Behind the numbers: Analyzing the 2013 Eagle Scout class

Anyone who attended an Eagle Scout court of honor last year knows 2013 was a great year for Eagle Scouts.

The same is true when you step back to look at the nationwide picture of young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. And today I learned exactly how many earned Scouting’s highest honor last year.

That magic number: 56,841.

That’s the second-highest number of Eagle Scouts in a single year in the 101-year history of the award. It’s bettered only by 2012’s total of 57,976, set during the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout award. You may remember that Scouts who earned the rank in 2012 got a special badge.

The 56,841 number is impressive, but it’s even more striking when you realize what it means. It means 56,841 young men are now prepared to become great leaders, great husbands and fathers, and great Americans because they chose Scouting.

But the Eagle Scouts themselves aren’t the only ones bettered by the journey. The 9.3 million service hours 2013’s Eagle Scouts recorded during their Eagle projects means their communities are forever changed, too.

Let’s look at even more numbers. This year I got more data than in past years, including a breakdown of Eagle Scout awards earned by region, total project hours and the average age of the young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. Find that info after the jump.

2013 Eagle Scouts by region
  • Northeast: 10,670
  • Southern: 15,407
  • Central: 11,450
  • Western: 19,314
Total number of Eagle Scout Service Project hours
  • Northeast: 1,993,867 hours
  • Southern: 2,458,892 hours
  • Central: 1,747,469 hours
  • Western: 3,146,719 hours

Total: 9,347,047 hours

Average age of 2013 Eagle Scouts
  • Northeast: 17.5
  • Southern: 17.18
  • Central: 17.28
  • Western: 16.99

Overall average: 17.24

Number of Eagle Scouts per year, recent years
  • 2010: 56,176
  • 2011: 51,473
  • 2012: 57,976
  • 2013: 56,841


Big thanks to Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant with the BSA’s Advancement Team, for this info.

30 thoughts on “Behind the numbers: Analyzing the 2013 Eagle Scout class

  1. the service hour average of 164 hours per Eagle project is the interesting stat. Most kids are quite daunted by the 100 hour suggested guideline, and here it shows they vastly exceed it when it’s all done.

    • Addressing Common Misconceptions
      1. No unit, district, council, or individual shall place any requirement or other standard on the number of hours spent on a project. The Boy Scouts of America is concerned with hours worked on Eagle Scout service projects and collects this data only because it points to a level of excellence in achieving the BSA aim related to citizenship…Our family was told on more then one occasion that there is not to be any number imposed or suggested. Even a project that takes 86 hours is worthy.

      Newly minted Eagle landed here in our home last October and the above was in his book and is from the National site.

      • I’ve always found that the number of hours a scout shows as a total is understated. Here are some categories of times that scouts should be recording: (Thanks to B. Nelson for most of this)

        Research time – Time spent finding a project including all time making phone calls, emails, and face to face meetings.

        Planning time. – Time spent writing your proposal and project plan. Time used pricing materials and services.

        Time spent obtaining materials, supplies and people – Time used to obtain materials and supplies for your project.

        Fundraising Time – As applicable. Contacting potential donors, follow ups and thank yous

        Documentation – Record time spent writing up the project and any supporting documentation, fliers, thank you notes, etc.

        Photos – Record the time spent taking before and after photos, etc.

        Travel time – Include trips to consult with leaders and recipients, trips to price and obtain supplies.

        Labor – Include time anyone spends working on your project. You should also include travel time for all those who help on the project.

        So you can see even a simple project can accumulate a large number of hours if the scout keeps track of them as he goes instead of trying to remember them after the fact.

  2. Most definitely #s to chew on. Any chance we can get the total numbers of 11-18 y.o. males enrolled in the past seven years, so we can get a denominator to calculate percentages?

    • Could be a number of possible reasons: Fewer Scouts in Troop could equal more personal attention; greater access via computer for research instead of having to go to the local library; better trained leaders who understand the process better (I know that my leader in the early 1970s was never trained); the Scouts that stay are more dedicated; or that the Scouts that stay have more interested parents.

      Just because the percent is rising does not mean that the standard is being lowered.

  3. My guess on the increase on percentage is based on self selection. The average youth joining scouts is more interested in scouting. Youth have so many opportunities on which to spend their time. So those that choose scouting are more likely to put in the effort to reach Eagle. Just my guess, no facts.

  4. Make that 56,842.

    I completed my Eagle Board of Review in August of last year, but due to a long saga of clerical errors and communication failures at the District/Council level, the National office has not yet received my application. Meanwhile, I’ve earned a Bronze Palm, turned 18, become an Assistant Scoutmaster, and applied for a NESA scholarship. What can Eagle candidates or adult leaders like me do about incompetence like this?

    Oh, and add 125 to the 2013 total of service hours, too!

    • Maybe they were so busy brainstorming over what they could change next that they had no time for an Eagle application. Seriously, this is inexcusable.

    • WOWWWWWW….and I thought that this only happened to my son! He just had his Board of Review after having completed all requirements by November 2012…Sadly, his LOVE and devotion to Scouting has wavered and it all breaks my heart! Congrats Jonathan B. and keep up the great work!!!

    • Jonathan – So sad to hear this. But lately, it seems incompetence reigns. We were thrilled to attend our Council’s Eagle Recognition Banquet for the Class of 2013 with our son. Appx 530 Eagles Council-wide. I’m sure the speakers did their usual – going on and on about excellence. None of us heard a word…when we sat down and opened the program, we quickly discovered that NONE of the Troop numbers listed with the Eagles’ names were correct. The families at our table and those surrounding were absolutely dumbfounded.

  5. My son made Eagle Dec 18, 2013. When he join scouts as a tiger there was 15 boys and only 4 cross over. We saw 3 boys for the 1st year after that only my son stayed in the troop.

    • Gail, just like searching for the cure for the common cold, searching for the secret of what makes some dens stay together and why some fade away is a noble quest. 2012, I had a Quad eagle ceremony. They started out as eight tigers and seven made it together into scouting. One dropped out in the first year, two moved away (both made eagle) and the four remaining made their eagles. Today, three are in college (Chemistry, Media and Business) and the fourth is a Marine. They all still come to meetings when they can.

      However, like you I have also seen the fade away. After 30 years as SM, I know that 99% of the mix includes the Scout’s own drive, family support, responsable leadership (his and others), opportunities (program, activities, events) and coping with “Adult Polution”. We all need to keep looking for that missing ingredient.

      • Eagle shouldn’t be so easy to earn that a group of 7 will result in 4 eagles. Or even 1. It should be difficult enough to earn and require enough dedicated work that 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 1000 boys gets it.

        No doubt there were merit badges barely scraped at summer camp, and good lord knows that Jamboree participants get a goodie bag full of merit badges. And don’t forget merit badge universities and midways held by districts and councils everywhere!

        You get a merit badge! You get a merit badge! It’s like Oprah up in here.

        These statistics scouters brag on today are numbers I think they should be ashamed of. They show just how silly the program has become, and highlight that a scout from 1950 was twice the man of a scout today.

  6. The Guide to Advancement (Section, para. 7) has suggested “time-in-Boy-Scouting” goals for First Class and Star ranks. What is the average age for these 56K Eagles at 1) First Class, 2) Star, 3) Life? These ages would give some insight into how steadily our “most successful” climbed the ranks – and hopefully support our use of these goals.

    • Advancement also depends a lot on the Scout and his family support. My son crossed over last February and made First Class 9 months later in November 2013. He should make Star soon after he reaches his 4 months of POR in March/April.

      Another Scout joined at almost the same time. He made Tenderfoot last week. He basically had the same opportunities as my son. One took advantage of them while the other did not.

      I don’t know if the “numbers” for making 1st Class, Star, or Life would tell us much as it depends on whether the statistician uses the mean, median, or mode. As I always tell my bosses at work when they want to delve into numbers, “What is your agenda? I can make the numbers look positive or negative. Just let me know.” Usually they are stunned and leave it up to me and therefore I give the data to them in several formats and let them decide how to read it.

  7. Can Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant with the BSA’s Advancement Team, provide a table of the numbers of 2013 Eagles who earned Eagle at each age, 13 through 18, and 19&over?

    • Another interesting stat would be a breakdown of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Ventures. I see all three types of applications here.

  8. My son earned his Bronze Palm when he was a Sea Scout. It’s unusual to earn Eagle (or palms) when you’re not in a Troop, but it happens occasionally.

  9. I find the number of Eagles minted makes me sad. It makes me sad because 40 years ago, there were far, far, fewer getting the award per year. And that was back when there were 9 million people in the program instead of 2 million.

    BSA has lost its way here. The first class badge was the mark of a true, outdoor-trained scout. Life, Star, and Eagle were more like graduate school awards for earning merit badges. Most scouts back in my day would be standing around at 15 years old still holding second class and proud of it.

    Today, second class scouts are like wolf scouts – they get it for almost nothing.

    Can I still be proud of my Eagle? I am proud of what I did to earn it. But I am not proud to now be joined by 13 year olds who breezed through on the wings of their parents in a different culture where everything is easier.

    • First off, there has never been 9 million members in the BSA.

      First Class was actually easier to earn than it is today! If you were still Second Class at 15, I would say that you were not going to make Eagle. No matter what year, it is still the most ambitious scouts that make Eagle. I made Eagle in 1981, which was just a little before my 14th birthday. I was not pushed by my parents or leaders, I wanted the achievement!

      Since the 1960s, the expectation for earning First Class has gone from 3 months to 12 months. At the same time, the requirements have also been expanded.
      Scout Award: The Scout Award did not exist in the 1960s. Today’s Scout Award contains the same essential requirements as the Tenderfoot Rank did in the 1960’s.
      Tenderfoot: Today’s Tenderfoot Rank has added requirements for physical fitness, camping, cooking, and first aid in addition to the 1960s’ requirements.
      Second Class: In the 1960s, Second Class had no requirements for camping or swimming. Today, Second Class requires participation in at least 5 activities outside of meetings as well as 2 campouts. Basic swimming skills and expanded first aid skills have also been added.
      First Class: Today’s requirements double the 1960s swimming requirements. Specific strokes are now required. Today’s First Class camping requirement is 50% more than the 1960’s requirements In addition First Class now requires participation in at least 10 activities outside of meetings.

      Camping merit badge is now required again for Eagle. Since 2001, the requirements for almost every merit badge have also been increased.

      Do I think today’s youth are pushed a little more than I was or you were, YES, but they still have to complete those requirements to achieve the award. I would expect the #’s to rise, since those that might have dropped out before, now have many more resourses at arm’s reach away to use at their disposal. The MB skill centers are a huge help and of course the internet provides an unrivaled sourse of information that could not be obtained in such a short amount of time back in 1950 or 1960. They also are being bombarded with so many things to do, that the ones that do complete Eagle should be praised!

      Anyone who has teenaged boys knows how hard it is to get them to do something they don’t want to do and I’m sure it was no diferent back in the 1950’s with teenaged boys to get them to do something they didn’t want to do!

      There is no real reason to hate on these new Eagles, just look at the facts of how they got to where they are now.

      “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.” B-P

    • I earned Second Class in the late 1950s, and yes, it took some work as it should have. Today I work with young Scouts every year, and I can assure you that they need to work as well. They build a fire from native materials that they’ve gathered themselves with woods tools they’ve learned to use properly. When they do a five-mile hike, it is a full five mile hike measured by GPS, with plenty of conversation about their surroundings along the way, not just some strolling around the park. And so on… I have nothing on these kids; they earn it just like I did.
      The problems you’re referring to do exist, but they are not problems of the advancement program’s design. They are problems of poor implementation. If we follow the requirements exactly, they are still challenging to young Scouts, and they are fun. If you’re seeing these problems in troops around you, you need to pitch in at the ground level and help their leaders understand that the whole advancement process is a lot more fun if every boy does exactly what the requirements say. No more, no less. We all need to insist on that.

    • Rex,
      This is a great question and would be a very interesting statistic, being the average age of most Eagles is around 17+, this would allow enough time for a number of Scouts to earn the Bronze, Gold, or Silver palms.
      Having worked with many Eagle Scouts, the one question I’ve asked them is, “Do you wish you could of completed your Eagle requirements sooner to be recognized for your time and effort completing the additional merit badges beyond the 21 required?” The answer was typically, “Yes!”.

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