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

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I'll repeat the story that I have to post every so often when Eagle Scouts are mentioned.


A few years ago, I was having a dinner with 3 other Scouters.


One is a National Vice President of the BSA and received the Silver Buffalo at the most recent National meeting.


Another is a member of the National Advisory Council, past Chairman of the National Court of Honor and Silver Buffalo recipient.


The third is past Chairman of Training for the BSA, member of the Northeast Region Board, Silver Antelope holder and retired Navy 3 star Admiral.


I was the only recipient of the Eagle Scout award. The other 3 had been Life Scouts.


I don't plan to tell any of them that they didn't understand what the BSA meant nor that they didn't have what it takes in terms of citizenship, character and fitness.


So are they Life Scouts or were they Life Scouts. Frankly, as long as they (and hopefully I) contribute to the next generation of youth in our country, I really don't care.

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Personally, I think it would be cool to be a


Fuji Scout (Japan)

Scout of the Fatherland (Brazil)

Knight of the Fatherland (Portugal)

Garuda Scout (Indonesia - Garuda is a mythical Hindu bird)




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  • 1 year later...

I like the phrase....but I also realize the importance of being a good scout and living up to the ideals. I earned my Eagle just about a week before my 13th birthday....I earned it the hard way.....my dad was SM for part of the time and I am sure a number of people who did not know my situation would question if I had earned it. The drive and effort was my own and I had to not only convince the merit badge councilor that I knew the material, I had to prove it to my dad as well.... That being said, I learned a whole lot more about scouting and what it truly means to be a scout during the remaining 8 years I was involved as a scout and explorer. I truly wish every scout could experience that freedom. Scouts who do not feel pressure from advancement and yet are actively involved have a good idea. The Eagle opened many doors for me that would have been more difficult to open had I not earned it, but I could have done so with perseverance and determination.


BTW- thanks for the Ask Andy piece on the other 98. I may use that in my next Scoutmaster's Minute at our next COH.



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Like anything else in the world, Eagle is not the beginning, middle, or end of anything.


I put in 4 years of CSA and 4 years of BSA and reached the rank of 2nd Class. Yet today after 40 years of working with youth 30 of them in BSA, I can say that not having attained Eagle has has no impact on my life. Had I gotten Eagle, it would have had no impact on my life either. I camp at least 30-40 nights a year, I canoe, kayak, hike, bike, hunt, fish, ski/snowshoe and camp year around. Most Eagle Scouts of today would find it difficult to keep up with me and although all the boys in my troop have the opportunity, none of them do. My shore lunches are not gorp, power bars and fruity drinks, it's pan-fried fish, bisquits and coffee cooked over an open fire on the beach. And to think that it's possible for a boy to get Eagle and never light a fire.


Once a Parlor Scout always a Parlor Scout? So be it. If that makes people happy, let them enjoy it. Once a Real Scout, always a Real Scout is my take on it. If some boy joined scouts, made it through TF and memorized the Oath and Law and for the rest of his life, took them to heart?... That I can live with. :)





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My theory is that the most important rank in Boy Scouts is 1st Class. The promise to boys is that Scouting will give them the chance to learn hiking and camping and to go hiking and camping. The First Class Scout has learned those skills and had those opportunities.


Star and Life are just polishing the same skills if they were learned in the first place. Eagle is more of the same plus additional leadership skills and training.


I'm glad to support boys who are motivated to obtain the higher ranks, but my emphasis to train boys is the Trail to First Class.


As a Cub Scout leader I do find that parents who have Eagle tend to make a special commitment to make Cub Scouts work for their son. That's true for father's who were in Boy Scouts but didn't make Eagle too, but not as reliably.


One of my theories is that the purpose of Boy Scouts is to insure a pipeline of motivated leaders to run Cub Scouts for their children!





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SeattlePioneer, I am afraid I disagree with your POV. The point of Boy Scouts is not outdoor skills, Outdoor skills are simply a tool used to help build better leaders. The first three ranks of Boy Scouts are those outdoor skills and are the tools used to be able complete the last three ranks which are leadership skills. The entire point of Boy Scouts is to help make better men, being able to pitch a tent and cook over a fire does not make you a better man, pitching a tent with your patrol and cooking for a group of people, working out the issues that come up and succeeding makes you a better man. Green Bar Bill said Scouting was a game with a purpose (it is usually attributed to BP but the historical records do not support that conclusion, it is more likely that GBB paraphrased something that BP wrote). The Game is the outdoor experience, the purpose is to create better citizens.


Here is GBB's original statement:

A realization that to the boys Scouting is a game--to you, a game with a purpose: Character building and Citizenship training.


Yes, the outdoor skills are both important and essential but they are not the goal, just a tool used to achieve the goal.


The milestones in Scouting are noted, the only Cub rank you can wear on your Scout shirt is AOL and once and Eagle, always an Eagle. There is a reason that adult leaders are allowed to wear recognition of those ranks on their uniforms. JMO(This message has been edited by Hawkrod)

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Hello Hawkrod,



When I'm recruiting boys for Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, I'm marketing the programs to them about hiking, camping, bb gun or rifle shooting, swimming canoeing and so on.


That's why most boys join the program. And if boys complete an honest 1st Class program they should have learned not only about hiking and camping but the rest of the Scout character, fitness and citizenship program.


That's my bias. I'm glad to have boys who wish to continue on to higher ranks, but that's not my personal priority.


As a Scoutmaster I thought boys who had achieved the Arrow of Light tended to be more mature and more purposeful ---and usually better behaved.


As a Cubmaster these days, I'm glad to find parents who were Eagle Scouts especially, or Scouts at all. They usually have a better understanding of the program and a greater commitment to it.


Often enough I have adults who more or less apologize for not completing Eagle. I tell them my idea that First Class is the most important rank, and often they seem to be cheered up by that (enless they dropped out as Second Class!)



I just don't consider the higher ranks the MOST IMPORTANT. For me, that remains First Class.


Maybe we'll just disagree. It just works for me as an opinion.(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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