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sctmom

Hurry up and get it done?

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I have read many of the discussions about very young Eagle scouts, the reasons behind it and the effects of it.

 

My 10 year old son made a comment this weekend that makes me stop and think about the message he is receiving from me and all of society. He will be crossing over to Boy Scouts in March. We were talking about Boy Scout merit badges and I mentioned that at first you focus more on the rank advancements than on merit badges. His response was "I want to work on the merit badges first and then I can finish quicker."

 

Yes, I immediately talked about how the important thing is being involved in Scouts, not "finishing quicker". It reminded me of his 9 year old friend last year who said "when I get my Eagle, I'm quitting."

 

I know some of what they said is based on not understanding the process of becoming an Eagle. Yet, it really shows that many boys go into scouting with this attitude of "got to finish first and then move on."

 

It seems as though this is a much bigger issue than just parents wanting an Eagle or troop leaders wanting an Eagle factory. The boys are learning this early in life and from many directions.

 

I'm asking myself "how do we deal with this as parents, scout leaders and citizens?"

 

Any comments?

 

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I would be more upset with the kid who says "After I become Eagle, I'm quitting" than the boy who wants to get to Eagle in a hurry. These two boys do not necessarily share the "same story". The first boy doesn't seem to be enjoying himselfor at least, it appears as if he's not expecting to have any fun while on the trail to Eagle. Otherwise, why would he want to quit as soon as he achieves Eagle? As for the second boy (your son), I wouldn't be overly concerned. Of course, it's not a race. Surely everyone agrees with that statement and I'm not the exception. However, I think it needs to be said that some boys are extremely goal oriented. It's also natural for many boys to be competitive. It's not that I'm condoning it, but I'm not disturbed by it either. I would explain to my son that it's the knowledge you gain that's valuable (not so much the badge)as you did with yours. However, I wouldn't try to slow him down unless I thought he wasn't gaining that knowledge (associated with the particular rank or badge). My son will probably become an Eagle at an early age (14), but I'm confident that he will remain with his Troop until he turns 18. He enjoys Scouting. It's not all about beating out the other guy.

 

There's another beast within Scouting that is not talked about nearly as much. While everyone agrees that racing to become Eagle at an early age is not a wise pursuit, few Scouters complain about the boy who achieves Eagle just prior to his 18th birthday. To me, this is a more common and uglier problem. Why? Because Scout, Scouters, and counselors are all under pressure to make it happen. Very often, this means that the Scout takes shortcuts, counselors permit shoddy work, and Scouters look the other way. No one wants to tell the boywho is nearly 18, has been active in the Troop for six plus years, and is liked by allthat he waited too long. But this is usually the truth. Sadder still, many of these boys are counting on the counselors and Scouters to be accommodating, even if it means lowering standards (all the more reason the Scout is not worthy of the honor). It's hard to sympathize with a boy who wants to get Eagle before he turns 18. Nevertheless, a boy must learn to live with his choices in life. Obtaining Eagle is very do-able if a Scout so chooses to pursue it. If he waits too long, then he may come up short. We should not lower standards or over look any requirement in order to make it happen.

 

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One typo...

 

I meant to say - "It's hard not to sympathize with a boy who wants to get Eagle before he turns 18."

 

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While it is sad to see an 18 year old wait too long and I would hope standards would not be lowered, still everyones Eagle is different. Some boys have astonishing projects showing great leadership and others Mom did, usually although not always a younger boy. I think there is a higher likelyhood that the boy will complete their project without prompting and excessive guidance and appreciate and be more proud of their work IF we let these boys mature in their rank and not push. Sometimes I think it's less of a case of slowing down the scout as slowing down the parent.

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