Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Young Eagles
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 22:14:57 -0400
At the young age of 14 (in 1967) I was presented with the rank of Eagle
Scout. I went through some tough elective merit badges including the then
brand new Atomic Energy Merit Badge. I cooked full meals, camped in storms,
and learned canoeing and rowing in a fast moving creek. I was an ASPL at
summer camp. At the same time I earned my God and Country Award and was
invited to deliver a sermon in my church at the age of 13, which for that
Methodist church was a rare and a not oft repeated invitation. At 14 while
still a Life Scout I was asked by the Rector of an Episcopal Church at a
celebration organized by the Scouts to honor fallen law enforcement officers
and firefighters. Another minister asked me to begin private studies to
prepare for going to a theological seminary. And at this early age I held a
job as a paperboy and had to deliver the papers in whatever weather and on
time because we didn't have money and I had to start saving for college.
But from what I read, the chances are that I wasn't mature enough to have
earned the rank and most likely should have been slowed down to become more
mature. Fortunately, folks back then didn't think that way. They were
tickled to see a kid really trying and were there to encourage, support and
help. Back then nobody sent out solicitations for letters of
congratulations either. Nonetheless, I got letters from community leaders
I'd met through Scouting who thought it great to see a kid doing so much.
Did I drop out of the Troop. Yep. Sure did. Went into Exploring and later
became Lodge Chief in O-A, served on Camp Staff 9 years. How many years of
service back to BSA? Since Eagle I've given back over 25 years of service.
None of those 25 years would likely have happened, if somebody had dropped a
sea anchor behind me to slow me down.
The point of this is not to glorify what I did, but rather to show that you
can't judge a Scout by age, by some "maturity/age" litmus test, or the like.
You have to judge a Scout by his own merits. If he has completed the
requirements, keep the faith with him and encourage him to continue to grow
and provide opportunities. Sure, some may drop out and some may not live up
to your personal expectations, but that isn't the test. The test is whether
the young man has completed the requirements - no more and no less.
Scouting isn't an end of itself. It is a tool. We shouldn't expect or
demand a Scout who has made the rank of Eagle to have an obligation of
another year of service or some arbitrary commitment. Step way back and ask
It comes back to the three aims and an wonderful organized way of
encouraging a lot of values and growth using great methods that on the whole
produce excellent results. So we use Scouting as a tool to help kids grow
into more productive citizens with good character and good personal fitness.
And if they leave to pursue other growth activities, whether it be an
organized sport, drama, band, debating society, or whatever, that's not bad
either. These are also tools that can help growth. If we see this from a
distance and don't get advancement out of proportion to the rest, it becomes
less important how old a Scout is to become Eagle.
And why not encourage early high achievement? Why not start a young man
toward achieving his very best in life and encourage him to climb even
higher? Sometimes recognition of achievement feeds even more achievement.
Mike Bowman, Vice President
U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.