In ornithology ‘fledge’ generally means independence of the chick from parents; a young bird whose feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight. Fledge is also a term that describes raising a young bird.
Ornithologists apply the term differently to individual species because individual species develop differently.
Our Scouts develop individually too. Each one is a bit different than his fellow Scouts, has his own strengths and weaknesses.
So when a boy is a fledge Eagle Scout there is an assumption of independence in his work. He will benefit from encouragement but only he can really spread his wings and fly; however halting or awkward those first flights must be.
Our instinct as parents and adult Scouters is to help him – but we have to measure the help we lend carefully for the process to work as it should. I want to be very careful to emphasize the difference between official policy on these matters and my opinion. When we start talking about requirements for Eagle everyone has an opinion! Having worked with dozens of Eagle Scouts I think these things would be generally agreed upon by the vast majority of experienced Scouters:
1. The Eagle Scout should initiate his project. Someone may suggest an available project to a Scout, but the Scout must pick his own project. Eagle Scouts projects should not be assigned.
2. The Eagle Scout Candidate should initiate contact with the community organization to begin the process of gaining approval for his project. The Eagle Scout Candidate himself should be the one setting up meetings and making phone calls.
3. The Eagle Scout Candidate should write the Eagle Project Proposal document. Parents, adult leaders or others may help him edit it, but he must write the original.
4. The Eagle Scout Candidate himself should contact his unit leader to gain approval of his proposal and get his proposal signed. Scoutmasters should not be initiating this process – it’s up to the Scout.
5. The Eagle Scout Candidate himself should contact the district advancement person to schedule a meeting to gain approval and get his proposal signed.
6. The Eagle Scout Candidate should create his project plan after his proposal is approved and signed. He can work with his mentor on this phase of the project.
7. The Eagle Scout Candidate should schedule the actual work on the project in collaboration with the community organization’s schedule if required. He creates a work schedule; informs the organization, Scout and adult volunteers, and any other person who has interest in the project.
8. The Eagle Scout Candidate should lead the actual project implementation. He should be the person that folks report to when they show up to help. He should assign tasks to workers, including adults. He should monitor work and suggest rest stops and supply water. He may delegate portions of the work to crews who are under the leadership of another Scout or adult. He should directly assign tasks and coordinate and delegate work to Scouts who are volunteering.
In short this is his project, his responsibility and his Eagle. We’ve fed, sheltered and trained him for the moment when he stretches his wings to fly. Stand back and watch.