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  • Why Eagle?

    Just finished the 134 merit badge thread. So I an sitting here wondering why such a huge emphasis on getting 21 merit badges and a project done? If I somehow mention that I was a scout back in the day, it's 10 to 1 that the next question will be " Did you earn your Eagle?"
    Well ya I did
    But that was only a small part of scouting.
    If I close my eyes and drift back in time I find I don't remember any Courts of honor.
    I do remember... sunrise on the tooth....the Ordeal night....learning to be a den chief...then a patrol leader....listening to the owls calling to each other across the river on a dark night...a bunch of boys laughing and learning and growing into men together
    A few weeks ago I think I shocked a fellow scouter when I told him I was prouder of my OA sash than my eagle badge. I tried to explain that while any one with the will and the drive could get an eagle, being elected by my peers to the Order meant that I was trying to live the Oath and Law. trying
    How did eagle become the benchmark of a youth in scouting well spent?

  • #2
    I don't know. I am going to assume now, and you know what happens when you assume

    1) parents, and grandparents in some cases, who got Eagle pushing their kids to get it.

    2) parents who were involved in Scouting, but never got it pushing their kids.

    3) the "everyone wins a trophy" mentality our society has today and how Eagle can be seen as a real accomplishment.

    40 How some folks see it as a check list item to get the job, college, military occupational specialty they want.


    • #3
      Forgot to add, I too remember my trips best of all. Especially my Canada trip. And while I am proud of being an Eagle, I have friends who did not get that far, but I would trust with my life in the outdoors if things hit the fan.


      • Oldscout448
        Oldscout448 commented
        Editing a comment
        True that! I have two sons in their upper 20's now, both in scouting until 18, both SPL, OA etc. One eagled the other stopped at first class. The first class son is by far the better, axman, shooter, (rifle, pistol, or bow) he moves through the woods like an Indian. I listen to them talk of their time as scouts, and I can not say who got more from the program

      • desertrat77
        desertrat77 commented
        Editing a comment
        "I have friends who did not get that far, but I would trust with my life in the outdoors if things hit the fan."

        I agree 100 percent, Eagle 92!

    • #4
      Only a small handful of people you will meet understand that value of the program the way you do. This is because they have no personal or direct experience with Scouting. What they do know or have probably only heard about is Eagle Scouts. It's an incredible brand. Eagles are still held in great respect, even by people who don't really know anything else about Scouting, certainly far beyond those actually involved in the program.


      • #5
        Let's see: because I pursued Eagle Scout I: - learned to develop film long before I joined camera club. - understood how to read weather maps. - made insane orienteering courses. - had one-on-one conversations with bank presidents, county sherrifs, professors, miners, EMTs, clergy, organists, journeymen, etc ... Because other boys were earning it I ... - Learned to use the come-along that was hanging in my dad's garage (logs for trout ladders) - learned every detail of steam locomotives (from inside the boiler out) - gained a healthy respect of mountain laurel and limestone caves in the same weekend .., and the list goes on. But that should be enough to answer your question.


        • #6
          Why get a HS diploma? When you look back at HS do you remember the quadratic formula or your prom? The paper you wrote for your junior English class or hanging with your friends? If you answered with the latter option to either of those questions does that mean your diploma isn't worthwhile? Same thing for your college degree. Do you remember the ins and outs of the logic class you took or tailgating at the homecoming game?

          Really, the Eagle bashing needs to stop.


          • Oldscout448
            Oldscout448 commented
            Editing a comment
            I guess I wasn't clear, sorry. I was not trying to bash Eagle as a thing well worth earning, or being proud of. On the rare occasions I wear mine, an Eagle Coh for example, it still gives me a thrill to pin it on.
            I was trying to fathom why most people I meet seem to think that earning the Eagle rank is the only important thing in scouting

          • RememberSchiff
            RememberSchiff commented
            Editing a comment
            I think we in Scouting create that mindset. We often say "Do your best" and that often is misinterpreted as earn your Eagle. Advancement method is way OVER-emphasized. Cubs earn all their ranks, so why not Boy Scouts. We honor and showcase those who earn Eagle, the others not as much. Maybe we should bestow a higher Court of Honor to those, whatever rank, who remain in Scouting until they age out. Or those that serve as youth leaders for year after year, say a scout who served well as PL for 4 or 5 year straight. Say wouldn't it be cool to have gold of silver bars on a PL patch for such scouts?

            My $0.02

        • #7
          When First Class Stopped being the Highest Rank in Scouting.

          Personal Achievement...The End Goal of Scouting....Eagle Scout...An Obtainable Goal with a Clearly defined guideline.
          Just Like in OA Brotherhood is an Obtainable Goal for Every OA Member... Vigil is bestowed you don't have a Checklist..

          I join a Program I strive to be the Best I can be...Not just a Plain Lackey
          In JROTC I could of just been a Corp Member instead of Excelling and being Promoted Cadet Lt. Colonel as Brigade Executive Officer. In Scouting I knew what I could Achieve and Accomplish without someone having to give me. After Eagle other BSA Recognition is by Nomination. Politics come into play...You Don't just get Silver Beaver..Or Distinguished Eagle. You have to politic to get it. I know many Scouters who won't be Vigil or Silver Beaver no matter how many years they stay in Scouting because they don't Politic they won't be consider or you "Contribute" your Way into those Honors
          Last edited by jpstodwftexas; 11-27-2013, 01:10 AM.


          • #8
            Dcsimmons, I guess I actually DO remember that stuff and more. I was the first ever for my troop to achieve Eagle. Most of the other guys kind of put it down as something that scouts in our troop weren't supposed to want to do but I was intrigued and when I read the requirements I realized that not only could I do this, the process was probably going to be fun. So I set it as a goal and worked toward it. Keep in mind that back then I could drive on a learner's permit at age 15 (I was driving a school bus at 16). So things back then were much different, not to mention the absence of an Eagle project as part of the requirements. I have always thought far more of my Eagle than my HS diploma. Actually, I have very positive memories about scouting and the work I did for Eagle and fairly negative memories about high school (it's complicated). For that matter, the only diploma I really think is of any significance is the terminal degree but mostly because that's finally the end of it.

            That said, I don't list Eagle on my resume. Never have. It isn't a professional qualification. It means different things to different people and really the only person it has real meaning for is me, so I don't advertise it. I do know that my mother was very proud of the collection of mother's pins that she accumulated from my scouting days (I made sure they were with her when we laid her to rest).

            I personally couldn't care less about the awards we hand adult scouters. If you didn't achieve what you could have as a boy, it's over. Don't try to compensate for those omissions as an adult leader because it's not about adults. It's about giving boys the opportunities to experience some of the things we experienced and to earn whatever ranks they choose to pursue. The program has changed. Society has changed. But spirit has not. I guess I'm just a curmudgeon.


            • resqman
              resqman commented
              Editing a comment
              "I personally couldn't care less about the awards we hand adult scouters. If you didn't achieve what you could have as a boy, it's over. Don't try to compensate for those omissions as an adult leader because it's not about adults. It's about giving boys the opportunities to experience some of the things we experienced and to earn whatever ranks they choose to pursue. The program has changed. Society has changed. But spirit has not. I guess I'm just a curmudgeon."

              It is often discussed and lamented the lack of outdoor skills volunteer adults bring to the program. But at the same time we expect them to guide and lead a program that generates exceptional young men. Adults who did not participate in the program as youth don't dont know how to deliver the program. They need to be trained and tutored so they have the skills to shape young men. While you may be the kind that looks for challenges and sets your own goals, not every person is that kind of person. Parents new to scouting have bought into the marketing the scouting is good. They want their sons to succed in life. They enroll them in little league, band, and scouts. The Scout Master says we need volunteers to drive or the campout will be canceled. So unknowing parents load the minivan and drive. Next month the same request.

              These parents have to choose to become better at Scouting. But that means they have less time to drive the sibliings to little league, band, and themselves to fantasy baseball meetings or ladies night out. They need some incentive to choose to become better scouters. If a small bit of cloth to sew on to their sleeve is what it takes to mold this cubicle farm worker into a useful scouter, then I say lets provide some carrots. These adults can't provide a program that encourages boys to become men if they dont have some training. The next step is to become a trainer. But guess what, just like getting any job, you have to convince someone else you can do that job. You have to either demonstrate skills or have a resume that implies you have those skills. Without the piece of cloth on your sleeve, many scouters won't listen.

              I never attended woodbadge. Don't attend Roundtables. Don't have a wide circle of scouter friends outside of my troop. But I have better scout skills than most. I have been an EMT, Wilderness Search Team member & instructor, Eagle Scout, OA, BSA summer camp counselor, participant of all three national high adventure bases, and corporate technical trainer. Been there, done that, got the patch and t-shirt. District trainer wasn't willing to take a chance on me since I did not hang out at Roundtables or know the critter handshake. Finally did one time. Now I get a call or email months in advance to ensure I clear my calendar for the next training. If I can make one adult better prepared, I have made dozens of boys better prepared.

              It is about the boys. We have to provide a program for the adults so they can provide a program for the boys. Just because you have decades of experience does not mean the rest of society has the same experience.

            • packsaddle
              packsaddle commented
              Editing a comment
              " If a small bit of cloth to sew on to their sleeve is what it takes to mold this cubicle farm worker into a useful scouter, then I say lets provide some carrots."

              If that's really all it takes, something that superficial, then no problem, bring on the scraps. Just don't ever think that even a small forest of scraps thereby endows you with some kind of elite status or position in the 'pecking order'. They're just scraps.

          • #9
            Don't know if this happened nationally, but 11 years ago, our council received an endowment from someone who asked "why aren't more boys making Eagle?" And, the donor(s) wanted their gifts to go to programs that addressed that question. As a result, our council camp had a "trail to Eagle area" that star and life scouts could hang out and discuss what they needed to complete advancement. Let's face it, in some troops kids don't see anyone making rank, but if they see boys from other troops year after year, they might conclude like Pack, "Oh, I *can* do this."


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              BD, you take it for granted. A few boys need to hear it from someone other than SM.

              Sometimes the SM needs to hear it from someone other than the SM.

            • EagleScout441
              EagleScout441 commented
              Editing a comment
              We had a Trail to Eagle program at our last summer camp, only one guy showed up to it, so it was 1 scout and couple staff just going over what he needed for Eagle.

            • resqman
              resqman commented
              Editing a comment
              An active troop program will get a scout to 1st class. A scout has to decide to do all the extremely boring and school work merit badges that are required for Eagle. An active program will provide the opportunity to earn the outdoor based badges.

              Look at the current requirements for Eagle Scout. 13 requried badges. 3 citizenship badges, Personal Mgt, Family Life, Communication. 6 badges that are all indoor, write an essay, do boring paperwork for months and months badges. No matter how active a program a troop has, nothing will be accomplished for these badges.

              As a boy I hated these badges. Almost every boy I have ever met hates these badges. Where is the fun? Silly requirements made up by cubicle farm adults. But... there are important life skills that children don't understand will make their adult lifes easier. That is not why boys joined scouting. They joined to go camping.

              So having the SM say everyones goal should be to earn the rank of Eagle is usually not enough to encourage a boy to visit a city council meeting, take notes, and write a paper. It usually will take some additional coaxing to make that happen.

          • #10
            Benchmark......Ask the guys in the marketing department.

            I never pursued it as a youth. Just happened. of course my troop had a solid program as a youth. I was astonished when my SM asked me about my Eagle project, I was having too much fun.

            Now it is about busy body parents, checking off lists to get their boys into college. I am lucky that most of my boys will go to Junior college, tech school or military so Eagle isn't a big line on their resume. While I have a few parents heck bent on advancement, the vast majority of the troop are surprised with I will ask the scout if he is interested in a conference.

            They are having fun.....Sound familiar.


            • #11
              It does not matter if the highest rank is 1st class or Eagle. Whatever the program declares is the highest rank, will be the one with recognition. Some will strive to the hightest rank just because it is the highest. Others will "fall into" the rank through years of being active. Others will finally wrap up the last few requirements because an adult coaxes, the lad wakes up and realizes he will turn 18 in a short while, or some other reason.

              Earning a college degree is just a list of requirements. It takes years of sitting in hard chairs listening to boring professors, long nights studying, but most of all it takes persistance. Earning the rank of Eagle or whatever rank you see as the most important, it just completeing a list of requirements. But it takes persistance. It takes effort on the part of the lad to keep whittleing away at all the many small tasks. As an adult, some of the requirements seem so easy. It is really easy to say to your son, just write the 100 word essay, call the designated person, do the one task that seems so trival as an adult to do but is scary, challenging, overwhelming to a a teeenager. Deciding which teacher you are going to ask to write an letter of recommendation. Teachers are a symbol of authority. They seem to give out grades arbitrarily at times. A medicore student who finds his passion in scouting may really struggle to ask for a teacher to not just say, but write down and sign to the fact that you are good and decent person. Like asking the prettiest girl for a date.

              Lots of chatter on this forum about character building vs. check list scouting. Last time I looked over the checklist, the scout has to participate in a number of activies that force him into siutations where he is exposed to character building. Service projects, Positions of Responsibility, Boards of Review, Scoutmaster conferences. He interacts with adult troop leadership, MB couselors and interested adults who encourage him to work the program. He gets to hangout with older scouts who model scout behavior. He is exposed but has to choose to accept the scouting values.

              My oldest son came to scouting just prior to his 15th birthday. His brother and I had been very active scouters all our lifes. Family friends we shared vacations with consisted of a SM from a different troop and his sons involved in the program. Even though we were a scouting family and lived the scout ideals, he did not really understand until he went through the program. In 3 short years he was able to "check off" all the requirements for Eagle. It was not simple or easy for him. His mockery of the program from outside changed to an appreciation of the diversity of tasks and challenges for young men. Choosing to attend a social event, participate in the high school team game, or attend a campout became a regular challenge. Choosing to have fun with your friends or work a service project. Making the hard choice to forego something fun now for the possibility of a potential reward in the future. Hard lessons. Life lessons.

              Those of us inside the program usually would like Eagle Scouts to be the perfect shining example of All Things Scouting. We sometimes forget it is really a journey from ackward middle schooler to mature young man. It is a training program which is supposed to allow and encourage trial and error along the way. Often when I look at the current group of Life scouts, I remember the times they tried my patience, went off the resevation, or did just plain stupid stuff. When I look closer at how they have acted in the last six months, I see young men trying to do the best they can. They are still making mistakes, but new mistakes. They have learned, have grown, are leading the way by example for the younger scouts.

              What do you call the medical student who graduated with the absolute lowest GPA? Doctor. The diploma doesnt say, this one just squeaked by. It says Graduate. It says he stuck it out through all the hardships. Same diploma as the valedictorian. I am not suggesting we give up and let any half effort count towards earning the rank. I am suggesting we congratulate those who did not give up.


              • Oldscout448
                Oldscout448 commented
                Editing a comment
                Resqman, I do believe you have hit the nail squarely on the head here. Well said!

              • packsaddle
                packsaddle commented
                Editing a comment
                "....boring professors...." tut, tut.

            • #12
              "Those of us inside the program usually would like Eagle Scouts to be the perfect shining example of All Things Scouting. We sometimes forget it is really a journey from ackward middle schooler to mature young man."

              True words indeed.


              • #13
                Originally posted by dcsimmons View Post
                The paper you wrote for your junior English class
                My Junior Term Theme ...The Boy Scouts of America


                • #14
                  For me earning First was harder than moving on. Morse Code was a struggle. So was getting the 100 yard swim signed off as we never went to council camp -- always DIY. Merit badges were easier in comparison; more quickly done at least.
                  Our adult Scouters always had some Scoutcraft to pass on as most had been in the military (idea: bringing back the draft will thus save Scouting).
                  There was no Eagle project requirement. Current Eagle projects I view as more classroom than some of the merit badges under discussion (fill out workbook, write proposal and hand in for "grade", write complete plan and hand-in, submit fundraising application, draw up final report and hand in
                  Yeah, having my peers elect me as SPL and into the Order was in many ways a lot more meaningful...


                  • #15
                    At a mid-year college class graduation dinner today, only one of the graduates included Eagle Scout in their bio sketches. I know there were a few more than that in he class. Other students acknowledged God, their religious fellowship, fraternity/team, their parents, their friends, or present/future spouses. Point is that Eagle has different value for different boys at different times. And although that probably changes little for most guys over time, other things loom larger or smaller in immediate value at different stages in life.