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Origin of the Eagle Pledge and Eagle Charges

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Until I read this thread today I had never so much as heard of and "Eagle Pledge/Charge/Oath/Monologue" or whatever. Of the five Courts of Honor I have attended this year, none have had anything like this, nor did I at my own. Is this an official BSA element that I missed? I would have thought such a thing would be included in the Official BSA Handbook ...

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Until I read this thread today I had never so much as heard of and "Eagle Pledge/Charge/Oath/Monologue" or whatever. Of the five Courts of Honor I have attended this year, none have had anything like this, nor did I at my own. Is this an official BSA element that I missed? I would have thought such a thing would be included in the Official BSA Handbook ...

Thanks for the report. Were the ceremonies you attended at the same troop or different units?

 

The National Eagle Scout Association promotes these in some of their sample scripts for ECoHs. There's a book (maybe two?) specifically on ECoH ceremonies. So clearly your people have either never seen them. Or, they saw them and said "Meh, who needs it?"

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Our Council gave us a PDF of a bunch of scripts while telling us to keep it simple. The best ones I have been to have been the simple ones. In my Troop I have seen some ceremonies clogged up by speakers who decided to include an unsolicited Eagle charge/History of the Eagle/Yet another John Wayne re-telling when all that was wanted was a little personal story.

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My ECOH in 1978 included an "Eagle Scout Charge," and according to the program, that was done by the DE.  That was followed by the "Eagle Scout Investiture," which I believe was when the medal was pinned on my uniform.  That was done by the Scoutmaster as well as the guest speaker, who was a minister who I believe was a family friend of the other scout becoming an Eagle that day.

 

All Eagles in the audience were called upon to come forward and gave the scout sign, but I believe they gave the Scout Oath and/or Law, although I could be mistaken.  I don't have any recollection of taking any special oath.  The entire program is as follows:

 

Opening Ceremony

Convening Court of Honor

Invocation

Introduction of Candidates

Eagle Scout Requirements

Introduction of Guest Speaker

Guest Speaker

Eagle Scout Charge

Introduction of Parents

Eagle Scout Investiture

Congratulatory Letters

Presentation of Legion Awards

Recognition of Parents

Candidate's Comments

Closing Court of Honor

Benediction

Retiring Colors

 

IIRC, the ceremony took about an hour, and was followed by a reception hosted by the troop "Mother's Club".

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1963.  You do the math.   Regular Troop CoH, .   We said the Scout Promise, Law, and that was it.  SM talks about the "Eagle Trail", I think, Mom pins Eagle pin on shirt, Dad beams,  Applause, photo op.  punch and cookies afterward.   That was it.   I was the first Eagle in the Troop, no one else to share it with.  No previous examples to compare to. No precedent, I guess. Local newspaper article in my scrap book.  

  'Course, now,  I do remember that I wasn't asked what I wanted.  It was just the last  part of the usual CoH which was (by tradition) very nice and thoughtfully done.  Candles on a log candelabra:   Three tall ones in the middle for the Scout Promise pieces (I came to believe there are FOUR parts to the Promise, more on that another time), twelve more for the Scout Law, which were lit in turn by one candle held by the Ceremonialists , as the Spirit of Scouting. 

 

I have seen many Eagle ceremonies in the intervening years.  I have served as speaker, awarder, and Chaplain to "say a few words".  I tend to agree with the overload complaints.   The last one I attended, I was not asked to participate, and perhaps that was a good thing.  The Scout is a good kid, very much a "Type A" personality, and very involved in the Troop. I expect he will be in Scouting for quite a while yet.    He had 87 Merit Badges at age 15. He had , as speakers, his ex-Cubmaster, OA Chapter Advisor from his previous Council, DE from his previous council,  the state legislator from our District, pastor from home church (ceremony held in Troop's CO), present Smaster, previous Smaster,  summer camp Director, and someone as MC who I did not recognize, but evidently knew the Scout  (he was Wood Badge) and had definitely done this MC thing before.  His script was in a three ring binder, in sheet protectors.  

The punch and cookies (Eagle Scout cookies) and cheese and cracker thingies were in the church social hall, served by a caterer. The Scout's scout history was displayed on seven big tables (the mom is a scrapbooker, the older sister is a pro-photographer) around the outside of the room. 

They had a large extended family in attendance, and a lot of the Troop, and many Scout folks from other areas of his past.   It was a BIG affair.  I had a good conversation with the Scout's Montessorie Teacher (first grade?)  (he did his project for the school), who knew very little about Scouting ("he worked hard on that project"). It was  Two hours before I left, and I arrived 15 minutes late. 

 

Very good cookies....

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Introduction of Candidates?  What Candidate?  This isn't the Order of the Arrow - its a Court of Honor to formally present to an Eagle Scout the awards he's already earned - he isn't a candidate - he's an Eagle Scout.

 

My best friend had his Eagle Scout ceremony in 1978 - his Troop put together the ceremony using the suggestions from NESA (It was scheduled a couple of months in advance so that his grandparents from England could come to the ceremony).  They did an Eagle Charge and an Eagle Pledge.  The ceremony took place in a church and took about an hour.  At least the Troop paid for the ceremony and simple reception afterwards.

 

My ceremony was in 1979.  It took place at a regularly scheduled Court of Honor of my Explorer Post's sister Troop (at the time, I was no longer a member of the Troop - I left the Troop when I was 16 in favor of my Post - I had to give one of them up and the Post was more of what I was looking for - most of the members of the Post were current or former members of the Troop anyway) - I earned my Eagle Scout as an Explorer Scout - within my Post - but my brothers were still involved in the Troop and we did some activities together.   At the end of the Troop's awards, the SPL turned the ceremony over to the President of my Post.  He called for an Eagle Scout to escort me to the front  - my best friend, who was neither part of my Troop or Post, did the honors.   After introducing me, the President asked that my parents be escorted up - they were brought up by my younger brothers who were in the Troop.  The Pres invited my former Scoutmaster up (the one I grew up in the Troop with) to tell a story - he, of course, had to go with the story of waking up to see a fox sitting on my chest licking the salt off my forehead on a backpacking trip in Isle Royale.  Then my Post Advisor was called up to give my parents their "parent pins" and to give my mother the medal to pin to my shirt.  That was it - took less than 10 minutes.  There was no Eagle Charge, no Eagle Pledge, no long recitations of letters or congratulations - no fancy candle lighting ceremony - just congratulations and handshakes and hugs all around.  My best friend told me he wished his ceremony could have been that simple.

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Introduction of Candidates?  What Candidate?  This isn't the Order of the Arrow - its a Court of Honor to formally present to an Eagle Scout the awards he's already earned - he isn't a candidate - he's an Eagle Scout.

I was the candidate.  If you have objections to the terminology, you'll have to take that up with the Mothers' Club of my old troop, which I assume probably printed them.  I'm merely quoting.  And everybody knew who they meant, especially after we were introduced.  :)

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Thanks for the report. Were the ceremonies you attended at the same troop or different units?

 

The National Eagle Scout Association promotes these in some of their sample scripts for ECoHs. There's a book (maybe two?) specifically on ECoH ceremonies. So clearly your people have either never seen them. Or, they saw them and said "Meh, who needs it?"

Two were in the same troop, the others in different units. The ones I attended were basically glorified Courts of Honor featuring only one or two Scouts. The basic format was almost always:

 

- Opening ceremonies (Flag Ceremony, Invocation, Scout Oath and Law)

 

- Invitation to the "Eagle's Nest" (where they invite anybody in the audience who has earned the rank of Eagle to sit in some chairs that have been put in a front corner of the hall (does anybody else do this?))

 

- A brief and often diluted review of the Eagle Requirements

 

- "An "introduction" of the Eagle Scout (he's not a candidate anymore, is he? once he has passed his Eagle Board of review, from that moment he is an Eagle Scout - isn't that right?) that basically goes "Filiberto, come up here. Filiberto is a great kid; I've known him a long time and ... we're real proud of him." And that's about it.

 

- A long and drawn out powerpoint slide show with loud and cheesy music telling his entire life story which takes around 15 - 20 minutes

 

- A "guest speaker" (usually just somebody from the chartered Organization assigned to offer some words)

 

- Another sappy powerpoint with various pictures of eagles and flags and random 'inspiring images' of ... well, of anything really, from Boy Scouts to firemen to teachers to puppies ... I am never sure what their purpose is

 

- The presentation of the award (as in, they call up the Scout and his parents to more or less say "congratulations Billy!" He then gives his parents their pins, pictures are taken, and that's basically it)

 

- A closing Scoutmaster's Minute (if that)

 

- The colors are retrieved, there is a benediction, and then lots of refreshments

 

I will be honest, they can be pretty dry affairs. I know mine was not very fancy either, although I must also add that as a kid I was never eager for undue attention, so I preferred something more understated, although it was certainly more dignified that these long multi-media powerpoint selfie-festivals we get nowadays. I don't know; I feel they shouldn't be overdone either, but at the same time they should feel ... special. It's a hard balance to find I imagine. I agree that simplicity has more gravitas and dignity than the birthday party/wedding reception type events I have sometimes encountered, but we still want them to feel like they have earned something to remember. I would love to attend one that is really well-done someday. I know I make sure my Webelos Scouts get a really nice Arrow of Light Ceremony; I wish I could give the Eagle Scouts something similar, but for now they are not under my stewardship.

Edited by The Latin Scot

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Introduction of Candidates?  What Candidate?  This isn't the Order of the Arrow - its a Court of Honor to formally present to an Eagle Scout the awards he's already earned - he isn't a candidate - he's an Eagle Scout.

 

Some troop are old school. While you may have passed your BOR, until you received your rank at the COH, you were considers a "candidate." And not just for Eagle, but for all ranks. Awards were only handed out at COHs.

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Some troop are old school. While you may have passed your BOR, until you received your rank at the COH, you were considers a "candidate." And not just for Eagle, but for all ranks. Awards were only handed out at COHs.

 

Agreed.  That was old school "tradition".  Requirements and the advancement program were never structured that way.  

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Grant you, the term "candidate" may be tradition and not structured that way, until the 1989 changes to BSA program, i.e. doing away with Skill Awards and time requirements for T-2-1 ranks; introduction of NSPs and venture crews now called venture patrols, etc program materials showed that you got your rank and MBs at COHs. In fact I heard one reason why they got rid of Skill Awards was because the immediate recognition was no longer needed since Scouts are suppose to get their ranks as soon as possible after completing the BOR.

 

One reason why COHs are supposed to be scheduled quarterly is because originally Scouts had to wait until the COH to get their rank. But most troops I know about nowadays only do semiannual COHs because they see no need to hold them more often with the Scouts getting their ranks as soon as they complete their BORs. Heck I know a few troops keep a "war chest" of ranks and MBs so that they can issue the rank the same night the Scout completes his BOR!

Edited by Eagle94-A1

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Grant you, the term "candidate" may be tradition and not structured that way, until the 1989 changes to BSA program, i.e. doing away with Skill Awards and time requirements for T-2-1 ranks; introduction of NSPs and venture crews now called venture patrols, etc program materials showed that you got your rank and MBs at COHs. In fact I heard one reason why they got rid of Skill Awards was because the immediate recognition was no longer needed since Scouts are suppose to get their ranks as soon as possible after completing the BOR.

 

One reason why COHs are supposed to be scheduled quarterly is because originally Scouts had to wait until the COH to get their rank. But most troops I know about nowadays only do semiannual COHs because they see no need to hold them more often with the Scouts getting their ranks as soon as they complete their BORs. Heck I know a few troops keep a "war chest" of ranks and MBs so that they can issue the rank the same night the Scout completes his BOR!

 

I would not mind semi-annual COHs.  Seems like quarterly COHs often have not much to recognize and often seem like a COH to have a COH.

 

I like the idea of having a supply chest of ranks and MBs so that scouts can be uniformed correctly.  Have the COH recognize the progress, but have the scouts uniformed correctly.  

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I would not mind semi-annual COHs.  Seems like quarterly COHs often have not much to recognize and often seem like a COH to have a COH.

 

I like the idea of having a supply chest of ranks and MBs so that scouts can be uniformed correctly.  Have the COH recognize the progress, but have the scouts uniformed correctly.  

 

Exactly. Our Scouts even view the semi-annual COHS as a COH to have one.

 

As for the "war chest" many have come about because councils and scout shops run out of stuff when needed. It was funny, no matter how many MBs we would order for the rush after summer camp, we would still run out of them.

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On 9/28/2016 at 10:23 PM, The Latin Scot said:

- Invitation to the "Eagle's Nest" (where they invite anybody in the audience who has earned the rank of Eagle to sit in some chairs that have been put in a front corner of the hall (does anybody else do this?))

We have an upcoming ECOH for two new Eagle Scouts. The boys have requested the format to include an Eagle's Nest.

I have always *hated* being asked to sit separately from the rest of the audience like that. Isn't it enough to just acknowledge the other Eagle Scouts in the room by asking them to briefly stand?

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