Path to Eagle

last revised December 31, 2022

The Troop 28 Tips — Journey from Life to Eagle Scout & Eagle Service Project tip sheet is a great place for every new Life scout to start. We also recommend that scouts working on Eagle rank export a PDF Eagle application from Scoutbook (see below for details and instructions).

If you are a newer scout and are not yet sure if you are interested in becoming an Eagle scout, you may wish to review some of the Eagle planning resources below to help keep your options open. Some badges are easier to complete than others, so a little advanced planning (or extra thought when choosing from available merit badge programs) help make Eagle rank achievable with a little hard work and determination.

The troop's Eagle resources are current as of the date above. For the most current, authoritative information on Eagle rank requirements including the latest Eagle Project Workbook, please refer to the BSA's Guide to Advancement. For information about the Eagle process, deadlines, and contact information, please check out the NEIC Eagle resource page or ask a Troop 28 Eagle Coach.

Trail to Eagle Workshops

updated January 24, 2022

If you are just starting your Eagle journey, a good place to start is by attending a Trail to Eagle Workshop. Some councils call their programs “Life to Eagle” or “Path to Eagle.” While many families figure out much of this material on their own, or by asking the Troop Eagle Counselor, many councils provide these workshops to help jumpstart the process. Troop 5 in Wilmette has created a summary on their website, Life to Eagle – The Biggest Step in Your Scouting Journey.  Troop 97 also has a good Trail to Eagle: Guide for Life Scouts on their site.

Important! If you attend a program offered by a Council other than your home council (Northeast Illinois Council), make sure you consult the troop's Eagle Scout Mentor and/or the Council's staff to make sure you understand Council-specific requirements for how and when they want material submitted. The requirements should be the same across Councils, but the process and expectations may vary.

Here are two options for Trail to Eagle programs:

  • Garden State Council‘s free Zoom webinars have been announced through December 2021.
  • Three Fires Council his historically offered their Life to Eagle program as a workshop during their annual Merit Badge University. During the pandemic, they have also offered this program virtually. They have since made their program available virtually, which you can watch, below:

Three Harbors Council also has a helpful welcome letter and checklist for Life scouts approaching Eagle.

Eagle Rank Requirements

The Eagle Rank requirements include completing certain merit badges, actively participating in a Scouts BSA troop, and completing an Eagle Service Project.

The Eagle service project is the capstone achievement on the path to Eagle. While a Life Scout, scouts must plan, develop, and lead others in a service project that will help a school, a religious institution, nonprofit, or other beneficiary organization in our community. The project idea must be approved by the organization that will benefit from the effort, the Scoutmaster, the troop committee, and the district before you start. You should use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook (see below for details on the “Eagle Scout Workbook”) in planning and meeting this requirement.

Scouts have until their 18th birthday to advance through all the ranks and complete the Eagle rank requirements. Newer scouts may be unsure of whether they are interested in pursuing Eagle, or even in advancement. However, many scouts who stick with scouting for a few years find that they have already completed many of the requirements just by participating and completing merit badges on their own or during summer camps.

Advancement/Eagle Merit Badge Planner

You can use this handy Eagle Merit Badge Planner to start thinking about which merit badges you might want to start on, and how to fit them into your busy schedule!  It's helpful to think through the challenges of each of the badges so you can plan them around your school/extracurricular/summer schedules. Some of the Eagle-required badges have requirements that cannot be done through sheer determination (e.g., you can't make 12 weeks go any faster, and you can't just go on a BSA camping trip that involves canoeing or biking on your own). So a little advanced planning goes a long way.

If you are not sure which Eagle-required badges to tackle first, here are some resources to help you decide:

Also, keep in mind, if you heave earned additional merit badges beyond those required for Eagle rank (either electives or additional Eagles), you can earn an Eagle Palm for every five additional badges earned. If they are completed prior to your Eagle Board of Review, you can earn a Palm(s) at the same time as the Eagle rank. Effective January 1, 2024, scouts can earn additional Palms as they complete additional merit badges, without an additional three months of service.

Exporting the Eagle Scout Application from Scoutbook

For your application, we recommend you export the Eagle Scout Application from Scoutbook (click here for more details and information). First, the Scoutbook PDF will be prepopulated with key data including the scout's name, address, BSA ID number, rank advancement dates, and merit badges. This will save you a lot of copying and researching, and will also be legible!

Second, Troop 28 uses Scoutbook to record scouts' official advancement history. Even if you decide to complete your record by hand, you should print out a draft application and compare the Scoutbook records to any paper records you may have. In general, if the dates in Scoutbook are a few days or weeks after your paper records, but they don't impact your advancement (i.e., if Scoutbook shows a merit badge earned after Star or Life rank Board of Review), it probably does not warrant correcting. If you find any discrepancies, please alert the Advancement Chair and provide any available documentation (signed handbook, blue card, camp record, and/or email from scoutmaster or merit badge counselor) so it can be corrected before you submit your application.

To download the Eagle Application from Scoutbook:

  1. The Scout or parent should log into Scoutbook. Parents should be able to log in with their credentials (or can reset them as needed). If parents do not have accounts, or if they are logged in but cannot see their scout, they should contact the Advancement Chair. If scouts do not have access to Scoutbook, their parents first need to log in to Scoutbook. Then from the main menu (My Dashboard), select My Family / Scout's Name > Edit Profile Invite Scout to Connect. They scout must have access to a different email from the parent. Troop administrators cannot grant access to scouts; this can only be done by the parents.
  2. To export the application, from the main menu (My Dashboard) select My Family / Scout's Name ReportsEagle Application.  See the Scoutbook help file for more details and instructions.
  3. Once downloaded, you can correct or add any missing information into the fillable PDF.
Letters of Ambition

Sagamore Council has created a rubric for the Letter of Ambition and statement of life goals. They say:

Requirement #7 for Eagle Scout is an essay about your personal Life Goals. It is submitted along with your Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook and Eagle Scout Rank Application.

The essay should be written in paragraph form and include both your short term and long term goals. Most scouts find their completed essay to be about 2 double-spaced pages long. This overview serves to help the Eagle Committee member who reads it to get a sense of who you are as an individual in order to prepare for his role as Chair of your Eagle Board of Review. In writing this document your goal is to present yourself as the thoughtful and sincere individual you are. It is best to include only those topics you can support in a conversation. Do your best to make this a flowing narrative of your life, and not a choppy checklist of items.

Recommendation Letters

Who should write the Eagle recommendation letters?

A scout needs to submit 4-6 recommendation letters along with the Eagle application. The first three or four should come from:

  • a parent or guardian
  • a pastor or other leader from the scout's religion*
  • a teacher or other person involved in the scout's education, and
  • (if employed), the scout's employer.

*Note: If your family does not participate in organized religion, a second parent may write a letter addressing the scout's spiritual side.  Please see this forum for some discussion on this subject.

Additionally, a scout may submit up to two additional recommendation letters which may come from any adults, including the scout's Scoutmaster.  It is a best practice to submit names of six recommenders, even if not all six do not end up submitting recommendations.

Scouts should confirm that their recommenders agree to participate, however, letters are submitted confidentially, so the scout will not know when/if the letter has been sent/received. However, scouts will not be penalized if the recommendation letters are not received by the Council.

What is the recommendation letter process?

For a great resource including templates for requesting letters, and tips to send to recommenders for writing the recommendations, please visit the ScoutSmarts guide to “Everything to Know” about Eagle Recommendation Letters .This is NEIC's letter for prospective recommenders which scouts can include with their requests.

Eagle Project Workbook and Resources

Use the resources below to help you on your path to Eagle!

*Note: Do not attempt to open the Eagle Project workbook in a browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc.) or in programs such as Nuance PDF Converter. The workbook was created in Adobe LiveCycle, which must be saved to your computer and opened with Adobe Reader 9 or later. This enables the user to take advantage of the enhancements of expandable text boxes and importing images. If you try to open it in a web browser or, it will display the message “To view the full contents of this document, you need a later version of the PDF viewer.  Follow the instructions for PC or Mac to download the file to your computer, then Adobe Reader first, and then open the PDF from within Adobe Reader.

Also, IMPORTANT!  Please do not complete all your long-form responses directly in the PDF without paper or FREQUENT digital backups. The PDF has been known to crash occasionally, eating all the scout's hard work.  A good practice would be to draft and edit your replies in Word or Google Docs and then to copy and paste the final versions into the workbook (but keep the originals).  And don't forget: save early and save often!

Eagle Project Inspiration and Tools

ScoutSmarts has published a list of suggestions for planning an Eagle Scout Project.

Many Eagle Scout projects involve construction or conservation, but there are literally thousands of projects that involve neither. Just remember to pick a project and organization that interest and inspire you! If you are looking for ideas, here are three great places to start:

If nothing from those lists strikes your fancy, try these additional options:

The Eagle Workbook is a great way to keep your work organized, but here are a few more tools you may choose to use:

What to Expect at the Eagle Board of Review

As you approach your completion date, please check out our Congratulations! You're (almost) an Eagle!….Now What?  page for tips on planning an Eagle Court of Honor, scholarships, and more.

Tip: If you are waiting on your Board of Review, keep in mind that you can receive an Eagle Palm at the same time as your Eagle rank (you don't have to wait an additional six months). So if you have 4, you might want to get another one done in advance!