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SeattlePioneer

Eagle Projects

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I earned Eagle Scout not so very long ago, and I remember there was a bit of bureaucracy in getting the project approved. It certainly wasn't any 40-point checklist - mainly just presenting the project and getting approval signatures from people at the troop, benefitting organization, and one signature from a district Scouter. From the Scouting side, I see the process of being roughly proportional to the nature of the task.

 

I also think that a sufficiently involved Eagle project will require a great deal of planning and preparation and coordination with the benefitting organization, and other groups. I really don't see that as a problem - from my perspective, being able to coordinate between multiple different parties is a valuable skill to hone.

 

It was mentioned that often the preparation process for an Eagle project can exceed the amount of time that goes in to actually doing the project itself. I'd say that the preparation process is at least as important to the Eagle candidate as the actual manual labor, so I don't see this as a problem at all. I think that a "good" project will require a substantial amount of planning and preparation. I would argue, though, that the majority of the preparation should be spent working with the benefitting organization, and the other non-Scouting people/groups that will be involved. If a disproportional amount of time is spent dealing with the unit and district's 40-point checklists, clearly there's a problem there.

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It is interesting to see how broad the project development and completion process can be. Ultimately, it is a very subjective evaluation, but basically will end up with a minimum hour level of 50 to 100 on average. A few will fall lower, either due to poor record keeping (not counting prep hours completely, or forgetting to log scouts); an absolute minimal, rush project; or a super organized scout with the ability to get good production with small resources. Then there are the "super" projects that seem to multiply exponentially as they progress, ending up with far more hours than would have occurred had they done what was actually initially proposed. The biggest problem with those is that it can lead to intimidation of later project developers, thinking they have to reach "that" level. Then there are the truly unique, inventive projects that generally end up being both large hour producers, definitely newsworthy, and occasionally continue to grow and perpetuate themselves far beyond the initial project. An example is the Bible project of a few years back. Of course, I suspect that every council/district has those "pattern" projects, such as the park kiosks that we have six to ten of some years. They are good basic projects, but often are short on real development by the later scouts who choose them; and they often are repeated within the same unit a number of times, just in a different place. Another in our area the past few years is the school garden project; a place for elementary students to learn about plants and growing stuff.

 

We, as mentors, need to accept that every potential Eagle is different, and has his own level of self accomplishment and "doing his best". But as long as the project meets the requirement, we should not subvert the actual intent. Ultimately, the scout will know when he did not do as well as he could have, or really did not measure up to the intent. Yet, sometimes that leads to his growth as he matures, or as he realizes how his project compares to another friend's. Every success is measured in the minds of the person involved, and in the minds of those making judgments. We need to simply do what we can to encourage, but overcome our own inclinations to take over or brow beat.

 

JMHO

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Regarding Parent's Carrying, etc.

 

My Eagle candidates have to write a pretty comprehensive proposal, or the District won't sign off. The Scouts with parents who know how to write formal proposals make it in one pass. In other words, the Scout writes this:

 

I want to help the hikers in the San Bernardino Mountains by building a new trail switchback. The old one is bad and causes erosion. Lots of people hike the trail. Hikers will benefit. I will need a lot of older Scouts to do the work and shovels and rakes.

 

That gets rejected. Dad takes over (or guides, or edits, or however you want to characterize it).

 

My proposal is to rebuild a series of Switchbacks on the Baden Powell trail in the San Bernardino Mountains.

People Benefiting: Hikers, through better trails. The Forest Service, through lessened maintenance.

Workers needed: Please see attached spreadsheet with estimated hours and duties.

Tools needed: Please see attached table showing the number of rakes, shovels, picks and other sundry tools I will need to effectively complete this project.

 

Now - both proposals say the same. Once MBA mom or dad helps out, the proposal sails through. If the Scout does NOT have that level of assistance, it can take their proposal many more weeks to get it approved. Even worse, the Scouts with the high level of assistance then set the bar that much higher for the next Scout who comes along.

 

I have an MBA, and I have written in-depth business proposals. When I sit on a BOR, I am seeing more and more Eagle Projects that could be submitted for a graduate level course. This is the Eagle equivalence of the pinewood derby - the kids whose dad has the woodworking or machine shop wins, while the kids without that level of support struggle.

 

The projects are great.

The benefit is great.

We should make sure that we have not make the proposal and write-up process too complex.

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So then, the question gets asked, "Are Eagle Projects to demonstrate leadership or accomplish a task?"

 

Stosh

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Never fretted over the details. Got plenty of contractor dads who are better at coaching the boys than I.

 

But I would say the Eagle Project is the right challenge at the right time in a boy's scouting career.

 

It introduces the community to our boys after they have met challenges of advancing to the first five ranks. Even with our least organized boys, our community leaders never cease to tell me how they like how a project lead by a boy can pull a community together.

 

No, they are not equal numerically. Johnny's may not be as big as Billy's but in either case it should be the biggest thing either boy has faced to date. Each should reflect the boys abilities. Each should force the boy to turn his perspective outward.

 

It's just that simple. I guess that's why it's so complicated.

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I am a District Advancement Committee Chairman. I have been doing this job for about 7 months, and assumed it shortly after I got out of the Army. I am an Eagle Scout, and have worked in the Army as well as an executive in a large retail corporation. I am the guy who approves or disapproves Eagle Projects and conducts the Boards of Review.

 

As such, when I see a project, I judge it solely by the requirement-- a Scout must Plan, Develop, and Give Leadership to others in a project beneficial to... etc. The length or size of the project is immaterial to me, as long as the Scout demonstrates all of those things.

 

That said, there are certain requisites to Planning, Developing, and Giving Leadership. One of those things is being able to communicate effectively. Another is actually owning his own project. Another is being able to demonstrate that he developed his plan through obstacles and shortcomings and executed it himself. These are the subjective measures where I maintain control over the quality of the Eagles coming through my district. If a project is poorly presented, then this is ineffective communication and thus is not demonstrative of good planning or leadership skills. Then it is rejected for the Scout to re-look. I do look at spelling, organization, and so on, but my Bible is the Eagle Scout Project Workbook and the guidelines it sets forth.

 

If a Scout meets the requirements, then I don't care if it takes him 20 hours or 500 to accomplish--but he's accountable for meeting all the requirements and avoiding the restrictions.

 

There is a squishy area in there, but it is generally easy to tell whether a project has potential or not. Sometimes, I approve projects that I don't personally approve of, but which meet the requirements--this is fair and within the intent. These are the trying circumstances, but there's no way around it--short of getting National to put out more concrete guidelines on Eagle Projects.

 

My job is to help Scouts be successful-- to ensure that they are able to meet the intent of the Eagle Scout program, and after that, ensuring that the integrity of the rank isn't polluted. As long as I am doing both of those things, I can sleep easy at night knowing that I'm doing my duty to the BSA.

 

Paul Lukehart

 

http://www.ScoutSpirit.com

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My son earned his Eagle in December. What an Ordeal. He is a shapr kid and a great scout and he did fine. That being said, our district is one of those that pretty much expects something "built" as part of a project. If you are revamping a trail at a park or camp, that isn't good enough. You need to build benches or signs to go with it. No collecting blankets for the homeless or anything like that. There needs to be a hammer swinging. This is in stark contrast to our neighboring district where a boy did a flag retirement demonstration to a group or people as an Eagle project. Our EBOR's are pretty picky on the write up too. So much so that our troop pulls out the stops to help. We have a Life to Eagle coordinator and the SM acts as quality control. He knows what the board is looking for and will read your write up and mark it up with a red pen for you to correct. He doesn't find you a project, tell you what to write or anything like that. He just knows where the pitfalls are and helps you avoid them. We had one scout who decided to not avail himself of the help the troop provides and did his own. It took him 3 BOR's to get it approved and 2 BOR's to get it signed off. The boys who avail themselves of troop help usually make it first try. While I don't agree with it, the troop is now wanting to do a mock BOR to prepare the boy for the real deal.

 

It seems to me that when you have to go to those extremes to get a kid thru an EBOR, something somewhere is wrong. The workbook, the project and the EBOR should be such that a 14 to 15 year old boy can read it, understand it and do it with a minimum of adult involvement. Why councils and districts have to make it so difficult that it requires troops to jump thru hoops to assist a boy to earn Eagle is a mystery to me. And before anyone says it, we are not an Eagle factory......we just find we have to do what we do to level the playing field enough for a kid to make it without t hrowing his hands up in disgust and walking away in tears.

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