By Tony Woodard
Apr 29, 2017

Characteristics of Good Eagle Service Projects

Eagle Projects are a hobby of mine.  I have been studying them for over 20 years.  I have friends from around the country and around the world that send me stories of Eagle projects that they feel are genuinely outstanding. Several years ago, I started asking myself “What do all of these awesome projects have in common?”  As I looked at them, I realized that there was a pattern.  Each of these projects had 6 things in common.

  1. Personal Investment
    All great Eagle projects stem from self-genesis.  They are based on something that the Scout genuinely believes in and had thought of himself.  Curiously, when the Scout is personally invested, not only will the project be exceptional, but it will be easier for the Scout to execute, and he will do a better job.  We have all heard “If you are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”  This very much applies here.
  1. Significant Impact
    Great Eagle Projects seek to make a real difference.  They are of significant size and scope to truly change things.  Many Scouts limit themselves to a minimum effort.  This is a huge mistake.  Scouts that let the project be the project and allow it to become what it truly needs to be in order to give the beneficiary what the beneficiary needs, truly embrace this characteristic and reap huge rewards of growth through hard work in doing so.
  1. Maximum Benefit
    When signing his name to the proposal approval page of his workbook, the Scout is, effectively, signing a contract to execute his project to the Maximum Benefit of the beneficiary.  He is agreeing to go the extra mile.  He is signing up to put forth more effort than may initially be expected and to constantly look for ways to make his project better for the beneficiary.  In doing this, the Scout expands himself and pushes himself to expand his thoughtfulness and creativity.
  1. Patience and Planning
    The Eagle Project is a Refiner’s Fire and should be treated as such.  It should not be rushed.  It should be thoughtfully planned, developed, and executed.  Racing through deprives the Scout of an opportunity to take the time to think about what he is doing.  Slowing down to enjoy the process allows the Scout to recognize, not only the impact that he is making, but also allows him to think about new and creative ways of execution.  Many times, the Scout may actually spend more time planning his project than actually carrying it out.  The important thing is to be able to move forward with surety and determination. 
  1. Individuality
    A Scout’s Eagle Project should be a direct reflection of himself.  Every Scout is unique, every Eagle Project should be as unique as the Scout.  He should endeavor to seek ways of making his project stand out from others that may desire to do something similar.  The more of himself that the Scout puts into the project, the more the project will shine.  The more he puts into it, the more he will grow to know himself and gain that self confidence that is so necessary in his future life.
  1. Leadership
    Scouts that truly embrace the ideals of leadership and look beyond merely being a director and instructor will truly grow the most from their project.  They should have learned about leadership in their earlier ranks.  This is their time to shine and demonstrate what they have learned and build on that expertise.  They should truly own the project.  Conveying their vision of the project, as they see it, to others and helping others see the project as they do is a skill that will serve Scouts well in their future as leaders. 

It is critical to understand that the Eagle Project should not be viewed a “just another check box to complete.”  It should be viewed as the opportunity for a leader of tomorrow to show the world that he is ready to take his place and is mature enough to undertake something this significant, have issues, and overcome them.  It is an opportunity for a young man to show the world that he is awesome.

I am not necessarily saying that every Scout needs to have all of these present and magnified in their project in order to have what can be considered a successful project.  What I can say with the utmost confidence is that Scouts that embrace their project and put forth the effort to learn about themselves and focus on the opportunity to grow within their project will be more successful with their project and will produce a project that is seen by others as exceptional.

Be sure to read: How to Get an Eagle Service Project Approved by this author.

Author: Tony Woodard | Utah National Parks Council Advancement Committee. He has served on Eagle Project Approval Committees in several different Councils across the country


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