CA Scouter comments on last minute Eagles:
It would be interesting to hear your reflections on Scouts putting off Eagle til they’re 17.5 years old and then trying to get their project and missing merit badges done in the small amount of time left. … in a perfect world, the SM has been counseling boys not to let it get to this point, but as you say, Scout aged boys do a lot of things they shouldn’t. Any reflections on this particular situation would be of value.
I hope this helps:
As you note Scout aged boys are still growing, even at 17 and a half. I have to laugh because I have two last minute Eagles working hard on their projects right now. This is peculiarly provoking because I am a bit of a last minute lulu myself. I get a lot less upset about this now than I used to.
Over the years I have developed a way of helping Scouts conceptualize how long it takes to complete Eagle requirements. We diagram a timeline that begins with their Life Scoutmaster’s conference and ends with their eighteenth birthday. We factor in school, church, sport, merit badges, and the average time to conceive, lead and complete a project. When they see the timeline they have (at least for a while) a concept about what they need to do. I always tell them that they will complicate things tenfold if they wait, that they should have a plan and get things moving right away.
Very few of them have ever taken my advice.
This will ever really change. I’ll bet the first Eagle Scout was almost late getting a signature or something.
After two or three late season Eagle Scouts most Scoutmasters set out to fix the ‘problem’. They dream up rules and regulations, policies and procedures designed to make the Scoutmaster’s life easier. Despite all this some Scouts will still get a late start.
This problem can’t be fixed or regulated better than other problems common to developing human beings or ourselves as adults. When we sign on as Scoutmasters we accept that we are working with what Plato called “the most unmanageable of all the animals”. We can’t protect them from all the consequences of their actions, nor do we want to.
Part of the intensive learning process in achieving Eagle is developing an appreciation for planning and timing. I haven’t ever done anything extraordinary to help my last minute lulus, they have to figure things out just like any other Eagle Candidate (only faster).
Whether a Scout starts working on Eagle in earnest with two years or two months left to go the most important thing is that they actually started.