, camping, and archery. Opportunities are available to test youth bows, practice casting, shoot air rifles, and do other activities.
  • Free crafts will be available for children of all ages, including stamping animal tracks, leather stamping, and building and painting a birdhouse. Each Saturday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., families may enjoy making s’mores together over an open fire in front of the store.
  • Families may take home a copy of the Summer Fun Guide, a 52-page magazine produced in conjunction with Field & Stream magazine. It’s chock-full of great information for families.
  • On weekends, families may have their photos taken and retrieve the finished photo from a special website.

The promotion takes place…
It runs in all Bass Pro Shops stores from June 9 through July 15, 2012, and is open to anyone interested in visiting a Bass Pro Shops store during the dates mentioned above. BSA employees, friends, family, volunteers, alumni, and supporters are all welcome!

Scout presence in stores…
At any time during Family Summer Camp (but particularly on weekends, when traffic is highest), Scouts are encouraged to be in the store, in uniform, to talk to customers, solicit membership (youth and adults), and remind visitors of the donation program (explained below). Bass Pro Shops have offered covered, skirted tables and chairs for councils interested in providing coverage and will have in-store signage promoting Scouting.

Merit Badge classes and workshops being conducted…

Bass Pro Shops is uniquely qualified to offer several workshops with merit badge requirements included. Bass Pro Shops offer the Fishing and Rifle Shooting merit badges for Scouts (The fishing workshop does not include the final step of actually going fishing; for the Rifle Shooting merit badge workshop, Bass Pro Shops is using the air rifle option). Each store will select two or more associates to become certified as merit badge counselors, and a supply of blue cards will be available for counselors to sign off on the classes they teach.

Classes will be taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. according to the following schedule:

Tuesday, June 12 Fishing
Thursday, June 14 Rifle Shooting
Tuesday, June 19 Rifle Shooting
Thursday, June 21 Fishing
Tuesday, June 26 Fishing
Thursday, June 28 Rifle Shooting
Tuesday, July 3 Rifle Shooting
Thursday, July 5 Fishing
Tuesday, July 10 Fishing
Tuesday, July 12 Rifle Shooting

Class sizes limited for the Summer Family Camp merit badge classes and workshops
Class size will be limited to 10 Scouts, so pre-registration will be necessary. Scouts may register in-store at the customer service desk or over the phone by calling the store at (636) 688-2500.