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The Eagle Scout Project Proposal – How To Coach Your Scout

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OK.

Your scout just got awarded Life Scout Rank. It’s taken some blood, sweat and tears. On both sides 🙂  Lots of emotion…

The scout is tired but is ready to make the final ascent towards that Eagle Scout Rank. Surprisingly enough this is where a lot of scouts trip and fall and become a “Life Scout for Life” scout…. but not this one… s/he is ready. The first thing on the mind is that Eagle Project. The scout has been thinking on and off about what it’s going to entail but now its for real. S/He looks at the Eagle Project Proposal Workbook and freezes. Ok. No sweat! S/He has a Life to Eagle Coach… you! Your lucky day but it’s your first time at being an Eagle Coach. Well… here are some things you will need to get across to your Eagle candidate when getting that Eagle Project Proposal Workbook ready for approval.

Hi! ​My name is Josh Meadows and I am the Life to Eagle coach for Troop 264 of the Point Church out of Greenwood, Indiana. I would like to give a little “how to” and helpful hints on coaching your scout in completing the Eagle Scout Project Workbook.  Some of this may seem silly, but I have seen all this happen along the way.

First Point: Remember the Eagle project is your scout’s project and not your project. Eagle projects are meant to show the scout’s ability to lead others in the task at hand… With that being said, yes your scout has to figure out the project, plan the project, fund the project, and get the project approved… After all that planning it’s then your scout’s job to lead others in completing the project and not necessarily do the manual work in the project unless it’s to help or instruct.  These are very important items to make sure your scout can show in his/her workbook when going for approval.

Second Point: There are many ways to show leadership inside a project, but a way to make his/her leadership stand out to an Eagle approval board is to find a way to make the project a “legacy project” which means that after the project is complete there are ways for your unit to continue the project for years to come.  Example: One of our youth did flag disposal boxes for an Eagle project.  The unit now goes every 2 months and empties these boxes and takes them to be retired properly. The legacy of that project lives on.

Third Point: Make sure that all the paperwork is filled out completely and fully describes the project in full, all the way through.  Make sure your scout has all the appropriate signatures at the end of the workbook BEFORE your scout goes submits it. Yes! I have seen this missed! LOL! The best way to do this is to use the fillable PDF form, which is online. Writing it up with pencil or pen will make things messy. The scout will have several iterations before it’s ready for submission and If the scout has terrible handwriting it will be impossible for the approval board to read it. This ultimately will lead to not getting the project approved.

Fourth Point: “Be Prepared”…. seems like I’ve heard that somewhere? 🙂  Your scout will need to go into that meeting with as much information about the project as possible. S/He needs to be ready to talk about that project inside and out. Things like: How much estimated time, materials, permits needed, etc…   Once that workbook is filled out, your scout needs to study that thing!  When the board asks questions about the project, your scout should never have to look into that book to know it.  S/He needs to be confident about the project! You can coach a bit here by setting up a mock review. Ask the questions and let the scout answer. See how well s/he can talk to it without looking at the workbook making sure to hit the biggest points of how the plan calls for leadership, management, scheduling and backup plans.

Fifth Point: This may not account to all projects but most in my experience.  Most youth want to do a project for an organization that has influenced them, or done something for them, or is just really personal to them.  Your scout should share that story when s/he is sitting in front of a board for approval.  Show them why this is a great project, and why it means so much to your scout.  I worked with a boy that spent a lot of his youth at Riley Hospital.  When he was there someone came and gave “Tie Blankets”.  That stood out to him and he thought so highly of that, that is now going to be his project, and he is making it a legacy project by making serval hundred of them for future use beyond is original project.

Sixth Point: Although not required to get your project approved, your scout should show information and pictures of the project.  Your scout should show the board that s/he has met with the receiving organization, and has planned out with them exactly what the project is and where it will be going.  This is just a ‘cherry on top’ so to speak in making the project stand out that much more.

Seventh Point: The project book must be nice and neat.  Use a 3-ring binder with sleeves to put the workbook, pictures, information into.  By doing this the scout is showing the board that s/he is ready and organized.  There should be two copies of the entire book so if for some reason they ask a question your scout can reference it in the book… if needed… but s/he won’t because of the fourth point in this article… study the project!  🙂

Eighth and Final Point: Your scout must show up in a full class A uniform!  That is the class A shirt, scout pants, socks, belt, erit badge sash or OA sash, hat if preferred but not necessary and book in hand.  Be sure to have all the appropriate awards, ranks, badges earned on the uniform and sash (for my council that includes ranks, awards, and merit badges with all the appropriate council and troop insignia items). Be proud to be a Scout!  Your scout should be proud that s/he has made it to the finish line and is now going for Eagle Scout!  If your scout doesn’t have some of these items, please don’t have them go and spend tons of money but rather just borrow from a fellow scout if possible. A scout is Friendly, Helpful, Courteous, Kind…they will help out.  Remind the scout to remember those kindnesses when others come asking for favors….

I hope some of this helps you coach your scout across the finish line on getting that Eagle Project approved.  These are mostly 101 items, but sometimes having another eye, and a helpful reminder is the difference in getting a project approved or coming back next month to try again! Reach out to other coaches as well for lessons learned so you don’t fall in the traps they discovered.

About the author: Woodbadge19

Josh Meadows is a full time firefighter and EMT. He is a Life to Eagle coach for Troop 264 of the Point Church out of Greenwood, Indiana. He serves as the Council Training Chair for Hoosier Trail Council in Bloomington, Indiana and is a Wood Badge Guru.
Scouting Positions held: Asst. Den Leader, Den Leader, Asst. Cubmaster, Cubmaster, Pack Committee Chair, Troop
Committee, Asst. Scoutmaster, Unit commissioner, Asst. District Commissioner, District Training Chair,
Council Training Chair, District Awards Selection Committee, Co-Chair Council Training Expo…

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