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UncleP

Plan for Nephew to Earn Eagle Merit Badges

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My nephew wants to be a Boy Scout and earn the rank of Eagle.​  I told him that he should just relax and enjoy himself, but he is very intense.

 

I was never an Boy Scout, but I am good at planning and have research the required merit badges for Eagle Rank (I know their are other requirements, but right now the involve so many variables that you cannot plan for them).  I know no plan survives contact with reality, so I wanted to get some input from people with real world experience.

 

The goal is for him to make Eagle Rank by about the beginning of high school.  That would allow about four years, and get it accomplished before his life starts to open up in high school.

 

The following is my proposed plan, and I would appreciate any feedback on it.  I have some concerns, because my nephew takes after me and is a bit of a nerd.  I do not know if scouting is right for him specifically, but I definitely think he should try if he wants to.

 

PROPOSED PLAN:

 

Year One:  Scout to First Class - my thought is to try and "kill two birds with one stone", but working on badges that will also help him make rank advancement:

 

- Swimming

- First Aid

- Oreintering (I am not sure about this one), and

- 1-2 merit badges that he will enjoy and will help make the requirement for non-Eagle merit badges

 

Year Two: First Class to Star

 

- Camping ,

- Cooking

The idea is that if he has been participating in monthly outings, he will naturally make some progress on these badges

 

- Citizenship in the Community - I have ben told that this merit badge is like getting a tooth drilled, so get it over with and have a sense of accomplishment

 

- 2-3 merit badges he will enjoy

 

Year Three: Star to Life - this is the year that worries me the most

 

- Citizenship in the nation,

- Citizenship in the World,

- Communications,

- Personal Fitness,

- Personal Development, and

- Family Life

 

The last three require 90 days, so I did not want to leave them to the end.

 

Year Four:  Life to Eagle

 

- Environmental Science or Sustainability, and

- Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving

 

I have read that if Environmental Science is chosen that he should do it at summer camp for a better experience.

 

I am assuming that this year will be taken up mostly by the Eagle Project, so he will only be able to work on limited number of badges.

 

So what does everyone think?  Good plan?  Bad plan?  Too ambitious?  Not ambitious enough?

 

I would appreciate any feedback.

 

Thank you

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Howdy Uncle P, welcome to the forums!

 

I guess my main question is this:   who is driving the goal?   Your nephew--or other family members?  

 

The trail to Eagle is one that the scout must make.   Yes, he receives help and encouragement from friends and family.   But he's got to hike it himself.

 

The sole issue I have is not with the plan itself (it is sound) but that you did the research and outlined it for the scout.   

 

Eagles (and Eagles-to-be) are supposed to be self starters.   If your nephew wants to be an Eagle, he needs to formulate his own plan.   It may not as be as polished as yours, nor as linear.   But the scout must take these actions himself if he is going to really learn the lessons needed to become an Eagle.

 

May I offer a recommendation?   Please table your draft and encourage him to write his own plan.  

 

On the other hand, he may not be interested in timelines or plans.   That's okay too.   He'll figure it out along the way.

Edited by desertrat77
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Welcome to the forum @@UncleP

 

I'm going to take a lot of heat for this suggestion, but I'm sure you will see the value in what I'm saying.

 

You, on the one hand, want your nephew to relax and enjoy the Scouting journey.  That truly the only constructive way to approach the program.  It is meant to be fun and adventurous.

 

But it would seem that your nephew wishes to fast track himself into eagle.  It's possible, it's not that hard to do, and your nephew will benefit from it's advantages of being able to say one day he IS an eagle.

 

First of all you will need to find a troop that is known as an Eagle Mill troop.  These troops are strongly adult lead, the pace of advancement is fast tracked and it isn't uncommon to have your nephew in and out of the program in say maybe between 3 and 4 years.  Other troops that tend to work the system in a more traditional way will seek a troop that caters to outdoor activities, trips, and other distractions that can be expensive, such as hiking at Philmont Scout Ranch, attending a National or World Jamboree or canoeing the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  Those are the more scenic routes to eagle, your nephew will want to avoid those types of distractions and stay focused on advancement. 

 

Your nephew will need to learn some basic scoutcraft skills in the early requirements, but he shouldn't have to worry if he is able to focus on the material with a classroom type of mental focus.   It might hit a little bump in the upper ranks when he will be expected to do a few months of what is referred to as a Position of Responsibility.  I would recommend shying away from the more leadership positions and focus more on the duties that don't require much interaction with other boys in the troop the way leadership positions would necessitate.  The other boys can get in the way and slow down your nephew's advancement,

 

Pick the elective merit badges carefully.  Some of the elective ones may require a bit more work than is actually necessary.  Collections, finger printing, basket weaving, leather work, wood carving and such can be addressed and signed off easily.  Be sure to sign up for as many merit badges as possible at summer camp and always take advantage of the council merit badge days that the council offers.  One can also line up merit badge counselors on his own time so he can maintain a more aggressive schedule that is laid out.  One should be able to easily knock off the merit badge requirements in about 2 years, max.

 

Because of the advanced progression of the time table adopted, your nephew will need to be thinking about his eagle project right from the start.  Be sure to look for a less labor intensive project and one that doesn't involve fund raising to accomplish.  They aren't that hard to find and the SM of the eagle mill troop will have plenty of these high management, low leadership projects that will look good on paper and will be easy to wrap up in maybe one or two weekends of actual work.

 

Now there will be a few on this forum that will say that this posting is snarky and sarcastic, but it's not.  It IS how one goes about knocking off the requirements in the most efficient manner.

 

So with that being said, I would hope that your nephew and any boys with similar aspirations would realize that I run a boy-led, patrol method troop that places a heavy emphasis on growth maturity, character building, and a strong commitment to servant leadership among his peers.  None of this would be of any interest to your nephew because his goal is an eagle that solely benefits himself and his prestige in the society in which he will eventually find himself.  Your nephew would not appreciate me because I would harbor a sentiment that efforts in the program that sets a goal of a personal eagle is what produces what I call a paper or parlor eagle.  It's a legitimate eagle in the BSA, but my prejudice against that attitude towards eagle might slip trough some time during his brief tenure in my unit.  For that reason alone, I would suggest he not end up in such a troop.  They are easy to recognize.  They are the ones that are where the boys are doing the planning, executing and enjoying the fruits of their labors.  They make the choices and they build deep bonding relationships between members of the small group organizational structures known as patrols.  You are going to want to stay with the more adult led troops.

 

Best of luck with your nephew's scouting experience. 

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Howdy Uncle P, welcome to the forums!

 

I guess my main question is this:   who is driving the goal?   Your nephew--or other family members?  

 

The trail to Eagle is one that the scout must make.   Yes, he receives help and encouragement from friends and family.   But he's got to hike it himself.

 

The sole issue I have is not with the plan itself (it is sound) but that you did the research and outlined it for the scout.   

 

Eagles (and Eagles-to-be) are supposed to be self starters.   If your nephew wants to be an Eagle, he needs to formulate his own plan.   It may not as be as polished as yours, nor as linear.   But the scout must take these actions himself if he is going to really learn the lessons needed to become an Eagle.

 

May I offer a recommendation?   Please table your draft and encourage him to write his own plan.  

 

On the other hand, he may not be interested in timelines or plans.   That's okay too.   He'll figure it out along the way.

 

Thank you for your response.

 

I understand completely your concern about me doing to much for my nephew.  I have always been "overly proactive", and the hardest thing for me to do is nothing.

 

Regarding your question, my nephew is the one pushing this.  He is a very intense and obsessive-type.  His family is definitely NOT pushing it.  They never give him any time or attention.  His mother and father split their time between complaining, self-pity and worrying about what other people might think.  Any time or energy they have goes exclusively to his older sister.  He is just there to mow lawns and do yard work, so the neighbors will be impressed.  If anything they are against it.  His father is worried that he will make too much noise, and disturb his endless series of naps.  His mother is concerned about "all the money it will costs".

 

I think my nephew hopes that by accomplishing something out of the ordinary, maybe he will finally get some respect, some attention.  Naturally, he wants to  do this as fast as possible.  The purpose behind my thinking was to slow him down, not speed him up. I want ,my nephew to add good memories, and not more bad memories.  I am afraid if he tries things his way he will have another disappointment.

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Welcome to the forum @@UncleP

 

I'm going to take a lot of heat for this suggestion, but I'm sure you will see the value in what I'm saying.

 

You, on the one hand, want your nephew to relax and enjoy the Scouting journey.  That truly the only constructive way to approach the program.  It is meant to be fun and adventurous.

 

But it would seem that your nephew wishes to fast track himself into eagle.  It's possible, it's not that hard to do, and your nephew will benefit from it's advantages of being able to say one day he IS an eagle.

 

First of all you will need to find a troop that is known as an Eagle Mill troop.  These troops are strongly adult lead, the pace of advancement is fast tracked and it isn't uncommon to have your nephew in and out of the program in say maybe between 3 and 4 years.  Other troops that tend to work the system in a more traditional way will seek a troop that caters to outdoor activities, trips, and other distractions that can be expensive, such as hiking at Philmont Scout Ranch, attending a National or World Jamboree or canoeing the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  Those are the more scenic routes to eagle, your nephew will want to avoid those types of distractions and stay focused on advancement. 

 

Your nephew will need to learn some basic scoutcraft skills in the early requirements, but he shouldn't have to worry if he is able to focus on the material with a classroom type of mental focus.   It might hit a little bump in the upper ranks when he will be expected to do a few months of what is referred to as a Position of Responsibility.  I would recommend shying away from the more leadership positions and focus more on the duties that don't require much interaction with other boys in the troop the way leadership positions would necessitate.  The other boys can get in the way and slow down your nephew's advancement,

 

Pick the elective merit badges carefully.  Some of the elective ones may require a bit more work than is actually necessary.  Collections, finger printing, basket weaving, leather work, wood carving and such can be addressed and signed off easily.  Be sure to sign up for as many merit badges as possible at summer camp and always take advantage of the council merit badge days that the council offers.  One can also line up merit badge counselors on his own time so he can maintain a more aggressive schedule that is laid out.  One should be able to easily knock off the merit badge requirements in about 2 years, max.

 

Because of the advanced progression of the time table adopted, your nephew will need to be thinking about his eagle project right from the start.  Be sure to look for a less labor intensive project and one that doesn't involve fund raising to accomplish.  They aren't that hard to find and the SM of the eagle mill troop will have plenty of these high management, low leadership projects that will look good on paper and will be easy to wrap up in maybe one or two weekends of actual work.

 

Now there will be a few on this forum that will say that this posting is snarky and sarcastic, but it's not.  It IS how one goes about knocking off the requirements in the most efficient manner.

 

So with that being said, I would hope that your nephew and any boys with similar aspirations would realize that I run a boy-led, patrol method troop that places a heavy emphasis on growth maturity, character building, and a strong commitment to servant leadership among his peers.  None of this would be of any interest to your nephew because his goal is an eagle that solely benefits himself and his prestige in the society in which he will eventually find himself.  Your nephew would not appreciate me because I would harbor a sentiment that efforts in the program that sets a goal of a personal eagle is what produces what I call a paper or parlor eagle.  It's a legitimate eagle in the BSA, but my prejudice against that attitude towards eagle might slip trough some time during his brief tenure in my unit.  For that reason alone, I would suggest he not end up in such a troop.  They are easy to recognize.  They are the ones that are where the boys are doing the planning, executing and enjoying the fruits of their labors.  They make the choices and they build deep bonding relationships between members of the small group organizational structures known as patrols.  You are going to want to stay with the more adult led troops.

 

Best of luck with your nephew's scouting experience. 

 

Thank you for your response (honestly).

 

I appreciate the point that you were trying to make, and as I said in my response above, my nephew is the one pushing it.  To be honest, I do not know if scouting is even right for him, and he does not need anymore bad experiences.  He is academically brilliant, and does not really need to get three different badges in citizenship(?).  All he does is school work right now.

 

My nephew is trying to do a good thing, improve his lot in life by doing something constructive.  I sincerely believe that scouting is a worthwhile endeavor, but I am not certain it is right for him.  In my opinion, what he needs is 1) good memories, 2) better social skills (I am not even talking about friends just the ability to deal with people), and 3) an outlet for his energy rather than yard work to impress the marijuana scented neighbors.  Scouting might provide that for some boys, but I do not know if it is right for him. 

 

But he wants to try it, and I just want to do what I can to help.  I told him that just trying is a victory in itself, and not to expect too much from other people.

 

PS - I am just curious, I wanted to know why so many merit badges for citizenship, family, communication....?  I thought scouting was meant to be all camping, hiking, boating...  I realize this may be an unfair question or one that has an answer to complicated to discuss.

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Thank you for your response (honestly).

 

I appreciate the point that you were trying to make, and as I said in my response above, my nephew is the one pushing it.  To be honest, I do not know if scouting is even right for him, and he does not need anymore bad experiences.  He is academically brilliant, and does not really need to get three different badges in citizenship(?).  All he does is school work right now.

 

My nephew is trying to do a good thing, improve his lot in life by doing something constructive.  I sincerely believe that scouting is a worthwhile endeavor, but I am not certain it is right for him.  In my opinion, what he needs is 1) good memories, 2) better social skills (I am not even talking about friends just the ability to deal with people), and 3) an outlet for his energy rather than yard work to impress the marijuana scented neighbors.  Scouting might provide that for some boys, but I do not know if it is right for him. 

 

But he wants to try it, and I just want to do what I can to help.  I told him that just trying is a victory in itself, and not to expect too much from other people.

 

PS - I am just curious, I wanted to know why so many merit badges for citizenship, family, communication....?  I thought scouting was meant to be all camping, hiking, boating...  I realize this may be an unfair question or one that has an answer to complicated to discuss.

 

 

I think Scouting might just be exactly what your nephew needs.  Our troop is a bunch of misfits and goofballs -- the best type of guys around.  It ranges from the kids who talk about video games on hikes to the kids who bring books along on campouts.  The boys that join our troop become part of it.  I've picked up @@Stosh's advice to teach the boys that what is important in scouting is to take care of each other.  I've seen lots of boys find self confidence and independence in going to summer camp for a week.  I'll never forget the look on one kids face when his mom picked him up from his first boy scout campout.  The mom, all worrried about her son doing a campout without mom or dad (they had been in Cub Scouts) saw her son and asked him how it went.  He got the biggest ear to ear grin and said "awesome."   We had a 12 year old last summer accompany us on a 50 mile backpacking trek.  The boy struggled but by the end he had a tremendous sense of self accomplishment.  I've seen my son grow tremendously in the last three years (and I'm not just talking the 24 inches in height because his mom still insists on feeding him).  Last week, in reflecting on what went wrong at a meeting, he became frustrated because the other boys weren't doing the work.  He told me that and then paused and said, "I know I used to be that way, but now I get it."  

 

My son just got his life rank after three years at the end of 8th grade.  Three of his buddies just got Star.  A couple of his buddies are finishing up First Class.  At this point, he has four Merit Badges left for Eagle -- Communications, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the World and Personal Management.  His choice is to finish those off in the next year (as a Freshman) and the work on his Eagle Project the following year (as a Sophmore).  His progress has been more of taking advantage of merit badge opportunities than a conscious plan.  He was able to get First Class within a year.  Most of the skills were covered his first year at summer camp and what wasn't covered there, he was able to cover through our Troop's regular and outdoor program.  He picked up one merit badge the first summer at camp which was Swimming.  He picked up a couple more over the next two summers including First Aid and Emergency Preparedness.  The rest were electives that he was interested in -- archery (took two years at summer camp), kayaking, sailing, horseback riding and a couple of others that I don't remember.  Our Troop does group merit badge sessions and he picked up Cooking, Family Life, Personal Fitness, Sustainability and Citizenship in the Nation through the Troop.  I think that our Troop does those merit badges well because the Counselors actually know what they care doing (e.g. a High School Social Studies Teacher for Citizenship, an Environmental Engineer for Sustainability, going to a gym for Personal Fitness and me for Cooking and Family Life).  Along the way, he picked up Camping and Backpacking (I'm an MB Counselor for both).  I've seen the work he has put into merit badges -- he really tries to master the material rather than just get it checked off.  He is very active in out Troop's outdoor program - having camped over 70 nights and hiked over 225 miles in three years.  He has served as a Den Chief for the last two years and had the patch of an assistant patrol leader this year (he actually acted more like the patrol leader, but that is another issue).  I suspect he will be a Patrol Leader next year.  Due to patrol leaders not going on outings, he has served as a patrol leader on most of our campouts this past year and naturally leads on the backpacking treks.  This summer he is going to camp and picking up additional merit badges based on what is requried for the National Outdoor Medal (e.g. orienteering, soil and water, etc.).  He also is spending a week at National Youth Leadership Training this summer.  He was elected to the Order of the Arrow, did his Ordeal and is exciting about participating going forward (he is going to Conclave in two weeks). He and I are working together to develop a plan to present the Wilderness Survival merit badge to his troop as well as a couple of others in our District.

 

The reason for that long explanation is to show that a boy can, with minimal guidance from adults, progress toward Eagle relatively quickly in a boy-led troop that is not an "Eagle Mill" and can actually learn the necessary skills along the way.  I've told him that attaining Eagle is not what is important but HOW he attains Eagle -- what he learns both substantively and in terms of character and self-reliance.  He has picked up some of the terms used on these boards from me such as "Paper Eagles" -- the guys who just check the boxes without learning the skills and "Parlor Scouts" -- the guys who never go camping. He is working toward being a "real Eagle."   I've also emphasized that it is his journey and that I'm there to support him along the way.  It also has to be fun.  It was his idea to go horseback riding and sailing as part of our Troop's outdoor program.  

 

As for all of the Citizenship Merit Badges, I agree it is a lot of schoolwork.  Add in Personal Management, Communications and Family Life to that category.  Although I agree these are things a boy should know, they aren't the most exciting.  Citizenship in the Nation is relateively easy since it is very similar to what my son learned in 8th Grade.  Citizenship in the Community is good because it causes the boys to actually get out there and volunteer for an organization.  Citizenship in the World is great for the ever increasing global economy (I'm planning on taking the boys to the UN in NYC for that one).

 

As with @@desertrat77, I encourage you to have your nephew make his own plan.  As with @@Stosh, I encourage your nephew to have advancement be part of the adventure of scouting, to be something that happens naturally as part of being a scout rather than a goal in an of itself.  Your nephew deserves to learn what it is to be an Eagle, to enjoy and learn from the journey not just shoot for the rank by checking off the boxes.  Eagle should't be another participation trophy that goes on the dresser, Eagle should be something that defines the rest of the Scout's life.  As we say at our Troop's Eagle Courts of Honor, by becoming Eagle you have become a marked man, everything you do from now on will be judged based on how it comports with the Scout Oath and Scout Law, everything you do from now on will reflect on every Eagle that has gone before you and every Eagle that comes after you.

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...

But he wants to try it, and I just want to do what I can to help.  I told him that just trying is a victory in itself, and not to expect too much from other people.

 

PS - I am just curious, I wanted to know why so many merit badges for citizenship, family, communication....?  I thought scouting was meant to be all camping, hiking, boating...  I realize this may be an unfair question or one that has an answer to complicated to discuss.

There is nothing wrong with goal-setting. And I think that's the best thing that uncles can do. Some things:

Find service projects that could be done in the community. Start simple, with a community litter pick-up or maybe volunteering at a food pantry. Then move on to maybe painting a room or organizing a food/clothing drive.

Then, there's camping. For him to earn Eagle quickly, he will have to rack up lots of camping nights with his patrol or troop. Most of those will have to be weekend activities. Do you or your buddies have a nice place where 8 boys and a couple of adults could hike to and camp?

Teach him to invite his friends to scouts. Everything is easier with a buddy.

Get to know his troop leaders, support them any way you can. Often times we're looking for merit badge counselors. You might consider Personal Management.

Help your nephew find a job where he can earn money to pay for an additional camp or merit badge university. Cut a deal where you'll match whatever he earns.

Buy him his uniform, his handbook, pay his registration or Boy's Life fee, at each rank advancement, buy him a merit badge book. At 1st class, buy him the BSA Fieldbook.

 

So, those pencil-and-paper badges? I have a theory. In he '60s there was a shift towards Eagle being a boys-only award. (Prior to that, men serving the troop could earn rank along with their boys. They were rare, but probably enough to give feedback on what truly gave value to the award.) With that shift came the notion that we have to be redundant to what the boy should be learning in school. Plus we were at the height of the Cold War and reckoning with this global crisis was in everyone's minds. So, some required merit badges like Bird Study were moved aside for more detailed Citizenship. (Which is a pity, because one of the better markers of various global crises in this Post-Modern era is the shifting bird and insect populations.) Finally, constructs like equity and fairness came to the fore and the observation was made that Eagle rank would be "too easy" for adults and "unfair" to boys. The age 18 deadline was made hard and fast. One consequence was an increase in the academic burden of the rank that continues even in this century (you will note the EDGE and the need to log service hours and, most recently, cyberchip).So that's how we got here. On the bright side, I have seen scouts really enjoy these badges, and they might suit your nephew quite nicely.

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@@UncleP

 

After reading your response to my post, I would like to offer up a suggestion you could do to help your nephew with this Scouting experiment. 

 

THROW AWAY ANY AND ALL PLANS!  -  Scouting is not just a mental process of planning, it is an emotional adventure of doing!.  "Life is what happens while you're making your plans".    If all your nephew is interested in is the intellectual aspects of Scouting buy him a Scout Handbook so he can read up on it.  It's his style of learning.  The whole distraction of EXPERIENCING Scouting is altogether different and how your nephew does that will determine what kind of eagle (or person for that matter) he will become in life.

 

Is Philmont a 100 mile walk with a backpack on or is it really standing on mountain tops looking out over the Rockies enjoying a panoramic view of spectacular beauty?  Is it a boat ride or is it taking on the challenge of whitewater kayaking a stretch of class 3 rapids on a beautiful northern Wisconsin river or canoeing/camping for 9 days in the isolated wilderness of the Boundary Water Canoe Area of northern Minnesota?

 

 Is it all that important to rush into the store to pick up milk only to have an elderly lady with a walker struggling to get in blocking the door and you hold the door so she will move along more quickly, and when she apologizes for being so slow you can't think of anything to say except, "Don't worry about it, I have all day, just take your time." and you chuckle to yourself that as an Eagle Scout you just told a huge lie to this woman!?

 

Just remind your nephew, that those types of issues of the heart are part of being an Eagle Scout, but they are not necessary if they are only planning to fast track the requirements.

 

All Eagles have passed all the requirements.... They all have the certificate.  The difference, however, between whether it is a paper Eagle based on the academic, mental achievement or is it a real Eagle based on the emotional, experiences of what an Eagle means rather than just what an Eagle is.

 

I know of people who went into teaching because it pays well and one has the summer off.  I also know of people who went into teaching because they love to help children learn and grow.  Maybe it's the question your nephew needs to answer before he signs up for this Scouting experiment of his.

 

Let it be known that I, too, think your nephew could benefit greatly with a proper Scout experience, but I've seen a lot boys with this type of attitude crash and burn soon after realizing the challenge isn't an academic walk in the park, it's a roll up your sleeves and start taking care of the people who mean something to you in life kind of program.

Edited by Stosh

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I have to agree with @@Stosh, @@UncleP. If he truly wants to be an Eagle Scout, let him make his own plan and path. Having a plan that someone else has created does nothing for the learning and growing a boy should do on the trail to Eagle. Your first instinct to "relax and have fun" was correct.

 

That said, there's nothing wrong with talking about how to approach his rank advancement. Parents are encouraged to do that. Troops will help first year Scouts make First Class in 12-18 months. After that it is all about merit badges, leadership, service projects and enjoying the outdoor program that Scouting has to offer.

 

Rough plans are fine and they will always change. Cruise ship-like itineraries on how make Eagle rarely work and often simply create what we call "paper Eagles"; young men who have completed the minimum requirements but learned and grew little along the way.

 

My two cents.

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Sad, but it happens.  

Sounds like a dad who is going to lose a son.   Might lose him to Scouting, might lose him to something much worse.   Daughter , as described  (really sketchy), is going to be lost, too, but in the other direction, with no standards to meet, only the mom and dad's vicariously living their  unmet personal things thru her.  What a opportunity for a tv script. 

 

By all means,  support the boy, but do not  present him with a "plan".   He will make his own plans, it sounds like.   Take the Scout Leader training, become a Troop Committee person, or even a  ASM or (shudder) a Commissioner, but stay at aaarrrrmmmmsss length from the boy.  You will help him best just by "Being There".    No matter how you do it, you risk alienating your brother (sister?)   with your "meddling".    Be aware of that possibility.  

And no matter how successful the  boy is (Eagle, Nobel Prize, ,,,)   the dad and/or mom may never be satisfied or proud. 

 

See you on the trail.....

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The goal of Scouting is to create good people and good citizens who are fit in mind and body.  Hence, the level of attention to citizenship and to world brotherhood (incorrectly called "Citizenship in the World").

 

The most important tool to achieve these ends is the "Patrol Method," through which the Scout experiences representative democracy and has the opportunity to learn the skills and rewards of leadership. The adult-run troop Stosh mentioned in his satire is the antithesis of this approach.  It keeps the Scout in a childlike state by robbing him of responsibility.

 

The second most important tool is the "Outdoor Method," as the outdoors not only allows exercise but also helps teach respect for our natural world, respect  that is important to informed citizenship. 

 

I guess I would urge that your nephew accomplish something of which he can be proud rather than merely getting the punch mark for his resume.

 

Even on the solely materialistic scale, having been responsible for hiring professionals for a major corporation, I can relate that leaders were more highly regarded than other sorts of candidates since leaders seems to be in short supply.

Edited by TAHAWK

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@@UncleP

 

1) WELCOME TO DA FORUMS! (and yes I'm yelling at ya in joy  ;) )

 

2) THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR NEPHEW! (again yelling at you in joy! )  One of my Eagles was in a similar situation, but worse. It got so bad that while dad signed the paperwork to join the USAF at age 17, dad also kicked him out of the house because he did not want his son joining the USAF. Between when he joined and boot camp, and then the return from boot camp to when he graduated HS and went active duty, he was living at the SM's house.

 

3) As others have stated, Eagle is not the goal in Scouts. It is also the Scout's adventure, not yours, and he needs to develop HIS (emphasis) plan. There is a heckuva lot more to Scouting than getting Eagle. BUT YOU GOTTA BE THERE TO SUPPORT HIM, ESPECIALLY WITH HIS FAMILY SITUATION (emphasis)

 

4) Let me tell you the story of The Two Eagles.

 

There once was an Eagle who  was pushed by his Eagle Dad (and Exploring Silver Award recipient) to get his Eagle before high School. This Eagle earned it at age 13, then quit Scouting. He returned to Scouting when his son was a Tiger.

 

Now 13 year old Eagle had a cousin. Cousin was also pushed to get eagle before High School, and was well on his way. He earned Life at 13, and was aiming to get it while 14. But something happened. First Cousin got elected into the Order of the Arrow (OA), Scouting honor society. Then he got selected by his troop to attend Brownsea 22, the National Youth Leadership Training course for advanced leadership of his day. Then Cousin went to a national Scout camporee and did a sixty-four mile canoeing expedition in Canada. Eventually 5 years had passed, and Cousin earned his Eagle 5 years after earning Life at the age of 18. 18 y.o. Eagle continued on in Scouting, becoming an assistant scoutmaster, a Sea Scout, OA lodge officer, spent 3 months working at a Scout camp in Europe, went to a world jamboree, and stayed active in Scouting in various roles until his  son became a Tiger, and 18 y.o. Eagle became a Tiger Den Leader and is now watching his oldest, middle, and youngest sons grow up in Scouting.

 

So who do you think had more fun in Scouting:  my  cousin who earned Eagle at 13, or me who earned it 18?

 

So remember to let you nephew decide what to do, support him to the best of your abilities, and remember Eagle is not a race, or even a goal in Scouting.

 

Good luck.

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I think Scouting might just be exactly what your nephew needs.  Our troop is a bunch of misfits and goofballs -- the best type of guys around.  It ranges from the kids who talk about video games on hikes to the kids who bring books along on campouts.  The boys that join our troop become part of it.  I've picked up @@Stosh's advice to teach the boys that what is important in scouting is to take care of each other.  I've seen lots of boys find self confidence and independence in going to summer camp for a week.  I'll never forget the look on one kids face when his mom picked him up from his first boy scout campout.  The mom, all worrried about her son doing a campout without mom or dad (they had been in Cub Scouts) saw her son and asked him how it went.  He got the biggest ear to ear grin and said "awesome."   We had a 12 year old last summer accompany us on a 50 mile backpacking trek.  The boy struggled but by the end he had a tremendous sense of self accomplishment.  I've seen my son grow tremendously in the last three years (and I'm not just talking the 24 inches in height because his mom still insists on feeding him).  Last week, in reflecting on what went wrong at a meeting, he became frustrated because the other boys weren't doing the work.  He told me that and then paused and said, "I know I used to be that way, but now I get it."  

 

My son just got his life rank after three years at the end of 8th grade.  Three of his buddies just got Star.  A couple of his buddies are finishing up First Class.  At this point, he has four Merit Badges left for Eagle -- Communications, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the World and Personal Management.  His choice is to finish those off in the next year (as a Freshman) and the work on his Eagle Project the following year (as a Sophmore).  His progress has been more of taking advantage of merit badge opportunities than a conscious plan.  He was able to get First Class within a year.  Most of the skills were covered his first year at summer camp and what wasn't covered there, he was able to cover through our Troop's regular and outdoor program.  He picked up one merit badge the first summer at camp which was Swimming.  He picked up a couple more over the next two summers including First Aid and Emergency Preparedness.  The rest were electives that he was interested in -- archery (took two years at summer camp), kayaking, sailing, horseback riding and a couple of others that I don't remember.  Our Troop does group merit badge sessions and he picked up Cooking, Family Life, Personal Fitness, Sustainability and Citizenship in the Nation through the Troop.  I think that our Troop does those merit badges well because the Counselors actually know what they care doing (e.g. a High School Social Studies Teacher for Citizenship, an Environmental Engineer for Sustainability, going to a gym for Personal Fitness and me for Cooking and Family Life).  Along the way, he picked up Camping and Backpacking (I'm an MB Counselor for both).  I've seen the work he has put into merit badges -- he really tries to master the material rather than just get it checked off.  He is very active in out Troop's outdoor program - having camped over 70 nights and hiked over 225 miles in three years.  He has served as a Den Chief for the last two years and had the patch of an assistant patrol leader this year (he actually acted more like the patrol leader, but that is another issue).  I suspect he will be a Patrol Leader next year.  Due to patrol leaders not going on outings, he has served as a patrol leader on most of our campouts this past year and naturally leads on the backpacking treks.  This summer he is going to camp and picking up additional merit badges based on what is requried for the National Outdoor Medal (e.g. orienteering, soil and water, etc.).  He also is spending a week at National Youth Leadership Training this summer.  He was elected to the Order of the Arrow, did his Ordeal and is exciting about participating going forward (he is going to Conclave in two weeks). He and I are working together to develop a plan to present the Wilderness Survival merit badge to his troop as well as a couple of others in our District.

 

The reason for that long explanation is to show that a boy can, with minimal guidance from adults, progress toward Eagle relatively quickly in a boy-led troop that is not an "Eagle Mill" and can actually learn the necessary skills along the way.  I've told him that attaining Eagle is not what is important but HOW he attains Eagle -- what he learns both substantively and in terms of character and self-reliance.  He has picked up some of the terms used on these boards from me such as "Paper Eagles" -- the guys who just check the boxes without learning the skills and "Parlor Scouts" -- the guys who never go camping. He is working toward being a "real Eagle."   I've also emphasized that it is his journey and that I'm there to support him along the way.  It also has to be fun.  It was his idea to go horseback riding and sailing as part of our Troop's outdoor program.  

 

As for all of the Citizenship Merit Badges, I agree it is a lot of schoolwork.  Add in Personal Management, Communications and Family Life to that category.  Although I agree these are things a boy should know, they aren't the most exciting.  Citizenship in the Nation is relateively easy since it is very similar to what my son learned in 8th Grade.  Citizenship in the Community is good because it causes the boys to actually get out there and volunteer for an organization.  Citizenship in the World is great for the ever increasing global economy (I'm planning on taking the boys to the UN in NYC for that one).

 

As with @@desertrat77, I encourage you to have your nephew make his own plan.  As with @@Stosh, I encourage your nephew to have advancement be part of the adventure of scouting, to be something that happens naturally as part of being a scout rather than a goal in an of itself.  Your nephew deserves to learn what it is to be an Eagle, to enjoy and learn from the journey not just shoot for the rank by checking off the boxes.  Eagle should't be another participation trophy that goes on the dresser, Eagle should be something that defines the rest of the Scout's life.  As we say at our Troop's Eagle Courts of Honor, by becoming Eagle you have become a marked man, everything you do from now on will be judged based on how it comports with the Scout Oath and Scout Law, everything you do from now on will reflect on every Eagle that has gone before you and every Eagle that comes after you.

 

Thank you for your response.

 

Your son sounds like an outstanding young man, and hopeful my nephew will meet someone like him in scouts.

 

I was just concerned about all the schoolwork merit badges, because I think that is what my nephew needs to get away from (books, computers, TV...) and into the real world.

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There is nothing wrong with goal-setting. And I think that's the best thing that uncles can do. Some things:

Find service projects that could be done in the community. Start simple, with a community litter pick-up or maybe volunteering at a food pantry. Then move on to maybe painting a room or organizing a food/clothing drive.

Then, there's camping. For him to earn Eagle quickly, he will have to rack up lots of camping nights with his patrol or troop. Most of those will have to be weekend activities. Do you or your buddies have a nice place where 8 boys and a couple of adults could hike to and camp?

Teach him to invite his friends to scouts. Everything is easier with a buddy.

Get to know his troop leaders, support them any way you can. Often times we're looking for merit badge counselors. You might consider Personal Management.

Help your nephew find a job where he can earn money to pay for an additional camp or merit badge university. Cut a deal where you'll match whatever he earns.

Buy him his uniform, his handbook, pay his registration or Boy's Life fee, at each rank advancement, buy him a merit badge book. At 1st class, buy him the BSA Fieldbook.

 

So, those pencil-and-paper badges? I have a theory. In he '60s there was a shift towards Eagle being a boys-only award. (Prior to that, men serving the troop could earn rank along with their boys. They were rare, but probably enough to give feedback on what truly gave value to the award.) With that shift came the notion that we have to be redundant to what the boy should be learning in school. Plus we were at the height of the Cold War and reckoning with this global crisis was in everyone's minds. So, some required merit badges like Bird Study were moved aside for more detailed Citizenship. (Which is a pity, because one of the better markers of various global crises in this Post-Modern era is the shifting bird and insect populations.) Finally, constructs like equity and fairness came to the fore and the observation was made that Eagle rank would be "too easy" for adults and "unfair" to boys. The age 18 deadline was made hard and fast. One consequence was an increase in the academic burden of the rank that continues even in this century (you will note the EDGE and the need to log service hours and, most recently, cyberchip).So that's how we got here. On the bright side, I have seen scouts really enjoy these badges, and they might suit your nephew quite nicely.

 

Thank you for your response, and the input about the merit badges that I did not understand.

 

You made some very good suggestions.  I have already told my nephew that I will buy he uniform and books he needs, that way his mother cannot complain about "spending all that money".  A job is difficult because his parents only want him to go to school and be quiet.  Also, whenever he gets any money his old sister either steals it, or his mother makes him spend it on her to show how much he "appreciates all she has done for him". 

 

Unfortunately, the only friends my nephew has are his dog and his computer.  That is why I want him to be in a situation where he can work on his social skills.

 

I will do whatever I can to support him, while trying to guard against dong too much.

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@@UncleP

 

After reading your response to my post, I would like to offer up a suggestion you could do to help your nephew with this Scouting experiment. 

 

THROW AWAY ANY AND ALL PLANS!  -  Scouting is not just a mental process of planning, it is an emotional adventure of doing!.  "Life is what happens while you're making your plans".    If all your nephew is interested in is the intellectual aspects of Scouting buy him a Scout Handbook so he can read up on it.  It's his style of learning.  The whole distraction of EXPERIENCING Scouting is altogether different and how your nephew does that will determine what kind of eagle (or person for that matter) he will become in life.

 

Is Philmont a 100 mile walk with a backpack on or is it really standing on mountain tops looking out over the Rockies enjoying a panoramic view of spectacular beauty?  Is it a boat ride or is it taking on the challenge of whitewater kayaking a stretch of class 3 rapids on a beautiful northern Wisconsin river or canoeing/camping for 9 days in the isolated wilderness of the Boundary Water Canoe Area of northern Minnesota?

 

 Is it all that important to rush into the store to pick up milk only to have an elderly lady with a walker struggling to get in blocking the door and you hold the door so she will move along more quickly, and when she apologizes for being so slow you can't think of anything to say except, "Don't worry about it, I have all day, just take your time." and you chuckle to yourself that as an Eagle Scout you just told a huge lie to this woman!?

 

Just remind your nephew, that those types of issues of the heart are part of being an Eagle Scout, but they are not necessary if they are only planning to fast track the requirements.

 

All Eagles have passed all the requirements.... They all have the certificate.  The difference, however, between whether it is a paper Eagle based on the academic, mental achievement or is it a real Eagle based on the emotional, experiences of what an Eagle means rather than just what an Eagle is.

 

I know of people who went into teaching because it pays well and one has the summer off.  I also know of people who went into teaching because they love to help children learn and grow.  Maybe it's the question your nephew needs to answer before he signs up for this Scouting experiment of his.

 

Let it be known that I, too, think your nephew could benefit greatly with a proper Scout experience, but I've seen a lot boys with this type of attitude crash and burn soon after realizing the challenge isn't an academic walk in the park, it's a roll up your sleeves and start taking care of the people who mean something to you in life kind of program.

 

Thank you again for your response.  I will take the advise that you and others have been kind enough to give, and tell my nephew that planning everything out will only make things worse.  The problem is he is so intense, and his life has been so limited that he does not know how to enjoy himself.

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