Barry C Runnels (Barry_C_Runnels@MMACMAIL.JCCBI.GOV)
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 11:05:35 CDT
>Go ahead and shoot him down.
I am not sure why you would expect anyone to shoot your son down. He is the
type of Scout the Eagle award was designed for. Most folks don't have a
problem with Scouts like your son earning their Eagle by the age of 13 or
>By setting a definite minimum age, they will level the playing field.
>The boy that is definitely qualified will not be penalized; he will
>understand the rules and still get his Eagle. The boy that is not
>qualified, will have a chance to develop, and still get his Eagle.
While I agree with why you want to set age requirements, I don't think we
have to take this step. There are those few Scouts like John's son that
would be restricted by an age rule. I remember when I was a Scout, we
weren't allowed to earn MBs until we reached first class. That gave us time
to concentrate on Scouts Skills and learning how the Troop program worked.
I think that restriction would help solve the early Eagle problem and take
pressure off Troops to create programs designed to produce them.
One of the main differences I see of Troops today from when I was a Scout
is the emphasis on the Eagle. Today some Troops proudly brag that they have
a program that would get a Scout his Eagle by the age of 13. They explain
if the Scout comes to every meeting that he will earn all the badges
required to get that Eagle. We have several such Troops in our District and
one that is having trouble keeping Scouts beyond 14. They decided to start
a Post to hold those boys. I like post, I was in one for three years but
this is the wrong reason to start one.
We have two new Advancement Chairman in our Troop who told me last night
they are changing our Troop program so that it is easier for Scouts to meet
with councilors at Troop meetings. They also want us to spend more time on
working on merit badges. I had a talk with them and one of the things I
explained was that our Troop program is built around the other 97% of the
Scouts in the Troop. The problem they have is the SM and I started this
Troop with the intentions that if a Scout wants the Eagle, he will earn it
at his initiative, not the Troops. We do sponsor two MBs a month but the
Scouts have to get a blue card from the SM and then set up an appointment
with the councilor.
Back in the seventies, it wasn't unusual to have a SPL or ASPL who had a
drivers licenses. Now I know things are different but today most Troops
seem to be adding Venture groups to keep their older boys. I like the fact
Troops are building better programs for older boys but most are doing it to
keep the older guys, not to give them a program for their age and physical
maturity. I keep telling people that if they let their 11-13 years old just
have fun learning and camping, then by the time they reach 14 or so, they
will have the maturity to have fun leading.
This doesn't mean I think Troops shouldn't work on merit badges, it means
that I think the boys should initiate the work at their pace and needs. Our
PLC is planning Merit badges as the Febuary theme. We will see how it
works. But it was their idea.
Presently I am helping a new Troop Committee start a Troop in February.
None of the adults have any boy leadership experience so they are doing
everything by the book. The new SM got up at one of the meetings and said
that his goals for the Troop is that it be a boy run where the scouts plan
all their activities and campouts and that they all get first class in
their first year. I asked "what if the boys don't want to get first class
in their first year?". The SM didn't know what to say accept that National
says they will quit if they don't. I asked "If your son is having FUN in
his Troop, why would he quit?". The Webelos parents of this Troop are
asking how the committee is going to make sure their son is elected into
enough troop offices to get the Eagle rank.
I believe if Troops spent just a little more time making sure their program
was one that boys looked forward to each week and less on advancement
deadlines, we would have more 15 and 16 year old Scouts staying in Troops.
I am one of those Scouts that didn't get my Eagle. Oh sure thinking back, I
wish I worked a little harder but I had a great time. I was in a Troop four
years then jump to Explores to expand on my Scuba Diving hobby. It was a
blast. I learned a lot about leadership and I will never forget my
Scoutmaster who always found the time to say what a great person I was. I
will never forget the friends in the Rebel Patrol and stories we told by
the fire each night. I was the knots guy and it was my job to make sure
everyone knew them. We had a cooking guy, a tree guy and others. My first
trip to Colorado was with the Troop and the Water skiing MB is still my
favorite. I am the Water skiing councilor now.
As the Membership Chair in our District, I look at what makes some troops
more successful than other and by far, the true boy run Troops do better.
And why not, where else can a 14 year old be a true leader of 40 boys and
adults and be able to screw up in a safe place. I wish National would spend
a little more time writing and training boy run and less on getting Scouts
to first class in their first year, because a good fun program is where the
numbers are at. That's where the fun is at and that's what Scouting is
really all about. Adults need to stop feeling guilty about how many of
Scouts don't get Eagle and start worrying more about a boys quitting before
they reach 13.
I have no problem with 13 year old Eagles, I just don't think it is
appropriate for a Troop to brag that their Troop program got the boy there.
The 13 year old Eagle should reserve the right to brag about that himself.
I would much rather brag about how our PLC planned and lead a great year of
FUN activities. I want to brag about how all our new Scouts are still with
us a year later. We aren't there yet but that's my goal as an adult in the
Oklahoma boy run Troop 386.
I know, I know it was a little long but I can't help it, I love this
"Mighty" Pack 339
Hey, have a great Thanksgiving and God bless you all.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City