5 Steps To Running An Incredible Eagle Scout Court of Honor

An Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony is one of the most important milestones in a scout’s journey, so it’s only natural that you’d want to hold an amazing event. Whether you’re a Scoutmaster, part of the troop committee, or the parent of a soon-to-be Eagle, I hope this article can help shed some light on how to run a memorable Eagle Court of Honor!

One thing to note is that Eagle Scouts rarely, if ever, plan their own Eagle Courts. My own Eagle COH was planned mainly by my parents and Scoutmaster, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! In this article, Cole and I will be taking the best parts of our own Eagle Courts and teaching you how to run a successful Eagle Court of Honor of your own!

PS. This article is based on the experiences and research of Eagle Scout, Kevin A and Cole đź™‚

One of the main things to keep in mind while reading this article is that it’s ultimately up to each troop to decide how their own Eagle Courts of Honor are run. First and foremost though, the COH ceremony should honor the new Eagle(s)! So, feel free to adapt the information in this article to suit your own situation and troop.

Below, I’ve included a typical Eagle Court of Honor agenda. Later on in the article, I’ll be getting into each of these sections in more detail. First, take a second to read through each agenda point below and make sure it’s accounted for in your own Eagle COH planning process:

  1. Opening The Eagle Court of Honor
    1a) Opening Announcements 
    1b) The Presentation of the Colors 
    1c) Welcome Messages  
  2. The Ceremonial Portion And Granting The Eagle Award
    2a) Scouting Segment 
    2b) The Eagle Pledge, Challenge, and/or Charge
    2c) Presentation of the Eagle Scout Award 
  3. Special Presentations and Eagle Scout Speeches 
    3a) Guest Speaker’s Minute
    3b) Special Awards Presentation
    3c) Letters of Commendation 
    3d) Eagle Scout Speeches 
    3e) Presentation of Mentor Pins 
    3f) Scoutmaster’s Minute
  4. Closing The Eagle Court of Honor
    4a) Closing Messages 
    4b) Retiring of the Colors 
  5. Holding A Reception For Guests Of The New Eagle Scout

Now, do you understand the basic components of an Eagle Court of Honor? Great! You can click each of the headings above to jump to its related section in this article. However, for a step-by-step look into the best way to run an Eagle COH, it’ll be best to read everything in this article, thoroughly.

One of the most important parts of an Eagle Court of Honor ceremony is the planning process, which typically begins at least 2 months before the Eagle Court of Honor is held. Definitely check out my guide on the 6 Keys to Preparing an Eagle Court of Honor if you’re still in the planning stages of your own ceremony!

Being able to run a great Eagle COH really depends on the planning you’ve done beforehand, so I’d definitely recommend quickly reading over the 6 keys linked above if you haven’t already. Altogether, most Eagle Courts of Honor last for around an hour and a half, not including the reception.

Now, with all that being said, let’s dive into the first portion of every Eagle Court of Honor: The Opening Ceremony! 

Opening The Eagle Court of Honor

To mark the beginning of an Eagle Court of Honor, there’s almost always an opening ceremony that takes place. During this time, the audience is asked to silence their phones and wind down their conversations. Once the crowd quiets, the opening announcements will be made, and then the Eagle Court of Honor will commence!

1a) Opening Announcements

So that everyone has the chance to quiet down and respect the seriousness of your Eagle Court of Honor, the master of ceremonies (MC) may want to announce the start of the COH a few minutes beforehand. During this time, your guests will still be milling about. Make the announcement and give them a few minutes to get situated.

Tip for choosing your MC: The MC you choose should be an experienced speaker who is well-respected by the troop. One option is your SPL, but other possible MC’s could be Scoutmasters, past Eagles, or even siblings of the new Eagle Scout (if they’re also involved in Scouting).

In a larger venue, it’ll be important to point out the locations of fire escapes for each side of the room (especially since most Courts of Honor use candles). Other things your MC could announce to your guests are the event timeline, the restroom locations, and anything else particularly important to your own Court of Honor.

After the audience members have taken their seats, the MC can officially announce the start of the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony. Almost all Scouting ceremonies begin with a presentation of the colors. This should be done by trained color guards, older Scouts who are very familiar with how to present the American and Troop/State flag. 

1b) Presentation of the Colors

There are strict guidelines to presenting the American and Troop/State flags during a regular Court of Honor, and an Eagle Court of Honor is no different! In my troop, these were the guidelines we followed to properly present the colors:

  1. Start with the American and Troop/State flag at the back of the room. The American flag should be on the left of the speaker’s perspective and the Troop/State flag should be on the right of the speaker’s perspective. 
  2. Announce to the audience to “rise at attention” and put their hand over their heart for the duration of the presentation. Scouts should be standing at attention with their arms in a normal scout salute. 
  3. Command the color guards to “forward march.” With the 1 color guard following behind each flag bearer, have the 4 of them march up the main or side aisles.
  4. The American flag and Troop flag should be alongside each other. But, if the aisles are too small, the American flag should be in front of the Troop flag
  5. Once the color guards have reached the stage, have them cross so that the American flag is planted to the right and the Troop/State flag is planted to the left. Ensure that the American flag crosses in front of the Troop/State flag (in other words, when the flags cross keep the American Flag closer to the audience than the Troop flag)
  6. Have the flag bearers post the flags. The scouts with the American flag should move first, and the American flag should be placed in the flag-holder before any others. The color guards should salute the American flag once it’s been placed securely.
  7. Have the audience and Scouts turn towards the American Flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
  8. After the Pledge of Allegiance has concluded, tell the audience to be seated sit down. Have the flag bearer and color guard return to their seats

Cole here — In my troop, it was always previous Eagle Scouts who would serve as the Eagle Court of Honor color guards. We’d escort the new Eagle Scout onto the stage, post the colors, then return back to sit with the rest of the troop. In a sense, we were ushering in the next Eagle of our troop, which made the ceremony even more special!

1c) Welcome Messages 

After the flags have been posted, it’s customary that a few words are said to signal the start of the ceremony. This welcome message could be anything from a Scoutmaster saying a few words about the Eagle Scout, to the MC greeting the audience and briefly going over the significance of an Eagle Court of Honor.

The way you wish to welcome the audience is really up to you and your MC. However, in my troop, we always closed our welcoming remarks and segued into the main ceremony by saying:

“By the authority vested in me by the Boy Scouts of America, I declare this Eagle Scout Court of Honor opened!”

The Ceremonial Portion And Granting The Eagle Award

The ceremonies that take place during this portion of an Eagle Court of Honor are used to honor, recognize, and empower the scouts who will be receiving their Eagle Award. During this portion of an Eagle COH, scouts will recite the Eagle Charge and be inducted into the ranks of Eagle Scouts — an achievement that only about 5% of scouts reach!

2a) Scouting Segment 

The Scouting Segment of an Eagle Court of Honor is dedicated to educating the audience on the values that a scout will learn on the path to Eagle. This portion of the ceremony usually takes place right after an Eagle Court of Honor opening, and often includes the troop’s participation.

You’ll have a lot of creative freedom whe planning this segment! One great way to showcase the values of Scouting is to have twelve younger scouts light twelve candles that each represent a different portion of the Scout Law. While the candles are being lit, the MC could explain the importance of each Scout Law tennant. 

Kevin here– My Troop believed that the best way to showcase the values of Scouting was to explain each of the seven ranks, starting from New Scout and ending with Eagle Scout. A candle would be lit to symbolize each rank, and the MC would go into great detail about the responsibilities that came with each step on one’s journey to Eagle.

As you can see, your only limits are your creativity when it comes to what you and your Troop plan for this portion of an Eagle Court of Honor! Just make sure it fully reflects the scouts being awarded their Eagle ranks and the values your troop holds.

Regardless of whatever direction you decide to take in this portion of the Eagle Court of Honor, make sure to end this section with a discussion on the importance of the Eagle Scout Rank. Inform your audience of the level of character, commitment to service, and determination a scout must have in order to reach the prestigious rank of Eagle!

2b) The Eagle Pledge, Challenge, and/or Charge 

In my opinion, the Oaths of a new Eagle Scout are the most important parts of an Eagle Court of Honor. Even years later, I can still remember reciting Eagle Pledge and feeling, for the first time, as though I’d truly reached the rank of Eagle. You’ll have a lot of creative freedom when planning this segment, so adapt it to best suit yourself and your troop. 🙂

There are also many different ways to hold an Eagle Scout “Challenge.” One great way is to have fellow scouts in the troop “Challenge” the Eagle Scout’s right to receive their award, as seen in this script from the official BSA website. There are a variety of pledges, charges, and challenges that can be found through the link above, in case you’re looking for some inspiration in making your own Eagle Oaths portion special.

For reference, here is an example of a basic Eagle Scout Charge and Eagle Scout Pledge: 

An Example Eagle Scout Charge

“I reaffirm my allegiance to the three promises of the Scout Oath. I thoughtfully recognize and take upon myself the obligations and responsibilities of an Eagle Scout. On my honor, I will do my best to make my training an example and my status and my influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizenship, in my troop, in my community, and in my contacts with other people. To this I pledge my sacred honor.”

The Eagle Scout Pledge 

“I, (name of Eagle Scout) believe in the Boy Scouts of America as a movement which has its aim and purpose: character building and citizenship training. I believe it to be a movement that helps a Scout become master of their own powers, helps them get along with other people, and helps them find a worthy use for their powers. I, therefore, believe it is my duty to do my best to obey the Scout Oath and Law. I hereby renew my faith in scouting and promise to do what I can in service to other Scouts who have not come thus far along the Eagle trail.”

2c) Presentation of the Eagle Award

The presentation of the Eagle Scout Award is the highlight of an Eagle Court of Honor. In fact, it’s the moment that most of the audience (and the Eagle Scouts, themselves!) has been waiting for! 

Customarily, before the Eagle Scouts receive their awards, they are once again reminded of the Eagle Scout Pledge and Charge. They’re then asked to recite the pledge and charge themselves! Once the Eagle candidate has recited their new Eagle Scout Oaths, they should be presented with their Eagle Scout Award!

The Eagle Scout Awards: An Eagle Scout award comes with more than just a patch! A full Eagle Scout awarding should include the Eagle Scout Badge, a tie-in pin for the mother and father, a mentor’s pin, and the Eagle Scout neckerchief (white and blue). 

I’d recommend that the new Eagle Scout practice detaching the pins from the award box beforehand, as this can be unexpectedly tricky. In this section, they’ll be pinning their tie-in pins to their parents as well, so their parents should dress for this.

At this point in the ceremony, here are some things that often take place:

  • The Eagle Scouts replace their normal neckerchiefs with their white Eagle Scout neckerchief to show that they have finally become fully realized Eagles.
  • The Eagle Scouts also present the tie-in pin to their mother and father, as thanks for the assistance they gave along the Eagle Scout’s journey.
  • Optionally, you could have the Eagle Scouts give out their mentor pin, but this could also be saved for later in the Court of Honor (for my Eagle Court of Honor, we gave our mentor pins after we finished our Eagle Scout Speeches!) 

The person presenting the Eagle Scout awards is usually the primary Scoutmaster, but there’s no hard-and-fast rule that it needs to be someone specific. You could even make it your project beneficiary if you’d like! The decision is up to you and your Troop, so choose an individual that will represent you well.

Special Presentations and Eagle Scout Speeches

This part of the Eagle Court of Honor varies greatly from troop to troop! The following items are a few great, commonly-used ideas that you and your troop can include in the ceremony, but none of them are required. Choose the ones that you feel would be most meaningful to the new Eagles.

3a) Guest Speaker’s Minute 

Cole here — there would almost always be one or two prominent local officials attending my troop’s Eagle Courts of Honor. Some would even speak to us! Setting aside time for an important guest speaker to congratulate the new Eagle Scouts is a great way to make the ceremony even more significant! 🙂

Guest speakers could really be anyone, from friends of the Eagle Scout, to even their parents. Most commonly though, the ones speaking as guests are usually local county officials, the Eagle Project beneficiary, a previous Eagle Scout recipient, or a representative from a local community group. 

In the same manner as you requested the letters of commendation, make sure to notify your guest speakers well ahead of time. In fact, they should be invited and asked to speak on the initial round of RSVP’s, at least a month before the ceremony.

3b) Special Awards Presentation

Depending on your troop, you may want to set aside an additional section to give special awards and memorabilia to the new Eagle Scouts. For example, at my Eagle Court of Honor, I received an American Flag that had been hung from the poles outside of the city-council office! 

Special awards could also include photographs, sentimental items, or anything else directly related to the new Eagle Scout’s experience with their troop. Check out my article for more info on what Gifts to Give for an Eagle Court of Honor (Plus, what NOT to get).

3c) Letters of Commendation 

Usually, when a person becomes an Eagle Scout, letters are sent to that person to congratulate them on achieving such a prestigious rank. When I became an Eagle Scout, I received letters from my state’s senators, my city’s mayor, the president of Scouts BSA at the time. Plus, I even got one from the president of the United States!! đź™‚

To receive an Eagle Scout letter of commendation from a public official, be sure to reach out at least 1 month before your actual Court of Honor date so that they have time to reply. That way, you can share these letters during your ceremony! Click here for usscouts.org’s awesome guide on getting congratulatory Eagle Scout letters.

You and your troop may want to read some of these letters so that the audience can hear the recognition that Eagle Scouts receive from our country’s officials. It’ll also give the new Eagle Scouts an opportunity to bask in their achievements and hear some well-deserved praise!

3d) Eagle Scout Speeches 

In my troop, each Eagle Scout Award recipient was given the option to deliver a speech where they could discuss their Scouting journey. This was an incredibly interesting and memorable part of the ceremony, as it’s the only time during the ceremony when you can hear the Eagle Scouts talk about their experiences! 

Cole here — I also love hearing Eagle Scout speeches! In fact, what drove me to join Scouting was hearing the Eagle speech of one of my family’s friends. Hearing his passion for the friendships and skills he learned through Scouting really inspired me to follow his lead and become an Eagle Scout too!

If you can only choose a few things to do in this section of the Eagle Court of Honor, I’d highly recommend including Eagle Scout Speeches. Not only does this give the new Eagle Scout a chance to talk about their journey — their speeches often inspire other scouts to continue striving for their Eagle Scout Rank as well! I can’t emphasize how powerful it is for a young scout to hear the success story of an Eagle Scout. 

3e) Presentation of Mentor Pins 

If this wasn’t done in an earlier section, the Eagle Scouts should also be given the opportunity to publicly present their mentor pins to their chosen mentors. At my Eagle Court of Honor, we presented these pins right after we gave our speeches. This served as a great segue, because I talked about my mentor a lot during my speech and the presentation of their pin was perfectly timed! 

3f) Scoutmaster’s Minute 

Time permitting, you and your troop may want to include a Scoutmaster’s minute in the Eagle Court of Honor. At almost all regular Courts of Honor, Scoutmaster minutes are included so that the Scoutmaster can impart a thoughtful message to the audience.  

For the Scoutmaster’s minute for an Eagle Court of Honor, your Scoutmaster could talk about important topics relating to the Eagle Scout rank or even have them talk about their experience as an Eagle Scout themselves (if they did receive the award)! For a topic, I’d recommend reflecting on some sort of story that relates directly to the new Eagle Scouts.

Closing The Eagle Court of Honor

To mark the ending of a Court of Honor, a closing ceremony should be held. This should serve as a solemn but inspiring moment when all ceremonial candles are extinguished and final words are said.

4a) Closing Messages 

Since it’s always best to end on a high note, I’d recommend closing an Eagle Court of Honor quite soon after the Eagle Scout has delivered their speech. At this point, the MC of the Eagle Court of Honor may want to announce some final messages such as:

  • Mentioning that there will be a reception immediately following the event (provide more details after the flags have been retired)
  • Thanking the audience for attending the Eagle Court of Honor
  • Holding a closing prayer
  • Acknowledging the key contributors who made the Eagle Court of Honor possible
  • Recapping the goodwill the audience holds for the new Eagles and wishing them well as they embark on their new journey.
  • Anything else you think should be said

After these announcements are made, make sure the MC ends the Eagle Court of Honor with the following statement 

“I now declare this Eagle Court of Honor concluded.”

4b) Retiring of the Colors 

As with the presentation of the colors, there are strict guidelines as to how to properly retire the American and troops/state flags. Here is the common protocol you could follow when retiring the colors:

  1. Direct the color guard and flag-bearer to go to the American flag and troop/state flag.
  2.  Announce to the audience to stand up and put their hand over their heart for the duration of the presentation. Scouts should be standing at attention with their arms in a normal scout salute. 
  3. Have the American flag and troop/state flag cross in front of the audience. Ensure that the American flag crosses in front of the troop flag (in other words, when the flags cross have the American flag closer to the audience than the troop flag)
  4. With the color guard following behind the flag bearer, have them march down the main or side aisles towards the back of the room. The American flag and troop/state flag should be side-by-side with each other. If the aisles are too small, the American flag should be in front of the troop/state flag
  5. After the flags have been brought to the back of the room, tell the audience to rest their hands, and sit down. Have the flag bearer and color guard return to their seats

Holding A Reception For Guests Of The New Eagle Scout

After every Eagle Court of Honor, the final step is usually to hold a reception to thank the guests for their attendance and celebrate the momentous occasion. If you’re holding the reception in a different venue than the Eagle Court of Honor, be sure to make this clear to your guests before everyone leaves.

Cole here — During the reception, I’d also recommend setting up photos documenting the journey the new Eagle Scout has taken to achieve their rank. At my Eagle court, we set up a large copy of my Eagle Scout headshot with a blank border that everyone could leave a message on. To this day, that photo is still hanging in my parent’s house!

As a new Eagle Scout, or as the supporter of one, it’s your job to go out and enjoy the reception! Celebrate the amazing achievement, eat good food, and reminisce with friends. Congrats, you’ve made it through the planning for an entire Eagle Court of Honor!


I hope this article has helped shed some light on how to run a great Eagle Court of Honor! While it’s nice to make sure all the components of an Eagle COH are painstakingly rehearsed and perfected, know that the new eagle scout will be appreciative of whatever you’ve planned. 🙂

For a few last-minute tips on running an outstanding Eagle Court of Honor, I’d recommend checking out this quick list from eaglecourtofhonor.com.

Additionally, the BSA has an Official Eagle COH resource you should check out.

Finally, make sure to read my Full Timeline when Preparing For an Eagle Court of Honor if you haven’t already!

With all of that, you should now be 100% prepared to hold an incredible Eagle Court of Honor. As a final tip, I’d say to pay lots of affection to the Eagle Scout on their special night — and to take lots of pictures. I guess that’s two tips, haha. And there you have it! Congrats on the upcoming Eagle Court of Honor, as well as for reaching the end of this article.

Thanks for checking out ScoutSmarts and best of luck with everything, always!


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!

Recent Content