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Scout "Too Young" to be an Eagle?

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  • Scout "Too Young" to be an Eagle?

    At the District Round-table this month I heard two Scoutmasters and a Unit Commissioner get into a lively discussion about a young Life Scout. From what I understand he is twelve years old and just passed his Board of Review for Life last month. His Scoutmaster was telling the other Scoutmaster and UC that there is no way that he is going to let this boy earn his Eagle until he is 15 years old. He said that the boy will probably have all of his merit badges and Eagle Project completed by the end of next Summer when he is 13 years old. However, he said that he will never check him off on his Scoutmaster Conference or recommend him for Eagle until he's almost 15, so that his Eagle Court of Honor won't be until he's 15.

    I butted in the conversation and asked him if he had told the boy this and he said no - that he would keep "failing" him on the Unit Leader Conference requirement until he was older. The other Scoutmaster and the Unit Commissioner both agreed that there is no way that a 13 year old boy should be an Eagle Scout and that their had to be some way to keep them from obtaining it even if they met all of the qualifications. Their reasoning was is that it wouldn't be fair to the 13 year old - that the older Eagle Scouts wouldn't respect him for earning it while he was so young. They looked at it as if they were doing him a favor by holding him back until he was 15.

    First off, I have never heard of a boy earning his Eagle rank at 13 but I'm sure that there are some out there. My question is - can a Scoutmaster in fact refuse to recommend a boy for Eagle just because they think that he's too young - even if he's earned all the requirements? It will be interesting to follow this conversation at our future Round-tables as I'm sure it will come up again.

  • #2
    I agree that 13 is too young due to lack of sufficient leadership experience. (my opinion only) BUT, if he's completed all of the requirements, Eagle is possible by age 13, and no one can stop that. If the scout goes before an Eagle Board of Review, he can still pass the board without the Scoutmaster's signature, or even the Troop committee chairman's signature! The council can waive that with an explanation.

    There is no such thing as 'Pass/Fail" in an SM conference. The only requirement is to HAVE one. The SM in this case is trying to make a statement, and I can understand that. BUT, I'd bet the farm that this scout's PARENTS are the one who want that Eagle badge!

    So, looks like Mom and Dad OOPS, I mean Little Johnny will get his Eagle.

    Comment


    • #3
      Never say never ... If this boy is fulfilling his positions of responsibilities, is gung-ho about scouting, and still knows most of his knots, why stop him? There's got be something of substance that's bothering the SM about this kid.

      Comment


      • #4
        I will have a 13 year old eagle if he schedules his Board of Review anytime soon. It depends on the kid, his brother is 16 and still only Star. If you have a highly motivated kid who does everything he's supposed to age should not be an issue. I've heard similar grumblings here, which is why you have to document everything. My son decided when he was 10 years old that he would make Eagle before his brother and set himself on a course to do so. I'd hate to see any child punished for being motivated and industrious.

        Comment


        • fred johnson
          fred johnson commented
          Editing a comment
          "I'd hate to see any child punished for being motivated and industrious." ... Very well said.

      • #5
        Mixed emotions on this one.

        I've seen the 13 year old Eagle who raced through the ranks because daddy was pushing him hard. My uncle was also pushing me too, but once I got Life, I just started having too much fun with opportunity after opportunity.

        I've seen the 13 y.o. "Eagle Scout" who had mommy, daddy, and grandpa sign off on all his requirements. When you tried to talk to him about some of the work he did for the MBs on his sash, he gives you a deer in the headlight look. His BOR denied him his Eagle, wrote what need to be done, etc etc. When he appealed and national granted the Eagle over the objections of the BOR, the entire district advancement committee resigned en masse

        I've seen the 12-13 YO Life Scout who was gung ho about getting Eagle, but was having major challenges with leadership. Dad was on the committee recognized the leadership challenges son was having but was extremely ticked off when it was decided to not include his time as a PL because of the issues. Long story short, a plan was developed, followed, and kid did get Eagle at 14 or thereabouts.

        Then I've seen the 13-14yo Eagle who I would trust with my life if things hit the fan. No change that. I'ld trust my older two kids lives in his hands if things hit the fan. Youngest would drive him nuts.

        Comment


        • #6
          So that troop has a motivated scout who has completed the requirements and for whom there is no substantive performance reason for not "passing" other than "too young?"

          What a tragic way to discourage someone from remaining in scouting. How motivated do you think that boy is going to be after "failing" conference after conference? And on here we bemoan constantly--how do we keep boys involved in the troop, etc etc etc.

          If there were meant to be an age minimum for Eagle, or any rank, it would be in the handbook. There is not and therefore cannot be added. Period.

          Regarding anyone on here saying that any age is too young as a blanket statement--that's a load of bull. Each boy is different. Maybe he was pushed by his parents, maybe not. Maybe he is truly exceptional. We simply do not know.

          Comment


          • #7
            If he was not fit to be an Eagle those issues should have been addressed long before now. So this Scoutmaster has allowed 3 PORs and is just now having second thoughts. If he was elected to his PORs and fulfilled his duties to the satisfaction of his peers then what's the problem? We have a rocket scout in our troop, in 7th grade and is about to get his Life BOR. He is a good scout, very mature and very smart. I never seen one problem with him. My issue is the SM has not held him to a high standard for his current POR.

            Comment


            • fred johnson
              fred johnson commented
              Editing a comment
              My problem would be with the SM who is subverting the efforts of the scout. That in no way fits in the scout law and is dishonest.

          • #8
            While a SMC is neither pass or fail.....A SM can use scout spirit or performance of the POR to slow a lad down. But if a lad is gung ho then how can you fail him on scout spirit barring any behavior issues, which I bet the lad doesn't have any.....

            As KDD pointed out.....it should have been done at either star or the Life position.

            Comment


            • fred johnson
              fred johnson commented
              Editing a comment
              Fully agreed. Plenty of previous chances to address issues. Goal tending on Eagle Scout is poor form.

          • #9
            I'm with Brewmeister on this one, we don't have enough information to know why the Scout is motivated to earn the Eagle so fast. I was reading the other day of an 11 year old who is going to an Ivy league college to become a doctor of something or other . The article didn't say if his parents are behind the boys motivation, I just assumed he isn't a run of the mill kid. Our job is to provide a program where every scout has the same opportunities to the activities as all the other scouts. If we do that correctly, the scouts follow their own vision, not ours. If the program is developed correctly, advancement and leadership are just two of the eight methods. The other six should keep the scouts busy and balance their experience in the troop. Since I have this T-shirt, I can say that a boy who is capable of earning Eagle by 13 typically has a lot of other special talents that a well meaning SM can tap from the scout. Still, my experience is the best a SM can expect is a one year delay. Also we can talk about leadership all we want, but biologically, 13 year olds aren't mature enough to understand the value of leadership. Maturity is really what is at stake here. Maturity of physical and mental health, maturity of character and maturity of citizenship. I'm guessing this 13 year old is not practicing enough of one or more of those areas of the program, or the program is failing all the scouts. Better check their camping program. Barry

            Comment


            • fred johnson
              fred johnson commented
              Editing a comment
              But ya don't know that. 99% of eagles earn it at 17 years old and 11 months. Given that the BSA requirements set it up so that a scout "could" complete Eagle just before turning 13, means that there will be cases of a 13 year old eagle. Or even a 12 year old Eagle. And that's 100% fine if the scout earned it.

          • #10
            Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
            If we do that correctly, the scouts follow their own vision, not ours.
            That really is the salient point here.

            I will disagree on the biology comment, however. It is true that biology (physical development) may be an obstacle to effective leadership (because physical size has an advantage), it can be overcome by how the boy handles himself with his peers. That really does come back to the boy, and to training.

            Comment


            • Brewmeister
              Brewmeister commented
              Editing a comment
              Edit: I thought you were arguing the point, then I thought you were providing an example in agreement, and now I'm just not sure!

            • Kudu
              Kudu commented
              Editing a comment
              Yeah, Brewmeister, I thought I agreed with you, but now I can't tell :-)

            • Eagledad
              Eagledad commented
              Editing a comment
              Master and Commander is one of my favorite movies. What I mean by biology is that the human mind isn't really ready for independent responsibility until puberty. We are wired to run in groups because it is safer and leading makes us vulnerable because we are seperated from the group. That is why you can see such a dramatic change in leadership behavior after puberty. As for the sqeakers, privledge has it's advantages. Those boys were given the expectation of leading from the day they were born. Barry

          • #11
            In my experience, unless the SM has some concrete reasons why this lad is not "ready", other than age, the parents can appeal to the Council Advancement Committee and bypass the SM with a District level EBOR. Council will always err on the side of the scout. I've seen some 13 year olds who were more "qualified" than some 18 year olds whose EBOR I've sat on. And I agree with the sentiment, that, if there ARE concrete reasons, then why did they advance him to Star and Life?

            Comment


            • #12
              As long as all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed and the boy has actually fulfilled the list of requirements, he technically is qualified to earn Eagle. That being said, he is going to be viewed by most people as a technical Eagle, right or wrong. An Eagle with an asterisk beside his name. He may be an Eagle, but he isn't old enough to staff camp. He isn't going to be tapped to serve on an NYLT course or be a course leader. He won't be considered a serious candidate if he were to run for Lodge Chief if he is in OA. Heck, depending on just how young we are talking here, he may not even be eligible to attend a High Adventure base. Etc., etc., etc. He doesn't have the time, breadth, depth and maturity that most people will expect of an Eagle. I never, ever want to squash a boy's desire or spirit. that being said, an SM needs to have a sit down with a boy's parents and the boy as well and have a long discussion. There is the destination.......and there is the journey. The journey is far more important to becoming an Eagle than the destination is. A good SM will channel the boy's ambitions back into the troop instead of simply obtaining a rank. A good SM will convince the boy of how very important the journey is in relation to the rank. Just my two cents.

              Comment


              • Callooh! Callay!
                Callooh! Callay! commented
                Editing a comment
                Not old enough to staff camp? Won't be tapped for NYLT? Won't be a serious candidate for Lodge Chief? May not even be eligible to attend a High Adventure base? OK... but none of those is an Eagle Scout requirement.

                "He doesn't have the time, breadth, depth and maturity that most people will expect of an Eagle." Were that so, it could be because "most people" have expectations that come from their preferences rather than the actual rank requirements.

              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                That is a valid point about age.....He can't attend NYLT locally because he isn't old enough. He could have attended the Jamboree or Philmont yet.

                Camp staff must be 14 or a 13 year old CIT for a single week.

              • Kudu
                Kudu commented
                Editing a comment
                So what do all of those age-restricted activities have in common?

                1) By definition they are not based on merit.

            • #13
              Give me a motivated 13-year-old Eagle over an 18th-Birthday Eagle any day.

              Comment


              • Brewmeister
                Brewmeister commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree that calling 17 year old eagles "deathbed" eagles is using a broad (and unfair) brush. But so is calling a 13-year old eagle an "asterisk" eagle.

                Again-- Every. Boy. Is. Different.

              • fred johnson
                fred johnson commented
                Editing a comment
                Love it. Great term. "Deathbed Eagle". Just as appropriate as others using the term technical Eagle to diminish the accomplishments of a scout. Seems even more appropriate as the scout won't wear Eagle on their uniform except for their ECOH.

              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                Who knows....Scout son turned down his nomination for SPL tonight...... Having too much fun to be responsible right now... Fall fellowship is in a couple of weeks and we are working two weekends in the end of october at the cub spook o ree.

            • #14
              The BSA program is designed to get a Cub Scout survivor to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with a pack on his back.

              If an indoor boy loves paperwork and office manager theory, why not Eagle at twelve?

              As for proven "leadership ability," how many Eagle Scouts have even one (1) night of what Baden-Powell considered Boy Scout camping? 1 in 10,000? 1 in 100,000?

              Won't be tapped to be a NYLT Staffer? How many NYLT Course Directors experienced as a Boy Scout (or can even define) what Green Bar Bill called a "Real" Patrol? 1 in 10,000? 1 in 100,000?

              Comment


              • Brewmeister
                Brewmeister commented
                Editing a comment
                Now, now, Kudu, you're the one that cited the "Master and Commander" example of a 13 year old boy capable of captaining a ship, wasn't it? So by your logic this particular boy could well be capable of displaying the leadership and mastery of skill that you value.

                None of us, including you, know this specific boy, or this specific circumstance.

              • Kudu
                Kudu commented
                Editing a comment
                Brewmeister,

                SPOILER ALERT!

                The final sentence of my "Leadership Training Weekend" guide to "Master and Commander:"

                "Certainly, a tale in which a one-armed 13-year-old boy competently assumes command of a man-of-war ship facing overwhelming odds in a battle at sea would be a poor choice for Scoutmasters who forbid 13-year-old Eagles!"

                http://inquiry.net/patrol/training/movies.htm

              • Brewmeister
                Brewmeister commented
                Editing a comment
                Ok, well, ya, I kind of missed that point I guess...my bad

            • #15
              I don't know where this idea that a scout needs a beard before he's "ready" for Eagle came from, BSA released this poster on Eagle Scouts a few years ago: http://www.coolinfographics.com/blog...fographic.html
              "Average age of Eagle Scouts in 1949" take a guess, go on . . . . . . . . . .
              14.6 years old.

              Most every Eagle in our troop meets the new average (17), but to be honest I don't care for it. (In general) They get up to Star or Life by 14/15, disappear for several years then barnstorm the troop asking for help on their Eagle project from kids who've never even seen them, and squeeze Eagle in just in time to age out and be useless to the troop as an Eagle to begin with.

              If there's no dispute that the boy has met the requirements, I'll take a 13-yr-old Eagle who still has a couple good years left over a 17-yr-old fly-by-night any day of the week.
              Last edited by Scouter99; 09-17-2013, 11:40 PM.

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