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“Eagled Out” vs. “Aged Out”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard the phrase “Eagled Out” by adults from multiple units describing scouts who have completed their Eagle and then quit coming to scouting activities. It seems there is the belief that this is some sort of finish line. In many cases it’s Scouts who have earned their Eagle at 17 or right up to 18. In other cases it’s 14-16 year olds with years left to go. Personally, I prefer the phrase “aged out” to be the better term.

An Eagle who is still a youth member should be encouraged to remain active as a youth member and help lift up their fellow scouts still ascending their trail to Eagle.

Younger Scouts need to see this leadership from the Eagles. Formal positions or informally, these Scouts have much to offer, to be an example and demonstrate servant leadership, inspiring those behind them to do the same when they ascend.

Continuing to use the phrase “Eagled Out” implies they have reached the end of Scouting.

Has anyone else heard this phrase? What have you done in your units to keep your Eagles engaged, and fulfilling their oath as an Eagle to continue to give back to Scouting.

Just thinking out loud.

In Service,
Roger S.
Eagle Class ‘89

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I have heard the term many times. Most of the time interchangeably with aging out. There are several reasons it occurs. It can be burn out. They have been working hard to get to Eagle and are just tired of scouting. It could be that they have done all the activities that the troop participates in, and the troop is not bringing in new activities. It can be a natural progression. They now have other activities, cars, jobs, girls, etc. It can also be that it is hard to move from being a scout to being a leader in the same troop. It’s hard for the adults to see that 18 years old as an adult and not the teenager that couldn’t even set up a tent.

The goal at that point shouldn’t necessarily be to keep them in Scouting but to set an expectation that when the time is right they will return. That when they have children of Scouting age they don’t sit on the sidelines waiting to be asked to help but take an active leadership role.

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My main concern is the ones who are under 18 disappearing. Once they hit 18, almost all of them are headed off to college or to the military. That’s to be expected, and as you said hopefully will return to scouting when its the right time for them.

Besides considering the phrase “Eagled out” is probably not a phrase that sends the right message to our youth and adult leaders…

It’s the ones with 2-3 years +/- left to be in the troop as a youth, I’d like to see stay in and do for others as others have done for them.


I stuck around until age 27. I was monthly camping with a troop through age 25.

I got Eagle almost 13 years before I left.

Ways to keep youth around-

Encourage them to join the Summer Camp Staff. This could be the overight all summer camp or working at a week at Day Camp.

Encourage taking on an OA chapter or lodge responsibility. Serve in a position at induction events.

Come up with Eagle only activities that recognize their maturity. They made the effort, they will want to benefit from it.
No chairs with backs before you’re an Eagle
Get a meal cooked by the adults once a year. (you do this at your first campout with new Scouts joining, the adults cook while they supervise this group cooking, it all interconnects)

Host a Venturing Crew that meets the same place/night. If they’re bored with the program, they just move on over. Changing to a new night makes it easier to quit, they already have your current meeting night in their schedule.

There should be 15-17 different activities every year where some are only or specifically for age 13/14+. There’s nothing wrong with part of your campout having an age rule and you do two different things.

The idea is they’ll stick around if you provide a program they feel is worthy of their time and maturity.

COPE every 2-3 years

Climbing, I’ve done both walls and climbed up rock faces in Northern Arkansas

As a youth our annual canoe trip was the most popular of the year, it was always between football camp ending and before football games began.

Take the older Scouts to repair a building at your summer camp. If proximity works take them to play laser tag or such afterwards or borrow equipment and play it at camp.

One of my favorite involved taking a circling four seater plane ride from a municipal airport after visiting the Hutchinson, KS space museum (better than the smithsonian air and space museum, it’s the same collection but only space)

Another good one was the first night going caving (crawling around, not walking tour), spend the night in the cave and then canoeing a nearby river the next day

A four day one was a day of target shooting at a range, a college football game and then biking a rail to trail route.

Ride on Amtrak somewhere, location dependent of course.

Have someone who proactively gets with every new 13/14 year old in the Troop and get high adventure interest, what they would like to do. Plan a 1.5 year fundraising plan for the activityt. Then if you can go to Philmont or Sea Base or the like, do so. But if you can’t charter your own trip, like section hike the appalachian trail. Don’t wait on a slot at a national program to open up.

Open high adventure up to > age 18 where interested. I went to boundary waters at 22. This kind of flexible thinking enables a parent to not go and you’re directly saying you trust someone around that age to be an adult. When the Scouts see this respect to a 22 year old it does what you want, they see they’ll be respected if they stick around.

Push Jamboree every four years, youth can go on their own.


At the risk of being the fun police, the BSA has recently-ish prohibited anything (including LaserTag) that involves pointing a weapon (real or simulated) or throwing anything at anyone.

Ref: Activity Planning and Risk Assessment | Boy Scouts of America

ETA: I’m actually extremely fond most of this list, personally. I plan to float a lot of it with our SPL to see what will stick (in the theoretical “AC Times” when we can actually meet in person again…)


Thank you for bringing this topic up. The troop my son will be transitioning into has many who are preparing to “Eagle Out”, including one scout who is on schedule to earn Eagle prior to entering High School/9th grade! The theory is that High School will bring many more sports & clubs & activities, so the parent wants the scout to get it done quickly. The trend of “eagling out” is troublesome to me.

As I rose through the ranks to Eagle, I was always taught during Scoutmaster conferences that the greatest gift is to give back by remaining in Scouting, taking on new leadership positions and making sure that Scouting is always a part of one’s life in one way or another. I worry that the Troop my son will be entering does not have this philosophy and by the time he gets there, it will only be younger scouts left. I always learned the most from the older scouts in the Troop. I will admit, I took my time, I didn’t complete Eagle requirements until weeks before my 18th birthday, but I thoroughly enjoyed the road to get there.


As an older scout, I and many of my peers, joined Council Camp Staffs. It made for some great summers. Eventually, it led me to Philmont staff in college.

Retaining the high school teenagers seems to have a long history…we really shouldn’t call it “Eagled Out” though. The phrase seems to give them permission or even communicates an expectation to quit being a contributing presence in the Troop.


When I earned Eagle in 1990, I never heard the term Eagled-Out. Now, it seems very common.

One thing that has to be recognized if we’re going to be good leaders is that youth have interests other than Scouting.

By the time they’re 16, many youth – especially the ones with the drive to earn Eagle – also have part-time jobs, are researching college choices, and are active in sports, school, and other community organizations besides their Troop. DO NOT disparage any of those things if you want Scouting to remain a positive aspect of your youths’ lives. DO NOT be that leader that made them hate Scouting.


Great point. This is the reason why we try to keep a full schedule with 1 camp out / month. We have to assume our Scouts are busy people. We don’t want to have so few events where I’d they miss one or 2, it will be months before they can do something again.

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Yep, and it’s not just for the kids. Parents are pretty busy as well – especially if they have more than one active kid… When my oldest son was still in high school, I had plenty of days where I spent as much time in the car or at practices as I did in my office.

i have seen both used , when a scout has reached Eagle at an earlier age you can have them fill junior asst scoutmaster , or troop guide or OA rep or continue with merit badges to earn Eagle palms . we have had many of our scouts teach merit badges along with an adult merit badge councilor . there are many things a younger Eagle can do providing the Troop can keep them engaged . the journey does not end at Eagle if they choose to continue .

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If laser tag is not allowed, then paintball works. Patrols can compete, or the older scouts can challenge the younger. Some of the kids I know like this idea better than PW Derby.

Paintball is forbidden, too… :confused:


15) Activities where participants shoot or throw objects at each other, such as rock-throwing, paintball, laser or archery tag, sock fights, or dodgeball

See: Prohibited Activities

From the Guide to Safe Scouting

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Interesting! Didn’t know that. ‘Can’t throw objects at each other. ‘. I will definitely pass this along before the next paintball skills day.

I wonder though, If we follow this directive by the word, does that mean no playing catch, pitching practice, softball, football, baseball. How about slow pitch versus fast pitch? Yes? no? Maybe the rule should be more explicit and say “nothing faster than 100 FPS can be directed toward a scout…”. Some of those fastballs in Little League really go…when I was a boy, one of our LL 12 year-olds died after taking a fast pitch in the stomach.

When I was a Scout in the 1960’s, many of us were soon headed to Nam, and many leaders were WW II vets. At camp, they trained us in evasion and silent swimming to prepare us for jungle survival (thank you, SM). We didn’t have paintball then, but I wonder if they would have trained us with those.

Could this be why so many kids decide to have their adventures in other groups besides BSA?

This is less about safety and more about Scouting’s values. Those examples you mentioned are part of games of skill where paintball, dodgeball are deliberately targeting another person.

This rule may - I suspect - have its roots in firearms and the malice that comes with.

Of course I could be full of it but, I’m fairly confident of my opinion.

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Like you, I’m throwing opinions out without actually knowing the actual facts. However, I suspect it, like so many other rules, originated with a lawsuit/claim filed against the BSA and/or one of the councils. Afterwards, I suspect the BSA began to identify reasons to justify a prohibition on anything that could cause a similar injury.

For example, throwing water balloons or rubber balls at another person is not akin to firearms, per se, but are prohibited in the same section as laser tag and paintball. If the issue was strictly firearms-related, then exclusions on firearms would likely extend to the other firearm programs in the BSA and prohibitions on snowball and water balloon throwing would not coexist in the same rule.

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Perhaps the real reason is somewhere between our opinions.

FWIW, Your opinion is very reasonable.

Likely true. “Somewhere in the middle” is usually where things end up. :^)

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