Re: can of worms - long post
Neil Lupton (NeilLup@AOL.COM)
Sun, 23 Nov 1997 11:28:08 -0500
In a message dated 11/23/97 7:07:05 AM, jcruse@NEMONET.COM wrote:
<< Do we think that
National is so out-of-touch and blind that they don't know that boys are
getting their Eagle at age 13? This has been an issue for quite some time.
If it was such a problem, don't you think they would have said something
when my application was returned?">>
I would like to add some comments to Jason's extremely well reasoned
First -- I assure you that "National" is highly aware of the situation. At
one time, I sat on the committee which reviewed Boy Scout advancement and
when we looked at the Eagle requirements, we specifically looked at the
possibility of putting in an age requirement. However, the requirement would
have been directed at 12 year old Eagles, which were rare but did happen.
And we concluded that we would make what we thought were appropriate,
challenging requirements and then leave matters up to the good judgement of
Scoutmasters, Troop Committees and Districts and Councils to make appropriate
accomodations for individual Scouts. I am certain that the current committee
is scrutinizing matters just as carefully.
Second - One reason that we are seeing younger Eagle Scouts, if we really
are, is that young men can start Boy Scouting younger. When the BSA was
founded, the joining age was 12. When I was a Scout it was 11. I am not
sure of the exact rule now, but isn't it "finished the 5th grade?" And (very
appropriately) we sometimes transition Webelos Scouts in January or
February, so in a very solid troop, a boy could be a First Class Scout just
about the time he turns 11. That would then give him THREE YEARS to make
Eagle before his 14th birthday.
Also, with Tiger Cubs, boys who join the Boy Scouts have, in some cases, now
had involvement with the movement for almost 5 years ( 1 year Tiger, 2 years
Cub Scouts, 2 years Webelos Scouts). I don't think that it should be
surprising that the Boys who really like Scouting come in knowing the ropes
Third - As I believe has been stated, but not nearly strongly enough,
advancement is a means of Scouting, not an end. It is one of several means
and not the most important. And the Eagle is only one step in the continuum
of advancement. In my opinion, we make much too much of being an Eagle vs
not being an Eagle, but still being an extremely successful Scout. I'll bet
in most Council and District Advancement Committees 90+% of the discussion is
about Eagle awards. I know that was the case in National discussions. Yet
that means we are focusing on about 3-4% of the members (Eagle Scouts and
those trying to earn the Eagle.) The really important advancements are
Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class because they impact so many youth.
This was a large part of the reason for the First Class emphasis program.
I believe much of the Eagle emphasis comes from parents. In today's society,
having a son who is an Eagle Scout is like having a kid in Med School. It is
a parental badge of success. And unless the parents are trained about what
Scouting really is, parents can be expected to push their sons to get the
Eagle as fast and efficiently as possible and not really care much about what
comes before or after.
Fourth - Many troops now hold Merit Badge classes or other methods to
accelerate advancement beyond First Class. This deprives the Scout of
needing to learn this information on his own and go to a stranger who is the
Merit Badge counselor. Doing the latter required substantial initiative,
courage and maturity. It still can and should if the troop does things right
and doesn't spoon feed Merit Badge advancement to the Scout.
Fifth - The experience of earning the Eagle at 13 is very different from
earning it at 17, but is no less valid. In fact, I believe it is only fair
to judge a 13 year old by 13 year old standards and a 17 year old by 17 year
old standards. If, as I said above, the Eagle is a STEP in the Scouting
trail rather than an endpoint, the younger Eagle can be challenged, as Jason
was, with Eagle palms, the OA, camp staff, Jamborees, JLT, Exploring, Troop
leadership etc. He has four years to be an example for younger boys and
their parents, rather than just a few months.
On a personal note, I earned the Eagle a couple of months after my 14th
birthday having been a Life Scout over 1 1/2 years and consciously slowed
down by my troop. My Eagle board said that they had some reservations about
awarding me the Eagle, but that it would be up to me as an Eagle Scout to
prove that I was worthy and that they hadn't made a mistake. That was 38
years ago and that challenge is still in front of me.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City