People often compare Eagle courts of honor with weddings, and there are a lot of parallels. For example, both involve formal ceremonies followed by informal receptions, both must balance the interests of their principal participants with those participants’ parents, and both involve sending out invitations and (let’s hope) thank-you notes.
There’s another parallel that I think is appropriate: the event should be age appropriate.
What do I mean by that? Let’s start with weddings. If a young woman gets married at, say, 25, it’s fair to expect the standard wedding and reception: a formal ceremony, a large venue, the father giving his daughter away, the bride tossing the bouquet, etc. If a woman gets married at, say, 45, some of those elements start to make less sense.
Similarly, an Eagle court of honor for a 17-year-old will often talk a lot about the honoree heading out into the larger world and how he should live as an Eagle Scout. But if a court of honor is delayed for a year or two and the honoree is already in college or the military, that emphasis doesn’t make as much sense.
Several years back, our troop did a court of honor for just such a Scout. Since starting college, Brian had participated in numerous mission projects, including a trip to Africa. So his court of honor became less an awards ceremony and more a celebration of a life of service made possible in part by Scouting. The audience also skewed more toward family and friends than current troop members.
In The Eagle Court of Honor Book, I talk about fitting the ceremony to the Scout. One way to do that—as we did with Brian—is to make sure the ceremony is age appropriate.
And be sure to let your older honorees in on the secret. I’d hate for a young man to never have an Eagle court of honor because he thought it would be just like all the ones he’d been to back when he was a teenager.