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.

Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.


  1. Avatar
    Bill Clancy says:

    When the change to Scouts BSA was rolled out for volunteer input….many questions were raised about the eligibility for Eagle. Nationals briefing matter at the time made it very clear there would be no exceptions to requirement including timing. We are not doing what we said we would do when we solicited volunteer concurrence with the change.

    The article days this was approved last October. Why was it not announced until now.

  2. Avatar
    Rex Williams says:

    This is a really interesting and ingenious way to motivate older youth to join Scouting. Great write up and explanation, Madison. This makes sense. It would be interesting to see the data of how many new members joined because of this extension, and then how many earned their Eagle.
    If it works well, maybe you try it again in some future year. Or just make it an ongoing policy. (But I understand the strategy of creating scarcity by having a deadline to generate action.)
    Keep up the great work and awesome writing!

    1. Madison Austin
      Madison Austin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks for your comment Rex! I’m glad to hear your thoughts. It would be very interesting to see membership numbers due to this extension. Maybe in a future article!

  3. Avatar
    Aveline says:

    The position of the BSA is that females deserve the same leadership development as males and have emphasized earning the rank of Eagle in many communications about this ever since Family Scouting was introduced. Nothing is fast-tracked or watered down, all requirements are the same – except for a few the age will be increased from 18. Since the scouts who desire this will have to do the same requirements but continue them as a HS graduate in college or in the workforce then I’m not seeing any unfair advantage. This also applies to new scouts 16-17 years old regardless of gender, so it seems fair to me in that way, too. It takes an ambitious teen to meet these rigorous requirements in 24 months. I wish all scouts the best!

  4. Avatar
    Susan says:

    This is not right and not fair to all the near Eagles in the past that didn’t have enough time to complete their requirements. A one time offer…?!! What happened to the 4%?!! I strongly recommend not whittling away at anything else BOY Scout! My son is an Eagle and we are so glad that he went through Boy Scouts when he did. He turns 18 in March and so happy he experienced Scouting before all of the changes went into place! There are MANY more like me that feel the same!!

    1. Madison Austin
      Madison Austin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yes, thank you for catching our mistake! If they joined on Feb. 1, 2019, they would actually have until Feb. 1, 2021.

  5. Avatar
    Rick Abbott Eagle Scout/Order of the Arrow Brotherhood says:

    I think there should be a separate designation then for these fast track Eagles vs. those that had to strictly folow the rules for ranks. We had to wait 6 months here and go to campouts etc to get Eagle requirements.. If it is “easier” now to nail through the rigorous requirements for time invested as well as completed awards and ranks.. then it is NOT the same award.

    1. Madison Austin
      Madison Austin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your comment!

      The requirements for the Eagle have not and will not change in regards to the extension. Youth will still have to wait the standard amount of time in between ranks, complete all of their campouts, and etc. to get their Eagle.

    1. Madison Austin
      Madison Austin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you for catching our mistake! We have made the edit with the correct date. We always appreciate comments from our readers and try to ensure that our information is always accurate. However, please remember to make sure your comments follow the Scout Law.

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