The age of an Eagle?

Funny how time fly’s when you’re having fun.  This week has been an amazing week of Scouting and thus, I have not been on the computer much at all.  The Outdoor channel is currently filming Scouts from my Troop on an amazing adventure for the series Scouting for Adventure
Last night I sat down with the Key 3 of our District, we had a little meeting on the changes we were going to make in the coming year.  The conversation turned to advancement.  The subject “young Eagle Scouts”.
Now before I go any further, let me tell you what the Boy Scouts say on the subject.
YOU MAY NOT ADD TO NOR TAKE AWAY FROM ANY REQUIREMENT. PERIOD.
So having said that if a Scout completes all of the requirements and has everything signed off properly.. well then.. he’s an Eagle Scout.
RIGHT?
Now some will argue.. and have, that a 13-year-old is too young to be an Eagle Scout.  After all, we are looking for a young man who has DEMONSTRATED Leadership, a young man who has been an ACTIVE member of his Troop, a Scout that is KNOWLEDGEABLE in skills etc.  These are all super valid points and I agree whole heartedly.  Now, here is the rub.  Has a 13-year-old done all of that.. I mean really done it all.  Sure he may have served as a Patrol leader in a New Scout Patrol.  Went to one summer camp and earned a bunch of merit badges, and can do the basics that got him to First class, but has he developed enough to truly test his leadership at the Troop level?  Has he been that active?
I don’t know.
The other argument against is the maturity level of the young man.  At 13 is he mature enough to understand his responsibility as an Eagle Scout?
I don’t know.
An argument for young Eagle Scouts is that they now can spend more time in the Troop as an Eagle Scout.  Ok.. I buy that.
But I don’t know.
You see, boy develop at different rates and stages.  They are all different.  I know some 13 year olds that act 18 and some 18 year olds that act 12… so that is not a good measure.  I know some young Scouts that develop the skills at a much faster rate than some of the older Scouts.. so that is not a good measure.
So here is the bottom line in my opinion.  Becoming an Eagle Scout is not an excercise in passing through gates.  Becoming and Eagle Scout is all about BECOMING the Eagle, developing leadership skills, demonstrating the skills of Scouting, and learning about the world around him.  The way I see it is that the young man must participate in five Scoutmaster conferences before his conference for Eagle.  IF the Scoutmaster and the Scout have not had these discussions during those conferences, IF the Scoutmaster has failed to mentor and coach the Scout along and develop him, IF the Scoutmaster has signed off the book and in good consciousness said that everything was alright.. then the Scout should be an Eagle Scout.
So having said that…. a 13-year-old Eagle Scout?  I have not had one in my Troop.. and it’s not because any adult has thrown up a road block.  If the book says to demonstrate.. the Scout demonstrates, if the book says to show, the Scout shows, if the book says to explain, the Scout explains.  If he does not do it correctly.. it does not get signed off.
If the book says to serve in a leadership role for 6 months.. then the Scout is expected to actually serve in that role.  And during the Scoutmaster conference explain what he did while in that leadership position.
You see the road to Eagle is not meant to be hard, but it is meant to allow the Scout to navigate the program and develop.  You become an Eagle Scout over the course of the journey.
There are obstacles to over come and challenges to face, that is the way the program is set up.  Can it be done by 13, I suppose.  But at the end of the day, does the Scout get a patch out of it.. or a life experience?
I don’t have the answer here, the book does.  I can only give you my take on the subject.
I am curious to know what you think.  Drop us some feedback, leave a comment, or shoot an email!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: Advancement, blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Scout, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Skills, Summer Camp, Values | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “The age of an Eagle?

  1. Allan Green

    This really opens a can of worms in our district. Our district advancement chairman boasts that he will not allow a 13 year old to become an Eagle scout. He once found a scout who, on examination, had been greatly helped by his father through the ranks, signing off on rank advancements requirements and merit badges. Our chairman did not believe the 13 year old scout would have advanced so fast on his own. He sent the boy to the OA until the boy turned 15 and then gave him a board of review.

    So, a third possibility exists; that a parent wants the Eagle rank so much he will cheat to get his son to it. Of course if the boy did not really do the stuff, he should not get the rank. That is something for the board of review to inquire about, and decide upon.

    But to reject a 13 year old out of hand is crazy too. Our chairman says a 13 year old cannot be mature enough. But there is no requirement for that, and there is no metric to measure it. I think an Eagle board of review should do its job and examine eagle candidates on their completing the requirements as written the handbook. That is the best way to be fair.

  2. The new problem is the new requirements for joining Scouting. It almost seems as if there aren’t any. At summer camp this year they had a young man come up front on his birthday. He was turning 10! That means he left home for summer camp as a 9 year old. 13 year old Eagle? Shoot, he’s been in the troop 4 or 4 1/2 years by then. This seems like a problem to me.

    If a Scout passes his SM conferences and his boards of review for all of his ranks, then yes he is ready to be an Eagle. No matter what the district fellow thinks. He cannot “send the boy to the OA”! Good grief.

  3. Jerry Coots

    Jerry,
    I earned the rank of Eagle in 1981; at the age of 13. I have never questioned the achievements I earned, but will always regret my Eagle project. I feel it was not worthy of an Eagle. I simply did not have the maturity or leadership skills to pull it off.

    I hear alot of noise about A, B, or C type Eagles, but have never met an Eagle that did not, at some point of his life, own up to his accomplishment. All Eagles will eventually realize that they are living their life by twelve words.

    I actively encourage Scouts to not rush things; take your time and do it right. But if you complete the requirements, you are an Eagle!

    The other Scoutmaster Jerry
    Camp Lowden
    Oregon, Illinois

  4. Thanks for the comment “Other Jerry” I totally agree with you to the point of completeing the requirements.. a Scout that completes the requirements certainly is an Eagle Scout. I like your comment about living up to the expectation of being an Eagle. At the end of the day I think that is what it is all about.
    Thanks again for the comment

  5. Jscouter92

    I’m sitting in my office overhearing a scoutmaster telling my almost-13 year old during a scoutmaster conference, to slow down because “many” in scouting don’t like 13 and 14 year old Eagle Scouts. This is coming from someone who complained that he can’t motivate his 14-almost-15 year old to make any progress toward rank advancement. If my boy is progressing, don’t slow the freight train down!

    • I agree with not slowing the train down. You need to keep them motivated. All I would say is that this Scoutmaster, if he is concerned about the age should have thought about that during the other 6 Scoutmaster conferences. HE is the one that signed off on the advancement to get this far. If he has an issue with it now then he is in the wrong and has been in the wrong mosguiding the young man thus far.
      If all the requirements are completed and the Scout has participated in a Scoutmaster Conference. There is no issue or argument.
      Thanks for the comment.

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