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"Eagle Board Won't Like It"

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In a number of threads various practices have been criticized in part because the "Eagle Board Won't Like It." Examples include MBs signed off by parent, too many MBs signed off by same counselor, PORs that aren't all that responsible, Eagle projects that don't call for a great deal of leadership, etc. But is this really true? None of these things, as far as I can tell, violate any of the Eagle requirements. I suspect some of these problems might cause an Eagle candidate to be "grilled" at his Board--but as long as he insists (for example) that he did all the MB work, there's no way the Board can turn him down just because Dad signed off on all of them. Don't get me wrong--I don't think a Scout should have all his MBs approved by Dad or by the same MBC, but I want to tell the boys the truth when I tell them why this isn't a good idea.

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My opinion...its not about the Eagle Board and what it may like or not like. Its about the scout's development as a man of character. Does he believe, in his heart, that he has performed his best in the various aspects of scouting - skill development, leadership, advancement, concern for his fellow man. The conversation and advise should be centered around a reflection on whether he truly feels he has done his best, or did he somehow 'cheat himself' out of a missed opportunity for growth.

 

No, the Eagle Board would not likely fail him. It could very well make things a little uncomfortable for him for an hour or so. Even if there are areas of concern, however, by always seeking his best he would hopefully have gained a level of maturity to discuss those areas of scouting where he thinks he may have not acheived to his satisfaction.

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I've often felt that Barry and I were kindred spirits in how we approach scouting. I'm starting to feel that way about Semper as well. In fact, since he's from Kentucky, maybe we were separated at birth. :)

 

I approach it similarly to Semper. I believe it's much more about the boys character and has he really earned the rank. I remember posting on this board (and getting hammered because of it) regarding summer camp Merit Badges. If we see a situation where the boys clearly didn't do the work, but were signed off on the badge, we follow up on it when we get home. We approach the boys at the next troop meeting and discuss whether they really fulfilled the requirement. We talk about "trustworthiness" and putting that to the test. I've had some boys grumble, but usually they are willing to do the work necessary to truly satisfy the requirement. (Incidentally, I'm not talking about whether a requirement was done adequately, I'm talking about situations where the requirement was not done at all).

 

Hunt, to your original question, I think you are correct. I have never seen an Eagle BOR turn down a boy because of one of these philisophical issues. I have, however, seen a boy grilled over things like this. For example, I saw a scout who earned all three Citizenships in the same month. I find it really hard to believe that he could do this. The troop is a known MB mill, and he apparently satisfied the requirements to their satisfaction. It did cause me to ask the question, but it wasn't enough to turn him down.

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I serve on the District Committee and frequently sit on Eagle Boards as the District Rep. While we do review the candidate's records (application, blue cards, project write up, reference letters, etc), that is not the primary reason we are there. Presumably, the District Advancement Committee, Troop Committee chairman, and Scoutmaster have already verified that all of the requirements have been met. The Eagle BOR is not the time nor the place to question that, nor do we. Instead, it is an enjoyable (at least on this side of the table) conversation with the candidate which explores what is in his heart and how the Scouting program has treated him along the way. The only time I had a reservation about a candidate (and I have related this in a previous thread) was when a candidate obviously had no religious component to his home life and could not answer what "A Scout is Reverent" means. My conclusion was that the "program" failed...not the Scout. Someone who had totally missed the "Duty to God" thing should never have been recommended for our highest rank.

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"But lets remember, bad policies usually developed over time from a series of good intentions."

Barry, my old China

I can't help thinking that you have never posted anything as wise.

I used to think that the "Rule Makers" and those that added home made extra requirements, were not only wrong but were also guilty of being evil!!

Last year I posted my dealings with our Council Advancement Committee. I sat and listened to the "I like a project to be at least 100 hours." I went to bat for a Lad who had completed the requirements, but got busy taking a paramedic course, that was the same night as his troop meeting, they failed him for not showing Scout Spirit!!

Life would be easier if these guys were evil. But they are not!!

To sit back and ask them where they are getting this mambo-jumbo, can and does at times ruffle a few feathers. To try to undo what at one time seemed so righteous can and does open cans of worms.

I believe in Scouting, I hold fast to the idea that the rank of Eagle is a rank of the highest esteem. I'm still enough of an old fuddy duddy that feels good that not every Scout will make it!! I'm not sure if that thinking is good,but for now I can't help feeling that when I'm invited to sit in on a Eagle BOR, that the Lad or Lads who will take that board are very special. I can't fault the Lad for the mistakes that his leaders or MB counselors may have made and we as a District let slide by.Before the Lad is invited to attend the BOR, these are checked, the paper work is checked. The project was approved and all those who needed to sign have signed.

I learn a lot each and every time I'm invited to sit on a Eagle BOR, not just about the Scout but about what sort of job we are doing.

In Eamonn's big book of Scouting, everything come down to the ideals of Scouting. The path to Eagle Scout offers each Scout the opportunities to find out what these are and put them to work, the path does necessitate the need to set and reach goals.

We are blessed by belonging to an organization that has such a clear cut and powerful oath and law. I see my role as a member of an Eagle Scout BOR member, of helping the Scout and the Board understand that this oath and law, was behind each goal. If these words have really taken hold and if this Scout can see that these words will be his guide.I can't but help think that all of us have been part of something truly wonderful.

Eamonn

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I too have sat on many Eagle BOR's and I agree with all of you. During the interview it was usually fairly easy to tell whether or not the boy had properly finished his requirements and was ready by the way he answered the questions telling us about his time in scouting. One memorable case was a youth who played in a punk rock band with spiked hair, black fingernail polish and eye liner, he had just come from playing a gig. He threw all of us for a loop at first. His uniform was complete and perfect, and as he started talking about his time in scouting and what he had learned you forgot all about his appearance as the scout really showed through. He was a brillant teen and he knew his stuff. After we told him we had approved him he was so happy and he apologized for his appearance but explained his band had just done a free concert at the childrens hospital. I think he showed all of us on the board what the true spirit of scouting is all about. Looks truly are deceiving.

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While reading your replies, a main point comes to mind-- "The Scout Oath and Law" the building blocks of personal development. If dad and son take a short cut just to get the eagle award,they missed everything from scouting. At the EBOR you know who has or hasn't done their best. It hurts all the hard working honest scouts and their leaders when it comes to the short cuts. RM

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I had a 13 year old fail his Eagle BoR because the board thought he hadn't shown enough leadership during his project. A 13 year old! In his SM conference I reviewed all his paperwork and he had completed all the requirements, no question. The EBoR simply made a judgement call that he wasn't mature enough. The scout was devastated. He consulted with me and then followed SOP and appealed to council. Council upheld the decision. I was angry but the scout decided not to appeal further.

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Trevorum,

 

You give two possible reasons for the failure:

1. Did not show enough leadership on the project, and

2. A judgment call that he was not mature enough.

 

Which is it? If failure was due to project leadership, then this scout would have to do another project (he can't go back and show leadership on a project that has already been completed if the Board says the leadership was lacking). If it was only a 'maturity' thing then he can schedule a new BOR in the future when he (and probably the unit leadership) feels he is ready and no new project would be required. What specifically did the BOR write for the reasons of the failure?

 

I hate to say it, but one of the risks of sending a 13 year old up for Eagle is getting a 'district guy' who is predisposed that the scout is too young. I have heard this so often in our district, that I would never recommend it to members of our troop.

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This fellow was my first Eagle Candidate when I was a new (and naive) SM. I had no idea that the EBoR could make this kind of judgement call and I wish I had counseled the scout differently. In my opinion, he showed leadership commensurate with being a 13 year old. A 17 year old would have done a better job, but he was only 13! In fact the EBoR told me that had this same project been done by a candidate who was 17 yrs 11 months, they would have passed him.

 

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So Treve - Tell us the rest of the story. Did he ever go back? Did he do a new project? Was he approved at a later time?

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I forgot to mention that he had been SPL and did a fairly good job of troop leadership for a 13 year old (we have since begun a 14+ policy for SPLs). The fellow is now 16 and he's still registered although he doesn't camp much anymore (high school activities, etc.). He has selected a new Eagle mentor and tells me he is planning a new project. I sure hope he does it. He is a good scout.

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Tevorum,

I can't help feeling that the guys who sit on Eagle Rank BOR's in your area are a lot tougher than in mine. Or that the Lad must have messed up big time.

When I am asked to serve on a BOR. I know that the project was approved before it was started. In fact it has been approved by the group that will benefit from the project. I know that the project has been discussed with the unit leader. I also know that concept has been discussed with someone from the organization. Then the plan has been approved by the Scoutmaster, a unit committee member, a member of the District Advancement team.

When the project is completed it is signed by the Scout, the Scoutmaster and the rep from the organization that benefited from the project.

All of the Scouts use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook.Which needs to be made a lot larger!!

I as a BOR member have only five questions about the project:

In what ways did you demonstrate leadership of others?

Give examples of how you directed the project rather than doing the work yourself.

In what way did the religious institution, school, or community group benefit from the project?

Did the project follow the plan?

If changes to the plan were made, explain why the changes were necessary.

If the book has been used correctly, I kinda know that the outside group benefited from the project, if they didn't why did they approve it twice before it was even started?

I have a copy of the plan and a list of what changes were made and an explanation of why they were made. In most cases these changes are not that great.

So my big question is the one about in what way did you demonstrate leadership of others?

Most Scouts I have asked this to have needed a little help with the answer. It isn't that they have not demonstrated leadership, more a case of they have not thought about what leadership is.

Eamonn: How did you demonstrate leadership?

Scout: After a pause. I told them what to do.

Eamonn: You told them or you asked them?

Scout: I asked them to help and they came.

Eamonn:Who explained what needed to be done?

Scout: I did.

Eamonn: So you used communication?

Scout: Yes.

Eamonn: How did they know what to do when?

Scout: I showed them the plan.

Eamonn: So you used Planning.

Scout: Yes

And so on. In most cases the Scout has given leadership he just hasn't thought about it.

There are of course cases where the Scout has done the entire project with just him and a parent and in this case I would fail him.

I can see a lot of younger Scouts who are great leaders.

Maybe the Scoutmaster needs to go over what Leadership is, that way the Scout is prepared to answer the question when it's asked. It would make my life a lot easier.

Eamonn(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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The scout had done everything by the book, and I was stunned by the EBoRs decision. I believe they were put-off by his demeanor. He is a very friendly, casual, jokester - I have never seen him solemn. I believe the EBoR felt they did not get the respect they deserved and so they concluded he was immature. They looked for an excuse and came up with the unsufficient leadership rationale to back-justify. I feel they exceeded their authority, but council backed them up.

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