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observed an EBoR, part 2

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Just in case you missed my earlier message :-), I sat in on an EBoR as an observer (in lieu of the SM, who is the candidate's father). At our district EBoRs, SM's are invited to sit and observe, and to answer any questions that might come up.

So, I didn't want these issues to cloud the earlier message, and I know these topics are somewhat "hot button" issues, but I just thought I would toss them out as observations. The board was being run by 3 adults, not in uniform :-), and I know one to be the district eagle board chair, who reviews all projects.


- chair poses a question like this: "since Eagle projects are required to have 'lasting value', what do you think about [your project]?" (if it makes a difference to your thoughts, the project was clearing a fire road in a state forest, and rebuilding a dilapidated bridge that fire trucks might use -- the Scout went well over his initial estimate of project hours). The Scout's answer included the fact that the prior bridge had been about 20 years old and he didn't see why the rebuilt bridge wouldn't last another 20, given that it had been done with pressure-treated wood.


- the board spent quite a bit of time concerning the candidates age. He just turned 14, and had a goal since he was very young, to be an Eagle Scout prior to the same age his dad earned Eagle (at age 14). While I can't quote the exact questions, they were along the lines of, "do you think you fully understand the nature of being an Eagle Scout at this age?" They pressed a little, I think, and eventually after some not very satisfying discussion (on both sides), the chair admitted that he thought the question was a rhetorical one.


- another major area they spent time on was with the candidate's merit badge totals. The kid is somewhat of an "achiever", and I first learned this when I heard he was looking to earn all Webelos activity badges. So shortly after joining the troop, along with becoming an Eagle by age 14, he also set a goal of earning all merit badges. As of last week, he has earned 103.


I have my own feelings about this situation, which I won't disclose (yet), but one question the board asked was "how many of those came from summer camp?" Since I've been with the Scout at summer camp the last two summers, I know for a fact that he has completed less than 4 at camp, and I think he has 3 partials from this year's camp (Climbing, Watersports and Horsemanship). All others have been earned outside of camp. None (!) have been earned at "Merit Badge University" type events. One merit badge, I think, was earned at a district "merit badge day", where Scouts could work on Safety, Auto Maintenance *or* one other merit badge I can't recall (and unless I'm mistaken, each one of them required work outside of the merit badge day).


Back to the EBoR, one panel member said "do you think you're getting anything out of all these merit badges?" I can't really quote the Scout's entire answer, but he held his ground pretty well. At one point, he said "well, I probably can't plumb an entire house, but I *can* fix a sink."


During the merit badge discussion, the chair basically asked the Scout "is that all you do, just work on merit badges, or what else do you do?" The Scout answered that he played (at school) baseball, basketball and soccer, and then added that he was also president of the math club. The chair gave him, in my opinion, a sort of sarcastic "you're not an 'A' personality, are you" retort.



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Sounds like a lot of judgmentalism going on with this Board of Review. Understandably, they weren't there and might want to get some feedback, but it can be done in such a way as to not question the boy's ethics and morals.


He did the work, what's the problem. Did he have a good time doing so? Was the effort worth it? With 4 more years of scouting, how are you going use what you've learned? etc.


This scout was in a no-win situation. If he sat on everything for 2 years to avoid the accusations of being too young, they would have grilled him on what he did to goof off for two years.


If 14 is too young, change the requirement, don't hassle the boys.



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Stosh -- I think you're dead on. Along the way, the board did mention that the vast majority of candidates they see are about to turn 18, or have already (two other Scouts from our troop also had their boards that same night, and both had already turned 18).


The chair did ask him about his plans after earning Eagle -- I do know his plans, but he didn't do really well articulating them. He's off to Philmont next summer, he's just been inducted into the OA, and he is set on earning the national outdoors awards and the Hornaday award. That should take him a good three years or so :-).


My impression of this Scout, during his board, was one of exuberance. The answers, and excitement, were pretty much bursting out of him. Overall, I thought the tone of the questioning was kind of negative, and I was sitting there wondering why they would question an exuberant Scout with that tone.



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Just to be clear: Eagle projects do not have to provide lasting value. From the new GTA: Addressing Common Misconceptions


1. No unit, district, council, or individual shall place

any requirement or other arbitrary standard on the

number of hours spent on a project. The Boy Scouts

of America is concerned with hours worked on

Eagle Scout service projects and collects this data

only because it points to a level of excellence in

achievement the BSA aim related to citizenship.


2. Eagle Scout service projects are individual matters.

No more than one candidate may receive credit for

working on the same project.


3. There is no requirement a project must have

lasting value.

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I've seen this all too often, in fact, I know one member of our District's EBOR team that basically will not sit on a board for anyone under 15. It's a sad state ... then I told him that I got mine when I was 14, I thought he was about to faint (and that will be 40 years ago next May).


I think the Chair of this committee needs to do a bit more sorting and culling of his EBOR members -- just like we do.


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WOW. I thought I had a tough EBOR with the DAC asking me "what if we told you that you didn't make Eagle?" after what I thought was a good EBOR and being sent outside for the EBOR to consider. (His problem was that HE didn't approve my project since the project was completed 4 years earlier, but I digress).


While I can see some legitimacy to asking where he got his MBs from, who his councilors were, and what he thought about them and the MBs (for me that's quality control of the MB program, not meant to insult the Scout), but if the attitude and tone was condescending, that is wrong and inappropriate.


Now my concern for Scout is this: IS THE SCOUT HAVING FUN? (caps for emphasis).


You probably remember my history, Eagle Cousin and "Double Eagle" Uncle put some pressure on me to get Eagle young. I chose the longer, more fun trail ;) . I just hope that A) no one pressured him to get it by 14, B) no one is pressuring to get the Hornaday and National Outdoor Awards, C) he is giving back to scouting by mentoring the younger scouts, and D) he's having fun.


Ok off the soapbox


EDITED: Bneleon reminded me, when was "lasting value" a part of the process? My project had none, only a temporary one making children in the hospital a little happier for Christmas. Best IMHO, hardest working, long term planning, and overall most difficult project one of my Eagles was a complete failure in the long term. He tried to reforest a swamp, spent a year planning, fundraising, organizing, etc, only to have some nutria eat up all the saplings, despite the nutria guards he built ber USDA specs. 6 months after his EBOR, 9-12 months after completing the project, all of the trees were gone.(This message has been edited by eagle92)

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"lasting value" -- first time I heard something strange was at a "Life to Eagle Seminar" in a different district, not this one. The presenter said, "we like to see projects that have lasting value". Same district made no bones about getting around the "no required amount of time on an Eagle project" by saying "there is no required number of minimum hours, but we like to see about 100 hours".


Anyway, fast forward to today. I'd read the section of the new G2A, and had made a mental note of the "projects are not required to have lasting value" part. I'm pretty sure this advancement committee was in the process of digesting the new guide anyway. It will be interesting to see how that pans out. I'm tempted to take my older son to the "Life to Eagle Seminar" next month, and see how they are addressing some of these issues, and some of the changes.


BTW, while I haven't see this directly, I've heard reports that when approving projects, these guys are very much the sticklers in certain areas, including materials lists and fundraising details. I'm sure this new project workbook is going to affect their process.


Eagle92 -- there's no pressure. Dad is supportive, of course, but in no way is he pressuring the Scout. Fun? In my opinion, this Scout is definitely wired that achieving is fun. He likes the idea that so few Scouts ever earn the Hornaday award, for example, and it makes him want to do it all that much more.



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Another thought -- re: mentoring younger Scouts. This Scout's PoRs include being a Den Chief, an Instructor and (now) a PL. I don't think he was quite ready to be a PL last year, but when a bunch of Scouts were transitioning in this last June, we thought he was the best candidate for taking on a new Scout patrol, some of whom were in a den where he was a den chief. He's on virtually every outing, and this year was at both of our summer camp weeks.


In other words, I think he's doing just fine in that regard. Since this is all self-regulated, I don't see him burning out any time soon :-).

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I don't think the adults in that room acted in a very scout like manner. What's wrong with a kid having a goal? What's wrong with a boy being an "achiever"? What's wrong with a boy that is applying himself and met all the requirements by age 14??? There's NOWHERE in the rules that says there's a minimum age for eagle.


My kid only has about 4 or 5 webelos pins to go before he gets all 20 (he crosses over in March). Would these people imply that my kid has nothing else going on his life? Would they dare imply that he's an overachiever? (as if that is a bad thing). Would they imply my kid is just ticking off tasks and not really getting into the true meaning of scouting?


If that had been my kid at that BoR I would have had a thing or two to say to those people afterwards. It smacked of a condescending attitude towards a boy that worked hard, did all his work, and now wants recognized. What's the problem? Did he achieve more than you did at his age? Or is it that your kid didn't make it until he was 17.99 years old so you think no one else could?


PS: the "you" in my last sentence is not YOU, it's a general "you" towards the people sitting on that BoR.

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If they grill everyone in a similar manner, I am partially appeased. Grill the 18 year old who got his info in on time, the 16 year old who drops out every fall for football, or the 14 year old for rushing it. Make it a growing experience for the boy.


However, taking your bias into the room to that level for a boy that is going that hard? Why do it other than to hear yourself speak?


Bravo to the Scout.

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2CubsMom - when you do get up to Boy Scouts hopefully you will learn to bring your mama bear insticts into check.. When a Scout is at his Eagle Board it is similar to a job interview.. He may get a nice interveiw, or a tough unfair one.. But mama can not jump into the job interview and protect him from it.. Same with an Eagle Board.


I would hope this guys were impressed that this scout stood his ground... But had anyone stepped in and fought his battle for him, it would have not spoken well for him..


Congradulations to the new Eagle!

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Wow! The style and line of questioning reminds me of my Eagle board in '77...uncanny!


EBORs do not always include a bunch of softballs lobbed in a perfect arc over home plate.


The scout was prepared--kudos to him, his parents and troop leadership!


Be it questions or board member attire, the candidate should be ready for anything--and to the credit of the vast majority of candidates, they conduct themselves admirably, whether the board is a friendly one or not.


Sounds like this board wanted to put the scout thru the paces. Yes, it makes for a challenging evening for scout and scouter alike.


But the new Eagle will value passing such a board all the more.


The board is looking for poise (grace under fire), the ability to articulate thoughts, and honesty.


I concur with Moosetracker's thoughts...well said.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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moosetracker: I'm not the helicopter type. I will definitely not be attending my child's college (or job) interviews with him nor will I be calling his college professors if I think he didn't get graded fairly. I don't even do that now if he is having differences of opinions with his elementary school teachers or coaches or sunday school teachers.


However, while I expect the BoR to thoroughly test my child's knowledge and skills, I do not expect a BoR to be condescending and/or insulting. And those types of questions are condescending at best and insulting at worst.


That child's mother should be extremely proud of her son. He handled a tough situation with grace and he deserves every single feather of that Eagle rank.



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There are some odd questions here, for sure.


The lasting value question is based on a false assumption. The age question seems irrelevant, and certainly a bit unusual to be asking the Scout.


Most of the merit badge questions seem fine, but it would depend a lot on the way they were asked. Asking about how many were earned at summer camp seems ok, and asking what he's getting out of it also seems fine. That could be part of a conversation that was encouraging, or it could be said in a tone of innuendo.


The Scout sounds like he did well, and at any rate, the real question would be whether the board approved the application. If it's just a matter of what questions they asked, I don't think this would be a big deal. If they are actually turning down applications for one of those reasons, that would be a whole different kettle of fish.

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