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Once An Eagle Always An Eagle... what about the other ranks?

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I've been told that once once you become an Eagle Scout, you are always an Eagle Scout (even when you're over 18 and even if you are no longer a registered Scout/Scouter). I am in my 40's (earned my Eagle long ago) but I will proudly say "I am an Eagle" (not "I was an Eagle").


However is this true for the other ranks? I was recently in a businees meeting and the topic of Scouting came up. One of my co-workers said "I was an Eagle". Now I did not jump in to correct him ("you mean, your ARE an Eagle, right?") because another co-worker chimed in and said "Oh, I was a Star Scout" and then another said "Oh I was only a Tenderfoot." Now would it have been right for these 40-year old men with no current ties to the organization to have said "I am a Star Scout" or "I am a Tenderfoot" in the same way would have been proper for the Eagle Scout to say "I am an Eagle"?


Once a 1st Class Scout, always a 1st Class Scout?

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Eagle is the only lifetime rank of the Boy Scouting program.


The rest of us were Boy Scouts in our youth. That I happened to hold the rank of Life as a youth does not transmute to my Scouting status as an adult. I am a man who was a Boy Scout in my youth.

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I can't agree with that. Other than hearing it all the time, where does it say Eagle is a "lifetime" rank.

I think it's a good question. "Life for life" is not complimentary. Neither is "only First Class." It seems that Eagle is exhalted, and the other ranks are put down. I'd love to see some official something that thinks that's appropriate.



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Well, until after WWII scouts were registered as First Class or below, never the other "higher" ranks. If they were Star, Life, or even Eagle, they were just First Class with merit badges. The name "First Class" is specifically referring to being the best, as having the epitome of scouting skills. Unless somehow getting older takes away the earning of the other ranks, it would seem to me to be simply logic that if once an Eagle, always an Eagle would apply similarly to the ranks earned prior to.


But of course that is just my opinion.



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I'm a "Life" for Life, for what its worth. While I look back now and wish I had finished, I don't think it deters from my scouting skills that I learned. I most definately learned more than most scouts that drop after Tenderfoot, or don't bridge into Boy Scouts from Cubs at all.


I think Eagle is a GREAT honor and I don't wish to belittle it.


However, it does seem that the rank is put on a pedistal and the other ranks just fade into one group.


That is, of course, until you go to a round-up night and the 1st thing they ask parents (i.e. prospective new Den Leaders) is, "Who was active in scouting as a youth?" They really don't care what rank you made, but if you have any expirience what-so-ever you are a prime target to "volunteer".


So life for life does mean something when the unit is looking for new leaders.

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When I received my Eagle Charge, I was told I was a man "marked for life", that "much was expected". I can't speak for other Eagles, but those words meant something to me then, and 33 years later they mean even more. As an Eagle, I have an obligation to others.


There is no charge given to Life Scouts, Star Scouts, or other ranks. They have a choice whether they wish to continue living the Scout Oath and Law. Many do so and are fine examples of what Scouting can do for a boy.


The fact is, the public and other Scouts see Eagles as having reached the top of the mountain. We are charged to live up to that expectation in our daily lives. I like to think that most Eagles do. There have been several men who I greatly respected and then later found out they were Eagles. I was not surprised to find out they were Eagles. Only once have I met a man who I thought did not live up to the badge. Many, many times I have met men of great character and found they had a Scouting background. No surprise there.


If you are proud that you were a Life Scout as a boy, then I would think it is right to still consider yourself to be a Life Scout. I really would like it if adults were allowed to wear the badge of rank they earned as a youth. It is a point of pride and might be an inspiration to current boys.


But it is a fact that Eagles are different. I am not saying we are "better". Just a little set apart from the rest. As a Brotherhood member of the OA for 36 years, I feel the same about my Vigil Brothers. I will not likely ever reach that peak. But I have a special admiration for those Brothers who have made it.


Ken(This message has been edited by Narraticong)

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I too was a Life Scout as a youth. I was caught up in the "Urban movement" in the late 70's. This was the "New Scouting" movement, and had 3 Scout books with different Rank requirements during my time as a youth. In addition I had a SM who believed a Scout could only be an Eagle after age 17, and by that age I was much more active in the OA, and did not want what that SM then considered a watered down Eagle. I could always say I reget not getting Eagle, but I do not. I fully encourage all the boys in my Troop to make Eagle, and if asked will say that I should of made the rank, but did not, and it is my job to mentor them to achieve what I did not.


On the flip side of rank advancement, my troop allows older Scouts to stay active in the Troop if they cannot make Eagle due to the time requirements. There was a "Eagle mill" troop by my troop when I was stationed in Virginia that had a "Up or out' policy. You made rank by a certain time in the troop or were not welcome to stay in the troop. Our troop allowed several "castoffs" from that troop to join our troop, and they contributed greatly. Most of them were elected into the OA from our troop and I know the ability to stay in Scouting "not Eagle" helped them greatly.


I have had a great time in Scouts, made lots of friends and been to on a lot of great campouts, but I find it disappointing how much emphasis the "public" places on Eagle. I know it is a great achievement, but if only 1 or 3% of Scouts achieve that rank, does that mean the rest of us wasted our time?


I think skeptic has a great point, maybe if Scouting promoted First Class rank as the epitome of scouting skills, then we could move pass our fixation with Eagle.


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I am going to borrow this from AskAndy (with due credit as he always asks he is given, though admitedly, I edited this ever so slightly). It is to me a powerful message for all and is entitled "the other 98."

Youve probably heard that only 2 Scouts (or perhaps 4) out of a hundred make it all the way to Eagle. Yes, that makes it pretty rarified air where those Eagles fly.


But what about those other 98? Are they grounded forever? Short-changed in some way? Missing something critical to success?


Lets look at some facts here...The Boy Scouts have Aims & Methods. There are 8 methods in Scouting things like the Scouting Ideals as found in the Oath and Law, the Patrol Method, Outdoors, Personal Growth, Leadership, and so on. Advancement is certainly one of these eight but only one.


There are six ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle, So lets do a little math. If a boy becomes a Life Scout, he will have been exposed to five-sixths of one of the eight Methods, and (we hope) all seven of the rest.


That comes out to just about 98% of the program Scouting has in mind! And this means that even if a boy never makes it past Tenderfoot, but he goes hiking and camping, learns from his Scoutmasters modeling, lives the Oath and Law, and so on, hes going to be getting 90% of what Scouting has to deliver. Hey, 90% of anythings pretty good, I think! Thats usually an A in school, or close to it! Not bad for a non-Eagle!


So, for those Scouts or former Scouts who are Life, Star, First Class, Second Class and even Tenderfoot, when someone asks you your rank, please dont put the word only in front of ityou have nothing to be ashamed of and much for which to be proud! And this Country has much to thank you for! Because you are or were a Scout.


The Scouting Statistics tell us that, of the (first) 233 men who became NASA astronauts, 133 had been Scouts and of these 33 reached the rank of Eagle. Thats certainly commendable for those 33, but how about those 100 Tenderfoot-through-Life Scouts who became astronauts! Doesnt this begin to tell us clearly that just being a Scout makes an incredible difference?!


So, the next time someone tells you that Eagle is all that matters, you can tell em to take a better look around. Weve had some 100 million American boys who, since 1910, have been Boy Scouts, and I really dont think 98 million of them have had some sort of inferior experience. In fact, maybe these guys had a little less pressure and a lot more fun!


So, lets salute all Scouts 98 plus 2 who get involved and stay with this wonderful movement. Scouting can truly last a lifetime, no matter what rank anyone is! Sure, most of us know about some pretty famous Eagle Scouts, like Sam Walton, James Lovell, Walter Cronkite, Gerald Ford, and Steven Spielberg. But how about some not-quite-Eagles, like John F. Kennedy, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Bill Gates, and a not-quite British Queens Scout by the name of Paul McCartney!


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If I may chime in...


I did not earn rank in my youth, but I was an Explorer for four years. BSA Career Exploring was fun, but I missed out on Scouting. Hindsight is 20/20 sometimes.


But I like to say, that all the scout ranks are accomplishments, some are just greater than others.


I give "props" and recognition to the adults that made Webelos Scout and Arrow of Life (but went no further) in their youth. But I hold more respect for the "Life for Life" that is a good citizen and demonstrates leadership in the Community. And more often, I meet Eagle Scouts that daily apply what they have learned in their youth and adulthood.


So, I co-worker that says he was a First Class or Life Scout or Eagle. I admire their previous accomplishment and expect more out of them.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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As an Eagle, i say this to every one else....(making funny faces) nanny nanny boo boo ;)



Seriously though, ANY accomplishment in scouting is to be recognized and celebrated, especially in today's age where Scouting is not "cool."


Yes Eagles get the recognition, and yes it's an accomplishment. BUT scouting is so much more. As the Skipper lifted from elsewhere, we need recognize the accomplishments of those non-Eagles as well.

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