The Eagle Scout rank represents the highest level of advancement for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America. When achieved, it represents a multi-year commitment to the program, mastery of specific skills, demonstration of leadership and responsibility both in the administration of the day-to-day program and in designing and leading a service project that benefits the local community.
You’re probably at this page because a scout has made a request of you to author a reference letter on his behalf. This is part of the requirements of earning this rank:
“Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in your daily life. List the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious, educational, and employer references.”
Your letter, combined with four or five others, will be considered by the Eagle Scout board of review when it meets to consider the candidate’s application for the rank of Eagle. He will appear before this board of review, which will consider many aspects of his scouting experience, his leadership service project, and his growth as a young man. The board of review is made up of three to six adults, who may or may not be involved in scouting; relatives of the candidate may not serve on the board. Your letter will not be shared with the candidate; however, at your choice, you may provide him a copy of the letter if you’d like him to know of your remarks (providing him a keepsake for his memories of scouting album, etc.)
At issue is your past observation of the candidate’s typical behavior. The Scouting program encourages the development of character, citizenship and fitness. Specifically guided by the Scout Oath and Law, scouts are called to a high set of ideals.
To the extent possible, offer your impression of the young man in terms of the Scout Oath and Law (provided below), and any examples or situations you’ve seen which relate the candidate’s actions to these principles.
Here is the Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
To the extent you have observed the candidate:
Does the he help other people? Is he thoughtful of his surroundings — paying attention to opportunities to help appropriately? Is he someone who enjoys learning new things? Does he keep himself physically active and mindful of his own behavior (avoiding foolish behavior that is destructive or harmful/hurtful to others?) Does the candidate show an interest in spiritual development?
The Scout Law states:
- A Scout is TRUSTWORTHY. A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is a part of his code of conduct. People can always depend on him.
- A Scout is LOYAL. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, nation, and world community.
- A Scout is HELPFUL. A Scout is concerned about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
- A Scout is FRIENDLY. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs that are different from his own.
- A Scout is COURTEOUS. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
- A Scout is KIND. A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not harm or kill anything without reason.
- A Scout is OBEDIENT. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
- A Scout is CHEERFUL. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
- A Scout is THRIFTY. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
- A Scout is BRAVE. A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.
- A Scout is CLEAN. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.
- A Scout is REVERENT. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
Again, any specific examples you can offer where you have seen the candidate exhibit these behaviors, habits or choices would be very helpful for the board of interviewers who will be deliberating on whether or not to nominate the candidate for the rank.
Only about 4-5% of all scouts ever achieve this rank and it is a solemn duty to promote scouts to this rank since it represents a title held throughout his life — along with the responsibility to continue to exhibit these ideals in his daily life.
Thank you for your willingness to participate in the process. It’s both important to provide details and to get the letter completed in a prompt/timely fashion since it is typically one of the last steps in the process.