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Making a bucket list plan as opposed to a shortest time to Eagle plan

To paraphrase a popular quote, 80% of success in scouting is showing up. Show up early to meetings. Go to outings and events. Attend summer camp. When the time is right, try and go to Jamboree, or a high adventure base. Enroll in NYLT. All the opportunities will be there–just offer them up and a motivated scout (which it sounds like your son is) will find the path. It is not much more complicated than that.

Oh, it’s no coincidence that children of volunteers tend to get more out of the program–not because these parents tend to push their kids, but when scouting becomes a family activity, attendance goes up. Offer your help to ensure the troop is youth led as much as humanly possible.

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My son remember Jambo as one of his best experiences. But he also made the most of it and tried all the activities. He told me that so many kids just sat around with a patch blanket spread out, or complained about all the walking they had to do. Guess what…they didn’t have a good time. Like anything else, it is all about what you make of it.

So many great answers here.
The summary is what I expected. It’s pretty much up to the kid.
Buy a copy of the Boy Scout Requirements book. It has all the requirements for all the ranks and every merit badge. That will let your son look through to see what looks interesting.

I’d strongly recommend staying away from ‘merit badge’ days. Merit badge counseling is designed to be one-on-one. You son will get so much more out of that interaction.

Remember to look at the STEM awards. There are Nova and Supernova awards. The Supernovas have medals to signify the award. The Silver Supernova is probably in-between Life and Eagle in difficulty.
Look at the National Outdoor Activity award. There are patches for the segments and a medal that is very difficult to earn.
What ever the Hornaday award has been renamed as is for those interested in conservation.

Remember that many of the merit badges and other parts of advancement will mean a great deal more to an older scout. I just worked on Personal Management with a 17 yo scout and there was just so much that we talked about that a 13 yo would have had no concept of.

My son is in Order of the Arrow. He had a great time last year as Chief of our Chapter. I’ve watched his leadership skills increase. He went to Summit through the OA High Adventure program. Had a wonderful time creating part of a new trail and met some great guys from around the country. This year he’s going to Philmont through the same program. And for each trip the cost is a quarter of what the regular price is.
He’s not into Jamboree, much happier with a backpack on while in the mountains. Every kid’s different.

Way more than 2 cents worth.

On this subject, the Scouts BSA Requirements book (at least as of now) is transitioning to an online-only format. The information is now here: Advancement and Awards | Boy Scouts of America

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the requirements. There’s a link to the merit badge requirements at the bottom as well.

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Nooooo! I hate doing that. It’s so much easier to use those old ‘book’ things.
But before then the stone tablets I had to carry around were pretty heavy. Kid next to you said the wrong thing and the chisel and hammer were good to have.
I’m old.

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Yeah, I’m a hardcopy guy, too, but from a slightly more recent era. We used clay and a stylus when I was a scout. :rofl:

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@DavidSchilpp - yes another stone tablet scout… and there is that kid @CharleyHamilton with his clay tablets. I do suppose if you had to you could print the stuff out but the fact that reqs get changes annually I can understand the move away from print.

Stone tablets? You young kids! Back in MY day, it wasn’t official unless it was painted on the cave wall…


I have several issues with electronic only version of the Scouts BSA Requirements Book.

  1. General item is for no electronics for youth at campouts (a scout wants to talk about what MB to take later (on an outing, or at summer camp, etc, troop meeting). It is very easy to just get the troops copy from the usual location and the youth can review to the hearts content.
  2. Even if you get over the need to have some electronic device (tablet, smart phone, laptop, etc) you still need Internet connectivity or somebody (volunteer) would need to download all that information into a memory stick of the storage of the electronic device ahead of time. (one hour a week of volunteer time, NOT)
  3. Not all long term camps have a strong WiFi internet connection at the troop campsites then a leader would need to use cell phone “data”
    IMHO it is a BAD idea to eliminate the Hardcopy “Scouts BSA Requirements”.

Looking back at my own Scout Life, this is what I would have as a bucket list. Each list would be very unique for each Scout. I am not much of a swimmer, so The mile swim isn’t on my list:

  • Eagle
  • Summer Camp Every Summer
  • Polar Bear Every Winter
  • Camp Staff as soon as old enough each summer
  • Philmont as soon as old enough
  • Religious Award
  • Marksman

Each list will be as unique as each Scout. I have the religious award on the list since I never earned it, so it would be on my bucket list as a scout.

Depending on funds and fundraising, Jamboree.

If he really loves conservation projects, then why not the Distinguished Conservation Service Award. It, in some ways, is 3x of an Eagle Service project.

I always wanted to have an interpreter strip, so, learn a language enough to converse and translate. I never did, but it would be a great goal.

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I wasn’t much of a swimmer either, but I was a distance runner. I joined the swim team my freshman year. I wasn’t much to speak of, but I definitely improved over the season. Then, that summer, I earned the mile swim award while working at a scout camp. I think I set a record for the longest mile swim ever. I worked harder for that than any other award besides Eagle. (I converted to year round runner for the next year… so that ended my swimming career.)

I guess my point is that putting something that’s a stretch on your list can be super satisfying, too.


Each scout is different. My scout is awaiting his Eagle BoR at 3 years after crossing over to Boy Scouts. He had a personal goal to earn his Eagle rank quickly so that his grandmothers, who were both involved in Scouting, could share in his accomplishment. Sadly, within the last year, both of his grandmothers unexpectedly passed on; however, they thankfully knew he would be successful. Regarding camp - One year, my scout attended one week with the troop and a second week at a different Scout camp because it was family tradition to attend the camp which his troop didn’t choose to attend. He had an OK time the second week - he wasn’t keen on the facilities. The second year, he attended camp with his troop and didn’t have a great time. He chose to stay a second week without his troop and had a fabulous time, so he again stayed for a third week and, although was ‘done’ with camp, had a fabulous time again. His satisfaction with camp depended more on the kids camping with him (& the facilities & weather!!) than which merit badges he participated in. If asked, he will share that his favorite camp badges were Sailing and Pioneering. He also rather enjoyed working on the Orienteering badge too (mostly outside of camp). He is looking forward to working with the troop’s newer scouts joining this week, teaching them skills and signing off on those skills. He is looking forward to High Adventure camping and attending Sea Base which have a minimum age of 14 once we’ll let him travel (post Covid restrictions).

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