Re: SCOUTS-L Digest -Age restriction for Eagle Candidates
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Tue, 25 Nov 1997 17:32:49 -0700
I would have to respectfully disagree with Pete. You can't pick an
arbitrary age that will solve the problems, and more importantly, by doing
so, you may lose Scouts who leave the program out of frustration. We have
to accept the fact that Eagle candidates are getting younger for a variety
of reasons. Moreover, the level of maturity (mental and physical) is
occurring at somewhat earlier ages as well, when compared to candidates of
even ten to twenty years ago.
It is far easier to avoid an issue by saying, "its out of my
hands..national policy says you can't be an Eagle until you are 15 (or
whatever)" than it is to creatively provide a program which will
positively achieve the same goal; but that is precisely what must in
reality and in the best interests of the youth, be our mission.
As I said in an earlier post, by using positive enhancements to give
Scouts a reason to "slow down" because they are so busy doing high
adventure, Exploring, camping, aquatics, etc., they aren't just
concentrating on advancement; thus it becomes a natural process for them
to delay getting their Eagle until they are perhaps more ready and mature.
I have seen many instances where a Scout is singularly unmotivated to earn
advancement or do much of anything until they have a "mountain-top"
experience such as a National/World Jamboree, a Philmont/Sea Base High
Adventure, a great canoe trip, or some event that really "turns them on"
to Scouting. Then, wild horses couldn't keep them from advancing, but it
is because *they want to do it!*
Nontheless, there will still be young Scouts who have their sights
set on reaching that goal, at a very early age; hence, we cannot
and must not stand in their way, and National is wisely not likely to
establish impediments such as an arbitrary age cap to facilitate a
well-intended but misguided "filter."
If parents are the culprits, and are pushing the Scout, perhaps we aren't
doing a good job of communicating such concerns where they belong.
Telling the parents to "chill" and let the Scout progress on his own terms
sometimes gets the message out where it really needs to be heard.
Parent's need to hear that the Scout should only earn the Eagle if *he*
wants to do it, not because mom and dad are adamant that he must do it
because they said so. I know of one dad who refused to let his son get a
driver's license until he earned his Eagle. Well, the son decided he
would rather wait until he was 18, when Dad no longer had authority over
him, than be forced to do something he didn't want to do.
No amount of reasoning would change Dad's mind. The son
never got his Eagle, and I think harbored some bad feelings about his
father's approach to the issue. Yet, this Scout did many other enjoyable
activities in Scouting such as World Jamboree, Exploring, canoeing, and
served as SPL, and I really believe would have earned his Eagle on his own
if he hadn't been "mandated" by his Dad to earn it "or else."
Most problems in Scouting (and in general) are a direct result of
ineffective or inadequate communications with the persons who most need to
hear the message. And if
the parents still don't agree and continue to "push" the Scout, then
falling back to encouraging the Scout to be heavily involved in activities
seems to work just as well. Earning advancement as a sideline to such
events was really the way Baden-Powell intended the program to work; not
as a primary goal...Scouting must in all cases be primarily FUN and
exciting...all other benefits will follow in natural progression.
There's always more than one way to get around such problems if need be,
but it takes hard work, creativity and a team effort between parents,
leaders and the youth.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair
On Tue, 25 Nov 1997, Peter Townsend wrote:
> My opinion is 12-13 is too young! 14 is marginal!
> National does us a dis-service, by not taking the decision
> out of our hands. They have repeatedly been asked to set
> a minimum age of 14 or 15.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City