About a week ago, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will offer a one-time, limited exception to its age requirements for the Eagle Scout award, giving new Scouts BSA members, male and female, a fair chance to earn the program’s top honor.
By offering this one-time extension, the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Committee is saying that everyone deserves a chance to work toward Eagle. The decision was made public on Oct. 3, 2018.
Why BSA Made This Decision
Although the Scouting experience is life-changing and full of adventure no matter what rank you achieve, for many Scouts the desire to achieve the status of Eagle is what motivates them throughout the whole program.
The BSA wanted to give everyone this opportunity. Especially to the Scouts who have just joined Scouts BSA for the first time — even right on the Feb. 1, 2019, launch day. All of these Scouts wouldn’t have time to earn Eagle before turning 18.
Traditionally, BSA rules say a young person can no longer earn Eagle once they turn 18. But for 16- and 17-year-olds who are new to Scouts BSA, there isn’t enough time to earn Eagle before their 18th birthday.
Who is Eligible?
Any young man or young woman who is at least 16 but not yet 18 on Scouts BSA launch day: Feb. 1, 2019.
Scouts who are under 16 on Feb. 1, 2019, will have adequate time to earn their Eagle before turning 18 and don’t need an extension.
Those who are over 18 on Feb. 1, 2019, are considered adults and aren’t eligible to join Scouts BSA, but can and should absolutely join Venturing or Sea Scouts!
The registration deadline to be eligible is Dec. 31, 2019. A young man or young woman must register as a member of Scouts BSA on or before this date.
And don’t worry, these rules don’t apply to just girls. These temporary transition rules apply to all youth joining Scouts BSA during 2019 — both girls and first-time-joining boys! It is just the fairest solution for those who, through no fault of their own, wouldn’t otherwise be able to earn Scouting’s top honor.
Boys who were members of a Boy Scout troop before Feb. 1, 2019, aren’t considered first-time-joining boys and therefore are not eligible for the extension. They’ve always had the opportunity to join Scouting and could’ve started working toward their Eagle as early as age 11.
How the Extension Works
Those who apply for the extension will have just 24 months from the initial date of registration to complete all requirements for the Eagle Scout award.
For example, a young woman or young man who joined Scouts BSA on Feb. 1, 2019, would have until Feb. 1, 2021, to complete their requirements — even if that young person turned 18 during that span.
This gives these Scouts the 19 or 20 months they’ll need to meet all requirements while encouraging them to enjoy the journey toward Eagle, rather than simply racing to the finish line.
However, anyone who has earned their Eagle knows that completing these strenuous requirements in less than 24 months will require focus and dedication.
How does a Scout apply for the extension?
Only the National Council can grant an extension. An interested youth who wants to apply for the extension must talk with their unit leader(s) to request the extension. The leader then accesses the youth’s profile in My.Scouting.org. If the Scout is eligible, there will be a button the leader can select to indicate the youth has asked for the extension.
This request goes to the National Service Center in Texas. Once the request is approved, the youth, their parent, unit leader and council representative will receive an email with confirmation as well as the expiration date of the extension.
Requests for extensions must be received no later than 30 days after turning 18. No exceptions to the Eagle requirements will be permitted and all requirements must be completed while the individual is a registered member of Scouts BSA, or after achieving the First Class rank in Scouts BSA and moving to a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship.
We are incredibly excited for all of the new Scouts who get to accomplish the journey to Eagle!
For more detailed information and a list of FAQs, read Bryan on Scouting’s article about the extension.
You can also read more about the rationale and the decision’s impacts here.