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Beavah

The Meaning of Eagle Scout

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Not always obvious. I once observed a rather experienced but shy scout who had the fire making instruction and testing station at a Scout Wilderness Survival campout. A younger scout was frustrated struggling with using the flint and steel to make a fire. The older scout was very patient, watched him carefully, and then placed his hand on the boys to show him the right pressure and angle to do it. And the younger boy did it right after that. I saw this scout work patiently with boy after boy. If I wasn't watching carefully I would have never caught it.

 

Fast forward four years later I see that younger scout using the same hands on technique with some newbies. So I say the older scout showed leadership.

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Yah, hmmm....

 

Interestin' conversation.  

 

I confess I like da Troop Vote idea.  Maybe even ask the boys to write a brief reason for their vote.   The boys see the behavior of other boys when no adults are watching, eh?

 

No reason why the lad can't ask for a Troop Vote as soon as he gets Life, eh?   Then one of two things will happen.  The boys will affirm their confidence in him, or the lad will learn that he's got some work to do.  I think that sort of feedback would be powerful.  Troop Votes would be good for only 6 months or so, eh?  It should be how you're showin' Scout Spirit now, not how yeh showed Scout Spirit once upon a time.

 

 

If there are disciplinary issues and if the scout is not living by the scout oath and law, then that's another matter, but as long as the scout meets the requirements, and challenges, that have been put before him, then why try to hold them back or deprive them of what they've rightfully earned.

 

I think @@SSF captured da spirit of what I'm talkin' about best.    My view is pretty similar to @@Venividi's and many others.  Eagle isn't somethin' yeh get for just not doing bad things that require you to be disciplined.   It's recognition for goin' out of your way to do good things, at some personal cost in terms of time, effort, etc.  Eagle Scout represents positive character, not da absence of negative character.  For me at least.  Put another way, just because yeh weren't expelled doesn't mean yeh should be in da National Honor Society.  I view Eagle Scout more like bein' in da National Honor Society than bein' a fellow who just barely graduated by fulfillin' the minimum credit requirements.

 

Maybe that's where we're gettin' confused, eh?  Cub Scoutin' creeps into Boy Scoutin' all the time, and in Cub Scoutin' the awards line up with grade levels.   Cub Scout awards are more like "graduating" from the 3rd to the 4th grade. We adopted a bit of that mentality with First Class First Year, eh?   Turned it more into a time-based graduation sort of thing rather than a skills-based award boys pursue at their own pace.

 

Maybe we should have some sort of "graduation" certificate in Scoutin' that represents doin' all da requirements.  Once-and-done, checked da box, no adding, pretty much everybody on the same timetable, no character or other "subjective" evaluation required, yeh can pass with a "D" grade.  Then we could use Eagle (or some other awards) to recognize the boys who really represent "Eagle Scout" to most of us.  There'd be less confusion.

 

I confess I feel a bit sorry for boys who never get any sort of subjective evaluation or feedback as youth, eh?  Seems like they'd be handicapped in life, since every evaluation they'll ever experience from here on out will have a subjective component.  College admissions, military promotions, job interviews, work evaluations, assessment of their papers and presentations, etc.   Character, commitment, and ability — whether others view you as Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful and Competent— those are the things that are goin' to matter da most to a boy's future.

 

Beavah

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Leadership is a very interesting concept.

 

Most people have a preconceived notion of a leader (and not all the same).

 

Some leaders are take charge, here is what we are going to do, and "follow me boys" types.

 

Some leaders are great organizers and planners, but not necessarily extroverts.

 

Some leaders are hidden behind the scenes.  Empowering those under their direction to grow and succeed.  They are often missed because they don't sing their own accolades.

 

Some leaders might not work well in a large or even small groups, but they mentor and teach another person very well.

 

Some leaders are even more quiet.  They don't tell, they don't direct, but they lead by a steady example of the right thing to do.

 

It is this spectrum of leadership that is populated with many of our Eagle scouts, and many times, you may not even know.

Edited by gumbymaster
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Sounds like we agree that the picture of an Eagle as leader does not have to be the Norman Rockwell painting that so many parents may have in their mind.

 

d8a9f6911f02bd4642c516a80882afea.jpg

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One of the most interesting courses I took in my professional career is Situational Leadership.  I learned a lot about myself and a lot about leadership in that course.  In a nutshell, there are several types of leadership style - from close to micro-managing to an almost completely hands-off approach.  Which style you need to use varies by the person and the situation.  For example, a new hire may need very specific directions, and lots of guidance.  On the other hand, if you try to give an expert on a topic step by step directions on how he needs to get the work done, he's likely to hate it.

 

I learned that I was avoiding that style, because at some point I had a manager who was using that style with me when I was the expert who didn't need that level of guidance.  Yet I had employees who were new to my company who probably were frustrated by my more hands-off approach.

 

Leadership is definitely a complicated topic, and as gumbymaster pointed out there is a wide spectrum of natural leadership styles.  The best leaders can use methods that fall outside of their style when the situation warrants it.  The worst leaders try to force their subordinates to accommodate their personal style.

Edited by meyerc13
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Sounds like we agree that the picture of an Eagle as leader does not have to be the Norman Rockwell painting that so many parents may have in their mind.

 

d8a9f6911f02bd4642c516a80882afea.jpg

 

Is that a Rockwell illustration?

 

FYI, leadership was NOT a requirement for Eagle until the 1958 changes. Advancement and Leadership were two separate tracks in Boy Scouts from 1910 to 1958. I think Rockwell felt that scout leadership was separate from rank.

 

Here is Rockwell's 1959 Tomorrow's Leader. Note scout's rank is not shown, though the First Class rank is clearly in background.

 

r1959.jpg

 

In Rockwell illustrations, a Boy Scout's rank is rarely shown but when it is, First Class is most common.

 

Here is Rockwell's 1966 Growth of a Leader, note the Boy Scout has no rank badge.

 

r1966.jpg

 

Rockwell's 1965 A Great Moment

 

r1965.jpg

 

http://www.troop97.net/bsaeagle.htm

http://www.scouters.us/artist.html

http://www.bsamuseum.org/FineArt/Norman-Rockwell

 

My $0.01 for rambling,

Edited by RememberSchiff

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With everybody having their own ideas for eagle, there will never be a consensus on it. What has happened is the rank has become somewhat of a holy grail award that holds some kind of magic power. Well the dynamics that makes a great eagle is identical to the dynamics that makes a great first class scout. Nothing more, nothing less. So if someone wants to ooh and ah themselves into an eagle mystified trance of specialness, that's up to them,but it should not be the new norm for the BSA program. Just because someone has reached the rank of eagle does not mean they are better than any other scout. I do think it is unfortunate that it is the message we give loud and clear to them.

Edited by Stosh

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With everybody having their own ideas for eagle, there will never be a consensus on it. What has happened is the rank has become somewhat of a holy grail award that holds some kind of magic power. Well the dynamics that makes a great eagle is identical to the dynamics that makes a great first class scout. Nothing more, nothing less. So if someone wants to ooh and ah themselves into an eagle mystified trance of specialness, that's up to them,but it should not be the new norm for the BSA program. Just because someone has reached the rank of eagle does not mean they are better than any other scout. I do think it is unfortunate that it is the message we give loud and clear to them.

 

Yah, hmmm....

 

Not sure I understand you, @@Stosh.   Da requirements for S-T-2-1 and da requirements for S-L-E are very different, eh?   A First Class Scout has developed a set of well-defined basic skills.   A S-L-E scout is buildin' experience in PORs and independently pursued MBs of his choice and more service and such.   I don't get how the "dynamics" are identical.

 

The usefulness of any award as a Method to inspire kids to work and grow depends on the award havin' real meaning, eh?   It must mean that someone who has earned the award is in some way "better", eh?   That's why kids choose to pursue the award and get better themselves.  Da Valedictorian or Honor Society member got better grades, da Varsity Letter lad is better at playin' ball,  etc.  Wantin' to be recognized as one of the better ball players is what motivates kids to pursue a Varsity letter. If the award means you're bot any better than any other ballplayer then there's no point in doin' any work to improve in order to pursue a Varsity letter.  In other words, there's no point to the Method.  

 

No different with scouting.   If First Class or Eagle or whatnot doesn't recognize a boy who is better at what Scouting wants to teach, then we should just get rid of the Advancement Method, eh?  Because at that point Advancement is useless for our Aims.

 

When I see troops where da focus is on Advancement in the way you describe, I mostly see troops where boys are rewarded for bein' more compliant to adults, eh?  In those units Advancement isn't measurin' growth in the lad's character or leadership so much as his ability to navigate paperwork and get signatures.  In other words, doin' meaningless tasks to please the adults who are runnin' the show.  Those scouts might truly be no better, on average, than other scouts.   That's an indictment of those programs, though, not somethin' to be emulated.

 

Beavah

Edited by Beavah
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To paraphrase Forest Gump, "An Eagle is as an Eagle Does."  My goal is that the Eagles from our troop will act in a way that people will know there is something different about them.

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The 'meaning' of eagle is probably unique to each recipient. I'm not sure anyone can characterize the 'meaning' for all recipients as a group. Best to just award the rank when they meet the requirements and let the individuals sort it out for themselves. After all (witness this discussion) that's what's likely to happen anyway.

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Best to just award the rank when they meet the requirements and let the individuals sort it out for themselves. After all (witness this discussion) that's what's likely to happen anyway.

 

 

I often tell my son that earning Eagle is not about the title, but about what he learns along the way.  As Adult Leaders we can influence what the boys learn on their path to Eagle.  By learning, I'm not talking about requirements and merit badges, but I'm talking about what the Oath and Law mean.  They truly are words to live by.  Eagles are more than the accumulation of the requirements - it is how meeting those requirements changes who you are.

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Hedge, wouldn't you be happy if your First Class scout follow the Oath and Law as much as you would if he attained Eagle? I really don't know what the big deal is with the Eagle, it should apply to all the ranks...Equally! Being a Scout is the standard, not Eagle.

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Eagle is what a scout makes of it. It's a individual journey for each Scout. It starts with the requirements, but those are just a means to keep kids engaged. The experience is what matters.

 

I agree with those who worry about the cult of Eagle. Some folks take it too far and make it too much.

 

My Eagle to me is a symbol of my involvement and service in Scouting. My youth accomplishment and my adult service. It's also a reminder that every day I should strive to live by the Oath and Law.

 

It's definitely not a Sainthood. We do our scouts a disservice by making it so.

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Hedge, wouldn't you be happy if your First Class scout follow the Oath and Law as much as you would if he attained Eagle? I really don't know what the big deal is with the Eagle, it should apply to all the ranks...Equally! Being a Scout is the standard, not Eagle.

 

 

Of course Stosh.  I would love to see everyone in life folllow the Scout Oath and Law.  I never had the opportunity to be a scout as a youth but I'm often asked if I was an Eagle.  My parents raised me with values that are seemless with the Scout Oath and Law.  Maybe it was because my parents were born in the late 1920s and the Scout Oath and Law reflects the beliefs of their generation or maybe it was because my Dad was an Eagle Scout.  I'm trying to raise my son the same way.

 

My comment wasn't meant to convey that only Eagles can live by the Oath and Law.  It was to convey my wish that someone who has taken the time and effort to earn Eagle has learned something more than the requirements.  Scouting is learning by doing and often what we learn (servant leadership, being helpful, being thrifty, etc.) is not what we are doing (cooking breakfast on a campout).  

 

Every major accomplishment and failure in our lives teaches us a lesson beyond the activities involved.  Earning Eagle should be no different.  Each scout will have learned different lessons and my hope is that those lessons make them a better person so much that others recognize the difference.

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Stosh,

 

I admire your sentiment that a good first class scout is the same as a good Eagle scout  (dynamics is the word that you used).   However, I just cant imagine that even in your troop an Eagle scout wouldn't have a deeper understanding of the scout oath and law, this impacting beliefs and behavior.   BSA stresses first class in 1 year.  If a scout progresses no farther in his trail to Eagle than in the year (or so) to First Class, then what is the point of additional years of participation in scouting?   We've already helped him as far along as he is able to go.

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