Despite what various websites claim, Abraham Lincoln probably did not say, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” (Details are here.) That doesn’t mean whoever did say that was wrong, however. In fact, the wisdom definitely applies to Eagle courts of honor. You’ll probably spend at least twice as much time planning a court of honor as you will spend during the event itself.
Part of that time would be well spent (shameless plug) in reading The Eagle Court of Honor Book. But it’s also a good idea to spend a little of that time attending an Eagle ceremony at another troop. Sitting in the audience at a court of honor in an unfamiliar setting is a great way to get a feel for what works, what doesn’t work, and what you would like to replicate in your own ceremony.
I went to a friend’s son’s court of honor recently and jotted down at least half a dozen good ideas and lessons learned. And I’ve been writing about courts of honor since 1996! If you’ve only been to your own troop’s courts of honor or–like some Eagle parents I’ve talked to–never attended a single court of honor, you should come home with even more ideas. (Be sure to carry a notepad and pen.)
So how can you find a ceremony to attend? Check with your district executive, district commissioner, and/or unit commissioner. At least one of them probably gets invited to every court of honor in your district.