Although I generally prefer Eagle courts of honor that feature just one, two, or maybe three honorees, I’ve twice had occasion to plan courts of honor that featured six Eagle Scouts. That’s a good problem to have–the world needs more Eagle Scouts–but it’s a problem nonetheless. I’ll never forget the two-Eagle ceremony I attended where a presenter read both sets of congratulatory letters–even though the words were identical. I can only imagine what that troop would have done with six honorees!
How in the world can you personalize a multi-Scout ceremony and give each new Eagle Scout the recognition he deserves without the event running for two hours? Remember: The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure.
The process is actually fairly easy. Remember that many elements of the ceremony aren’t specific to the honorees, including the opening, the closing, and elements like a Scout Law candle ceremony or guest speaker. The parts you need to be concerned about are typically the review of the honorees’ Scouting histories, their personal statements, and the presentation of their badges. And you can handle those efficiently without shortchanging the recipients.
Here’s a basic outline for those parts that I like to use:
- Someone introduces honoree 1 and tells his Scouting history. (This could be done with a narrative slide show, for example.)
- The honor guard escorts honoree 1 to the stage.
- Honoree 1 gives a personal statement and then sits down on the stage.
- You repeat the above steps with honoree 2 (and honoree 3, etc.).
- The honor guard escorts all the parents to the stage. (You may need an honor guard for each family.)
- You go through the standard presentation phase, presenting the badges, mother’s pins, etc., simultaneously. (The presenter will definitely need some help distribute all those recognition items.)
The first time I used this method, we developed a 250-word bio of each honoree. During step 1, a narrator would read the current honoree’s bio while 10 photos showing his growth from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout appeared on a screen above the stage. (The self-imposed limits on words and pictures brought much-needed focus to a section of the ceremony that can often drag on forever.) If you feel 10 photos is not enough, you could always create a longer slide show that mixes photos from all your honorees–most of whom will probably ended up appearing in each other’s pictures.
And the congratulatory letters? I’m not sure I would even read them.
For more ideas, see my post on sending invitations for multi-Scout courts of honor. And for a slew of other ideas, check out my new ebook, Showtime: 45 Top Tips from EagleBook.com and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download.