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Beavah

The Meaning of Eagle Scout

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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.

Sentinel, well said.

 

Cult, sainthood...accurate descriptions.   I'll add another:   coronation.   That's what some Eagle courts of honor seem like.

 

The hype associated with Eagle can be counterproductive.  It may intimidate scouts (I could never attain the rank) or disgust them (I'd never want to be associated with that rank).

 

Some folks forget that the Eagles, and candidates, are still young men.   The bar should be high, but sometimes it seems too high.   People expect a level of competence and maturity from the young Eagles may be unrealistic.

 

The rank should be tough to earn.   But let's not turn it into some impossible quest.   Some Eagles are squared away from day 1 and live up to the ideals, others earn it but have to grow into the rank a bit.   After all, they are only human.

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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.

I guess it boils down to how well one is running the program. Maybe BSA expects FC in the first year, but then not all units promote advancement over maturity. I have never promoted the FC,FY emphasis and go more towards orientation and leadership development the first year. If my boys spend all their time on self advancement and very little on teamwork and patrol development, then lessons in taking care of your buddies and helping other people at all times are a waste of time. Real Scouts are made from day one, not when they complete a leadership project. They might be the exception to the rule, but I have seen a few TF scouts with more maturity than some of the Eagles I have met.

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Stosh,

To say that it is all due to how the program is run (as to whether FC and Eagle scouts are equivalent in character, citizenship, fitness), discounts the maturity that happens in anyone between 12 and 18.   The program should help guide and encourage growth in those ; i.e., character, citizenship and fitness.   If it does not, if a Star, Life, and Eagle scout have not developed further, then the program is deficient.

I do agree with you that some scouts at FC exhibit more maturity than some Eagles.   I love it when I meet scouts that draw their motivation to improve from within themselves rather than from external awards.  They are great examples.   I wish everyone was like that (youth and adult alike). 

Regards,

Venividi

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Yes,time offers a sense of maturity, but is capable of pushing to a younger age if not held back with preconceived beliefs. If one does not believe great things can be done by an 11 year old, they will not give that person the opportunity to prove it. Only when that person gets old enough to prove themselves on their own do they get a chance. That's unfortunate.

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Yes,time offers a sense of maturity, but is capable of pushing to a younger age if not held back with preconceived beliefs. If one does not believe great things can be done by an 11 year old, they will not give that person the opportunity to prove it. Only when that person gets old enough to prove themselves on their own do they get a chance. That's unfortunate.

Interesting. Our experience of a unit without preconceived expectations is that scouts earn self recognition awards later in their scouting career rather than earlier because they are busy with the more gratifying activities of maturing with the team (the team being the Patrol, troop, PLC, Crew, Leadership Training, OA, and so forth). In other words, when a boy knows he can earn the Eagle for himself anytime, he spends less time on activities that are less gratifying like the Eagle requirements and more time working to build the team to a maximum efficiency. As a result those scouts tend to get awarded with self recognition honors (like Eagle) toward the end of their troop career, not the beginning.

 

As has been said, what boys of this age enjoy the most in their life is proving themselves in the challenges of higher maturity. The challenge for the adults are recognizing each boys need for more challenge and providing challenges for him everyday as long as he is in the troop.

 

But part of growing in maturity is practicing the traits of the scout law in the decisions during their scouting activities. The more decisions a scout makes during activities, the more he will grow from reflecting on the results of those decisions. That is how continued character maturity that is so highly praised of Eagles is developed. 

 

Typically scouts who are not bound by outside expectations, as stosh points out, are more mature Eagles because they have a well rounded maturity that was gained over a longer time from a broader range of scouting activities than the minimum activities required for earning the Eagle. Those are the scouts who are typically leaders in the PLC, OA, crew development and young scout development. Those are the guys the young scouts trust and idolize because they are always seen moving the program forward and treating everyone with respect. 

 

But I caution that even the outside expectation of young scouts performing equal to older scouts can shackle a boys experience in the program. Very very rarely will you meet an 11 year old SPL who has the maturity and skills of a well rounded 16 year old SPL. A troop program trying to prove otherwise is typically a very limited program and is equivalent to an Eagle mill. 

 

Barry

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I like the coronation comment...most of the Eagle COH I have been to have been pompous and boring. If I have to hear the John Wayne speech again I'm just gonna blow my brains out all over the Eagle log candles. The best ones had good-- barely fit for the moms in the audience-- stories. I hope Son#1 (who is on the final lap) has a fun one.

 

Son #2 who is a really terrific scout and key leader may never Eagle out because he will always choose doing some Troop activity over banging out one of those final Eagle Merit Badges...

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I find that the longer a scout stays in the program, the more they retain regardless of the rank. An 18 year old FC scout has more going for him, than a 14 year old "eagle" that bails after his ECOH.

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I find that the longer a scout stays in the program, the more they retain regardless of the rank. An 18 year old FC scout has more going for him, than a 14 year old "eagle" that bails after his ECOH.

 

Have one of those now. He's a gem of a kid. Will never make Eagle but is still in the program.

 

Only had one 15 year old Eagle take the bling and run. To this day he is my biggest regret in 15 years.

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I like the coronation comment...most of the Eagle COH I have been to have been pompous and boring. If I have to hear the John Wayne speech again I'm just gonna blow my brains out all over the Eagle log candles. The best ones had good-- barely fit for the moms in the audience-- stories. I hope Son#1 (who is on the final lap) has a fun one.

 

Son #2 who is a really terrific scout and key leader may never Eagle out because he will always choose doing some Troop activity over banging out one of those final Eagle Merit Badges...

I agree, pompous and boring are the right words.  

 

My favorite type of ceremony:  Eagle presented as part of a normally scheduled troop COH.    It was cool to see the Tenderfoot scouts get their patches, then the Second Class, etc.   One or two Life scouts.   Then an Eagle.   A few extra words by the narrator.   Eagle medal presented, mom's pin.   The SM says a few words about Johnny.   Then Johnny has the floor to share his thoughts.   The first two Eagles I saw awarded when I was a young scout were in this fashion, and they made quite an impact on me.  The trail to Eagle was taking place right before my eyes, and the Eagle was still among us newly awarded/lowly Tenderfoot scouts at the ceremony.     Looking back, the simplicity of it all was remarkable when compared to the extravaganzas that we typically see today.

 

I've heard of scouts having their Eagle presented at a closing campfire during a troop campout.   A fire crackling in the background, the scent of wood smoke.     Mom and dad and others are present for the ceremony.   Low key but dignified.

 

Ancient past:  Usually, there was only one congratulations letter, the one from National.   No binders full of certificates and memos extracted from dignitaries and celebrities.   Call me a curmudgeon, but if the Eagle didn't know the letter writer, the meaning is rather diminished.

 

I don't think there is a need for the over-the-top Eagle ceremonies.    The award speaks for itself.

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I agree, pompous and boring are the right words.  

 

My favorite type of ceremony:  Eagle presented as part of a normally scheduled troop COH.    It was cool to see the Tenderfoot scouts get their patches, then the Second Class, etc.   One or two Life scouts.   Then an Eagle.   A few extra words by the narrator.   Eagle medal presented, mom's pin.   The SM says a few words about Johnny.   Then Johnny has the floor to share his thoughts.   The first two Eagles I saw awarded when I was a young scout were in this fashion, and they made quite an impact on me.  The trail to Eagle was taking place right before my eyes, and the Eagle was still among us newly awarded/lowly Tenderfoot scouts at the ceremony.     Looking back, the simplicity of it all was remarkable when compared to the extravaganzas that we typically see today.

 

I've heard of scouts having their Eagle presented at a closing campfire during a troop campout.   A fire crackling in the background, the scent of wood smoke.     Mom and dad and others are present for the ceremony.   Low key but dignified.

 

I don't think there is a need for the over-the-top Eagle ceremonies.    The award speaks for itself.

I had a "coronation". Was, and still is the troop custom. If I had to do it over again I would have done it attached to a troop COH. Less work, and would have been just as meaningful to have the whole troop there. 

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I don't think there is a need for the over-the-top Eagle ceremonies.    The award speaks for itself.

 

 

I had a "coronation". Was, and still is the troop custom. If I had to do it over again I would have done it attached to a troop COH. Less work, and would have been just as meaningful to have the whole troop there. 

 

Has been our troop's custom until we started to have so many during the year that, when you include all other troop events, the leaders literally had 8-10 weekends a year left that DIDN'T have a Scout event. So we went to having them co-mingled with the regular COHs. MUCH better format for a number of reasons.

 

Guys can still have the "coronation" by themselves if they want, BUT the troop leaders' availability may not be guaranteed.

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I've heard of scouts having their Eagle presented at a closing campfire during a troop campout.   A fire crackling in the background, the scent of wood smoke.     Mom and dad and others are present for the ceremony.   Low key but dignified.

 

 

I love that idea.  I'll share it with my son and see what he thinks of the idea.  He's always loved the organized campfires at summer camp and there is probably no better way of signifying HOW he earned Eagle than doing the COH on a campout.

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We typically do separate ceremonies but they have limited boilerplate. The scouts put them together but I ask them to limit the ceremonial part to 10 minutes at the end and the first 20 minutes should be about what eagle means to them. This translates into lots of stories (some heard by adults for the first time), slide show, and open mic time for anyone that wants to share. The ceremony is typically the Eagle oath along with all the other eagles in the crowd, and presentation of the medal with the requisite crying/hugging/fumbling with the pins by mom. The most important part is the very end when the scout talks about what eagle means to him. Some scouts have said some amazing things at this point. It's very personal and just like every eagle scout is unique, every ecoh is as well. Every scout has always asked me to tell a story about their trail to eagle. I used to talk about all the mbs and requirements but that gave way to a story about the scout. What he enjoyed, what he struggled with, what makes him unique, and some good stories of character, adventure, and hard lessons they learned. I never tire of ecohs. I've had scouts that were on the fence about whether to continue come up to me after an ecoh and tell me they just decided they want to be an eagle. It's not logs, candles, and the meaning of the color blue that does this. It's that the younger scouts look up to the eagles and say they want to be like them. I suppose some just want the recognition but most know what's behind the recognition.

 

At the same time I agree with everyone that says just completing the reqs is no reason for anything special. That's a paradox. It was best explained to me by a really great asm I had who told me we were aiming to help scouts out years from now. Hopefully, 5 years after they leave scouts they will better appreciate what it's all about. At that point it's less about req's and more about character.

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The real meaning of the Eagle (or any other rank either)  isn't fully developed until after age 18

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