Ask Andy answers a question about the 13 year-old Eagle and “delaying the earning of Eagle till Scouts are older and more mature… ”
A bit of ancient history: I made Eagle at 15; my brother at 14; both of us stayed active in our Troop and in Scouting right up to 18, and then became ASMs (I went on to become Scoutmaster of the same Troop I’d earned my Tenderfoot badge in!). More recently, I’ve sat on Eagle boards for 17 years olds who drop out right after their Court of Honor, and 13 year olds who stay in and active for the next 4 or more years, and everything in between. In other words, something other than merely earning Eagle is operating here, and I’ll tell you from experience exactly what it is: It’s the myth that “Eagle is the ‘end of the trail’.”
Too many of us who should know better are out there telling Scouts (and their parents) that Eagle is “The Ultimate,” that “Making Eagle is a Life Goal,” that “This is the PINNACLE of Scouting.” Horsepucky. Eagle is a rank, pure and simple. Yes, it’s the highest (we’re not counting “Palms” here because Palms aren’t ranks), but advancement is just one of eight methods of Scouting.
Now I’ll go further… To artificially and arbitrarily hold a Scout back from his own advancement goals is a form of hostage-taking. In doing this, in purposefully delaying a Scout by throwing up roadblocks, so that he “stays in the troop longer” is a complete and total miscarriage of the Scouting program itself, to say nothing of the advancement plan.
Want Scouts to stay active in your troop? Simple: Give ’em a program that enriches their lives, turns ’em on, and is fun. When it works, it works magic. I’ve seen troops that “get it.” There’s one, in particular, that I have in mind: It’s older Scouts drive to their troop meetings! Got that? Drove! THAT is what you call a troop program that’s a MAGNET. That’s what Scouting’s supposed to be.
To anyone harboring the misguided notion of holding a Scout hostage by stalling his advancement in order to keep him in the troop, I have but one response: SHAME ON YOU!
If you haven’t discovered Ask Andy take a moment and look over his 100 + columns that serve as one of the best FAQ’s on Scouting. Got a Scouting problem? After a nearly a hundred years here isn’t anything new out there – ask Andy.
Associated posts at Scoutmaster
Eagle Court of Honor