Scoutmaster Musings - Reaching Eagle

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Scoutmaster Musings

Reaching Eagle
Eagle Rank
It's often the goal of a scout (and/or his parents) that he "get his Eagle". That's the way I most often hear it phrased - "getting" his Eagle. Earning, achieving, and completing aren't used much - it's "getting". When it comes up in conversation, I usually offer my view of advancement as, "a method we use to help scouts reach goals, but not a goal itself." I think that fits with the BSA program pretty well. I don't push scouts very much on advancement, but the troop has a program that provides opportunity to advance quickly.

Advancement is the most visible way we have in scouting to measure a scout's progress. It provides tangible recognition for achieving standard requirements. It allows peers to compare themselves. It requires effort and results. But, since advancement is a method and not a goal (or Aim), it really does not amount to success. A scout can be a model of a fit citizen of high character and never advance past First Class. It's important to keep that in mind when encouraging scouts to advance in rank.

But, since "getting" Eagle is on the minds of many people, I made a simple chart for a scout (and his parents) to see how he is progressing through ranks toward that goal of his. The 'Optimal Path' gets a scout to Eagle in time for him to give back to the troop with no pressure of advancing for a couple years. The 'Slow Progress' area means he's going to need to step it up to make it. I think 'Eagle Out of Reach' probably needs no explanation. A scout can check on progress at a glance and alter his plan as he feels is needed. Click the image to see a larger view.

The majority of scouts in our troop experience advancement fairly close to the orange line with a couple bumping against the green line. Motivated boys could join a troop at the end of their 9th grade year and earn Eagle rank. If they start after their 16th birthday, there's not much chance of progressing through all the ranks in time.

I think it would be a fun experience to have a 15 year old boy join the troop and earnestly go for his Eagle. Have you ever had that happen? Did he make it?

Scout On
Posted: 17:03 02-01-2011 562
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 Feb 01, 2011 - Clint Flatt
I meet a 15 year old foreign exchange student who got his Eagle Scout in a year and a half while he was in the US he also attended NYLT and was the Honor Scout of the week. Outstanding kid.
Feb 01, 2011 - Scoutmaster Paul
Clint - wow! He must have lived scouting for those 18 months. Thanks for sharing with us.
Feb 02, 2011 - Caleb W.
You need a path for "over-achievers". I am a twelve-year-old Life Scout and plan on doing my Eagle Project this is summer when I am thirteen!
Feb 02, 2011 - Scoutmaster Paul
Caleb - good job. Then you'll have time for Palms, Hornaday projects, and lots more scouting recognition if you're interested in those things.
Feb 02, 2011 - Yukon Jack
I'm a long time user of this site for reference, but a first time commenter.

I had a boy when I was took over a poor troop as the new scoutmaster who was a very young 16 and had been in for over 3 years. He had only completed Tenderfoot but his record didn't even reflect Scout. For purpose of time, we certified his first two ranks, but he honestly re-did Tenderfoot over the course of 6 months and got him to First Class two months ago. Though I had to move out-of-state, I keep in touch with him and he is currently the SPL, will earn Star in April, and is on track to earn Eagle at 17y9m assuming he stays on track.

So yes sir, it is very possible for a 16yo to find his motivation late in his teens and still achieve Eagle Rank!
Feb 02, 2011 - Yukon Jack
For those curious about the math, it takes 1 year 5 months (17 months) to earn Eagle. Assuming the young man earns all his 21 merit badges concurrently and begins immediately, he can begin with the Tenderfoot Physical Test (requires 30 days)when he is 16y7m old. In this extreme example, his first day of scouts would be this test, and 30 days later he must have all requirements completed through First Class. Improbable and foolish, but not impossible.
Feb 03, 2011 - ADC-Scout BOB
My son acheived the rank of the Eagle at 13.5 years old. This chart shows meet that we are not paying attention the the boys enough. The reason my son received his Eagle was that we established check points along the Eagle Path. Motiviation and Parent involvement is a great thing. Most parents think that it is the goal of the scoutmasters to help get their son to be an Eagle. When it should be the other way around. Great job on the chart.
Feb 07, 2011 - Cale
There does need to be a pathway for overachievers. I was twelve when the board award me the rank of Eagle. Though I was thirteen before the national office confirmed the rank. I did live Scouting for my early life and continue to do so. However, I do not generally encourage students to earn their Eagle as early as I did, unless they are truly outstanding young men.
Feb 18, 2011 - Caleb W.
ADC-Scout BOB- It's not the parent's job! It's the scouts! My parents, although they take me to meetings and campouts and help pay for things, steer clear of my advancement. Occasionally, I'll brag to them, "I got three merit badges tonight." or "I got Life tonight.", I don't ask for help, and they don't offer it.
Feb 18, 2011 - Caleb W.
One more thing: A lot of scouts in my troop tend to get Operation First Class (achieve first class in a year), then get star and life in a year or so, then stay life for 2 or more years before even starting to work on eagle. You might want to add a path for that.

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