Discussion of Eagle Scouts
Grant O'Neil (oneilg@IINET.NET.AU)
Tue, 11 Aug 1998 00:21:54 +0800
I have been interested to note the lengthy discussions recently about
various aspects relating to Eagle Scouts. I felt that I out to put my oar
in and stir up the waters a bit.
I will begin by pointing out that I myself am a Queen's Scout (that's the
Australian equivalent of Eagle - look at
http://www.iinet.net.au/~oneilg/scouts/qsworld.html where I show some
international equivalent awards), and as such would never belittle the
significance of this achievement. However, I am a little troubled that some
of the discussion that has been taking place seems to indicate to me that
some of us might be losing sight of what really matters in scouting.
When BP first began scouting, there was no such thing as Queen's Scout or
Eagle Scout. Such awards as there were, existed as a means to an end. The
emphasis we seem to be placing on Eagle almost seems like we are treating
achieving the award as the end itself. If so, I believe we may be on the
Question: Why do we encourage scouts to aim for achievements like Eagle?
I would not begin to suggest there is a single "right" answer to such a
question. However, the set of what I would consider to be "right" answers
would have to include concepts such as learning to set and achieve goals,
attaining all the various skills and accomplishments that are necessary
steps to attaining the rank of Eagle, and preparing a young person to
contribute as an adult member of the society he lives in. The common thread
behind all of these is that they place the award squarely in the position
it belongs - a MEANS TO AN END, not the END itself.
Question: If a boy joins scouts and only ever achieves Tenderfoot, but
enjoys himself and learns something that helps prepare him to be a better
person, has his time in scouting been wasted?
Each of should hopefully get the same answer to this one - NO! By all means
encourage every scout to aim for the top (i.e. Eagle, Queen's Scout etc.)
but what matters most is that every boy whose life is touched in some way
by scouting should get something positive from it and in some way be a
better person as a result. I am sure this is what would matter most to BP,
not that x% of scouts achieve the highest award.
I understand the sentiment of not accepting mediocrity in the challenges a
boy accepts to accomplish Eagle. We should certainly encourage every scout
to do the BEST he possibly can in all he does. And yes, a worthwhile goal
should require a little stretching out of the comfort zone. But PLEASE - if
someone has fulfilled the requirements, they have earned the recognition.
That's it. End of story. A pole vaulter does not score any higher whether
he clears the bar by a fraction of an inch or by a foot - what matters is
that he has cleared the bar.
Much comment has been made about the pros and cons of minimum standards. My
$0.05 worth (Australia no longer has 1 or 2 cent coins...<G>) The provide a
benchmark. If you do not reach that level, you miss out. If you exceed that
level, you make it. It matters not by how much you exceed the level. It is
a simple pass/fail standard of assessment.
When I was a Police Recruit, we received numeric grades in all of our
assessments. The ultimate result of these numeric grades was that our
entire class was ranked, and this ranking determined the regimental number
we were issued. Beyond that it had no significance. Now as a Constable I
have no more or less authority or responsibility than the person who was
top or bottom of my class. Because while we were being numerically graded,
there was also another grading criteria - Competent or Not Competent. If
you were graded Not Competent in any area you could not graduate until you
were Competent. So while we may not all have excelled to the same degree,
every one of us graduated having been recognised as being competent in all
areas we required to be trained in to perform our job.
In the final analysis, I think what matters most is the setting and
achieving of goals. Firstly, I would hope that our scouts are always
consulting with their examiner before commencing the activity to achieve a
particular award area (to translate to BSA-speak - counsellor = examiner,
merit badge = award area). At this time, an agreement should be reached
about what the method of assessment will be and what will constitute an
As an example, suppose I am approached by two Venturers each wanting to
work towards their "Ideals" activity area and Queen's Scout level. The
requirement is to study a particular religion in depth and report on your
finding - suggested minimum 30 hours. One Venturer is actively involved
LDS. The other is an irregular attender at his own church. The LDS member
wants to use attendance at daily Seminary classes to fulfill the
requirement. The other Venturer proposes to study a religious faith of
which he is not a member and prepare a report on his findings. Now the LDS
member can complete the 30 hour requirement in six weeks (1 hour class
every weekday) for no effort beyond what he is already doing, while the
project proposed by the other scout will require significant effort just in
the minimum 30 hours. For this reason, I would want additional commitments
from the LDS Venturer (e.g. 95% attendance for a complete school term,
increased grade on previous term, or similar commitment that will require
effort beyond merely attending), and almost certainly expect more than the
mere minimum 30 hour time commitment. In other words, every case must be
considered on its individual merits.
Just a few thoughts for what they're worth...
Grant O'Neil _r| Ll\
email@example.com => \ |_|_ /
I was miserable.
Then someone told me "Smile and be happy - things could get worse"
So I smiled and was happy - and things got worse...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City