RANK OF THE EAGLE (BSA)
What is the Eagle Scout Rank
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The designation “Eagle Scout” has a long history since its founding over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Since its founding, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than two million young men.
Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges. The Eagle Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognizes the accomplishments of the Scout. Additional recognition can be earned through Eagle Palms, awarded for completing additional tenure, leadership, and merit badge requirements.
The Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) highest award was originally conceived as the Wolf Scout, described in the June 1911 Official Handbook for Boys. The August 1911 version of the handbook changed this to Eagle Scout. The medal illustrated in the handbook was a profile of an eagle in flight, but was changed to the current design before any were issued. In their original conceptions, Life Scout, Star Scout (Life preceded Star until 1924) and Eagle Scout were not ranks, but part of the merit badge system that recognized Scouts who had earned a specified number of merit badges. Eagle Scout was awarded to any First Class Scout who had earned 21 merit badges.
The first Eagle Scout medal was awarded in 1912 to Arthur Rose Eldred, a 17-year-old member of Troop 1 of Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York. Eldred was notified that he was to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in a letter from Chief Scout Executive James West, dated August 21, 1912. The design of the Eagle Scout medal had not been finalized by the National Council, so the medal was not awarded until Labor Day, September 2, 1912. Eldred was the first of three generations of Eagle Scouts; his son and grandson hold the rank as well. As of 2009, more than two million Scouts have earned the rank. In the 1960s, the Kansas City area awarded more Eagle Scout badges than any other council in the country, resulting in the creation of the Eagle Scout Memorial there in 1968. In 1982, 13-year-old Alexander Holsinger, of Normal, Illinois, was recognized as the one-millionth Eagle Scout, and Anthony Thomas of Lakeville, Minnesota was the two-millionth in 2009.
About 2.25 million Scouts had earned Eagle Scout through January 2014. In 2012, 57,976 Eagle Scout awards were presented, about seven percent of the 2012 membership. Four Nobel Prize laureates are known to be Eagle Scouts: Dudley R. Herschbach, Peter Agre, Robert Coleman Richardson, and Frederick Reines.
How Did The Eagle Award Get Its Name?
Robert S. S. Baden-Powell’s introduced badges for achievement in his 1908 book Scouting For Boys. It is said that Baden-Powell got the idea of awards from the American naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton, who passed along ideas from his Red Indian Boy Scouts of America. Initially, the highest available rank in Scouting in the U.S. was going to be the Wolf Badge, based on the Silver Wolf badge in Great Britain.
However, no Wolf badge was ever awarded. Several leaders who reviewed the proof version of the Handbook for Boys of 1911 thought that the highest award should recognize the American Eagle. So by the time the handbook was published, the highest award in Scouting in the United States was given its current name – Eagle.
Initially, the Eagle award was described as the “highest scout merit badge”:
Handbook for Boys, 1911:
“Any first-class scout qualifying for twenty-one merit badges will be entitled to wear the highest scout merit badge. This is an eagle’s head in silver, and represents the all-round perfect scout.”
Source: Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Scout_(Boy_Scouts_of_America)]