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Cubmaster Pete

Boys "Eagle Out" of troop

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I want to agree Colonel (love the username, btw)

but can't completely.  

Without adults at the helm that foster it, it's not very realistic I think in man cases to think a scout is going to have what it takes to make significant change in his short time with a troop.

I'm 50 years old, but as MC I'm nearly powerless on my own to stave off the adult onslaught against the patrol method.  What's a young scout to do?  I'm starting to realize that It's a big ship for one person to turn, if he's not one of the "key 3"

 

I totally agree.

 

Adults must help foster the program for the older boys, and galvanize them around designing, developing and executing such a program. I had wanted to make that clear in my original post. Sorry if I didn't.

 

I replied to your plight in the other thread you created. I think the very least you can do is sit down with the SM and discuss what you see. Often, if they have been in the role a while, they won't see what you do or may dismiss it altogether. Take keeping Scouts together in patrols. The best advice I ever got was "never break up friends UNLESS they are a detriment to the patrol or unit." BSA did a few studies a few year back that showed that kids that crossover with friends and stay in patrols together stay in Scouting longer. That's a fact. Unless they already have friends in that patrol, they will struggle to integrate.

 

Back to the role of early Eagles, if more of them took time to act as stewards to the younger Scouts, they would have paid back what I believe they owe the unit. I am a firm believer in "stewardship". Eagling-out, or quitting, is just another narcissistic habit too many kids have formed in the last 20 years. It's more about "them" and what they got out of Scouting than giving back.

 

Long ago I had a soccer coach who was from Africa. He would always tell us how he grew up and how lucky he was to have had mentors in his life, both youth and adults. He likened learning to drawing water from a well. He said, "Every day you go to the well and draw water, just like you learn, learn learn every day." He said, "If you continue to take from the well and don't help the men in the village dig the well deeper, then soon the well runs dry and no one else can drink from it." The obvious connection being that, if you continue to take without giving back, those who come behind you will have nothing.

 

It has been 40 years, but I still remember that man and that one training session where I first heard that story. I have never forgotten it and I challenge ALL our Scouts, not just the Eagles, to continue to give back what you have taken out of Scouting. And no, your Eagle project does not constitute your bill paid in full. That merely got you Eagle...you still have to give back.

 

My two cents for what it is worth.

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It's curious.  If our goal is develop character in the boys, why do we care where they practice it?  I can think of several examples where boys left at age 15 with their Eagle badge.  They went on to practice the leadership and personal development skills they learned in any number of other programs, school, sports, etc.  Why is that looked down on?  Seems to me that's exactly the kind of success we're looking for.  Putting some sort of life-long debt on a 15 or 16 year old boy sort of diminishes the good work we're supposed to be doing, no?  Good work, and watching a young man succeed in the world is its own reward, expecting a return on investment is a business deal.  

 

I understand the sentiment but it leads me to a question - if we decide it doesn't matter where a 15-year old Eagle Scout practices the leadership skills we hope they've gained, why even bother keeping the Boy Scout age at 17 - why not just change the program so that Boy Scouts is from 11-15 and Eagle Scout must be earned before a boys 16th birthday?

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As others have mentioned, it could be just as simple as the fact that the scouts are ready to do something different.   Move on to the next chapter in their life.

 

If they served honorably and worked hard while they were on the path to Eagle, thanks for your service and all the best

 

If they just filled squares to get Eagle and then rushed out the door, perhaps that's just as well.   Should their example be the one for younger scouts to emulate?

 

Either way, if they are worth their salt as an Eagle, they'll come back to the program, eventually.

 

PS.  Can't resist a bit of heresy.  As an Eagle scout, I think the whole "marked man" and all of the life-time commitment oaths are a bit much.  A true Eagle will give back, in one way or another, without the solemn oaths and such.

Edited by desertrat77
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Yes, I've heard it but we address this in our district AT the EBOR if the Scout makes it.  We explain our expectations to stick around help teach younger scouts, provide leadership modeling and more.

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In our Troop, we have a much higher percentage of our Scouts earn Eagle than the national average, but we are hardly an Eagle Mill. Generally, the boys that earn Eagle Scout are 17 or almost, and our last two Eagles were within a month of their 18th birthday. The last young Eagle we had was just shy of 16, and remained active until he graduated from high school- he continued to be active, serving as SPL and then as an Instructor, and racking up a total of 55 Merit Badges. My son turned 15 in December and has completed all of the requirements for Eagle except for his project, which he has already pitched to the beneficiary. He will likely have his Board of Review before the end of the school year. He has absolutely no intention of leaving the Troop until his 18th birthday. We do remind our Scouts that they have a duty to the Troop to pay forward to the younger Scouts in their charge, as an older Scout paid forward to them when they were younger. That is the way it is supposed to work.

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I understand the sentiment but it leads me to a question - if we decide it doesn't matter where a 15-year old Eagle Scout practices the leadership skills we hope they've gained, why even bother keeping the Boy Scout age at 17 - why not just change the program so that Boy Scouts is from 11-15 and Eagle Scout must be earned before a boys 16th birthday?

This somewhat falls into the idea that if the program goes with what some have suggested, one earns eagle before 14 so they can go on to Venturing hassle free.  That way the Boy Scout part of the 11-14 year olds will be guaranteed no eagles in the troop.

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I hear the term regularly. Most often attached to the question how to prevent it, and/or with a tone of disappointment.

 

As a UC my usual reply is a question. Why do you think it is happening. I am given all kinds of reasons, most having nothing to do with the program, which is usually very much the issue. 

 

 I have been am ASM with my troop for about a year and a half. All of the Eagles we have had in that time have Eagled just as they turn 18. I am the advisor for our older patrol and several of them, if they get their Eagle, will do so this coming year close to aging out.  The good thing is they are staying with the program. I would love to see the get their Eagle sooner and stay around as examples and mentors. 

 

But I tell them and their parents, it is not my goal to get them to Eagle. My goal is the Aims of Scouting and helping them achieve their goals. Getting Eagle should not be my goal or even their parents. It should be theirs if they choose. I discourage the "Wheels for Wings" concept and other such inducements. I do offer guidance, mentoring and any help I can provide for them to achieve their goals, and if Eagle is one of them great! They have my full support and any assistance I can provide. 

 

Those that "Eagle Out" long before their 18th birthday can be a sign of a program that does not meet their needs. But no always. I just barely got my Eagle despite 50 plus merit badges and getting Life at 15. But it was not because my troop program was not good. I had a good, active, troop. I managed to go to 2 high adventure bases and a Jamboree all after I achieved the rank of Life. But I was also active in multiple sports, academics, and other extracurricular activities, not to mention dating. And getting Eagle is not easy, my project took 5 months of solid work to complete. You mix in the 3 G's (Girls, Gas and Games) with other extracurricular programs and academics, available time becomes rare. Attending meetings is harder, weekend outings more so. The time needed for PoR also adds more time to Scouting and Eagle projects can be very difficult to fit in. 

 

All that said, it is a difficult task for boys to create a program that keeps all ages and ranks enthusiastic and engaged. As an adult leader I try to encourage our Scouts to work together to create programs that work for all of them, regardless of age or rank, and for older Scouts we may focus on more high adventure that suits their needs. That is no small task for them to do. 

 

While I do get disappointed in seeing Eagles withdraw, I also understand it. I do not begrudge their need and desire to other things besides Scouting, but I do try to help them make the most of their time while in Scouting, enjoy it and continue to learn from it. 

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@@HelpfulTracks As a UC I also face the same denial issues in our neck of the woods.  After many, many, many years I have never heard a SM tell me the reason the older boys are leaving is because he's/she's running a poor program for them.  I hear about the fumes, the sports, the jobs, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.  One day before I die I would love to have a SM tell me he/she is overwhelmed by the older boys, their need for ever increasing demands for more and more adventure, that they don't want to babysit 6th graders anymore but want to experience a scout opportunity they have been working on for the past 5 years, what can I do to help these boys???

 

Nope, never gonna hear that one.

 

Instead all I hear is how excuses absolve the SM's from having to step up and help the older boys with the same energy and determination they do with the younger boys.  110 miles on a Philmont or A/T hike?  250 miles of canoeing on the Yukon?  RAGBRAI? one of the days is always 100+ miles!!!  They look at me like I've lost my mind. 

 

I don't know if it's true or not but someone said that the first people to walk the A/T, even before it was completed was 4 Boy Scouts?  Or the 1936 World Jamboree where some Argentinian Scouts walked from Argentina to the US to participate?  Or "back in the day" when summer camp was summer camp, all summer long! 

 

I can see where girls may be a higher priority later on in the teen years.  Sports will always draw a few and cars can and often do drive the roads to campgrounds.  A job?  How can a job be a higher priority than scouts?  I held a job all the way through my scouting experience, made a lot of money and paid for my scout experience without ever competing with it. 

 

But alas, my troop was totally ill-equipped to handle older boys, I never knew of a boy who ever eagled in that troop.  So after 4 years of going nowhere (I was a 2nd Class scout), Civil Air Patrol, functional radio operation and navigation opportunities along with the potential of a glider's license came along, my buddies and I exited the program.  Girls were still there (it was co-ed), still got my driver's license, and still held down a job. 

 

It might do well to really find out why boys are leaving your troop's program instead of simply offering up speculative excuses that seem plausible to those around you.

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@@HelpfulTracks As a UC I also face the same denial issues in our neck of the woods.  After many, many, many years I have never heard a SM tell me the reason the older boys are leaving is because he's/she's running a poor program for them.  I hear about the fumes, the sports, the jobs, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.  One day before I die I would love to have a SM tell me he/she is overwhelmed by the older boys, their need for ever increasing demands for more and more adventure, that they don't want to babysit 6th graders anymore but want to experience a scout opportunity they have been working on for the past 5 years, what can I do to help these boys???

 

 

I would like to say that keeping older scouts is a complicated problem, but part of the complexity is what the adults presume Scouts of this age want or need from the program. At the time I was a leader in our troop, it grew to 100 scouts strong with almost 50% of them 14 and older. Of those 50 scouts, only about 15 of them would tell you they wanted more adventure. And while a few of the scouts might say they didn't enjoy teaching, it wasn't about teaching the younger scouts they didn't like, it was just teaching in general. And I'm sure older scouts as well as adults don't like baby sitting younger scouts. But they very much enjoy being role models to the younger scouts. They are great at it.

 

What attracted older scouts to our troop is that the program respected their maturity as adults. They we allowed, actually expected, to make decisions that determined how the unit should be run. They we given the respect of adults. It is as simple as that.

 

The struggle in our program is the adults learning how to mold the program up to that mature level. It's not easy and the adults will make a lot, A LOT of mistakes getting there. But if the adults embrace the older scouts as part of the troop team in developing that program, the program will grow and the scouts will stay as long as they can because they like the kind of person they have become with they go there.

 

The quality of a Troop as a whole is reflective of the older scouts (role models). If the adults want a quality young scout program, they have to start with the oldest scouts first. Just ask the scouters in this discussion who say their older scouts are staying and aging out of their program. I'm sure they will pretty much agree.

 

Barry

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@@HelpfulTracks As a UC I also face the same denial issues in our neck of the woods.  After many, many, many years I have never heard a SM tell me the reason the older boys are leaving is because he's/she's running a poor program for them.  I hear about the fumes, the sports, the jobs, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.  One day before I die I would love to have a SM tell me he/she is overwhelmed by the older boys, their need for ever increasing demands for more and more adventure, that they don't want to babysit 6th graders anymore but want to experience a scout opportunity they have been working on for the past 5 years, what can I do to help these boys???

 

Nope, never gonna hear that one.

 

Instead all I hear is how excuses absolve the SM's from having to step up and help the older boys with the same energy and determination they do with the younger boys.  110 miles on a Philmont or A/T hike?  250 miles of canoeing on the Yukon?  RAGBRAI? one of the days is always 100+ miles!!!  They look at me like I've lost my mind. 

 

I don't know if it's true or not but someone said that the first people to walk the A/T, even before it was completed was 4 Boy Scouts?  Or the 1936 World Jamboree where some Argentinian Scouts walked from Argentina to the US to participate?  Or "back in the day" when summer camp was summer camp, all summer long! 

 

I can see where girls may be a higher priority later on in the teen years.  Sports will always draw a few and cars can and often do drive the roads to campgrounds.  A job?  How can a job be a higher priority than scouts?  I held a job all the way through my scouting experience, made a lot of money and paid for my scout experience without ever competing with it. 

 

But alas, my troop was totally ill-equipped to handle older boys, I never knew of a boy who ever eagled in that troop.  So after 4 years of going nowhere (I was a 2nd Class scout), Civil Air Patrol, functional radio operation and navigation opportunities along with the potential of a glider's license came along, my buddies and I exited the program.  Girls were still there (it was co-ed), still got my driver's license, and still held down a job. 

 

It might do well to really find out why boys are leaving your troop's program instead of simply offering up speculative excuses that seem plausible to those around you.

 

Ha Ha - I forgot about having a job back then. But that was only something I did so I could do the things I wanted to do! That and my father made sure I worked to understand the value of an education. He made sure I worked by requiring me to pay for those High Adventure Trips and Jamboree. 

 

You are correct, finding out why Scouts leave the program is critical. Sometimes it is for reason we choose to believe, such as the 3 G's, as often as not, or perhaps more often, it's because the program isn't meeting their needs. 

 

Hopefully leaving Helpful Tracks

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 scouts will stay as long as they can because they like the kind of person they have become with they go there.

Having seen the changes I can attest that this is key. Well said, Barry.

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Let's face the truth: some are just in it for themselves. looks good on a resume' or whatever. The good ones? They stay because they know what it is all about. You can't teach people how to care. They either do or they don't. Eagles are no different. Sad but true.

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Back to the role of early Eagles, if more of them took time to act as stewards to the younger Scouts, they would have paid back what I believe they owe the unit. I am a firm believer in "stewardship". 

So when exactly in the process of recruiting boys do you tell them and their parents they owe a debt to the unit?  Do you have them sign a letter of indentured servitude?

 

I understand the sentiment but it leads me to a question - if we decide it doesn't matter where a 15-year old Eagle Scout practices the leadership skills we hope they've gained, why even bother keeping the Boy Scout age at 17 - why not just change the program so that Boy Scouts is from 11-15 and Eagle Scout must be earned before a boys 16th birthday?

I suppose one could argue the opposite just as easily.  If the boys are expected to "pay back" why shouldn't we raise the age limit to 25 or 30 or whatever we determine is the correct number of years of service required to repay their debt?

 

If a boy's interests change at 14, 15, 16 years old, and he's able to take the principles of scouting into his new interests, he's the best kind of ambassador for the program we can imagine.  That should be celebrated just as much as a boy who stays with scouting until he's 18, or 21 or continues in the program into his old age.

 

We give our service to the BSA, our councils, our units and our boys.  Give.  It's a gift and gifts don't come with strings attached.  

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So when exactly in the process of recruiting boys do you tell them and their parents they owe a debt to the unit?  Do you have them sign a letter of indentured servitude?

 

You might want to check your terms. Stewardship is a very different concept than servitude. We believe stewardship is part of character development. Sound familiar? One of the aims of Scouting. Certainly, getting Eagle and leaving does not speak much to character in our book.

 

Since you asked, we tell Scouts and their families when they join us that our unit prides itself on building the boys' character. To us that means that you give back what you take out. You don't cut and run once you get Eagle (if that's 14-16), you give back. You mentor. You coach. You give "cheerful service".

 

BTW, no one has ever left that meeting saying, "Nope, not the troop for me." In fact, when we interview Scouts/families that leave our unit, NO ONE has ever said, "Gee, you know that thing where you strongly encourage them to give back? That's just too much for us."

Edited by Col. Flagg
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The whole business about fumes and we have to get them to eagle before they quit is nothing I'm interested in.

At Round Table last month the break out session for troops was along the lines of how do we get scouts to do a better job of scheduling their time on the required merit badges so they don't miss out on Eagle.  The idea that it's OK if they don't make Eagle was never broached, maybe I failed at being Brave for not broaching it, but it didn't seem to be a question anyone there wanted to wrestle with.

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