eaglescout100-0

They earned Eagle but still haven’t scheduled their court of honor

eaglepatchIt’s kind of like finishing a marathon but heading straight for your car instead of stopping to pick up your medal.

A Scouter from the St. Louis area — I’ll call him “Tim” — emailed me last week with a problem: Three Scouts in Tim’s troop finished all the requirements for the Eagle Scout award, but when Tim called the boys to help them plan an Eagle Scout court of honor, none seemed interested in even having a ceremony.

Here’s Tim’s full email explaining this sticky situation: 

I am the assistant Scoutmaster and advancement chairman for my Scout troop. I have worked with lots of boys in my troop and am proud of the fact that we have more than the national average of boys who made it to Eagle.

So many times, I have sat in the waiting room during a boy’s Eagle board of review, most times celebrating with the boy and his parents that he passed the board of review.

Several years ago, three boys who were very close to their 18th birthday successfully passed their Eagle Scout board of review. Our troop sent their application and records off to the local council and then to National. Shortly thereafter, the approved applications arrived along with the Eagle badge, certificate, and patch.

After receiving the packet from National, I immediately contacted the boys and encouraged them to arrange and coordinate their own Eagle ceremony. I printed off pages from the Internet about ceremonies and offered to help review their work.

Not one of these boys carried through with their ceremony. Although I have kept in contact with them, they do not seem to be interested in planning a ceremony. I even suggested that we could have a short ceremony during a Cub Scouts Blue and Gold banquet. No interest.

I still have these boys’ Eagle packets at home. The badge, patch, and certificate rightfully belong to the boy. Should I bundle them up and mail them to the boy or parents? What should I do?

My initial reaction is bewilderment. It shocks me to see a boy work so hard to earn Eagle and then not share that special achievement with the friends and family who helped get him there. And I’m equally shocked that teenagers would pass up the chance to eat cookies and cake.

In reality, an Eagle Scout court of honor celebrates more than just the Scout’s hard work. It’s a chance to recognize the supporting cast along the way, without whom the Scout wouldn’t have made it to the finish line. I’m talking about Scoutmasters and fellow Scouts, of course, but also the boy’s parents, grandparents, and siblings.

But just as you can’t force a boy to finish his work toward earning the Eagle Scout award, you can’t force him to have a ceremony after he earns it.

As sad as it makes me to say this, it appears Tim’s only option is to mail the Eagle materials to the boys’ parents, perhaps including with it a congratulatory, hand-written letter that challenges the Scout to take what he learned on the Eagle trail and apply it to the next chapters of life.

But that’s just my opinion. What advice would you give to Tim? Leave a thought below, and I’ll make sure Tim sees it. 

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127 thoughts on “They earned Eagle but still haven’t scheduled their court of honor

  1. The situation of the three boys described in the top post described me to a T. I was a Life Scout for at least four years, happy to serve and have fun in my troop and OA chapter, and then finished out my Eagle shortly before turning 18. After that, I never had an Eagle Court of Honor. To me, it seemed awkward and self-aggrandizing to plan and execute a ceremony to honor myself. I didn’t realize at the time that the ECoH is really more for the family, friends and Scouters who put in the countless hours of effort to support my Scouting career to help me get to that point, as well as to set an example for younger Scouts.

    I ended up having the Eagle award given to me in a small, simple presentation during a going-away reception about a year later, as I was leaving to serve for two years doing full-time volunteer work for my church.

    Two decades of reflection (and hopefully a little wisdom) later, I would advise that younger version of myself with those concerns to go ahead and proceed with an ECoH, and perhaps use it as a platform to thank and honor the many people who gave so much of themselves to me throughout my Scouting youth.

    • It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, either. Just something to show appreciation. Too many go overboard with the ceremonies. Keeping it modest works just as well.

  2. This is the same scenario applicable to my son who earned his Eagle Scout rank at the time of his 18th birthday. After passing his EBoR, he had no interest in having a CoH, probably because too much hoopla and fussing over him is not in his make-up. I didn’t feel compelled to push him into having one. His troop has always expected the parents to go all out on an ECoH, having community members and/or mentors come and speak, luncheon buffet, and all that, for special invited-only attendees, and paid for by the parents. While I agree that the ECoH ought to be considered an important activity, it should be done at a regular CoH meeting where the entire troop can be present and the scouts in earlier ranks can see what it is all about. His Eagle packet remains unopened, the parents’ and mentor’s pins still tucked away.

    You ask: I still have these boys’ Eagle packets at home. The badge, patch, and certificate rightfully belong to the boy. Should I bundle them up and mail them to the boy or parents?” My answer would be, yes, send those things to the boy or his parents. Not every Scout wants to be the center of attention, even if he has earned Eagle Scout rank. And while an ECoH also recognizes the parents and mentors (if other than the parents), we always say, “It’s about the boys”, and in this instance, those are words we truly have to have in our hearts to honor what the boy wants at that time.

  3. I’ve had this happen twice in my Troop/Ship leadership years. In one case, the Scout agreed to let it be presented at a troop meeting. In the other case, we completely ran out of time prior to the Council Eagle Recognition Dinner. The young man, by then a Sea Scout and over 18, picked me up for the drive down to the dinner. I “presented” him with his regalia in his truck in the parking lot. I asked both him and his parents (and I was close to this family) if they wanted some kind of public ceremony and they were not the least interested. Nothing prevents us from recognizing the youth at a meeting whether he is present or not. In my case, many years back, we also had an Eagle Dinner prior to the Court of Honor, so the SM gave us our badges to wear. We wanted and got a Court of Honor shortly after. It is “about the boys.”

  4. I’ve been an ASST. SCOUT MASTER for 15 YEARS, THOSE BOYS MOST LIKELY Are Not IN BSA TO GET EAGLE RANK FOR THEMSELVES But FOR MOM AND DAD.JUST TO MAKE THEM
    . HAPPY. HAPPY HAPPY

  5. This kinda describes what my feelings were about any ceremony (and even with my ECoH scheduled a week away i still don’t LIKE the idea). Through out my Scouting career onto the door step of getting Eagle my parents reassured me that they didn’t care if i had a ceremony and that if i didn’t want one i didn’t have to have one, but then since then all i have done is help plan this ceremony. i don’t know how many times while we were planning it my dad said “we can leave this part out if you want to” or “Hey i figured you would like this variation” and i just sat there silently because i understand that the ceremony is ultimately for them. And then at a week or so ago the CoH coordinator for my troop told me i needed to get of my high horse put my pride away and work more on planing, this confused me because to me the prideful thing is in fact the ceremony itself.

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