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CherokeeScouter

Eagle Project Workbook

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Does anyone know if folks from  National follow this site? 

Here's the deal: It is time for BSA to seriously consider reformatting the Eagle Project Workbook. As an English major, a professional writer and an ex-Journalism teacher, I would give this form a D if someone turned it into me. 

It's confusing, muddled, lacks clarity and is difficult for many Scouts to fill out. Much of it is repetitive. It looks to me like a document that was simply added to over the years. Something put together by a committee with people chiming in "Let's add this...." 

For such an important part of an important award, we can do better. I could fix this thing in about a week and working with a computer person, we could come up with a PDF form that would actually work. 

I have signed many of these things as a Committee Chair. And I have reviewed many of them sitting on Eagle BORs. So I know a little bit of what I'm talking about. I am now working as a Life to Eagle coach for our troop. 

Sooo, BSA National, if your intent was to challenge the Scout by making the paperwork needlessly complex so the Trail to Eagle is that much harder, congratulations, you succeeded. 

Texas, do you hear me? 

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The workbook is even an improvement over when I completed my Eagle back in 2011. Biggest gripe is that the PDF doesn't always save and attach to emails nicely. 

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Let's blow some minds: why .pdf at all?

When we (as in nearly every government-funded research project in the country) does a progress report, we do it free-form, often with a specific page limit, according to an outline decided by skilled bureaucrats and our peers. We number our headings exactly as they are numbered in the outline, and add sub-headings, text, etc ... according to our projects specifics. Then we save it as a .pdf, and upload it. But the only reason we do that online stuff is because we need peers in different parts to read it, and rate it, and we want to save on stamps.

If we had to cut-and-paste the paragraphs of those reports into small boxes between lines of instructional text, our administrative assistants would be spitting nails! (They already give us cold stares when it comes to benchmark and budget templates!)

I've seen boys write great project reports free-hand. The ones coming from fillable-forms are not head-and-shoulders above them.

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It would be interesting to see the project expectations placed upon the Eagle candidate when they were first introduced.  I suspect it would not be any different than the 2 page federal income tax form I filled out as a kid and what I have to fill out now.  

Requirement #101, design and implement a project and document it as to how you showed your leadership skills.  Provide two references, one from your patrol leader and one from your scoutmaster as to how well this was accomplished.

That would be enough for me to determine whether or not the boy showed leadership.  After all isn't that what the project is supposed to do.  Now it is more of how well he can fill out paperwork expectations and he doesn't need to be a leader to do that.

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Agree with @qwazse, drop the pdf and while we are at it,  give scouts the option to submit their own free-form project report.

 

 

 

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It is an interesting document.  I have worked with it with son who earned Eagle (my word that was an adventure in and of itself) and with numerous scouts in the troop.  Yes it is repetitive, but it is really several forms, rolled into 1. 

- What are you thinking about doing?

- What is your plan for doing that?

- What did you do?

Could it be a simpler format, possibly.  At a high level it does give some consistency to presentation so each Eagle candidate is not reinventing the wheel.  Even in it's current state the scout can be brief or be wordy.  Working with 1 scout he was hung up on writing up what he did, yet there were a lot of pictures from the project.  In the end he had 5 or 6 pages of pictures with captions, worked for him.  Another scout literally did a 500 word theme about the project with few photos.

There are some clear formats for the signatures and who does need to sign the approval and project plan, so that is mapped out.

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Indeed the focus on the project should be what you actually are going to do and how to do it NOT the awkward BSA PDF. (I have had some success with boys writing it all out brainstorm style on a white board and taking pictures of it).

A recurring issue with the PDF seems to be the fact that you need actual, not digital, signatures while working and reworking in a (buggy) digital document. Sometimes our District contact has wanted the digital package emailed to him for approval (or other times physical notebook) which requires scanning the physical pages and then splicing and combining into a new PDF a document that is 'locked' by BSA (I have since learned work-arounds). Fortunately my work place gives me a licensed version of the latest Adobe Pro so I can help folks 'slice and dice' if they want. But while it produces a decent consistent product for review the BSA PDF adds new distractions and obstacles--almost every scout I know who used it hates and I get frustrated communications from supporting parents.

I think it represents a solution that was not adequately beta tested by actual users (boys) and when the flaws were found (unsaved data, signatures) no updates were ever issued. Maybe the BSA board should be required to do one themselves.

Yes I have encouraged lads to 'tough it out' as it is the first of frustrating forms in their life (college applications, loans, taxes) that they will have to deal with. While that is true the frustrations of this poor 'tool' often adds a sour note to what should be the documentation of a victory lap IMHO. If this was a poorly designed official BSA flint and steel that frustrated young scouts and failed to reliably make sparks than I suspect National would have improved it by now. But BSA seem institutionally to struggle with adopting electronic solutions...making some progress...but always a step behind.

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As someone who recently completed this document I agree it is very bad. The biggest issue not yet mentioned is the process of the three documents the workbook contain. The proposal is straight forward enough but could be refined a bit to capture more key elements of the proposal development process. The project plan should mirror the proposal but should include another signature or validation step. This is the detailed blueprint for doing the project and where kids need the most help. The report should be designed to help kids identify what went well, what didn’t and what they learned as a result. The current workbook seems like it was written by several people with several voices and is too hard to follow. I guess I did learn something in my 12th Grade English class after all. 

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15 hours ago, Stosh said:

It would be interesting to see the project expectations placed upon the Eagle candidate when they were first introduced.  I suspect it would not be any different than the 2 page federal income tax form I filled out as a kid and what I have to fill out now.  

Well, here is the comparison.

Orginal project requirement (1965):

Quote

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and carry out a service project helpful to your church or synagogue, school, or community.

Current requirement:

Quote

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement. (To learn more about the Eagle Scout service project, see the Guide to Advancement, topics 9.0.2.0 through 9.0.2.16.)

Interestingly, the basic statement of the actual project itself (in the first sentence of the current requirement, as clarified in the parenthetical that follows) is really very similar to what the entire requirement was in 1965.  They have just expanded "your church or synagogue" to "any religious institution" and have made clear that projects done for the BSA don't count, which was probably implied in the original requirement anyway.  The bulk of the additions to the requirement, in terms of time, effort and restrictions on what the project can be, are not stated specifically in the requirement itself, but in the two documents that are referenced there, the Eagle Project Workbook and the Guide to Advancement. (I believe the reference to the G2A was just added in 2016.)

Stosh, I think your analogy to tax forms is a good one.  They have added a multi-page "worksheet" that you have to fill out and get signed by various people who, in 1965, did not necessarily have to sign anything. (I suspect each council adopted its own process, but I don't know, I wasn't even a Cub Scout yet in 1965, and whatever the Eagle project process was in the mid-70's, I did not go through it.)  And now they have added a set of "instructions" in the form of the cited sections of the G2A - including an appeal process, etc. etc. Obviously it is much more paperwork and red tape than there was in 1965.

I agree that the workbook has gotten out of hand.  It is now organized better than it was when my son went through the process in 2009, but it's still pretty onerous.  And I well-remember my son trying to get the text into those little boxes.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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It would be my best guess to say that to return to the original 1965 requirement today would be a dumbing down of the requirement.  But the dumbing up of the requirement of today is just as disheartening.

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3 minutes ago, Stosh said:

It would be my best guess to say that to return to the original 1965 requirement today would be a dumbing down of the requirement.  But the dumbing up of the requirement of today is just as disheartening.

Yes, as with many things, a happy medium would be best.  But I see the chances of the BSA making any significant change to make things LESS bureaucratic as being the proverbial "slim and none." 

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16 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

Well, here is the comparison.

Orginal project requirement (1965):

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and carry out a service project helpful to your church or synagogue, school, or community.

Current requirement:

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement. (To learn more about the Eagle Scout service project, see the Guide to Advancement, topics 9.0.2.0 through 9.0.2.16.)

Interestingly, the basic statement of the actual project itself (in the first sentence of the current requirement, as clarified in the parenthetical that follows) is really very similar to what the entire requirement was in 1965. 

 

In 1965, the Eagle project could be a DIY service project for others as mine was.

Now there is the required leadership of others and the larger project management that goes with it, well that is the intent anyway.

Both approaches have value.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

In 1965, the Eagle project could be a DIY service project for others as mine was.

Now there is the required leadership of others and the larger project management that goes with it, well that is the intent anyway.

Both approaches have value.

You are correct sir, I guess I just thought that the "give leadership to others" part was in there from the beginning, and I didn't read the 1965 requirement closely enough.  According to this page that phrase was added in 1979.  So I guess I could have done a "DIY" project myself, if I had done one.  My recollection is that the kids who made Eagle in my era did recruit the rest of the troop as labor on their projects.  It may be that it had become common to do so by that time (mid-70s) and maybe some councils were requiring it, so National decided it was a good idea and formally added it to the requirement.

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44 minutes ago, Back Pack said:

As someone who recently completed this document I agree it is very bad. The biggest issue not yet mentioned is the process of the three documents the workbook contain. The proposal is straight forward enough but could be refined a bit to capture more key elements of the proposal development process. The project plan should mirror the proposal but should include another signature or validation step. This is the detailed blueprint for doing the project and where kids need the most help. The report should be designed to help kids identify what went well, what didn’t and what they learned as a result. The current workbook seems like it was written by several people with several voices and is too hard to follow. I guess I did learn something in my 12th Grade English class after all. 

No. My post goes exactly to the three parts. It needs to be two. That is really the heart of the matter. That and digital vs paper. Anything that smacks of paper is step backward. Since we submit the proposals digitally in our district, you have people scanning signature pages and then trying to insert them into the PDF document, which I think is impossible unless you have Adobe's paid product. I don't think the free PDF version allows you insert pages. Plus, we require printed copies at the BOR. Just a cluster any way you look at it. And very few Scouts understand how to digitally compress a photo so that it's small enough to insert into the PDF,  which means they just attach photos. And that turns what should be a 2 MB file into a 5 or 6 MB file, which is too large for some of the freeware email providers. 

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One document consisting of two parts. And if you are insisting on hard signatures, then a signature page that includes both PRE and POST signatures. This way eliminates all the insertion and all that crap. You just scan a signature page when you are done (or take a photo of it) and add to the Workbook. But right now, we have a signature page embedded in the Proposal and a signature page embedded into the Report. Plus the contact info page, which seems totally superfluous to me. 

And do we need we really need a distinction between material and supplies (or whatever it is)?

I'm almost fairly certain I could get the Proposal and the Report down to one page each (10 point). You ought to see the Eagle Reference Letter I did for the Council. It is a thing of beauty. Contains Oath and Law and space for comments. It's one page. 

Edited by CherokeeScouter

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