Re: Eagle before 13?
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Mon, 26 Sep 1994 19:37:52 CST
(I think that my modem troubles are all over with....if someone can
please pass along a good modem configuration for a 14,4 modem, send it
to me by *private email*. That's what I get for "test driving"
software that reconfigures stuff it shouldn't (I shouldn't) be doing!
I've followed both the online and offline discussions on the issue of
whether or not there should be a level (maturity, interest, support)
given to Scouts "going for" the BSA's premiere youth award, the Eagle
Scout Badge. In the past, I've weighed in on this topic (and some
related to it), on the side of the program. I still feel that way.
First, the Boy Scouting program is based on *individual acheivement*
not on "group achievement" nor on the "number of individuals that a
Scouter can get to achieve at a certain level". Therefore, it is not
only conceivable but highly permissiable that a kid that feels so
stay at First Class for three years if he chooses to do so; or for
a kid to set a schedule and decide that before he turns 15, he becomes
a Eagle Scout with nine palms, a Vigil Honor member of his Lodge, and
perhaps the Section Chief of his Order of the Arrow Section.
That's the simplicity and beauty of the Boy Scout program and which
sets it apart from school and church (at least in most areas of the
Each Scout gets to design his way toward Eagle. That's the reason why
the requirements are no more stringent than they are. Yeah, at the
Star and Life levels, a certain number of "required merit badges" must
be earned; but there's NOT a "you must earn this merit badge for Star"
or "that merit badge is required for Life". For the Eagle Scout Badge
to be earned, there is a list of 11 merit badges which MUST be
earned; but as most of know, those 11 could be earned in ANY sequence
over ANY period of time and don't HAVE to be earned at that point in
Likewise, each Scout can work as hard or as little toward the eventual
goal of "becoming a Eagle Scout" as he, his Scoutmaster, his parents
and the community at large would let him.
So, here are the questions out there and here's how I would answer
them and the basis for those answers:
"Do you see anything wrong with a Eagle Scout at the age of 13?"
It depends upon the maturity, leadership and experience he's had at
that point in time. There are several GREAT 13 and 14 year old Eagle
Scouts out there, and I would hire them when they turn 16 anytime! On
the reverse, there are several TERRIBLE 12, 13 and 14 year olds whom
say that they're Eagle Scouts, can produce a $10.25 medal and a $.55
card which supports their assertion, and by their personal actions,
can't convince me that they're SCOUTS, let alone Eagle Scouts!
Shamelessly, admittedly, the BSA has been a "Eagle mill" in it's past.
We've instilled in every Scoutmaster's brain that he or she MUST
produce Eagle Scouts, and we've given him or her the tools in which to
do so. The BSA even until a certain time COUNTED the number of Eagle
Scouts within each and every local Council and used that number in
part to "hire and fire" Council Scout Executives. This practice
stopped with our first "revision" of our program in 1973 and it was a
good thing it did stop then. There are still stats compiled on the
overall number of Eagles, but not arranged by local Council for
This insistance has rubbed off the Scoutmasters to the parents of
Scouts, whom see the Eagle Scout Badge as some sort of "magic key" to
get their kids into colleges or into the military academics. IT IS
NOT. The Eagle Scout Badge is only good for getting their feet INTO
THE DOORSTOP. There's a LOT MORE that really decides if a kid is
going to be accepted or even LOOKED AT.
"So you are saying that there should be a minimum age to become a
No. The BSA's requirements, not significantly changed from the 1912
Eagle Scout requirements nor the 1962 requirements that our current
listing is based upon, is fine. Then as now, it takes 18 months from
start to finish to become a Eagle Scout. The DIFFERENCE WAS that
Scoutmasters (and parents) were not so fixated on the "Eagle Scout
Badge" and more fixated on "participating in a character, personal
fitness and citizenship program with his peers". Whether a person
made it to Second Class or to Eagle was of little conseqence; what
mattered was the EFFORT MADE to get as high as you could in the
I know of many Life Scouts whom are just as proud of their
heart-shaped badge with the First Class badge inside of it as I am of
my Eagle Scout badge. While they feel a slight bit of embarassment
for "not going the final mile" when asked, they do feel a positive
sense of accomphishment and unity with every other Scout.
Likewise, I know of several Eagle Scouts that have placed their
acheivement away in a drawer or framed it alongside the football
pictures or the college diploma, only to display it whenever folks
come by and in many cases as an afterthought (oh yeah, I did that too.
Eagle with the palms, the Order to the Arrow, all of that jazz...Did I
mention that I was all-state twice?). I work with one such man
(stated loosely) at work. This guy used to be the Lodge Chief of the
local OA lodge, is a Eagle Scout (yeah, once always), with three
palms, and is a Vigil Honor member. You wouldn't know it if you met
him...he comes in to work drunk four days of five, treats customers
terriably, and spends 70 percent of each day telling how much "he got"
the previous night, how much "he drank" the previous night, and how
much he's looking forward to "being out on the streets" in the present
He earned his Eagle at the tender age of 14.
"So what should we do to maintain what high standards we expect from
Eagle Scouts? Keep them in the Troop longer? Deny them merit badges
until a certain age? Administer a test? What?"
The testing is the Eagle Scout project. Momma and Pappa should NOT be
involved in the project, except to provide moral support. The project
is designed to be the TRUE TEST of a Eagle candidate's ability to
plan, develop, execute and evaluate a plan. HIS plan, one in which he
had to gain approval for HIMSELF. What happens a lot is that Momma
and Pappa goes out and solicit the plan, develops the plan, and hands
it to the kid. The kid then goes to the adults in his Troop or Post
or Team and repeats from memory what Mom and Pop *told him* about the
plan. Get stuck? Say "I'll come back to you" and go home and drill
Mom and Pop to explain it again....or Mom or Pop (or both) picks up
the phone and complains to the Troop that "you're pressuring him.
Come on, this is *just a project*". Then, the Troop folds from
pressure (or in their "insistance to MAKE A EAGLE", approves the
project....)and sends it to the District or Council.
There, they (because they want to INCREASE THE NUMBERS and MAKE THE
EAGLE), looks the project over and stamps it "approved".
Then Momma and Pappa goes with the kid and completes the project,
fills out the paperwork, and turns it into the Scoutmaster whom is
supposed to make a decision: Is this kid EAGLE MATERIAL IN MY
OPINION? Then, seeing themselves in the Norman Rockwell painting,
handing the Eagle Badge to a proud parent, he or she signs the
application and off it goes.
ONLY WHEN IT GETS TO THE TROOP/DISTRICT/COUNCIL BOARD OF REVIEW DOES
IT COMES OUT THAT THE KID DON'T HAVE A CLUE AS TO WHAT HE WAS
SUPPOSED TO GET OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE! Then, it's too late.
Denying merit badges until a certain age is silly. Most of the badges
can be earned with a good counselor by any 12 year old kid, male or
female. And that won't keep them in the Troop longer anyway. We see
that all of the time...there's no challenge.
And THAT, my friends, is where the answer is. I've reached my limit
with this posting.
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
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