If you’ve been in Scouting very long, you know that some Scouts (and their parents) think that becoming an Eagle Scout equals graduation from Scouting. That may not seem like a big deal when a new Eagle Scout is turning 18 and will soon go off to college or the military, but it’s a huge deal if he’s 14 or 15. Someone who “Eagles out”–a term I despise–at that age deprives his troop of his leadership and experience and deprives himself of the fun of being in Scouting without the pressure to advance. (I became an Eagle Scout at age 16, and I know enjoyed the next couple of years a lot more than the previous five.)
Unfortunately, many Scouters seem to think that “Eagling out” is a given. Some even try to tap the brakes on advancement so Scouts don’t reach the rank of Eagle until they’re about to turn 18.
You can’t control what a young man does after he becomes an Eagle Scout, of course, but you can do things to encourage his continued involvement in Scouting. For one thing, his court of honor should make it very clear that his Eagle trail is just beginning. A good place to make the point is in the Eagle Scout charge; see the examples in The Eagle Court of Honor Book for some ideas.
But keep in mind that actions speak louder than words. Imagine what might happen, for example, if you installed your new Eagle Scout as an assistant Scoutmaster or junior assistant Scoutmaster (depending on his age) at his court of honor. Or gave him a new camp chair instead of a plaque or neckerchief. Or recruited him to lead next summer’s high-adventure trip during his Scoutmaster conference. Or used troop funds to enroll him in the National Eagle Scout Association.
Actions like these might go a long way toward encouraging him to stay involved in the months and years to come. Perhaps instead of “Eagling out,” he would “Eagle up.”