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OneHour

To early eagle or not to early eagle

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Im with sturg on this one. The mentality of an eagle scout is much more important then having all the boxes checked on paperwork.

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The mentality? Forgive me for being dense, but I'm not sure to what extent we're supposed to be able to crawl into these kids' heads in order to assess their motives for earning Eagle. None of my training, including WB, prepared me for it. Now, I've got a teenage boy at home, work with 45 of them right now, have also volunteered in youth sports, and have spent the last 20+ years chasing others through back yards and down alleys wearing a badge. I certainly don't feel qualified to psyche them out. Do I need to go to Philmont all summer to be able to do it? Besides, as I scour my references, I don't see a "validate the Scout's motives" requirement for any rank...

 

Dug; the boxes checked on the paperwork is not just a self-licking ice cream cone -- it's how we document all that important stuff that happened: the leadership, the service, active participation, etc. In other words, it's not the checked box, it's what it represents. But, I'm sure you already know that.

 

It seems that our Scouts are becoming a lightning rod for what some of us think are requirements in need of change. If that's the case, how would you change the requirements? Various requirement weightings? Different MB configurations? A lifestyle polygraph? Longer POR tenure?

 

What am I missing here?

 

KS

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Oh, Dug. I really wish people didn't use the words "maturity" and "mentality" to try and make a case for older Eagles. So - mentality. Does that mean that we can't have emotionally delayed scouts become Eagles because they don't have the maturity, even though they are trying their darndest? What about the boys with Down Syndrome who have to have alternate requirements? Are they not Eagle worthy?

 

I'll tell you what. I have 4 sons. All were in cubs, but only one of them went into Boy Scouts. My two oldest are 21 and 20. If they had been in scouts and you were to grant their Eagles based on maturity, you wouldn't have granted them until each of the boys was 19 (I know, you can't get Eagle after 18 and that's my point). Up until they left home (each about a year ago), the youngest (13) was teaching THEM things. They're doing fine now, the oldest is in college (lives on his own), and the second oldest grew up when he got a new "mom" at Marine Corps boot camp. The third (15) has some learning differences/emotional delays, so maturity is hard to quantify.

 

The youngest just seems to be the most mature, maybe out of necessity because his brothers WEREN'T mature, or maybe just nature. Would I dare tell him that he can't work on his Eagle until he's 16 because he won't be mature enough until then, or that there is something wrong with his mentality? Sure, a bit more "seasoning" and leadership would be a great thing, and I hope he takes that route. But if he decides he wants to "go for it" now, contact the people that he needs to, and start finding an Eagle project (on his own) is that not a mark of maturity?

 

c'mon.

 

Bug

Bug

 

 

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Bug;

 

You hit it on the head, my friend! Unless we're asserting there's widespread chicanery among parents, leaders, and District staffs, a completed Eagle application packet with the project workbook is prima facie evidence of sufficient maturity to get the lad an Eagle BOR. That august group will review the application, the references, the project, and interview the candidate to determine if he's worthy. If they have deemed he is, National agrees, and he's wearing the badge, then it's settled. If someone thinks he doesn't measure up, well, the BOR members disagreed with you, and it's their votes that count. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

 

I'm sure there are those among us who will still seek out, like a Diogenes in reverse, any Eagles who didn't meet their personal criteria of age, maturity/mentality, height, project hours, hair color, or merit badge choices. I would submit that it's a fool's errand, reminiscent of Don Quixote tilting at windmills -- makes a fuss, but doesn't accomplish anything.

 

Anyone who truly thinks their District Advancement committee is so broke that boys are scamming their way to Eagle should run, not walk, to their DE and/or District Chairman, and beg to be on the District Advancement Committee. By doing so, you'll get to know these boys personally, review their Scout history and their Eagle Scout project workbooks in minute detail, and get first-hand insight into why they're sitting in front of you. The BOR vote must be unanimous, so you'll be able to take the credit for turning away all those little con men who have skillfully and successfully bamboozled all those other adults for so long. Or, perhaps you'll find that the young men before you took paths of various lengths on the trail to Eagle for various reasons, but the important thing is that they are in fact in front of you, and not in front of a truant officer, a drug dealer, or a judge. Given all the distractions and negative influences on adolescent boys, to see a lad of any age sitting before an Eagle BOR should generate a collective sigh of relief and accomplishment for all involved -- here's a success story. Yet, for some of us, it doesn't.

 

I just don't get it...

 

KS

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ok, here is another word: Character.

 

Eagle isnt something a scout achieves, its something he becomes. A scout becomes an eagle not by completing requirements like knots and first aid, or canoeing merit badge or basketry, and not by putting together an eagle project. A scout becomes an Eagle through the journey that encompassed all those things. The growing process that results because of all these parts builds character, the easier the journey, the less character is developed. Can anyone honestly say that a boy who is 13 had had the same amount of experiences as he would have when he is 16? That is 3 years of building maturity and character. An eagle scout isnt comprised of camping skills, but rather or leadership, responsibility, accountability, maturity and spirit.

 

If made this analogy before on these boards, ill do it again. Lets say you take 3 groups of scouts and their mission is to get from NYC to LA. One group you give plane tickets from JFK airport to LAX and you drive them to the airport, most likely every one of them will get to LA in only a few hours. The second group you give them some vans and road maps and some cash. It will take them more then a few days, getting lost a few times and in about a week or so, most but not all will get to LA. The last group you give them a map and good walking shoes and they carry everything in their backpacks. They have to find their way across the country, hiking or hitchhiking, earning food, sleeping under the stars and most of these will not make it to LA. Those that do take months. In the end, which group has become, through their experiences more self reliant, more resourceful, more mature and of more character? Odds are the third group.

 

"My two oldest are 21 and 20. If they had been in scouts and you were to grant their Eagles based on maturity, you wouldn't have granted them until each of the boys was 19"

 

Fine. Not every boy is an Eagle scout. Every boy has the chance to become an eagle scout. There is a difference between "Every boy CAN be an Eagle" and "Every boy SHOULD be an Eagle."

 

When i hear from Scouters who firmly believe that scouts can be Eagle's at 13, a large group of them say, as premise to their argument, that when a boy hits High school, all the distractions like sports and girls will make it very difficult for them to get to the rank of Eagle.

 

So what. Not every boy is an Eagle. But boys of character will, despite the distractions, become eagles. Since i have been in boy scouts at the age of 10.5 back in 1989, every Eagle Scout from our troop played a high school varsity sport while pursuing the rank of Eagle. Of the four 16 year olds in our troop that are currently a, eagle project and a couple merit badges away from Eagle, one plays football, one plays soccer, one plays lacrosse and one is on the swim team for their respective high schools. It can be done. Its not easy. Its not supposed to be.

 

Sure, any troop can put together a program that pumps out Eagles at an early age. If the meetings and trips are dedicated to the advancement of rank, if leadership time is generously revolving and if the Adult leaders pull the boys along the troop could produce 10 times the national average of 1%-3%. Think of the recruiting!! Im not saying anyone here does that at all.

 

Im also not saying we as Scoutmasters should be going around denying scouts BOR because of his age. Im saying the program dictates the age AND character of the Eagles. Challenge them to the fullest extent they can handle and build the best Eagles you

 

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What an interesting question and enlightening discussion.

 

Personally, I think the boys who wait until they are out of time show far less maturity, leadership, and responsibility than those who "get their ticket punched" before high school.

 

As my unit's Eagle Advisor, I have seen both. I think the trend (there are exceptions) in my unit is to either be gung ho about advancement and earn all the ranks in a reasonably short time or to get to life and disappear. In my unit, over 60% of our boys are Life Scouts. 80% of these are seldom seen at outings, troop meetings, service projects, or anywhere there is scouting until they decide to finish their Eagle. There is another interesting dynamic in that many of these have recently turned 16 (legal driving age) when they get this intense motivation to finish.

 

Either way, the process is very clearly documented in the Boy Scout handbook, the district advancement committee handbook, and on the internet. There are no shortcuts. The District and Council see to this. Someone has to sign-off on the scout's progress. If the scout seems to be advancing too quickly, perhaps this is an indictment of the unit and merit badge programs. I cannot not blame this on the maturity of the Scout.

 

I know I would rather have young Eagle scouts working with the troop, properly wearing their uniform, helping the younger boys learn their trade, and sitting side-by-side with new scouts in the merit badge programs than to have an older Life scout show up for Philmont, Seabase, or other high adventure but never help out the unit between these trips. Where is the maturity and giving back in this scenario?

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>>Im also not saying we as Scoutmasters should be going around denying scouts BOR because of his age. Im saying the program dictates the age AND character of the Eagles. Challenge them to the fullest extent they can handle and build the best Eagles you

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and that scout had the character and maturity of an eagle scout at the level of the eagles past, then he would get the conference. Its never happened. It could, but that scout would have to be pretty special to get the leadership time and all the stuff done by 13 with the program we have.

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>>scout had the character and maturity of an eagle scout at the level of the eagles past, then he would get the conference.

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first let me ask you a question.

 

Lets say a 1st class scout needs only 6 months leadership. He is elected a patrol leader. During these six months he shows up late, doesnt advance scouts in his patrol, doesnt hold patrol meetings, doesnt lead by example, is poorly orginized at trips and is disruptive during meetings. After 6 months his term is over. Does he advance?

 

to answer your question, the final judge is the members of the BOR.

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Dug, I am not in favor of placing an age limit on Eagls. If a patrol leader, 12 or 17 yrs old does not meet the established reponsibilities of any postion, its simple, he doesnt advance until he does do a satisfactoy job. But if he does his job, its the work he did that nets him advancement, not his age.

 

I undeerstand a lad of 14 wont have the length and breadth of a 16 yrs old's experiences. But the BSA requiments dont talk about experiences, they talk about things to do do and when they are done. And I mean done as they should, we have an Eagle.

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I dont put an age limit. There is no need. The minimum leadership time for a scout to reach eagle is 3 terms of 6 months or more. thats 1.5 years. A scout at 13 would have to have begun his leadership time at 11.5 years old. That means he began his leadership after a year or less. Barring a new or very young troop, this seems to be a bit unrealistic, having a 11 and a half year old taking on the duties of a Patrol leader, OA rep, Quartermaster and so on. How can a boy that young do so? He would have to be pretty exceptional, if you ask me.

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Dug,

 

Just to be a little picky, it's one term of 4 months and two of 6. Granted that's only 2 months less than 1.5 years. Also, they are "Positions of Responsibility," not leadership terms.

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To answer Dug's earlier question, the POR credit part is perhaps the easiest non-dilemma we face...if, and it's a big if, the SM used his junior leadership training kit, explained and gave a copy of the job description to each youth leader, conducted JLT, and most importantly, gave regular feedback to the youth leaders. And especially, if one wasn't measuring up, where he wasn't measuring up, what he needed to do to improve, and what the implications are if he doesn't.

 

Only by doing so, can you avoid the "I did my four months and you didn't say anything" misunderstanding.

 

On numerous occasions, I have counseled Scouts in PORs who were "mailing it in", and most often, once we laid out plans of improvement, they served extra time in the POR to get position credit.

 

Shifting gears, if you're the SM, and the Life Scout is standing before you asking for an Eagle SM Conference, you need to remind himself that you signed the blue cards, approved the project that he completed, gave POR credit, consider him active, and determined that his Scout Spirit is satisfactory (unless you do that at the SM conference, as I do).

 

Here's more food for thought. When I conduct a SM conference for a Star Scout who's ready for Life, one thing we talk about is Eagle Requirements. We go over the list of requirements together, and I ask him to set a goal to earn his Eagle, including timing. If he's an older Scout, we talk about working requirements simultaneously out of necessity, for example. The important thing is, it's his goal, but he's told me what it is. If I think it's unrealistic, we'll talk about that, too. Bottom line, though, is that it's his trail to Eagle, not mine, and if he's met the requirements as written, it's up to the BOR.

 

KS

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Dug,

 

We are one of those new troops. We'll be a year old the middle of June. We started with all 11 and 12 year old boys who had crossed over to another troop the previous February. My son was elected as SPL on 02/01 when he was still 11 years old. He turned 12 on 02/26. On 06/01, he will have completed the 4 months in a POR for his Star rank. His term won't be over until 08/01. He has half his service hours in and will have the 4 Eagle required MB's and 2 elective MB's completed by the time summer camp is over in mid-June. He is active, having never missed a single campout and only missed a couple of meetings for some school meetings it was important for him to attend. Our SM wrongly told the boys in the troop that they shouldn't expect to waltz to the upper ranks after getting 1st class. He practically guaranteed them that it will be the end off this year before any of them achieve this rank at the earliest. My son will be ready by the end of June. I know that you question how "good" of an SPL he can be at 12 years old. Pretty darn good. My son is the first up and the last down at camp. He has an agenda for each troop meeting and runs it. He and the SM together conduct the COH's. Could a 15 or 16 year old boy do better? Probably. Does that negate the job my son does at 12? No. He knows the requirements and is doing them to the best of his ability and experience. Do we offer suggestions? Of course we do. We would if he was 16 too since our job is to train the leaders. Is my son exceptional. Well, I like to think he is since I'm his dad......but I also see him as a normal boy. Is he more mature than many of his peers? Yes. Are his peers incapable of doing the same job he does? I don't think so. Should our SM try to hold my son's advancement to Star until the end of the year when he has fulfilled all of the requirements satisfactorily by June, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Nowhere does the requirements say that you have to satisfy the SM with your character or maturity unless you lump that into Scout Spirit. Since our SM always praises my son on his SS, I see no reason why he should not advance. If he decides to work hard and fulfills two 6 month POR's, does his service hours, does his MB's and shows scout spirit over the next year and completes an Eagle project, there is no reason he can't make Eagle at 14. I won't push him, it has to be his decision and his work. But I'll be darned if I'll let some SM put artificial limits on his advancement just because he thinks no one should Eagle before 16.....which our Eagle SM does in fact think.

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