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Ceremony For First Class

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My bias is to put more emphasis on celebrating the achievement of the 1st Class Rank Rather than Eagle, which I view as being over promoted.


I would like to see a significant ceremony when boys achieve First Class.


An example of what part of that might sound like is at:





Do our Boy Scout leaders here think their recognition ceremonies for 1st Class could stand improvement, and if so in what ways?

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I will say that in my opinion it is now probably easier to get Eagle than it used to be to get 1st class. Like everything else in the world today we keep dumbing down our program and I am begining to see 1st class as a basic expectation not an achievement. The requirements are pretty basic so I just don't see it as a huge accomplishment anymore. I really do think that in many ways the program has become far too easy and too many skills are being lost. The expectations are lower and everybody is a winner. I think first class is just a step towards the goal of the program and not a big enough one at that. It should be more and if it were then I would be more excited about having a special ceremony for it. JMO

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What's wrong with a regular old Court of Honor?


In the beginning, First Class was essentially the highest rank. Star, Life and Eagle were honor awards that only indicated that you had earned a set number of merit badges. At first, the order was Life (5), Star (5 more) and Eagle (21 total). That's it - all you had to do was earn merit badges, which you could only work on after you reached 1st class.


The 5 merit badges for Life were specific badges that had to be earned - Lifesaving, Athletics, Public Health, Personal Health and First Aid. Note that they fit in with the whole "Life" motif.


Eventually, the BSA put Star first (5 of any merit badge you wanted), followed by Life (the 5 required for Life) then the number of merit badges needed for Eagle (including additional required badges).


Until 1965, earning the Eagle Scout rank wasn't all that difficult (sorry any old timers who earned the rank before 1965 - but it just wasn't). It had most of the elements, including time in rank, but the service requirements were to do your best to perform service to the community. Though Eagle Scout was considered a rank well before 1965, I would think that First Class was still the ultimate rank in Boy Scouts at the time. Heck, adults could still earn Eagle until 1965 (though it was starting to be officially discouraged by 1957).


In 1965, the BSA formalized the Service Project - one could no longer just do one's best to do service, now you had to plan and do a service project. But until 1972, you could do that all on your own - no need for anyone else. It wasn't until 1972 that the leadership component was added.


There are quite a few people that point to 1972 as the year the BSA got soft on Eagle - yet the BSA not only added the leadership component to plan and perform a service project (gee, now you had to actually lead other people in doing it with you too!), in 1972, the BSA also upped the number of merit badges needed from 21 to 24! Soft my Aunt Hilda!


Most of those First Class ceremonies were developed before 1965. Though the BSA says that Eagle became a rank in 1936, I don't think it really deserved that title until 1965. Those First Class ceremonies were, in my opinion, appropriate then.


Today? Hey, if you want to do them because they're fun, go ahead - but frankly it's like a "graduation" ceremony from 6th grade - it may be fun, but ultimately, it doesn't really amount to much since it's really not the end of the trail.

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You are probably right but I was looking farther back than the 60's or 70's and I was thinking more in terms of basic skills. For example, when I was growing up, most Scouts had to "know" knots not just learn it and test only to forget later. It just seems that so many get fed info and test and then they are done with it and if you had to retest them they would fail. I was doing a MB with a youth recently and one of his answers to why something was needed was "Really???". He actually seemed to think that there was no reason to explain why something was needed because he felt it was obvious. I felt bad because I sent him back to the books and I don't think he understood why (I did not feel bad for not passing him, I felt bad that he did not really get it). It is very possible that my perception is wrong but we have had very few boys in our Troop who have had trouble with the requirements although they do not all work on them at the same speed.

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If you perform the T-2-1 requirements once to get them checked off and then never using them again, of course your skills are going to stink.


But if you use them on a regular basis, at meetings, hikes, campouts and treks, you'll become extremely proficient. There's nothing basic about being First Class.

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Calico --


Good summary -- one small nit -- In the 6th edition of the Handbook, there was a "leadership component" for Eagle, but not a POR:


"Scout Teamwork

1. While a Life Scout for a period of at least six months show to the satisfaction of your leaders that you --

Work actively as a leader in meetings, outdoor activities and service projects for your unit."


In 1966, before the 7th edition was published they added the service project and specific leadership requirement:

"2. While a Life Scout serve actively as a troop warrant officer (patrol leader, senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, junior assistant Scoutmaster, instructor, scribe, quartermaster, librarian, den chief ) for a period of not less than six months."


I received my Eagle under the 7th edition requirements in 5/1972 -- but several of my friends did not get theirs done in time, and had to add the 3 merit badges that came along with the "no outing in scouting" changes.


And speaking of CoH ... the troop I was in as a Scout, has never held an "Eagle Court of Honor". There are only Troop Courts of Honor and they will do everything from investing a new Scout, to presenting Eagle. The current Scoutmaster's (who will retire this year after 41 years in the position) philosophy is simple -- he wants every Scout, Tenderfoot, etc, to be there to see those Eagle Scout Awards presented so that they can have that image instilled in their mind, and know that is something they want to do. 254 Eagles over 41 years (so about 6 a year)


[For those who think that could take all-night, I recently attended a CoH there. It started at 7:30, presented from Scout through three Eagles, including summer camp merit badges, and we were done and eating the spread by 9:15. It ran like clockwork, and each ASPL had their "next part" ready while the predecessor was doing his part.]


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UCEagle - thanks for adding to the information.


Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I should have been - when I say the leadership component was added in 1972, it was the leadership component to the Eagle Scout service project that was added.


Before 1972, leadership was part of being active in a unit (when the BSA added the requirement to serve as a warrant officer, that is pretty much what finally killed the ability of adults to earn Eagle). Before the warrant officer requirement was added (now POR), one was to do one's best to show active leadership to the unit.


After 1972, there were now 2 leadership components for Eagle Scout - leadership to the unit (in form of POR) and leadership as part of the service project.




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