If you think becoming an Eagle Scout is difficult, then just wait until you hear about the next level of Scouting success: earning Eagle Scout Palms. Eagle Palms are like a badge of honor, signifying that a Scout has earned additional merit badges above and beyond those required for Eagle.
If you’re interested in earning some Eagle Scout Palms (or being prepared to earn a bunch right when you reach Eagle), look no further! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the balmy world of Eagle Palms — and no, we aren’t talking about trees.🌴
What is an Eagle Palm? Eagle Palms are additional awards that Scouts become eligible to earn after achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. These palms can be obtained by completing elective merit badges. Each 5 additional merit badges earned will translate into another Eagle Palm level gained.
PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Scouting volunteer Lydia and Cole 🙂
How To Earn Eagle Scout Palms
To earn Eagle Palms, a Scout must have completed elective merit badges outside of those that are strictly Eagle-required. This can be done before or after reaching the Eagle Scout rank. To be eligible to earn Eagle Palms, a Scout just needs to continue demonstrating Scout Spirit and remain active in Scouting.
Now there are 3 Palm tiers: Bronze Palm, Gold Palm, and Silver Palm. For Bronze, Gold, and Silver Palms, the number of additional merit badges required are 5, 10, and 15, respectively. Palms can stack too, so if a Scout were to earn 20 merit badges, they would be awarded a Bronze and Silver Palm!
However, it isn’t as simple as just earning your Eagle and then being able to freely rack up Palms. While Scouts can now be awarded their first Palms at their Eagle Court of Honor (source: Scouting Magazine), they’ll still need to wait 3 months after earning their first Palms to be awarded any subsequent Palms.
So, why even earn Eagle Palms?
Why Earn Eagle Palms?
- Earning Eagle Palms is a great way for Scouts to stay involved in their troops. In taking on this new challenge they develop new skills and are recognized for their continued dedication to Scouting.
- Eagle Palms can be a valuable addition to a Scout’s resume or college application. They show a commitment to excellence, which can be very attractive to colleges and employers.
- Earning Eagle Palms demonstrates a Scout’s ability to continually grow, learn, and push themselves to even greater heights. Few Scouts ever rise to this challenge.
- Eagle Palms are a HUGE flex! Remember, not many Scouts ever earn Eagle and, of those, fewer than a quarter earn a Bronze Palm. Can you guess the rarity of a Silver Palm? It’s less than 1%! 😀
Because of these great reasons, if you’re planning to earn your Eagle and have the opportunity to earn extra merit badges — do it! To get you extra-prepared to earn some Palms of your own, here’s some must-know info about the Eagle Palms award process.
Requirements For Earning Eagle Palms
There are 5 official requirements for earning an Eagle Palm:
- Be active in the Boy Scouts of America for at least three months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after the last Palm was earned.
- Since earning the Eagle Scout rank or your last Eagle Palm, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life.
- Continue to set a satisfactory example of accepting responsibility or demonstrating leadership ability.
- Earn five additional merit badges beyond those required for Eagle or last Palm.
- While an Eagle Scout, participate in a Scoutmaster conference.
To clear up any confusion, requirement 1 means that after a Scout earns their Eagle rank and is awarded as many Palms as are deserved, they must wait 3 months in between every subsequent awarding. When I was researching this topic it seemed a bit confusing, so below is a quick example to help you out.
Joe earns his Eagle rank with a total of 33 merit badges. This means, at his Eagle board he can be awarded a Gold Palm as he’s earned more than 10 additional badges. However, let’s say he finishes 2 more merit badges the next day. In this case, he’ll still need to wait another 3 months to participate in a Scoutmaster conference and earn his Silver Palm.
Now let’s take Andy, who is a real go-getter. Andy earns 41 merit badges before his Eagle Court. In this case, Andy would be awarded 1 Silver and 1 Bronze Palm. However, let’s say Andy earns 10 merit badges in the 2 weeks following his Eagle rank achievement. Go Andy!
However, here’s the somewhat confusing part: Andy will still need to wait 3 months following his Eagle Court to have his Scoutmaster conference, and at that time he’ll only be able to upgrade his Bronze Palm to Gold. After that, he’ll need to wait another 3 months to upgrade his Gold Palm to Silver.
So, the main takeaway here is that if you’re trying to earn a ton of Eagle Palms, try to finish as many merit badges as possible before earning your Eagle Scout rank. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait 3 months between each following Palm advancement, which can heavily limit your progress! 🙁
Tips For Earning Eagle Palms
While earning Eagle Palms (and completing a bunch of merit badges in general) may seem pretty daunting, below I’ve put together some great tips to help you earn more merit badges, even faster:
First and foremost, never turn down the opportunity to earn more merit badges. Even if you have all the elective badges required for Eagle, you should still try to tackle every badge you can. Here are the best opportunities I’ve found for earning badges:
- Merit Badge Seminars/Summer or Winter Camps: Scout merit badge seminars are often found at Summer/Winter camps or held locally. To find these events and attend, try to sign up for any multi-troop camps that you can find and ask around to see if anyone knows about organizations regularly hosting merit badge seminars. When I was a Scout, I earned quite a few badges this way, including Aviation and Fingerprinting!
- Scouts typically need to register for seminars in advance and may need to pay a fee to cover the costs of the event. Scouts should also come prepared with any completed prerequisites or required materials for the merit badge being covered.
- Troop Merit Badge Clinics: While every troop is different, most troops typically hold at least a few merit badge clinics per year. These are run by merit badge counselors who are well-versed in the badge topic. These clinics can last anywhere from 1 session to months at a time (as was the case with my Hiking merit badge)!
- I’d highly recommend suggesting these be run in your troop if they aren’t already. A great way to step up and get the ball rolling, I’ve seen, is to teach a simple merit badge to your fellow Scouts (like one of the 3 easiest badges to earn in a day). From there, if your fellow Scouts enjoyed the class, simply ask your adult leaders if they’d like to teach a class of their own!
- Online Classes: Finally, online merit badge classes. There are relatively new so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’ve heard great things about these classes helping Scouts to explore more elective merit badge interests without a local counselor available. these classes are typically offered over Zoom by local councils, camps, or other organizations.
Outside of these resources, it’s always a great idea to tackle merit badges on your own. Do you have any interests that you’d like to pursue more deeply? Are you learning about topics in school like history or science that have corresponding merit badges? If so, these are great opportunities to start working on another badge!
Last but not least, make sure to go after low-hanging fruit by earning merit badges that are on the easier side. Ask your fellow Scouts what merit badges they liked earning, and take a look at the ones you already know a lot about. Earning Eagle Palms is about quantity too, so why not knock out the easiest merit badges first?
Now there are a lot more really cool things to learn about Eagle Palms, so be sure to check out some of the most common Eagle Palm questions and their answers below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eagle Scout Palms
Q: Why is Silver Palm after Gold?
The hierarchy of Palms was actually founded on military protocols and modeled after them. Since Silver outranks Gold in the Armed Forces, the same applies to Scouting (Source: Scouting Magazine).
Q: Can you have multiple Eagle Palms/combos?
Absolutely, but it is a little tricky. If you have already earned 15 merit badges beyond the 21 required for Eagle, so at least 36, you will have earned a Silver Palm. That’s where multiple combinations come in. You may find yourself earning enough to wear multiple Silver Palms, but you will never wear multiple Bronze or Gold Palms. To help you understand it a little more, here’s a little cheat sheet from Scouting Magazine.
Q: Where do you buy Eagle Palms?
In most cases, your troop will provide you with your awarded Eagle Palms. However, they can also be easily purchased. Your local BSA Scouting shop will have Eagle Palms for sale. You can also purchase them online, directly from the official BSA Scout Shop here.
Q: Where do you wear Eagle Palms?
A Scout has 3 options for wearing Eagle Palms. First, you can wear your Eagle Palm on the Eagle Scout square knot. Second, for special occasions, you can affix your Palm to your Eagle Scout Medal ribbon. Finally, you can pin the Palm to the Eagle Scout patch. Whichever option is most appropriate for the situation is the best to go with.
Eagle Palms are an essential part of Scouting, as they help to encourage recent Eagle Scouts to stay involved in their troops, continue learning new skills, and soar to even greater heights. If you’re considering earning some Eagle Palms of your own, I’d recommend you go for it. 🙂
Thanks for reading! I hope to see you here at ScoutSmarts again soon. As always, I’m wishing you all the best of luck on your Scouting journey!
About the Co-Author: Lydia is the granddaughter, daughter, and sister of three Eagle Scouts, who uses her personal experience having volunteered with troops to write about topics she is passionate about including Scouting, outdoor recreation, travel, parenting, and more.