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

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.


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