During the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for youth to connect with non-profit organizations to provide service opportunities for an Eagle project or to complete Religious Award service requirements. Some youth have contacted multiple organizations, churches, non-profits, and community centers trying to find an individual to assist in coordinating an Eagle Scout service project, only to be frustrated in the process. The problem is that many organizations have closed or no longer have office hours or the ability to respond to emails and phone calls or to coordinate volunteers. In response to this very real need, Boy Scouts of America has provided multiple examples of service projects that youth could consider to meet their needs during this trying time. Bryan Wendell, from Bryan on Scouting,
addressed this timely problem in his blog dated January 20, 2021 entitled “20 ideas for unique Eagle Scout service project beneficiaries.” Bryan defines what qualifies as an Eagle project beneficiary according to the BSA and the Guide to Advancement. Did you know a project beneficiary “does not have to be a registered nonprofit,” however, it “must not be a commercial business.” But it could be “something like a park that’s open to the public but owned by a business…provided ‘the project primarily benefits the community, as opposed to the profits of the business.’” Bryan goes on to give 20 ideas for unique beneficiaries that Scouts may find right in their local community. If you are looking for more clarity on who exactly can be a project beneficiary, this article will help you see some new possibilities. Cole, the Eagle Scout behind the website ScoutSmarts.com, shares “99 Amazing and Creative Eagle Scout Project Ideas for 2021.” He reminds readers that “the best Eagle Project idea is one that helps a cause you’re passionate about.” Cole then lists a huge variety of projects in the categories of construction, conservation and restoration, and socially distanced projects. Reading the different project ideas definitely helps to get the creativity flowing! Scouting youth can also contact their local BSA Council for project ideas. Another great source of local projects is https://www.justserve.org/. This website is maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and allows volunteers from any organization to advertise their service projects or to find service projects near them to assist with. Some of these projects could fulfill Religious Award requirements or inspire an Eagle Project. This website would also serve as a location for Scouts to identify local organizations they might work with to identify future Eagle Projects. As with any potential Eagle project beneficiary or project idea, be sure and discuss the details with your Eagle counselor. He or she will be able to give you some help in reaching out to a beneficiary as well as scaling the scope of the project. And, just like we learn in NYLT, “IF YOU CAN SEE IT, YOU CAN BE IT!” We thank you for your participation in Scouting and hope that all who are looking to make a difference through service can find a project that benefits a cause they are passionate about. *The authors served as Assistant Council Commissioners in San Diego – Imperial Council from 2018 – 2020 leading Service and Transition for Latter-day Saints in Scouting, and were the creators and editors of the Saints & Scouts Newsletter and associated Facebook page. The accompanying pictures in this article are from their respective families’ Eagle projects.