How many Eagle Scouts earned Eagle palms in 2013?

expertlogo1Not content at the 21 merit badges required for Eagle, some Scouts go beyond and earn additional merit badges, making them eligible to receive Eagle Scout palms.

An Eagle Scout who earns five merit badges beyond the minimum amount (and meets other requirements) will receive a Bronze Palm. He’ll get a Gold Palm for 10 extra merit badges and a Silver Palm for 15. He can wear multiple palms if he gets to 20, 25, 30, etc.

And now, for the first time ever, the BSA’s National Council knows exactly how many Eagle Scout palms were earned in the previous year. Last year was the first year National BSA started tracking the numbers it receives from local councils.

Before I reveal the numbers, a few caveats:

  1. These numbers are from 2013 only, which, as I mentioned above, is the first and only year for which numbers are available.
  2. There is no way to determine whether a palm earned by a Scout was his first, second, or third Bronze palm; first, second, or third Gold palm; or first, second, or third Silver palm. That’s not the way the database is set up.

(By the way: Yes, Bronze, Gold and Silver is the correct order. Read more about why.)

These numbers are courtesy of Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant in the BSA’s content management team. Without further ado, here’s the grand total of Eagle palms earned in 2013:


Is that higher or lower than you would’ve expected?

Broken down by color and region

Total Bronze Palms in 2013: 4,197

Bronze palms by region:

  • Western Region: 1,197
  • Southern Region: 1,076
  • Central Region: 1,051
  • Northeast Region: 873

Total Gold Palms in 2013: 1,224

Gold palms by region:

  • Western Region: 327
  • Southern Region: 312
  • Central Region: 317
  • Northeast Region: 268

Total Silver Palms in 2013: 269

Silver palms by region:

  • Western Region: 67
  • Southern Region: 62
  • Central Region: 79
  • Northeast Region: 61

Grand total, all colors and regions: 5,690

Where to wear palms

Now there are three places you can wear palms, depending on whether you’re a Scout or adult leader and whether you’re wearing formal/business attire or your Scout uniform.

Learn more here.

Want more numbers?

Find more statistics about the 2013 Eagle Scout class

See which merit badges were the most- and least-earned in 2013

More about Eagle palms

Learn more about Eagle palms and how to wear them in this excellent summary by Mike Walton, aka Settummanque. Click to enlarge:


47 thoughts on “How many Eagle Scouts earned Eagle palms in 2013?

  1. I would have thought that number would be higher. Sad that Eagle Scouts don’t continue learning about or trying new things. Merit Badges offer so many opportunities for young men for a potential career or hobby that they just have not been introduced to…

  2. I find the breakdown by region fascinating, especially where the numbers even out a bit at silver.

    I have no idea how many boy scouts are in each region or how many registered youth eagles (those eligible to earn palms) were in each region in 2013. Both of those numbers would put the totals in greater context.

    Similarly, I’d be curious to know what the average age of a scout is when he earns the eagle rank and how that number varies geographically and over time. In my troop as a kid, we had exactly 0 eagles earn palms in large part because the average age at advancement was somewhere around 17 yrs 6 months.

  3. Not surprising since the average age is pushing 18. A scout would have to Eagle by the time he is 17 and 3 months to have the bare minimum time to earn a Silver palm.

    • I agree Matt! I am the Eagle Coach/Coordinator for our troop and of the 10 or so Eagles I have worked with I can only think of one who wasn’t fighting the age deadline just to finish up Eagle itself, much less any palms. That’s also why the discussions previously on this site about youth earning Eagle at too young an age seem like misplaced concerns to me!

      • Also, most of those scouts HAD enough merit badges to earn a palm or two, just not enough time in after earning Eagle!

  4. My son got his Eagle April of 2013. On May 5, 2014 just got his 4th palm. He turns 18 a month from today. His goal was to at least get 4 before his 18th bday.
    More Eagle Scouts should get there palms – it is a shame that they don’t. He plans to stay involved with the troop – he is in OA, Venturing (shooting), JASM.

  5. Right around 10% of the number of palms to the number of Eagles.

    At some point in merit badge acquisition, (pick your number-40-50 maybe), and, after a kid has his Eagle, I tend to wonder why a kid is still actively getting them. Are they out there seeking merit badges at the expense of showing themselves as an example of leadership and mentoring to the newer Scouts? That said, I know a 14 3/4 year old Life Scout that has 112 merit badges now. He does all the troop leadership stuff, but goes to “merit badge weekends” and several summer camps because he just likes it. I asked him why he wasn’t an Eagle yet, and he said that he had plenty of time still.

    By the way, this kid is going to earn the Hornaday Gold, Venturing Silver, Ranger, Outstanding Shooting Sports, and Quartermaster too. He’s already got Venturing Bronze and Sea Scouting Ordinary knocked off! Any award that can be actively earned by hard work, in BSA he will get. I don’t count awards that are those of circumstance, like the Honor Medal etc. You really can’t actively seek those out.

    • Mr Bubbles – Please point him toward as we would like to place him on the list when he has completed all of the merit badges. And remind him that with his high goals in line, not completing his Eagle soon will reduce the number of palms he may end up with.

    • My son enjoys earning Merit Badges and learning new stuff. The more he is working on Merit Badges, the less time he is watching TV or playing senseless games computer games. I don’t let him have a cell phone, game boy, or a Wii.

      I’m sure someone will get upset, but he is 12 1/2 years old, 15 months as a Boy Scout, Star Rank, with 47 Merit Badges. Only 4 (CITN, CITW, First Aid, and E Prep) of those are Eagle required, but by the end of the summer he should have another 4 (Camping, Swimming, Environmental Science, and Cooking) with the possiblity of 2 more by the fall (CITC and Communication). He is looking at achieving Life Rank before his 13th Birthday and looking at doing his Eagle project late in the summer of 2015.

      He plans to continue on and earn as many palms as he can as he tells me “Scouting is his Life” and his goal is to be a Philmont Ranger. If he wants to to join a Venturing Crew, I will let him do that also as long as he keeps his grades up. He is not the most stellar student, but all learning does not take place in the classroom.

      He wants to earn all the Merit Badges, but since he doesn’t play a horn the Bugling MB will really be tough for him. We do have a Bugling MB counselor in the Troop who will loan him a trumpet, but we will have to see if he really wants to follow through to earn those final few when he gets older. Only time will tell, but I see nothing wrong with a Scout earning as many MBs as they want. Why would we want an Eagle Scout to meet the minimum requirement and quit?

      • I applaud your son and his work. Do not let naysayers and “clucking hens” (some of whom did not earn their own Eagle rank) talk your son into stopping if he enjoys the Scouting opportunities provided by merit badges. I had 41 merit badges when I turned 18. I earned my Eagle rank when I was 14. When naysayers called me a “showoff” it motivated me to earn another merit badge!

    • My son has enough merit badges to make palm, even though he doesn’t have his Eagle. My point being is that you don’t have to earn the merit badge after you make Eagle – you just have to have the time commitment in the troop after you make Eagle.

  6. @ Roy and Nutmegger: More than 50% of those who earned the Eagle in 2013 (28,628 of 56,841) did not have enough time left to meet the “active” requirement for even a Bronz Palm. This data is based on Scout birthdays, which for Eagles is pretty accurate. It’s also important to note that Palms may be somewhat under-reported. Sometimes troops get by with purchasing them without reporting the advancement. We don’t think this happens a lot, but we know it happens.

  7. Mining data out of a database all depends on how familiar the user is with the data and how the query is run. BSA should have ready access to greater detail than this as the ScoutNet system has fields for palm advancement dates. The fields listed below are available for use through Internet Advancement:

    Bronze Palm
    Gold Palm
    Silver Palm
    Eagle + 20 Merit Badges (second Bronze)
    Eagle + 25 Merit Badges (second Gold)
    Eagle + 30 Merit Badges (second Silver)
    Eagle + 35 Merit Badges (third Bronze)
    Eagle + 40 Merit Badges (third Gold)
    Eagle + 45 Merit Badges (third Silver)
    Eagle + 50 Merit Badges (fourth Bronze)

    I have seen “Person Listing” reports where there are additional palm records in the same format (i.e. Eagle + 60 Merit Badges), but I’m not sure if they are custom fields created for individual scouts or general fields for all scouts. If the person who provided the data for this blog post suggested that this was all the information that was available, I’m wondering if the query itself was limited to the first three fields listed above which didn’t capture any second/third/fourth/etc palms of any particular color.

    From previous conversations with people at National, it seems like the general theme is that querying their own data is an arduous task.

  8. Thanks Bryan! While I am glad to get this little bit of information, as a CIO and technologist, I am very disappointed in the BSA electronic systems. As Advancement Chairs we, know the data is in there because we have to enter it. As @nanmwarki said, we *should* be able to get all kinds of data out. My son accounts for one each of Bronze, Gold and Siler in the Northeast Region. His old troop and new troop are responsible for a few more.

  9. I am pleased to see that the BSA is now keeping track of these accomplishments! What makes little sense, however, is that the BSA internet advancement site only allows you to record up to Eagle + 50 (4th Bronze) as a maximum. While I understand that BSA advancement records are not set up to record multiple palms – why not? You can record them under Troop Master and other private tracking services. You would think that if the BSA was interested in promoting this award that it would at least enable the scouts the opportunity to record them, after all it has done so with all the merit badges, right?

    My son just turned 18 and aged out of his Troop with 139 merit badges and 20 palms (6 silver and 1 gold). However, the only way he can prove this, which the colleges have asked for, is through a letter from our local Scout Executive.

    If you are interested in reviewing an unofficial list of scouts who have gone on to earn “all” the merit badges and multiple palms you should check out the web site at, there are some great success stories listed there!

    Kudo’s to the BSA for starting to keep track of the palms and THANKS Bryan for the information!

  10. In looking at the data source it appears that only the first three Palm fields were queried. I’m not sure why–probably just a miscommunication. A full two-thirds (37,949 of 56,841) of Eagles in 2013, however, did not earn the Eagle in time to get more than three Palms, and of the remaining one-third who *could* meet the “active” requirement for a fourth Palm, very few would have had the 41 merit badges required.

    • I’m not sure why you are referencing Eagle achievement dates in 2013?? If data was provided to Bryan to represent how many palms were earned in 2013 (as this appears to be the point of his post) this should include “all” Eagle achievement dates but with palm achievement dates in 2013. Limiting the number only to those who earned Eagle in 2013 would significantly under-report the actual number of all palms earned in 2013. In fact, parsing the data to represent palms earned with earlier Eagle achievement dates may provide further insight as to the number of scouts who are continuing on in activity in the program long after they were anticipated to remain active. That might be some useful data and maybe even a metric to be reviewed from time to time.

      Now that everyone’s interest is perked, it may be reasonable to go back and recreate the query to provide accurate numbers.


  11. My son became a Centennial Eagle Scout when he was 13. He has received a palm every 3 months since giving him 5 palms so far. He also has a total of 90 merit badges right now and plans on getting all of them. Great to see him still so involved and willing to continue learning through the scouts.

  12. I am proud to say that my son also earned his first 3 Palms last year (Northeast region) plus an additional Bronze in January before aging out. We are proud of his accomplishments as an Eagle and glad that he had approximately 15 months from earning Eagle till he aged out.

    As Advancement Chair for our Troop, I am surprised too that more data isn’t available, since we are required to enter it. Of course, I find the system to be less than user friendly and a bit archaic, so not surprised that more data isn’t mined from what we input. 🙂

  13. @ Mark: The BSA is interested in promoting Palms as a means of keeping Scouts in Scouting. However, we do not promote the goal of earning all the merit badges. Earning all of them certainly points to drive, determination, and perseverance, but doing this was never part of our founder’s vision. In fact, Baden-Powell cautioned Scoutmasters on this issue. The BSA prefers that Scouts earn those badges sufficient to develop in character, personal fitness, and citizenship, and to learn to make ethical and moral choices through their lifetimes, but then we prefer they balance the earning of badges with other opportunities in and out of Scouting.

    • What does this mean??

      Each merit badge represents a unique opportunity for learning that is done while a scout but is focused on real-life learning. That’s the point of merit badges and scouting in general. Suggesting a preference for scouts to earn awards only sufficient to develop character, personal fitness and citizenship suggests that there is a limit to the development of these attributes and that it should be stopped at some undefined point. To me, this doesn’t make much sense. I can understand why BSA might passively avoid the encouragement of scouts to accumulate large amounts of awards, but more often than not I have seen BSA deride the idea rather than be passive about it. After all, it’s about the scout doing what he would like to do and taking advantage of the opportunities in the program.

    • Chris –

      Thank you for the observation. It is another version of the same cautionary tale I have been hearing since he obtained his Eagle at 12. For a program that allegedly promotes self choice, self motivation and personal exploration of individual skills and talents any scout that really pushes it does so under under a cloud and constant admonitions against self promotion. Wow – some kids just enjoy it … they are not shirking duties of mentoring or leadership, they do those too -its OK to be an overachiever, just like it is OK to never earn the Eagle Rank – if the scout had fun and learned some things along the way – well a success story in either example… don’t you agree?
      Patrick continues in Venturing where he has earned 4 Bronze awards, Gold Award, Silver Award, Ranger Award, Trust Award, Quest Award, Shooting Award and is currently working on his Quartermaster Award, but I will caution him that all of these experiences in getting there have nothing to do with “character, personal fitness and citizenship” and that he must continue to balance his life between academics, working 15 hours a week, debate, sports, church and volunteering at the food bank weekly.
      Maybe we can catch him and others like him – before they earn anything else! I am sure he and the rest will be much relieved.

      • Mark, you seem to be reading quite a lot into my comments. All I did was make a statement about goals and preferences. I didn’t, and wouldn’t, cast aspersions on to those who achieve at the levels you describe. Neither would I use a sarcastic tone to support a position with someone I don’t even know.

        • Chris –
          Perhaps I took your comment to be righteous condescending BSA pandering and believed sarcasm to be warranted … my apology if I was wrong.

        • Thanks Mark. Appreciate your last comment. I try to choose my words carefully.

        • Chris- Mark’s response is probably because this is the same line overachieving scouts hear over and over. Why can’t representatives from National simply say “Great job!” from time to time? Rather, it’s some backward statement that tries to mean one thing but more often shoots many of the ideals of scouting in the foot. And believe me when I say that I have been around this block a few times. I have had many conversations with National in reference to a proposal to recognize scouts who have gone above and beyond the expectation of Eagle only to be told that they don’t want to encourage this or that the Eagle rank is sufficient. Many of these scouts have performed multiples of service and multiples of merit badge achievement above what is required and they are basically told to stop making everyone else look bad. They are often told that they are not mature enough to do what they have done and that they should wait until they have reached a physical age that would somehow make them more capable. The silly part is that the 17+ average age of Eagle scouts is primarily because these scouts finally realize that they should refocus on their goals after ignoring it for several years and get the job done. Does this express more or less maturity than those who start at a young age with a goal in mind and earn a lot of merit badges and palms?

        • No Scouting leader, whether national or local, professional or volunteer, should be telling Scouts they aren’t “mature” enough to do this or to do that, or that they should stop achieving because they’re making others look bad, or that they should wait until they’re older to attain the Eagle Scout rank–or any other significant milestone. Saying these kinds of things to Scouts reveals a basic misunderstanding of how the program achieves its primary goal of personal growth.

          With regard to national recognitions for Scouts who go above and beyond, for example, earning all of the merit badges, the debate centers around recognizing those who have made a significant achievement on one side, and providing an incentive for others to do the same thing on the other. BSA, for the reasons I stated earlier, does not wish to provide such an incentive. We believe that most Scouts will benefit more by setting other long term goals that may relate more to their individual futures. Those who want to set a goal of earning all the merit badges, however, are welcome to do so.

        • I’m glad that Chris brought up the aims of Scouting. I was thinking about them as I read some of the comments. Earning merit badges does help meet the aims of character (Disabilities Awareness, Family Life, Scholarship, etc.), citizenship (American Cultures, three Citizenship badges, Indian Lore, etc.), and fitness (Athletics, Public Health, Traffic Safety, Reading, etc.). Keep in mind that fitness includes mental and emotional components as well as physical fitness.

          Advancement is just one of the eight methods of Scouting. Merit badge work also obviously involves adult association, the ideals, and personal growth. Some badges involve the outdoors, and a few involve leadership development. The uniform and the patrol method are the two methods that probably play the smallest part in the merit badge process.

          I think it’s great that some Scouts set high goals and achieve far beyond the minimum. I just hope that everybody remembers that the goal is to develop (not decorate) young people.

        • Yes, development is the goal. But let’s not try to suggest that scouts either earn awards OR develop themselves. There’s a reason we have multi-star generals leading our military and those with the highest education and experience leading our institutions. There is a very high correlation between the setting and achievement of goals and the development of personal attributes. Personally, I think that much of this talk about not encouraging high achievers is rooted in not wanting to offend the casual program participant.

          And referencing BP in this case seems to be a selective reference to suggest that the roots of scouting don’t agree with high achievement. If we were to use the same BP test across all of scouting today I’m sure there would be much bigger issues at National to spend time working on than taking the time to discourage scouts from earning a lot of awards if that is what they would like to do.

          Chris- If you are wondering why there is push-back to your comment consider the fact that you didn’t need to even make the comment to discourage the achievement of merit badges/palms. For some reason you felt the need to say it.

          Then again, maybe National is turning a corner on things. Maybe they are also working on demotivating others by taking away the Distinguished Eagle or other awards out of the program??

        • @nanmwarki: I don’t mind the push back. And yes, I felt a need to say what I said. I took a position on this debate a long time ago, and it happens be different than yours. I have solid reasoning behind my stand, and it has nothing to do with your demotivation comment. That was another example of reading something into what I said. I’d be happy to discuss this over the phone with you or anyone one else. Just send me a message at, and we can make the arrangements.

          Right now, I need to drop out of the discussion so I can proofread Advancement News and get it distributed.

        • Nanmwarki,

          Thank you for your comment at 11:36 p.m. You are correct, it has been my sons experience that earning more awards “than are sufficient to develop character, personal fitness and citizenship” has been something that has been derided (directly and indirectly) by more than a few scout leaders, volunteers and professionals, for many of the reasons that you have suggested. However, these were goals that he set many years ago and I have supported them.

          Chris, my initial comment was to primarily express appreciation that BSA is finally keeping track of Palms that scouts earn and to question why, however, you can not record more than a certain number, even though the opportunity to earn more exists and scouts in fact do so. My posting also expressed my pride in my son’s recent achievement (my fault), It was not to promote the concept of earning “all” the merit badges – I am very well aware that the BSA does not “promote” this goal. I can live with that, but why the BSA derides it, directly and/or indirectly, I will never understand!

          I do regret that Chris’s comment persuaded me to “push back”, however, I suppose that is water under the bridge, because now Patrick (and other scouts in similar circumstances) understand that they are “welcome” to go beyond the minimum requirements for Eagle … nothing like being given permission to succeed above and beyond what is “sufficient” to relieve a person of the stress caused by choosing to do so on your own!

          For my part, I shall continue to encourage scouts to set goals far beyond the minimums and encourage them to accomplish these goals before their last minute in scouting chimes… permission or no. I also say “GREAT JOB”, to all of those scouts who choose to do so!

      • I am so glad you pointed out this inconsistency in BSA. Earn your Eagle rank, but not too soon. Whops, you’re turning 18, sorry, you should have worked harder when you were younger. Earn the palms, but don’t earn too many or you’re being a showoff.

  14. I know of a 2010 Eagle Scout that earned a total of 3 Silver by the time he aged out in April of 2013 ( 3 bronze 3 gold 3 silver 45 extra merit badges )

  15. Some Eagle Palm history for the crowd:

    1926 BSA Annual Report established Palms as an incentive program for older scouts to remain active and provide leadership to younger boys. There was discussion around this time that some wanted to establish a rank higher than Eagle since more boys were earning Eagle and they wanted to keep them involved. Palms were supposedly the compromise decision. You can see this as the average age was closer to 14 and all scouts needed for Eagle were 21 MBs.

    Requirements first appear in 1927 BSHB. This is also the time frame that the Life-Star-Eagle rank progression went to Star-Life-Eagle

    Requirements were the 5 additional MBs for each Palm and pretty much what we have today…Scout Spirit, Active service and show leadership. Also a BOR was held but back then was held at the Council level only.

    1927-1965 6 month service required between Palms

    1965- present 3 months service. 1965 was also when PORs and EPs were introduced

    1984 1st mention of allowing any MB earned to count for Palms

  16. Now that National is tracking palms, are they going to count as advancement under JTE? Currently, there is a JTE disincentive to keep Eagles active in your troop, since they can only hurt your score in the advancement category.

    “Total number of Boy Scouts advancing at least one rank (Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, Eagle) since your last charter renewal date (A), divided by the number of boys you started your charter renewal year with (B1) plus all new boys who joined or transferred into the troop at any time during the current year (B2). Advancement = A / (B1 + B2).”

    • Good observation. Maybe this is the reason there is subtle (and not so subtle) pressure to delay a Scout’s progress toward Eagle. Keep him hanging until he’s almost 18 and you’ve got another Scout to boost your JTE quotas.

    • MT-They have been recording this data for a long time. They simply don’t seem to look at the data very often. So I wouldn’t think that they are quickly going to do anything with the data presented here. Certainly there is probably good use of the data so this could be a turning point.

      • nanmwarki – per the article, “Last year was the first year National BSA started tracking the numbers it receives from local councils.”

        But, really, whether they have been recording/tracking or not, my concern is about penalizing units (and thus districts and councils) on their JTE for keeping Eagles active rather than rewarding them for palms (or at the very least not counting Eagles in the advancement formula).

    • It looks like the JTE needs to be “tweaked” so that each Eagle Palm counts as an advancement because if it doesn’t the Eagle will never again count in the numerator while the Eagle will always be part of the denominator.

      • There are no plans to begin including Palms in the JTE advancement standard. JTE only counts ranks, which Palms are not. Palms are simply degrees of the Eagle Scout rank–see Guide to Advancement, topic It is true that a relatively large number of Eagles in a troop can bring down the Boy Scout advancement score, but these same Eagles serve to increase the retention score, which “weighs” more than advancement. If a troop brings in a healthy number of new Scouts each year, then Boy Scout advancement should do well, regardless the effect of the Eagles.

        Keep in mind that JTE measures overall unit health. All the standards work together to do this. A troop that has only a few new Scouts advancing in the lower ranks, but that has lots of older Scouts who’ve acheived Eagle, would not likely be called a healthy troop. Eventually the Eagles will age out and the troop may drop. A low advancement score can serve as one of the indicators alerting the council of the problems the unit faces.

        • Getting off topic but I’m guessing when “Scout” becomes a rank in 2016, it will be included in the JTE.

          To make JTE Gold in Advancement you only need 50% of your troop to advance. Given the data shown above, I’m guessing a very small % of troops would be affected by not counting Palms in the calculation.

      • There are awards outside of the standard rank advancement ladder that require scouts to “advance a rank” where it also says “or earn a palm if already an Eagle” or something to that effect. I can’t name them specifically off the top of my head. So BSA in some areas considers palms to be at least somewhat similar to ranks as it pertains to continued advancement. I think calling them “ranks” would open a different can of worms, but including them in JTE for advancement tracking would be reasonable and somewhat in line with practices in other areas.

  17. Sad that the data only tracks color earned and not sequence.

    The number for Bronze includes Scouts earning their 1st, 4th, and 7th palm. It would be nice to know how many 4,197 Scouts who earned a Bronze palm were earning their first palm and how many of those were earning a 4th palm (I’m sure a much smaller proportion). I wonder how many Scouts earned a 7th (or higher) palm in 2013, but we have no way of knowing.

    Poor data tracking, BSA.

    • The max number who would be earning a 4th palm (or 2nd Bronze) would be 269 which given the 3 months between Palms would mean they hit all the time frames exactly to get 4 Palms in 12 months.

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