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13/14 Year Old Eagle Scouts

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This last year at summer camp, the troop across the road from us had MANY Eagles in their troop. Curious to actually know HOW they obtained it, my friend and I asked one of them. He simply said they were a proud "Eagle Factory". This in my mind means at meetings they work on merit badges, discuss rank advancement, and sign off the boys books. If a boy was in the class on requirement 9, then he gets it signed off, like a checklist.


In my opinion, this is wrong. If you notice on requirements, I will say to SHOW or EXPLAIN or DEMONSTRATE HOW to do something. Its not like cub scouting where you listen to a lecture, then get signed off. When this happens you get Eagles who may have done everything, but when it comes to actual scout skills, they are CLUELESS! I think that an Eagle should be an example scout who knows his scout skills and can rattle off answers and tie knots from memory.


To clear this up, i have nothing against a 14 year old Eagle who actually DID do everything in a boy-lead troop. It seems that the adult-lead troops are the "Eagle Factories" so to say. As long as a boy ACTUALLY did everything required for Eagle, he was my respect, but for the ones who go through a checklist type thing where its all adult motive instead of the boys motive to obtain Eagle, I have little respect for.


What are your views scouters?(This message has been edited by j-dawg168)

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Much of this relates to many of my rants about advancement as it is implemented today.


Troop meetings for merit badges.

Merit badge classes.

Rapid rotation of PORs to "give everyone a chance."

Creation of bogus positions to "give everyone a chance."


What I really love are the sign off sessions where the "leader" demonstrates how to tie a knot, the boy then struggles through it and gets signed off because he has demonstrated how to tie the knot. Five minutes later he doesn't know but he did it once.


For many adults, getting the badge is more important than learning and mastering the skills. Unfortunately, the youth don't know any better so they blindly follow along.

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I think this troop, the "Eagle Factory" is from our council. They actually put that on their class B shirts.


I have mixed feelings. The troop is over 180 registered scouts, 40 registered adults, and they just about need the entire summer camp week for their own needs. Everything is very structured. With that many adults working with the troop, there are always two or three merit badges going. I can not speak to the quality of the classes, but I have met several Eagle scouts from the troop and they seemed solid.


The scoutmaster has been there since 1969. I met him when he acted as SPL for my Woodbadge, and I have met other of the troops adults at things like BSA Lifeguard and Camporee. The scoutmaster is a legend in our council. He recruits scouts from single parent families. People visit the troop to hear his scoutmaster minutes.


In their troop the boys cannot go on High adventure activities until they get their Eagle. That is the expectation. So there are always 3 to 4 Eagles presented at each court of honor. I must also say that they have a very well developed boy led patrol method going. The boys have a leadership team called the "Stick Men", consisting of SPL and several ASPL's, that work with the 12 to 15 patrol leaders in the troop.


The founding scoutmaster of our troop was an Eagle from their troop, and brought the merit badge class thing with him. I compare our troop of 15 with the troop of 180, and I am kind of glad I have more one on one relationships with my scouts. Our council does not really maintain a list of merit badge councelors, except for the swimming and life saving badges. They tell us to do it in the troop. Definately influenced by the "Eagle Factory".



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1) If a youth is highly motivated, a 13 year old Eagle is about the floor age. It takes a rock bottom 16 months from Star BOR to eligibility for the Eagle BOR. IMO, either the young man is a prodigy (and that is both possible and has happened) or the Eagle belongs to someone else.


2) 14 year old is probably the low end of the due course range.


I've seen far more 15/16/17 year olds earn Eagle.


It's not about the chronological age. It's about the young man, doing the work, learning the skills, discovering the processes. It can be a race, but the best Eagles I've seen have made it a journey.


My thoughts.

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"Eagle Factory".....

Just saying that brings to mind an assembly line with others puting the pieces together to make a fully assembled item.  No life in it. An imitation.

An Eagle is a living thing. It grows, learns, and makes mistakes on the way to being a beautiful living thing.

I would be offended if someone called out troop that.  We raise Eagle, not assemble them.


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About four years ago our troop had 3 boys earn Eagle at 14, had thier Eagle CoH and then two of the three left the troop immediately. They'd earned the Eagle, it was time to move on to other things according to their moms. I had only one of them stick around until he was just 17 before he gave up the ghost.


Our then Scoutmaster, myself as CC and a few others sat down with the entire group of parents and explained how ridiculous this was and that we were determined that it not happen again. The group came together and made a pact that they would not "force feed" scouting to thier sons in an effort to become Eagles, that they would not pressure them ever and would only start the parent push after they turned 16.


It's worked out pretty good so far. We've had 5 Eagles in the last year, all 17, all overly qualified. It's a nice feeling to think we've done right by them.



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Sadly, I see more 14 year old Eagles in our neigboring LDS troops than anywhere else. It's an edict from the church president that all boys are expected to get their Eagle. So, they get them...


16 is the average age in our troop. A few 15 year olds, a few heart-attack 17 year olds.

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My son is 12 right now and is very capable of getting his EAGLE before he turns 13. He has done all the work on every requirement for every MB and RANK.


BUT has a EAGLE myself and a ASM, ive already told by son he WILL NOT be an EAGLE before he is 14. I told him he will need to have more leadership responsibility and skills, before I allow him to become and EAGLE. He will have enough MBs to get thru his first 2 palms when he makes EAGLE, but I want to make sure he has the leadership also to become a GOOD EAGLE.


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IF the boys actually do the work and have achieved fulfillment of all the requirements, he's ready to be an Eagle. If an adult has to place any arbitrary obstacles in the way of that, they run the risk of letting the boy know that even though he has done all that he is expected, you have not really earned it because you are too young. To me that's a major bogus excuse to dump on a deserving youth. If the boy is 13, has done the work correctly he deserves his Eagle (same holds true for T-2-1, Star, and Life). If not, someone needs to review the requirement process as to why this young boy has fulfilled requirements below standard.



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I've got mixed feelings here.


I'd just as soon see a young Eagle - who had done the work. But understood that now the work that was invested in him should begin to pay off in terms of his helping to lead/run the troop. Not run off, because he had his Eagle.


OTH, I'm seeing older Eagles hitting the bricks the instant they get the Chicken, where's their input back into the program?


In my own little weird world, Scouters would really just be repositories of institutional memory, program Quality Control(SM), the requisite adult association and the final safety check for the Scouts. Eagles would gain additional leadership skills as "real" JASM's(actually teaching skills and modeling the programs final product) and ASM's would primarily enhance the Eagle's leadership skills.

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I had the opportunity to sit in on an EBOR the other night with a young (YOUNG) 15 year old that was so nervous he had trouble talking and giving responses to the board.


Maturity is not a requirement, but it sure comes in handy. He had done the work, his leadership project was weak, but had been approved and he completed it as described in his application, so we had no options there. He'd finished all of his MBs and held an appropriate POR. Scout spirit was not in question.


The only thing we could do is let him, his parents and his Scoutmaster know that we considered him lacking in the confidence and leadership areas, and he needed to work on them over the next couple of years in order to maximize his potential as it related to his Eagle and every other area of his life.



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One of the problems I see with this whole situation is the understanding of just what Eagle rank means. When I went back and worked with the Webelos boys to help transition them into Scouts, I took Webelos I and worked with them. At their Blue & Gold at the end of their first year they all had their Arrow of Light rank. Did they quit Webelos? Nope! Did they transition into Scouts? Nope. They wore their Arrow of Light for the next year and we went out and just had fun doing things, getting ready for Scouting.


I think for the most part we have certain expectations for Eagles that don't exactly fit into the Scouting program. Just because one reaches the rank of General in the Army, doesn't mean they are done with the program! Yet that's the expectation we place on our boys. You reach Eagle, you might as well be done. We give you an "honorary" but non-functioning JASM patch to wear because now that you're an Eagle, it's rather stupid to think of you going back into the Cub dens as a DC, or you've done SPL for so long, let someone else have a chance even though everyone in the troop wants you there. Quartermaster? A lot of work and it's a good POR for someone needing advancement, etc. etc. etc.


At summer camp last year I met a patrol/troop from out west that had their boys at this camp. They didn't sign up for merit badges, they had all of them being offered. They didn't do the high adventure thingy either. They just hung out at camp and had a blast for the whole week just enjoying each other's company. The patrol/troop was made up of only Life and Eagle scouts. They were discussing such things as the Life scout's projects they were planning, and what they might do, etc. They talked about the troop program "back home", and about scheduling events for the coming year. They were in the site just across the road so I often did visiting with them and, well, I was totally impressed with what I was hearing out of these boys. Their SM was generally not in the site, but did have a lot of coffee down at the mess hall. The age range was 14-17. Was it a PLC? Nope, just a bunch of boys with no structure, working out the future of their troop and what that all meant. To talk by and just get a glimpse of these boys, it would have appeared they weren't doing anything but slacking for the week, but that simply wasn't true.


How many of the other Eagles out there even discuss life in scouting beyond the ECOH?, especially the years before they turn 18. I would venture to say most of these boys have no concept beyond receiving the rank, getting their driver's license, and what other things are out there that are more important than scouting.



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"Paper Eagles"


Generating lots of merit badges and signing off on requirements without a fairly high standard of quality / competence is doing a disservice to the Scouting program and the boy.


Just like "grade inflation" in occurs schools, so too does this problem occur in Scouting.

Look at the definition of "Eagle Scout" in original Boy Scout Handbook:

"The all-round perfect scout."


This is an extremely high standard. Yes, as a parent, I consider my sons to be incredibly gifted and talented. As an ASM, I'm very proud of each of the Scouts in our Troop. BUT... "all-round perfect scout" is a model that I hope we don't "dumb down" just to say we are pumping out Eagle Scouts.


IMHO, the mass earning of merit badges in large Scout gatherings often results in severely lessened/lowered standards of having "completed" the merit badge requirements.


For example, the Gulf Stream Council's summer camps last year resulted in hundreds of Scouts receiving their sign-offs for:

Second Class 1b - "Using a map and compass together, take a five mile hike..."


First Class 2 - "using a compass, complete an orienteering course that covers at least one mile..."


My son showed me that his book had been signed for these requirements.


What the boys did in reality was: Walk out the entrance road of Camp Tanah Keeta and then along the sidewalks of the adjoining subdivisions until they reach 2 1/2 miles. Then, turn around and walk back. Some of the Scouts at the front of each group call out the compass directions they are walking.


That may suffice for the Gulf Stream Council, but as for my son, he's had to do full five mile hikes, on roads and off, using his map and compass the whole way to get real experience and understanding. He's also completed a full one mile orienteering course separately. By the time he got done with that one mile course, he was VERY experienced in using his compass and map to find his way, estimating distancing using a standard pace and measuring/estimating the height/width of things such as trees, towers and ditches.


It starts in the Cub Scouts.


It is mentioned below that some Webelos I's received their Arrow of Light by the time of the Blue & Gold. I've seen similar things in my younger son's pack. During an earlier year, the Webelos I's had received all twenty of the activity badges by the end of their first year as Webelos. Possible on paper? Yes. But did they really get a full experience and really learn the subject? I sincerely doubt it.


For example, I don't believe the Craftsman activitiy badge can be earned a short order. Among the requirements:

- Build two wooden objects... use a coping saw or jig saw for these projects.

- Make a display stand or box...

- Make four useful items ...other than wood... These must be challenging and must involve several operations.


At the District roundtables, we were told the monthly craft projects that Home Depot offers on Saturday mornings were great ways to complete many of the Craftsman requirements. The Council offers weekend camps where the Craftsman badge can be earned in one weekend along with four other activity badges.


That may work for many folks out there, but, Home Depot-type craft projects only involve a few tacks, some glue and NEVER require any saws. They are great for Tigers through Bears, but hardly adequate for what Webelos should be learning.


Another council-sponsored event resulted in Webelos receiving ther Athlete activity badge after attending a one week "day camp" program. How does that happen when one of the primary requirements is to show improvement in a variety of excercises after thirty days?


IMHO, this approach sets the lowered expectations for achieving Boy Scout ranks and merit badges and, ultimately, results in a lessening of the meaning of the achievements, including Eagle Scout.


As a parent, I will work with my sons to ensure they earn their ranks and badges, not just receive them. My wife and I will not push our sons through the program to get to Eagle ASAP.


As an ASM, I can only do so much. The ongoing theme I present to the Scouts is the old BSA slogan, "Follow the Rugged Road." Don't take the easy way. Don't do just the minimum. Do the full experience. Learning involves repetition and mistakes.


Paper Eagles, like a paper airplane, give the appearance of soaring. True Eagles Follow the Rugged Road.

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