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How are girls earning Eagle in just 20 months?

Seeing articles about an inaugural class of lady Eagle Scouts in October 2020, just 20 months after they were first permitted to join.

How is that possible? The final three ranks - Star, Life, and Eagle - require 4mos, 6mos, and 6mos service respectively. So you’re already up to 16 months right there IF you could somehow perfectly line up earning each of those ranks with the bare minimum service. Which means these ladies had to also advance from Scout to Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class in the first four months or less.

And of course, there’s the merit badges, too. One of these ladies purportedly earned 137 Merit Badges in the same time span!! That’s just not physically possible. I’m not saying that would be hard - I’m saying IMPOSSIBLE.

A Scout is Trustworthy. This seems like a sham. And this isn’t a critique of women in scouting - it just seems like this sort of dubious timeline devalues the accomplishment of earning Eagle.


I don’t see why this is a surprise. Boys may advance this quickly as soon as they’ve crossed over, and some do. In my experience, including as a scout “a few” decades ago, and as an ASM recently, boys who join when 14 or even 16 are far more capable of advancing quickly. And from time to time, some scouts will earn all of the MBs as part of their home-school curriculum. One should expect that a number of girls would be well-position to do the same once they were allowed.

But, just like our boys, for each girl who a makes the news with regard to advancement, I’ve met dozens of other girls who don’t. They are simply fulfilling the vision of the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with your mates. There are smiles on their faces, and that warms my heart.

I work for smiles.


You’re right, there are a few boys somehow racing through just as fast. 12yo Eagles?! Come on. If I were a council executive (who is responsible for signing off on the Eagle Rank), I’d be taking a serious look at any “troop” that facilitates this rapid advancement. It just isn’t plausible that kids are actually completing all these requirements so quickly. Many of these MBs and rank requirements take TIME.

My son spent 2yrs getting to First Class and earning 7 Eagle Req MBs, and even that was difficult.

137 Merit Badges in 20 months? That’s not possible. There is no argument to be made for how that could actually be accomplished.

“Smiles” aside, it doesn’t feel honest and it devalues the accomplishment.


Advancement is individually-paced. Some Scouts race through and others don’t. Using your son’s progress as a yardstick to judge others’ advancement is simply not fair to anyone, including your son.


My Guess: Eagle Moms…Ha Ha


Or, future Eagle moms. :wink:


I’m not using my son to gauge the progress of him or others. It is just one example. As not only a scouting parent but a scoutmaster, I know well the amount of work required to advance through ranks and earn merit badges.

Respectfully, it requires a certain suspension of disbelief to accept that any scout, no matter how “motivated,” is adequately satisfying all these requirements for rank advancement and merit badges in such a short amount of time.

It devalues the achievement. And obviously a great deal of scouting is built on the honor system, but this is really stretching it.

But I do stand corrected - this really has nothing to do with girls. It’s a problem that exists with some boys, too. It may be presently exacerbated for girls because of the novelty of being “first” and many not having much time left when they were allowed to join. Both those issues will be ameliorated with time.

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There are two separate but related issues that you seem to asking about.

First, can a scout earn eagle in 20 months? Yes, they can, but there’s no margin whatsoever. So, the scout would have to really hit the ground running and camp a lot. Keep in mind that some of these scout’s are starting as 15-17 yr olds, rather than 10-11 yr olds. So, there organizational skills and motivations will likely be stronger.

Second, could a scout earn every MB in just 20 months? I had a bunch of thoughts on this, but have decided to not write them all since we are really just talking about a single scout, and don’t think it’d be appropriate to single that scout out. But I suspect that many in the inaugural Female Eagle class have been helped by the pandemic. With other extracurricular activities, many jobs, and even schools closed or not fully operating, they have had nothing else to do. So why not work on something for Scouts?


My boys took at least that long. Our boys were slow.
I’ve met others who knocked those out in 90 days (or less, before they added some fitness requirements a couple years ago). It’s hard to believe until you meet a scout who hustles up and gets it done. But they are legit.

No MB has a time requirement, and honestly, with this pandemic MBs are an ideal activity for a late teen with initiative. Two MBs a week are within any youth’s grasp. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough to make all of the calls (emails, zoom conferences).

The only thing devaluing their achievement are critical adults who’ve never met these youth, and have no faith in the adults who reviewed them.


Unfortunately, those wretched worksheets that only focus on the requirements and not the entire pamphlet are almost like “Cliff Notes” that reduces completing a MB to the basic requirements. A MB Counselor can’t require more than the requirements dictate so you can print as many worksheets as you want and fill them in. Of course several of them like camping, Cooking, Physical Fitness to name a few require more than filling out a worksheet but I think most know what I’m saying.

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I discourage worksheets. But use of them does not explain scouts who earn every badge possible. Such boys have been around for 92 years … long before the worksheet fad.
My boys, as they matured, gravitated to counselors who didn’t lean on worksheets. Son #2 kept notes on his phone. I think worksheets can be more of a drag for someone who is an avid reader.


I have seen a couple of cases where this absolutely was the case. With other activities unavailable, scouts who made earning merit badges what they did to occupy themselves during the lockdown portions of summer earned a lot of them.


You also have to remember that troops and leaders had time to prepare. The BSA announced the start date for girl troops far enough in advance for any teenager or adult to plan out and prepare a schedule to get it done. Some of these girls knew they would only have two years to get eagle because of their age.


Judging just by my own experience as a scout (a long time ago), it’s possible to finish without breaking your neck in 2 years. Knowing some of the adult leaders and youth from girls’ troops, they are motivated to make it happen. Remember some of these youth have already earned the GSUSA Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. They’re not greenhorns coming in from a Webelos den and learning how to “do” self-directed scouting. These are seasoned scouts, coming in from another program.


I am an Assistant Scoutmaster for a large male Troop (12 years). My oldest son is an Eagle and my youngest son is a Life Scout. I know what it takes to make Eagle and those that are willing and committed to doing the work appreciate it.

I’m also the proud Scoutmaster of a 14 girl Troop. I have no daughters (and, yes, I ALWAYS have at least one YP-trained female Scouter present at ALL activities).

One of my female Scouts is about to rank up to Eagle. I can state with absolute conviction and satisfaction that she has earned EVERY rank (I’m not her MB counselor) and has satisfied all the rank requirements – including for Eagle. I require the Scouts to complete ALL the requirements – no more, no less.

Are there Scouts and parents more concerned with the badge than gaining the benefit of the knowledge and experience ? You bet. I can only enforce the requirements as written. As I have told this young lady, she will appreciate the fact that she cut no corners as she becomes an Adult. I am sure that many other members of this inaugural class will feel the same. Congratulations to them.


Andy at Ask Andy shares these Eagle Scout thoughts:

The Boy Scout advancement program is unique in several ways. First, as stated, it is based on individual effort and is achievable by one’s own vision and energies. Second, it is not mandatory in any sense of the word: If a Scout wishes to earn this rank, there is nothing in the Scouting program that can stand in his way; if he doesn’t, Scouting says that that’s OK. Third, no one “confers” or “bestows” the rank of Eagle (or any other rank, for that matter) on a Scout: He receives what he has earned. Fourth and perhaps most significant, receiving of any rank in Scouting by one individual is not determined by the judgment of others: If the work has been completed, the rank has been earned.

It is the responsibility of a troop’s adult volunteers to encourage all Scouts to advance in rank; it is not the responsibility of anyone to decide who shall advance and who shall not, or what their respective timetables will be.

Certain ranks have tenures. Some people think these are to slow the Scout down (so he can “mature,” etc.). Actually, the purpose of the tenures is to give the Scout the opportunity to put into practice what he’s learned, in a significant way.

Some people also think that “Eagle” is the pinnacle of Scouting, the end of the road, the finish-line, in a manner similar to earning a college degree. But, when pressed, these same people will (perhaps reluctantly) agree that even college degrees go beyond Bachelor, and even go beyond Doctor… Yes, there are “Post-Doc” educational opportunities! When we think of Eagle as the end of the road, the tendency is to couple this thinking–however wrong–with the fact that one’s 18th birthday ends the Boy Scout experience as a youth, and so we have young men who are encouraged to plan a seven-year program from Tenderfoot to Eagle because of a misguided connection founded on an inaccuracy. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with a seven-year program of progress, but neither is there anything inherently wrong with a two-year program of progress! It’s all up to each individual Scout. The Boy Scout Handbook says so!


Greetings of the Holidays.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had two young men, at different times, join my (former) Troop at age 16, and both earned their Eagle Scout Badge. It did require a LOT of diligence and dedication, along with an impeccable time schedule. but they did it.


The pandemic has helped my son earned 52 merit badges all virtually this summer and they were much easier then doing them in person.


My son could have gotten eagle at 12-12.5 - as a Webelos he was signed up for National Jambo - so going in he knew he had 15 months to get to 1st Class (requirement for Jambo) - so he hit it hard. And as a Troop and family we worked MBs hard to. So 344 days to First Class (Facebook memories surprised me with that the next day.) and he was life 10 months later as he had a ton of MBs. He did his project as a young 13 yr old as 10 seniors he had helped with projects were leaving troop and he wanted their help. But he just finished MBs for it at 15.5 now.


Why is anybody surprised here
I’ve worked with young ladies
They know what they want
They do what’s required
They are motivated