Our troop continues to make progress on essential scout skills, but last night was an opportunity to introduce a couple of new topics for scouts and parents to ponder.
Scoutmaster Farrell hosted a discussion titled “Eagle Scout = A Lot of Work” and subtitled “Why Bother? What’s the Point?”. We felt that it was a valid set of questions to ask since most of our families are new to scouting, we hadn’t done a “trail to Eagle” presentation before now, and truthfully, becoming recognized as an Eagle scout isn’t the goal of the scouting program (its more of a consequence if a youth member is consistently interested in learning and leading.)
We acknowledged that current statistics suggest that about 4 out of every 100 registered scouts will likely become Eagles. That’s 96 who won’t. It takes at least one and a half years of time in Positions of Responsibility, and completion of service hours, and a significant demonstration of leadership through the Life Scout’s “Eagle Service Project” (among other details like earning 21 merit badges, etc.) The bottom line was that scouts can come and enjoy the program, but unless they are determined to lead by taking an active role in the program, they can’t “cruise” their way to Eagle.
We then talked about the possible benefits to becoming recognized as an Eagle scout: scholarships, resume strengthening, extracurricular activities and accomplishments on college applications, self-discovery, self-reliance, service benefits to others as part of the process, etc.
We quoted a news article that appeared in the Houston Business Journal;
- The young sailor — already a three-year veteran at age 20 — stood before a review board on his application for a college scholarship program leading to an officer’s commission. The seaman was newly posted to this base, so the board officers did not know him. The chairman focused on an indiscretion from early in the sailor’s career, and would not let it go, grilling him about it time and again.
- While the other officers asked questions, the chairman studied the rest of the young man’s record, then suddenly looked up. “You’re an Eagle Scout?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” the sailor answered. The chairman slammed the file closed and announced, “We’re done. The application is approved.”
- Thus began the university education that would lead Mike McCulley to a career as a captain in the Navy, an astronaut and the president of Houston business United Space Alliance LLC.
- Eagle Scout — the title that has been described as “a resume in itself” — has opened the doors of opportunity to hundreds of thousands of its recipients.
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said, “Whether you choose to become a teacher, a police officer, a doctor, or even the mayor of the greatest city in the world, your experiences as an Eagle Scout will prove invaluable.”
- Houston U.S. District Judge David Hittner says that his Eagle rank has followed his career, “all the way to the White House on my application for a federal bench.”
We also noted that “if you push yourself to become recognized as an Eagle, you will have proved to yourself that you can do amazing things. Just be certain to submit your plans to God (Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.) Additionally, you’ll learn how to learn and learn how to lead. This is a powerful combination of skills — the Eagle scout is, ideally, someone who can recognize a need, form a plan of action, study to acquire skills, and lead others who can, together, competently address the underlying issue or need.
We share some interesting statistics and asked what’s the point?
Did you know that scouts account for:
- 64% of Air Force Academy graduates
- 68% of West Point graduates
- 70% of Annapolis graduates
- 72% of Rhodes Scholars
- 85% of F.B.I. agents
- 26 of the first 29 astronauts
What’s the connection? These are tough, demanding schools/programs. Something about the process of becoming recognized as an Eagle helped prepare those young men to succeed in tough, demanding environments. Maybe the processes and skills learned in scouting help with more than cooking and camping in the woods?
We also pointed out that the title of Eagle Scout is held for life and the phrase “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle” isn’t merely about the title – it’s about an ongoing responsibility to demonstrate scout spirit and, perhaps, to “give back” to the scouting program in acknowledgement of the benefits received while registered as a youth member.
We mentioned some notable Eagle scouts and what they’ve been fortunate to accomplish (ie. 10 out of the 11 astronauts who walked on the moon were Eagles, etc.) and we pointed out that we have two Eagles involved in the leadership and running of our Troop — a willing resource, ready to help our scouts in their adventure to becoming recognized themselves if they answer the questions: “What’s the Point?” and “Why Bother?” with a positive response.
We wrapped up the evening by discussing the specific merit badges required for Eagle and the many elective merit badges that could be pursued to fulfill the merit badge portion of Eagle rank. We reminded scouts that the summer is a great time to work on merit badges whether they go to summer camp or not.