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Scouts who decide not to finish Eagle Rank

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The son of a local Scoutmaster is not a very nice Lad.

He really didn't want to be a Scout, but with Dad as SM he was kinda forced into it.

About two years back he received his Eagle Scout rank. I had nothing to do with it in any way.

OJ is in the same year at the same school as this Lad.

He couldn't believe that this Lad had received the Eagle Scout rank and said to me that he thought if they gave it to him, it wasn't worth aiming or working for.

I was happy when OJ had a change of heart.

As I posted over the years if OJ was going to be an Eagle Scout he was the one who had to earn it and it would be his Eagle Rank.

Many of the best Scouter's I know didn't make Eagle. Not making it isn't the end of the world.

The Mother of one the Sea Scouts phoned me today to inform me that her son had gone hunting and would miss the QD meeting, while she had me on the phone she asked what I could do to help her son work on his Eagle Scout rank?

I think maybe I was a little less than honest. I did say that I'd have a chat with the Lad.

I didn't say that I already had a chat and the Lad isn't interested and isn't willing to do the requirements needed. It just isn't important to him. He is having a good time and doing well as a Sea Scout. I'm uncertain if he will ever make Quartermaster, but I'm uncertain if any of the Scouts will?

I was of course very proud when OJ made Eagle. I was proud that he had done it for himself. I'm proud of the Scouts in the Ship, not because they have advanced but because they are nice kids.

I feel that I'm doing my job, I'm here to help and support them in doing what they want to do, if that is working on advancement that's fine. We do a lot of the requirements and meet them by just doing what we do!! But when it comes to keeping logs or doing stuff at home, it becomes their baby. I'm not playing Mother Hen.

In many ways I can respect a Lad who has been busy and opts not to become a last minute Eagle Scout.

At age 17 he is old enough to make his own bed and lie on it.


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I occasionally hear about adults not finishing Eagle and regretting it. I am not sure I understand the level of regret, and what the impact of the regret is later in life. This may be because I wasn't a scout when I was a youth, but I suspect that the "regret" is rather wishful thinking on the order of regretting not having stayed with piano lessons. Sure, it would have been nice, but was it a life changing decision? Everyone has a pile of things they regret (or could regret), but I think that is a misdirected focus. Those that didn't earn Eagle may just well be superior to those that did, because they developed their character through other interests, or later in life.

I recall my first year as a cubmaster, reviewing applications for a dozen new tiger scouts. Half the applications reflected they had a parent that was a Life or Eagle scout. I thought recruitment of help would be easy, because these certainly were fathers that recognized the value of scouting, that would willingly be helpful because they had developed character traits embodied in the scout oath and law. Every one of these fathers turned down multiple requests for assistance. I am sure this has colored my view on the topic, but I have to say that I just don't see a coorelation between having been awarded an Eagle and contribution to community later in life.


I think a big part of that is embodied in Eamonn's post - the awarding of Eagle rank to individuals that the other scouts look at and surmise that Eagle isn't worth aiming for if they give it to him. And earning Eagle because of parental pressure. I think both of these contribute to seeing Eagle as a series of individual checklist items to be accomplished, rather than as a reflection of the character outlined in the scout oath and law. So I too cheer those that become great citizens without choosing to complete requirements for Eagle. I think they have their heads on straight, and perhaps understand and have a better perspective that adults.



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I was a scout for at least six years, maybe more, I don't remember. I'm a star scout. Some people seem surprised that I am not an Eagle scout, I don't know why. Often when they find out I'm not, they ask if I regret not earning the Eagle rank. I don't. When I look back on being a scout, I have lots of great images and memories. I do not in the least regret not earning Eagle. I do, however, have two regrets of things I didn't do as a scout. I remember dreaming of going to Philmont; I regret never letting my parents know about that. I remember thinking how neat it would be to earn the Ad Altaire Dei religious emblem; I regret not letting my parents know about that. So now, I remind my children that if I don't know of their dreams, I will not be able to help those dreams come true. As for going to Philmont, that dream is still alive.


Perhaps we should put less emphasis on scouts earning Eagle and more on scouts reaching for their dreams.



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I have to admit that this thread was aimed at Hops-Scout.

Hopper and I did get to meet at the last Jambo. He was a youth staff member working on the Action Area D Rappelling wall. (OJ was a youth-staffer in the COPE area)

The Area D Rappelling area was headed by Jerry Clark, who is from the same Council as myself and while it might be wrong to talk for Jerry, I do think that both he and myself were really impressed with Hopper.

I know he had plans that his Eagle project would be done at his local baseball field (I nearly said pitch!!)

If one day I ever make it to Scouter's Heaven, I think that the heavenly Troop, will be made up of Scouts just like him.

I really would have liked him to have become an Eagle Scout. I think that maybe he thinks he has in some way disappointed me.

I do know how busy he is. I do know that he is one day going to serve his country.His days as a Boy Scout are rapidly coming to an end. I do hope that we have served him well?

Only the other day I was going over the photos on my computer and there is a picture of the two of us standing under our Jamboree Gateway.

I do respect his decision not to become a "Deathbed Eagle", OK, so deep down I wish that maybe he would have a change of heart.

But no matter what, he is a super fellow. Every wish I have for him is for the best. I hope that maybe one day he will be able to return to Scouting and serve the Scouts in where ever he is.

If he is still around in 2010 and I'm still kicking maybe he can throw me off the rappelling wall, while Jerry pretends not to notice.


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Do I regret not earning my Eagle? No. What I regret was not doing the little work left to be awarded Life, to this day I don't really understand my mind set.

I had advanced with reasonable speed to Star and had stalled out for almost 2 years when I left the troop.

I do not regret any of my time spent as a Scout, no where else was I going to get worth-while mentoring unaffected by my folks.

And I have enjoyed returning to my old troop after 30 years, to serve with my old SPL now ScoutMaster to guide a new group of youth.


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All this talk of "aging out" of a troop - heck, I'm 50 and still involved in the troop.


As Scoutmaster, one of the questions I ask some of the Star and Life Scouts during their Scoutmaster conference is a simple, "Why in the heck are you in Scouts?" Not surprising to me, but very disappointing, is their reply; "To get Eagle." Not earn, not build character, not to develop citizenship, no to build personal fitness. But then I have to remind myself - what is the one of the methods of Scouting (which are used to achieve the aims)? Why it is advancement! So, if having their eyes on the prize so to speak is to "get" Eagle and unbeknowst to them they develop a little character, citizenship and personal fitness along the way no harm no foul?

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In our troop, we've started a new philosophy. If they want Eagle, help them as much as you can, but if they don't it's ok. If you were serving in the Navy and came out as a CPO and never made Admiral, you'd still have served, yes? So, why is scouting different. It should be about the journey and not the Eagle, IMHO.


That said, I also have a mom who's pushing Eagle on her boy. She even went so far to call me to yell at me for not "getting her boy his Eagle" by now. He's a Lifer and will likely finish that way. He's lost interest. I've asked him about it, he says he's "working on it" yet I never see anything done.


The new SM had a conference about it with several older boys, mostly a how-to session, and this boy was telling him that the former SM had told this boy that "he'd make sure he got his Eagle somehow", and several other statements that made the new SM feel this former SM was running an Eagle factory. The new administration refuses to do that. If this boy is waiting on the factory to produce him as Eagle, it's not going to happen, so now we have to really work with this kid and parents to see what is really going on.


I say let the boys do what they feel is right for them. Sometimes not realizing a goal (and even if you regret it later) can be a great life lesson for adulthood, too.


Just my 2 cents.

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I am an Eagle Scout, class of '70. I will freely admit I had no other interests as a youth, but was very active in my Troop, Explorer Post and OA. Neither of my sons (now 28 and 24) made Eagle (Star and Life, respectively). It was their choice, not mine. They both went on to get their degrees and are successful adults. The older one played Varsity baseball every year, and the younger was in Thespians, student government (Sr class Pres), and German club.


They may regret their choices later in life, but I don't think any less of them. I would have liked to have a family portrait of the three of us in uniform with Eagle medals on our chests, but that's just my ego and it's not important in the overall scheme of things.


I tell the parents of our troop, that we will provide the opportunity to advance, but the Scout has to decide to do the work. We will not beg, cajole, or otherwise plead with them. They can either pick up the ball and run, ... or not. It's their choice.

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Eagle Scout '79 at age 17 1/2. Started as a Cub, Webelos, Boy Scouts, and Explorers.


I was in scouting for the fun and adventure. The rank was not really important to me. My troop did form a patrol of only Eagle scouts. They were all the guys I had joined with as a rising Webelo. I could not be in the Patrol because I was not an Eagle yet. I felt left out but not enough to work on my Eagle requirements with any real conviction.


My troop spun off an Explorer Post. Boys were encouraged to continue to work on their Eagle. 22 boys in the Post, 20 were Eagle when they joined. The Post did a lot of cool and fun things and rank was not a limiting factor. I plodded along and earned a few badges. The required badges of Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World, Communications, Environmental Science, and Finance were the ones I just could not work up any real interest. I finished with 30 merit badges of which 11 have a silver border.


Eventually my parents cajoled me enough to get my project done and my paperwork in. I am glad that I can say I went the distance. Had I not made Eagle, I would have still gotten a lot out of the program. If I had not, then it would be liking going to college for 6 years and still not have a degree.

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I joined the Boy Scouts at age 14. My troop folded after six months and I unofficially Lone Scouted it for another six months before moving to a town with a great troop. I made Eagle just before I turned 18. My father pushed and prodded and I rebelled- we had a number of arguments over it (and a lot of other things). Looking back, I think I decided to go for Eagle because I finally grew a backbone and decided I was going to finish something in my life. Looking back at things, I realize that I took short cuts here and there and didn't always do my best- this has pushed me to do better and to pass these lessons forward.


Reflecting on this, I now realize how many conversations I have had over the last 30 years with parents and Scouts on the push to Eagle. I've had a number of parents who have tried either the carrot and stick approach. At least one who wouldn't let their son get a drivers license until he made Eagle and one who said they would buy him a car after earning Eagle. As I recall, the first got his license and made Eagle a year or so later and the second dropped out. I've had Scouts tell me they want Eagle because it will look good on a resume, it looks good for college or they can get rank when they enlist in the military.


In my opinion, Eagle is a worthy goal, but the Scout must want it. Not for the glory and recognition that comes from outside, but from the sense of self-worth from completing a goal.


You don't make Eagle, Eagle makes you.

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If you are listening, here it is from my point of view one more time.

The resume thing was never a consideration for me.

I learned how to advance, achieve, and get there in Scouting. The Eagle badge has been a personal reminder about who I am all of these years.


Example one: I left the swimming pool that day during my first Summer Camp. I failed the floating by inflating a pair of jeans requirement. I was afraid. The Swimming instructor told me that my older brother would be disappointed. I was embarrassed at myself. I returned the next day and went through the drills but with determination. I couldnt have cared less about my brother knowing. Deep inside, I knew that I could do it. It was a small but insightful victory over my own self. I later finished most of the aquatic MBs and years later did it all over again a few times to prepare myself to instruct many other Scouts that faced the same fears that I once had.


Example two: I went over to Mr. Ps house to get my First Aid MB. He turned me down because I was not prepared. He told me to read the book and come back. Each week for the next three months I was turned down and each week I read and reread the book until I was suitably prepared by Mr. Ps rules, not mine. I learned that I expected to get something just for showing up. Mr. P. was right about me and knowing exactly what I needed. I learned that preparation means work. I still know the things I learned from him over forty years ago.


Example three: In the OA, I stood up and said that I was going to learn to Indian Dance and anyone that was interested could join in. A dance team was started. I got out a Ben Hunt book and built my own costume. I (we) then learned to dance by the step chart. People joined in and we danced at Cub Scout Blue and Golds and wherever anyone gave us an invite over the next few years. I received the Vigil based on the actions that raised a dance team that kept on after I left.


The Eagle and the God and Country came easily once I learned some things about myself and years later it was the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver.


College was full of trials for me. The things that I learned from Scouting were brought back to me many times over. I struggled but finished several graduate degrees, certificates, licenses. I could also make a long list of my failures in life and the things that I have learned about myself right up to this day. Beyond all else, the Eagle badge has been the one reminder that makes me look at me and what I am and where I have been and what I can be.


I continually hear adults tell that they are First Class, Star, and Life, as if they kept their rank from their youth. There are no adult patches for those ranks but there is one for Eagle. I wear it and it reminds me of the many stories about my youth and my friends.

For me, it shines beyond all other accomplishments. fb


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I'm very proud to be a Queen's Scout. At the time I received it I basked in the glory.

I enjoyed seeing my name and mug in the paper. I was over-joyed to attend the ceremony at Saint George's Chapel at Windsor.

30 odd years have since past.

I'm still proud, I no longer bask in the glory.

I do look back and do feel that I did accomplish something, something that was good and worth while. At times I think "Did I really do all that?"

A couple of the guys who were in the Venture Unit with me at that time are still in Scouting. They are great and wonderful Scouter's. They were exposed to many of the same great adults as I was and had open to them the same opportunities. One of them join me on my Pennine Way hike. He was and is to this day far better at hiking than I ever was, without him I know I would never have made it. Today he is a very successful architect.

Earning the award was and is very special. I think that the path to earning it played a big part in making me the type of person I am today.

But it was only a part.

I know that a lot of other things went into the mix.

Having reached the goal, was important to me, but over the years I have reached other goals, I have accomplished other goals which are every bit as important. Sure some of them have not resulted in any sort of accolade; no name in the paper or trips to castles! But you bet I'm proud of them.

A pal of mine called around the house the other day. He has had a problem with alcohol and has joined AA. I admire him for doing this. He was trying to explain the program to me (I'm not sure why??) From what he was saying it seems that he needs to do his best to understand the 12 steps and try and live by them.

I couldn't help thinking that this isn't unlike the Scout Oath and Law. I'd gladly give up my Queen's Scout Award to be able to do a better job of living the oath and law.

Being a "Real Scout" must be better than being just someone who earned an award 30 odd years ago!



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  • 7 months later...

I don't like to argue, I like to discuss.


What is the purpose of Scouting? Isn't the "trail to Eagle" a means to an end as opposed to the reason that Scouting exists. Not all boys will make Eagle. I did not. Yet I hope that I have learned the lessons of Scouting and that I do my best to be an asset to my community, my family, my church and myself.


Boys who decide not to become Eagles still can be successful Scouts and successful Scout leaders.


Remember, my opininon and $ will buy coffee at the trading post.

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