What if you threw a court of honor and nobody came? While that’s not likely to happen, the reality is that getting people to Eagle courts of honor can be challenging. People today lead incredibly busy lives, these one-off events are typically held at times and/or locations that troop families aren’t accustomed to, and troop families may have little incentive to attend, especially if they don’t know the honoree well. (A 17-year-old who hasn’t been active in a role like senior patrol leader may be a veritable stranger to many Scouts and parents.)
But all hope is not lost. There are plenty of things you can do to boost attendance. Here are some of my favorites:
- Send actual, mailed invitations to all troop families. It’s a good idea to supplement your invitations with meeting announcements, newsletter notices, etc., but take the time to mail real invitations.
- Include Scouts in the ceremony. From flag ceremonies to candle ceremonies to ushering to sharing anecdotes, you can easily include 15 Scouts in every ceremony. If you include 15 Scouts and each brings a parent, you have a base of 30 audience members to begin with. (See The Eagle Court of Honor Book for more ideas on assigning ceremony roles.)
- Simplify scheduling. Rather than hold your court of honor at an unusual time or unfamiliar location, hold it instead of a regular troop meeting at your regular location. Or use the same location on a different night.
- Offer food. Food is always a draw for Scouts, of course. Instead of having a basic reception, however, consider a troop potluck dinner or cookout before or after the court of honor.
- Double your impact. Combine the court of honor with another troop function. Many troops present Eagle badges at the end of regular troop courts of honor (such as a winter or spring court of honor when the number of badges is small). You could also pair your court of honor with a summer camp meeting, a parent orientation, or other activity. If you’ll be camping near home one weekend, consider holding the court of honor at your camping location at the end of the trip. Parents could come for the court of honor and then take their Scouts home.
What other ideas do you have for boosting Scout attendance at Eagle courts of honor? The comments section is open.