Astronauts like Neil Armstrong.
Film directors like Steven Spielberg.
Presidents like Gerald Ford.

These guys are Eagle Scouts, just like me. So? Nothing. That's it. Just a similar achievement.

Being an Eagle Scout used to be a big deal. The whole town celebrated the advancement of a scout to the highest rank in the entire Boy Scouts organization. The scout became part of a higher brotherhood among Boy Scouts. A huge ceremony took place each time a scout became an Eagle Scout. At such a meeting all of the scout's friends, family, fellow scouts, scoutmasters from over the years, and the higher officials in the local scout organizations would all come together (most likely in a church basement) and recognize the scout as something special.

I told my mom that if she announced my Eagle rank in the newspaper that I would hurt her.

Why? Boy Scouts are nothing but made fun of anymore. Sure, the ranks impress adults over the age of 35, but everyone else makes fun of you. It's like being part of a dork club. It's embarrassing, and I could never figure out why. Never. I had mountains of stress finishing the requirements of the Eagle rank, and because I cared so much what other people thought, I was embarrassed.

People ask me why I complain so much.

I literally spent hours planning my service project. The service project is the last BIG thing in finishing the Eagle requirements (which for me doubled as finishing scouts, which was what I wanted to do long before). The service project consists of a project that you plan and lead that does something positive for the community, school, or church, and the total number of hours that it has to fill is 6 or more. You are to lead a group of other scouts through the project to complete your planned goal. Examples of service projects I worked on for other scouts were laying bark on nature trails, planting trees at the golf course, filling sand bags during a bad Missouri drought, or putting up new signs in a campground. Good things.

Anyways, all this work, at least for me (my service project was a joke that I care not to talk about anyway), did not pay off. I was not recognized by the town. I chose not to be, mostly because it would flag the beginning of what I knew would be the harshest onslaught of harrassment I would ever have to receive in the horrible waste pit that was Taylorville.

I was stupid.

I am an Eagle Scout. Other Eagle Scouts like me have received awards, scholarships, and other forms of recognition for doing the same things I have. In fact, I bet that I did more for my Eagle than Steven Spielberg, Neil Armstrong, or Gerald Ford did for theirs. The requirements have increased over the years, and are much harder to fulfill than in the past.

I am an Eagle Scout. I can declare it to people and not lie. That is what it has gotten me. I can surprise new friends with it involuntarily because it will come up in conversation. I realize how stupid I was to be embarrassed of it in the past.

I am an Eagle Scout. I spent ten years in the basement of a church, in the forests of Illinois and Missouri, in the back yard of said church, and in the parks of my hometown. What do I have to show for it? A packet. In the packet is the actual Eagle badge (patch), the Eagle Scout medal, a certificate that says I'm important, and a small booklet of things they want to sell me and my family because I worked so hard to get there. Yes, ten paragraphs and I finally get to my point...

What is left in this world when of all things holy, all things sacred, all things loved, when the National Eagle Scout Association tries to sell you things for achieving the highest recognized rank in the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America? Has capitalism and greed permeated every last drop of what was once pure in this country? Is anything not for sale? Can anything escape its own potential for profit?

You know what?
I am an Eagle Scout.
I say fuck the National Eagle Scout Association.

Anyone want to buy my official Eagle Scout badge for $5?




Ok, everyone has taken this the wrong way and I am now swimming in criticism. Let me add one note that should balance what I've said a bit more: the local politics that surround the Boy Scouts in each town make what you get out of it. When I started scouting, I had wonderful leaders and great fun all around. The deterioration of my local troop didn't just happen among the scouts themselves. The reason so many were quitting was that they had other high school things to do and that the leaders were leaving and shitty leaders were replacing them.

I put in a lot. I got out a lot. But that's not what this node is about. If you want to know what I learned from scouts, I can tell you. Here: What I learned in Boy Scouts. I'm talking solely about the Eagle rank here and the things surrounding it for me. This is my own selfish venting.

Everything's different for everyone.


Man, I never go back to a node and put replies up. argh.

TaintedTex: This was not a personal attack. You obviously had a different experience than me in scouts and that's fine. Calm down...

And if your job is the only reason you care about being an Eagle Scout, um, then I don't know...

Friendly, courteous, and kind indeed! And I never had respect for quitters.


Deborah909: Mom and dad pushed, kicked, prodded, and shoved me into finishing. There's no interesting story behind it; just a lot of yelling in my house and a bit of crying here and there.


That is all.

Wow. That's certainly a negative reaction. Let another Eagle Scout add to this node, if I may....

Yes, scouts get made fun of. You look stupid in that beige outfit, with that stupid looking neckerchief and the slider thing that holds it in place. It doesn't matter if you're Miles Davis... there's no way to look cool in a Scout uniform. And when you go on a Klondike Derby, or a Jamboree, there are a hundred-and-one born losers trying to light fires with flint and steel, and they all get mad when someone uses a fat bottle of Rossinol, because it's not the "scoutly way".

But you get out of it what you put into it. I could have fucked around and taken Basketry at Scout camp, and I could have bullshitted my way through the requirements for Citizenship In The World (believe me, it's not hard to do). My friends and I didn't sleep in tents and practice whittling and sing Kumbaya. We signed up for stuff like Wilderness Survival, built our own shelters, learned lifesaving and first aid and water rescues and cool shit like that. And when it came time for the tedious crap, like soaping pots and taking part in Scoutmaster reviews, we were so jacked up we didn't care. We treated it like the fucking marine corps, and I learned a ton of stuff that I still use today.

And people respect that. Lots of people I met in college were impressed that I was an Eagle Scout. Sure, you get the snide comments here and there, but for the most part, people realize it's a pain in the ass to do it, and they respect that. I singlehandedly got into Colby College because I was an Eagle Scout (even though I didn't go there). I have no doubt of that. But if there's one criticism I have of the rank, and of the people who respect it, and of one of Sarcasmo's comments above, it's this...

The Eagle Scout rank is ridiculously fucking easy to obtain.

The biggest problem with it is the tenure you need. I'm guessing it's around three years now (they keep changing the requirements). They've simplified the merit badge requirements to the point where you can complete most of them simply by dropping $3.50 for the merit badge book, memorizing some of the stuff in there, and writing down the rest. The only badges of even minimal difficulty are Personal Management, because it takes 90 days;Environmental Science, because it requires you to run a series of experiments; Communications, because you have to give a speech; and Camping, because you have to camp at least 20 nights (although you have eight years to do it).

The other hard part, some would say, is the service project. Basically, what you need to do is find a project that needs to be done - if you live in the suburbs, just go down to Town Hall and start asking around, or try the Police and Fire Departments. Then you write up a proposal, submit it, and then, well, welcome to the world of delegation. Get a bunch of volunteers, tell them what to do, and voila. My project was cleaning up the Minuteman Bike Trail in Arlington. I finished it over four weekends, and that was it. My friend repainted every fire hydrant in town. Took him two weeks. End of story.

That's the only sad thing. And I think they've done that because fewer and fewer people want to join Scouting. They'd rather watch TV or play video games than learn life skills (and don't give this crap about not enough time... outside of camping trips, Scouting takes up not more than two hours a week).

So what do I have to show for it? Well, I've got a patch, and a plaque, and an attractive desk pen set, all of which are in a box in my attic. Anything else? Well, yeah, I know how to save a life, survive in the wilderness, hunt for food if need be, uncapsize a canoe, find my way out of the woods, start a fire at least fifteen different ways, and a host of other shit that would just take too long to list here.

I certainly didn't need any fucking parade from my town. And I certainly didn't let comments from some juvenile, hometown-hero lifetime-zero embarrass me.

Moi begs to differ. This node title reminds me of a similar writeup from "The Disillusionment of College", about where the sense of accomplishment that one is led to expect when receiving a bachelors degree from a major university had gone. The answer is the same, and it's essentially: you get out of it what you put into it.

Being an Eagle Scout means that you put considerable time, effort, and energy into leading a group of your peers and completing a service project for your community, when you could have been doing any of the other things high school boys usually spend their free time doing. It will help you get a job in the next several years, because employers know that you're capable of making yourself useful to society.

Nobody joins the Boy Scouts to impress their non-Scout friends, anymore than they encourage voter registration or pick up trash on the ground or spend time at a children's hospital after school to impress friends. Capitalism rewards capitalistic endeavors, and most people recognize the acquisition of wealth and property as something to be impressed by. This is not a universal truth (see also: Kurt Cobain).

Sarcasmo hasn't elaborated on what he did for his service project, although it's clearly not something he's particularly proud of. This is also not universal. Being an Eagle Scout means nothing to him, but that's not the same as saying it means nothing at all.

Not only do I think that you are wrong, but I believe this to be a travesty on the part of Eagle Scouts everywhere.
I am an Eagle Scout.
You may not care but I do. Especially when I think of all the trouble I had to go through, of all the teasing I went through, I can't help but have the utmost respect for an Eagle Scout.

I honestly do not even have problems with people who quit, I understand completely why they quit, it's a hard road. However if you are truly an Eagle Scout than you should be a little bit more caring of how they are looked at.

The Boy Scouts gave me new friends, (my only friends for many years) and my best friend.

But don't for a second think that it means nothing anymore, because it damn sure means something to me, and my fellow Eagle Scouts and more importantly my employers.


And another thing...
Don't tell me to calm down and then insult me by implying that my morals are of low quality because I want my employers to know that I am Eagle Scout and therefore live by the Scout Law :
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

I am also an Eagle Scout but I believe I do not deserve it, but the hell if I am going to say so. The Eagle Award, where I live, does come with some distinction of honor. It looks good on the resume and you get a little recognition for what you did.

My Eagle Project was not earth shattering. I didn't cure cancer, or feed millions of slovenly homeless. I helped my local library scan reference books into the computer so they could make better decisions about what to replace in the future. It wasn't the Best Thing, I didn't pour blood, sweat and tears into my project. But it tought me how to manage, it helped my fellow scouts to understand the meaning of community service.

I do not agree that scouts today are doing more than those of yesteryear to earn their badge. The military wants to remove the immediate rank increase for Eagle Scouts who join the military. They claim the calibre of Eagle Scouts has declined, and I'm apt to agree.

In my troop, several scouts who were the same age as me, were pushed through as quickly as possible and obtained the rank of Eagle around 15 or 16. That is just horse pocky. What sort of 15 year old knows about being an Eagle? I believe that most, i.e. not all, 15 year olds do not have a sense of community, responsibility, or maturity that is defined with the rank of Eagle.

Why do I believe I am not suited for Eagle? Because I am agnostic, bordering on aethist, but more than likely i'm daoist. The rules clearly state that Eagles have a sense of reverence for God, of which I hold little or none. I don't think the Boy Scouts of America would think too kindly of anything but the typical Judeo-Christian religion, with the exception of a few "officially" recognized other religions.

To end, I don't think I really want to be a part of an organization that discriminate against gays anyway. I'm not going to try to change their mentality, I'll just find another group to work with.

This year, I turned 17. I came out to everybody (well, nearly everybody). And I earned my Eagle Scout badge. I agree almost completely with Sarcasmo: my experience as a scout has been good in a lot of ways, and a net plus, but it seems... tainted.

Almost everything I did in my troop was great: we trekked through Philmont. We scuba dived at the Scouts' Seabase in the Florida Keys. We went on dozens of local campouts to camps like Camp Pioneer and Camp Cherokee. Most of us had a great time, and got a lot of exposure to the outdoors we otherwise wouldn't have.

Being a gay agnostic Eagle Scout is an awkward position at the moment. I haven't come out to any relatives besides my parents, or to my Dad's co-workers (who are also friends), because Mom and Dad asked me nicely not to. But the only other group I'm still lying to is my Scout Troop, and I wish I didn't have to. I don't feel obligated to come clean out of guilt, but rather the hope of changing a few people's minds about whether gays can be good scouts and adult leaders-- or at least as good as the straight ones. I think the BSA's current policy needs to change, and I'd be proud to help change it. I'd hate to see all the sane and tolerant people leave the Scouts over this.

Now that I've had a Court of Honor and have the badge, I think I'm going to send the Boy Scouts of America headquarters a polite letter explaining that I disagree with their more bigoted policies, and why. They'll probably kick me out. (I think I'm also going to wait until after they carve my name in stone in front of the headquarters of Circle 10 Council in Dallas, along with the names of every other scout in the council to ever make Eagle, all the way back to 1911 or so. What are they going to do? Sandblast me out and leave a blank spot?)

It wouldn't be so bad if I had a picture perfect experience as a Scout, then grew up and realized that discrimination and marketing are part of the package. Sometimes, life is like that. But even from the time I started, I weaseled through too many merit badges and other requirements without learning as much as I should have, and worried way too much about the right resume and too little about the right way to do things. I learned the large majority of the stuff Sarcasmo mentions in What I learned in Boy Scouts too, but I admit that I don't remember more than half of it well enough for it to be useful. And... (grimace)... my Eagle scout project wasn't anything significant at all, and I'm not very proud of it.

Now, is that because I didn't put enough into it? Probably so. But it must be a little larger than that as well, because it didn't just happen to me. In my troop, several scouts besides me don't have any real religion, but say the Scout Oath ("On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country") and Law ("a Scout is Reverent") just like they say "One nation, under God" when pledging allegiance. So do I. And even worse is how often we did a half-assed job on things to satisfy requirements; the raw careerism is hideous. I know they're only human, but the scouts working on merit badges and ranks, the scouts leading them, and the adult leaders leading the whole thing could raise their standards. Too many times, I've seen people (including myself) get full credit for a very half-assed job.

I doubt I'll ever work in personnel, but my attitude towards hiring Eagles (at least from my troop) is that it's a good way to find reasonably bright, hard-working people who can tolerate paperwork, physical hardship, the knowledge that they're doing a bad job and it won't matter, and even total, silent hypocrisy if it's in their narrow self-interest. In other words, organization men. Lackeys. And that's not who I want to be.

(Also, I think a shameless plug for scoutingforall.org should go here.)

I'm also generally against updates, but I'd like to offer a cheer for LVeran and his troop.

Of several troops in the area, I had the good luck to wind up in the best. We have 60 to 70 people, camp monthly, and have great adult leaders who actually care about scouting. However, at times it is odd to see people from other local troops who got Eagle Scout basically for turning 14.

However, I do not agree with people who say that the requirements have gotten easier and the merit badges are a joke. Rather, the leaders and scouts teaching many of these badges and signing off on the requirements are the problem. Our troop is running its own summer camp, because out scoutmaster does not like the district camps policy which basically amounts to "you didn't fall asleep during the badge sessions - it's yours." Our scoutmaster also makes it a real accomplishment to get Eagle Scout. He and the other adult leaders do not like "paper eagles" and do not allow them in our troop. In fact, over the past few years about a dozen good, hardworking scouts have gotten Eagle Scout but because they finished their requirements so close to their 18th birthday, they were never able to wear the patch for it. Also, in our Eagle Scout Courts of Honor it is not uncommon to see more seats filled with friends and acquaintances from school than parents and other scouts.

Our troop is also different in the perspective of its adult leaders. I am proud to say that at the court of honor following the Boy Scout of America National Council decision to ban gay leaders, our scoutmaster gave a speech in which he said that our troop did not agree with that policy and would not abide by it. Out of fear of repurcussions, I will not give the number or city of my troop. Also, at that same court of honor, several of the Eagle Scouts being recognized mentioned their disaproval of the policy in their speeches.

In our troop at least, Eagle Scout still means something.

I am an Eagle Scout. This is something I have mixed feelings about, but am proud of nonetheless. There are mixed reasons and mixed ways in which I got to that point and why I feel this way, none of which have to do with requirements or regulations, or for the most part, even about the Boy Scouts of America. But of what I feel is, in my opinion, essential to my earning of that badge that I never received.

I grew up in a family of Mormons. As some of you may know, there are two things which the Mormons encourage their children heavily to do: go become missionaries, and be Boy Scouts. As such, the local church had a troop of its own, mostly run by veteran Scouts of various persuasions, my favorite being a Queen's Scout from New Zealand. For those who don't know, that is the equivalent there of an Eagle Scout and is recognized as being the same by the BSA.

I didn't go to Boy Scouts to prove that I knew how to wear a neckerchief or that I could make some moccasins or a wallet at camp. I went to spend time outdoors with others who wanted to be outdoors, and to learn things with others who could at least fake wanting to learn. I know the standard knots and knife-safety just like anyone else who's been through the Boy Scout system, but unlike other troops, mine had drive and ambition. As a result, I can honestly say that I've been snow camping, spelunking, rappelling, rock climbing, and that I know how to take care of firearms. I know that may not mean a lot to you southerners and others from rugged terrain such as Montana and such, but the average Californian is clueless when they grew up in the bay area if you hand them a rifle or shotgun and tell them to clean it.

After years of doing this, I over time accumulated enough merit badges in such areas of knowledge as personal management, shotgun shooting, lifesaving, first aid, safety, camping, orienteering (navigation using compass and map), and all sorts of other things that taken individually may not seem all that useful these days. But the process of learning these things was the important thing. I learned them while doing potentially dangerous and/or deadly (if done improperly ) things, like sleeping in a snow cave or hanging off a rope I had tied myself, standing horizontally on a wall.

I did my Eagle project just like any other Eagle Scout. Spent more than a month on it, involving not only other scouts but my peers and people who were twice my age, honing my skills at organizing and heading up a project of some high degree of professional scale (with the assistance of a professional in that field) for a local school. Submitted my paperwork, gritted my teeth, and waited.

Word on the street says that somewhere in that church building back in California, my Eagle Scout Presentation Package once was. But meanwhile, in a series of problems that I still to this day don't really know what happened behind the scenes, the leadership of the troop fell apart. I have no idea where that Eagle Scout Presentation Package has disappeared to, complete with the signed certificate by the President of the United States. Rumor has it that an ex-scoutmaster took it with him when he moved. But I don't mind.

It's not that I'm not proud to be (and call myself) an Eagle Scout. Believe me, I am. I mark it proudly on my resume, and I consider myself to be an Eagle Scout. But because it wasn't important enough for the leadership of my troop to take the effort not to completely FUBAR my happy ending, I've come to the sad realization that at least in my old hometown, being an Eagle Scout no longer means what it once did. And as a result of this, when someone asks who in a room is an Eagle Scout, I have to hesitate before I step forward, all over one stupid patch that I earned that never got sewn on my uniform.

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