Eagle Letter of Reference
Keith Sutton (ksutton@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)
Fri, 7 Oct 1994 17:21:47 -0700
I've found the recent thread concerning letters of reference and Eagle at
13 very interesting. One thought that should never leave one's mind is
that all references should be written for all to see or not at all. Refs
frequently tell more and disclose more about the writer than the person
being written about.
A scouter with the experience that the years have brought him should
remember his position and standing. Does the scout of age 11 realize that
you hold him in such low esteem? What if the scout actually were able to
produce the record you have pre-judged him by? Was the 2-year old
incident one the scout remembers? Do you think he feels he was fairly
treated at that time or did he think you unjustified in your approach &
went to someone else? Will you hold him to the same standard for the deed
done when he was 11 when he's 13? 15? 17-364/365ths? A scouter of 45?
There is the philosophy of a boy run unit. If it is a true one,
mistakes will be made and hopefully learned from. Those two years to an 11
year-old would be similar to and as possibly meaningful as an event 10 or 20
years to an adult.
If he has asked you for a reference, he probably holds you in some
positive regard. He obviously has misjudged you, or perhaps more
accurately he hasn't learned about what people say and do are two
different things. I feel a scout should also be afforded the option of
knowing the contents of ref so that he could choose whether or not to
select you as a referrer. If one is uncomfortable with that, to decline
to write is the best course.
As a youth I had to ask several adults at varying times to write references
for me for various things (eagle, college, jobs, etc.) I tried to pick
adults who knew me, who saw my growth over time and that had what I
thought were positive interactions with. Imagine my surprise at reading
a ref from an adult with an obvious bone to chew. Turned out I was
wrong; he didn't know me; he wrote an extremely negative ref based on his
opinion of me. The problem was he confused me with another skinny
blond-haired kid that always got into trouble. Fortunately by then, I
had learned to make it mandatory that I have "right of refusal" to all
refs that I solicit.
IMHO the scout has every right to know where he stands when asking for a
letter of reference. He only hasn't learned to ask whether it would be a
positive one; what it would based it on and would it be truly fair in its
Keith Sutton email@example.com ...used to be an antelope!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City