“Our new Eagle Scouts Won’t do A Court of Honor – Help!” (26 Mar 13)

(Copied from the SCOUTING magazine daily blog at blog.scoutingmagazine.org)

I am the assistant Scoutmaster and advancement chairman for my Scout troop. I have worked with lots of boys in my troop and am proud of the fact that we have more than the national average of boys who made it to Eagle.
So many times, I have sat in the waiting room during a boy’s Eagle board of review, most times celebrating with the boy and his parents that he passed the board of review.
Several years ago, three boys who were very close to their 18th birthday successfully passed their Eagle Scout board of review. Our troop sent their application and records off to the local council and then to National. Shortly thereafter, the approved applications arrived along with the Eagle badge, certificate, and patch.
After receiving the packet from National, I immediately contacted the boys and encouraged them to arrange and coordinate their own Eagle ceremony. I printed off pages from the Internet about ceremonies and offered to help review their work.
Not one of these boys carried through with their ceremony. Although I have kept in contact with them, they do not seem to be interested in planning a ceremony. I even suggested that we could have a short ceremony during a Cub Scouts Blue and Gold banquet. No interest.
I still have these boys’ Eagle packets at home. The badge, patch, and certificate rightfully belong to the boy. Should I bundle them up and mail them to the boy or parents? What should I do?
We just had a side-branch discussion about this on LinkenIn not even a few months back!
You wrote in part:
“My initial reaction is bewilderment. It shocks me to see a boy work so hard to earn Eagle and then not share that special achievement with the friends and family who helped get him there. And I’m equally shocked that teenagers would pass up the chance to eat cookies and cake.”
I’m not surprised. I’ve fielded a LOT of these kinds of questions (26 actually, since 2001) and here’s my conclusions;
– the earlier ones came about after the attacks on our nation. People were not in a “happy mood” during that time, and that funk continued until around the start of the ground war in Iraq in 2003.
– Scouts don’t attend other Scouts’ Eagle Courts of Honor like we did when we were growing up; and those Scouts who DO attend other Eagle Courts of Honor are overwhelmed at the amount of “trappings” which goes on.
– Parents gets too involved in a Scout’s event. They want to liken it to a “coming out party” for a girl or some sort of pre-high school graduation event, wanting to bring “any and all elements of Scouting” into the event so that it would be memorable (and recordable!) to the parents as much as the Scout.  The Scout really, honestly wants to “get it all over with” and move on to the next thing.
– Scoutmasters don’t know how to say “no”, Byran, to the “massive outpourings of stuff” that typically encompasses the Eagle Court of Honor.
– and yes, the BSA DOES have a hand in this, mainly through promotions that “every Scout needs to become an Eagle Scout” and “here’s what you get when you do become an Eagle Scout…” (our Scout Stuff(tm) catalog has pages and pages of “Eagle Scout speciality stuff”, just waiting to be sold to those parents I diagrammed above).
As a result, we have LOTS of Scouts who don’t want to “go through the Eagle Court of Honor…”
But just as you can’t force a boy to finish his work toward earning the Eagle Scout award, you can’t force him to have a ceremony after he earns it.
“As sad as it makes me to say this, it appears Tim’s only option is to mail the Eagle materials to the boys’ parents, perhaps including with it a congratulatory, hand-written letter that challenges the Scout to take what he learned on the Eagle trail and apply it to the next chapters of life.”
NO!!!!!!!!  I get lots of letters from adults, Bryan, who want to have a local Council or a unit to award his Eagle to him because that was how HE got notified he became an Eagle Scout — a package in the mail, addressed to his parents, with the two Eagle certificates, the letter from the Chief Scout Executive, and the presentation kit.
One man broke down and started crying over the phone when I arranged for him to have his Eagle presented to him by the Troop in his town. I couldn’t attend because of the weather, but the photos proved out — and I am dead sure that some WEBELOS Cub Scout or young Boy Scout will remember that evening for a good long time — and will spur him toward Eagle.
Here’s what I wrote as a solution to a similiar question posted over on LinkedIn:
“Are all the new Eagles expected to have a ceremony?”
Yes, it’s how the Eagle Scout Award is awarded by action of the National Council, Boy Scouts of America. The TYPE of ceremony or how “big or little” it is is completely up to the Eagle Scout, his family and the unit in which he belongs within.
“In your experience with scouting, are the Eagle Scout candidates in your troop permitted to pick the Eagle ceremony ritual or is it a traditional ceremony handed down as part of troop tradition?”
All of the “ceremony rituals” have common items within which conform with what the BSA expects the Eagle Scout Court of Honor to include. Those elements are:
– opening and closing of the National Court of Honor on behalf of the National Council, BSA
– the reading of the letter from the Chief Scout Executive and National President announcing the award and congraduating the new Eagle Scout
– the presentation of the medal to the parents of the Eagle Scout and the parents (or others, not the Scoutmaster) pinning the medal to the uniform of the new Eagle Scout.
Everything else between the opening and closing is completely up to the new Eagle, his parents, and the unit in which he belongs to (or has chosen to have the Court of Honor performed within).
— the three required elements of the Eagle Scout Award ceremony are the three elements used since the first Eagle was awarded in 1912. The letter from the Chief Scout Executive and National President should ALWAYS be read, as you are holding the Eagle Court of Honor on their behalf and on the behalf of the National Council, Boy Scouts of America. The presentation of the medal set to the parents who pins the medal onto the uniform; and the reading of the words announcing the formality of the event should also be done as the award is being made on the National Council basis.
Everything else is “suit to personal taste and desire.”
I have presented Eagle Awards in the living rooms of Eagle Scout homes.  In a closed-in dining area at local resturants; “Praise and Worship” stages in churches; Commanding General or Officer’s board rooms or offices on military bases large and small; in a meeting room on the campus of a regional university; and believe it or not, in the lobby area of a rest stop along an Interstate highway.
There is absolutely NO RULE which states that the Eagle Award MUST be presented in front of Scouts and Scouters from your Troop or Team, or in a truly public place.
Some Scouts would much rather the intimacy of their family’s great room than the grandness of the Troop meeting place or some other public place.
Some Scouts also have problems with all of the “oaths”, “promises” and “things I have to memorize…” which have little bearing on the Eagle “Award” itself.  As I mentioned earlier — they want to be awarded the medal, sure; but they want it “over with” as soon as possible.
So to ME, Bryan, the “operative solutions”  are as follows:
– Tim, please sit down with each family.  Explain to them what I’ve written to you — that the actual awarding is something the BSA expects because it’s a national award and because the local ceremony is on behalf of the entire national organization.
Also explain that the actual ceremony (and I can send you a script I use — it’s all of one page!) can take as little as ten minutes or as long as 30 minutes depending on WHAT THE SCOUT WANTS; and then LISTEN to what their objections and concerns are.
– offer to “reduce the overhead” associated with the ceremony. Instead of someone reading the congraduatory letters from everyone you’ve sent notices to, place them in a bound book or within page-protected sleeves and present the whole shebang to the Scout.  Instead of having enless “Eagle Promises” and “Poems to the new Eagle”, how about instead playing the Scout’s favorite song?  He’s a new Eagle Scout, not entering the law or medicine fields!!  Instead of candles and repeating the Scout Oath and Law, instead a video or set of photos displaying showing his progress from WEBELOS Cub Scout coming into the Troop to the day before his Eagle Board of Review.
OR NONE of that stuff…and concentrate on the three important elements: opening and closing the Eagle Court of Honor on behalf of the BSA and the local Council; the reading of the letter from our national leaders announcing that the Scout has been awarded Eagle; and the actual awarding of the Eagle medal by his parents to the Scout.
I strongly disagree with the fact that the Eagle Court of Honor is for everyone else associated with that Scout — the Eagle Scout Court of Honor is formal recognition that the BSA found that person worthy of the title “Eagle Scout” and with it, the awarding of the certificate, medal and card.  Everyone else who have helped the young man gets to witness this — IF the Scout wants this. Otherwise, they will I’m sure get the young man’s thanks in other methods.
Hope all of this helps out…and if you DO need that script, let me know. I’ll make it available as a link from my blog site, where I’ll repost this question and response.
(you can find the one-page Eagle Court of Honor script at http://www.settummanque.com/eaglite.pdf  as well as from the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.’s advancement area at http://www.usscouts.org/advancement

About Mike Walton

Take your standard Oliver North. Add strong parts of Bill Cosby and Sir Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting). Throw in Johny Bravo without the "hurhhs!" and his pecks. Add a strong dose of parenting, the sexuality of a latin lover, and Mona Lisa's smile. And a 40 year old's body frame. That's me basically *grinning*

9 Responses to “Our new Eagle Scouts Won’t do A Court of Honor – Help!” (26 Mar 13)

  1. avatar
    Becky Littlefield 16 September 2013 at 09:41 #

    I am interested in the one page Eagle Court of Honor script. My son has earned his Eagle and we want to do a simple Court of Honor, but we have gotten no help or direction from local leadership. Could you please email it to me ASAP? ericbeck2@comcast.net Thanks

  2. avatar
    Allan 9 February 2014 at 16:04 #

    I’m nervous and don’t like the attention of a ceremony

    • avatar
      Settummanque 9 February 2014 at 16:11 #

      Allan: If you remember that the ceremony is not just for you, but for the community, you should do well. I take it you did well when your Scoutmaster awarded you the other ranks before Eagle, right? No diff here, except that your parents will be awarding it to you instead of your Scoutmaster.

  3. avatar
    Max 10 July 2015 at 23:03 #

    When I click on the links for the 1-page script, the link is expired and I can’t find it anywhere else online. Do you know where I can still find it?


    • avatar
      Settummanque 11 July 2015 at 01:32 #

      I need to edit the page because the PDF is misnamed….the actual name of the file is eaglite.pdf. If you cannot find it, look on my home page (http://www.settummanque.com) and I have a link there to the one page Eagle Court of Honor script. Thanks!!


  4. avatar
    Settummanque 16 February 2016 at 21:00 #

    I fixed the page so that the one page Eagle Court of Honor script can be found. If you cannot find or download it, try


    If THAT does not work for you, please post me at settummanque@yahoo.com and I’ll be happy to email you a copy!

    • avatar
      Margaret 25 November 2016 at 10:23 #

      It seems now to be at:

      The other links in this article don’t work from my browser

      • avatar
        Settummanque 19 February 2017 at 03:16 #

        Hi Margaret!! Sorry you are having problems trying to find the Simple Eagle Court of Honor ceremony!! In addition to being on the US Scouting Service Project, Inc.’s advancement website, I have it linked from my home page of my website (http://www.settummanque.com).

        Mike Walton

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