WATCH: Men’s Health writer becomes ‘Bald Eagle Scout’

Once you turn 18, you’re no longer eligible to earn the Eagle Scout rank (unless you qualify for a special-needs extension).

But the honorary — and, it must be said, completely fictional — “Bald Eagle Scout” rank has no such age limit.

Joe Kita, a former Cub Scout who left Scouting after Webelos, wanted to earn the honor that eluded him as a youth. So the Men’s Health writer, now a middle-aged man, embarked on the journey to become a “Bald Eagle Scout.”

He visited Camp Minsi in Pennsylvania and teamed up with Minsi Trails Council Troop 1600 to get a taste of the challenging journey to Scouting’s highest honor.

Then he wrote about it. His story is chronicled in the March 2015 issue of Men’s Health, a magazine with a total audience of 13 million. He also tells what he learned in a BSA-produced video you can watch below.

The video and story were first posted at Scouting Wire, which offers this suggestion for how to use the story: “Use this video to tell the Eagle Scout story and invite adults to turn regrets into opportunities by volunteering. Also, the video is a great way to show parents how Scouting makes the most of the little time they have to impact their children.”

My favorite quote from the video

My favorite moment in the video was when Kita recounted a trip down the Scout Law trail at Camp Minsi. Those 12 words, each posted on its own sign, really resonated with him. And he thinks parents should take note.

“Do you want your child to be honest? Trustworthy? Reverent? Do you want him to be a leader?” Kita asks. “So you can almost walk that parent down that path and say do you want your son to grow up to be this and this and this? Of course they’ll say yes to each one. But then I would ask them how are you teaching, or how is your son being taught those values?”

Scouting, of course, is the answer.

Watch the Bald Eagle Scout video

Would you want to become a Bald Eagle Scout?

Did you miss out on earning the Eagle Scout rank as a youth? Did Kita’s story resonate with you? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

26 Comments

  1. Camp Minsi is a great Scout camp! Our troop spent a week at Camp Minsi in 2013 and are excited to be returning this summer! The programs, facilities and staff are all phenomenal — especially the giant waterfront and the Muck Hike (both of which get shout-outs and screen-time in the video here). A Scout (or a middle-aged magazine writer) is truly lucky to be able to spend a week there.

    • This camp isn’t too far from us… and it looks pretty cool! Our boys are looking for somewhere new to go in 2016; I’ll have to suggest that they check Camp Minsi out.

      • No, I did not miss the point at all. My point, on the other hand, is live up to the Scout Oath and Law in all things, or suffer a loss of credibility by setting a poor example.

        • “I never miss a beat
          I’m lighting up my feet
          And that’s what they don’t see
          That’s what they don’t see
          I’m dancing on my own
          I make the moves as I go
          And that’s what they don’t know
          That’s what they don’t know
          But I keep cruising
          Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
          It’s like I got this music
          In my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
          Cause the players gonna play, play, play
          And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
          Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
          Shake it off”

        • In this reply, quotes indicate full names, not scare quotes.
          First bald “Eagle Scout”, absolutely not.

          First “Bald Eagle Scout”, yes provided that no one else has received this honor.

  2. My own regret is a part of why I volunteer. I’ll never have a chance to call myself an Eagle Scout, but if I can help even one boy earn the title then it will all be worth it.

  3. I really like how the 12 Scout Law Signs were screwed into the trees…. should I stop teaching my Scouts to respect nature and throw out that portion of Leave No Trace. Note the opening notation…. ‘Sometimes regret…. creates opportunity’… Well there’s a lot of opportunity to correct that issue atleast! Otherwise a good video.

    • In a permanent facility with items that will be there for a long, long time, attaching things to trees are okay. It won’t hurt the tree (if done right). Think tree houses. Leave No Trace is intended for in-an-out folks on land that is not theirs. Nothing wrong with the camp posting items on the trees.

  4. WOW great story and why not offer that to scouters that want to “eagle” as an adult if they had a boy scout background and made it to life. What do you tell a young man who made life scout, earned 44 merit badges, did everything to earn eagle, only to be told by your advisor you did not earn because you were not “active” with a troop, yet you were an active explorer in explorer scouts program. Well a boy in the 70’s and 80’s would respect the adult and say okay and not question the authority of an adult. SO BRING ON THE BALD EAGLE!!!

  5. I’m an Eagle Scout with a Silver Palm. I’m now 55 years of age. My Brother is four years younger and is also an Eagle Scout and his son is an Eagle Scout. We all had to start by earning the first rank of Tenderfoot/Scout and with years of service and time working with other boys, going on Hikes, canoe trips, summer camps and went thru the ranks to earn the Highest rank of Eagle. So no I don’t feel that this Bald Eagle is a good idea at any age past the age of 18.

  6. I still have my hair; can I be a bald eagle scout?
    I stopped at Life when they took the outing of Scouting in the 1970s and many of my required merit badges became elective and there was a whole bunch of required badges that I had to earn.

    I’m glad that these days the program is more like what it was when I started than it was when I finished.

  7. Is there an honorary rank for scout moms taking the trail to eagle with their scouts. Cause I have been there with him and the entire troop for a two years. I think what he did to earn that rank after so many years is inspiring to all.

    • Does your troop not have a Mom’s ribbon with each of the pins of your son’s rank?

      My mom has two that go all the way to Eagle… one for me and one for my brother.

      My wife has one that goes to Star… so far but my son is only in 7th grade. Hopefully his brother will join as well.

      They sell them at the Scout shop. If you don’t, go to a committee meeting and raise the issue.

  8. You know there is a program for adults over 18 who never experienced eagle or those who’d like to experience that sense of accomplishment again. It’s called Wood Badge.

  9. The Eagle rank itself is over rated. It’s a patch and a rank, nothing more. My son said it best in his Eagle BoR when asked why that board should confirm him as an Eagle Scout. He said; “It doesn’t matter to me if you make me an Eagle Scout or not. While it’s true that I fulfilled all the requirements, the rank itself is simply a milepost. It’s the ideals of living AS an Eagle for the rest of my life that that I learned along the trail I will take with me, because life isn’t about what you did, it’s about what you can and will do.”

  10. I had done all my stuff for eagle and provide the information I have to national and all of that was earned before I turned 18 but due to my unit disbanding and my parents moving I never got awarded and multiple time national denies me the honor I earned and they want to know why they lose good volunteers. I earned but never awarded and national doesn’t recognize the hard work I put forth as a youth and the hard work I put in as an adult but those who kiss you know what get everything. Why is scouting so corrupt?

    • I’ve walked along side several adults in the same category as you; it took quite some time and even required tracking down some of the old scouters involved but I have seen the same situation resolved. It took quite some time to resolve it though.

  11. Either you work your “tail feathers” off toward becoming the ultimate bird of flight and soar from then on with scouting’s elite or you don’t. The rank is one of the few things you can do as a chid that is respected and recognized in adulthood. I knew several adults who say they regret not earning their Eagle award but also admit that as kids they laughed at the concept of being a Boy Scout because they felt it wasn’t “cool” to be in scouts, etc… I didn’t listen to my detractors back then and am darn proud to be an Eagle Scout today. I get a very concerned feeling that this “bald” concept will send a negative message to the boys of today that if they don’t earn the rank as boys, they with now be do so as adults. With all due respect to the man who thought up this idea, I am worried that if current scouts find out about this ability to go bald if they don’t become Eagles as youngsters, it might set an improper precedent to equate this honorary form of adult recognition in an way, shape or form with the actual Eagle Scout rank and award. They might start to think “Why should I get my Eagle now if I can do it later if I want when I’m older, when it will be a lot easier?” I also agree with the previous comments in this column about the Wood Badge.

  12. I have become reaquainted with scouting as a leader within my son’s Cub Scout pack. I have helped with his many projects and adventures. As he transitions into Boy Scouts I plan to help and be equally involved with all of his merit badges. While I do look forward to getting to experience this path toward eagle scout with him, I am also sure that watching him grow will be more rewarding that any honorary award could be.

    I hope the point of the video and writers experience is to shed light on the value of Scouting for our children and in our society today. The exposure in a publication of this size is priceless and should be recognized as such.

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