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What are the causes of the Eagle Mill?

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This is some personal observations on what an Eagle should be. I've met a few 13 year old capable of doing, not many but a few, and I have also met 18yos who couldn't do it.


An Eagle scout should be capable of the following


1) take charge in an emergency first aid situation until someone with more experience and training can take over.


2)be able to adapt and improvise in a wilderness situation should something arise.


3)Should be able to live comfortably in the outdoors for some time.


4) Should have basic orienteering skills to be lead a group out of the wilderness.


4a) should be able to read a map to come up to alternative evacuation routes should the main evacuation route become so jammed that it takes 18 hours to go what would normally take 1.


More later

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Horizon, answering for myself: 'yes' to the first question and 'no' to the second, the way you put it. Except I HAVE come across parents who would have changed the 'no' to a 'yes' if you had asked about them in the right way for the second question.

But I'm not sure what your point is.

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I find Basementdwellers attitude as expressed on this forum extremely insulting. Several of us have mentioned that we too are Eagles, Eagle dads, and earned the rank at an early age. Have we heard much in response? No - we have been painted with a broad brush. I chose not to take it. His post even adds a bit of "have you stopped beating your wife" with his junior high level debate style of asking "Horizon......Hitting a bit close to home????????"


Now, this is the internet, where people act far worse than they typically do in public.


Some here continue down a path of disparagement with no information, no knowledge, and frankly no class and no desire to follow the Oath and Law. I wonder how much of their attitude carries over into their units, how often they make comments that a boy hears and internalizes. How many boys quit their troop after thinking that they are not good enough. How many adults leave, not wanting to be associated with that particular attitude.


Bluntly, someone who thinks that a 13 year old Eagle can't handle it or is not ready is probably adding to the requirements in a variety ways in their unit.

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Horizon, I think I was 15 years old...but I guess I've must have missed the tone of the conversation somehow - that happens a lot.

If you let the air clear a little, I hope you'll realize that 'hitting back' rarely is constructive. I know, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to reacting badly...my buttons are just different I guess.

Anyway, if you take an objective look at the statement,

"Bluntly, someone who thinks that a 13 year old Eagle can't handle it or is not ready is probably adding to the requirements in a variety ways in their unit."

I hope you'll see the irony in it. Try to let things roll off your back if you can. One Eagle to another.

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I really think you should re read the Trail to Eagle thread where most of these points were answered. It really came down to a 13 year old can be an Eagle, but the rub was what kind of program would he have to experience to achieve that goal today? The consensus seemed to be a very academically oriented one with minimal outdoor experiences, missing out on camps, jamborees, high adventure, full participation in OA, etc, etc. So the question becomes is that the kind of BSA we want to have, or should the boys be allowed the FULL experience of what being a scout is truly all about with rank advancenment NOT being the predominate focus. Being a scout is NOT about pressuring boys into becoming an Eagle by 13, and any SM/ASM who truly believes that 13 yo Eagles should be the norm should be forced to step down immediately.


I don't know if your troop was an Eagle Mill or not Horizon, and maybe you were one of those rare 13yo scouts ready to become an Eagle, however that was never intended to be the norm from the inception of scouting and is still true today. Most 13 yo boy scouts are NOT ready to be Eagles by a wide margin.

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I did read the thread, and this one, and many others on this site where 13 year old Eagles are disparaged.


Lets start with this consensus: ""The consensus seemed to be a very academically oriented one with minimal outdoor experiences, missing out on camps, jamborees, high adventure, full participation in OA, etc"


I have described my trail. By the time of my Eagle BOR, I had:

Camped every month,

Attended 3 summer camps (my troop camps with a weekend campout AND summer camp),

Trained at the equivalent of NYLT,

Went to 1981 National Jamboree,

Earned around 30 Merit Badges without ever having a repeat MBC,

Started my own Patrol,

Served as a Den Chief,

Served as Chaplain Aide running services every Sunday.

Brotherhood Member of OA, helping out at tap outs, Ordeal, etc.


My camping log is far from the minimum for Eagle, or for any rank.

My PORs were for more than just Advancement either.


Now, according to the posters here, I must of then dropped out once earning Eagle.


Nope. Hit Philmont, led the Troop on a couple of new backpacking runs, and stayed involved until my family moved.


At 18, I became an Assistant Scoutmaster and took a crew to Northern Tier. I volunteered with Scouting while at University as well.


So - is it possible for a Scout to fully embrace Scouting and earn Eagle at 13 (in my case, a few weeks before my 14th birthday)- yes it is. Can they do it while still hitting every mark, and not being a paper Eagle? Yes they can. Can all Scouts? No, they can not. It takes a dedicated Scout with a well run Troop and Council that offers all of the necessary opportunities.


So lets come back to the consensus again. "The consensus seemed to be a very academically oriented one with minimal outdoor experiences, missing out on camps, jamborees, high adventure, full participation in OA, etc" The consensus is wrong.


However, that can all just be a fun debate. I enjoy Kudu's participation, and have saved many portions of his website. When he talks about 300 feet, I remind him that is next to impossible with LNT and the camping restrictions in the Sierras where I go regularly.


Pack - you are right - I did that very un-Scout like slap back because I allowed my internet temper to get the best of me. That said, I won't just sit quietly while someone repeatedly insults me and my fellow Scouters.


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IMHO an "Eagle Mill" is a Troop that solely focuses on producing a program that gets a Scout to the rank of Eagle. As mentioned by others in this thread, parents seem to be desperate to get their son's "Eagle Award" block checked for the College application. Many Scouts do the minimum requirements and all activities center around Eagle Projects or whatever it takes to get Eagle. It becomes an individual Race which has virtually eliminated the Patrol Method in a Troop. "Leadership" is NYLT and other programs to be added to the "Resume" and not the practical experience of being an effective PL, SPL or ASPL.


I don't have an issue with a Scout earning his Eagle at 13 or 14, but I would have to question how much actual skill he has at that age, and what experiences has he had by the time he Eagles? The program has specific guidelines for Eagle, so perhaps at a National level it's now too easy to get Eagle. (Not my opinion per se just a thought.)


For my sons, I will encourage them to meet the Ideals of being an Eagle and not just the book requirements. I want them to earn all the main outdoor Merit Badges (Hiking, Backpacking, Wilderness Survival along with Eagle Required Camping). I want them to EXPERIENCE Scouting and the ideals and vision of our "Scouting Founding Fathers."


If my sons can't complete a 14-mile round trip solo hike on their own, as was required back in the 1930s for 1ST CLASS!!! then they have not proven to me that they really are experienced and skilled enough to be called an EAGLE SCOUT today. That's for my sons...


I think as Leaders we need to inspire our Scouts to be more than just Rank and Merit Badge chasers. We need to encourage them that nothing compares to experience and knowledge and that it's the journey that will change their Life, not just the line-item-notation on the Resume.



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I've been away at Summer Camp so I mised a lot of this. I admit I havent read every post, so if this is reiteration, I apologize, but I have found that some troops labeled Eagle Mills are because they produce a lot of Eagle because they have a widely varied program that challenges the boys with adults who are eage to help, but not do for the boys.


Often a sucessful troop can be seen as an Eagle Mills because of results, the process must be known as well

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I think I'm a member of every group listed (except the moms) but I'm not insulted in the least.


I have always said Eagle Scouts make some of the worst adult leaders we have (the are also some of the best, but let's set that aside for now).


There is a big difference between being a Scout and a Scout leader. Not every adult Eagle Scout sees that. Too many simply remember all the fun they had as a Scout and want to continue it. These are the 35-year-olds leading the snipe hunt, or elbowing their way up to the fire to show the boys when to flip pancakes. Life is different in the box vs. outside the box. They don't recall their Scoutmaster standing back with his arms folded just watching, or the training he attended, or the discipline problems he handled privately.


The proof is in the pudding. I'm not insulted because I don't believe the labels don't apply to me. Neither do I care if someone refers to our troop as an Eagle Mill because I know the sort of program we run.


Sticks and stones....

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I admit I have not been impressed with some of the 13-14yo Eagles I met. I also haven't been impressed with some of the 18yo Eagles either, but I digress.


I think the problem most of the folks who are upset with 13yo Eagles is that A) BSA has watered-down some of the requirements, B)there are numerous examples of folks "working the system," and C)Some, not all but some, of the young Eagles do not truly know the basics that would be expected of a First Class Scout a decade or more ago. That is the one that draws the most attention.


A) Let's face it, while my Eagle was a challenge to get( late 1980s requirements), looking at some of the requirements pre-1972, a little more outdoor expereinced was required. Grant you that would not have been a problem in my troop, 10 weekend camps or hikes (mostly camping and sometimes both), 1 week summer camp and an optional week of wintercamp)per year, But I know some of the troops I've seen lately would have major difficulties. I was shocked that some troops close down for summer (that was our busiest time)andonly go campign 4 times/year!


B) We all have stories of scouts getting 2-3 ranks in one nite. heck I even mentioned miy story a few times here. I liked having the time requirements at the T-2-1 level because it allowed Scouts to not only learn the skills, but give them time to practice and develope. While I know we are nto allowed to retest the skill, but seeing them use the skills over and over again for several months allows them master the skills. Doing a one time for signoff and forgetting about the skill is gaming the system IMHO because we are hurting the Scout directly, and the Scouting movement overall with this by producing an Eagle who does not have the basics down. That will destroy the public image of Scouting.


Best example I can give is the time at church we has some have an accident. Because everyone knew I was a Scout, grant you a very new one who had crossed over the month or two before, it was EXPECTED (emphasis) that I knew first aid, and could treat them until EMS arrived. Luckily it was something taught in Readyman. But there was a sense of pressure that I should know first aid. If an older scout would have been involved and did the "do once for sign off and forget the skill" would have been there, it would have severely damaged the BSA's reputation, and mroeimportatnly possibly put the victim's life in danger if it would have been more serious.


B) Gaming the system. MBUs can pose a problem. Yes I have taught at one, and even gave an all day Indian Lore MB Seminar. But I made it know that there is no way to complete the entire MB unless you did a bunch of work ahead of time (which I did list for the eager beavers, which was quite a few in fact). But again you have some MBCS who would have given enveryone credit for a MB that was not fully earned. Again we have all heard stories and or seen it, especially at summer camps.


Also heard about, and I have personally seen, folks who sign up as MBCs for numerous MBs in order to do MBs for their troop, or in the case I have seen, for their own son. Yes I know there is no national policy limiting the number of MBs a MBC can counsel, nor does national disallow a family member from being a MBC for another family member. But when dad has signed of on all but a handful of MBs that a scout has earned,the Eagle's goal is to get all of them, and when you ask the Eagle specific questions about ones that he has earned and that you you counsel and the Eagle cannot answer the questions, you know there is a problem, and the scout, or more likely dad, gamed the system. Talking to that Scout left a very bitter taste in my mouth, and I can see why folks were not happy that national awarded the Eagle on appeal.


C) Some, not all but some, 13 yos do not have the KSAs expected of an Eagle. I have also seen the same problem with 18yo Eagles as well. Part of that problem comes from gaming the system, the "do once for sign off and forget" mentality. Some of it is because they do not have the time at the T-2-1 level to truly learn and master the skills, for them it's a Race to Eagle. Some of the problems lie with those units that are not "hiking and camping" troops going out every month. And yes part of the problem is adults butting in and doing things for the younger Scouts that older Scouts should be doing. Older scouts should be the ones teaching the T-2-1 Skills, not ASMs. The scouts should be running troop meetings, not the adults. And I can go on.


Now will a knowledgable 13 or 14 Eagle Scout be perfect and not screw up on occasion? HECK NO, and even older Eagles will make mistakes. But that is the beauty of Scouting. The scouts CAN screw up in a safe environment, learn important lessions, and move onwards. Some of life's best lessons come from failure. Heck I know a 30 something Eagle who has made some mistakes in relation to Scouting events, and is still learning. ;)

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Interesting perspectives and comments. How much is rose colored glasses of our childhood; I wonder how well many of us would do as a youth in todays Scouting and society that these kids have to deal with. I was a 14 year old Eagle in 1979, and readily admit I wasnt a strong Eagle. I am glad to say I did stick around for a few more years and learned more about what an Eagle is after I actually earned it Who cant say that they learned more about what an Eagle is as they grew up and faced many of the challenges a young man experiences in his life? Thats what we are truly trying to prepare them for, Id say. The challenges I went through were very different than those of my Eagle father, and were yet again different than what my Eagle son has gone through. We cant compare yesteryear to now, theres too many variables that have changed over time. Considering all that, I think weve done pretty darn good to keep the Eagle award as consistent as we have.


Im a little baffled about the perspectives of the marked man part of the charge. I love that line and do my best to emphasize it! Eagles absolutely are marked men. More and better is expected of us, as it should be. A defining moment for me was during an inebriated night in college when somehow I ended up in the back of a police car with the cop asking me to recite the Scout Law. I was a marked man and realized that night what it really meant.


I also find humorous the comments about Eagle brand. How hypocritical when we complain about lack of marketing and visibility from national not doing anything other than screwing up our Scouting to turn around to complain about selling out to the man.


But is all this really the point? How dare we as leaders try and make the call of what a young man might or might not turn into, whether he deserves the award at 13 or 14 when hes done what was asked of him? I have some real issues with attitudes posted here and on that Trail to Eagle thread of subjective calls on what an Eagle really is. I too have my own perceptions of what I think an Eagle is but in the end it doesnt mean squat. This is what Scouting is now, guys, not what it was back in the day.



edited for typos...(This message has been edited by jtswestark)

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The causes of an Eagle Mill?


It's easier for adults to take the boys to merit badge colleges or merit badge classes than to take them camping every month. It's a watered-down program that minimizes the outdoors. Troops in this category will do some camping, but only to the extent to satisfy the camping requirements for First Class and the Eagle-required Camping merit badge.


The mentality today is different than it was when I was a Scout in the 70's. When I was 2nd Class Scout, I had better camping, fire-building, and outdoor skills than some of the Star and Life Scouts I've witnessed today. I was in a troop that did alot of primitive camping and rushing through the ranks was not an emphasis of our program. I learned alot from frequent hands-on experience rather than checking off requirements on a completion list.



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The concensus is based on what is happening in many boy scout troops today , not when you were a youth. In many of the Eagle Mill troops in the councils I have been in and the one I am currently in the LACK of outdoor experiences and skills is so blatently obvious and it seems to be getting worse or more common. The Eagle prep in many troops has erroded into an academic exercise with little proficency of any of the outdoor skills that are at the very heart of scouting. Maybe your council is different though I really doubt it.

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Horizon writes:


I enjoy Kudu's participation, and have saved many portions of his website. When he talks about 300 feet...


Forever-A-Scout writes:


If my sons can't complete a 14-mile round trip solo hike on their own...


Eagle by 13 is about right, given what is required.


Remember that none (0) of our camping requirements would count in Baden-Powell's program because his Scouting is based on nights of Patrol Camping (at least 150-300 feet between Patrols), plus a series of "Journeys" and "Expeditions" beginning with an unsupervised 8 mile day-Journey for Second Class. See:




In my retirement I now volunteer for a local "advancement-oriented" Troop. :) It is a whole new world for me: We have Eagle Scouts who have literally never walked into the woods with a pack on their backs (they camp only in venues that accommodate wheeled suitcases).


However, as Seattle has pointed out in the past: Yes, an Eagle Mill attracts a large number of parents who force and/or bribe their sons to earn Eagle, but the resulting mega-Troop includes a surprising number of Scouts whom itch for real adventure.


Given that our local unit is an adult-run Troop: I simply introduced my own High Adventure program. My first proposal for a "Backcountry Fishing Trip" did not survive the popular vote, but I held it anyway. I started with quarter-mile backpacking trips. This neatly excluded all the indoor boys who had voted against it. I appointed the Troop's two older natural leaders plus two younger natural leaders, and then separated the two ad hoc Patrols by 300 feet.


Camping away from the Troop trailer for the first time in their lives opened their eyes to a whole new world. One of the natural leaders signed up for Philmont right away, and the other started making short trips on the Appalachian Trail near his family's vacation home.


The way our treks work is the older Scouts have total control over who joins their ad hoc Patrol. This excludes any Scout whom they consider "annoying," including most (but not all) of the younger Scouts plus two older ("An F-150 upon earning Eagle") Scouts whom they can not control. This Patrol hikes a longer route without any supervision, and then usually camps about a quarter-mile from the adults.


The ad hoc younger Patrol is also by invitation only (mine). I currently exclude two grossly immature Scouts and the two F-150s from treks over a mile. This Patrol hikes ahead of the adults and then camps about 300 feet from us, but any failure what-so-ever to obey the younger natural leaders parks the offender and his buddy near the adult Patrol.


Contrary to the general Troop policy, both groups are free to use electronics in the backwoods.


Here are videos of the two Patrols setting off on our last "Backwoods Trek:"




One of the older natural leaders served as the Canoe Merit Badge counselor for six weeks at summer camp and is starting a Troop backwoods canoe program.


Two of our dads have started a SCUBA program. Our very smallest cross-over skipped the first year program at summer camp and took Climbing Merit Badge instead. This has sparked interest in a climbing program (using camp towers & staff), among Scouts who had previously thought only in terms of COPE. These two programs are not Patrol-based.


Yours at 300 feet,




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