Finding an Eagle Leadership Service Project

Project Purpose

There are two main purposes for the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.

  • It provides service to the community and helps fulfill the part of the Scout Oath "to help other people at all times".  Eagle Projects provide many millions of hours of community service every year.  This has a significant impact on our communities.

  • It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate, hone, learn, and develop leadership skills.  Related to this are important lessons in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.

Criteria

There are two key criteria for an Eagle Leadership Service Project.

  • It must be a significant contribution to benefit the community.  This might be for a religious institution, school, municipality or other community organization.  It should be of sufficient magnitude to be special and challenging.

  • It must be large enough to allow and require you to demonstrate significant leadership.  Projects that must be done with only a few people; require significant adult labor; or for organizations that are not willing to let a boy plan, develop, and lead the project; do not make good Eagle projects.

 Restrictions

An Eagle Leadership Service Project can not be:

  • involving council property, or other BSA activity.  The Boy Scouts can not be the beneficiary except in the most indirect way.

  • shared with any other Eagle candidate.  Only one Scout can receive credit for a project.  It is possible for two Scouts to do independent projects for the same organization if they are different projects, separately planned and carried out.

  • routine labor is not normally appropriate for a project.  This might be defined as a job or service you may provide as part of your daily life, or a routine maintenance job normally done by the beneficiary (for example, pulling weeds on the football field at your school).

  • performed for a business or an individual.  Normally the beneficiary organization will be a 501(c)3 non-profit or a governmental organization, but not always.  Ask if you are not sure.

  • of a commercial nature.  While projects may not be of a commercial nature or for a business, this is not meant to disallow work for community institutions, such as museums and service agencies (like homes for the elderly, for example), that would otherwise be acceptable.  Some aspect of a business operation provided as a community service may also be considered - for example, a park open to the public that happens to be owned by a business.

  • a fund-raiser.  In other words, it may not be an effort that primarily collects money, even for a worthy charity.  Fundraising is permitted only for securing materials and facilitating a project, and it may need to be approved by your council.  See Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application included in your Workbook.

  • a solo project.  If the project requires, or you end up carrying it out by yourself or just you and your parent, it does not qualify for an Eagle project.  It must be carried out with you providing leadership to a group (minimum of 2, typically 5-10) youth (Boy Scouts or others)  who are carrying out the project under your direction. 

If you have any questions about whether a project idea would meet the requirements, contact your district representative.  See CONTACTS.

Additional Considerations

In looking for, and evaluating, project ideas, be sure to pick a project that you can successfully carry out.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate ideas.

  • You will need to be able to lead the project.  Consider your strengths and weaknesses.  Since you will be using youth labor who are probably less skilled than you, be sure that you will be able to teach them the skills needed to carry out the project.  You probably will need to advance your skills as part of the planning process, but stay within a reasonable reach.  If you are good with wood tools, a construction project might be good, but if you are not sure which end of a screwdriver to pick up, would you be able to teach others how to build a storage building for a church?  If all you can do with a computer is turn it on and use a word processor and the internet, you should not offer to install a school district wide computer network with custom web site and training materials and classes (yes, this was an Eagle project).

  • You will need to be allowed to run the project.  Some organizations insist that they provide someone to "supervise" while you supply a pool of labor to do the work.  If they are not comfortable to let you run the project, after they have approved your proposal, then you need to find a different project to qualify for an Eagle project. 

  • You will need to recruit the labor to carry out the project.  If you are from a small troop and have few other youth to draw from, don't pick a project what will require 10 people at a time for many days.  The time of year and available schedule may also affect the availability of your labor pool.  Your Scoutmaster or Project Coach may be able to help you figure out how to recruit helpers.

  • You will need to buy or acquire the needed materials.  Often the benefiting organization will pay for the materials, within some budget.  If not, be sure you have a way to come up with the materials through fund-raising, donations, or paid for out of your own pocket.

  • The project should be a significant challenge to you.  Pick a project that will be significantly more difficult than anything you have ever done before, but not something that will be impossible to carry out successfully within your capabilities.  The average size project in Chester County Council runs about 200 total man-hours, with most between 150 and 250 man hours.  I have seen a project that took over 1500 man hours.  Ask yourself if this is as challenging a project as you can handle.  If your answer is that you really could handle a more challenging project, then you should probably be looking for a more challenging project.  There is no specific minimum number of hours.

  • If you are building something like picnic tables or birdhouses, you should build them in quantity.  Except in very unusual circumstances, a minimum of 6 picnic tables or 30 bird houses should be built and installed.  If the organization does not need that many, do something additional or do work for more than one organization.

  • Although not a requirement, consider whether the project you are looking at will really help someone who needs help.  Helping to rehab a house for an organization that helps battered women get a new start in life is probably more significant to the well-being of the community than building fish habitats so sport fishermen will be able to catch more fish.  Ask yourself how significant your project will be to the lives of the people less fortunate than you, and whether you can really make a difference.

  • Your sponsoring organization makes it possible for your Scout troop to exist.  Eagle projects done for your sponsoring organization are one way the Scouts can give back for all this organization does for you.  They may not need anything done, but this is often a good source for project ideas.

  • Be Advised ... in most cases the organizational representative approached by you knows little or nothing about the "expected standards" of an Eagle project.  Therefore, you must determine if the suggested project is acceptable.  It might be helpful to print out "The Benefiting Organization's Guide to an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project" and give it to the organizational representative you are working with.

  • The project does not have to be a construction project.  Consider service projects such as collecting, sorting, repairing, and redistributing equipment to the handicapped.  Schools and other organizations might have ideas for special programs you could prepare and run for bicycle safety, math, science, or other subjects.  Consider researching some piece of local history and teaching the public about it through demonstrations, publications, exhibits, or reenactments.  

Sources for Projects

  • Township, Borough, or County.  Try contacting the township or borough manager, the parks and recreation board, or police chief.

  • Schools (don't forget elementary schools).  Try contacting the principal, PTO, teachers (for both construction projects and special programs), and the board of education.

  • Religious Institutions.  Don't forget church related facilities for retired church workers, orphanages, and other religious service organizations.

  • The United Way.  Ask for the names and contacts at organizations they support that might be able to use your help.  This is a good way to find out about organizations that may be vital to your community but which you may not be aware of.

  • Your Troop's Chartering Organization

  • Historical Societies or Museums

  • Nature Centers or Conservancies   

  • Little League or Athletic Association

  • County Parks

  • Homes for children, aged, homeless, indigent

  • The Red Cross

  • The Salvation Army

  • Senior Citizen's Center

  • Community Center

  • Nursing Homes

  • Veterans organizations

  • Public Libraries

  • Hospitals

  • Volunteer Fire Departments

  • Civic clubs

  • Other Community Agencies

Project Ideas

There are lots of lists of project ideas to get you thinking.  Talk to other Scouts in your troop, and your Scoutmaster and Eagle Advisor.  They may be able to describe some projects that other Scouts in your troop have done.  Here are some places to go for lists of ideas:

Picking a Project

Once you have one or more ideas, you need to decide if it (which one) is right for you.  Review the criteria and restrictions above.  Evaluate the ideas in light of your real abilities to plan and then teach others how to carry out the project.  Discuss your ideas with your Eagle Advisor.  If there is any question about whether a potential project would qualify as an Eagle project, check with your District Advancement Chairman.  Be sure you completely understand what the organization wants you to do.  Be sure they understand the process, that you will prepare a detailed plan for their approval and then you will execute the plan using people you recruit to do the work. Be sure they understand that the complete process will take some time to complete.  You will, of course, keep them informed on the schedule and progress as the process moves forward.

Planning Your Project

Once everyone is satisfied with the project selection, you are ready to prepare the plan.

 

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If you have comments or questions about this website, send me an e-mail.

This web site is a work-in-progress.  If you find any mistakes, links that don't work, typos, or other inaccuracies, please let me know.  If you have any suggestions of additional material that would be helpful to boys in earning their Eagle rank, I would always appreciate your input (Tom@Stalnaker.com).

Web site last updated 08/25/2014