Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 13:21:30 -0600
If we remember the lesson of the "Prodigal Son" wherein the dutiful son
who stayed home and "did all the right things" expresses outrage when his
errant brother returns home; and yet, the "rebel" is warmly welcomed and
regaled by the father despite an absence of years, it is appropriate to draw a
similar parallel for great joy in the return of the "lost Scout" seeking
to achieve the Eagle rank.
The fact that a young man actively seeks to complete his Eagle rank
despite an absence of four years says a lot about his good character. It
is all too easy for adults to "not see the forest for the trees" in
dealing with this issue. As an Eagle Scout and later an Eagle Scout
Project Counselor/District Advancement Committee member, I have had the
opportunity to review many Eagle Scouts or counsel projects for them.
Some of these have been the "crisis due to age" or otherwise unusual
cases. Regrettably, some resulted when the Scout was discouraged by
adult leaders or had other extenuating family circumstances which
seemingly made it impossible for them to complete the requirements.
Fortunately in some of the cases, action was taken to compensate for the
problems, and the young men were able to achieve the award. Others, due
to a lack of timely intervention, were not so lucky. The response of
"you're just too late" by an adult, when in fact, that is not the case, is
nothing short of outrageous and unacceptable.
It is very important to remember than an Eagle Scout award is made not so
much for what the Scout has done, but for what he has become and will
likely continue to be: an active, ethical dedicated citizen and
outstanding role model for the rest of his life. In a sense, becoming an
Eagle Scout is choosing an ethical way of life forever. Most will succeed
greatly, and only a very few will fail to abide in those high ideals.
In some rare cases, while sitting on a board of review, I
have seen young men be awarded an Eagle rank that I had reservations
about; conversely, I have seen cases of really outstanding young men
who for various reasons chose not to seek the award, and yet are possibly
more deserving than some who receive it. However, the fact that they all
choose to live their lives in the best ideals of the Scout
Oath and Law, whether they receive the Eagle award or not, is what
Scouting is really all about.
In is interesting and regrettable to note, however, that in the
cases where I have had reservations, it has been quite apparent that the
problems were primarily attributable to a lack of proper guidance by
It is often said that "if the student fails to learn,
then the teacher has failed to teach.." and this also holds true for
Scouting. Unfortunately, there are occasionally adults in positions of
authority who through ignorance or arrogance misuse or abuse their
authority. There should be no hesitation on the part of others to correct
such errors in judgement or knowledge. Adults need to evaluate their
methods and techniques through
reflection and honest assessment; the results are sometimes not very
pleasant, but at least a youth shouldn't have to pay a price for
inadequacies caused by a lack of competent adult leadership.
It is extremely important to look beyond the "letter of the law" but
rather to the "spirit" of the law and what was really intended. We must
thoughtfully analyze what might have contributed to a Scout's "dropping
out." Often it is more likely a problem over which the Scout has limited
control, or simply has not been encouraged. We should never forget that
youth often do not yet have the "tools" to be creative in finding
resources and seeking solutions; and are dependent on adult leadership to
"open doors," when the need arises.
The last thing a young man needs is a negative or punitive response by
adults who fail to thoughtfully analyze causes and seek creative
Leadership roles can be assigned in special conditions which do not follow
the traditional PL, SPL, Troop Guide, etc., responsibilities. Extenuating
circumstances deserve extenuating responses and adult leaders should do
everything they can to make it possible for a Scout who actively seeks the
Eagle Award to have the opportunity to achieve it.
I have heard far too
many "horror" stories about Scouts who never achieved Eagle because of
some misinformed policy interpretation or a lack of concern and
creative effort by leaders or adults in positions of responsibility to
help a young man achieve the rank. Scouting and the Eagle Rank are for
Scouts. Adults are in the program to help and assist in any way possible
and in a positive effort to ensure those possibilities.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City