The trail to the Eagle Scout Award has been conquered more than 2 million times, and yet no two Eagle Scouts are the same.
Elaine Mitchell had that in mind when planning the Eagle Scout court of honor for her children, Marina and Grant. She wanted next month’s ceremony to include a souvenir program that was just as unique as her two new Eagle Scouts.
While the Scout Shop sells this attractive, affordable 50 pack of program covers, Elaine was looking for a little more customization.
“I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything I liked,” she says, “so I had to come up with something.”
Using creativity, Microsoft Word and some inexpensive supplies she bought from Amazon, this proud mom and Scouting volunteer created a one-of-a-kind Eagle Scout court of honor program.
Elaine is the Scoutmaster of Troop 291 of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., part of the North Florida Council. Longtime blog readers might remember that she’s the volunteer who sent handwritten notes to her Scouts in May 2020 — right as the pandemic was first raging — as a way to tell her Scouts that they are appreciated.
She’s back with more creative expressions. But this time, she’s using her passion for personalization to benefit her own children.
“I’m super excited, and I wanted to share this,” she says, “in case you have other parents or Scouters who are looking for an idea.”
Elaine purchased everything from Amazon, including:
- Vellum sheets (pack of 110 for $12)
- Red, white and blue cording (100 yards for $7)
- Card stock (three pages per program)
Part of the fun of making a court of honor program is deciding what goes inside. You can add photos, encouraging words from members of the Eagle Scout’s troop, special messages from family or friends, and Scouting “sayings” like the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scout Motto.
You can make these programs as long or as short as you want — though to make printing easier, you’ll probably want the page count to be a multiple of four.
Page 1: Cover and Scout Oath
Page 2: Scout Motto and a “thank you” dedication
Page 3: Eagle Scout’s photo, name and troop number
Pages 4–5 (center): Awards and recognitions
Page 6: Schedule/run of show for the court of honor
Page 7: Scout Law
Page 8: Mother’s poem
The translucent vellum page (the last page in the PDF) includes the troop number, council name, chartered organization name and the words “Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Marina Mitchell.”
How she did it
Elaine designed the program in Microsoft Word. You could create something similar in Apple’s Pages, Adobe InDesign or Google Docs.
Once she finished designing a first draft, Elaine printed a test booklet to make sure everything lined up and looked right. As anyone who has attempted a complicated print project knows, it’s a process of trial and error. Sometimes what you see on the screen isn’t exactly what emerges from the printer.
“I went through many pages before I was happy with the final product,” she says.
Testing was especially important on the front and back cover — the card stock pages directly under the vellum covering. Because the text below can be seen through the vellum, Elaine wanted to make sure those pages were aligned perfectly.
Speaking of vellum, Elaine says that special kind of paper needs extra time to dry.
“The ink doesn’t dry as fast as when it’s on regular paper,” she says. “I stood at the printer and made sure I pulled them off as they printed. I spread them out all over the room, so they had ample room and time to dry.”
Once everything was printed and folded, Elaine tied the red, white and blue cord around everything. The cord went along the spine on the outside and between the middle two pages on the inside.
Advice about courts of honor
Planning a court of honor in your troop — either for an Eagle Scout or for other troop awards and advancement? Here are some more suggestions:
- Follow the general guidance here about ceremony topics like preparation (memorization is better than reading), staging (double-check microphones, lighting and projectors) and group dynamics (make sure everyone can see and be seen).
- Find ideas for troop courts of honor here.
- Find ideas for Eagle courts of honor here.
- You don’t have to start from scratch when writing a ceremony script. Find a wealth of ideas for scripted ceremonies here.
- Given the uncertainty of COVID, Elaine intentionally did not add a date to the Eagle court of honor programs. If you have something that’s still unconfirmed (like a special guest), you could be vague and say “speech from special guest.”
- Make extra copies of the program that you leave at home. Save a few, and mail one apiece to relatives who weren’t able to attend the big day.