When a Scout decides to undertake the challenge of an Eagle Project, often times, this is the first time they have undertaken something of this magnitude. They become intimidated by the paperwork. They are intimidated by the challenge. They begin to feel lost and discouraged. When this happens, they must refocus and realize “A Scout is Brave.”
Luckily, there is help! All Councils across the country have committees dedicated to helping these young men. In Utah National Parks Council, when a Scout desires to embark on this challenge, he should contact his unit Advancement Chair. This individual will then put him in touch with their District Advancement Committee who will get the Scout in touch with an Eagle Mentor. This is someone who is familiar with the paperwork, the process, and the standard of Eagle Scout who can guide this young man through the darkness that stands in the way of becoming an Eagle Scout.
The first major challenge for the Scout is the Eagle Project Proposal. For many Scouts, this is a huge challenge. They need to express, in writing, how they seek to make a difference in the life of a beneficiary that they have selected. They have to figure out how to communicate this wonderful vision of a beautiful project that they have in their heads onto paper. Their Eagle Mentor can assist, guide, coach, and encourage the Scout in this area, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the young man to put together a proposal.
Once the proposal is ready, it is presented to the Scoutmaster, the Scout Committee Chair, and the Beneficiary. All of these people will review the proposal and challenge the Scout to ensure that it is a solid concept. Then, once they are satisfied, the Scout’s Eagle Mentor will help coordinate his opportunity to present his proposal to a District Approval Committee.
The number one reason for a Scout to stumble at all in this process is detail. Either the Scout is lacking vision and hasn’t flushed out the details of his project yet, or he has not communicated this vision well, in writing, in the Proposal part of the Eagle Project Leadership Workbook.
The Scout needs to remember that this is a proposal. It is a glimpse of the ideas that he has swimming around in his head. There will be details missing. However, the Scout should be able to demonstrate that he has a clear plan. He should be able to illustrate that he fully understands what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, what considerations he intends to make for safety, and other contingencies. Each step of the way, as he presents his proposal to the appropriate individuals, he should expect to be challenged with questions that help him begin to more fully formulate how he will further plan and, eventually, execute his project.
Finally, he will get to the District Approval Committee. These will be people that the Scout does not know and who do not know the Scout. This Committee will have no foreknowledge of the project at all. The Proposal that the Scout has prepared should, in writing, be able to be presented to the Committee and be sufficiently detailed that it demonstrates that it has the ability to be developed into a project that will, eventually, satisfy Requirement 5 of the Eagle Scout rank.
The Committee will review the paperwork and, if it is the opinion of the Committee that the Scout has thought his project through sufficiently, and has a good idea of the direction he is heading, they will grant their approval for him to proceed with the planning phase of his project. The Scout should also expect to receive comments and suggestions from the Committee that are directed toward counseling him to greatness.
The important thing to remember is that this is the Scout’s project. It is his idea. It is his to plan, develop, and execute. He will receive approvals based upon his proposal, his ideas. This is the last time he will have direct approval oversight. As he moves forward with his project, he should keep in contact with the beneficiary, his leaders, and his Mentor. They will be invaluable advisors in his journey. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Scout to develop this proposal into a full project. He needs to be sure of himself and confident in his work. The next time his efforts will be verified will be at the Board of Review.
Be sure to read Characteristics of Good Eagle Service Projects 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