Do we need “Life to Eagle Guides”? We already have a Scout Handbook and an Eagle Project Workbook – any Scout can understand and work their way through the trail to Eagle with these resources alone. Yet every Council and District seems to have ‘resources’ that are often confusing and often contain information that is contradictory to both the letter and spirit of National policy.
Visit the National Eagle Scout Association website. These are the Eagle Scout experts. What helpful resources do they offer? A Life to Eagle resource guide? An interactive Life to Eagle seminar for Scouts and their parents? Nope, just the Project Workbook and the Application, a few notable projects and about 2000 words of general explanations.
My Council has a huge website with THOUSANDS of words that begins with a disclaimer (I kid you not); “The information presented is not necessarily the official position of the Boy Scouts of America or any subdivision of the BSA.”. It further promises that Eagle is a difficult endeavor and the information therein will smooth things out for parents, Scouts and Scout Leaders.
First: Eagle is not a ‘difficult endeavor’ unless someone steps in and tells Scouts that it is and then goes on to make it truly difficult by dogging their every step and whispering in their ear how things should be done. Second; if there are challenges and bumps along the road they are there for a reason and don’t need ‘smoothing out’. Third: what do parents and Scout Leaders have to do with this process? The only thing required of parents is to offer a reference to the board of review. Scout leaders review, approve and sign forms. The Scoutmaster mentors and coaches through the process on an as-needed basis.
I have basically given up on the idea that we will return to a simple, unencumbered approach to the Eagle anytime soon (at least in my Council) so I try to run interference for my Scouts and leaders and direct them away from anything but the Project Workbook.
The result? Two or three Eagles annually (sometimes four or five) from a troop of 30 Scouts – double the national average of 4-5%. It is always inspiring when a Scout completes his Eagle, I think it is a wonderful thing. Let’s remember that advancement is one of several coequal goals in Scouting and declare ‘enough already’ on those who would make it anything else.