Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: National Screw-up (Long Post!)
Re: National Screw-up (Long Post!)
Mon, 8 Feb 1999 03:00:05 -0600
Sorry, Steve, to use your example as to WHY NOT TO PLAN THE COURT
OF HONOR UNTIL AFTER THE AWARD HAS BEEN APPROVED BY NATIONAL!!!
But, it's a good example of why not; I'll explain as I go onward.
Steve Nodine <Nodine@IX.NETCOM.COM> wrote:
>Well, National does it again! On December 10, 1998 my son passed
>his Eagle Board of Review. On December 16, 1998 the paperwork was
>hand delivered to the Council office. On December 17, 1998 it was
>sent to the national office in Irving, TX. After assurances from
>both National and Council that there would be no problem getting
>the paperwork back, the Eagle Court of Honor was scheduled for
>Scout Sunday (TOMORROW!!!!).
>Small problem - NO PAPERWORK FROM NATIONAL.
That's why when people ask me "how long should it take for an Eagle
Scout application to be approved by the National Court of Honor?,"
I reply "Anywhere from two weeks to three months."
The big question is "WHY SO LONG?? ALL THEY'RE DOING IS TYPING A
CARD AND CERTIFICATE, RIGHT?"
Your unit has the first responsibility to insure that the Scout has
completed the application completely, entered in the information
asked for, and has indeed earned the merit badges listed and the
Why? Because that's what in part the National folks check even
BEFORE it gets to the National Court of Honor's bin!
Next, after the Board of Review, your Council has the
responsibility to "check the unit's work" and to verify that indeed
your Scout son has earned the appropriate merit badges AND that the
dates between the positions of authority (rank) are indeed six
months in lenght or longer.
The local Council's Scout Executive signs the application and sends
it to the Eagle Scout Service for consideration. His or her
signature basically tells the Eagle Scout Service "hey, we've
checked it here; he's a good Scout and we recommend him for
consideration for Eagle."
Note that word, Steve. "Consideration." The success of the Eagle
Board of Review does NOT GUARANTEE that the Eagle Scout Badge will
be approved by the National Court of Honor. Period. Anyone who
"guarantees" or "assures" you that "everything will be approved and
we'll hear from them soon" is NOT giving you true advice and is
misleading you. The National Court of Honor has refused to issue
the certification documents based upon recommendations from the
Council Scout Executive. Just because he or she signed the
application doesn't mean that he or she couldn't also provided a
separate statement concerning the Scout's character or other
elements which the National Court of Honor should be aware of.
That's part of his or her *job*.
There's several other reasons why Eagle Scout applications are
"placed aside" or returned to the local Council for further
"explaination" or clarification. The biggies:
*The dates of the Board of Review for the Star and Life Scout ranks
are inconsistant with the dates listed on the advancement report.
The Advancement Report should be sent to the local Council as soon
as possible after the Board of Review. In the block for the date of
the Board of Review, it should be the DATE OF THE BOARD, NOT the
date that the Advancement Report is sent to the local Council.
This misdating gets a lot of Scouts' applications delayed.
*The dates of the Boards of Review for Star and Life Scout are not
listed, or are "approximations" of the true dates. When in doubt,
have the local Council to VERIFY the dates of those advancements.
*There is NOT a six-month tenure between Star and Life and between
Life and Eagle. There should be six months or more between the
dates listed on the application. Not so, delays the application
because either the dates are incorrect or that the Scout advanced
to the next rank BEFORE he was eligible, which makes the Eagle
Board of Review invalid and a new Board must be scheduled.
*Merit badges listed are not the merit badges required for Eagle
(old Scoutmasters remembering old requirements, or Scouts just
listing the merit badges in order that he earned them). The Eagle
Scout applications clearly state WHICH MERIT BADGES MUST BE ENTERED
INTO THE REQUIRED SPACES, but there are still lots of applications
sent to National with lines through those required spaces and
"substitute badges" listed without the letter from the local
Council authorizing those "substitutions". The people at the
Eagle Scout Service have a special way that they review each
application, and those lines through the "required listing"
automatically places the application off to the side and a letter
sent to the local Council Scout Executive.
*Signatures are not those of the Scoutmaster (someone "signing for"
for the Scoutmaster), and less than two signatures of those
participating in the Eagle Board of Review from the Advancement
Report (which is not sent with the Eagle Scout application but
usually arrives in about the same time period). There must be
three or more signatures on the Advancement Report, including the
signature of the chair. There's NO WAY that National can "check
signatures," to insure that the person signing is the Scoutmaster;
that's part of the responsibility of the local Council and the
unit...but they can check against the advancement report to insure
that a review was conducted with the appropriate number of persons
This tells you that in addition to the application itself, the
"national copies" of advancement reports are also checked. This is
the "top copy" of the three-part form which is actually sent to the
Regional office overseeing that Council. The Region provides upon
request copies of those reports to the Eagle Scout Service. The
names and dates need to match up. If "Alexander Hamilton" shows on
the Life and Eagle reports and "Trey Hamilton" shows on the Star
report, it could take some time for National to verify that indeed
we're talking Alexander Hamilton III, a member of Troop 000.
Once they check those items, then they send it downstairs to the
Registration Service to insure that the Scout indeed is a
registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, as called for in the
requirements, and that indeed he has not turned 18 years old before
he completed all of the requirements. Remember, Scouts MUST
COMPLETE ALL REQUIREMENTS LESS THE BOARD OF REVIEW BEFORE THEIR
18th BIRTHDAY. The Board of Review can be conducted ANYTIME after
the Scout turns 18. So, for instance, he receives a merit badge
after his 18th birthday, and he uses it on the Eagle application,
it invalidates the application and it has to be returned to the
The biggest problem at the Registration Service is Scouts that DO
NOT APPEAR ON THE CURRENT YEARS' CHARTER. This is a big deal, and
usually rejects the application back to the local Council for
verification (and embarasses the Scout Executive because the
Regional Director of Membership is usaully involved, which means
that the Scout Executive's boss (the Area Director) is also
involved.) Don't "count on the fact" that just because the Scout
was listed on the charter the year before that he's still there.
Only REGISTERED SCOUTS can become Eagle Scouts.
It then comes back upstairs whereby the application is placed into
a folder with the name, Council number and date of Eagle Board of
Review, and waits for the next session of the National Court of
Honor. Applications *normally wait* anywhere from two to three
weeks and a half for the volunteers and two professionals to meet;
they also review applications for Silver Beaver, Antelope, Buffalo
and all heroism awards and the process *does take time*. In the
case of the guy you posted about below, Steve, the Council could
have "timed it exactly" and there was a low "docket count" for the
National Court of Honor; hence, the "quick approval."
Once they have approved the award, the folder is then returned to
the Eagle Scout Service, whereby the certificate, card, and other
materials are put together and sent to the local Council in the
next Council pouch. If the Scout Executive requested it beforehand
by letter indorsement, they will send the items overnight to the
local Council (but this is VERY RARE and an extreme exception to
the current policy). The unit or Council will pay for overnight
postage/delivery in advance.
The local Council has the responsibility to contact the unit leader
or chartered organizational representative and let them know that
the award materials are at the Council office.
>I sat on an Eagle BoR on December 30, 1998. the paperwork was hand
>delivered to Council and sent to National. The paperwork was back
>in a week. the Scoutmaster paid for overnight delivery. Is that
>what it takes?
No, that's NOT what it takes, Steve. As explained in the above,
there are several things which can hold up Eagle Scout applications
from being approved. Any illness, leave to participate in training
or support activities, or reassignment can delay applications,
overnight delivery or not. The keys are that the application has
to be carefully screened BEFORE IT LEAVES the Council (and most
Councils and units do a GREAT JOB with this screening!)
I've witnessed applications whizzing through the process in a
little more than two weeks' time. That's because the unit was
proactive in insuring that the application was accurate, provided
the local Council with unit copies of the advancement reports
(thereby cutting down the Council's workload to look it all up in
folders and file cabinets themselves), and the Council promptly
checked on the status of the application after the first week and a
half at National.
I've also witnessed applications taking as long as three months to
come back approved, normally because of situations completely out
of the control of the local Council, the unit, or National. People
got sick, computer problems, meetings had to be called off because
of weather, and the normal holiday and "regular stuff" that happens
in any bureacracy. Until the new policy came into play in 1996, I
too placed calls to the Eagle Scout Service on behalf of frantic
parents wanting to know "what's taking so long" to "type up a
certificate and get a medal set from a cabinet?"
>Here is an organization that pushes Scouters to encourage boys to
>attain the rank of Eagle then they do not seem to give a damn
>about following up on their end. When I called National to get
>information they told me that they could only pass this
>information to Council employees.
First, the BSA doesn't "push" Scouters to get all Scouts to attain
Eagle. It's an impossible task to do so, and clearly from the
stats that the BSA provides from time to time, even with our
"pushing", not every Scout joining becomes an Eagle Scout (2 out of
every 100 right now).
Second, they are absolutely correct. Anyone working a switchboard
or a hospital will tell you that they wished that they had a way to
tell the "people that really need the information" they've got from
just "anyone on the phone." The BSA's response to this is that
ONLY the Scout Executive, or his or her designated professionals,
can find out the status of Eagle Scout applications. This is a
change, Steve, from what the Eagle Scout Service used to gladly
give out in the past. That's when they had seven more people than
they have now (they operate with a staff of FOUR and two "borrowed
people" from the Program Group when things get REALLY busy there!)
and when they didn't mind telling people every day "I'm sorry, but
I can't tell you any more than we've received the application and
that its going through the verification process."
>Now I have to try to explain to my son that his Eagle CoH will be
>held without any recognition from the National Office of the Boy
>Scouts of America.
The way to explain it, Steve, is that you and your Troop kinda
"jumped the gun" on this, and that Eagle Scout Courts of Honor
should NOT be planned until AFTER the approved Badge and materials
have been sent to the Council for presentation.
This policy is explained in the Scoutmasters' Handbook as well as
in the Life to Eagle booklet. Once again, for clarity: IT TAKES
TIME for the award to be approved at the National level (a good
rule of thumb is six weeks and two days after the application was
sent out, you should hear SOMETHING; if there's a holiday, add
another week; and if there's been bad weather in Texas, add three
days for each day of bad weather...therefore, by those calcuations
above, your son's Eagle application, unless there's any problems,
should be approved and sent by the second week of March).
You can STILL hold the Eagle Scout Court of Honor, but please don't
attempt to "present someone's badge" to your son during the event.
Not only does it cheapens the actual award, but your son may become
attached to the other medal and rightfully don't want to give it up
when HIS medal and other items finally show up.
We tell local Councils this all of the time with regard to Silver
Beaver receipients too: please don't start planning anything until
the award has been approved, because of the delays in getting the
award and materials approved and sent to the Council.
I am truly sorry that your Troop and you did so much work to make
your son's attainment of Eagle, Steve. It is not my intention to
make you feel bad. But the truth is that the blame is misplaced.
Things slow down during the holidays and if there's any concern
about your son's application, that would have slowed it down too.
Coupled that with the changes to the BSA's advancement program
which was released during that time period and finally the
personnel shortages in the Eagle Scout Service during that time and
your son's application may have been delayed, and your Council just
didn't let you know of their receipt of information stating that
the application would be delayed.
There's a lot of things involved there, Steve, but the bottom line
is still the same as always: Please do NOT plan Eagle Scout Courts
of Honor until AFTER the award has been approved by the National
Court of Honor and after the award and materials have been sent to
the local Council for presentation.
>Thought I would share this with you. Thanks for letting me vent
No problem. Again, I'm sorry that things didn't go as planned.
(c) 1999 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle Burnsville, MN 55306-7130 (612) 435-3068
privately at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
---- FORWARD in service to youth ----
YOUR BINDER, in time for Scouting's new publication format, is at my website NOW!