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scoutldr's description in the thread about Eagle advisers struck a chord with me: "And he aged out as a Life Scout. His decision...not mine."


I also aged out at Life, with the Eagle project and Environmental Science standing between me and the finish line. I was an area director at summer camp and serving as a vice-chief with my OA lodge at the time, and enjoying myself far too much to put the pedal to the metal that last spring and summer.


A group of friendly Scouters offered to essentially give me a project and mobilize the troop to do the work. I said no thanks. I had gotten what I wanted out of Boy Scouts - adventure, lifelong friends and the ability to lead others - and I was no longer hungry for the Eagle. I still have no regrets.


What are your experiences with Scouts aging out at Life by choice? Do they usually return as adults? What reasons do they give for choosing not to pursue Eagle? Do they seem satisfied with their choice later in life, or is there a hint of regret?

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Was it the "cheerful service" of an Eagle Project, or the paperwork that stood between you and the finish line?


Environmental Science Merit Badge is the exact misunderstanding of Baden-Powell's admonition that Scouting be designed for boys: OUTDOOR ACTION, the very opposite of schoolwork and classrooms. Could you possibly turn the great outdoors into something more exquisitely boring?


In a perfect Scouting association, Scouts would fail to achieve Eagle Scout because they hate camping.


Most Required Merit Badges have their origin in the BSA's anti-Patrol Method YMCA roots. Eagle is the same as Cub Scouts, isn't it? An indoor schoolmarm nightmare from which most red-blooded American boys run.




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Interestingly, over the last day or two I've been exchanging emails with a mom whose son is in the process of making that decision.


I think the issue is that at the time the decision is made, the boys don't understand that they are making that decision. A year or two later they show up and realize that choices they made in the past dictate whether or not they will be able to complete their Eagle.


This particular Scout says he likes Scouting. He's not a big jock, but occasionally sports takes precedence. Otherwise, he enjoys camping, troop meetings and even summer camp. He does not, however, give a bean about advancement or leadership positions. He's perfectly content to sit back and let everyone else run things. I think his advancement records list more partials than completed MBs. One year at camp he took a partial on every MB he took. But if he's having fun and not causing me any heartburn, that is perfectly acceptable to me. My best advice to him is to understand where he stands so that if he chooses to persue Eagle as some point, that option is still available to him.


On the other hand, I had another Scout who turned 18 the first part of December. Years ago he made First Class then took a couple years off, showing up every now and again. A couple months prior to his 17th birthday, he shows up and tells me he wanted to be an Eagle Scout. With some dedicated coaching, he earned Star just before his 17th birthday, but ran out of gas when he saw what a long road he had in front of him. 15 MBs, two leadership positions and an Eagle project is a pretty big bite for your senior year of high school.


While the kid never made Life, he did continue to attend meetings and an occasional campout. He served as troop QM and did a good job of training the boy who would follow him. Sometime in the fall, he approached me with a copy of the Auto Mechanics MB book and asked about the merit badge. I made a joke about it being a little late to get interested in merit badges, but he said he didn't want to earn the badge, he wanted to sign up to be the counselor. What is is Barry says? I love this Scouting Stuff!


At our December Court of Honor (which actually may have been his 18th birthday), I made a big deal of recognizing him for completing HIS Scouting trail and presented him with an ASM badge. While everyone wants to focus on the Eagles, here's a kid who stuck with the program simply because he enjoyed it. What better example is there than that?

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Two of my best pals are both Life Scouts.

One can't swim very well.

He served as my mentor for Wood Badge.

He has a wonderful understanding and grasp for how Scouts and Scouting should work along with a real understanding for how the BSA is organized.

The other is our Council Program Director.

Back in 1977 he was new to professional scouting and as a DE got stuck with looking after me when I first arrived in the USA. My second night in the USA was spent on his couch.

This fellow has a great way of really putting the outing into Scouting.

Other than a few years working in New Jersey, he has served the Council I serve for all this time.

While both of these guys are overjoyed when a Scout does make Eagle, I don't think they really regret having not made it.

I have to admit that at times I get a little fed up when people ask me if I'm an Eagle Scout and I try to explain that I'm not, but am a Queen's Scout. More often than not they still don't get it.

Maybe I need to do a better job of explaining?


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Personally, it was the time that I knew I'd need to put into the Eagle project to make it a good one, and juggling everything else going on. I'd been service vice-chief for my OA lodge, so I knew the meaning of cheerful service and the time and planning that goes into such projects. I wasn't going to do a half-dashed project just to knock off the requirement, and lacked the time to do a really good one.


For Environmental Science, I carried a partial around for five years. You guessed it - still outstanding were the observations and the 500-word report. And I'm a guy who spent entire summers sleeping in a tent and working in the outdoors.


All those things were doable, but it wasn't important enough to me to do them compared to the other things I was doing in Scouting.

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I'm feeling the same way about Woodbadge. I really wouldn't mind taking the two weekends and go through it, but I have no desire to be badgered about completing my ticket. I feel that other woodbadgers might feel less of me if I didn't follow through.

Kinda like the Life scout who doesn't want the hassles of the project.

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I seriously doubt either of my boys will ever make Eagle, although they still have plenty of time to change their minds if they decide to go for it. They both just hate "homework" too much. They love camping, they love the OA, they love the service projects, the meetings, and all the cool things they learn.


My younger son's been First Class for over a year, with 3 "required" MBs done and 4 other partials for "required" MBs. He's done everything except the reports for several, including Communication and at least one Citizenship badge. He already has more than enough elective MBs to carry him all the way to Eagle. He's 13. He plans to do his Lifesaving MB at camp this summer, and if he completes that (I believe he will) then he'll be Star. I'd be surprised if he goes any further than that in rank, but I think he'll stay active in Scouting for a long time.


My older son is almost 15 and has been a Star Scout forever... he is serving as Troop Guide and does a great job. He says if he ever gets around to getting all the required MBs, then he'll do an Eagle Project and go for it, but he doesn't consider it a high priority. Like his younger brother, he has more than enough elective MBs finished.


I have no problem with them getting what they want out of Scouting. I encourage them to keep Eagle in mind when choosing what to do next, but what mother could complain that her kids sign up for every possible service project even though they have had "enough" hours for the next rank for the last year? I am happy with what they are learning, both in terms of skills and values. What else could I ask for?



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Twocubdad writes:


"he enjoys camping, troop meetings and even summer camp. He does not, however, give a bean about advancement or leadership positions. He's perfectly content to sit back and let everyone else run things....another Scout ... ran out of gas when he saw what a long road he had in front of him. 15 MBs, two leadership positions and an Eagle project"


Do you see a pattern here? The things that boys HATE, like specific leadership positions as conditions for "Advancement," have NO PLACE in Baden-Powell's understanding of Scouting.


They were not even part of BSA Scouting until after William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt retired and the pop business theory experts took over the BSA.


The same is true for Eagle projects, they are just leadership theory added on after Bill Hillcourt was safely out of the way.


Liz writes:


"I seriously doubt either of my boys will ever make Eagle...They both just hate "homework" too much."


Baden-Powell went to great lengths to explain why Scouting is the opposite of the homework that we see in all of the BSA Merit Badges, even the outdoor ones.


Liz writes:


"He's done everything except the reports for several, including Communication and at least one Citizenship badge."


Citizenship Merit Badges are a perfect example of not understanding Scouting, which Baden-Powell invented as a GAME to teach Citizenship INDIRECTLY as an ALTERNATIVE to schoolwork instruction. And "reports" for "Communication"? How bogus is that?


Liz writes:


"what mother could complain that her kids sign up for every possible service project even though they have had "enough" hours for the next rank for the last year?"


Teaching kids to count the number of hours they spend "helping other people at all times," and then teaching them to expect payment in the form of Advancement credit is not just bad Scouting, it is bad religion. Why not teach them to count the number of hours they sit in church? When they have "enough" hours of pew time they could stay home until it is time to work on the next rank!


Scouts should render service (including leadership) without any thought of compensation. That is the WHOLE POINT of the story of the "Unknown Scout" in the London fog, isn't it?


If only Baden-Powell's Scout had accepted a tip we might still have Scouting based on Baden-Powell in this country!


GernBlansten writes:


"I'm feeling the same way about Woodbadge...Kinda like the Life scout who doesn't want the hassles of the project."


Wood Badge is where you learn that Baden-Powell's insight into the nature of boys (as proven in every post so far in this thread) is "OLD-FASHIONED" and that classrooms, homework, counting service hours and months of leadership, and forcing bogus sub-prime business theory on boys is "MODERN"!


Wood Badge is the Uniform Police of adult peer pressure!





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Actually, Kudu, if you knew this kid, and about three more like him, the pattern I see is laziness.


They have no interest in leadership because that requires effort. But it's deeper than a distain for "specific leadership positions." These guys taking responsibility for just about anything. If we're doing something that looks like fun and all he has to do is show up, great. Much more investment than that and forget about it.


My greatest hassle in Scouting right now is a couple of moms from this group who want to know "what the troop is going to do to keep Scouting fun for their boys." Answer: not a dang thing. They have at their disposal all the tools and resources they need to do just about anything "fun" they want. Just add effort.


In the case of the particular kid I mentioned, the only reason I put up with him is that he is otherwise well behaved. Doesn't cause problems and neither he nor his mom are part of the whiners. As long as he's okay with that status, I'm okay, too.




(My apologies to all if this is spinning off into another tangent.)




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  Kudu, I totally disagree with you. I was a Boy Scout in the 1960s and I own Boy Scout Requirement books from 1963-1970 and what is printed does not coincide with what you say.

 From the 1963 Requirement book, Eagle Scout requirements. Scout Teamwork:

  1. While a Life Scout for a period of six months show to the satisfaction of your leaders that you-Work actively as a leader in meetings, outdoor activities, and service projects of your unit.

  2. Have earned one merit badge from the CONSERVATION group.

  3. Have earned three merit badges from the CITIZENSHIP group.

 This is not new its been a part of BSA for awhile.

  In 1965 PORs and service projects for community and conservation were added to Star/Life/Eagle but that change was effective Jan 1. From different sources William Green Bar Bill Hillcourt retired Aug 1, 1965. He was still an employee of the BSA when those changes were proposed and implemented.


 Our Troop recently had a Scout age out as a Life Scout. At his last meeting as a Scout I asked him if he had any regrets or if he would change anything. He responded nope not a thing. Life for Life is ok, I enjoyed the journey. He is now an ASM with the Troop.

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Life for Life may be a choice that a youth makes, anf if the youth is ok with it, then all adults have to be ok with it as well.


But lets not also say that's Ok not to strive for a goal, or make excuses that the leadership project is hard, it was for that reason we went to the moon, not because it was easy , because it was hard.


You would think more people would want to do the hard thing, because it is hard, at least from the tremor of the group

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It is important to remember why we youth in scouting. We wish to teach them lessons that will help them to live successful lives with service to others. Whether the highest rank in Eagle or Second Class makes no important difference. Youth should be encouraged to advance. Becoming an Eagle scout is an important goal but it is not the purpose of the program. If a boy reaches Life and, despite encouragement to earn his Eagle, does not wish to complete the requirements for the Eagle rank, we should still be satisfied that our job has been accomplished.

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