One of the most critical requirements for a Scout who is pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout is that the completion of all requirements, except for his board of review, must take place prior to his eighteenth birthday. Case-by-case extensions have been made for Scouts with special needs or when last-minute circumstances beyond the Scout’s control interfere, but all too often it’s a race to the Scoutmaster’s house on the night before he turns eighteen (it has happened in our troop, and probably in yours too).
Now, as we prepare to welcome girls into what’ll become known as Scouts BSA, the national council is announcing a temporary extension to the time allowed to earn Scouting’s highest rank, under specific circumstances and for specific Scouts only.
Here’s how it’s settling out. The Boy Scouts of America has always held that regardless of when he joins, the values of Scouting help to prepare the Scout for the future, and for some, this includes earning the highest rank, Eagle Scout.
Girls joining our program next February will have access to the same opportunities that boys have had for 108 years, including the rank of Eagle Scout. The requirements for girls will be exactly the same as for boys – including the need to earn all the previous ranks, from Scout and Tenderfoot on up.
But suppose a girl joining at age 17 (which, of course, they could) wants to earn Eagle. It’s impossible to do so prior to turning 18 if for no other reason than the minimum time in positions of responsibility for Star and Life, as well as the ninety-day spans required for some merit badges.
The answer, says the BSA, is to allow a temporary, limited extension for a specific group of Scouts, to allow them time to complete all the requirements.
An analysis of the rank requirements shows that the absolute minimum time to achieve all the ranks and earn Eagle is nineteen to twenty months (and we have had Scouts earn Eagle in not much more than that, so it’s certainly possible). So after careful consideration, the BSA will allow up to twenty-four months, depending on age and registration date, to complete the Eagle Scout requirements for any Scout who joins on or after February 1, 2019 and is at least sixteen years old on that date. The maximum extension period begins on the day he or she joins (yes, first-time joining boys as well as girls can take advantage of the extension), but not later than December 31, 2019. The extension is not automatic – it must be requested of the national advancement committee within 30 days after the Scout’s eighteenth birthday and not later than January 7, 2020.
The extension is not available to currently-registered Scouts, those who are not yet sixteen by February 1, and, of course, to those who are already over eighteen on that date.
Given everything a Scout must do to earn Eagle – nights of weekend and long-term camping, twenty-one merit badges earned, sixteen months in positions of responsibility – it is an extremely fast-track, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a young person to earn something challenging, unique and unequaled,
For more on this temporary extension policy, read the full text of the BSA’s announcement, with answers to a few questions.