Continuity Of The Eagle

Chuch May Scoutmaster's Minute

Brian Buschman's Eagle Ceremony

January 1994

Definition of Eagle: (1) Large bird of prey with broad wings, long hooked beak; (2) Score of 2 under par on a golf hole.

I've been thinking for some time about why Eagle is such a prestigous award. There are many worthy organizations for youth, most of which have some "top" achievement. Why does Eagle stand out from the comparable Gold Badge of Girl Scouts, or the top accomplishments of 4-H or YMCA, or even of school or sports activities?

I think that a lot has to do with the continuity of the Eagle. The badge that we pinned on Brian this afternoon is basically the same as that awarded to Arthur Eldred in 1912. And, remarkably, the requirements were almost the same. In the early 1920s, the requirements were:

1. Maintain active service

2. Actually put into practice in his daily life the ideals and principals of the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Daily Good Turn

2. 21 merit badges, including: First Aid, Live Saving, Personal Health, Public Health, Cooking, Camping, Civics, Bird Study, Path finding, Pioneering, Athletics or Physical Development

3. Make an effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability

There were some differences - the required merit badges included Cooking, Bird Study, and Pioneering. The optional list included Animal Husbandry (your goat keeping experience would have qualified), Automobiling, Hog and Pork Production, and Nut Culture (I think I had better leave that one alone). But these changes simply reflect the changes in our culture and our way of life - not changes in the importance of character, leadership, and initiative.

Of all the characteristics of an Eagle, it seems like initiative is one of the hardest to come by. It is possible, if you are active in the Troop, to wake up one morning and find that you have met all the requirements for Second Class. But not for Eagle.

Almost every Eagle I have interviewed has said that, at some point, he made a decision to become an Eagle. Notice that I didn't say that he just drifted into it, or that his parents, family, or friends made the decision. If you have not made the decision, it will not happen. For Brian, you heard that it happened while Jeff York was giving Dave May his Eagle Charge. Jordan said it happened seemingly on the day he joined the Troop. For Dave, it was at the Eagle Ceremony of Lee Howard of Troop 1097.

Once you decide to become an Eagle, the accomplishment becomes your responsibility. For many of you, the trail to Eagle will be one of your first lessons in the need to take personal responsibility for your own progress. There will be plenty of help available for the asking, but you must be the driving force. Otherwise you will not make the commitment, or order your priorities to accomplish this goal.

This is a sheep shank. It is a good knot for shortening rope without cutting it. It has a major drawback though - it only works on a taut rope - it doesn't work well when the pressure is off. Many of us are like that. We need to keep focused on our goals, keep the pressure on ourselves. Brian was like that. He didn't go through peaks and valleys - he just maintained an even strain and quietly went about meeting his goal. If you don't test yourself like this, you could become a pigeon scout. You know what pigeons are like - in bad weather they huddle up under the eaves of buildings, safe dry and comfortable but never accomplishing anything. Or you can challenge yourself, exposing yourself to the elements but in the process learning to soar on Eagle's wings.

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Chuck May, 1996

ChuckMay@may-engineering.com

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