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OneHour

To early eagle or not to early eagle

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KS,

I have to agree with you 100%. What I didn't post is that I personally wouldn't want my son double-dipping like that, but since my son doesn't have that requirement (he doesn't go to public school), I'm not going to be the one to pass judgment on those who do.

 

Community service is a great thing, whether it is a requirement for school or scouts, or just because you want to do it. There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and the warm fuzzies are priceless. But I do know of kids who resent HAVING to do it for school, while they don't mind one bit doing it for scouts, church, Aunt Mabel, etc. Maybe they just want to get it over with? I don't know because we aren't in that position.

 

Bug

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I would strongly advise that anyone in a position to do so finish their Eagle badge before high school. My friend and I both finished our Eagle service projects and received our badges the summer before our Freshmen year of high school. Once high school starts Scouting gets some intense competition in the form of clubs, sports, and social activities, and it will become harder and harder to find time to finish. If a boy is going to get the badge, it seems he either has it by 15 or ends up getting it at 17.9

 

Maybe it is the program I was in, but I never felt like I was rushing or hurrying to finish up my Eagle before high school. Our troop met weekly during the school year and you could typically count on picking up one or two required Eagle badges a year during the course of normal meetings (we did the Citizenships and Communications as a group). Summer Camp provided an opportunity to pick up another 3 inside of a week including several required Eagle badges.

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For those who say that a group earning their ranks at the same time should raise red flags, I offer a counter argument. My personal doctor is an Eagle scout. The first time I met him, I was having a physical for summer camp. He spent more time reminiscing about his scouting experience than questioning me about my health (or it seemed so to me at the time). He stated that he and his friends all worked together and he probably wouldn't have earned Eagle without them. He said that they would collectively decide on what merit badges to work on and each would be assigned one to arrange. They would contact the MB counselor, assemble any required equipment, etc and then let the others know the plans. It sounded to me like a perfect example of "boy led" in action. Yes, they all earned the MBs at the same time (or so I presume) but it didn't sound to me like they were participating in an "eagle mill" or were being passed for "trying their best."

 

About the time that my son joined our troop the troop had a 13 year old Eagle. This kid was definitely a high performer and highly motivated. Looking back, however, neither my son nor I remember him on many campouts and he dropped out of scouting about a year later. Was this good or bad? No one except the scout himself and perhaps his parents could say.

 

We had another young lad on a similar track a year or so later. I know for a fact that his parents WERE NOT pushing him, he was pushing himself. He was a Life scout, had completed his service project and POR, and only needed to complete a few requirements for the camping MB to earn his Eagle. He dropped out of scouts. His parents were quite dismayed but nothing the parents or SM said could change his mind. He didn't particularly enjoy the camping and claimed that he had never made any true friends in the troop. This lad is a year younger than my son and is just finishing his first year in high school now. He dropped out well over a year ago. I have always believed that this lad was true Eagle Scout material. Since my son has gotten involved in a local Venture Crew, I have suggested that he discuss this with the young man as maybe the Crew environment may be more enticing to him than the troop was. Only time will tell if he becomes interested in scouts again or not. Whether he earns his Eagle or not will have been his decision.

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KoreaScouter wrote, In a copy of the Eagletter my son just received, all the NESA scholarship recipients were highlighted inside. The $48,000 scholarship recipient (forgive me, I don't recall his name) had listed in his biography that he has earned every Merit Badge that BSA offers.

 

Though I'm not sure if he is the same person mentioned above, it may be Evan Spencer. He is quite an inspirational young man. A short statement by him for running for an OA lodge office can be seen in

http://www.wipalawiki.org/lodge/tom-tom/april2005small.pdf

 

SWScouter

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G'day all. Being an Eagle myself and having earned the award when 17, i'll put in my 2 cents. I personally cant stand to see Eagles at 12 yrs old. This is saying a couple of things: 1. The troop rubber stamps eagles (more on this later), 2. the kid is highly motivated or 3. they really do the min amount of time required. You can recieve an award, but you may not know what comes with the award: As an Eagle I promised to give back to Scouting, and I do so as an ASM, and former Crew Assoc Advisor. I don not think that 12 and 13 yr olds dont have the maturity and they dont see the imapact they have on scouting and in the community. We recieve lots of boys in our troop who transfer from a "rubber stamp" troop. This Unit flies through the requirements. We has a Scout who was going up for his Life SMC and didn't even know basic scoutcraft! Myself and one of our Committe members have taken it upon ourself to reteach him the stuff he should already know.

 

Now if a kid is really driven and mature (yes some 12 yr olds are more mature than a 17 yr old) the by all means have him be award Eagle, BUT charge him to stay active in the troop, shoot for palms and guide younger boys (rank wise). I HATE it when kids make Eagle and then quit.

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I didn't read every single post so I might be repeating something already said. 1) To me, a 14 year old Eagle scout is questionable. Do they really have the leadership skills? I know, there are some 14 yr olds who are more mature ... 2) If the boys mentioned in the first post are ready to start, let them. The business about holding them back so it will 'count' on a HS transcript in nonsense. As a leader, I would want to see the boys do a meaningful public service project and at that young age I would wonder how much was done by the boy and how much by the parent.

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I earned my Eagle not much more than 2 months before my 18th birthday, and I'm glad that it was then and not earlier. Personally I wish BSA would require one to be atleast 16 years of age to start ones Eagle Project, but thats just me. For those that believe "Eagle in three" is good, please look into the Venture program and Ranger as an option for your boys afterwards. My old SM always said that when dealing with boys, nearly everything you say goes in one ear and out the other until around the age of fifteen or sixteen. In all my years of scouting and my time working in the public school system, I have found this to be true.

 

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To consider an Eagle Scout of any age questionable, we must also by extension question his unit leaders, his MB counselors, his Troop Committee, the organization that benefitted from his Project, the District Advancement Chair, and the members of his Eagle BOR. Sorry, but I'm not going to jump into that conspiracy-theory quicksand (with apologies to all of you Elvis-is-alive, 2nd-gunman-on-the-grassy-knoll, the-lunar-landing-was-shot-in-Hollywood types).

 

Do they have the leadership skills? By definition, they do, at least to the satisfaction of their BORs (but not, apparently, to the satisfaction of some of us).

 

In my experience, I've found that the quickest way to get in trouble and end up looking like a simian is to make broad sweeping absolute generalizations about any group of people. When the exceptions start cropping up (which they always do) the generalization collapses like a house of cards.

 

It's funny, all the Eagles I've talked to who made it just shy of their 18th tell me they'd have finished it sooner if they could go back and do it again. Also, in my experience, I've seen way more hanky-panky involving the so-called deathbed Eagles than I ever have with the 14 year-olds. Yet, nobody looks askance at them. Why is that?

 

For goodness' sake, why can't we celebrate the accomplishment of these lads, instead of using the occasion to question the integrity of everyone involved?

 

KS

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KS --

 

Thank you, sir.

 

I was going to elaborate . . . but I think I'll put the people who want to impose age minimums on the rank of Eagle through the exercise of finding out why (if they desire) I'm thanking you.

 

I believe you know why I'm thanking you, so I'll say it one more time.

 

Thank you, sir.

 

Unc.

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It seems to me that the issue of whether boys are earning Eagle "too young" really contains a couple of other questions:

 

1. Does the current advancement system provide the right mix and sequence of experiences and achievements that will allow a boy to develop into a Scout deserving of Eagle rank?

 

2. Are there flaws in the advancement review system that allow boys to "slip through" who haven't really achieved what is necessary to deserve Eagle rank?

 

On the first question, I think the answer, in general, is yes. The only thing I might change (if I had the power to do so, which I don't, not even for my son's troop), which would have the effect of slowing boys down, would be to extend the period of time to serve in a POR, especially for Star. If a troop really uses FCFY, you can have some very young Star and Life scouts, many of whom won't be ready for the more responsible PORs until they are older. And you can get the odd situation of ONLY the younger boys serving in PORs, because they "need" them for rank, and the older boys don't. I don't see anything wrong with FCFY, because it really gets the Scout skills established, but I don't think it would be unreasonable for it to take another nine months or so, each, to reach Star, Life, and Eagle (really, many--maybe most--boys don't achieve those ranks that quickly). I don't think it's an issue of maturity, exactly, but more an issue of "seasoning" in leadership roles and in just doing Scout stuff over a period of time. A 12 or 13 year old Eagle may be highly motivated and very mature, but he hasn't been on any High Adventure outings (too young), probably hasn't been SPL, has only been to summer camp a couple of times, etc. I'm not saying that any of that stuff should be required--it's just that those experiences help produce a "seasoned" scout. I think the vast majority of Eagle Scouts are already seasoned in this way, and hopefully the young Eagles will stay in the program and get their seasoning afterwards.

 

On the second point, I do think there are opportunities for boys to slip through at various points in the advancement review system. However, I think that is inevitable unless you want to have a much more rigorous system--and I don't. Probably most of us have seen a few Eagles who were a little short of what we'd like to see--but maybe not enough to want to upset the system in ways that might block some really deserving boys.

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Eagle Scout before high school? I question the value of the rank and the motivation for the rank and the rush for the rank and, and, and.

 

It has been my experience that boys who achieve Eagle Scout rank at a young age grow wings and fly away. Scouts are not an organization that is bent on pumping up a kids self-esteem with the achievement of Eagle rank. They are focused on building character and leadership skills. How much leadership opportunity does a youngster get if he achieves Eagle rank at 12 or 13 years of age. They don't even quite know who they are at that age, although they are in the process of discovering who they are.

 

My son just achieved Life Scout rank. I actually joke with him saying, "Six more months and you can fly away with your Eagle wings". He could be transferred up to the Eagle patrol, but we talked about how much better it would be to spend more time in the patrol he is currently in. This way he could build on his leadership skills, as we just had a whole bunch of Weblos cross-over into our troop. I asked him, "Why would you want to be the runt of the litter?" That's what would happen if he took a spot in the Eagle patrol.

 

I think it's much better for the scouts to take their time to Eagle once they reach Life. Unless they are 17 y.o. They'll get much more out of scouting.

 

It sounds to me like you are not in a hurry. Why not encourage him to enjoy himself and take his time. Some parents are in more of a rush for their sons to reach Eagle than the boys are. Those parents don't understand the value of longevity in scouting. It is just as important, if not more important, than rank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One . . . two . . . three . . . deep breath . . . four . . .

 

fades off to sleep. Oh well.

 

Unc.

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The only absolute you can state about the "value of the rank" is the cost of the Eagle Presentation Kit (less than $20 if memory serves). The value in the context of the long term effect on the Scout and the people around him is something nobody will know until he achieves adulthood. Let's not measure the lad by a snapshot of what he did today. Either way, I will assert that the Scout who earns Eagle with a few years before he ages out has more opportunities to give something back to Scouting, immediately, than the lad who earns it right before his 18th and then goes off to college, then comes back later as a volunteer leader. Is either contribuiton inferior? Of course not. Have both lived up to their Eagle Charge? So far, yes.

 

Boys who go "inactive" after earning their Eagle are not unheard of, regardless of age. But, to my knowledge, there is absolutely no evidence that there's a relationship between age at Eagle BOR and retention. BSA National could probably data-mine it, but I hope they'd be doing more important things. If anything, what I've found is that many boys who join Scouting with earning Eagle as their ultimate goal, have in their minds no reason to stay after their Eagle COH. To the extent that's true, that's our fault, not theirs. In my conferences, I try to portray Eagle as an important individual accomplishment, but also an intermediate goal that should include Palms, OA, JASM duties, continued involvement in the unit as a "greybeard", and adult volunteer leadership. Those of us who frame the Eagle rank as a be-all/end-all should not be surprised if that's exactly what it turns out to be for the boys we mentor.

 

How much leadership opportunity did a Scout get when he earns Eagle? That's easy: enough, as far as BSA National is concerned. You can certainly wish it were more, but it seems as if you're blaming the "player" when you should be blaming the "game".

 

There are enough internal controls built into the advancement process to prevent a boy from scamming his way to Eagle at any age, without significant adult collusion. Does that happen? Maybe, in isolated cases. But again, when you think it did, who more deserves judgment, the Scout or the adults involved?

 

KS

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We've been through this discussion for sure. But I still keep coming back to this: there shouldn't be any shame in a boy earning Eagle when he is good and ready, as long as he has met all the requirements. Age is not a factor, and the folks that wrote the requirements were wise to see that obtaining Eagle isn't a cookie-cutter age-based process like schools. It depends on the boy to meet certain requirements. If he meets them, he gets Eagle. If he doesn't, then there are other things he can do in life to be proud of, but getting his Eagle isn't one of them. I didn't know you had to be a certain age to be a good leader, BTW.

 

My son is in a fairly large troop. There are boys that are very active, attend most of the outings, have merit badges out the wazoo, gave fantastic project presentations, carried out their projects with minimal intervention from adults, and got Eagle at age 13. Then there are the guys who got Life while in middle school then left the troop until their senior year, about 6 or 7 months before turning 18. They hadn't been on an outing in 4 years and don't know many of the guys in the troop. They're there because their parents are pushing them to get Eagle because it looks good for college and scholarship applications. They meet all the requirements a few weeks before they turn 18.

 

Tell me - which of these guys would you rather see having the Eagle patch on their chest? My answer would be "both", because they both met the requirements as they were outlined. I have to wonder why we keep having this debate.

 

Bug - shaking my head.

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Bug, we keep having this discussion because there are those who think they can improve upon the BSA program by adding to it, silly ain't it?

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