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Obtaining Letters of Recommendation: Nationals View

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Can someone explain to me what National expects as far as obtaining Letters of Recommendation for Eagle Scout BORs? I understand the application only requires the scout to list names & contact info for references. Nothing is mentioned about obtaining letters. Our District, like many, required the scout / scoutmaster to collect letters from these references for presentation to the Eagle board. I do understand this is "adding to the requirements for Eagle", but it has been done that way with no complaints as long as I have been involved (11 years).


In our area, all the District members (including advancement chairs and board of review members) are all scouter volunteers. We have two council level paid employees who work with District, but generally only on the fundraising level, and not with advancement. I have never seen one at a BOR.


So who is not doing their job? Either National does not expect the refences to be contacted, in which case why list them. OR, National expects the unpaid volunteers to chase down 6 references x N Eagle scout candidates every month and get reference letters / input (its not going to be me). OR, National expects someone who is paid by the scouting organization to do that part for us volunteers. What is the expectation?

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There seems to be an element of 'local option' for this. In this council the boys only list the references. It is left to the council to contact those references for letters, if they so choose. So far, I have never seen one of those references contacted (I've been directly involved with about 50 or so Eagle candidates).


BUT, I have read elsewhere in these threads accounts in which local councils (maybe districts) do ask the boys to provide letters up front. I'm guessing that the reasons also vary from locality to locality.

That said, the way I interpret it (and this is one of those things on which I agree with the council) is that the letters are not required up front...just references, as stated fairly clearly on the application.

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I think it varies by Council/District. I recently sat on an EBOR as the "District Guy", and the CC was about to cancel it because one of the 6 letters he had requested had not come in. I had to explain that, while letters are nice for the Board to read, there was no requirement to actually have them in hand, and we would just "go with what we got". He was relieved, and a very deserving young man was awarded the Eagle. SO, that's what we do. We "go with what we got", whether it's 6 letter, or 4 or 1 or...zero. After the EBOR, the letters are shredded, so National never knows if they were received, or not. They just look to see if all the blank lines are filled in on the Eagle App. In my experience the letters are just fluff anyway and if they do anything, they provide further information that the Board can use to formulate questions. In 20+ years, I have never seen a negative letter.


I just reread your question. THere are 2 ways to do EBOR. District/Council run, or Unit run, with a District rep present. We do the latter, and the EBOR is chaired by the unit CC, who is expected to contact the references. In NO case is the Scout supposed to collect the letters or even see them.(This message has been edited by papadaddy)

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The Way it works here:

The Scout hands or mails requests for letters of reference to people that he, the Scout selects. There are suggestions like Teacher, Minister, employer. I, the Scoutmonster, write one. A stamped envelope adressed to the Scoutmaster is included. I, the Scoutmaster, then gather the letters, the application, and the project notebook, and had carry them to the Council office (I could mail them, but I don't.) I get together with the registrar, who goes over the advancement record as it appears on their computer, the paperwork that I brought, and approves it, or tells me what needs to be fixed. Then she sends some of the stuff to National and when they say okay, she sends other stuff to the District advancement chair. The an Eagle BoR takes place, and when they say OKAY! we can schedule an Eagle CoH.

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Jay K,


Our process here is very similar except the legwork is usually done by the advancement person or an adult volunteer acting as "eagle coordinator" for the troop if it is a large troop.


One thing you say puzzles me. The eagle application is the primary paper work that goes to national AFTER it is signed by the BOR chair and the scout executive. Your description of the process has the paper work going into national before the EBOR.

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Let me ask a related question regarding the utility of this process: Is anyone aware of a scout, who otherwise appeared qualified for Eagle, who was turned down at his EBOR because of adverse information received from a reference?


Yes. :(


More often, though, whomever is gettin' the references realizes there's an issue and alerts the SM, and then things are delayed so the lad can go and do the work required to repair a relationship of trust.


Da utility from my perspective sittin' on EBORs is that it gives yeh insight into the lad from multiple perspectives, and can lead into good EBOR conversations. After all, by Eagle we do want a boy to live by da Oath and Law in his "everyday life" and the letters are deliberately designed to represent most of da various pieces of a lad's everyday life - family, church, school, employer, coach/director, peer, etc.


I think da most common thing across councils is to have boys request da references with a form and a stamped addressed envelope, and then for someone at the district or unit to collect and call/follow up as needed. I think da norm is also to wait on a board until at least most are in, or to otherwise expect the lad to deliver the request with enough time to get 'em in. ;) Lots of local variation in da particulars, though.




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To answer the OP's question with wording from National itself, see below. Note that as others have said, different Councils operate differently and your mileage may vary.


From the "Guide to Advancement - 2011":

--------------------------------------- References Contacted


Council advancement committee membersor others

designatedcontact the references appearing on the

Eagle Scout application. This may be done by letter,

form, or phone call. For reasons of privacy and

confi dentiality, electronic submissions are discouraged.

It is acceptable to send or deliver to the references an

addressed envelope with instructions, and perhaps a

form to complete. The Scout may assist with this, but that

is the limit of his participation. He is not to be responsible

for follow-through or any other aspect of the process.


It is up to the councils designated representatives to

make every effort to collect the responses. If after a

reasonable effort no response can be obtained from any

references, the board of review must go on without them.

It may not be postponed or denied for this reason, and

the Scout may not be asked to submit additional

references or to provide replacements.


Completed reference responses of any kind are the

property of the council and are confi dential, and only

review-board members and those offi cials with a specifi c

need may see them. The responses are not to be viewed

by, or returned to, the Scout. Doing so could discourage

the submission of negative information. For the same

reason, those providing references shall not be given

the option of waiving confi dentiality. Once a review has

been held, or an appeal process conducted, responses

shall be returned to the council, where they will be

destroyed after the Eagle Scout credentials are released

or the appeal is concluded.




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So, given the responses received, and the "official" stance by National in the Advancement Guide, It seems like no one is doing it the way National intended (collection / organization of the letters at the Council level). In all cases, it has been pushed down to either district, the troop, or the scout.


It does seem like everyone is following the lack of letters cannot bar a BOR stance, which is good. It still bothers me that we get so little support (other than paperwork filing) from our Council reps.

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Yes. One EBOR turned bad because of a letter from the Scout's sister praising him for taking responsibility for his out-of-wedlock child. Were it not for the letter, no one would have been the wiser. Turns out the scout (over 18 at the time of the EBOR) was "living in sin" with his girlfriend and baby under her parents' roof. Well, the troop committee members were LIVID at the SM for blindsiding them, and for the "morally straight" issue. The SM didn't think it was worth mentioning prior to the EBOR. There was a secret ballot and the vote was negative (must be unanimous). Scout appealed to Council and another EBOR was held at the Council level and the Eagle was awarded. Boys will be boys, eh? Like I said in a previous post, the letter was not "negative" and the sister thought he was a FINE example of an Eagle Scout. A little conversation between the SM and CC prior to the EBOR would have saved a lot of angst.

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