Sunday, November 26, 2017

Eagle Rank Guidance for Leaders of Older LDS Scouts

With the transition away from Varsity Scouts and Venturing at the start of 2018, it's worth noting that in that announcement, there was also an instruction that, "Young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout or Queen Scout should be encouraged and supported in their efforts..." Below are my thoughts on how Young Men Advisers of Teacher/Priest-age Scouts can offer that encouragement and support, taking the Eagle Scout rank requirements as a baseline, and leveraging the PPI to help in that endeavor. It assumes that the young man in question completed Life Scout when he was a Deacon.  If he hasn't, the requirements are roughly similar, and so the same concepts apply.
  1. Be active in your troop for at least six months as a Life Scout.

    This means he must take an active part in planning, carrying out and participating in Troop and Patrol activities. Yes, that means working and playing with “Deacon Scouts.” Be sure to leave time in your respective quorum activity plan to allow for this, or at the very least, don’t be dogmatic that he only attend Teacher/Priest activities, and never Scout Troop stuff. Have them organize "older Scout Patrols" within the Troop to facilitate their activity. In a PPI, remind your Scout to use his Handbook as a record of activities including camp outs, hikes, service hours, merit badges, etc. Keeping track of his progress is actually his responsibility, and not that of a committee member, Scoutmaster, or database. A PPI is a good place to remind him of this.

  2. As a Life Scout, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life, and how your understanding of the Scout Oath and Scout Law will guide your life in the future. List on your Eagle Scout Rank Application the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious (if not affiliated with an organized religion, then the parent or guardian provides this reference), educational, employer (if employed), and two other references.

    This is pretty easy if you have done a good job of correlating the Oath and Law to AP Purposes. He should have no shortage of examples from his own experiences. Don’t let him be like that Eagle Scout who couldn’t recite the Oath and Law at his own Court of Honor (true story).

  3. Earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than required for the Life rank), including these 13 merit badges.

    Merit badges are his responsibility to pursue. This is part of his learning to take responsibility for his own progress. There is a well-documented process for merit badge work.  Personally, I would avoid the widespread community "pay-to-pass Merit Badge class." Remind him to utilize the merit badge counselor as a COUNSELOR and not a BOX-CHECKER-OFFER.

  4. While a Life Scout, serve actively in your troop for six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility:  Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster, or outdoor ethics guide.[1]

    In a PPI, ensure he understands that taking responsibility for the Troop is required of Eagle candidates, and show him this list. Encourage him to talk to the Senior Patrol Leader (yes, the SIC, Scout-In-Charge, not the Scoutmaster - it's the SPL who makes these appointments) to request one or two positions that interest him. (If none of them tickle his fancy, tell him to pick a couple and suck it up.)  The six-months tenure is in the aggregate, so he can fill as many of these positions as he likes; it doesn’t have to be six straight months as quartermaster. Don't overlook the Den Chief position!

    This will be one of the hardest requirements to fill, mostly because it's a bit easier to overlook than merit badges and service projects, especially if your older Scouts “outgrow” the Troop and never participate in Troop activities. Even if this is the case, by 17, there's a good chance he will want to finish his Eagle work, and the leadership tenure could be an insurmountable hurdle if he has not had any kind of participation, let alone responsibility, in the intervening years since he turned 14.  Look out for him.  See the notes for #1 above.

    Since LDS Scouts no longer officially participate in Varsity Scouts or Venturing, we’re ignoring those equivalent positions.
    Teacher/Priest Quorum fill-in-the-blank is not an automatic fit for this requirement! It never was. The above list states the only positions that meet this requirement, and substitutions are not allowed. Following the rules is a missionary skill, and if we, as leaders and mentors, show that rules can be fudged for convenience, that's the lesson that will stick.

  5. While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement. (To learn more about the Eagle Scout service project, see the Guide to Advancement, topics 9.0.2.0 through 9.0.2.15.)

    The famous Eagle Project! Remember that the purpose of this project is that a young man (or woman!) identifies a need in the community, makes a plan to meet that need, and organizes and marshals the personnel and resources to make it happen. That can be a Scout Troop, a soccer team, or it can be individuals with an arc welder or chain saws and pickup trucks to donate their time, skills and equipment to help. Nowhere does it say that only Scouts participate in carrying out the work. It’s not about children building or making a token widget, or filling an “appropriate” number of “Youth Service Hours™.” It’s about the candidate learning to organize and execute his plan.

    You need to be familiar with and follow the project approval guidelines listed above. Many young men have been left in Scout Limbo because they didn’t read, understand and follow the ENTIRE requirement (apologies to Norm Abram), and/or their adult leaders didn't hold them to the standard - i.e., they lowered the bar. This would be a great thing to emphasize in a PPI. Remember that Scouting was never intended to be a badge factory, though we’ve treated it that way for decades. Instead, Scouting is concerned with (in no particular order) the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental development of young men and women; their character, citizenship and fitness. Learning to follow the rules and correct procedures will be a valuable skill for any prospective missionary, employee, or CEO.  "We teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves."

  6. While a Life Scout, participate in a Scoutmaster conference.

    This will be with the Scoutmaster, not the respective Quorum advisers. It says so right in the requirement. It also does not say “Pass” an interview, it says simply to “participate” in a "conference," to take part in a discussion. This means that an adult leader cannot hold a candidate hostage to a personal interpretation or standard.

  7. Successfully complete your board of review for the Eagle rank.[2] In preparation for your board of review, prepare and attach to your Eagle Scout Rank Application a statement of your ambitions and life purpose and  a listing of positions held in your religious institution, school, camp, community, or other  organizations, during which you demonstrated leadership skills. Include honors and awards received during this service. (This requirement may be met after age 18, in accordance with Guide to Advancement topic 8.0.3.1.)

    Again, this does not say “Pass”, but “complete”. There is a subtle but significant difference. Review the application and project workbook with him before he attends his board. Set him up for success! Most importantly, remember that the Scout who completes Eagle at age 13.5 and the Scout who completes it on his 18th birthday are both Eagles. There is no stigma attached to the date he completes the requirements. This whole program is intended to proceed at the pace of the individual Scout, and not on some arbitrarily imposed timetable.

Footnotes

[1] Assistant patrol leader and bugler are not approved positions of responsibility for the Eagle Scout rank. Likewise, a unit leader–assigned leadership project should not be used in lieu of serving in a position of responsibility.

[2] If a Scout believes he has completed all requirements for the Eagle Scout rank but is denied a board of review, he may request a Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances" in accordance with Guide to Advancement topic 8.0.3.2. If the board of review does not approve the Scout’s advancement, the decision may be appealed in accordance with Guide to Advancement topic 8.0.4.0. If a Scout foresees that, due to no fault or choice of his own, he will be unable to complete the Eagle Scout rank requirements before age 18, he may apply for a limited time extension in accordance with Guide to Advancement topic 9.0.4.0. Time extensions are rarely granted.

[3] Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle Palms may be earned by a registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout. He may earn these awards until his 18th birthday. Any Venturer or Sea Scout who has achieved the First Class rank as a Boy Scout in a troop or Varsity Scout in a team may continue working up to his 18th birthday toward the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms. An Eagle Scout board of review may occur, without special approval, within three months after the 18th birthday. Local councils must pre-approve those held three to six months afterward. To initiate approval, the candidate, his parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member attaches to the application a statement explaining the delay. Consult the Guide to Advancement, topic 8.0.3.1, in the case where a board of review is to be conducted more than six months after a candidate’s 18th birthday. If you have a permanent physical or mental disability, or a disability expected to last more than two years, or beyond age 18, you may become an Eagle Scout by qualifying for as many required merit badges as you can and qualifying for alternative merit badges for the rest. If you seek to become an Eagle Scout under this procedure, you must submit a special application to your local council service center. Your application must be approved by your council advancement committee before you can work on alternative merit badges. A Scout or Venturer with a disability may also qualify to work toward rank advancement after he is 18 years of age if he meets the guidelines outlined in section 10 of the Guide to Advancement.

Prepared. | For Life.™

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