May - June 2003
Should Eagle courts of honor be individual or group?
Edited by Robert Peterson
Readers argued strongly for both possibilities when Scouter B.T. asked whether Eagle Scout courts of honor should be staged separately or for more than one new Eagle at a time.
If two Scouts are ready for courts of honor at the same time and one wants to have a separate ceremony, the troop should accommodate him.
Our troop has always believed that a boy's Eagle court of honor is unique for each Eagle, so he should have full control of it. It's up to the Scout to determine where and when it will be, what will be said during the ceremony, who will be invited, etc.
If we're going to honor young men for showing that they're mature and worthy of leadership and responsibility, there's no better way to confirm it than by letting each one determine how he's going to be recognized.
Troop Committee Member S.R.,
Our troop committee thinks the Eagle court of honor should be one of the highlights of a boy's career in Scouting and should not have to be shared with someone else.
Last year three of our Scouts completed the Eagle requirements at the same time and had their boards of review the same night. But each wanted his own court of honor and picked the ceremony he and his family liked from among the four we have on file.
Assistant Scoutmaster R.J.
Because our troop is large and many Scouts achieve Eagle, it would be virtually impossible for every new Eagle Scout to have an individual ceremony. Parents and Scouts need to realize that an Eagle court of honor is a huge investment of time and energy on the part of those planning and participating in it, as well as community representatives who will attend.
No boy, other than those in the Lone Scout program, reaches Eagle rank without the support of the troop. Therefore, the needs and abilities of the troop must be considered when planning the ceremony.
Troop Treasurer M.W.
Each youth who has earned the Eagle Scout Award deserves individual recognition. In 20 years as a chartered organization representative for two troops, I have coordinated more than 30 Eagle Scout courts of honor, none of which has been identical to another. The new Eagle and his parents plan the ceremony in detail with a troop adult coordinator.
Check the Eagle Court of Honor Handbook introduction and notice the use of "personal event," "individual," and "...attention should be focused solely on him." We should treat our top achievers to the most special event they can plan and we can make happen.
Chartered Organization Representative R.L.O.
The benefits of sharing are obvious, from costs to the convenience of dignitaries and other guests.
More importantly, the troop should always be in control of the event and not allow the parents to run it. This means the troop should have a policy regarding the Eagle court of honor program so that all courts are consistent. If a troop allows parents to choose the venue, agenda items, and reception details, you set up the troop for competition between families and questions of fairness.
Council Vice President for Membership B.M.
When new Eagles in our troop complete the requirements about the same time, we have a combined court of honor. The budget goes further for refreshments, and the crowd is larger and more festive.
However, we also encourage each new Eagle Scout to have the type of court of honor he prefers. If he and his family want a separate event, we plan for that. Some boys want a formal ceremony in a church while others choose different settings. My son and two friends planned a campfire setting for their ceremony.
Troop Treasurer B.B.
I believe a troop should have a combined court of honor if it has more than one new Eagle Scout. If parents want to have a party to honor their son's achievement and invite close friends and relatives, they may do that, but an Eagle court of honor is for the entire unit.
Our troop tradition has always been that the new Eagle Scout is completely in charge of his court of honor. This includes when, where, who speaks and presentsthe entire program.
We encourage the parents to support their son in his planning. This has led to some creative and exciting courts of honor at camp-outs, in our church sanctuary, and in families' homes with parents, grandparents, and other relatives.
Every Eagle has been proud to create for himself a memorable event that he shares with others. Some have been simple, others elaborate. And in a couple of instances, two Eagles have planned their events together.
Assistant Scoutmaster E.H.
I am always upset that a troop would rob an Eagle Scout candidate of his "day on the pedestal." A young man who has worked toward the goal of an Eagle badge for three to seven years deserves his night.
I have attended many multiple Eagle ceremonies and have noticed that many people who attend do not know all the honorees. In a one-hour ceremony, each Eagle might get his 10 minutes in the spotlight, but is that really what he deserves for all he has gone through?
I remember a number of years ago when two Eagle candidates asked me for a joint ceremony; but when I talked with the families, I could see conflict building. One family wanted to invite a large number of guests from their large family, while the other wanted few from their small family. There were also questions of costs and choice of refreshments.
Each Scout who attains Eagle rank deserves to be the focal point of attention for once in his life. And we as troop committee members and Scoutmasters should give him his deserved glory.
Last summer my son and a Scout buddy earned Eagle at the same time and wanted to have their court of honor together. I didn't know this was allowed, but once the troop assured me it was up to the Scout and his parents, we began planning.
The young men had a beautiful joint ceremony. They wanted to share their new status and did so in a truly special get-together. I would recommend this to any new Eagle and family who would like to share the spotlight.
Troop Committee Member M.M.
We have always encouraged candidates to get their Eagle Scout Award with their friends. Twice we have honored seven Scouts at one ceremony. We even have had one new Eagle who, rather than get his award alone, chose to wait to be recognized until his friends had earned theirs and could join him.
Our troop committee recently decided to have two Eagle courts of honor per year. In April we were scheduled to honor eight new Eagle Scouts, and we already have six who should be recognized in the fall.
Although this means the ceremony can be long, I think boys find it more enjoyable to get their award with boys who have been in Scouting with them for years.
We feel that each new Eagle Scout deserves to have every troop member and family present to recognize him for his achievement.
As a member of our local council's NESA (National Eagle Scout Association) chapter, I am involved with Eagle Scout boards of review. When an Eagle candidate has passed the board, we inform him that the court of honor is his to plan. We suggest resources he may use (local council, National Council, and the Internet) and tell him that he should involve whomever he wishes to be in the ceremony.
We also suggest that other Scouts who have earned Eagle at the same time consider having a joint ceremony. However, we try to make it clear that this is his crowning moment in Scouting and that he alone should be the center of attention at his ceremony on that special day.
The number of Eagle Scouts make individual courts of honor impossible for some troops. My Scoutmaster (Harry Maidment of Troop 25 in Manchester) awarded more than 300 Eagle Scout badges during more than 50 years of service. If he had held separate courts of honor, he would have had to have had one every eight weeks.
Besides, five or six young men receiving Eagle badges warrants a picture in the local paper. Positive publicity is a blessing.
The question to ask is: What do the Eagle Scout candidates want? They should make the decisions concerning their ceremonies...
Since earning my Eagle in 1969, I have been an assistant Scoutmaster in seven troops in four states. Virtually all of them have vested the Eagle Scout candidates with responsibility for most of the decisions regarding the ceremony.
As long as what the Scouts wish to do is respectful of the aims of Scouting, basic troop traditions, and the significance of the Eagle Scout Award itself, the job of adult leaders should be to provide counsel and guidance in the planning and to help them execute their plans.
Assistant Scoutmaster C.B.
May-June 2003 Table of Contents
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