Once upon a time, the Eagle Scout badge was accompanied in the Eagle Scout Award Kit by a pocket patch and two other items: the mother’s pin and the father’s tie tack, which has now been replaced by the father’s pin–since relatively few dads dress up for Eagle courts of honor, or else show up in uniform. (Note that the tie tack is still available for those who prefer that option.)
Then came the mentor pin, which the new Eagle Scout was encouraged to present to an adult who played an important role in his journey along the trail to Eagle. Of course, many Eagle Scouts can think of at least two men or women deserving of a mentor pin, so the BSA soon made additional mentor pins available.
More recently, BSA Supply has introduced the Eagle Scout Grandparent Pin, designed “to be worn with pride by the grandparents of an Eagle Scout.” Given that many grandparents these days play a key role in their grandsons’ development, that addition only makes sense.
But this plethora of pins begs a question: How and when should they be given out?
To me, that really depends on the Scout and his unique circumstances. What I like to do with mentor pins is have the Scout at the end of his personal statement call up the individuals he wants to recognize, tell why he chose them, and present them with their pins. With the grandparent pins, I would have him present those at the end of the presentation phase (after he’s received his badge and presented his parents’ their pins). The emcee could say something like this: “Johnny is fortunate to have two of his grandparents, Bob Smith and Jane Jones, here today to celebrate with them. At this time, would they could forward to receive grandparent pins.”
The main thing is to remember that the highlight of any Eagle court of honor should be the presentation of the Eagle badge. Calling up four grandparents and half a dozen mentors can detract from that moment and–because of sheer volume–cheapen the meaning of each of those pins.
What’s more, there’s no reason all those pins have to be presented during the court of honor. In fact, it might be more powerful if the Scout were to meet his mentor for coffee and present her with a mentor pin or mail a grandparent pin to his granddad across the country along with a personal note.
In short, the sincerity is more important than the setting.
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.