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Let's talk about the Eagle Scout journey

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On 12/21/2017 at 2:17 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

I've told the Tale of Two Eagles often enough on this website that I don't think I need to repeat it.

I think I understand different perspectives from sitting on Eagle BORs for many years.

While some highlight the maturity and experience of an Eagle Scout candidate who presents himself at 17 years and 11 months and 29 days, I find myself fighting back negative thoughts. Sometimes he doesn't even own a Scout shirt that fits him anymore, and his most recent patches are from attending summer camp in 2014. Asking a simple question like "when was the last time you went camping with your troop?" reveals that he went inactive years ago and only returned for some last-minute cramming to finish his Eagle. Occasionally he even admits his motivation is to list Eagle Scout on his college applications. I honestly scratch my head and wonder why others praise his procrastination as something we like to see in BSA.

I contrast that with a recent 14 year-old Eagle Scout from our troop. He is on fire with Scouting and hasn't missed a campout in two years. He attended his Eagle Scout BOR wearing 42 merit badges on his sash. Contrary to dropping out of Scouting after earning Eagle, he is now pursuing OA membership and has plans to attend two different BSA summer camps in 2018. He leads by example and has motivated other Scouts by showing what is possible when you "strike while the iron is hot". I know some will reflexively dismiss him simply because of his age, but to me he epitomizes a dedicated Scout who has made Eagle a priority over other endeavors. (BTW: One of his biased reviewers spent 20 minutes trying to rattle him by aggressively quizzing him on the symbolic elements of the First Class badge, fleur-de-lis, etc - as if that would be somehow be a basis for denying him Eagle. It was embarrassing and the other reviewers were perplexed by the entire line of questioning.)

We all have our biases, and I don't expect to change any minds on this topic. I will simply say that I take much more pleasure in reviewing an enthusiastic 14 year-old who is overflowing with Scout spirit as opposed a nonchalant 18 year-old who barely managed to limp across the finish line.

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I understand where you are coming from. There are all kind of Eagles. Some are pushed and prodded, and some aren't. Some are gung ho and some aren't. Some, speed up the trail, and others like me, take a slightly longer, fun route.

My purpose in the Tale of Two Eagles is remind people to let the Scout do it on his own, and let him have FUN. If he is having fun, he will stay in the program, and give back. I don't care at what age you make Eagle, as long as you give back as much as possible. I had friends come back and work with the troop while in college. We had one who visited us on leave from the military. 

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Lol. Great question. And I'm laughing because I remember a very specific BOR with a 16-year-old. It was for Second Class.  We have about 100 kids in the troop, so I didn't know them all. 

All I knew was the next BOR was for Second Class. Well,  in strolls this 16-year-old kid.  We thought it was a mistake and we were checking the  name on the IHR and everything. And the kid speaks up: "No you got it right. I'm here for the Second Class BOR." 

This kid had been a Scout since he was 11. AND he had over 75 miles hiking and over 40 nights camping. He had been to summer camp a couple of times and maybe even a Jamboree or Philmont - can't remember which. Plus, he had about a dozen MB. 

So the conversation starts and the kid says he never really had an interest in advancement. He just like to camp, hike, fish, hunt, etc. Just a real outdoorsy kid who apparently hated the advancement stuff and had found a home with an organization that would get him in the outdoors. We told him it was cool, but that we could certainly use his experience and age in leading younger Scouts. The Scout knew how to cook, first-aid, build fires, pitch tents, even knots and  lashings. 

I think it was his last rank but he stayed active until he was 18. And as I said, he was a super kid. 

So different strokes for different folks. 

 

 

 

 

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On 12/27/2017 at 8:43 PM, gblotter said:

I think I understand different perspectives from sitting on Eagle BORs for many years.

While some highlight the maturity and experience of an Eagle Scout candidate who presents himself at 17 years and 11 months and 29 days, I find myself fighting back negative thoughts. Sometimes he doesn't even own a Scout shirt that fits him anymore, and his most recent patches are from attending summer camp in 2014. Asking a simple question like "when was the last time you went camping with your troop?" reveals that he went inactive years ago and only returned for some last-minute cramming to finish his Eagle. Occasionally he even admits his motivation is to list Eagle Scout on his college applications. I honestly scratch my head and wonder why others praise his procrastination as something we like to see in BSA.

I contrast that with a recent 14 year-old Eagle Scout from our troop. He is on fire with Scouting and hasn't missed a campout in two years. He attended his Eagle Scout BOR wearing 42 merit badges on his sash. Contrary to dropping out of Scouting after earning Eagle, he is now pursuing OA membership and has plans to attend two different BSA summer camps in 2018. He leads by example and has motivated other Scouts by showing what is possible when you "strike while the iron is hot". I know some will reflexively dismiss him simply because of his age, but to me he epitomizes a dedicated Scout who has made Eagle a priority over other endeavors. (BTW: One of his biased reviewers spent 20 minutes trying to rattle him by aggressively quizzing him on the symbolic elements of the First Class badge, fleur-de-lis, etc - as if that would be somehow be a basis for denying him Eagle. It was embarrassing and the other reviewers were perplexed by the entire line of questioning.)

We all have our biases, and I don't expect to change any minds on this topic. I will simply say that I take much more pleasure in reviewing an enthusiastic 14 year-old who is overflowing with Scout spirit as opposed a nonchalant 18 year-old who barely managed to limp across the finish line.

Terrible BOR. I serve on Eagle BORs and I would have stopped the guy questioning the parts of the badge after about two questions. 

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I wonder how many would get Eagle today if one of the requirements were changed to not being able to schedule the EBOR until after the scout has reached the age of 17 years, 6 months?  I'm sure it would quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

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The biggest issue with Eagle is the paperwork. The various requirements are easy. Leadership is easy though in big troops getting a slot when you want it can be a problem. MBs are easy but finding a class or the time to work on them can be challenging. It’s when you hit the project and the workbook that your eyes glaze over. None of my friends got through it without adult assistance of some kind. The younger kids who got through it had mom and dad help them almost entirely on the project and the workbook. 

Edited by Back Pack
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I'm sure this process will come in handy when mom, dad, and an advisor help the boy with this promotions at work and his rank advancement in the military. 

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On 1/11/2018 at 8:47 AM, Back Pack said:

The biggest issue with Eagle is the paperwork. ... It’s when you hit the project and the workbook that your eyes glaze over. None of my friends got through it without adult assistance of some kind.

You speak the truth. I have witnessed the same thing with many Eagle candidates. The process can stall for many months because the boy is so intimidated/bored/repelled by the paper blockade. Personally, I don't think some adult assistance with paperwork is unmerited.

This is how I have approached it as an Eagle mentor when I sense a mental logjam over paperwork. I will simply volunteer to sit down at the computer with the Scout and act as his scribe. I am doing nothing more than typing out his words as he verbally answers the questions in the workbook. Relieving him of typing duties frees up his mind to think about how to best answer the questions, and when he sees his responses written down he can offer further edits. Sometimes I will ask things like "Does that fully answer the question?" or "Is there anything else you want to add?". I would only consider scribe work cheating if I begin to answer the questions for him, but they are his words that I type. For whatever reason, that collaborative effort seems to yield wonderful results when the process has been stuck for months over paperwork angst.

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I admit I got mixed emotions on the paperwork. One one hand it is a good planning tool, far better than the one page form I had back in the day,  can help conceptualize the project, and give you experience for later in life. Like filling out government grant applications for projects at work.

On the other, some of the demands and expectations are ridiculous IMHO.  And as others mentioned the amount of paperwork involved. I read one Eagle Workbook, the one our DAC uses as an example, and I bet the Scout spent easily 3-4 months putting it together.

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I thought I would share about my son's journey to Eagle.  My son was a 17yr and 11 month type of Eagle.  His attendance with the troop started to decline during high school.  His freshman and sophomore years, he was on the wrestling team with meets on Saturdays during the fall, so he missed some camp outs.  But he participated in the Spring.  He was also involved with Junior ROTC at his high school.  His Junior year, he was Spirit Team commander for his AFJROTC unit, which meant on Friday nights, he had to attend the school football games.  Again, this took him out of participation in the Fall.  So yes, he was missing on many camp outs as he got into high school.

However, let me tell you about the positives.  He was a member of OA.  He attended Summer Camp most years.  He was awarded the Grand Slam, attending all four high adventure bases.  He also attended the 2013 Jamboree.  He served as Troop Guide with his troop for two terms at the request of his Scoutmaster (troop guides were assigned as the patrol leader for the first year patrols to teach them scouting skills in his troop), as well as patrol leader, and ASPL.  I would say he had a great Scouting experience!

He was a fast burner when he first joined a troop, but he started to suffer burnout.  He was well on his way to being an Eagle at 13.  His troop focused a lot on starting merit badges, but offered very little in adventure...  I can't tell you how many incomplete badges he had.  We changed troops to one that focused on adventure, and that was the best thing we could have done.  I told him to not worry about merit badges and advancement, just have fun... there will be time for advancement.

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I firmly believe those Scouts that are left to their own devices (and time frame), enjoy and value Scouting more.

My son didn't get into Scouting immediately after Cubs. When he did he spent almost a year at Scout, mostly due to sports and trying to find a Troop that did the things he liked. He then shot up to First Class with the minimum time in TF & 2nd Class. He spent almost a year as First Class. He got Life 6 months after Star. He has been Life for about 9 months and has only a vague idea of what he wants to do as an Eagle project. He has almost 2 years left, so he is in no rush.

My wife was initially all over me saying he needs to advance. I said he needs to advance when he is ready to advance and only he can decide that.

Meanwhile, he has severed in multiple PoR, he is deep into the Order of the Arrow and has been/is a Chapter and Lodge officer and Sectional committee chair. He has a bunch of merit badges, been to Jamboree and is headed to Philmont with Trail Crew and going to NOAC this Summer. He has joined a Crew for more high adventure. He is looking to the WSJ and Sea Base or Northern Tier the following Summer. He is learning what it means to pay his own way and how hard it is to do.

He has his own goals, which include Eagle, earning more MB than his old man, and to serve in higher office in OA. He is thinking about the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement (because he already close with everything he has done), as well as maybe the Hornaday, because he thinks it cool to do conservation. Sometimes he sets a goal and then changes his mind or has to re-prioritize. He was hot to get BSA Lifeguard and Mile Swim at one point, but I think those have fallen off of his goals.

The bottom line is he is having fun, learning many new things, choosing what is important to him and having a great Scouting experience.

My wife got it at some point and we rarely talk about advancement unless our son brings it up.

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I KNOW scouts do better and learn more when they go at their own pace. I was pushed by both my uncle and cousin to get Eagle before high school, and was well on my way too. Like HT's son above, I got sidetracked by the adventure and fun of Scouting and earned Eagle at 18. I was active, did lots of things, but was having too much fun to focus on MBs as they became boring.

My oldest is 14 and Life. I think I "pushed" him twice. Once was to honestly earn a MB he was given at an MBU, and the second time to do the one requirement for Cooking MB, meals not requiring refrigeration, and show the trek leader so he could get that MB. At the moment, all he needs is 6 Eagle required MBs, do a project, and 2 more months in a POR. Since school is #1 priority, and kicking him in the butt, he set a goal to do the MBs over the summer, and the project in 2019. He want to Eagle at 16.

We have one guy who will have his EBOR Monday nite. He's 18, and it was the earliest the EBOR could do it. He squeaked by, but he did it. Part of his challenge was he was trying to get a new troop up and running. As you know that has been a challenge, and we are still facing it.  But he did it on his own. From when I first met him, to today, he has grown tremendously. He's ready and deserving.

On the opposite we have one Scout who is pressured to get Eagle. Cannot get his license until he earns Eagle. He is burnt out and is there. He's not having fun, and is going through the motions. Sad things is he has done a great job in the past, but dealing with adults has burnt him out. Especially this last batch that just came in.

But the one I feel sorry for is the Life Scout who has 7 months before turning 18. He is being pushed, and pushed hard. He's going through the motions, and was the one that voted against himself for PL. I do not think he cares at all, except dad is pushing him. It's to the point that Dad has been "helping" with the Eagle project, making calls, etc.  At the moment Dad is ticked off at the DAC because the DAC told him in two or three emails the son needs to contact him, not Dad. Dad refuses, citing safety and YP issues. Now the DAC is no longer responding to the emails from Dad.

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@Eagle94-A1 got it. My parents stayed out of my way and let me succeed and fail in my own and I learned so much. A few of my friends had a lot of help from their parents and they are less able all around. 

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