The Life to Eagle Process – A Chronology-Based Check-Off List
This appendix to the Troop 111 “Life to Eagle Guide ” was developed to give prospective Eagle Scouts and their parents a stepwise guide towards completing an Eagle Scout Project. Note that this represents a “typical” process in a “typical” Troop. The only assumptions made are that the Troop has a designated Eagle Scout Overseer (that is, an Adult Advisor who is well familiar with the Eagle Scout process and can offer counseling and guidance to the Scout), and that the local District or Council offers Life-to Eagle seminars which are convenient to the Scout’s ascension to Life Rank.
The Scout and his parents should read the Life to Eagle Guide(hereafter: the Guide) before reading this Chronology. Note that the “Conversational Guide” concentrates on the paperwork aspects of the Eagle Notebook, whereas this “Chronology” is more concerned with the actual process. Where applicable, references to the “Conversational Guide” are made in the Chronology (as in: See CG, Section ZZ). Hard Learned Lessons also offers some good advice.
The Chronology to Eagle Scout
1) Either JUST before or after achieving Life Rank, the Scout and at least one of his parents attend a Council, District or Troop-organized “Life-to-Eagle Seminar.” If no seminars are offered during this time frame, the Scout and his parents can attempt to get a personal seminar from the Troop Eagle Scout Overseer, or – if all else fails – do a careful review of the Life to Eagle Guide; note that there are several such guides posted electronically on the Internet, and other “hard copies” available from various local Districts and Councils. [Note that as of the preparation of this Chronology (10/98), there is no Official Life to Eagle Guide published by BSA/National.]
2) If not already Life Rank, the Scout earns Life. (Note that the Scout cannot initiate his Eagle Scout Project until he is a Life Scout.)
3) If he doesn’t already have a good, solid idea (many do!), the Scout reviews several lists of suggestive or previous Eagle Scout projects (many such lists available!!!), and determines if any ideas are appealing. He can (and should!) also try to come up with ideas on his own that would “fit the bill.” If inspiration is lacking, he should discuss matters with his Scoutmaster and/or Eagle Scout Overseer. He can and should also talk with current and past Eagles in his Troop or neighborhood for other ideas.
4) Once the Scout has an idea or two (or three), he has a quick chat with his Scoutmaster or Eagle Scout Overseer to discuss it (or them.) This is REALITY CHECK #1, and may result in the preliminary approval, expansion, modification or discarding of an idea. Note that if the project idea was not rejected, this meeting is the initial entry in the Scout’s “working notebook” (a loose-leaf binder or equivalent to keep track of time and other paperwork), and the time spent on the meeting is recorded as planning time. All planning and/or work time subsequent to this point should be similarly recorded in the working notebook.
5) Once he has received the preliminary blessing of his idea from the Scoutmaster or Eagle Scout Overseer, the Scout schedules a visit with the benefitting organization to discuss the potential project. A parent MAY wish to attend, but this is better handled by the Scout alone. This is REALITY CHECK #2, and may again result in the preliminary approval, expansion, modification or discarding of an idea.
6) If the proposed project idea was rejected outright, the “planning hours” to date are lost, and the Scout is back to #3 above, developing another idea. If preliminary approval was received, the Scout initiates the formal planning writeup. He acquires fresh (i.e., the latest) copies of the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook and the Eagle Rank Application (from his Troop, District Eagle Board member, or Council Office), and reads both thoroughly; after reading, the Rank Application Form is set aside for now. He goes back to the site of the proposed project and takes pictures which illustrate the current condition of the site as an aid to explain what he intends to do and how it will improve the current situation. [Note: Even non-permanent projects such as clothing drives or blood donation drives can have pictures of facilities – the Scout needs to use his imagination to select photos which will enhance his proposal. “A picture is worth a thousand words!”] He should also obtain map(s) of the area involved, schematics of building projects, or other appropriate literature, as illustrative figures. The Scout uses all this material to complete drafts of the following sections of the Service Project Notebook: (A) The Cover Page; (B) Concept Page; (C) Planning Details Page(s), which includes the “present condition” photos and figures; and (D) The Materials Section.
7) Once the planning draft is completed, the Scout runs it by the Troop Eagle Scout Overseer or Scoutmaster for a quick review. This is REALITY CHECK #3. Generally, this review results in suggested corrections and expansions of the initial writeup. The Scout should work with the Overseer or Scoutmaster to make the presentation a reasonably polished product; this may take 2 or 3 iterations, depending on how meticulous the Overseer/Scoutmaster are in reviewing the draft(s).
8) Once the Planning Sections of the Notebook are complete, the Scout acquires approval signatures, IN ORDER, from the following four individuals: (A) A representative of the benefitting organization authorized to approve the work – note that this is usually the same person who the Scout discussed the project idea with in the first place (but not always!); (B) The Scoutmaster; (C) The Troop Committee Chairman; and finally (D) A member of the District Eagle Board. This is REALITY CHECK #4. The Scout should first call each of these individuals to set up formal appointments to review his proposal. Note that the names, addresses and phone numbers of the members of the District Eagle Board are available from the Eagle Scout Overseer or Scoutmaster. Also note that the Eagle Board member may (and has the right to) ask the Scout to provide proof that he is a Life Scout, so the Scout may need to bring either his signed Life Rank Card or a copy of the Troop’s Advancement Report listing his Life Rank. This is not common (“A Scout is Trustworthy!”), but may occur if the Board member is unfamiliar with the Scout or his Troop (or if he/she has been “burned” on this issue in the past.)
Additional comments on the District Eagle Board – this Board is made up of senior Scouters in the local District who are well familiar with the Eagle Scout process and have formal oversight authority over all Eagle Projects and Eagle Boards of Review. Note that this is NOT the Troop’s Eagle Scout Overseer – that is an informal Troop Committee position, not a District position! The Eagle Board member is an advisor who ensures that the Scout’s project will meet BSA guidelines. Much later in the process, he/she will also do a comprehensive review of the Scout’s advancement records and sit on the Scout’s Eagle Board of Review.
9) Once all four approval signatures have been acquired (AND NOT BEFORE!), the Scout initiates his project. Given the huge variety of possible Eagle Scout projects, it is not possible to exactly detail this step in this chronology; however, some typical issues and pointers:
* In the (unusual) case of an Eagle Scout project carried out more than 50 miles from the Troop’s home base, the Scout coordinates with the Troop’s Camping Chairman to file a Tour Permit with the local Council. In the case of multiple work sessions, a separate Tour Permit will be required for EACH session. Note that any activity requiring a Tour Permit also requires signed permission slips from the Scouts’ parents!
* If any local work permits are needed (e.g., with the State Highway Department, National Park Service, County Planning Commission, Water Authority, etc.), the Scout files for needed permits; this may require the assistance of his parent(s), the Troop Committee, or the benefitting organization. In some cases, applications for permits HAVE to be done by the benefitting organization. This should be done as soon as possible in the process, as such permits are often difficult to obtain quickly.
* The Scout sets up a formal calendar of activities, including (where appropriate) ordering and delivery dates, work dates, numbers of workers needed, materials and tools needed, unusual or rental equipment needed (e.g., chainsaws, post-hole diggers, cargo vans or trucks, etc.), personal protection equipment needed, snacks and drinks needed, and bad weather policies. This is critical to the success of the project.
* The Scout solicits for volunteers in the Troop and/or among his non-Scouting friends and relatives. For activities which are forbidden to Scouts – e.g., chainsaw work, driving a rental truck – the Scout will need to recruit specific Adult assistance. Flyers which summarize critical information (what, when, where, what to bring, what to wear, bad weather policy, solicitations for tools or other equipment) should be distributed well ahead of time by hand, mail, or email, and followed up to ensure adequate help for each work session. The Scout makes reminder calls to all volunteers 24 hours in advance of each work session.
* If applicable, the Scout receives all permits, approved (as noted above.) If there are problems, the Scout works with the Overseer, Scoutmaster and/or benefitting organization to resolve them; this must necessarily be completely reconciled before initiating work.
* The Scout initiates the project, following his detailed plans. He keeps meticulous records for each session, including sign-in/sign-out sheets, receipts, and lots of photos. After each session, he IMMEDIATELY correlates the records for that session in his working notebook, and writes up a brief summary of what was done (and what went right or wrong in that session.)
* Following the last work session, the Scout brings his project to “preliminary closure,” and invites the authorized representative of the benefitting organization to review the work. Although uncommon, additional finishing work or a more thorough cleanup job may be requested of the Scout prior to approval. The work stage of project is completed when this representative approves the work; when this occurs, the Scout immediately solicits for a formal letter from the representative (preferably on letterhead stationery) stating his/her satisfaction with the completed project. This letter should be addressed to the Scoutmaster or Eagle Scout Overseer, so the Scout will need to provide the appropriate name, title, and address to the authorized representative at this time (an addressed and stamped envelope is an excellent aid to this vital process.)
10) Once the project is completed, the Scout writes and distributes a general thank you letter to everyone who assisted. If specific individuals rendered unusually valuable assistance, they should receive individualized thank you letters. Receipts are tallied and where appropriate, paid off by the Scout, his Troop or (most commonly) the benefitting organization. Borrowed equipment is cleaned and returned to their owners, and broken equipment (if any) replaced. Leftover supplies (if any) are either donated to an appropriate group (e.g., trail building supplies to the park) or if possible stored for future, similar projects. If the project was completed ahead of schedule, a general announcement to that effect should be made so that any volunteers who signed up for the remaining scheduled sessions will be notified that they have been released from their commitments.
11) The Scout gets all his photos developed, and selects an assortment which properly illustrate the work done during the project. Selected photos should show both Scouts working on the project and “before/after” illustrations.
12) The Scout takes his working notebook and types up a first draft of his “Carrying Out the Project” section – essentially a day-by-day log of the project from the initial planning through completion. Photos can either be directly included in the text, with explanations in the writeup, or attached as a separate section with captions; in the latter case, each photo should be numbered and referred to in the main body of the text. Each day should also include a summary of the names of the individual workers – including the Scout himself – and the amount of time each worked. The final page of this writeup should be a comprehensive list of everyone who worked on the project, the total amount of time each person worked, and the grand total time worked on the project, including the Eagle Scout candidate’s time (if preferred, this can be transcribed onto the “Assisted By” section.)
13) If necessary, the Scout completes a draft of the “Changes” section, and (also if necessary) completes an addendum to the “Materials” section (extra materials used which were not included in the original proposal.) He fills in the appropriate hour figures in the “Time Spent” section, fills in the “Date Project was Completed” subsection with the date of the letter from the benefitting organization, and signs and dates under “Applicant’s Signature.” If convenient, he has his Scoutmaster sign and date under “Scoutmaster’s Signature.” [Note that this latter signature can be done at a later date, during the review process; it is not critical to have it done at this time.]
14) Finally, the letter from the benefitting organization confirming the completion of the project is attached. This constitutes the first draft of Requirement #5 of the Eagle Scout Rank Application Form. Note that this entire writeup is ONLY Requirement #5!
15) At this point, the Scout may submit his first draft to the Eagle Scout Overseer or Scoutmaster for review and correction (he can also hold it awaiting the completion of the rest of his paperwork, as detailed below.) Note that this draft still includes all the information from the planning stages of the project, as well as the writeup of the actual work. As with the planning draft that started the project, this review generally again results in suggested corrections and expansions of the initial project writeup. The Scout works with the Overseer or Scoutmaster to make the presentation a polished product. Again, this may take 2 or 3 iterations, depending on how meticulous the Overseer/Scoutmaster are in reviewing the draft(s).
16) Either concurrently during the writing of the first draft of the Eagle Project, or after the first draft has been submitted to the Overseer or Scoutmaster for initial review, the Scout initiates the completion of the remaining paperwork requirements on the Eagle Scout Rank Application form. He first retrieves the original form and makes several photocopies of it (both sides), then stores the original back into a safe place. Before beginning, he carefully re-reads the entire application form, and if he has any questions, discusses them with the Overseer or Scoutmaster. If a Life-to-Eagle Guide which details the completion of this form is available, the Scout should re-read that as well, in order to avoid common pitfalls and errors.
17) Either alone or with the assistance of a parent or the Overseer or Scoutmaster, the Scout fills out a first draft of the application form (i.e., one of the photocopies, not the original) up through Requirement #5 “Date Project Was Completed.” In order to do this, he will need access to his Scout records (Rank Cards, Merit Badge Blue Cards, and his Individual Scout Record (available from the Troop Advancement Chairman)) for exact dates. The most critical items to fill out are the list of names, addresses and phone numbers of references; this list MUST be provided to the Overseer or Scoutmaster as soon as possible, as it very commonly takes weeks or even months to get a Scout’s references back. [Note: The Overseer or Scoutmaster is responsible for contacting the Scout’s references and soliciting character reference letters for the Scout; if time is tight, he/she may ask the Scout to hand-deliver the character reference requests directly to the references.]
18) The Scout schedules an appointment with the Troop Advancement Chairman to review his initial draft against the Troop’s Advancement Reports (i.e., the Troop’s copies of the BSA Forms #34403 or latest iteration), which are the Official Advancement Records reported to the local Council. [Note – many Troops now use computerized versions of this form; these are perfectly acceptable!] Each and every rank and merit badge must be confirmed on the advancement reports – both that it’s there and that the listed date is correct. If there are discrepancies – almost invariably missing entries, although incorrect dates are also sometimes noted – a supplemental Advancement Report is generated and immediately forwarded to the Council Office (note that this would be done by the Advancement Chairman, not the Scout.) All discrepancies should be carefully reconciled on the application form – and if there were many errors, a new draft should be written up using a fresh photocopy of the application form.
Aside: In many Troops, the Advancement Chairman will provide photocopies of the Scout’s various Advancement Reports for eventual inclusion in the Eagle Scout Notebook. While this is not a formal requirement, it certainly help speed the subsequent review process by the District Eagle Board member and the Council Office.
Completion of Requirement #6:
19) The Scout (preferably alone) writes up an initial draft of his Ambitions and Life Purpose Statement.
20) The Scout writes up an initial draft of his Scouting Achievements and (separately) an initial draft of his Out-of-Scouting Achievements.
21) The Scout collects and correlates all his Scouting records (Individual Scout Record, Rank Cards, Merit Badge Blue Cards, Scout Awards, Certificates, and Advancement Report photocopies) in presentation form.
22) If the Scout had already turned in an initial draft of his Project writeup, he gets it back from the Overseer or Scoutmaster who did the review, and makes all requested corrections. If he had not yet turned in the initial draft of the Project writeup, he now retrieves it for incorporation into the Notebook.
23) The Scout puts the entire Notebook in proper order.
24) The Scout turns in the complete Notebook to the Overseer or Scoutmaster for Review. Several edits may be required before the Overseer or Scoutmaster is satisfied; this is expected and normal. Once the entire package is approved, the Scout carefully types up the final, “real” version of his most current Rank Application Form (i.e., the original), signs and dates it on the back (Certification by Applicant), and attaches it to the front of his Notebook, preferably in a sheet protector.
25) The Scout contacts his Scoutmaster and schedules an Scoutmaster’s Conference for Eagle. Following the conference, the Scout has his Scoutmaster sign and date his Rank Application Form (Unit Approval) and also date the “Date Conference Was Held” section. If not previously done, the Scoutmaster should also sign under the “Time Spent” section of the Workbook (page 7 of the Workbook; see section 13 above to refresh your memory if this is unclear.) The Scout provides his Scoutmaster with several acceptable dates for the Eagle Board of Review; it is the Troop’s responsibility to arrange the time and place of the Eagle Board of Review.
26) The Scout has the Troop’s Committee Chairman sign and date his Rank Application Form (second signature line under Unit Approval.)
27) Once the Board of Review members have been established, the Scout photocopies adequate copies of his Notebook for each member of the Board except the District Eagle Board member, plus one extra for himself. He then gets a cover letter summarizing the particulars of the Board from the Overseer or Scoutmaster, attaches a copy of it to each copy of the Notebook, and delivers them to each member of the Board about 2 or 3 days before the Board of Review; the original copy is delivered to the District Eagle Board member (also with a copy of the cover letter.) The District Eagle Board member will do the formal check of the Scout’s records and (usually) will sign off on the Rank Application Form as the “BSA/Local Council Certification.” [If not, that will be done later, at the Council level.]
28) The Scout does a final check of his uniform, and corrects any deficiencies.
29) The Scout and his parents decide whether to provide refreshments or take photos at the Board of Review, and if so make all necessary arrangements.
30) The Scout participates in his Eagle Board of Review.
31) Following the Board of Review (and refreshments/photos), the Scout thanks the Board members, assists with cleanup and collects the photocopies and original of his notebook. [Note – some Troops keep the original for later awarding at the Scout’s Eagle Court of Honor.] One photocopy and the various signed paperwork forms will be collected by the Overseer or Scoutmaster for forwarding to the Council.
32) The Scout and his parents begin planning the Court of Honor.