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Best of the best., finding the Eagle

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Maybe it would be a slightly better world if Beavah wrote a little more like he speaks, and I wrote a little less like I speak. :) In this forum, at least. When writing for "work" I write more formally than I do in this forum, and I suspect (and really hope) that Beavah does as well.

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I've heard (and I have no idea if this is true and and I'm not taking the time to research it) that Queen's Scouts in England use to (or maybe still do) have to test on all the scout skills just prior to earning the award. The testing is done by what I guess would be district or regional leaders, not the boys unit leaders. If BSA would ever get serious about making Eagle a rank representing true skill then a re-testing method like this would ensure the skills are mastered. I'd exchange the Eagle project for a thorough testing policy.


Imagine a SM needing to work with a Life scout for months preparing him for his final skills test at council. I could see a testing procedure similar to what I went through for my National Registry Paramedic license. Four hours of written tests followed by four hours of practical skills testing. All tests must be passes to be licensed or earn Eagle.


Testing could be done over a weekend at the local scout camp. And only Eagle Scouts can be evaluators.


Of course this would never happen.


(This message has been edited by Eagle732)

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Eagle732, this might surprise a person or two who think they have me pigeonholed into some "camp" when it comes to advancement, but I think that's a good idea.


Hopefully it would prompt units to include in their program opportunities for all Scouts to practice all their skills on a regular basis even after they "pass", so that the "months" of preparation immediately before the test would not be necessary. What I have found is that, with practice, the boys do not lose these skills regardless of whether they "passed" them a year ago or six years ago. We have a group of mostly Life Scouts that just came back from Philmont and I think almost all of them would be ready for your "Eagle test" right now, because they have had to retain or re-learn many outdoor skills for Philmont and other outdoor activities.


I also would not oppose re-testing in all other BOR's as well. It could be done cumulatively so by the time you get to Eagle, you are being re-tested on skills you have been re-tested on several times before.


I think this would be a better way of achieving what Eagledad is trying to achieve, and it does so without ripping one rank out of the advancement program. But neither of them are going to happen, at least not in my Scouting lifetime.

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Well it might happen.

I propose that the cost for the weekend testing be $200 (the same cost as a NYLT course). Of course all evaluators are volunteers that will actually pay for the privilege to test Eagles. So aside from the cost of food and some minor supplies this would be all profit for the council.

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While I am not sure how you would ensure that the weekends always work for candidates (just thinking logistics here) - some sort of a wilderness survival final exam for Eagles could be really good.


When I was Scoutmaster, when a Scout requested and Advancement SMC I would hand them my walking staff and tell them to come back with all appropriate knots tied on it and we would start their conference. I got concerned about adding to requirements, and instead started giving out prizes for camp gadgets that used every knot instead. I also implemented our annual "oops we forgot the tents" campout where everyone had to build their own shelters.

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"Scouts know the true leaders........Let them pick the true Eagles."


When we see "true" modifying something, as in "true freedom," "true democracy," or "true Eagles," we ought consider that maybe the source has in mind something other than the "true" meaning of the word they find so insufficient as to require "true" as a modifier. It is often so.


If one can achieve Eagle simply by meeting currently published standards, even if those standards are rigorously met, the field is open for nearly any boy among the hoi polloi to achieve the rank if he applies himself.


That doesn't sit well with folks who want Eagle to be an exclusive and lasting mark of superiority. They're not satisfied for Eagle to be a happy mark of boyhood achievement that many boys can achieve if they apply themselves. They want it to be a noble title that forever marks its wearer as above the common herd.


But if the "true Eagles" are truly "the best of the best." they won't need a boyhood title to carry them on to the great things they'll do as men. And they'll be above petty anxieties over the exclusivity of an achievement they achieved as boys.


Scouting is centered around the Oath and Law. A Tenderfoot Scout can and a First Class Scout should exemplify both as well as an Eagle Scout.


Outdoor skills? A First Class Scout who has earned the Camping Merit Badge has Eagle level outdoor skills.


Before we answer the question, "how could we guarantee Eagles were truly the person the general population expects from these scouts?" Maybe we should first ask: Who is this "general population?" How did we determine what it "truly expects?" Why should we "guarantee" what it "truly expects?"


And if "true Eagles" are the "best of the best."

That leaves a question... best at what? And whatever it is, why would we assume it's evenly distributed such that every troop includes scouts that merit the rank? What if there are no "true Eagles" in the troop? Allowing troops with no "true Eagles" to select Eagles by accident of demographics is no way to guarantee that all Eagles are "true Eagles."

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While I agree with a lot of the points made in this thread there are some that are getting to be just way off base.


The Eagle rank was never meant to be "the best of the best" or represent expert level outdoor and leadership skills. T21 are basic outdoor skills. So a scout doesnt have these basic skills then deal with it before awarding FC, dont wait until he is applying for Eagle rank. The leadership requirements are meant to give boys the opportunity to practice, develop, and demonstrate their leadership skills. The BSA is not awarding PM certifications as part of the Eagle rank (get over it). Personally Im grateful there are guidelines and an appeals process so that a boy doesnt have to measure up to some imagined threshold of ability.


The BSA already has a stringent National Outdoor Award. To earn this award scouts have to be extremely active in the outdoors (125 BSA nights camping). Additionally, they have to lead a crew on an outing, earn Wilderness Survival MB, Wilderness FA, and LNT Trainer. Im only scratching the surface of all the requirements; the point is they are significant.


While I do not hold Eagles in a lesser light for not earning this award, I do believe most are comfortable in the outdoors and recognize the limitations of their skills. Whats more important? An Eagle that knows how to navigate using a compass and can lead a crew on a hike OR an Eagle over his head in a class 4 rapid putting his life in danger and those that are there to try to bail him out. My point is that if the Eagle rank is the best of the best and expert level outdoor skills, where does it stop? How many of you Eagles measure up?


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Wow CC, that is a deep well thought out post.


I have one question;




I must say the discussion went a different direction than I expected. All I was suggesting was "What if we let the scouts pick eagles based from their experience with the scout?". Then I played the devils advocate to defend the idea. Maybe "what ifs" are best left to engineers.


I don't really think there is a problem to fix. Oh sure I would love to get rid of the silly no adding requirements and no retesting political correctness, but overall the system works. yes, I think there are some good ideas that could tune the system, but they have very little effect on the whole.


And I know Guy and his SM are going a direction they don't want to go, but in most cases like Guy's, the scout started off on the wrong foot and wasn't corrected in time. It happens, even the bible says wisdom comes at a price. I'm glad Guy is making the effort. He is a good man.


I do kind of like that weekend of testing idea. Um, that wouldn't be on a football weekend would it?



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I do kind of like that weekend of testing idea. Um, that wouldn't be on a football weekend would it?


No Barry, we've got it scheduled for mid-August.


Actually, for that idea to work, it would have to on the same schedule as peoples' birthdays, i.e. year-round. But I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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