Re: Eagle letter/Rec
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Tue, 23 Jun 1998 15:18:20 -0400
> From: Calvin H. Gray <405geezer@IGG-TX.NET>
> Date: Tuesday, June 23, 1998 11:51 AM
> Actually, the wording is "The Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook and
> references are retained by the council. The Eagle Scout Service
> Project Workbook may be returned to the Scout after council approval."
> I can find no indication that the letters of recommendation should be
> destroyed after the board of review.
> Many councils have elected to return the whole Eagle package, including
> letters of recommendation when they are present, to the Scout after the
> application has been approved by National. I can't imagine why anyone
> would object to this.
Well, I can think of at least three, listed not necessarily in order of
First of all, because the rules clearly state that this is not supposed to
happen. The workbook and references are returned to the council, but the
WORKBOOK (and ONLY the workbook by inference) may be returned to the
candidate. I think it is clear that return of the references is NOT
anticipated, and a Scout is obedient. He follows the rule. (Whether the
references are ultimately retained by the council or destroyed is not
really germane to the discussion. At some point in time the will
certainly be destroyed, whether it is weeks, months, or years after the
application is approved by national.)
That, in and of itself, should be enough.
However, a Scout is also Trustworthy, and if we tell the references that
the process is confidential, and since it is it only makes sense to do so,
then it would be a violation of that trust to share what was written, good
or otherwise, with anyone not an intended reader of the recommendation
and, clearly, a confidential reference letter is not intended to be read
by its subject.
Finally, so as not to establish a precedent which could present a problem
when there is a letter that you don't feel it is appropriate to return.
What do you say to Johnny when he asks you why Timmy got ALL of his
references back, but you did not return to him the one from his teacher,
or parent, or priest? It might not even be because there is something
negative in it, but rather that there is something that it is not
appropriate for him to see. For example, maybe his parents mentioned that
he was adopted, even though he didn't know it. Or a teacher might
indicate that he has earned some award or scholarship which has not yet
been announced. They might do that in a confidential letter, but
certainly not in one that they thought would be shared with its subject.
The person writing the letter is certainly free to share it with the
subject, but that needs to be THEIR decision, not ours.
Granted, it is not often that there would be anything in these letters to
create situations like these, by why paint yourself into a corner,
especially when the policy seems clear.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City