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Age doesn't matter........

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I hate to come across as negative, and I am not there to judge first hand, but I am very skeptical of thirteen year old eagle scouts. Certainly the young man's ambition and drive are to be applauded, but I doubt that he has gotten the maximum benefit out of his experience to date. What will he do next? I am reminded of the attitude exhibited by some scouters and scouts on the trail who treat each leg of a trek as a race to the next camp site. They miss a great deal along the way. Ask them what they have observed or passed through and they give you a blank look. Hopefully your thirteen year old will be able to really appreciate what he has done.

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The minimum time for an eagle scout, as the previous poster pointed out, is about 2 years. 1 month for tenderfoot (physical fitness requirement), 4 months for star, 6 months for life, and 6 months for eagle. The last three all require leadership positions lasting the 4 or 6 months.


Did this young man learn how to be a leader, or did his parents (or others) just sign off on papers. There are too many units that want to be "Eagle Mills" and produce boys that have not learned the true meaning of scouting. Do you remember your Basic Training (Boy or Cub) and the characteristics of a boy at certain ages? Before you congratulate him, think about where he is at in his maturity.


We, as leaders, should be showing them it is not how fast you can tie a bowline, but how you can learn to teach someone else.


It is not the number of campouts you have been on, but learning to enjoy nature, and how to conserve our planet.


Remember what BP said - "Scouting is fun with a purpose". That purpse is to develop a well rounded citizen, who is able to lead others, and cares about everything around him.


As for age, I think the numbers show that few scouts who reach 16 without making eagle, rarely make it. The aroma of gasoline and perfume seem to shut off the scout and turn on a monster. Do not think I believe we should either give up or ignore the older boy. That is when our Varsity and Venture programs come in.

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I would offer my congratulations to the young man for a job well done.


But now I offer my personal experience. I served as District Advancement Chair in my district for three years, some time ago. In that time, I only came across two boys at Boards of Review who were up for Eagle at this age. One was quite an extraordinary young man, and having followed his progress after attaining Eagle, just out of curiousity, he was quite capable of staying active in his troop and performing at the level an Eagle should. A remarkable young fellow. The other, unfortunately, found that the pinnacle had been reached, and there was nothing left to do. He was somewhat burned out with merit badges, and had no incentive to earn any palms, as the first did. He eventually left Scouting for other interests as he "matured".


The rest of the young men I came to know through this process were, almost to a boy, aged 16 or over, with a couple at 15. During the Boards of Review, it became quite apparent to me that there was a vast difference in how the older boys attacked their goal, and what attaining it meant to them. While the younger boys were certainly happy with achieving the goal, their interviews presented a far different character as an Eagle. This is not to say that I think 13 is too young, although I might. But, by the book, it is possible to get there.


And, although I would never advocate or suggest an age limit for Eagle, as that would be against the rules of the BSA, I do feel that most boys don't truly come to the full realization and appreciation for the goal, the process, and the leadership learned along the way, until they're a little older than 13, say 15-16. And, then again, I've met many a boy who reached 18, and still had little clue about leadership and what the Eagle really should mean to them.


But, this is not to take away from the young man presented to us above. I wish him well, and continued success in Scouting.

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I agree with jmcquillan. 13 is very young, but it's not impossible to get there...And get there with honor. About three years ago, I had the good fortune to meet NASA astronaut Joe Tanner. He achieved eagle at 14. It didn't seem to adversely affect him. Great guy...First astronaut to carry a bible into space (that alone made me like him). By the way, here's a NASA astronaut and guess what...The guy is carrying around his eagle card in his wallet. That should tell your boys something about the achievement.


My feelings about boys "racing" for eagle is this...Don't snuff the fire out. Encourage them. I'm not saying let them slip by, or sign off on requirements not met...I'm saying if they have their eyes set on this goal, feed the fire. Add some parental approval and a little guidance from the adult leadership; I think more boys make it than don't. Conversely, telling boys to slow down is not always the best advice. In fact, sometimes this advice simply brings their efforts to a stop.


One last comment...I feel better about the boys achieving eagle at 14 and 15 (even 13) than the ones that suddenly become active at 17.5 and earn six badges in six months.


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I heartily agree with jmquillan. There are the few exceptional young men (and for that matter young ladies) that show exemplillary (sp) personal conduct, responsibility, leadership, and citizenship that deserve every recognition possible.


The sad truth is that this is the exception, not the rule. Living in an area with 4 troops (2 mormon, 2 non-mormon church sponsored), I have seen several questionalble eagles. There conduct in the community, and obvious "paperwork problems" (feel free to read EVERYTHING into this) has caused a number of boys to quit scouting because of the lack of values shown by some leaders.


Assuming the lad you mentioned is of the high character you suggest, I too laud him. I have never asked a boy to "slow down", just the reverse, encouraging him all the way.


In my Webelos den, we will bridge in November, 6 months after the boys finish 4th grade. They have all earned compass emblems and points, 75% have earned the cubscout "World Conservation Crest". THe only thing that may inhibit their promotion as a den is 2 boys who have not visited a scout camp. If the boys do not all accomplish all 20 Activity badges, it will be because of lack of parental involvement in the "Family" badges (Travel and Family Member".


2 of these young men have strong opportunities to reach eagle at an early age because they desire it. THe others will work at it, and probably make it at about 16 (I hope). I will do nothing to discourage them, however I will do my best to instill in them the things I have learned as an adult scouter and from wood badge (Eagle, W5-638-00).


My biggest concern will always be with "paper eagles". The young men I have seen from the mormon troops have great difficulty in seperating their religion and religious activity from Boy Scouts. Too them there is no differance between the "Young Mens Quorum" and their troop. This became obvious to me after sitting on 2 eagle boards.


Some of the things I have heard from parents include - No driver's license/hunting license/varsity sports until you attain your eagle. What is their motivation?



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Mom, Dad, and sister worked really hard on the project along with an few church members and very few (count them on one hand) scouts. If it were not for a call from his mom on one Saturday, asking me to bring my boy and any friends he could, there would have been no scouts that day. Guess he is getting bogged down in the paperwork now so he will probably be 13 and a few months before its all over. He turns 13 in under a month. I think she was shooting for 12. Don't think he'd get much done on his own, but he is a boy of good character. I think there is much to be gained from maturity and that, frequently although not always, comes from a little age.

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The most recent post by yarrow seems to reconfirm concerns expressed by some, self included, about extremely young eagles. It is certainly true that behind every eagle stands a supportive family. Eagle is not intended to be easy. That was true of my middle son who pushed the envelope at the other end of the age spectrum.


In another thread I expressed concern about scouts pushing membership age ever younger. I still have that concern, and would go so far as to suggest a minimum age for eagle. Age cutoffs are inherently arbitrary. Scouting is no different than society at large in this regard. We have minimum ages for drinking, voting, and driving. The fact that some are capable of handling the responsibility of driving earlier than the minimum age, and just as many never handle their automobiles responsibly at any age, is not an argument against an age criterion.


In my mind the real test for the eagle rank is in the service project which requires a higher level of organizational skill. If mom is making all the calls to round up the requisite volunteers, can it be fairly said that the boy is executing the project in a manner consistent with the intent of requirement? There is a difference between parental prodding and assisting, and parental dominance to the point of taking over responsibility for a project (if that is truly what happened).

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As eisley has pointed out, what has this boy done to earn his eagle?


The last eagle board I know that was NOT successful by the boy, was one where the PARENTS did all the work, and the boy did almost nothing of the project.


The project is a time for the BOY to show leadership. The BOY is to be the one calling, organizing, etcetera. If the mom and dad did the work, I do not believe the boy earned his badge.


Yarrow - "Mom, Dad, and sister worked really hard on the project along with an few church members and very few (count them on one hand) scouts. If it were not for a call from his mom on one Saturday, asking me to bring my boy and any friends he could, there would have been no scouts that day."


As for the paperwork, that is going to be a lifetime thing, and he needs to learn to take RESPONSIBILITY for anything that needs done.


"Guess he is getting bogged down in the paperwork "


If he cannot get it done on his own, is he ready for Eagle? Is not part of the Eagle showing initiative, responsibility, and the ability to lead?


"Don't think he'd get much done on his own"


Is that not supposed to be a characteristic of all scouts?


"but he is a boy of good character."


With this you have hit the nail on the head. He needs more age under his belt to truely earn the Eagle. Just because you can somehow complete all the requirements does not mean your have really earned it.


As a Hunter Education Instructor, I have had several students "pass" the written test, only to show their lack of accomplishment with their attitude. They failed the class until they can get some maturity. It sounds like this young man needs the same.


"I think there is much to be gained from maturity and that, frequently although not always, comes from a little age"


Paul Johnson

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I have to agree with the last couple of threads by eisley and Tiny1pg. There are exceptional 12 year olds out there, but they have to be really exceptional to make Eagle. It is possible, but rare, and reading about the mom making calls and less than one handful of scouts available makes me wonder who is doing the service project and where is the leadership demonstrated in getting his fellow scouts to complete a project of service to others? There is more to life than scouting, even though it doesn't feel like it at times. What has this boy done other than scouts to get this far in two years, or has it been some type of tunnel visioned quest?


The age aspect has been a topic of argument for longer than I can remember. I know National wanted to speed up the Tenderfoot to First class process to one year because someone's study showed boys stayed in Boy scouts longer if they make it to First Class. If you look at the program, the emphasis is not in making each scout an Eagle, but a First Class scout.


I was always a fan of minimum time requirements and just answered a survey on the subject a couple of weeks ago. There was a time when you had to be active in your troop for each rank, and you couldn't start on the next rank until you completed the one before. I don't think the scout really learns the tasks because they are naturally progressive. I've seen too many Life scouts not remembering how to tie any knot other than the square knot. That can be the fault of leadership, but I think working on one rank at a time would enable the scout to enjoy his progression more. You have to remember that advancement is only one of the methods to Scouting. Too many units put the emphasis on the rank as a goal and not what the scout learns on the way. It been too much of "Let's work on this requirement now. Okay, you've done it, where's your book?" The idea is supposed to be an observation of the scout over time to see if he truly knows the task not checking off his book like Cub Scouts.


I have a couple of Scout who are twelve and they have a goal of achieving Eagle eventually. Right now there goal is achieving Star by 15, but they are knocking on that door now and they probably will have their Eagle before 15. I encourage the ones who are zooming along and I might mention things to the slow ones, but not push it. It has to be their goal and their motivation. I used to hear about those parents who told their son's that they couldn't get their license until they finished there Eagle. I thought it was one of those old scouting tales, but I've seen it actually happen a few times. That may be why, as an Eagle myself, I don't push the award. It's the self motivation and desire, in addition to serving others, that I feel a true Eagle must have to earn this award and not just the safisfaction of requirements. Just my two cent.

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If I have said this before, I apologize for the redundency.


Remember the words of BP - "Scouting is FUN with a PURPOSE".


1 - What is the fun? That is the outdoor activities we get the boys involved in. Scouting uses outdoor skills and activities as a method of developing boys into productive young men.


2 - What is the PURPOSE? Teamwork, leadership, citizenship, etc. It is not learning to tie any of the many knots out there. They are just a tool. I could probably teach a monkey to tie most of the knots we use, but what would be the purpose? In my Webelos Den and in my Troop, I have always let the boys know that there is more to the activity than just fun. Have fun, but LEARN from the activity.


If I learned anything at Wood Badge, it was that the task of learning the knots (or whatever) was not the point of the exercise. It was getting everyone involved and being a team.


Paul Johnson

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well I guess he worked out all the paperwork. I have been invited to the Eagle Ceremony the second weekend of July. Wish I felt better about his ability. Guess the council must. Nice kid really, cheerful and polite. I know he will stay in scouting, his mom wants all the merit badges, so there is still time to grow into this award. I think he turned 13 in June.

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