WARNING: First Class in One Year may lead to Weak Eagles (lo
Bob Taschler (bob_taschler@PUBLICITAS-USA.COM)
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 16:45:19 -0500
Paul A. LaChapelle" <pal@XYNETIX.COM> asked:
1. Does anyone remember when the First Year First Class advancement program
2. Do troops find this to be a program that the boys can accomplish?
I'm not exactly sure when this was initiated, but it seems that it was about the
same time as when the New Scout Patrol method was also initiated a few years
ago. I'm sure others on the list will be able to quote the exact moment of
As for it being a feasible accomplishment within an active program, the answer
is yes. Our troop offers a 12 month program with camping, hiking and many
learning experiences including swimming at the local YMCA. If a boy applies
himself, he can easily meet the Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class
requirements within the first 12 months of joining our troop. In fact, there are
many people on this list who could quote you chapter and verse at what youngest
age a boy may achieve Eagle.
However, the better question is, does this make him a better Scout?
The logic of the First Class in a Year program was explained to me as follows:
Since most boys who become Eagles earned their First Class in their first year
of joining a Troop, the more boys who attain First Class in a year, the more
Eagles we will have. And having more Eagles would be grand. While I believe that
this logic is well intentioned, I also believe that it is flawed for several
reasons. On paper it looks good, but...
1. Boys who are predisposed to becoming an Eagle are self motivated and are high
achievers, sometimes over achievers, who are very likely to attain the rank of
First Class naturally. Rushing the other boys who are not naturally achievement
oriented doesn't necessarily serve their needs or even the grand goal of
producing more Eagles.
2. Some troops have adults who see everything that their boys do as being "good
enough" and ranks are handed out too easily. This policy only encourages troops
like these and adds nothing to the quality of their program.
3. Some troops even go so far as to have their own adults become merit badge
counselors for all of the required merit badges and enough so that a boy can
earn Eagle without ever stepping outside their own troop. Or they send their
boys to camps that have a reputation for being a merit badge mills; just show up
to the class, sign in and get the badge.
Ultimately I feel that this policy only encourages adults to advance boys before
they are ready. I have met plenty of scouts wearing Star and Life ranks, and
even some wearing Eagle ranks who simply didn't know their stuff. Some have
never taken a real hike, (just a walk around town, it was good enough), or
cooked a real meal over an open fire (we brought the propane stoves and boiled
some hot dogs, it was good enough), or ever really demonstrated their scouting
skills (we just let them explain it to us, it was good enough). In my opinion,
these boys were robbed.
If I can see it so can the other scouts. Eventually, the weak Eagle realizes it
too. In these cases, he will realize that he was given the award by well
intentioned adults just to make him "feel better". He never really earned it and
it will gnaw at him for the rest of his life.
I know that we have beaten the "youngest boy to have earned Eagle" topic to
death, but I see no advantage to having a young boy become an Eagle, especially
if he is sliding by the requirements by doing the minimal amount of work. Yes, I
know that there are exceptional boys who have truly achieved that status, and
good for them if they did, but it does nothing for the program on the whole.
Scouting is a youth development program. As I have repeatedly told my own
scouts, especially my son, it isn't about awards, or badges, or receiving
accolades. If that is why you are a scout, you are missing the point of the
program. The awards and such are only a means to an end: a well developed young
man who lives the Scout Oath and Law. So often, boys go off having had a great
time with fond memories never to return to scouting. I'd rather have one boy
become a scouter for life than a hundred Eagles who fly away.
But then again, I could be entirely wrong. Just ask my wife; she has a list.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City