Something that matters a bit more is scout spirit. Hope I clarify.

I am an Eagle Scout. I say this not in jest. I completed all the requirements, and now I am it. But alas, I see no improvement in my life. The fame and fortune I was promised by the troop, my family, and my friends has still not found it's way to my doorstep. Why? Being an Eagle Scout means nothing anymore.

It really sucks too, because I worked pretty hard to get there. I have spent hundreds of nights camping (which I love), months of merit badge-getting (which I hated), and more and more time with the service projects and community involvement things that are so required to achieve such a rank.

I was a Life Scout (rank right before Eagle) for almost two years before I acquired the Eagle rank. It was the hardest of all of the ranks to get for sure, and even harder with my having lost all interest in Boy Scouts because of all the cool people leaving the troop. It seemed everyone I hung out with at scout meetings and shit quit and moved on. They didn't care about being an Eagle Scout. What was left was a bunch of sick-minded kids; the absolute worst breed of Taylorville's children were the only Boy Scouts left.

I owe my rank to my mom and dad, who are the sole reason I didn't just abandon the whole scout thing as so many did when they got to be the age I was. I hated it to death, and hated it more when I realized what had become of the troop. If my mom and dad didn't drop the most evil of guilt trips on me, I never would have finished. Thanks to mom and dad for that.

I am recognized as an Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America and the National Eagle Scout Association.

-sigh-

I am an Eagle Scout, and I was given this history of it by my scoutmaster after I got the rank.

History of the Eagle Scout Rank

The early advancement program of the Boy Scouts of America was patterned directly after Baden-Powell's English system, using the same three basic classes of Scouts-Tenderfoot, Second and First Class. By 1911, however, when the first American Handbook for Boys was produced, three categories were added beyond First Class to signify the earning of specified numbers of merit badges. While the English system had "All Round Scout" and "King Scout'; the BSA. Handbook listed "Life Scout"; "Star Scout"; and "Eagle Scout": These titles seem not to have been regarded as ranks or classes, but as "merit badges" themselves, since they are listed without special subtitle under the merit badges. Further, the Eagle is described as "the highest Scout Merit Badge".

As is usual with a fledgling organization there was some early confusion about the design of the Eagle Badge. The Handbook of 1911 shows a drawing quite different from the Eagle we are familiar with, in fact, when Arthur Eldred was certified by a Board of Review on August 21,1912, there was no die for the medal. He did receive the award on Labor Day in a form essentially the same as it is now, though the quality of modeling was very poor.

By 1915, 96 boys earned the Eagle badge, but the number of Scouts annually earning this honor was growing steadily, until 1922 over 2,000 Eagle badges were awarded.

In the early part of the 1920's the list of merit badges required for Eagle included First Aid, Life Saving, Personal Health, Public Hearth, Civics, Cooking, Camping, Bird Study, Pathfinding, Pioneering, and Athletics or Physical Development, with 10 badges left to the individual's choice. Around 1923, Swimming was added to the list, reducing the elective badges to 9 out of 21. The same year saw authorization of three new types of insignia for Eagles-a cloth badge to be worn on the uniform pocket; a metal miniature for use on the Scout hat; and an Eagle Scout ring.

In 1924, Life and Star ranks were reversed so that Star was earned before Life. Since more than 3,200 boys earned the Eagle rank that year, serious thought was given to creating another award beyond the Eagle. Current thinking then was that any such award should be based on "civic service-'participating citizenship'-rather than merely on merit badges".

The resulting plan was finally adopted in 1926 and appeared in the new 1927 edition of the Scout Handbook. There had been a compromise, however, in which the Eagle award was retained as the highest rank but palms could be added to it for earning additional merit badges-bronze palm for 5, gold for 10, and silver for 15. But the Eagle rank itself was changed to incorporate an emphasis on continual implementation of the Scout Oath and Law, the motto, and the daily Good Turn. The Scout's record of service with the troop would be taken into account and a minimum time line of one year was imposed from the time the First Class badge was earned until the Eagle Award could be attained.

When the new requirements appeared in 1927, the annual rate for Eagles was at 4,500 and increasing at about 1,000 per year. In the meantime, 50 years in advance, an event had occurred which foreshadowed today's National Eagle Scout Association: the formation in April 1925 of the "Knights of Dunamis" by a service-oriented group of young Eagles under the guidance of the then Scout Executive of San Francisco, Raymond O. Hansen. This nucleus grew through the years, spreading across America. It is its record of service, coupled with that of other more local Eagle Scout associations, which NESA is now expanding and improving.

In 1932 9,200 Eagle Scout badges were awarded. For the next six years the number fluctuated around 7,000 annually, probably because of the economic situation of the Depression, although in 1939 the number jumped up to 10,000 Eagle awards in 1 year. The military draft and World War II wreaked havoc with Scouting's leadership of the 1940's and the number began to fluctuate again.

The Boy Scout Handbook, in the first printing of its fifth edition in 1948, listed 12 required merit badges for the Eagle rank: First Aid, Lifesaving, Personal Health, Public Health, Cooking, Camping, Civics, Bird Study, Pathfinding, Safety, Pioneering, and Athletics or Physical Development. A total of 8,016 boys earned each of those 12 merit badges and 9 others to become Eagle Scouts in 1948. Their advancement program differed little from that of every previous Eagle since 1931, when Safety had been added and Swimming temporarily dropped as required merit badges.

By the mid-1950's, however, with over 14,000 Eagles awards earned annually, the whole requirement system was undergoing revision.

Similarly, the Eagle medal itself underwent major revision. The shape and detail of the bird were greatly improved and the back was made flat instead of feathered. The letters "BSA", however, were still left off the front.

In the early 1960's the requirements for all Scouting's ranks underwent another major revision, and Eagle was no exception. By 1963, with over 27,000 Eagles awarded that year, the Eagle requirements became more specific, and less options were offered.

The Improved Scouting Program of the early 1970's was, in many ways, a reaction to the changes undergone by our society in the preceding decades. The aim was to make the Scouting movement including its highest rank, more relevant and meaningful in a modern world. As presented in the first issues of the eighth edition of the Scout Handbook, printed in 1972, the Eagle rank now requires 21 merit badges-the first increase since 1912 when the initial Eagle badge was awarded.

Throughout the years that the Eagle award has been the topmost achievement in Scouting's advancement program, over 1,000,000 boys and men have earned the right to wear the badge. Many changes have been seen in the requirements for the award, the procedures for earning it, and even the shape and design of the badge. One thing has remained constant, however, and that is the quality of the character the award represents. Wearers of the badge bear the mark of their achievement for the rest of their lives.

Being an Eagle Scout

For the vast majority of boy scouts, reaching Eagle Scout is more than simply reaching a final rank. It's the end of the trail established by Scouting, a symbol that you have persevered and completed the path which you had first set foot on many years ago.

It should be noted that only about 2% of all Boy Scouts manage to make Eagle Rank. For the Scout and his parents, this becomes a considerable achievement. Often on the same level as high school graduation, if not slightly above.

There are generally two types of scouts who make Eagle. Those who apply themselves early on in life, working hard and completing the requirements (it takes a minimum of sixteen months) as fast as possible. The youngest Eagle Scout I've ever heard of earned his rank at the age of 12.

The second type of Eagle Scout is the high school student who has only a few months until his eighteenth birthday (Boy Scouts are no longer scouts at the age of eighteen). This is the student who has, for some reason or another, procrastinated and now must rush in a bit of a huff to get his work done. I find myself among the second type, and generally consider the experience to be more meaningful when you reach this rank at an older age.

Reaching Eagle Rank is not easy. In addition to completing twenty-one merit badges (three of which require three month commitments), you must rise in the ranks of Scouting. The higher ranks require you to be active in positions of leadership, and the potential Eagle Scout must also complete a service project. In my troop, the requirement was a total of 100 recorded man-hours of service, twenty of which must have been my own. Other troops have varying requirements.

Ultimately this endeavor is extremely difficult, and parents become a universal motivating factor, but the end resut is usually extremely rewarding for the Scout. But reaching Eagle does not present fame or fortune. Instead, an Eagle Scout finds the reward within himself. He's changed.

Scouting has instilled in me a sense of honor and duty, values which are exemplified in the Scout Oath, Motto, Law, and Slogan. Friends can count on me to be there when they need me, and I can count on myself to retain the pride and honor which I expect to keep me on the right path for the rest of my life.

Ultimately, the Eagle Rank is a reflection of the individual scout. It's not a doorway to success, nor is it merely something to put on your college resume to impress people. It's a rank earned through effort, discipline, and perseverance. A sign that the man you are looking at is composed of considerable virtues, and is an exceptional individual.

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