37 Essential Tips For BSA/Boy Scouts (From An Eagle Scout)


Want to know the best method for having an amazing time in Scouting and getting the most out of your experiences? It all comes down to being prepared and learning from others! As an Eagle Scout myself, in this article I’ll be sharing my top tips for success (and more fun!) as a BSA Scout. 🙂

Before we dive into my tips though, I’d urge you to first think carefully about why Scouting exists in the first place, and why it’s important to you. These answers could be different for everyone, but understanding the ‘WHY’ behind what you’re doing will make your experiences so much more meaningful!

What was my own Scouting ‘WHY’?  For example, when I was a Boy Scout I wanted to learn how to be self-sufficient in the world, develop my leadership skills, and support the communities around me. Since everything my troop did supported my why, staying motivated and having a blast in Scouting was easy!

So, before we get into the best tips, tactics, and mindsets that I’ve learned for making the most out of one’s Scouting journey, the biggest tip I can give you is to consider your ‘WHY’. Why do you spend hours each week with your troop?

If you need more inspiration, here are 7 “whys” that inspire scouts to stay motivated and involved in their troops:

  1. Earning Eagle can give scouts a huge edge in their college applications, and put them in a great position to succeed after graduation.
  2. Plus, there are tons of great scholarship opportunities for Eagle Scouts!
  3. Once you’ve reached Scouting’s highest rank, you’ll be able to give back to your troop! Your Scoutmasters and senior scouts put so much effort into training you that it’d be great if you could pay it forward.
  4. Almost nowhere else will a young person be able to build their leadership skills as much as they will in Scouting. Take advantage of this opportunity and commit to making the most of it!
  5. “Eagle Scout” can be listed on your resume for years, and can even help you to land your dream job (it definitely helped me!).
  6. If you decide to join the military, being an Eagle Scout will allow you to enlist at a significantly higher rank and pay grade than your peers.
  7. Most importantly, earning Eagle can help you to believe in yourself and become a capable person — A person who’s able to persevere and overcome life’s most difficult challenges!

Have you found your own why yet? Great! If not though, just look out for the things you enjoy in Scouting, and you will. 😉 Now for the tips! If I could go back in time to when I was a Boy Scout and give myself some advice, below are the most important lessons and lifehacks that I would share…

Mindset Tips For Thinking About Your Scouting Journey

  1. Scouting is a marathon, not a sprint. By enjoying the journey seeing learning as your main goal — instead of just ranking up — you’ll have a much more valuable Scouting experience and be even more likely to earn your Eagle rank!
  2. Your fellow scouts make the journey worthwhile. Building strong friendships within your troop and enjoying the time you spend with your buddies will be one of the most memorable and rewarding parts of your Scouting experience. Savor it!
  3. Your Scoutmasters have got your back, so always be prepared to speak your mind. Whether you’re calling out a dangerous situation or are feeling a little stuck in ranking up, your Scoutmasters are there for you! Get comfortable asking for their help, because most Scoutmasters love to give it!
  4. Every event is an opportunity — so seize the day! While you might not feel motivated to attend every event (been there!), you should always make an effort to go. Often, I found myself unexpectedly completing requirements or having a blast at troop events that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to, beforehand.
  5. Always be curious. Whether you’re learning how to tie a new knot, improve your leadership skills, or rank up, Scouting is about exploring. By learning to love the process of finding out new things and adapting, you’ll have the perfect mindset to become an Eagle Scout!

Tips To Have More Fun In Scouting

  1. Your expectations matter — so always do your best to be cheerful. If you think an activity will be long, difficult, and boring, it will often feel that way while doing it. But the opposite is true too! If you’re excited for something and pump yourself up, you’ll almost always be a great time and learn a ton along the way!
  2. Make your fellow scouts laugh, and lift them up. On a difficult hike or a long service project, it can be easy to start grumbling. Don’t! Instead, I challenge you to try to lift everyone up. whether this means cracking jokes or being supportive, I promise this small bit of effort will go far in improving everyone’s mood.
  3. Enjoy the process of learning new things — don’t just rank up for the sake of ranking up. It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself to rank up. However, this is often a quick path to burnout. Instead, try to enjoy the process of learning new things, and just do some things for fun!

To learn a cool new skill, try earning one of the 3 Easiest Merit Badges!

  1. Take on new challenges, even if you don’t feel ready yet. Whether it’s stepping up for a leadership role, or going on that high adventure backpacking trek, you’ll be sure to encounter new challenges on the Scouting trail. In those cases, step up! Even if you’re afraid, your troop has got your back and you’ll surely learn more along the way.
  2. Take the time to look back at how far you’ve come. As you press forward on your Scouting journey, you may get used to the process and begin to feel a bit bored. This is a sign to look forward — and backward! By setting your sights on a new goal and also looking at how far you’ve come, you’ll be prepared to reach even greater heights!
  3. Scouting should be Scout-led. Propose the activities that you want to do! Keeping my last point in mind, if you’re not having a fun time with your troop remember that YOU have the power to change things. Propose cool events, try out my favorite troop meeting activities or even lead a merit badge seminar. Scouting is Scout-led!

Tips For Earning Your Eagle Scout Rank

  1. Bring your Scout Handbook to EVERY Troop activity! You never know when you’ll be able to learn something new to get a requirement checked off, so make sure to be prepared with your handbook at all times. Completed requirements are the building blocks of earning Eagle rank! 🙂
  2. Read as much as you can online and in BSA-published booklets about how to succeed in Scouting. Understanding things like troop positions, camp duty rosters, and normal steps for reaching Eagle will help a new scout plan their journey in Scouting, allowing things to make sense from the very beginning!
  3. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything at once. All I did to earn my Eagle rank was, at every meeting, trying to complete (or start) at least 1 requirement — and getting it signed off in ink (or on Scoutbook) to confirm I was done. The small steps will get you there, I promise!
  4. If you want to rank up even more quickly, speak with your Scoutmaster and tell them your plans. Not only will they give you some great advice, they’ll also likely help keep you accountable and make themselves more available to sign requirements off! With these tips, you’re in the fastlane to Eagle!!
  5. Do your best to reach First Class Rank by age 15. Your Eagle Scout project will always take longer than you think. Plus, there are a ridiculous amount of delays and time-requirements past that rank. So, make an effort to get ahead early, and things will be so much easier for you to juggle in High School!

If you’re a bit behind on your path to Eagle, don’t worry — with the right tools, sustained dedication, and a lot of hard work, you can still reach your goals!

Check out my Timeline For Earning Eagle Scout In 2 Years to get started.

General Scouting Tips From 21 Scouts Just Like You

Because I’m just one person and don’t have all the answers, I recently asked the 100’s of scouts, Scoutmasters, and Scouting parents in my ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter what their top tips were for Scouting success. Guess what? They have a TON of great advice to share with you!

Below, I’ll be sharing with you 21 of the most useful and unique responses I received. The tip-givers will stay anonymous, but a huge thank you if you wrote in about your experiences! All of these tips will give you a well-rounded view of Scouting and how to succeed, so let’s dive in:

  1. Go to events whenever you can because you’ll never know if you’re going to be able to do it again. Plus, it may help you learn some new skills to keep moving forward on the Scouting trail!
  2. Enjoy yourself! Recognize the full worth in everything you do. The positive experiences you create now can have a lasting impact on yourself and others for years to come.
  3. My #1 success tip is to not procrastinate! I have seen SO many scouts complete their scoutmaster conference one day before their birthday! BoyScoutTrail says that First Class should be completed in 18 to 20 months. If you get ahead, it becomes so much easier in High School!
  4. My best tips for succeeding in Scouting as a whole are to make sure you don’t get burnt out, and to stay on task with a goal in mind. If you overwork yourself and get burnt out, you’ll be turned off to the idea of doing scout work and maybe even Scouting events in general. Give yourself breaks — you deserve it! 🙂
  5. My #1 scouting success tip would be commitment. In order to be a successful scout, speaking from personal experience, you must stay committed to your goals.
  6. Ask more questions and don’t be afraid to express your opinions to your troop.

Aren’t these crowd-sourced tips great?! I think they definitely are, and can truly help most scouts along on their journeys. Another huge help, personally, was hearing great quotes from Scouting role models!

Check out My Favorite Scouting Quotes for more inspiration on how to be a great scout.

  1. Have fun!!!  Scouts who are having fun are going to get to experience everything Scouting can offer, including earning their Eagle.  If you focus too much on just that award, you might not enjoy the journey to get there.
  2. Expect to work hard and try your best to stay focused. Also, go for Eagle as fast as you can. You may not expect it now, but you’ll have less open time when you’re older.
  3. Success in Scouting starts with the boys/girls. I always try to make sure they know they are in charge of how the troop works. It gives them confidence and accountability. -Tip from a Scoutmaster, for Scoutmasters
  4. Don’t join Scouting just to reach the Eagle rank. The most important thing is that you had fun and made the best of your experience.
  5. Take every opportunity to get requirements or merit badges done. You won’t ever regret having worked harder.
  6. Parents – Please do whatever is necessary to secure funds for your scout(s) to attend Scouts BSA Summer Camp. I have been on a very limited income lately, but I still make it a priority to pay for camp. Because of this effort, I’ve been able to send my three scout sons to Summer Camp for the past nine years!
  7. Keep organized.  This applies to merit badges, camping gear, and even your thoughts. You’ll have to be organized to reach your goals.  This will help not only in scouts, but with everything in life (school, career, family, and friends).
  8. Slow down and enjoy the experience.  Don’t be in such a rush to complete as many merit badges as you can do, and instead complete them when you are able to fully understand and retain the information taught.

While some of the tips say to rank up often, while others say to slow down and enjoy the process, both can be true at different times. What’s important is that you have a plan to overcome your obstacles. The biggest of which will certainly be your Eagle Scout project…

To learn how to plan and hold an amazing Eagle Scout Service Project, check out the linked article!

  1. Scouting has important programs to prepare you for life’s challenges. Take advantage of as many of these lessons as possible. Having this knowledge will provide you with the best chance to ensure your future success!
  2. Don’t get discouraged. Even if things are tough or frustrating, always try your best whether you’re tying knots, earning a merit badge, or running a mile. 
  3. Seize the moment.  While you have until your 18th birthday to complete your youth Scouting journey, don’t delay making the most of it.  If you become Eagle great; if you don’t that’s fine too but make the most of your experience as it goes by way too fast.”
  4. Get started early and have the end in mind. Take things one step at a time.
  5. ORGANIZATION! Keep track of what you have accomplished, and what is still to be learned – and keep it in front of you so you don’t forget.
  6. Don’t focus too much on requirements and advancements. Just enjoy all the opportunities your troop organizes and have fun. 
  7. Figure out what you want in Scouting and go for it! Maintain confidence and responsibility, whether that’s in emailing a merit badge counselor yourself or just showing up to meetings on time every week.

Conclusion

I truly hope these tips help you to make the best of your time in Scouting! You could even share your favorite ones with your Scouting buddies too, as working together on the path to Eagle is by far one of the best ways to stay motivated and have fun throughout your Scouting journey.

Great work reading this far! Scouting tips are great, but if you feel you might need some extra support, one of the best ways to ensure success in Scouting is through coaching, along with effective planning, expert guidance, and friendly accountability.

That’s why I offer my Trailmap to Eagle Coaching Program! In it, I’ll help you to create a straightforward and reliable plan to complete requirements and achieve Eagle rank — while still maintaining a healthy school-life balance. If you’re wondering if my program might be right for you, click the link to find out!

In any case, thanks for checking out ScoutSmarts and, until next time, I’m wishing you the best of luck on your Scouting adventures!😀

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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