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Eagle Courts of Honor, Appellate Division

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With the forums is somewhat of an early summer lull, let me throw out a a little red meat for the pack in the form of a hypothetical question.


We've had a rash of treads recently regarding SMs and troops refusing to approve Eagle apps and the Scouts appealing those decisions. If the troop is over ruled and the Eagle is awarded through the council or national appeals process, what is the obligation of the Scoutmaster and/or unit in presenting the Eagle?


I suppose the two extremes are that the troop could take the position that they were wrong, the process worked and cheerily present the award as per the troop's tradition. Or they could say, national approved the Eagle, let them present it. Or something in the middle. In most of these situations I've encountered or heard about emotions are pretty high which I would imagine would carry through to the Court of Honor. I can envision conflicting emotions and principles.


I'd be interested to know what happens if the troop takes the latter approach. Does someone from council present the award? Do they just mail it to the Scout? Would you consider the Scout to be one of your troop's Eagles or a kid who had been a Scout there and earned his Eagle elsewhere? Would his name go on your Eagle plaque?


Anyone been through this?


I'll start by saying that the one appeal we've been through was ultimately resolved in favor to the troop and the Scout did not receive the Eagle. But while going through the appeal, we did talk about what we would do if appeal was found in favor of the Scout.


The Scout in question was the grandson of a very prominent family in the church which charters the troop. For members of the church, Eagles are usually presented during Sunday morning services. Just the fact that the troop had denied the Scout his Eagle was a matter of some contention within the congregation.


The troop committee chair adamantly refused to even attend the Court of Honor. As SM, having made the decision not to sign the Scouts Eagle application, my feeling was that it would be hypocritical of me to then stand up an present the award in public. My strong preference would be not to participate. However, I decided that if we were asked to make the presentation, I would allow our COR to make the decision based on what he and the minister felt was in the best interest of the church and troop. I would not have done my usual glowing presentation, and would probably have carefully chosen my words to make the presentation "on behalf of the National Council," or something like that.


In all honesty, given that the Scout's father had gone out of the way to tell me what a SOB he thought I was (the one time in my life I ever laid eyes on the man), it was unlikely I would have been asked to participate.




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Typically in cases like these the Scout will have severed all ties with the troop anyway.


The family could either not have a Court of Honor. Or they could arrange their own. They could invite their friends and family. They can choose anyone they want to make the presentation.


I would not expect a Scout to invite people who felt he did not earn it.


I would think it very reasonable that someone who felt he did not earn it to politely refuse to participate in a Court of Honor.

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I tend to agree with Neal that most folks wouldn't ask. But some people just have a sense of entitlement.


Ed, I disagree with you. They party, reception and all the other "swirl" around an ECOH may be up to the parents, but my feeling is the actual court of honor is a troop event. I would absolutely take input from the Scout and his family and would likely go along with most anything, but at minimum the troop should reserve has veto power. And the family always has to option of having the medal mailed to them.


But my original query is not about who has control of an ECOH, but rather what are the troop's obligations when the Eagle is awarded over the objections of the troop?

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Ed is correct. The troop has NO control over the Eagle Court of Honor. The timing, venue, and content of the ECoH are 100% up to the Scout and his family. If the Scout wants no ECoH, that's his decision too.


In the rare case of a severe rift between the Eagle and his troop, I would expect that the Eagle's family would be highly selective in whom they invited. The Eagle plaque, on the other hand, clearly belongs to the troop (actually, the Chartering Organization) and which names go on it would be the decision of the troop leadership.

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Sorry to hear you had to go through something like this. I fail to understand WHY it should ever come to this point in an Eagle's journey, but I guess it has and will in the future for some.


That being said - if (for some reason, I would think / hope it would be rare) that the council / national would side with the scout and overrule the unit, then the unit shoud be obligated to present the award in the same manner it would present the award for any other receipient. They are a scout from your unit, they earned the rank, you present it to them - period.


So the father called you an SOB...

So the scout was the center of a riff in the Troop...

So some in the troop (even maybe the SM and CC) don't think the scout deserves the rank as it stands...

BE THE BIGGER MAN and do what is right by the council's decision and what's right by the scout.


You'll be remembered MORE for the fact you rose above the crap and carried out your duties with honor, than if you continue to throw fuel on the fire (even if the fuel is only a non-participation, or less than enthusiastic presentation of the rank).


Guess what - once the matter is settled, then it should be settled.


Otherwise - WHAT exactly are you teaching to the others in the unit? Some would state that you are teaching to stand on your priciples, OK I can go with that. However, others would say you are teaching the other scouts (and dare I say all others involved in the unit - adults and otherwise) that:


A) You are a very sore looser and very unscoutlike when you don't get your way

B) Anyone that crosses the SM or committee will be ostracised and scorned (aka Scarlet Letter Style)

C) It is appropriate for scouts and scouters to treat others poorly, just because they have been in disagreement with them (basically that its OK to harbor a grudge)


I have always thought there needs to be one more point to the scout law, "A scout offers forgiveness", but I guess the founders thought maybe that was covered in the whole "reverent" part of the law.


I would think that for a council or national to over-rule the unit on a scout's appeal, they must have some legit reason for thinking the unit leadership has acted in a overly harsh manner in applying the standards - otherwise, WHY would they over-rule?


Its kind of like a bench judge declaring to the local paper and populace that he believes the accused is guilty even though the orginal ruling was over-turned by the appeals judge. Its not his place to say that anymore - they decision was taken out of his hands.


Whether we like it or not - we "work" (or volunteer) for national. What they say goes. If they say award the Eagle rank, then do so as you would for anyone else. Otherwise, go find another organization to get behind.


There are several rules, regulations, protocols that national has that I don't agree with. Does that mean I disregard them? No. Does this mean I change the program to circumvent them? No. I might come on the forums and bemoan the fact they exist and ask what can be done to change them, but as they stand - I abide by them because I made a promise to deliver the BSA program as it is intended.


The Eagle award and ECOH is part of the PROGRAM. If not an outright part of the program, it is certainly a part due to tradition and history. If you can't / won't deliver that part of the program for a scout you have open distain for... then time to rethink what and who you are volunteering for.

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I also feel you should consider making the presentation. I have not been through something like this but I hope I would make the presentation if I were in your shoes.

Regarding the matter of being overruled, I get overruled daily, hourly really, by my wife. Rarely, I overrule her on some matter. We both understand the concepts of duty and obligation and trust.

Being asked to present the award is a really small matter in the grand scheme. Be gracious about this. Think about it for another few seconds and then do the right thing.

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I can see both sides here, but I'd have to agree with TwoCubDad.


1- For Eagle to be withheld in the first place, something has to be seriously amiss.

2- If the problem is indeed the scout, and not the troop's leadership, to circumvent whatever stain is on his record by using politics demeans the Eagle Award.

3- Why should the SM endorse this behavior and further cheapen Eagle?

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JoeBob writes, "I can see both sides here, but I'd have to agree with TwoCubDad.


1- For Eagle to be withheld in the first place, something has to be seriously amiss.

2- If the problem is indeed the scout, and not the troop's leadership, to circumvent whatever stain is on his record by using politics demeans the Eagle Award.

3- Why should the SM endorse this behavior and further cheapen Eagle? "


Well - I guess I would say for a council or national to over-rule the unit on the matter (most times the council and national want nothing to do with unit policits, unless its a YPG, atheist, or gay issue), then the "something seriously amiss" must have been on the part of the unit, not the scout.


If there is something "seriously amiss" with the scout - why would the council / national not side with the unit?


AS for demeaning the Eagle Award - if the scout in question has not been a good scout or has done something to bring dishonor to himself in his advancement, then does he not taint the LIFE rank he wears as well? What difference does it make? Then again, I guess it takes us back to the arguement on other posts about Eagle being the only rank that really matters....


Everyone else who participates in scouting and fails to obtain Eagle has failed in some way, they are the "also participated" scouts that really don't count for anything.


Without trying to be offensive - if an adult leader (SM, CC, ASM, etc...) puts themselves ahead of the scout, ahead of the program, and ahead of the area and national office - then yes - they can deny to award it.


But, its not about the adult and their feelings. Its about the culmination of the scout's efforts, whether the adults think those efforts are tainted or not.

(This message has been edited by DeanRx)

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  • 2 months later...

Well, I see two possibilities here. If Council overrides the Troop and awards the Eagle over the Troop's sincere objections, there is a very good chance that it did so not because the Troop was at fault, but that the parents of the boy made a huge stink, and Council leadership caved for political reasons on a 'marginally qualified" boy. It is not unheard of that the mere threat of litigation from helicoptor parents is enough to somehow convince Council staffers that the boy is more deserving than he is. In that case, it seems the right thing to do is plan a modest COH and present the award.


However, it is also possible that the parents of this boy were so obnoxious (the SOB comment to the SM) that no reasonable SM volunteer should be expected to smile and make nice if the parents have made it personal. Let the parent throw their own da-- party.

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Not sure what the normal way this is managed is?

A Scout in our Council did make an appeal.

National send all the paperwork back to the SE. He was asked to sort things out. He in his infinite wisdom passed it along to me.

It turned out that a District BOR had messed up, so the situation you describe isn't/wasn't the same.

I don't have OJ's Eagle Scout stuff close at hand.

But I seem to remember that the Eagle Scout Rank is awarded by the National Council and is signed by the Honorary President (The President of the USA.) The President of the BSA at the time and the Chief Scout Executive who is in office at the time.

Refusing to present the award might by some be seen as going against the wishes of these three gentlemen?

The Scout receiving the award can choose who he wants to do the presentation. Being as he can ask, I suppose the person asked has every right to refuse.

Some Scouts back in 2001 had their awards presented by the then Chief Scout Executive at the Jamboree.

What a Troop decides to do is up to the Troop/CO.

I kinda think if the Scout wins his appeal and is still a member of the Troop? He ought to receive the same treatment as any other Eagle Scout. He is when all is said and done an Eagle Scout.


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Our troop went through a similar fiasco a few years ago. Scouting lost a dedicated competent volunteer over the way the council handled it.


The boy involved had not been active for about two years. He appeared to have met all the requirements except for his project. At least that is what the records said. He executed a project without any approvals and presented his eagle application and workbook for signatures. Neither the scoutmaster nor the committee chair would sign his eagle application, or the project workbook. He appealed to the council. Some one of the paid executives at the council promised that the council would not act without hearing the troop's side of the story. The next word the trooop got was the council had awarded the eagle and the troop leadership was never even given a chance to defend the decisions. The failure of the council staff to honor its commitment was the reason the one volunteer quit scouting altogether. Everybody recognized that the council would make its own decision, but to renege on a commitment to even hear the troop's side is extremely bad faith and very very unscoutlike.


So then the question arose as to whether the boy should be allowed to participate in an eagle court. We routinely have one eagle court per year with multiple eagles being recognized. The decision was to invite that family to participate. I honestly don't know of they did.

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