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  • How to handle collection type Eagle projects

    Looking for some opinions. I'm seeing a large increase in collection drives as Eagle projects in our troop. Coat drives for the homeless, school supply drives for other countries, baby supplies for crisis nurseries, etc.

    I know these groups all need support and their causes are certainly worthy. What concerns me is the collection drive effort compared to other scouts who build fences, bird boxes, replace park benches, clear out creek beds, etc.

    Most of the scouts who do these drives are handed a list of supplies needed, information flyer formats, and other specifics from the beneficiary who are ready and waiting for these Eagle candidates. The scout contacts the agency, they hand over the list of what they need, and the scout gets what the paper states. They print out the list, send their fellow scouts out to the neighborhoods, sit back and wait for the supplies to return, then gather up the coats, diapers, pencils and erasers, etc. and turn them over to the waiting agency.

    Compared to a physical construction project or landscape cleanup, It's a much different leadership experience to send scouts out to a neighborhood to pick stuff up. It doesn't require a lot of focused brainpower to lead scouts who are not in front of you because we've all done this for years through Scouting for Food, newspaper drives, or other door to door collections. The scouts do it on autopilot- here's your streets, knock on the door, take what they give you, go to the next house, repeat.

    What do you do in your units to have these Eagle candidates show leadership on these type of project proposals? When these proposals come in, I'm telling the candidates to "own it"- write it up like they are creating a drive from scratch rather than just filling a shopping list from a beneficiary, and also to write contingency plans- what do they do if something happens on the drive, what are they doing while the drive is ongoing, do they have a base of operations, etc.

    Brownie troops and Cub Scout dens can do the very same drive the following week and show the same level of leadership. What are you doing in your units to make these projects eagle worthy?

    CMM/SMM

  • #2
    Totally AGREE! - There's a big difference between a service project and an Eagle Project. One being leadership. If one just creates a neighborhood map and assigns boys to cover them door to door for collection items, that's nothing more than good management techniques. I have had TF scouts in my troops do similar things as practice and preparation for their someday Eagle Project. This is why I would never want to sit in on an EBOR.

    I have found out that most councils really don't worry too much about it in the long run and that's where the rub comes in. They are approving these kinds of service projects as Eagle projects. So how is one to fight city hall in that case?

    On the other hand some of the more credible Eagle Projects they challenge or reject. Go figure! Obviously there is no national guideline criteria that is clear enough to deal with the problem.

    A few months back we had a boy collect up mosquito netting and fly them over to Africa and there were a lot of oooh's and aaah's and basically it's exactly what you're talking about, but 30 years ago when I first saw this done it was done by the elderly church ladies in the congregation I was serving not Brownies or Cub Scouts.

    Stosh

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    • #3
      My council appears to discourage these kinds of projects - I know of several of this type that have been disapproved, and only one that has been approved. As a result, in our troop we try to head these off at the pass and have only had one Scout go to the district/council level with a "drive" project. That is the one that I know of that was approved. In that case, the Scout had (well, still has, but he's in his mid-20s now) a severe, permanent phyical and neurological disability, is wheelchair-bound with limited use of his arms and hands, and difficulty speaking. He had many alternative requirements approved along the way. For his project, he did a food drive, and he had a bit more help "leading" it than would be acceptable otherwise... but he was the leader, and they collected a lot of food! He did the best job that his disabilities would allow, and then some. He's a remarkable young man. But other than that type of situation, in our area we seem to be "holding the line" on that sort of project.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by NJCubScouter View Post
        My council appears to discourage these kinds of projects - I know of several of this type that have been disapproved, and only one that has been approved. As a result, in our troop we try to head these off at the pass and have only had one Scout go to the district/council level with a "drive" project. That is the one that I know of that was approved. In that case, the Scout had (well, still has, but he's in his mid-20s now) a severe, permanent phyical and neurological disability, is wheelchair-bound with limited use of his arms and hands, and difficulty speaking. He had many alternative requirements approved along the way. For his project, he did a food drive, and he had a bit more help "leading" it than would be acceptable otherwise... but he was the leader, and they collected a lot of food! He did the best job that his disabilities would allow, and then some. He's a remarkable young man. But other than that type of situation, in our area we seem to be "holding the line" on that sort of project.
        And what makes one assume that by shear determination of his personality, this young man didn't lead? "He's a remarkable young man." Obviously he's got you following along! Leadership isn't doing the best job that his disabilities would allow, leadership is counting the number of people who were excited about following him. Well done!

        Stosh

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        • #5
          “”Brownie troops and Cub Scout dens can do the very same drive the following week and show the same level of leadership. What are you doing in your units to make these projects eagle worthy? CMM/SMM””

          “”Totally AGREE! - There's a big difference between a service project and an Eagle Project. One being leadership. Stosh””

          “”And what makes one assume that by shear determination of his personality, this young man didn't lead? "He's a remarkable young man." Stosh””

          Always entertaining Stosh

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          • #6
            I'll be the contrarian. The Eagle project is a Leadership SERVICE project. Who is served more, the person who needs but can't afford a coat and gets one through the SERVICE project, or the occassional passer-by that happens to sit on a bench, or appreciates the new bushes around a church front door?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dcsimmons View Post
              I'll be the contrarian. The Eagle project is a Leadership SERVICE project. Who is served more, the person who needs but can't afford a coat and gets one through the SERVICE project, or the occassional passer-by that happens to sit on a bench, or appreciates the new bushes around a church front door?
              I can do a service project all by myself. It's called a good turn.

              I can set up a big tub at the entrance to a grocery store and collect food for the food shelter..... all by myself. No leadership necessary.

              I can create a nice promotional website for a local nursing home.....all by myself. No leadership necessary.

              So then what is a leadership project? and how is it different than a regular service project?

              I don't think the fancy booklet defines it very well. I think it states: "show leadership" whatever that means.

              Stosh

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              • #8
                We used to have this problem. Our criteria now is the scout has to solve the bulk of the problems and have the vision of what it's about. There also needs to be enough problems to solve. Repeats are not allowed. Tie the new set of problems with working with a bunch of people and there's leadership.

                ​There's almost always a way to take an idea and make it challenging with a new set of problems. If a scout wants to do a food drive and we usually collect X pounds, have him collect 2X. More people, more stuff, more sorting. It's not just a matter of send out the usual email to get the usual scouts to do the usual thing. One scout wanted to make another set of planter boxes for a non-profit that a previous scout had built something for. We told the scout he had to do something different and suggested asking the non-profit if there was anything different they could use the planter for, like a cold frame for example. He came up with a raised planter that is wheel chair accessible. So he had to figure out heights and ledges and a bunch of stuff. We did have a scout do a book drive for the cancer wing of the hospital he spent a long time in as a kid. Yes, it was a drive, but we knew it meant a lot to this scout. He collected close to a thousand books.

                That's not to say this is easy. There are projects that get simplified and still signed off, adults that get over involved, scouts that need too much hand holding. There is a big grey area. However, I always ask the scout if they've ever done anything like it before where they've had to make the decisions and the answer is always no. Even the high end robotics scouts will say no because they're the ones that will work on something more intricate requiring more coordination.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Two of my EP's involved what I would call leadership.

                  1) Clean up and landscape around a new church addition. Had to coordinate with church officials, church work crews, scout work crews, waste disposal people, and landscaping company. There was no question leadership and management was involved on the part of this boy.

                  2) Clean up an abandoned veteran's park. Coordination between city personnel, tree removal services, scout crews, friends crews, luncheon people, waste disposal personnel, DNR, and a veteran's group that had a vested interest in providing after clean up landscaping.

                  To me this kind of management/leadership of multiple groups/crews is what offers something more than just one person doing the heavy lifting and the others sprinkled around the outside. A lot of groups doing a lot of heavy lifting at the coordination of the scout? Yep, that's a leadership project.

                  An Eagle Candidate that does all the work on a project himself is NOT showing leadership. He can be an excellent organizer and even a great problem solver, but leadership is what the project is supposed to show.

                  Stosh

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cubmaster Mike View Post
                    ... What concerns me is the collection drive effort compared to other scouts who build fences, bird boxes, replace park benches, clear out creek beds, etc.
                    I know scouts who would happily do each of those examples on their own without bothering anyone. (Except maybe wrecking a relative's tools. ) In doing so, they would be showing less leadership than the average food drive coordinator.

                    Originally posted by Cubmaster Mike View Post
                    ...Most of the scouts who do these drives are handed a list of supplies needed, information flyer formats, and other specifics from the beneficiary who are ready and waiting for these Eagle candidates. The scout contacts the agency, they hand over the list of what they need, and the scout gets what the paper states. They print out the list, send their fellow scouts out to the neighborhoods, sit back and wait for the supplies to return, then gather up the coats, diapers, pencils and erasers, etc. and turn them over to the waiting agency.
                    Most park boards around here have lists of volunteer projects, sometimes with grant money for supplies, sometimes with the supplies in the shed. The scout contacts the board, he's handed a list of what's needed, architectural drawings, sometimes the SKU number of the kit from the lumber yard, sends his buddies to the neighborhood for tools/labor needed, gather's up supplies and labor (skilled and unskilled) for an appointed day, has mom buy lunch and dad make coffee, sits back and tallies service hours, then turns the finished project over to the park board.

                    Originally posted by Cubmaster Mike View Post
                    The scouts do it on autopilot- here's your streets, knock on the door, take what they give you, go to the next house, repeat.
                    Our scouts build so much, and older scouts are there to help them it's almost like it's on autopilot: get your assignment, get your supplies get your labor, repeat, etc ... It's the odd duck among us who could lead a collection project from soup to nuts.

                    Originally posted by Cubmaster Mike View Post
                    Brownie troops and Cub Scout dens can do the very same drive the following week and show the same level of leadership.
                    Really? You tell your denner to organize your SFF? Make the calls to council, read any guidelines, mobilize a volunteer to pick up collection boxes and bags, schedule the event, make flyers, announce it at pack meetings, call volunteers, tally collection, arrange for food bank pick-up? All with minimal adult guidance? I'd love to meet that cub! (I have met some brownies who almost could lead in that way!)

                    Just like any project, you are looking for how much the boy's hand is on the tiller and his capability of learning from it. That said, if all of the Eagle projects in your troop are beginning to look a little boiler-plate, I would challenge the Life scouts to really think about what they'd be proud to see their name on. Usually that's enough to generate diversity of ideas.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jblake47, in response to my post View Post

                      And what makes one assume that by shear determination of his personality, this young man didn't lead? "He's a remarkable young man." Obviously he's got you following along! Leadership isn't doing the best job that his disabilities would allow, leadership is counting the number of people who were excited about following him. Well done!
                      Nothing makes me assume anything. I was present for part of the project and am reporting based on what I observed. And I didn't say he "didn't lead." What I said was"he had a bit more help 'leading' it than would be acceptable otherwise." And there was nothing wrong with that under the circumstances. I do not want to go into too much detail for the same reasons I usually don't go into too much detail about things that happen locally.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NJCubScouter View Post

                        Nothing makes me assume anything. I was present for part of the project and am reporting based on what I observed. And I didn't say he "didn't lead." What I said was"he had a bit more help 'leading' it than would be acceptable otherwise." And there was nothing wrong with that under the circumstances. I do not want to go into too much detail for the same reasons I usually don't go into too much detail about things that happen locally.
                        I wouldn't disagree one bit. I find that some of the scouts that face challenges do better at rising to the occasion than those that seem to have things come easy and they take advantage of that fact and never push the envelop.

                        I would think the young man needed some help with the leading part, but he was outside his comfort zone and still persevered. I have no problem with that. In my last troop I had a 34 year old handicapped scout working on his Eagle Project. It was definitely hard for him, but he was very well liked, (good leadership trait) and showed slow and steady progress. One couldn't ask for anything more. I was removed as SM before he started his project, but his plan was solid, hopefully the next SM stayed the course with him.

                        Stosh

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                        • #13
                          The challenge in these conversations is we're talking something that are inherently subjective (leadership and service) and attempting to apply objective criteria (hours worked, dirt moved, pictures taken) to judge boys. We have a 40-odd page workbook and a whole publication dedicated to defining, describing and setting criteria for advancement today because we're trying to mollify the people complaining that little Johnny didn't work as hard as their boy to get Eagle, or a merit badge, or a shiny stick.

                          Let's be honest, the project didn't even exist as a requirement until the 60s. I've found one reference that gives the requirement as:

                          "3. While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and carry out a service project helpful to your church or synagogue, school, or community approved in advance by your Scoutmaster."

                          Seems like we're going the wrong direction.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dcsimmons View Post
                            The challenge in these conversations is we're talking something that are inherently subjective (leadership and service) and attempting to apply objective criteria (hours worked, dirt moved, pictures taken) to judge boys. We have a 40-odd page workbook and a whole publication dedicated to defining, describing and setting criteria for advancement today because we're trying to mollify the people complaining that little Johnny didn't work as hard as their boy to get Eagle, or a merit badge, or a shiny stick.

                            Let's be honest, the project didn't even exist as a requirement until the 60s. I've found one reference that gives the requirement as:

                            "3. While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and carry out a service project helpful to your church or synagogue, school, or community approved in advance by your Scoutmaster."

                            Seems like we're going the wrong direction.
                            There's no reference to leadership in this statement and any service project done by the Eagle Candidate is okay. What people have made it out to be is a lot more than "just a service project". As a matter of fact, doing the project all by yourself is okay as long as it is beneficial to the organization.

                            We're obviously making it a lot more complicated as time goes by. I have boys doing the "Eagle Project" described above all the time by Scouts as young as TF. By the time they are Life Scouts, they have a ton of them under their belt. As a boy-led program, that means the monthly service project is set up by a scout, that's 12 opportunities a year, and they don't have to fill out any paperwork, just do the work.

                            Stosh

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We just had a boy end up doing a collection for his eagle, but when he started to plan his project that is not what he wanted. He wanted to do something for a specific organization and well that's what they needed. He wasn't allowed our pre-made maps of the town already broken down for our different collections. He had to do make them himself (and have to say we kept his maps because they were a lot better than old used for years ones). They gave him a list, but not a ready made flyer so he had to make the flyer. He had to lead in getting sacks ready with the flyers, give all volunteers instructions on what to say if asked when dropping off or picking up sacks. He had to make sure he had enough adults to help with driving and make sure that there were at least 2 youth in each vehicle. While there wasn't as much watching over he had his mom their to drive him to any of the areas that requested help from him and handed out his number to all the volunteers.

                              But again it was the organization he wanted to work for it was something important to him to help them. It just so happened that they didn't need anything built or weeded area cleaned up and planted.

                              Our next scout who is early stages of planning will be an interesting one because he wants to help an organization that helped him and his family while he was battling cancer when he was younger. But the place is about 100 miles away. He's a little worried about it being so far, but I simply told him if it turns out to be an onsite project we'd set up tents at a local campground and get it done

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