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More Eagles than in the Past?

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As usual, I got off onto a tangent, and didn't answer the original question. :)


Back in my day, there were quite a few kids in Scouts just because it was the thing to do, and the parents remotely thought that Scouting was a good thing to do.


It was just one good activity among many. Many kids were also involved in sports, and during various sports seasons, some of the Scouts came to the Troop meeting late in their sports uniform. Others were involved in band, etc., etc.


So there were a lot more scouts, but most of them didn't really have any intention of making Eagle. It was still a good program for a few years. Then, at some point during Junior High, they decided that something had to go, and they concentrated on other things.


There was a always a core of Scouts who were gung-ho about Scouting, and you pretty much knew the day they signed up for Scouts that they would eventually make Eagle.


These days, little has changed for that gung-ho core group. They're still signing up, and they're still making Eagle. So the numerator is probably about the same as it was in the past.


But we have a lot less of those who sign up for Scouting as one activity out of many. The kid who is in sports knows by the fifth grade that he's going to concentrate on sports. So he doesn't join Scouts in the 5th or 6th grade, like his counterpart might have in the past. So he's gone from the denominator, which makes the percentage of Eagles increase.

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A couple of minor points:


First, Beavah, I think your math does not work. It may be 5.6% X 4 years but in those same 4 years it is also 900,000 members X 4 so the percentage should remain contstant, we are not really seeing 22.4% attain Eagle if I am reading this correctly.


Second, I personally believe that the percentage of Eagle is higher because the volume of boys had diminished. These days you are more likely to find somebody in the program who has the goal of getting Eagle than you did in years gone past that the goal was to be a Scout. Although we do still see boys who do not want to be Scouts, the majority come from families that do have higher expectations than the general public. I do know that when I was a Scout back in the 60's, the majority of my school class was as well. It was expected. Today it is a small percentage of kids and those kids are probably more likely to Eagle.


I do agree that there are Eagle factories and it can be a fine line. I have been accused of pushing my son and at times I do. When I push is not for him to get Eagle, it is for him to finish what he has started. When he starts a merit badge and does not finish is when I get involved. For Example, he has had an open fishing blue card for two years and the only requirement he has left is to cook a fish, I was a little irritated that he was simply ignoring it rather than getting it done. We recently started working together to make sure he is better at organizing himself so that these little details don't slip away. He is young but also unusually gifted and learning to finish what he starts will be critical for him in life so at times I do push, too many people today are of the entitlement mindset and expect that "Do Your Best" will get you through and the problem is "The Best" for many is mediocre. It is all about the dumbing down we talk about so much.


My son went to Jambo and had planned on getting 10 merit badges but only ended up with three because he decided to work on getting all the rockers. I am not happy that he did not meet his goal (I was actually concerned when he set such a high goal for himself and we talked about that at length before he left) but at least he did not start a bunch and get partials that were probably all but worthless. As he and I have discussed, I did the major financing of his trip and I was a little disappointed that he did not get a few merit badges that would have been really good to earn at Jambo because of the quality of the staff. As I explained to him, when you are not footing the bill, you do have a responsibility to your benfactor (CO, Parent, etc...) to meet a reasonable performance level. I will say that he did have a bunch of fun and he already has a couple of dozen merit badges so at this point I am more concerned with teaching him the responsibility end of it and to finish what he starts.


Just my opinions for what little they are worth

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Hawkrod; On the other hand, if did earn the rockers, he accomplished something he could "only" do there. So, I would think that would make up for the fewer merit badges, especially if he had a great time and was exposed to unusual things. Either way, finding that fine line can be hard.


Good luck.

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I think you are misunderstanding me and I guess I did not present it right but my point was what he said he was going to do and what I suggested that he do (I only suggested to him to try to do three MB's but not the ones he did) were different and then what he actually did was far different from our previous discussions. I have no problem with him only earning three merit badges at Jambo, he can earn merit badges anytime so that was really not a important concern of mine, just that some of the MB's being offered at the Jambo were being run by people who were amazing and the experience may have had more value. For example the archery was being run by world class archers. Not that the guys here would not be able to do it as well, but that the people that were doing it may have given it added value for the experience. Also note that had it been a great concern, I would have spent some one on one time with him to make sure he did it but instead I let him do things as he saw fit while we were there. It is a incredible experience and he can't wait for the next one!(This message has been edited by Hawkrod)

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Beavah's methodology for calculating Eagle percentage is correct.


I think the estimate that the average Scout is in for 4 years is probably too high. Every troop is different, and the well-established troops might have a number like that, but there are a tremendous number of troops that pop into existence, struggle for a few years, and then fold.


I'd guess three years is more like it. You can also get this number, roughly, by dividing the number of Boy Scouts by the number of Webelos Scouts who cross over each year.


There are 837,343 Boy Scouts (as of 12/31/2010).

There are 1,601,994 Cub Scouts. (In 2009 there were 633,099 Webelos Scouts, out of a total of 1,634,951 Cub Scouts). So let's say around 300,000 Cub Scouts cross over each year.


That would give an average tenure of 2.8 years.


So 2.8 years times 5.6%/year = 15.7% of all Scouts earn Eagle. Lots of minor caveats here, but this number is approximately correct, and also feels about right to me.


From my experience, I'd say the primary difference is that there are way more adults around to help remove obstacles, and to provide advancement opportunities.



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The differences between the past and today?


Past: Give it your best...but at the end of the day, character, sportsmanship, citizenship, etc., matter most

Today: Win state championship/make Eagle/graduate at top of class...otherwise, you failed to live up to your potential


Past: Eagle is a good thing. Here's what YOU need to do to achieve it.

Today: Eagle is the only thing. Here's how WE--parents, leaders--will sweep your path, or spoon feed you MBs at troops meetings or weekend MB mills, or just drag you across the finish line....


Past: Hey Johnny made Eagle...we are going to have a special moment to present the medal at the end of our next troop court of honor...and we'll have some cake afterwards

Today: Johnny made Eagle, here is the engraved invitation to the ceremony...we are going to have the gala affair just for him at the civic center, complete with oaths, creeds, pledges, and other solemn Eagle ceremonial stuff, plus speeches, special slide shows, and we'll have several presentations...and on the back table, we'll have a leather bound book with all 377 congrats letters written to him by such luminaries as the King of Norway, Steven Segal and a host of others.....


A broad brush? Perhaps.


All kidding aside, gotta be careful of what we hope for. Years ago, "we" thought more kids should make Eagle...and here we are.

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Not to knock Eagle Scout, but...



To me, First Class is still the most important rank.



By First Class, Scouts should have learned most of what they will learn about character, fitness and citizenship.


Eagle is that plus some additional leadership training and experience.


I run across a lot of adults who often more or less apologize for not having received the Eagle rank. I find that unfortunate, especially when they did complete First Class, Star or Life.


I always tell them that First Class is the most important rank in Boy Scouts TO ME, and that often seems to cheer people up.

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Bevah, that math is a little off. Yes they might be in an average of 4 years, but your not accounting for drops. Lets say you avarage an influx/outflux of 200,000 non-Eagling Scouts a year...so you have 200,000*3 years = 600,000 plus the 900,000 for the eagle year = 1,500,000 total Scouts during this period. 50,000 Eagles = about 3.3%. The most accurate way to figure it would probably be the total number of eagles related to the total that left scouting that year.(This message has been edited by pack212scouter)(This message has been edited by pack212scouter)

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The most accurate way to figure it would probably be the total number of eagles related to the total that left scouting that year.


Pack212Scouter, that's a reasonable method. In any given year, approximately 50,000 Eagles leave Scouting. Approximately 300,000 Scouts leave Scouting altogether. So 16.7% of Scouts are Eagles.


Once upon a time I did a long post on this topic, tracing an imagined set of cohorts of Scouts through the system and having various numbers of them drop out in various years and various numbers of them earning Eagle in various years. In the end, all it shows is that you can use the average numbers per year just as well.

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Could two other things be a part of the answer as to why there are more Eagles:


We have slowly developed a "If your not the best, then you are a failure!" attitude/ People are not judging others by character or god deeds or number of friends, but we judge each other by the size of our houses, the number of cars and how much they cost, the salary we make, and how much bling we wear.


Either you have a PhD , MA, BA and in whatever carrer you are in or you are just a hair above janitor on the "success radar".



And never having been a scout myself..I do not know for sure, but seems alot of the lose of older days was parents dropped kids off at scouting and then did their own thing. Nowdays, more and more parents are involved with their son's "Scout careers" then way back when. Parents may be encouraging, helping scouts focus, helping scouts attain their goals and generally being more atuned to and knowledgeable in scouting.


Instead of coming home and telling mom and dad what you did...they are there to see it.




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Don't forget modern technology either. Want to do a project? Search online to see what other people did or what the community needs.

Time to organize? Why not e-mail, page, twitter, text and call everybody in 5 minutes instead of spending 3 weeks meeting up with whoever.


I hear that there are apps for phones, droids , Ipod, etc.. for keeping up with any and all advancemnts requirements for practically everything scout related.


Working on Eagle and not sure about something? Pull out your phone and check it real fast.


Email your SM or Troop Committe instead of actually going to their house or calling them.. Fax this, email that. time saved is amazing.

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I have recently had to talk to my wife about her obsession with our kids earning Eagle. Her Uncle is an Eagle and she thought it was the most important thing in scouting. Tonight I think we finally had a breakthrough.


On Wednesday nights our Troop has an opportunity to give back to our CO by doing some clean up at a supper. Tonight, my two sons in the troop and another set of brothers were the only ones that showed up. For the third week in a row. This is a troop of 55 kids.


However, 2 other scouts were there tonight for MB Counseling. They both left after their sessions and did not help with the cleanup.


So, who is getting more out of Scouting? Scouting to me is too often treated as what you can get out of it, instead of what you can put into it.


Perhaps that is part of the reason we have more Eagles. In our hyper-competitive society it is seen as all there is to scouting. I would much rather my kids earn the Hornaday Awards or all of the new National Outdoor Badges. But, that is up to them.

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I'd like to put a more positive spin on this ...


Then: My SM, one (maybe two, at times, ASM's) three committmee members, and the 40 of us. A kid NEVER interacted with the committee members unless they were taking the "long walk" for their board of review on the nights they met after the troop meeting.


Now: My Son's SM, at least SIX ASM's at various levels of training, as many or more Committee members -- all who actively recruit MB counselors for the district. A "trail to eagle" program at our council camp to motivate First Class scouts to move up a rank within the year. This program was started by a donor who asked the question "why aren't there more Eagle Scouts?"


There are more Eagles now because a boy's chances are better, and that's because more adults care about the well-being of scouts in their community.

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