Eagle Scout Recommendation Letters: Everything To Know In 2020


Collecting references are a necessary step towards reaching the final rank in Scouting and becoming an Eagle Scout. Easier said than done! I don’t know about you, but when I was a scout, I didn’t have much experience asking adults to serve as my references. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you everything that I’ve learned about requesting and writing Eagle Letters of Recommendation.

In the first section of this article, I’ll be covering the correct way for an Eagle Scout candidate to request a reference from an adult. If you’ve been asked to write an Eagle letter of reference, I’ve also included a second section detailing the best ways to write and submit your recommendation.

Important Note: Eagle Scout references are not only limited to letters of recommendation. Troops can contact a candidate’s references via phone call, form, or email and receive verbal or typed recommendations to satisfactorily complete this requirement.

Additionally, scouts are not responsible for any followup in the Eagle Scout reference process. It is entirely up to committee members or council representatives to follow up with the scout’s references and collect their responses.

Finally, under no circumstances should scouts be given access to their recommendation files. This could discourage negative information from being submitted.

For the official requirements see: https://www.scouting.org/eagle-scout-rank/

Although Eagle Scout references are an important part of the ranking up process, they’re not something you should get stressed over. In fact, I’ve never heard of a scout being denied Eagle due to a poor letter of recommendation. Use this as an opportunity to practice asking for references; a Scouting skill that will also be valuable when job hunting later on.

(If you’ve been requested to write an Eagle letter of recommendation, you should skip to the second section for templates, tips, and information to include when writing your letter.)

For Scouts Requesting an Eagle Letter of Recommendation

Your references are used to give the Eagle Board of Review a better idea of your activities and character outside of Scouting. Although you won’t be able to read these letters, in most cases you’ll still need to politely request that a reference be submitted.

Again, keep in mind that letters of recommendation aren’t the only means of having a reference submitted — they’re just the most popular method. If you plan to go that route, in this section I’ll fill you in on everything you’ll need to know to collect your Eagle letters of recommendation.

Who Should You Ask For an Eagle Scout Letter of Reference?

For both candidates and letter writers, the main point of an Eagle Scout reference or recommendation letter is to truthfully describe the candidate’s achievements and behaviors.

To complete your Eagle Letters of recommendation, you’ll be expected to obtain references from 6 individuals (5 if not employed): 

  1. A parent/guardian
  2. A pastor or individual involved in your religion.
  3. A teacher or individual involved in your education.
  4. An employer (if any)
  5. A reference of your choosing #1
  6. A reference of your choosing #2

References 5 and 6 can be provided by friends, relatives, or even a Scoutmaster. As long as the individual knows you and is able to truthfully attest to your character, they’ll be able to serve as one of your references. Your references can come from people of any age, and need not only be from those older than 21.

While your troop may ask you to secure mailed letters of reference from these 6 individuals, according to the official Eagle Scout rank application process, it’s officially the responsibility of council advancement committee members to secure the recommendations from the references you provided (see below).

“Council advancement committee members—or others designated—have the responsibility to secure recommendations from the references appearing under requirement 2 on the Eagle Scout Rank Application. This may be done by letter, form, or phone call. For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, electronic submissions are discouraged.

It is acceptable to send or deliver to the references an addressed envelope with instructions, and perhaps a form to complete. Scouts may assist with this, but that is the limit of their participation. Scouts are not responsible for followthrough or any other aspect of the process. It is up to the council’s designated representatives to collect the responses. If after a reasonably diligent effort no response can be obtained from any references, the board of review must go on without them. It must not be postponed or denied for this reason, and the Scout shall not be asked to submit additional references or to provide replacements.”

https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/eagle-scout-rank/
Section 9.0.1.7 References Contacted

Although it isn’t official policy, many troops, including my own, often ask their scouts to arrange to have their references mailed in. If your troop does this, realize the hassle that this could create for your reference-writer. Whenever you’re asking an adult to submit something on your behalf, try to make the process as painless as possible for them!

What Information Should You Include When Requesting an Eagle Scout Letter of Reference

If your troop is asking for your letters of recommendation to be sent in, you should provide your 6 (or 5) references with a stamped and addressed envelope that can be used to mail in their recommendation. Additionally, you should also give them the following information when requesting an Eagle Scout letter of recommendation:

  • An Eagle Scout letter of reference will not be shown to the candidate, nor will it be shared with anyone outside of the Eagle Scout Board of review. 
  • Your letter of reference should be based on your personal interactions with the Eagle Scout candidate, and ideally, contain examples of what they’ve done.
  • Your letter should relate to how the candidate carries out the points of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • A copy of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • The deadline for when the recommendation is due.
  • The email address or addressed envelope identifying where and to whom the letter should be sent.

The Best Way To Ask For An Eagle Scout Letter of Recommendation

The easiest and best way to ask for an Eagle Scout letter of recommendation is by first making the request in person. If they agree (they most likely will), you can follow up by sending them more details via email. 

To ask for a letter of recommendation in person, simply describe what you’ve been working on in Scouting, as well as the significance of earning the Eagle rank. When I asked for my letters of recommendation, I said something along these lines:

“I’ve been a part of Scouting for quite a few years now, and during that time have learned many useful skills and values to become a better member of my community. 

I’m one rank away from becoming an Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank that Scouting offers, and I need to collect a few references to move onto the next stage.

I really enjoyed learning from you and was hoping that you could detail our interactions and my contributions for the Eagle Board of review. Would you be willing to submit a positive reference on my behalf?”

Unless you’re asking a total stranger, I doubt most of your potential references would say no to that. Once they give you the ‘OK’ you should follow up by sending an email within 24 hours that includes the information we covered in the previous section.

Officially, scouts are not responsible for follow-through or any other aspect of the recommendation retrieval process. However, most scouts follow up because it’s the polite thing to do. If you decide to give your reference more information, here’s a template that you can base your actual email on:

(Name),

Thank you for agreeing to provide me with a letter of reference! I’m a Life Scout in (Your troop), and a candidate for the rank of Eagle Scout.

As the final step in my Scouting career, I’ll be undergoing an Eagle Scout Board of Review and collecting references that provide a more comprehensive view of my activities and character outside of Scouting. An Eagle Scout candidate must have completed at least 21 merit badges, served in multiple troop leadership roles, and demonstrated values of the Scout Oath, andScout Law in their daily lives. For your reference, I’ve added the Scout Oath and Scout Law at the bottom of this email.

I really appreciate you agreeing to be one of my references, as well as the continued support you’ve provided for me over the years. The contents of your letter will not be shown to or discussed me or with anyone not who is not a member of the Eagle Scout Board of Review. Of course, you are free to discuss the information with me afterward, if you so desire, but you are under no obligation to do so. Please submit your letter of reference to (email address or mailing address) by (letter deadline). (Or, you can say that a council member will contact them)

Once again, thank you so much for your time and continued support!

All the best,

(Your name)

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.”

Scout Law: “A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

Being able to politely ask for letters of recommendation can be an incredibly useful skill in your career. Use this as an opportunity to practice. Remember, this is one of the final steps between you and the rank of Eagle!

On a final note, remember to invite those who’ve written you letters of recommendation to your court of honor. Send them a thank you note if you can, and think of other ways that you can express your gratitude for everything they’ve done for you!

For Those Asked to Write an Eagle Letter of Recommendation

What to Do After Agreeing to Write a Letter of Reference For an Eagle Scout

If you’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation for an Eagle Scout candidate, there are two ways that your reference can typically be obtained:

  1. The Eagle Scout candidate has noted down your information, and you will be contacted by a council member who is in charge of reviewing the scout’s performance. They will likely contact you via phone or email, and use your reference to determine whether the scout will be promoted to Eagle.
  2. The Eagle candidate has requested that you mail or email in your letter of reference. In this case, they should have provided you with either a stamped and addressed envelope for your letter, or the email address of a council member who will review your reference.

Keep in mind, your Eagle Scout letter of recommendation is confidential, and will not be shared with the Eagle Scout candidate, nor with any other parties than Eagle Board of Review. If you’d like the Eagle candidate to receive a copy of your letter, you’ll need to give it to them directly.

After you’ve agreed to provide a letter of reference, the Eagle Scout candidate might have outlined some of the main Scouting points that your letter of recommendation could touch upon. If you’re still unsure of what to write or talk about, in the next section I’ll be filling you in on a few key themes to touch upon when presenting your recommendation.

What to include When Writing an Eagle Scout Letter of Recommendation

The main purpose of an Eagle letter of recommendation is to provide a snapshot into an Eagle candidate’s life and behaviors outside of Scouting. Your letter should detail the interactions you’ve had with the scout and include the following elements:

  • Your relationship with the Eagle candidate.
  • Things to Eagle candidate has done to deserve a positive reference
  • Ways that the Eagle Scout candidate lives by the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Examples of growth that you’ve observed from the Eagle candidate over time.

Below, I’ve included the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Examples in your letter demonstrating times that the Eagle candidate has most embodied these principles are useful to an Eagle board. You won’t need to include too many details, as most Eagle Scout letters of recommendation are three paragraphs or shorter.

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.”

Scout Law:

“A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.”

In the next section, I’ll be providing you with an easy template to use when writing your own Eagle Scout letter of recommendation.

Template For Writing An Eagle Scout Letter of Recommendation

Below is the basic template for writing an Eagle Scout letter of recommendation. However, as long as you can honestly attest to the Eagle candidate’s character, anything that you submit will be fine. The future Eagle Scout will appreciate your help, regardless. 🙂

Note that the recommendation letters are just one of many different requirements a scout will need to complete to earn Eagle, so don’t feel too much pressure to craft a flawless recommendation. Using this template, you’ll be able to easily cover the necessary points in your letter.

Eagle Scout Board of Review,

It is my privilege to write this letter of recommendation for _____________, who aspires to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

I have known _____________ since _________, and over the years have watched him/her grow and become an individual who is (Main Scout Law points the candidate embodies). At (school/church/club), he/she has helped me by ______, going above and beyond what is expected.

( Example paragraph outlining one significant interaction with the Eagle candidate )

I know that (name) is committed to becoming an Eagle Scout, and am confident that he/she will grow into a fine young adult who will exemplify the positive values taught in Scouting

Sincerely,

For 3 more Eagle Scout letter templates, you can check out eForms.com’s awesome article here!

Conclusion

Collecting references is a necessary part of becoming an Eagle Scout. If this step is making you nervous, don’t worry! If you’ve gotten to this point and have been living by the Scout Oath and Law, you deserve your future Eagle rank!

If you or a loved one are in high school and about to earn the Eagle rank, I’d highly recommend checking out my guide on How to Write a Killer Eagle Scout College Admissions Essay. There are a TON of perks to earning Eagle, so make sure you’re aware of them!

I’d also suggest reading my article on the 4 Necessary Steps To Prepare For An Eagle Board of Review. You’re almost there, so keep pushing. I’m rooting for you! As always, best of luck on your Scouting journey. I hope you found this article useful, and wish you an enjoyable upcoming Eagle Court of Honor! 🙂

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this 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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