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Working on Eagle Project While Star Scout?


Two of my scouts are 16 and will be Star in the next week, turning 17 in the first quarter of next year. I also have a 17yo scout becoming Star in a month. As girls in a troop that chartered July 29, 2019, they have worked hard to get where they are!

All three ladies would like to get started on their Eagle project right away and not wait 6 months to become Life first because they are racing the clock, so any extra time they have is going to be needed.

The 17yo got an extension because of her age, but the other two were too young to get the extension. While she still has an extension, waiting for Life will still only give her under 6 months to do her Eagle project if she has to wait for Life before her extension expires.

How can they officially start their Eagle projects while Star? Can they meet with a counselor, work on the workbook, have the beneficiary and councilor sign off of plans, fundraise, etc? I have been told by others that much of this can be done unofficially, but I’d rather do things the right way.


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They cannot - they can think things up, but not Work
GTT “While a Life Scout …”
Work on a project, including planning, begins after the Life Scout board of review. But this is not meant to preclude an enthusiastic Star Scout from talking with his or her Scoutmaster, religious leader, or principal about what a good project might be.

I suggest you read over Chapter 9 of the Guide to Advancement


Hi Dana,

As Donovan has said, there is nothing that they can do officially until they have achieved the rank of Life. Nothing with a mentor or counselor, nothing in the workbook and no sign-offs. Sorry, there is no right way to do this.
I have had Scouts do some of the preliminary work in selecting their project prior to achieving Life rank so that they could start the process the day that they completed the rank. Talking about potential projects is not prohibited.

Scott Sonntag


I will add as a Scoutmaster - I ALWAYS ask Scouts at there First Class SMC “Have you thought about a project?” - it is a go to question. I want them thinking about it, and knowing I am there to talk them through challenges.


It’s also important that the Scouts understand that they cannot do any fundraising until after their proposal has been approved. In addition, the Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application might be required to be approved by the council prior to the start of any fundraising. Please see “Proposal Must Be Approved … Before You Start” and Fundraising Issues for more details.


My best advice is they use the six months waiting on life to get there merit badges squared away and begin thinking of a project. I would assume that if they knew what they were going to do then they could be prepared to hit the ground running the day after their board of review. Idk how far they could actually progress on an eagle project before life. I would be hesitant with anything past getting ideas and drawing up their proposals for the advancement chair to sign off.


Hello Dana, it sounds like they already know what the want to do if I am reading your comments correctly. This is one of unfortunate rules that the BSA is uncharacteristically “clear” on…

While it’s clear that you can’t work on anything in the capacity as an official “Life Scout” I wonder how others feel about working for “personal knowledge” that coincidentally overlaps the project?

I truly dislike holding a motivated Scout back when we have so many that needs a kick in the rear to do their work. I’m not for breaking the rules but I sure don’t mind bending them into a pretzel to help a good Scout if it makes sense.

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Yes, they have an idea and at least one (maybe two) have already had a preliminary talk with the beneficiary to validate their idea and interest. I can likely restrict the effort being made to identifying a project, verifying with the beneficiary that they are interested in it, and prepare the proposal and presentation for the committee for sign-off so that after earning Life they can contact a counselor and start on the workbook. The latter certainly gets into “planning” at some level and I don’t think that it can be avoided.

Using those 6 months to knock out merit badges is a good idea, too. It is going to be challenging enough to complete the project, but having to juggle badges on top of that will make it tough.

The project proposal is part of the workbook.

Focusing on earning merit badges right now is good advice. They will also have leadership obligations as a Life Scout, so it would be good to get the merit badges taken care of ahead of time.


@JenniferOlinger makes a very good point. Dana, have these Scouts earned all of their required merit badges? If not that should be priority in additional to meeting the other rank requirements.

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A lot of great points have already been made. Let mine begin with THANKS for looking out for your scouts!

I want to emphasize that in addition to merit badges, the position of responsibility these scouts hold while earning Life should also be a focus of their current attention. Their experience in leadership roles as Star and Life scouts are specifically meant to prepare them to demonstrate these capabilities during their service project. The more they learn now, the better prepared they will be to execute their project successfully once they earn Life.

Their timelines are compressed, and the goal is important. But every stage of the journey is a learning opportunity.


I too was once a motivated Star scout who was held back by the time requirement and was unable to work on my Eagle Project until I was a Life Scout.

I’m not going to pretend I totally understand how it is working with girls in scouting and the compressed timeline, as I don’t. However, from my experience, it was pretty clear you could not work on your Eagle Project until you became a Life Scout. I had an idea for my project and began writing draft letters while I waited, and at minimum had a copy of the Project Workbook, but I did not actually send out anything, nor begin working in the book. Mind you these draft letters had no planning aspects of them. It was as simple as me asking if the project I had in mind was still available to do.

The day I passed my Board of Review and became a Life Scout I immediately sent out the draft letters to the school I wanted to do my project at, as well as started my workbook. It’s safe to say I was not on a time constraint as I earned Eagle at age 15.

All things considered, if these Scouts have their merit badges and other affairs in order, encourage them to think of a project, but they cannot start it or do anything on it until they earn life. The requirement in my opinion speaks for itself, “While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership…” The way I interpret that is that you shouldn’t be actually doing work in the workbook (as that is planning), or doing work on it and then planning to move it into the workbook once you’re a Life Scout. While we might not agree with this timeline, this is a requirement for Eagle and I don’t think it’s right to bend them for anyone or any reason (unless national of course gives you one). One of the things I did during my “limbo” time was work on awards. They’re cool little things that you can get. I chose to spend my time doing the Interpreter Strip, Paul Bunyan and National Outdoor Award for camping. Just an idea if their affairs are in order.

You mentioned that they would identify a project (which is fine), but the two that are a bit of a no area is preparing the proposal and verifying with the beneficiary. Those (at least for me) would be considered more planning. If it helps at all, sit down with them and explain that they shouldn’t be going past having a project in mind, as then they would not be satisfying the requirement, since they would do planning as a Star Scout, not a Life Scout.

I hope this helps.


I agree they cannot officially plan the project prior to Life rank. However putting feelers out to the potential recipient of said project, esp with the time constraints, wouldn’t be bad just to insure the project is something they want rather than planning in their heads I’m going to do X, and find out the beneficiary of said project would rather have something else for example.

Certainly scouts can be thinking about projects, much the same way they look forward to and think about next year’s backpacking trip for ‘when they’re big enough’. But it’s way too soon for detailed plans and picking objectives because they have a lot to learn still.

They should be helping with many other Eagle Projects while they are advancing toward Life. By the time they reach Life, they should have worked on numerous Eagle Projects and likely will have changed any of their first ideas. This is the growth we look for, and can’t be rushed. Helping others succeed is a key part of Scouts’ growth.

As their Leader, try to enjoy the process. It’s like tending a garden and can’t be rushed or over-watered. Go to Wood Badge or Sea Badge.

From the Guide to Advancement: “Advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. It’s one of several methods designed to help unit leadership carry out the aims and mission of the BSA”

“Personal Growth is the Primary Goal” All the skills and advancements are not the primary goal.

“Success is achieved when we accomplish the aims of Scouting: Character Development, Citizenship Training, Leadership , and Mental and Physical Fitness.”

A successful unit will see youth accepting responsibility, demonstrating self-reliance, caring for selves and others, and weaving scout ideals into their lives.

We have 8 methods to train scouts:

  1. Scouting Ideals- the Oath and Law
  2. Patrol Method- gives sense of belonging, friendships
  3. Advancement- “the method by which we promote and encourage ongoing involvement and commitment that keeps scouts coming back”.
  4. Adult Association
  5. Outdoor Program
  6. Uniform
  7. Personal Growth
  8. Leadership Development
    ( All quotes and info are from BSA “Guide to Advancement” 2019 pages 10 & 11).

Scouting takes time- many campouts, hikes, summer camps, meetings, friends. Growth and maturity don’t arrive by merely racing through a checklist for advancement.

Robert Gregory, Pacifica District, Greater Los Angeles Area Council

Every now an then we get a spate of boys on these tight timelines. Some advantages your scouts have that those in the past didn’t:

  • They can rack up dozens of elective MBs and be awarded insta-palms upon making Eagle. If they don’t make Eagle, they’ll have enjoyed trying multiple MBs.
  • Positions of responsibility during a pandemic require a special touch. Lots more communication, etc … That is the real resume-builder. Lots of Eagle Scouts put just those two words in their college application. That really doesn’t say much.
  • Most of us are interested in a scouts success, and are well aware of the pitfalls. Guidance on projects is better than ever before.
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As a District Advancement Chair I only ever had to say no to 1 project that had been completed. The young man had taken it upon himself together with his parent to completely plan and do a project while he was a Start Scout. When it got to me on the back end I had to tell him that it was great that he did a bunch of service, but that was all it would be able to count toward. He actually did a second project after he made Life and got his Eagle. A hard lesson learned.



Thank you, everybody.

Much to their disappointment, I advised those scouts during the Scoutmaster Conference for Star to focus on getting the MB’s and the rest of the ranking requirements completed. I suggested that they review the workbook and the Eagle project submissions of our past Eagles so that they know the scope of what they need to do but not to plan or complete any of it until they become Life.

Thanks again!


That is a genius idea that I wish I had thought of. I know I would have benefited from seeing the scope of the undertaking before I charged into it as a youth. It probably would have improved the quality of my experience, and possibly of my project.


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