Making Eagle Scout

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by parentalunit2, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    162
    As I’m sure there are many, many people familiar with making Eagle on here, I have a question for you. One of my sons crossed over to a large troop that is known for ‘fast tracking’ to Eagle. It feels sort of like a factory, with everyone going through and checking the proper boxes. Don’t get me wrong, being in a large troop has its advantages, like camping every month and lots of very interesting opportunities!

    But one thing I’m amazed at is how little effort an Eagle project takes in this troop. Maybe I’m old school, but I thought an Eagle project was a rather large undertaking that took up lots of time. I’m seeing e-mail invites asking the other scouts in the troop to show up to gather and help sort clothing or food for one Saturday so someone can get their Eagle. Um, that’s it? Really? (And I just love it when these e-mail invites actually come from the parent’s e-mail. :mad:) And there are often Eagle project ideas sent out from the troop leadership that the boys can just ‘grab and go’. Isn’t an Eagle project supposed to be fully designed and executed by the Scout?

    I guess I’m just living in the 50’s or something. What has your experience been in your neck of the woods?
     
  2. 2018mom

    2018mom Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    22
    Eagle Scout

    I am so glad my husband is not on this forum. He would climb right up on that soap box. My husband earned his Eagle Scout in the early 80s I think. He says that his parents encouraged him to finish his project, they didn't do anything for him as far as the project or the path to complete the requirements. Fast forward to the last 10 years, my husband and DS were in a local pack (sorry if I get the terms wrong, I just showed up to get my mom pin and let the guys be guys). My husband sat on advancement boards and every time they met he would come home very upset that other leaders were "pencil whipping" the scout's books just so they could make it to Eagle. He said there were boys that would join scouting for the first time during middle school and were making Eagle by the end of their freshman year. I know he raised concern with the council but don't know if anything was done about it. He also sat on the board of the Eagle review and could tell which scouts had parents who did the projects and which ones the scouts actually did themselves. He was very proud of our DS who finished his project while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. Our DS did it all - with assistance from other scouts, but he ran the whole project. I know he did and the whole pack knows because like I said, I showed up only for my pins. I might have provided some water during one of the work days my son scheduled, but it was all his doing.

    The rank of Eagle Scout will lose all meaning if parents continue to do the work for their children and leaders sign off on projects that are meaningless. Parents see it as another box to check while they are hovering overhead in their helicopter. Guess I am up on that soap box too.....
     
  3. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    162
    A few years ago there was an article in the local paper about three brothers who had their Eagle ceremony at the same time. I want to say that they ranged in age from 11 – 16. DH, a scout in the 80’s too, nearly blew his top when he saw this, saying that the youngest is too young to even fully understand what Eagle means. That definitely seemed a checkbox type situation where the parents wanted a nice article in the local paper.
     
  4. nofodad

    nofodad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Messages:
    502
    Likes Received:
    191
    Isn’t an Eagle project supposed to be fully designed and executed by the Scout?

    Yes.
     
  5. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,282
    Likes Received:
    179
    Yes, an Eagle project is supposed to be scout-led, where the scout comes up with the project, figures out a budget, draws up a plan to execute it, documents everything (and has it reviewed and approved), gets the raw materials, and THEN supervises & leads other scouts to create or build something of use for the community or a non-profit. Every time I heard about one of these "projects" asking to meet up in {blank} neighborhood to go door-to-door and collect canned goods/socks/backpacks, I just shook my head. (It still bothers me reading about these "projects" in the news.) This isn't leading, and this isn't the point of the Eagle scout project or earning the rank of Eagle. Sadly too many parents try to make everything easy for their kids, by taking out the work. The reward in these cases is "checking the box" (and I assume hoping for scholarships, kudos, rewards, etc). Unfortunately it's also taking the shortcut to the reward.

    (Saw the same thing from parents having their kids volunteer for everything under the sun ... only to "check the box" and record X number of hours of volunteering to get some award at the end of the school year, and to be able to list X number of volunteer hours on college applications. Someone volunteering hundreds of hours on hundreds of events is less impressive than someone geniunely helping out a cause they may have a passion for or a familial/community interest.)

    Your DS doesn't have to follow the herd. He should make his project meaningful even if it's more work than the leaders of the troop say he needs. In the end he will learn more from taking a project from step 1 to step 100 than the kid who met up on two Saturdays to collect canned goods, only to drop them off at the local food pantry.

    AND a more meaningful and memorable project (whether it's the things that went right or went wrong plus and the final outcome) will give him a very personal topic to use in college / SA applications.
     
  6. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,282
    Likes Received:
    179
    From what I remember (and I had two DSs in scouts from Tiger Cub through high school) -- each Rank requires the scout to accomplish certain things before advancing AND you could not advance until you had been at the Rank for a set number of months. I don't remember the number, but it seems to me some were at least 6 months (possibly 12) and involved earning merit badges, attending summer camp or a certain number of campouts, etc. (I didn't think this was troop dependent; perhaps it is District dependent.)

    We had several scouts every year that earned their Eagle at age 14, and at the time that seemed young. (Age 11 doesn't seem possible -- boys don't even cross over into Boy Scouts from Cub Scouts until the 2nd half of 5th grade.) But those boys were all very driven, good students and involved in sports, band, church, etc and it was easier (and probably encouraged by the parents) for them to earn their Eagle before getting into the upper grades of high school when things like a job, girlfriend, etc in addition to sports/band/church take up so much time.
     
  7. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    162
    Yes, we thought 11 was way too young, but I do remember that the brothers in the article were in an LDS troop and I believe their rules may be slightly different.

    I always thought you made Eagle as an older high schooler too, but again, livin’ with a 50’s mentality. I guess I just want to believe that it still means something special.
     
  8. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    814
    There is no reason not to.

    Is there abuse and inconsistent application of the rules? Sure. But I do not think that the anecdotes cited are indicative of a wholesale decline of the standards and I do not believe these approaches are widespread. There are safeguards on the Eagle Scout process to protect against this and I think they are effective overall. A very small percentage of Scouts actually earn the Eagle rank.
     
  9. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    126
    We experienced this in a troop that had lazy leaders and a Council that was in transition. My Scout had to help with a bloodmobile that had low turnout, a food drive that had a poor response, and the installation of some cheap shrubs in front of a tiny scoreboard at a small Christian school. All involved minimal effort on the Eagle prospect's part. All sailed smoothly and easily through to Eagle. :frown:

    My Eagle spent several months on his project and it involved many Scouts and parents. It was a wonderful success, made a true contribution to the community, and taught him a lot about leadership. He wrote a personal note of thanks to every single person who assisted him along the way.
     
  10. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,664
    Likes Received:
    516
    The numbers would say that becoming an Eagle has become much more prevalent as a percentage of all Scouts. According to the BSA's figures:

    In 1982 there were 1,101,000 Boy Scouts and 25,573 Eagles were awarded for a 2.32% rate for earning Eagle.

    In 2013 there were 826,045 Boy Scouts and 56,841 Eagles were awarded for a 6.88% rate.

    I am not saying what the cause is for all of this change, but it does show that earning an Eagle has become a lot more prevalent than it was a few decades ago.

    Stealth_81
     
  11. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    814
    I agree Stealth. No argument. I had seen those facts as reported on the BSA website. The statistics speak for themselves. I am not here to defend the BSA. I would hope that the organization is analyzing this trend and seeking answers.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,757
    Likes Received:
    1,008
    I never made it past Wolf.... :frown:
     
  13. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    126
    Hahaha! My other son (USMA) bailed on Scouts when he figured out that they were NOT going to shoot guns or arrows, use knives, have a fire, or ride horses at every meeting. Badges were of no interest to him so he moved on to baseball. :)
     
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,241
    Likes Received:
    275
    Eagle project requirements are a bit of an issue. That said, I think the big thing is using it as a learning process. If you simply follow a pre-planned checklist on a "big" project or do a too-simple small project, neither really teaches much. It is up to the people approving the project to figure out how to balance means and ends to ensure the scouts learn something about service and project management.

    Interestingly, I won a scholarship at a different school, and the item that most interested my interviewer was Order of the Arrow membership, not my scout rank.
     
  15. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Messages:
    425
    Likes Received:
    218
    There is a problem with some scouting troops. My eldest loved scouts. He started as a Tiger and crossed over from cub scouts to boy scouts. There were 4 boys from his den who went to the same troop. Three of them quit halfway through their first year. They quit for the following 2 reasons...

    1) Troop leaders wouldn't test them when they were ready to demonstrate mastery of required material (for a badge). They were too busy with the older kids whom they were trying to get through the system. Even if they signed up for the testing, they wouldn't be tested because older boys hadn't yet accomplished it.
    2) They would try to sign up for various duties in order to achieve a particular badge, but would be taken off the sign up sheet or prohibited from signing up because older scouts hadn't done it yet and needed it. Meanwhile, those scouts weren't signing themselves up. It was their parents (troop leaders and family friends) who were looking out for them and arranging things.

    So the kids who were driven to achieve were purposefully held back in order to promote other older kids who were not as motivated. The other boy liked camping and outdoor activities. It was more social for him, so he stuck it out another couple of years, but then quit for something more fun.

    I could go on about some of the "eagle scout" projects, but that might cause a gasket to blow. I was shocked at how simple some of them were. I didn't understand how these projects got approval to start with.
     
  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,541
    Likes Received:
    842
    Wow, there must be some real bad troops out there. Can't say we had any of these issues, son's were in a medium to small troop, had great leadership and was very active. We had a good track record of scouts making Eagle, most made it toward the middle to end of high school. The Scoutmaster was an Oceanography Professor at the UW, almost the entire troop became certified divers and we did two trips to Sea Base in Fla. It was fun when the guest speaker at a meeting was Bob Ballard (More then once) At least two scouts I know of majored in Oceanography in college due to this exposure.

    Our scouts Eagle projects ranged from smaller to larger, the focus was more on the planning and the detail. The Soutmasters would have several meetings with the scouts, they would have to give well written presentations as they progressed through the project. It really didn't matter what size the project was, what mattered was how it was researched, recorded, and presented. How they worked the logistics of the project, the manpower needed. The scouts learned a lot about how to plan and execute a project, whether it was building picnic tables for the city park or constructing trails, or doing a food drive. Sometimes size doesn't matter if the process is done correctly.

    Sorry to hear so many have had negative issues. We used to joke when we would go to summer camp and look at some of the other troops. Their average age would be 13 with only a couple older scouts, we would always have at least half a troop of 17 year olds, the kids usually stayed all the way to 18. I guess we were doing something right.
     
  17. SpadGuy

    SpadGuy Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2014
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    6
    earning the required number of merit badges before each rank can be tough for some scouts also. Some can earned 4-5-6 merit badges at scout camps while some can't.....
     
  18. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    126
    This was our experience. My son got his Eagle, left with a bad taste in his mouth for Scouts, and vowed never to have anything to do with Scouts again.
     
  19. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,541
    Likes Received:
    842
    I just have to say again, we must have been in a bubble when it came to Scouts. Our local council was great, the leadership was strong and the troop leadership was great.

    When we would go on outings or backpacking, we always had some older past scouts join us, they always said they missed scouts and tried to stay involved.

    My sons both aced their first Land Nav course as freshman, due mainly to all that they had learned during scouts. Heck they could navigate on land and 80 feet under water due to all the diving they did in scouts.

    To this day they both still love backpacking and the outdoors, scouts had a big role in that. I remember my older son telling me he laughed when he heard some cadets groan when they had to do their first 5 mile ruck with 35lbs. He told me "Geeze Dad, we're used to doing 50 milers with a 65lb plus pack, this was nothing"

    Our troop had a high percentage of scouts get Eagle, the path was not easy and most did not make it until they were 17. The troop leadership made sure they were not just checking off boxes as they went along. The Merit Badge Advisor was tough, if the scout didn't put in the effort he made them do it again, and many felt his wrath. Even so they would push forward and with good leadership they would get it right. It sounds like not all troops follow this same path and that's sad to hear.

    It is really disheartening to hear so many bad experiences with scouts, like I said, we must have been living in a bubble up hear in the PNW. I do understand that Scouting is not equal in all places, I just didn't realize there were so many with bad experiences.
     

Share This Page