Memorabilia Memories

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To make an Eagle court of honor more interesting for all age groups, Susan Terberg’s troop decorated the foyer of their church with different types of memorabilia. Here’s what they included:

  • A campsite with tent, sleeping bags, backpack, boots, postcards, and lantern (not the one shown in the photo above!)
  • A huge bear looking in the window
  • A laptop computer (set up in a continuous loop) showing photos taken on the new Eagles’ trip to Philmont Scout Ranch
  • Tables with scrapbooks and memorabilia from each of the boy’s Scout lives
  • A quilt, made by one of the proud mothers, that displayed patches from past ranks
  • And a patch collection with an outdoor camping theme

Such displays not only add interest, they also personalize the ceremony and show non-Scouting audience members (grandparents, teachers, school friends, etc.) what being an Eagle Scout is all about.

What do you do at your courts of honor besides the ceremony itself? Post your ideas in the comments section below.


For more great ideas, check out my 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.

Breadcrumbs and Badges

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In his book Lessons from the ‘Varsity of Life, Robert Baden-Powell gave a great explanation of how Scouting should not be marketed: “Had we called it what it was, viz, a ‘Society for the Propagation of Moral Attributes,’ the boy would not exactly have rushed for it. But to call it Scouting and give him the chance to become an embryo Scout was quite another pair of shoes.”

A cynic might have accused Baden-Powell of a world-class bait-and-switch scheme, but there’s no question that the best way to get young people into Scouting is to sell the sizzle.

Another way to look at this is to imagine that we as Scouters are trying to get our Scouts to follow an invisible path toward a faraway destination called adulthood. To keep them moving along the path, we scatter breadcrumbs called badges, which offer interim targets along the way. (In some cases, the biggest breadcrumb–the Eagle Scout Award–lies right at the end of the path, but that’s not necessarily the case.)

Carrying the analogy a bit farther (hopefully not to the breaking point!), all breadcrumbs are not created equal. What motivates one Scout to move a few yards down the trail may not hold the slightest interest for another Scout. So while much of our focus should necessarily be on the ranks and merit badges, we should remember that some Scouts will be more motivated by the Hornaday Awards … or the Supernova Awards … or the BSA Lifeguard patch … or a matched set of religious emblems. And there are many smaller awards, like the recently updated World Conservation Award, that you can scatter on the path when other breadcrumbs seem few and far between.

The key is to remember that Scouting’s goal is to propagate moral values–or, in the words of the BSA mission statement, “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”. One of the best ways to do that is to spread breadcrumbs along the trail and to encourage our Scouts to follow them.

Free Software for Your Next Eagle Court of Honor

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All the folks lined up at the shopping malls this Christmas season haven’t gotten the message, but the best things in life are free–things like love, peace, joy, and computer software.

Okay, the best computer software may not be free, but you can save both money and aggravation by using my favorite free graphics program at your next court of honor. Called IrfanView, this free* program makes it incredibly easy to generate a slideshow for the ceremony or (perhaps more appropriately) for the reception.

I’ve used IrfanView as a graphics editor for years–doing things like resizing large images–but a friend recently pointed out its slideshow feature. Here’s how it works: You import a group of photos into the program, choose the order and switching interval, and click Start Slideshow (or export the slideshow as a executable file). That’s it!

That’s also about all the control the program offers. There are no fancy dissolves or synchronized soundtracks, but I can’t think of an easier way to turn a laptop into a digital picture frame at your next court of honor reception.

What tricks have you found to create great slideshows or videos? Post your ideas in the comments section below.

* IrfanView is free to download, but it’s technically shareware. Click the Support IrvanView link to make a donation to the author. The suggested donation amount is 10 euros–just over $10 at this writing.


For more great ideas, check out my 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.

One of My Books Gets a Facelift–and a Whole Lot More

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What Scouting books have you been reading lately? I’ve been reading The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook. It’s not that I’m overly enamored of my own book–although I am pretty proud of it. Instead, I’ve been preparing a new edition, which features a new cover and runs an extra 16 pages. The new edition also includes extensive updates that reflect changes in BSA policies, advancement requirements, and other recent developments–hence the need to my recent complete read-through. (As an aside, it’s amazing how much has changed in just a few short years. Since my Scouting involvement has never been interrupted, I can only imagine the disorientation experienced by former Scouts who return to the program as adult leaders when their sons get old enough.)

The extra 16 pages represent roughly double that amount of new content, much of it based on posts from this blog. In addition to deleting some sections that were no longer relevant, I’ve moved all the web resource lists to EagleBook.com, where they’ll be easier to update. By the way, I’m always interested in expanding this list, so feel free to send me a link to your favorite Scouting website.

The new edition will be available in print sometime after the first of the year, but you can read it today if you’re technologically inclined. As I’ve done with The Eagle Court of Honor Book, I’m releasing the updated version in a Kindle edition early; it went live on Amazon on December 5. Just click the link for more information.

Thanks for reading my blog and books. All the best to you and your family in this holiday season.

Eagle Projects Than Mean More

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Keiry Vargas (left) Family Readiness Group Leader for the New York National Guard's 369th Sustainment Brigade and 369th Sustainment Brigade Rear Detachment members 2nd Lt. Neysia Scot annd Sgt. 1st Class Jaime L. Soto pose with Life Scout James Segriff in front of some of the bikes Seagrift bought, built and donated to the 369th Family Readiness Group on Oct. 30, 2016 at the Manor Road Armory in Staten Island, N.Y. The bikes will go to children of Soldiers from the 369th Sustainment Brigade, which is currently deployed to Kuwait. (U.S. ArmyNational Guard by Staff Sgt. Katie Gray)

Recently, Scouting Newsroom shared the story of a Long Island Scout whose Eagle project involved giving bicycles to the children of deployed military personnel. The kicker: a decade ago, his father had been deployed to Afghanistan and he had received a bicycle in a similar fashion.

That story, which I’ll tell more fully in an upcoming issue of Eagles’ Call magazine, reminds me of several other projects I’ve written about over the years.

One Scout, a former foster child, knew the pain of schlepping his belongings from house to house in a trash bag, so he collected 200 duffel bags for other foster kids in San Diego. A second Scout wanted to honor a childhood friend lost to brain cancer, so he raised $50,000 to create a park fountain in her memory in Winter Park, Fla.. A Houston-area Scout felt the pain inflicted by an arsonist at his mosque, so he replaced a scorched concrete slab with a playground where shrieks of joy, not sirens, now pierce the air.

Those amazing projects–and several others I can think of–happened because the Scouts who led them found causes that were bigger than a badge. They didn’t just want to make Eagle; they wanted to make a difference.

Of course, not every Scout has been touched by tragedy or faced the challenges these young men did. But I’d bet that most Scouts could identify a cause that would make them stretch themselves at least a little, which is the whole point of the Eagle project.

When Scouts have asked me for help in finding a project, I’ve always suggested they think about two questions: “Where do I want to serve?” and “What kind of project do I want to do?” I think there are better questions, however: “What breaks my heart?” and “What am I going to do about it?”

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard by Staff Sgt. Katie Gray. Public domain.)


Are you looking for more tips on how to manage a troop, maintain your sanity, and make a difference? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook today!

When Presentation Matters at Eagle Courts of Honor

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Have you ever been to a wedding where the groom had to dig around in the pocket of his dirty Levi’s for the ring–and where he eventually found it tucked away in his snuff can for safekeeping? Probably not, but you can imagine the scene. Now, contrast that with a wedding where a tuxedoed ring bearer carries in the ring on a plush velvet pillow to the sound of soaring organ music. Creates quite a different impression, doesn’t it?

How you handle the Eagle badge during a court of honor can make a similar positive–or negative–impression. Imagine, for example, having a Scout carry the Eagle badge (and mother’s pin, etc.) in on a tray or pillow as part of the opening ceremony.

Years ago, the BSA sold a booklet called “Emblems of the Boy Scouts of America in Counted Cross Stitch” that many troop moms (and probably a few troop dads) used to craft elegant presentation pillows. While the book has long been out of print, copies occasionally crop up on eBay. But you don’t have to win an eBay auction because you can find the pattern for the Eagle Scout emblem at The Hiker website. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you can create your own cross stitch pattern at Pic2Pat.com.

You can also just use a simple pillow or silver tray. Whatever you do, just don’t carry the Eagle badge in a snuff can!


For more great ideas, check out my 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.

A Court of Honor Scheduling Surprise

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I recently received a rush order for an Eagle Mountain Certificate. When would the ceremony be, I asked? The Saturday after Thanksgiving, the customer said.

I wasn’t surprised, but I’m guessing you may be. Holiday weekends are times when we tend not to do Scouting activities because of travel schedules and conflicts with family time. (That said, I do know of troops that go camping on Thanksgiving weekend and even invite parents and siblings out for a rustic Thanksgiving feast.)

Should your troop hold an Eagle court of honor on a holiday weekend? It really depends on your audience.

In the case of a 17-year-old honoree who’s not well known to the younger members of the troop, a large portion of the audience will probably consist of friends and family, some of whom may live out of town. Getting them to a court of honor on the first Tuesday in December would be a lot more difficult than getting them there on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when they may already be around. On the other hand, if you’re trying to attract active troop families, your ordinary meeting night or the tail end of a holiday weekend might be the better option. (When you think about it, the last day of summer, winter, fall, or spring break can be a great time for a court of honor since many people tend to return a day or two early.)

In The Eagle Court of Honor Book, I quote the familiar Outback Steakhouse slogan, “No Rules. Just Right.” That slogan applies to virtually every aspect of Eagle courts of honor, including when and where they’re held.


For more great ideas, check out my 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.