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What are the causes of the Eagle Mill?

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I would have never believed that you would ever turn towards the dark side, lol.

Use the force Luke and maybe you can turn this troop around or you could always teach them about "Cupcake Scouting".

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Yah, interestin' perspectives. Best to take a step back and think of advancement as just a method. Nuthin' wrong with using it, even in different ways, but best not to make it the focus of da program - or of the individual. The program has 7 other methods and different aims that are a lot more important.


Sometimes, though, we forget that and allow advancement to become da focus, eh? Most often, that's caused by adult leaders in a troop, who push da whole troop that way. That's what we call an Eagle Mill, where adults have over-focused on that one aspect of da program.


Sometimes it's a boy's parent who doesn't understand da program, and over-pushes advancement. That's when yeh get a "paper Eagle" to please mom or dad and get out. Either that, or yeh get a lad who rebels against that in some way.


And sometimes, it's a boy himself who puts too much emphasis on advancement, eh? Gettin' to Eagle, gettin' all da badges, what have yeh. In so doing, it's easy to miss the rest of the program. Being in the woods just for fun. Service just for da sake of service, not to get a signoff. Leadership and group development for the sake of the group.


The latter is where good mentoring comes in, eh? Not holding a lad back, but expanding his focus and the way he looks at the world, so that he gets da most out of the trail. Yah, yah, sometimes a lad will stay in and then move on to those other things, but most of the time, I'd even venture to say all of the time, it's best if advancement is put in perspective as reflectin' the bigger journey, not preceding it. Better for the lad and for the program.


So da question is not so much "can it be done?", though I think First Class can't really be done in a year for an average boy and typical program. The real question is "should it be done?". I believe in the whole program, eh? The program works wonders for boys, but not if yeh slice it up into separate parts. Doesn't matter whether it's the adult leaders, da boy's parents, or da boy himself who we let do the slicin'.





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Thank's for reminder of the broad view. Need to keep the main thing the main thing.


I have a boy who loves to come to to camp-outs and cook for everyone, do service, is cheerful, and does it for fun not for the "advancement opportunities". Heck he would be grubmaster everytime if we let him. Loves scouts, loves camping, loves the camaraderie.


Gotta another boy, newbie, never a cub scout, roaring through the requirements. He is just on fire. I quiz 'em he knows his stuff forward and backwards. Never did much camping before; he must practice his fire-starting and knots 'round the clock. Knows his stuff --not right to hold 'em back. He is happy as can be. Scouts is his favorite thing.


Different boys, different attitudes toward advancement. Both great scouts, doing the program, and having fun. And it is all going to be alright.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with much of what Horizon has posted here. I am also one of those young Eagles that had apparently not received earned it in the eyes of some of those here (not that I really care....I'd put my scouting pedigree up against theirs any day...). Now, I was young when I joined and I worked very hard. My father started out as my scoutmaster, but when he realized how fast I was advancing, he resigned the position so as to not put me in the position of having to defend from charges of the rank being given to me. My Eagle was passed at national a week before my 13th birthday.


At that point, I had attended 3 week-long summer camps (one as a 2nd year Webelo but through a special program that treated it as a regular Boy Scout camp). I had earned a 50 miler award for canoe and another for backpacking. I had served as scribe, patrol leader, and SPL. I was a Brotherhood member of OA and was serving on the ceremonies committee.


As I was approaching Life, I had coasted on Firemanship merit badge and my father quickly figured it out. He quizzed me on it and told me he would not allow the Scoutmaster to award me the badge. I had to go to the counselor immediately and apologize for wasting his time and set up another appointment to earn it. The second time, I knew all the material.


There were several members of the committee who did not believe I knew the material and was drilled for an hour during my BOR of everything that was required for rank. When I proved that I knew and remembered everything, they still objected because I was too young. Fortunately, the district executive sat in on my review and told them they had no justifiable reason to hold me back. Even in the grilling, I had shown the maturity to stay calm and collected.


BTW, when I was approaching Life, my father made sure I was well versed in the BSA history and traditions. He told me about the changes in the requirements that had occurred and that it was up to me to figure out what road I wanted to take if I wanted to earn Eagle.....the old requirements or the new ones. I made sure that I had earned it by the old requirements.....(swimming and lifesaving were mandatory and I learned morse code as well). Nobody who had earned it with the older requirements could hold that over my head.


The road to my Eagle was just the beginning. I earned a silver and a second bronze palm. The year following me receiving my Eagle, I was slated to attend the World Jamboree....the one that was cancelled....in 1979...in Iran. I was sought out to be a camp commissioner for a neighboring council at their summer camp by the time I was 14, but turned it down for the opportunity to work at my home council's camp as an aquatics aide for half the money.


The age of the Eagle has nothing to do with it....it is the maturity and responsibility level of the boy.


I'll follow up later about "Eagle Mills". There is a marked difference between a mill and a troop that has a successful program....

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ah horizon......missed your post calling me out, Yes I am an Eagle earned it at 16 in a traditional troop, we were boy led.


Jealous, no.


I participated in scouting and all that it offers, Philmont, Jambo, walked the battlefield at Gettysburg, hiked the AT trail....Along the way I learned respect for my god, country, I learned the meaning of loyalty and duty.


As everyone has mentioned there are all kinds of troops, car camping troops, hiking troops, fishing troops, canoeing troops, Backpacking troops, water troops and even advancement troops. So I guess if scouting is merely a book work for the advancement group, who am I to poo poo their choice, to me it is just a wasted opportunity,


but do the boys really know their options?????



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OK...on to Eagle mills...


Now, some will look strictly at the number of Eagles a troop turns out and if the number is more than normal, judge it as a mill. However, look at the quality of the scouts coming out. What did they do as a service project? What happens to their Eagle retention afterwards?


Our troop used to be relatively small (about 12 active boys at any given point in time). We might have had an Eagle every other year and usually once the boy achieved it, they left soon thereafter. We built a solid program. I became Scoutmaster just over 3 years ago. The boys are involved on the planning of trips. They hold and actually have to perform in their leadership roles.


I am a firm believer in immersing the new scouts in with the other boys. We make it a point to see there are at least two new boys in each patrol so they don't feel they are by themselves. It then becomes part of the Patrol Leader's and the patrol's job to bring the new boy up to speed and help him acclimate to the rest of the patrol. They also have a role in helping to teach the new scout his skills he needs to achieve ranks up to First Class. The teaching helps reinforce the skills they had already been signed off for.


Scouts 14 and older are dual registered in Venturing if they choose. The Venturing scouts hold a position within each patrol as a member, but they are considered a mentor or Troop Guide for the patrol. They help the Patrol Leader learn the position, and help the others teach the newer scouts. Two meetings a month, they have a Venturing meeting that starts 45 minutes after the start of the Troop meeting to conduct Venturing business, assist one another in meeting their Eagle requirements, and assist each other as a sounding board for their Service Project planning. We have found that we have not only retained the vast majority of our older scouts, but they are more driven and help push one another to earn their Eagle. We have not only retained boys that are HS upperclassmen, but have drawn in boys who were wanting to finish their Eagle but no longer were excited or drawn to their original troop. Our Venturing crew now has 6 Eagle scouts in it that are HS graduates and 3 of those have a dual registration now as an Assistant Scoutmaster (despite being enrolled full time in local colleges). The crew also has 3 Eagles who are not yet 18 and have a dual registration with the troop.


From the outside, I have heard some comments about us having and Eagle mill. I would, however, stack any of our boys up with any other Eagle out there..... (I will mention that we now have 12 Assistant Scoutmasters...5 of them plus myself being Eagles.... plus a full committee and our troop/crew registration exceeds 50....)


Like I said, to respond to the OP's question.... (note: numbers here do not correspond to OP's numbers....)


1. Make sure you know the difference between an Eagle mill and a solid advancement program.

2. For a solid advancement program, it is anchored in the boys not only competing, but helping each other along the way.

3. An Eagle mill is almost entirely driven by parents. We have a few of those parents in our troop and we actually are working on slowing those boys down. They clearly do not learn the material and until they are able to teach it, they will have a hard time advancing through upper ranks.

4. Eagle mills will push hard on the merit badge universities. Go for a weekend and earn 4 or 5 merit badges.... I don't like them. What does the boy really learn?

5. Before making a judgement, look at the Service Projects that are turned out. Are they good projects? That will give you a clue.


....just my thoughts...

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There is a lot of talk about #of eagles, #advancements, MB earned

I dont have a problem with talking about those numbers at all.


I can say 95% of our First Class Scouts have made Eagle. Weve had 17 Eagles over the past 10 years, with about 5 more in stages of finishing projects / waiting on EBOR. I commonly would come back from summer camp to report the number of merit badges and advancements earned. Does that make us a mill? Of course not, it means Ive taken a few minutes to look at some numbers.


Now, if I start using that as a metric to improve upon thats a different story. Continuous improvement in specific areas should still be part of the upcoming goals for any unit. But adjusting program to affect the wrong goals even through good intention is what you need to keep an eye out for.


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The fact you state that 95% of your 1st Class boys makes Eagle, IMO, is a serious indicator your troop is indeed an Eagle mill, that percentage is way too high above the National average. I would seriously question your methodology, quality of program being delivered, the competency of your Eagles skills and knowledge. This scenario sounds like you are just pushing them through, seriously fudging on the requirements, and running a "classroom" troop.

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The fact you state that 95% of your 1st Class boys makes Eagle, IMO, is a serious indicator your troop is indeed an Eagle mill, that percentage is way too high above the National average.

Or it means we have an incredible quality troop. As usual, you jump to conclusions you know nothing about.


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In defense of the last poster if there is a national average then there are probably some programs that fall ahead or behind on the bell curve. It still begs the question at what point do become at Eagle Mill? Is just the number of Eagles?


If you produce a lot of Eagles but they are indeed qualified and knowledgeable could it be a good program, support systems, and opportunities.


In our case I think we had an excellent Life to Eagle coordinator who kept the older boys motivated and focused and that caused numbers to jump. Still I view it as a red flag for the program which is why I stopped lurking at this board and started participating. I think it is a slippery slope between facilitating opportunities for boys and becoming a mill.


I guess this is a well traveled road here about causes...program, easy advancements, MB classes, pushy parents, etc. And yes a lot of it lies at the feet of the adults in charge. Still I want to do the right thing and not throw a lot of obstacles unfairly in front of a boy if he is just following the system as it is.


The sad thing is my older son, who has a lot of disabilities has to work very hard to get to Eagle. I do not help him much and that makes it harder. He has had that as his goal since Tiger. However if he gets it Eagle will be a cheaper award than it once was...

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Well, if 95% of the First Class Scouts make Eagle, and you've had only 17 Eagles, then evidently you have a smaller troop than some. Works for me.


We just added our 150th Eagle earlier this year. We have about 90 scouts, and have been in existence for 45 years. From what I can tell (and I am new), it seems that most of the scouts who make Eagle are self-starters, active scouts and good students, yet, they almost always wait until the last minute to get that final rank. We don't award many palms.


After attending summer camp for the first time this year, I got a pretty good look at how other troops run their programs. I saw troops that were obviously adult-led (40 adults, 45 scouts -- only two new scouts attending), other troops that were very keen on the outdoor method, and some that practiced Tai Chi in the mornings.


All I can do is help my own troop. What other scout troops do concerns me very little, unless I think it will work in my program (and yes, I did learn some new methods).



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No, once again you confuse Quantity with Quality. More is not always better and your stats prove it must be a very easy journey to Eagle in your troop that almost all your boys receive the award. I still say any troop with 95% Eagles is doing a half hearted, substandard, low expectation, mill oriented program that does not truly meet BSA minimum standards. Then it is all about the quality of the troop leadership or lack thereof isn't it jts.

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BP, this is the last time Im going to bother responding to your childish statements.


The stat was 95% of Scouts that reach First Class make Eagle. That means, the bulk we lose are lost before they get to First class, the balance of the 5% have decided for whatever reasons that it wasnt for them. I dont really care how that filters down to you as an eagle mill.


As usual, you love spouting out national stats with no documentation. Care to provide one now for your statements?


Come spend a weekend camping with my unit. Come spend a month at meetings. Come sit through a PLC. Meet my Scouts and challenge them all you want. Until you put up, please shut up.


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BP...although 95% is high, it is possible to get a group over a given period of time that pushes the average. We are in that mode right now. There will be a slump later and i know which boys are more likely to not make it. However, success does foster success.

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