Wednesday, August 8, 2007


YOU CAN’T EARN THE RANK OF EAGLE!



Scoutmaster Steve of Troop 68 in Melrose, Minnesota, posed a question about Eagle conferences on his Scoutmaster’s Blog today. Some of the replies spoke of Eagle Scouts “aging out” after their Eagle Court of Honor.

In our troop, however, becoming Eagle is like being saved. You can’t be “saved” and then not change your life as a result. You cannot earn Eagle, you become Eagle. And that requires a Scout of unselfish character, whose focus in all of life is helping others. He cannot be helpful in Scouts and be a jerk in school and be a real Eagle.

The young man pictured above, Luis Gonzales, is a real Eagle. He lifts people up. He encourages people. He continued his service in our troop after we awarded him the Eagle medal, after he was 18, to train new Hispanic adults who were starting new troops, and to write a Spanish commercial to promote Boy Scouting. He still visits me about once a month.

Luis doesn’t have to be this way. He could beat up Oscar De La Hoya if he wanted to. But he had to have a good heart to become a real Eagle, as he will always be. Real Eagles are not fickle.

On the Scouting trail, I occasionally meet a young man who was awarded the Eagle medal early, say, at the age of 13. Sad to say, though they wear the insignia, you will know them by what they do—vulgar language among friends, boasting, an arrogant air of entitlement—that tells you they are yet self-centered.

I only have 3 Eagles to my credit in 27 years of Scouting, but I sleep well knowing that these 3 are real Eagles, whom I can trust as my best adult friends.

Both our council and the National B.S.A. push leaders to rack up more Eagles because the increasing numbers look good. Is this good for Scouting, or short-sighted?

Did your troop ever award a Scout the rank of Eagle only to have regrets later? Would you send a Scout to an Eagle board of review if you knew he did not conduct himself like a Scout outside of your troop?

3 comments:

Matthew said...

Yes, it is sadly true that there are many eagle scouts out there who have not become an eagle, they have just earned it. After becoming eagle I would want to still be there.

lonestarscouter said...

My son who turned 18 shortly after becoming an Eagle, registered as asst. Scoutmaster to keep working with the boys and troop. He also signed up as an asst coach with cy-fair sports association to coach 5th graders in football along with college and 2 jobs.

B C Justice said...

That's what I mean. Lone Star Son became an Eagle. He needs to help others to be happy. It's not an act, because Scouting is integral to his adult life.

I had a very gifted Life Scout once who did a great project and didn't finish Eagle due to two merit badge requirements. He had time to do them, but he just didn't. Encouragement from his parents and our leaders did not help. As an adult, he's doing OK after a few rough spots, but he is not using his gifts at all. He is a good person, but he did not become an Eagle. Had we fudged and given him the award, I'm convinced it would not have meant what it should to him. If you don't become Eagle, you shouldn't get the medal.

Your son is a reflection of both you and the Scout unit you serve with. I'm sure you like what you see in that reflection! Give your son kudos from me.

-B.C.