Homepage Forums Scouts BSA Can you achieve ranks too fast? What can be done?

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    • #264655
      New Scout Leader

      We have a new Scout who crossed over in the Spring and is about to earn their First Class rank. At their current, pace, they will earn their Eagle by about 13. While they are doing a decent job at each requirement, the focus is only on getting the requirement and not the long term learnings. With that in mind, I had a few questions – any feedback would be appreciated:

      1) Is there a way to slow them down?

      2) Should we even try to slow them down or should we encourage this?

      3) Do you have any advice?

      I am concerned about the integrity of the program and the precedent that this sets.

    • #265928
      jay the antelope

      Hi New Scout Leader!

      As you await the moderation of the many super knowledgeable Scouters, brace yourself. You’re really onto a great thread with this question (set of questions). You are right to ask this. Please keep your eyes on the ball and on the goals and aims of the program.

      I’ll tell you this, in my experience you’ve got every right to question. Once the requirements are signed, you can’t stop them from moving forward. If you think they’re not ready, talk to the Scoutmaster. The SM is the only real person in your unit that can slow them from clipping through the program. The SM shouldn’t without a rationale, but they may, IF they have one. You just have to be ready to present it when the questions (like your questions) start coming.

      Thanks for thinking about what we’re here for. It’s refreshing!

    • #265837
      Bjorn Wang

      As a scoutmaster I have had boys at all ends of the spectrum. I had a couple earn Eagle at 13, and several earn Eagle at 17.9+.

      You will get several comments that tell you that boys should slow down. You will get others that say: per regulations, if the requirements are completed, the awards must be given.

      The reality is that you will find as the younger Eagle matures, they actually learned more than you think. My 13 year old Eagles are now nearly 16. They still contribute to the troop. They teach the skills to the younger boys. The boys who were older were less active in the troop for years at a time. They contributed little, and had less of a skill set than the younger boys. They also finished just in time to leave the troop.

      Each boy will choose his own path. Some will have helicopter parents. (I am probably one of those myself.) Some of the boys will have no support at all at home. Most will have parents who are mildly interested. Parental involvement will often be tied to the age of advancement. The parent pins with the Eagle award are there for a reason. To reward the parents for the work they have done in helping their child. Make sure you recognize and involve the parents.

      Embrace the work that each of the boys or girls does. Congratulate them in both word and patches. Encourage them to be the planners and the mentors. Even if they did not retain a skill right now, the teaching to the younger scouts will help them to retain what they learned. They will be the best cheerleaders for your other youth.

    • #265707

      I wouldn’t worry about slowing the scout down. The integrity of your program is sustained by First Class scouts. The more you have of those, the more you’ll enjoy your adventures.
      I would encourage him/her to maintain those 1st Class Skills and develop leadership. If your SPL doesn’t think this scout is quite ready for a position of responsibility, suggest a service project for the troop.
      There’s a fine line between praising this scout’s advancement and discouraging scouts who aren’t in it for the bling. Maintain a positive attitude toward all of your scouts.
      Encourage this scout, as he matures, to look forward to racking up Palms, NYLT, Jamboree, and Hornaday Awards. Maybe even Venturing.

    • #269095

      Agreed with above, it is RIGHT for you to QUESTION, as there is a very legitimate concern about an Eagle Scout that is “too young”.

      People tend to fall into 2 camps on this subject; the “book” guys, and the “spiritual” guys.

      The “book” guys say, “BSA allows it. If he completes the requirements, he gets the rank.”
      The “spiritual” guys say, “Eagle is NOT ’21 badges and a project’ but a journey of CHARACTER GROWTH.”

      Both are right. Fortunately, “the system” allows for both points of view to coincide as long as you don’t have a SM or people on the BOR who are not willing to be HONEST with a youth.

      My concern (as is yours) is that an abnormally young Eagle is “missing something.” YOU BETCHYA DUPA he is!!! Take “Personal Management” merit badge for example. Hands down THE MOST IMPORTANT merit badge any Scout will ever work on, as he will deal with “money” and “insurance” and “retirement” and “investment” and “extended warranties” for the REST OF HIS LIFE.

      HOW can you PROPERLY teach a boy the fundamentals of managing money if he is so young he is not REGULARLY handling money? What could he possibly take away from this badge that he’s going to RETAIN when he actually gets a job… in 4 years!?

      LEADERSHIP? – how well can a 12 year old boy actually “lead” when he’s only been on a dozen camping trips and possibly only a Patrol Leader (or Senior Patrol Leader?) for a handful of outings?

      This post is getting too long… the point is we are here to teach, and the MOST IMPORTANT things in the Program are NOT in the “book”. They are BUILT and CULTIVATED over time. THAT is the “spiritual” part of Scouting and the DUTY we give to these young men.

      A Scoutmaster and/or a BOR should be reviewing all the “skills” with the Youth as a regular part of the advancement process. If a boy is actually doing the job – ADVANCE HIM, and a 13 year old Eagle he will be!!!

      But if a boy doesn’t “get it”… if he “did his best” (Cub scout motto, not Boy Scout) but he didn’t cut it… DON’T sign the book. You OWE IT TO HIM to not advance him if he’s not “ready”.

      Just BE FAIR in your assessment and if you find a young guy has the fire, but isn’t getting the “meaning” and the “lessons”… then you CAN slow the pace by not advancing him or signing requirements related to Leadership Positions or Scout Spirit.

    • #272574

      Proviso: my understanding is clouded by my experience with – string of “early Eagles”, starting with my PL when I first joined scouts. He earned Eagle when he was 13. Yes there were rough edges, and he did some immature (a.k.a., fun) things. But he also made sure we knew our stuff so we could win camporees, applied his personal management so he could go to Philmont, and came back from college and visited, reminding us of how we had to prepare. In general, I’ve found other scouts who earned Star, Life or Eagle in their early teens to be similar: gun ho, big hearts, not as level-headed as 17 year olds.

      The method in Scouts BSA is “leadership development”, not leadership. Most scouters make the mistake of thinking that’s through positions of responsibility. Although that’s true for some PORs (hint: the ones with “leader” on the patch), most PORs are jobs that need to be done. If a scout isn’t doing his job — not even trying — then he’s not holding a position, advancement should be delayed. But, most scouts do their job.
      In scouting leadership development primarily comes through service. And honestly that “servant” switch kicks in at different ages in different boy. It don’t take much to say “That park’s a mess, let’s clean it up!”

      It’s also clouded by my experience with personal management. For five bucks a week, at age 11, I was tossing kegs and cases at my dad’s beer distributor. I also worked the cash register and help settle accounts at the end of the week. (Thanks to that, I can’t stand beer to this day.) Personal management was very relevant, and had I earned it at that age, I might have invested a little better.

    • #281103

      I am sure that situations vary, so the approach and response has to be individualized. For our troop, it is the “power dad” who built the kid’s pinewood derby car and literally would not let him touch the car, who is now an ASM and pushing his son to become an eagle scout by 13 (or earlier). The challenge is that they don’t give Eagle badges with an asterisk, advising the world that the scout made it “too soon”, or will “grow into it”. It’s essential to make the right call for the scout, even if that means telling him to “slow his roll” and enjoy the journey. BSA should strongly consider a “time in grade” requirement.

    • #283509
      New Scout Leader

      Thanks for the feedback! This has been very helpful! We realized the issue a bit too late for this Scout (to slow them down effectively) as they are at First Class now, but have been and will continue to try to encourage them to enjoy the ride more. And we can apply these lessons with future scouts.

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