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Ran across this today; says a lot I feel.

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Thinly Read: Earning Eagle Scout rank says much

Submitted by SHNS on Wed, 06/03/2009 - 12:51.


* By BEN GRABOW, Scripps Howard News Service

* lifestyle


One way or another, people eventually find out you used to be a Boy Scout.


Maybe you show a preternatural ability for complicated knots. Or maybe you can't resist the urge to Do a Good Turn Daily. But once people find out, if they have any knowledge of the scouting enterprise, they'll always have the same question. Everyone wants to know if you earned your Eagle.


It's an oft-touted statistic that only 2 percent of all Boy Scouts make it to the Eagle rank. It's the pinnacle of the scouting world and it holds a certain cachet for everyone else, from the overall community to the corporate workplace.


This prestige may seem strange to some and downright surprising to those who were Scouts themselves. Especially those, like me, whose scouting experience involved finding new and exciting ways to set fire to ourselves and to others.


Using propellants from bug spray to powdered coffee creamer (you read that right, and don't try it at home), my less-advancement-minded friends and I made weekly Scout meetings a trial for our long-suffering adult supervisors.


Though many of these friends gradually drifted away, I stuck with scouting. I stuck with it for the backpacking, the caving and various other pursuits unavailable to the average suburbanite.


I stuck with it all the way through high school, earning ranks and Merit Badges in spite of myself. But the Eagle rank required more than just showing up.


In addition to a set amount of Merit Badges, the Eagle requires an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project. This is something you do to better your community, from painting a building to organizing a fund-raiser. It's a volunteer effort requiring a team of other Scouts and a great deal of time.


According to one scouting parent, there are three things that keep an average teen-ager from his Eagle Project -- cash, cars and (ahem) chicks. The Eagle must be earned before a Scout's 18th birthday. And, at 17, a good job, access to a vehicle and a steady girlfriend hold far more sway than another patch on a uniform you'd never wear in public.


In that way, my story is similar to those of all other Scouts who got right up to it and never earned the Eagle. By the summer that I was 17, I was more interested in dating than painting an outbuilding.


But 10 years since that summer, I think I understand the value of that final patch.


To earn your Eagle requires planning, some sacrifice of your free time and, above all else, commitment. At 17 (or younger), you have to commit a significant amount of time and effort to one thing that is not a car, a job or a girl.


There are not many teen-age boys who are willing to do this. These days, there are not many grown men who are willing to do this. I myself didn't get around to this level of maturity until my mid-20s.


To earn your Eagle is to show your community, your family or even a prospective employer that, as a teen-ager, you were already prepared to make a serious commitment to your future.


One way or another, people will find out you were a Boy Scout. And for those 2 percent, it means more than a knack with knots.


(Ben Grabow writes for the young, the urban and the easily amused. Contact him at thinlyread(at)gmail.com.)


(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)

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Of course an Eagle Project is more than ..."from painting a building to organizing a fund-raiser."


Got to do more than paint an outbuilding and of course, a fund raiser by itself is not an acceptable Eagle Project, but its great to get National Positive exposure and I will be glad for that. National Positive exposure with accurate information will have to wait I suppose.

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I'm sure that many of you saw that last week the BSA awarded its two millionth Eagle. My son visited yesterday and fixed dinner for Father's Day. I mentioned the above and he said "really? Only 2 million? It seems that everywhere I go I run into another Eagle scout".


Yes, in 97 years there have been but 2,000,000 Eagles; my son and 1,999,999 others.


I cannot say that I am one of that number(anybody know how many have earned 2nd Class? I didn't think so) and neither was my father who according to his US Army service record was a Life scout in Troop 4, Indianapolis, Indiana.


Interestingly, though not Eagles both my father and I returned to scouting as dads and scouters and both of us continued after our sons were grown. The pull of scouting is sometimes stronger than the pull of Eagle and it can us back long after we have thought it part of our past.




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I'm very proud to be a Queen's Scout.


A week or so back I attended an ESCOH.

The MC asked all Eagle Scouts to stand. I remained seated.

I was wearing a uniform that made me look like a Polish Admiral(Not that I've ever seen a Polish Admiral!)

I even wore my Sliver Beaver!

Later a new ASM from the Troop came up to me and said how surprised he was that I wasn't an Eagle!

I just let it go!

Many of the nicest Scouter's I know, who have given a lifetime of service never made Eagle Scout.


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Isnt a Queens scout (Kings scout in my fathers day) the equivalent of an Eagle?

Not to quibble, but I would maintain you are an Eagle. A rose by any other name.

Perhaps that was your point and I missed it...

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When I take students out on field trips, I often give them lessons on how to tie certain knots (we're in canoes on lakes). And in lecture I sometimes wear the belt for our summer camp. One of them always asks about either the knots or the belt and then the word is out that I'm a troop leader and an Eagle. And THEN, some of the students begin to step forward to tell me they were scouts too. So I add that being an Eagle helps build rapport in my teaching as well.


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I am part of that 98% and I can blame all three (cash, cars

, and chicks) for that lack.


It is one of my life's greatest regrets. I have a son who crossed over this last spring. It is one of my hopes that he will succeed where I did not. My own father was not very supportive of scouting. I will not make that same mistake.

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Welcome to the forums, kcs_hiker. I tell all of the boys that it is perfectly honorable to finish as aFirst Class, Star, or Life scout and I mean it. In some ways, for a person to know they came close and for one reason or another they didn't achieve what they knew they could - is a powerful life lesson. And it is better to learn this at a young age when that lesson can be put to good use for the rest of a life than to learn that lesson in adulthood and perhaps create a career stumbling block - or worse.


Yes, it is your regret but remember that the knowledge of that regret might boost you to a better decision later in life when it might be even more important for you or your family. If so, you can feel good about that very important lesson that you learned from scouting.

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thanks packsaddle for the kind words


I've heard similar sentiments from scouting friends and leaders... and I've also recieved a few cautionary words about not making my son's scouting experience about me and my shortcomings.


So.. it's a careful trail I must walk eh?

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It's an oft-touted statistic that only 2 percent of all Boy Scouts make it to the Eagle rank.

I've seen this a lot, so it must have some basis in fact. Presumably it takes into account anyone who signed up as a Scout, and maybe never advanced at all (or maybe includes cubs also??). My question is, what percentage of scouts who make a serious, long term commitment to the program (i.e. earn Life or Star) earn Eagle? I'm guessing there aren't published statistics on this, so any educated guesses?

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Apparently, the 2% numbers is creeping closer to 5% of Scouts making Eagle. (Cause everyone is so "active", I guess :-)


See the bottom of http://scouting.org/Media/PressReleases/2009/20090617.aspx for the new statistics from National.


Also interesting to note that the most Eagles ever awarded was in 2008, even in the face of declining registration numbers.



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The percentages have been closer to these reported now for a while from my perception. They just had not been accurately quoted, either due to lack of awareness or because 1-2 percent sounds better. It is higher, I feel, because there is more emphasis put on it in many troops, and also it still has a reputation of high achievement and capability.


In some respects, many of today's Eagles may very well be more rounded and of higher achievement than those of the pre project days. The project is overall a big challenge. Scouting skills on the other hand likely are less strong in many cases due to the current programs reduced emphasis on not only learning them, but also retaining them. Also, for those that do get Eagle, there is likely a higher percentage of questionable achievers due to "Eagle factories", poor oversight in some units, and too much parental involvement in some cases.


One of the reasons fewer scouts likely earned Eagle in the earlier time was that achieving First Class was considered to be the main goal. Remember, they did not even register boys as Star, Life, or Eagle until after WWII or during perhaps. They were listed as 1st Class with merit badges.


I have had the privilege to set on quite a few boards, and most have been well qualified, and a few either barely met the minimum and a few were so over the top that you wondered if they ever were a kid.


Possibly the best reflection will be what becomes of the more recent generation of Eagles, and whether the ideals, skills, and pride will be something which they wish to perpetuate in the future.



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