I recently began a series of blog posts on support jobs for Eagle courts of honor. These are the behind-the-scenes tasks that are less visible than, but nearly as important as, planning and running the ceremony itself. This week: the congratulatory letter coordinator.
One popular court-of-honor tradition is to have someone read aloud excerpts from congratulatory letters the honoree has received. The reading often starts with a letter from the mayor and culminates with a letter from the President of the United States; interspersed might be letters from religious leaders, sports heroes, movie stars, or other famous people.
Many public figures have standard letters that they’re happy to send out to new Eagle Scouts; others will send proclamations or certificates. As the congratulatory letter coordinator, your job is to solicit these letters and mementos, which means you have to compile a list, find addresses, prepare letters, and send them out in time for the court of honor.
Like everything else about the court of honor, however, you should customize the list for the honoree. If he’s a lifelong Presbyterian who cares little for sports, don’t request letters from the local Catholic archbishop or the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, seek out people who are meaningful in his life. And don’t leave out people who may be celebrities only in the new Eagle’s eyes, such as an out-of-town grandparent who can’t attend the court of honor. These personal letters are more meaningful than the canned responses celebrities send.
There are a few pointers you should keep in mind when requesting letters. First, you’ll probably get better results if you explicitly ask for a congratulatory letter instead of just sending an invitation. (This may also reduce the number of letters that begin with “I’m sorry that my schedule does not permit me to be with you on this special occasion.”) See the sample letter below. Second, consider enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope, especially when writing to people who likely can’t afford to send out hundreds of letters a year. Finally, send your requests as soon as possible after the board of review to ensure that the letters arrive in time for the court of honor.
When the letters arrive, make photocopies of them and put the originals in a binder or scrapbook. (If they come in various sizes, an expanding cardstock wallet from an office-supply store is a good option.) Then, go through the photocopies and highlight those sections that you want to read at the court of honor. A little careful editing can greatly increase the impact of reading the letters.
The Eagle Court of Honor Book offers a sample request letter, as well as detailed information about six other support jobs.
For more great 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 from both EagleBook.com and Amazon.com.