Most Eagle Scout service projects wouldn’t succeed without the aid of an Eagle Project Coach. In fact, I can tell you firsthand that when planning my own Eagle Project, I was asking myself, “How in the world can I be prepared to plan and lead an entire service project all by myself??” Luckily, I didn’t need to! This is where Eagle project coaches come in…
What is an Eagle Project Coach? An Eagle Project Coach is an adult leader, often affiliated with a district’s Scouting council, who regularly advises scouts on their Eagle service projects. The role of an Eagle Project Coach is not to create requirements or dictate the scope of the project, but to provide guidance to a scout throughout their Eagle Project’s planning and execution process.
PS. This article is based on the experiences and research of Eagle Scout, Kevin A and Cole 🙂
If you have an upcoming Eagle project, know that your Eagle Project Coach will be there to help! They’re not only the advisors to your service project but “the subject matter expert on the (general project) processes and standards,” according to the official BSA guide to advancement. Simply put, most Eagle Project Coaches have helped make tons of Eagle projects successful in the past!
Personally, my Eagle Scout Project Coach was one of the most helpful people I could’ve asked for! He gave me planning advice, tips on how to make my ideas more impactful, and even helped on the day of my actual project!
To make your project a success, I’ve written a ton of other articles for you on Eagle project planning and execution! For more info, I’d suggest first checking out my article on How to Best Fundraise For An Awesome Eagle Project.
To give you a better idea of what an Eagle Scout Project Coach is and how they can help to make your project more successful, I’ll be breaking down some common facts and myths around Eagle Scout Project Coaches. Later, I’ll even be giving you some tips on how to best organize a meeting with your Eagle Scout Project Coach. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Fact: Your Coach Will Serve as Your Mentor for the Entire Duration of Your Eagle Project
This is a fact! Your Eagle project coach will serve as an essential part of your Eagle Project throughout its duration. Officially, your project coach should, “Be available to (you) as a consultant to answer any questions about the planning process.” As with any other mentoring relationship though, you should be very respectful of your coach’s time when scheduling to meet.
(To jump to my section on how to productively meet with your Eagle coach, click here!)
It’s important to also note that your Eagle Scout Project coach will only be helping you for the duration of your Eagle Scout Project. They are short-term advisors and are entirely different from unit leaders or other mentors who may be helping you along the Eagle Trail.
After your project is done, the mentorship of your Eagle Project coach will also end (unless you and your coach both would like to stay in contact after the project is over).
Myth: You’ll Need To Compensate Your Eagle Scout Project Coach
This is 100% untrue. Eagle project coaches are Scouting volunteers. As these individuals are assigned to you via your local Scouting council, they are well aware of protocol and will never ask for any form of payment.
However, feel free to gift your project coach something small, after your project is complete, as a token of your appreciation! I’d recommend something inexpensive but personal, like a collection of photos from your project and a sincere thank you note. 🙂
Fact: You’ll Have The Final Word on Your Eagle Project, Even if Your Project Coach Disagrees
This is true! According to the BSA Official Guide to Advancement, “Coaches do not have approval authority. Instead, they serve to encourage—not direct—the Scouts to make the kinds of decisions that will lead to successful outcomes.”
This means that you are making the final decisions. While it’s almost always in your best interest to follow your coach’s guidance, ultimately it’s your Eagle project.
Myth: You Must Have an Eagle Scout Project Coach to Proceed With Your Project
This is actually a myth! According to the BSA’s official guide to advancement, “working with a designated Eagle Scout service project coach is the Scout’s decision.” Therefore, if you truly think you won’t be needing a coach, you can choose to forgo having one.
However, I’d strongly advise you to work with a project coach, if at all possible. Your Eagle coach is an extremely valuable resource, as they have a wealth of experience helping scouts to execute successful Eagle projects. You can ask them questions, have them review parts of your project to see if anything can be improved, and avoid critical mistakes by following their guidance.
If you don’t want to have a project coach: Before you make a decision to not have a project coach, If your troop and council are following BSA’s standard practices, you’ll also need to complete the following steps:
- Your council or district will designate an Eagle project coach for every Scout who submits a project proposal for approval.
- You should get connected with an individual who could act as your Eagle Project Coach.
(This could even be an adult within your unit, if appointed by your advancement committee and representing the views of your district council)
- After speaking with a possible Eagle Coach, you can make the choice to not continue your project under the guidance of a coach.
“It is true a Scout need not accept the assistance of the service project coach. Regardless, it is considered best for the council or district to designate one for every Scout who submits a project proposal for approval…. Scouts who suggest they don’t need one should be counseled on the value a coach can add. Ultimately, however, working with a designated Eagle Scout service project coach is the Scout’s decision.”BSA Guide To Advancement Section 220.127.116.11: Eagle Scout Service Project Coach
The expertise and assistance of a project coach is invaluable, and I can’t emphasize enough just how helpful it is having an experienced adult to help you figure out your first large-scale project. Your Eagle project will likely be more difficult than you expect, and the guidance of a coach could be what makes your project a success! 🙂
Fact: Your Eagle Scout Project Coach Will be Assigned to You From a Pool of Coaches in Your Council
This is a fact! If you’re concerned about finding a project coach, don’t worry. Your council can connect you with a coach that best matches the goals of your project. For example, if you’re working on building a structure at the head of a trail, your council might match you with a project coach that has experience working in park beautification.
As mentioned earlier, you could also choose a project coach, instead of having your local Council assign you one. If you want to go this route, make sure the individual has registered to be a project coach through your local council (if they haven’t registered yet, have them fill out this application and submit it to your local council, ASAP!)
Myth: Your Eagle Scout Project Coach has to be a Person Outside of Your Unit
This is a common misconception; AKA, it’s a myth! While, very often, Eagle project coaches are individuals who are outside your unit, this is not required. In fact, there have been many cases where councils didn’t have the volunteer capacity to assign an outside project coach, and adult leaders from a unit were asked to help.
Officially, anyone meeting the following criteria can act as an Eagle project coach: “Coaches must be registered with the BSA (in any adult position) and be current in BSA Youth Protection training.“ However, Scouts BSA recommends using an outside coach whenever possible, as people within your unit should be reserved as helpers for your entire Scouting journey.
Fact: Your Eagle Scout Project Coach Will Point Out the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Risks Around Your Project
This is true, Eagle Coaches jobs are basically to pick projects apart! Remember, the main purpose of an Eagle coach is to be an objective observer of your project. Be prepared to hear some constructive criticism! However, don’t let this scare you. Your coach is only offering their opinions on your project because they want to see you succeed! 🙂
Personally, when planning my own Eagle Project, I sent my project coach an email asking about the materials needed for my project, along with his opinions on some aspects of my design. He replied with a long, detailed email about how I was focusing too much on the small things and not enough on the bigger picture. Then, he gave me some advice on how I could proceed more thoughtfully through my project!
At the time I thought my project coach was being a bit too blunt, but after I completed my project, I realized how important his advice was to its success! Without his intervention, my planning process would’ve been inefficient, and that might’ve made my entire project much harder than it needed to be.
The moral of this story is to be open to criticism and don’t take it personally. Your Eagle coach just wants what’s best for you and your project! Remember though, if you and your coach do come to a strong disagreement, you have the final say!
Myth: Your Eagle Scout Project Coach has the Power to Approve or Deny Aspects of Your Project and can Call for Changes to be Made
This is another common (false) misconception! Your Eagle Scout Project Coach is meant to be an advisor and mentor, so they don’t have the power to make the final decision on anything relating to your project. It’s your Eagle Scout Project, so no other person can force you to make decisions if you are not in full support.
With that being said, I believe it’s important to listen and thoughtfully consider what your project coach has to say. They’re adults who hopefully have some level of expertise related to your project, so they’ll likely will have great advice to give. However, it should remain solely as advice, and nothing more.
Think of it like this: Your Eagle Scout service project is basically teaching you how to professionally plan a small-scale initiative. As a project planner, you’ll naturally need to seek out advice from other professionals because it’s practically impossible to be an expert on every aspect of your project!
You must learn how to balance taking guidance from others and making decisions on your own, as this is the key to leading a successful project. Don’t be afraid to take advice, but also don’t be afraid to forgo that advice if you think your own plan will work better. Try to learn constantly, and you’ll have succeeded, regardless of whether your decision was right or wrong!
Organizing a Meeting With Your Eagle Project Coach
When meeting with your Eagle project coach, be prepared to have a structured, goal-oriented conversation. You’ll want to learn as much as possible from them so that you’re ready to begin the next steps of your project!
Often, your Eagle Project Coach will act as a listener and responder, rather than the main talker, so that you have an opportunity to fully articulate your detailed project plans.
Assuming that you’ve already set up a time and place to meet up with your project coach (while following official BSA Youth Protection safety guidelines), here is a general outline you and your coach can follow if you don’t already have a specific agenda in mind:
- Greet your coach and talk about what you’ve been up to outside of your project (5 mins)
- While this may seem like small talk, these types of conversations can make your relationship with your coach stronger. As much as they want to help you with your Eagle Project, they’re also interested in hearing about who you are as a person!
- Small talk is just as important in business and the real world! Being able to build rapport is an important skill that every leader should be very familiar with.
- Bring your coach up to speed about how far along you’ve progressed on your project since you two last met (15 mins)
- If you don’t regularly meet with your coach, they may not know how far along you’ve developed your project. Reviewing what you’ve done helps establish a baseline to discuss.
- Here’s a tip: Bring up advice they provided to you last time, and discuss how you acted upon it. People like to hear that their recommendations are heard and taken to heart!
- Discuss with your coach any concerns that may have arisen since your last meeting (10 mins)
- These questions could be anything from budgeting concerns to the human resources available for your project. Your coach won’t be able to help unless you vocalize your concerns to them!
- It truly never hurts to ask about anything, no matter how small it is. Even if they are unable to answer your questions, they’ll likely be able to direct you to a resource that could answer your question
- Present what you’re currently working on (10 mins)
- Make sure to bring up your most important plans in relation to your project. This could also be a great time to brainstorm with your project coach.
- I’d recommend bringing up challenges you’re anticipating in the near future. Your Eagle coach could help you to mitigate these issues before they even occur!
- Afterward, discuss your next steps and ask for their opinions on these next steps (10 mins)
- You should always have a list of next steps ready so that you can constantly move forward with your project. These don’t need to be huge steps, but they should bring you closer to your project’s completion.
- Summarize what was discussed in the meeting and reiterate what you plan to accomplish by the next meeting. Set a date (10 mins)
- This is when you begin to wind down, review the meeting’s main points, and make plans to meet again. I’d recommend taking notes during this section, as you’ll be referring to them later on while working on your project.
- Remember, what you need to get done by the next meeting and your next steps will likely be different! For example, calling an organization might need to be done before the following meeting, whereas developing a budget for your project wouldn’t necessarily need to be done immediately.
Your Eagle Scout Project Coach is someone who you can trust to lead you in the right direction when planning your Eagle project. They’ll offer advice and guidance in many different ways, and might even help you during your actual project! By using what you’ve learned in this article and working with your Eagle coach effectively, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll create an amazing Eagle project!
Once you’ve succeeded with your Eagle project, you’ll have an amazing accomplishment that you can take with you for the rest of your life! Your hard work is 100% worthwhile. 🙂 If you plan to write about this accomplishment in college or job apps (and you should!), I’d highly recommend checking out my article on Writing Your Scouting Experiences on a Successful Application Essay.
Congrats on reading this far, that’s it for this article. Eagle project coaches are great resources, and I truly hope your coach can help you as much as mine helped me! Wishing you the best of luck on your Eagle project and beyond. Hope this info helped you out a ton and, until next time, be the best scout you can be!