Precedents and Eagle Courts of Honor


The other day, I heard from a reader of The Eagle Court of Honor Book who was getting ready for her son’s court of honor. She asked my thoughts on having a dinner after his court of honor, which I think can be a good idea, as I’ve discussed previously.

She also mentioned that her son’s court of honor would be the troop’s first, which led me to offer some unsolicited advice that I thought I’d share here:

Since this will be the troop’s first Eagle court of honor, everything you do is going to set a precedent. You don’t need to overthink this, but it might be helpful to talk about what the family is responsible for planning and paying for and what the troop is responsible for planning and paying for. When I was Scoutmaster, for example, our troop planned and paid for the ceremony and a basic cake-and-punch reception; if the family wanted to do a dinner or make the reception fancier, for example, they knew that was their responsibility. A system like that ensures that every Scout gets at least the basic “package”; at the same time, it allows families who want to do more to do so without forcing families who don’t have the resources (time and/or money) to do more than they’re capable of.

Whenever I think about precedents, I’m reminded of George Washington, who was keenly aware that everything he did as president would set a precedent. He insisted on being called “Mr. President”–not “His Elective Majesty,” “His Mightiness,” or even “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and the Protector of their Liberties,” as Vice President John Adams suggested–and that title is still used today. His decision to step down after two terms set a precedent that lasted all the way until Franklin Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president ran for a third (and then a fourth) term.

Now, you probably don’t need to worry about setting a precedent that will last 144 years. But you should think about how what you do at your next court of honor will affect the ones your troop holds next year.

For more great ideas, check out my ebook, Showtime: 45 Top Tips from and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both and


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