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Best of the best., finding the Eagle

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  • Best of the best., finding the Eagle

    Ive been watching the Eagle and EBOR discussions with some amusement. As someone who enjoys observing human behavior, it is interesting to watch how we on this forum tear apart traditional parts of this long standing program. These discussions got me thinking of what the Eagle represents and how Barry would go about finding the scouts who best represent the award.

    When I was a young lad in scouting, the Arrowmen was the most respected scout in the troop, not the Eagle. Back then only two scouts from each troop were allowed to be selected (by vote of the scouts) from each troop to go to ordeal. Ordeal back then was like the Special Forces boot camp of the BSA. Or so the rumors say. An arrowmen was the best of the best. Not only in scout skills and leadership, but also as teachers, guides and even mentors. These guys had the respect of the scouts they led. They had to be at least 14 years old, long enough to develop the reputation required to be voted by their peers to represent the whole. These guys were almost Zen like in their stature.

    So I was thinking, how could we guarantee Eagles were truly the person the general population expects from these scouts? How could we take the burden off the present hit or miss system of selecting these outstanding BSA representatives? Well how about letting the scouts in each troop vote for only one or two Eagles every year? No longer would the SM feel the weight of measuring scout spirit or a being active. No more worries about record keeping of MBs or selecting the best counselors. No more of these tedious EBORS. NO MORE APEEALS. Whoo Hooo!

    Scouts know the true leaders. They know who serves them and who serves their egos. They know who has presents skills and who uses them. They know who practices the scout law and who recites it. Let them pick the true Eagles. Let the scouts carry the weight of selecting our best.

    Oh of course the BSA will have to change their vision of branding big herds of Eagles, but maybe the stellar reputation of the new modern Eagle will drive parents to put their sons in a program where the Eagle is a higher goal than president of the United States. Maybe the program will raise itself a notch because it has to become the worthy of training the best of the best.

    Still, there are challenges to this vision. Im not sure it could go in todays politically correct environment where mediocrity is dominant over ambition and excellence. There would be a strong drive for balance just like the Order of the Arrow program. Such a program would have to withstand the challenges of additional requirements and retesting.

    Still, I throw the idea in the hat for discussion with the rest of the forums out-of-the-box ideas.


  • #2
    I'm not sure whether you're serious about this or not, but let's assume for the moment that you are.

    One thing that I tell parents of new Boy Scouts is that, unlike Cub Scouts where all the boys in the same grade are working on the same badge (not counting things like belt loops and pins), the Boy Scout advancement program is completely individualized. While we provide a program that includes learning and practicing the skills needed to advance, and people are always available to sign off on advancement, how quickly or slowly, and how far, each boy goes is up to that boy. (We do encourage boys to try to make First Class before their second summer camp (which usually works out to about 15 months), but it is encouragement, not a forced march.) So, while a boy may want to try to "keep up" with other boys their age, or go further faster, they are not required to do so. The patrols and troop do activities as a group, but advancement is an individual process and choice.

    Under your suggestion, if you are really suggesting it, that would not be true any more. When or whether a boy makes Eagle would no longer completely depend on what that boy wants to do, or can do, or has done. It would depend on what other people in his troop are doing, or what they decide. I think a fundamental part of the "concept" behind the advancement program would be lost.

    When I read what I have written above, I can see that I may have already turned this into a discussion of what the "First Class First Year" program really means, because under some interpretations (what I call the "forced march" interpretation), the individuality of the advancement program has already been eroded. Now National is even saying that a boy should be making Star after being in the troop for two years. But so far I don't believe National has set any "time goals" for Life and Eagle (other than the outside time limit of course.) So the idea of individualized advancement still holds true for those ranks, at least. In my troop it holds true for all ranks... including Eagle. Maybe, especially Eagle.

    You're not really suggesting we do away with that, right?


    • #3
      I believe we are talking about t-1 ranks as well. What most of us view as traditional scout skills.

      Till you remove unit volunteers doing the testing you will always have a problem.

      Remove mom, dad and well meaning SPL and SM from the equation would be a huge step forward.

      Pretty simple to do at a district camporee type setting. Stations.....District level staff members running. Completely remove any partiality from the testing.

      Nothing wrong with the standards, if the standards are consistently met.


      • #4
        >>You're not really suggesting we do away with that, right?


        • #5
          Eagledad says, to me:

          I think you are saying the advancement part of the Eagle process is more important than knowing the woods skills, leadership skills, and a reputation of service to others.

          When did I say that? I didn't say it, and I'm not saying it now. Quite frankly I am not sure what it means. I think all of this goes hand in hand, if the advancement process is administered properly. If our complaint is with the requirements themselves, and/or the way they are administered, then let's work on fixing those so that the Eagle rank truly represents knowledge of woods skills (and others), leadership and a reputation of service to others, assuming that it doesn't already. But then, once a Scout has fulfilled the requirements, they should get the rank.

          I think what I am really saying is, I don't think the sky is falling. I realize that that attitude puts me out of step with many in this forum.

          A scout always has control of his destiny, Im just suggesting that peers set the standard instead of the adults.

          I don't think so. The limitation of "one or two per year" takes the Scout's advancement out of his control. In fact, it takes it out of the Scout's peers' control as well. One or two per year, in some troops, will mean that some Scouts who deserve Eagle will not receive it, regardless of what the Scouts think. If you remove the numerical limitation, and allow the Scouts to decide up-or-down on each candidate for Eagle, it restores the "individualized" idea of advancement -- but it still partly removes the Scout's advancement from his own control and puts it in the hands of his troop-mates.

          Maybe the answer is an additional award. There already is a "Distinguished Eagle" award, but I think that is for adults. This could be an extra honor added on to Eagle, but decided on by the troop. I realize that's not accomplishing what you are trying to accomplish, which relates to the Eagle rank itself.


          • #6
            I don't think voting on eagles would be the answer. Then you have a political race. Perhaps a board with no association would suffice.
            Our Fire Dept promotion board is a set of Chiefs, Officers, and Firefighters from the surrounding Departments. They administer the promotion board to aid in impartiality. They don't know who your daddy was. All they want to know is if your the best candidate, Do you actually know your stuff.
            I don't believe the system is that broke, that it would need to be changed however.

            Your in Cheerful Service,


            • #7
              What would meet you halfway would be restoring T-1st BOR to the PLC with adult supervision, as it was once upon a time. We would see much stronger candidates coming to the higher levels then in most cases, as peers tend to be blunt and normally pretty fair; but they also are less likely to let a scout just slide through, especially in regard to group interactions. Add to this the expectation that any skill marked off might be reviewed, including those from lower ranks, and you will be much closer to meeting the higher standard desired.

              And, yes, I also feel OA should go back to some type of maximum electee's each year and also set requirements for Venture members, including girls that would meet them.

              But, I am one of the "old fogies", so probably have lost perspective living in the past.


              • #8
                >>Maybe the answer is an additional award.


                • #9
                  In a lot of the Eagle discussions, there appears to me to be two areas of concern:

                  1) The true mastery of Outdoor skills. To me the ultimate test is whether or not an Eagle candidate could be handed any given outdoor situation and be trusted to handle it appropriately. Because we have an annual District Camporee that focuses on Scout Skills PLUS it is our most popular campout in the Troop (we have had Eagles come from college to bolster the Venture Crew attached to our Troop for competition) - I believe that my guys get the skills.

                  2) Leadership vs. Responsibility. I think that this is one of the misunderstood issues in Scouting. We have Positions of Responsibility, NOT Positions of Leadership. A Scout can earn Eagle without ever serving as a Patrol Leader, ASPL, Den Chief or SPL. One of the great candidates in my Troop right now is a boy who makes an amazing Quartermaster, and each SPL keeps on going back to him and asking him to serve again. He gets it, he works well with the youth, and he knows how to keep the gear lined up. He also knows how to work with the adult member of the committee. But...He is not a "leader." He is not the one that has a group of Scouts following him into the woods. He is more of a lone wolf type without the natural outgoing charisma that leads to elected positions in a unit.


                  • #10
                    The Eagle would become an award of honor, not a rank.

                    I think that says it all. You are really talking about eliminating "Eagle" as it currently exists, and putting that name on something else. I guess I just don't see the need for it. If there are problems with the "Eagle system" as it currently exists -- and I agree there are some -- they can be fixed through less drastic means.

                    And I have news for you, if Life was the "highest rank", I predict it would eventually become just that, with service projects, workbooks, letters of reference, appeal procedures and all the rest. And then to balance out the "ranks" we might eventually have "Third Class" stuck in above Tenderfoot. So I don't think this is going to accomplish what you are hoping for. Although, then I could say I earned Scouting's "highest rank" (not at the time, though.)


                    • #11
                      >>He gets it, he works well with the youth, and he knows how to keep the gear lined up. He also knows how to work with the adult member of the committee. But...He is not a "leader." He is not the one that has a group of Scouts following him into the woods. He is more of a lone wolf type without the natural outgoing charisma that leads to elected positions in a unit.


                      • #12
                        I believe there is too much emphasis on Eagle Scout being "the best of the best" which has led to the show "gatekeeper" mentality among so many folks. When someone argues that Eagles are only doing the bare minimum and that's not good enough, it tells me that the person doesn't really understand the requirements but has bought into the idea that Eagle Scout is "the best of the best". Write down all the requirements for ranks (and joining) from Scout to Eagle and that is the "bare minimum" required to earn Eagle Scout. That is also the "Full Maximum" required to earn Eagle Scout too. So much for "bare minimum", hih?

                        Now take a look at all those requirements again, but this time, by rank. Look carefully and you'll notice that the first three ranks are about skills - outdoors skills, first aid, things like that. Then notice what Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks are light on (to the point of non-existence) - Skills. These three ranks are about exploration (Merit Badges), service, teaching and leadership.

                        It's interesting that we're in this forum talking about whether Eagle Scout is "best of the best" - I sometimes run into it out in public but not as often as in here, and in here, it's usually the units that have "stricter standards" (and often among folks that never earned Eagle Scout but feel it's their responsibility to hold it up on a pedestal). I love reading smaller cities newspapers when I go out traveling - you rarely see Eagle Scout projects written up in the major Chicago papers, but go to Decatur, Illinois, and you'll find write-ups - I've rarely ever come across an article that seems to suggest that earning Eagle Scout is more than it really is. The articles usally talk about how many Merit Badges a Scout has earned, what his service project was, maybe a story about camp or high adventure - but never suggesting that Eagle Scout rank is the "best of the best".


                        • #13
                          This best of the best babble is just so much puffery. Utter piffle.


                          • #14
                            >>And I have news for you


                            • #15
                              Shortridge: "piffle"?? Just how "old" are you; that was one of my maternal grandmother's favorite expressions, and she was born in 1890.