A Great Source for Court of Honor Backdrops

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Courts of honor these days typically include a slideshow chronicling the honoree’s time in Scouting. That means setting up a projection screen, of course, a screen that will be blank during most of the ceremony.

Fortunately, it’s simple to create a slide like the one shown here that you can keep on the screen whenever you’re not showing a video or other images. And thanks to a growing number of websites that offer free, high-quality, royalty-free images, you can create a great-looking slide for zero dollars and without violating anyone’s copyright.

The bald-eagle image I’ve used here is from my new favorite site for free images, Pexels. Most, if not all, the images on the site are offered at with the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means:

  • The pictures are free for both personal and commercial use.
  • You can modify, copy, and distribute the photos without limitation.
  • You don’t have to ask permission, credit the photographer, or link back to the source.

(There are a few restrictions, such as making sure a photo that shows a recognizable person doesn’t make that person appear in a bad light.)

Of course, once you’ve found an image you like, you’ll probably think of other ways to use it, such as on invitations or programs or on signs that help people find their way to the auditorium where the ceremony is being held.

Bonus tip: If you’re projecting a static image from a laptop for a long time, be sure to disable any popup notifications, screen savers, or energy-saving features that dim the screen after a short period of inactivity. Otherwise, your slide will draw plenty of attention–just not the kind you envisioned!


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.

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Cupcakes in the Parking Lot

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I did an interview this week for an upcoming Eagles’ Call profile and heard an interesting story. The man I was interviewing was home-schooled, started taking community classes at age 15, and had his Eagle board of review the night before he moved away to attend a four-year college. When he emerged from his board of review (held out of town at the council service center), his three best friends from Scouting were there with cupcakes, and they held an impromptu Eagle court of honor.

Now, many Scouters would say that was the wrong thing to do: his paperwork hadn’t been submitted to the national office, his parents and Scout leaders weren’t involved, and there was none of the pomp and circumstance that most Eagle courts of honor feature. (And those Scouts certainly didn’t buy a copy of my book, The Eagle Court of Honor Book!)

But this new Eagle Scout got just the sort of ceremony he wanted. He was not interested in being in the spotlight, and besides he had already shifted to college mode. A good alternative might have been to do a ceremony when he was home for the holidays (something like the College and Career ceremony in The Eagle Court of Honor Book), but that’s not what happened.

My point here is not that you should do the same sort of thing with your next Eagle Scout. My point is that you should think about his unique situation, personality, and preferences before you set a date and write a script. Make the ceremony fit the Scout–whatever that ends up looking like–and he’ll still be talking fondly about it 14 years later like the man I interviewed this week.


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.

Sister (and Brother) Acts at Eagle Courts of Honor

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A reader of The Eagle Court of Honor Book asked me this week how to involve her honoree’s Cub Scout brother in his ceremony. I suggested he could serve as the Scout equivalent of a ring-bearer, as I discussed in an earlier post.

Her email sent me back to my tip archive (which dates to 1999) for other ideas about including, or at least recognizing, siblings. One great idea came from a reader who was worried that her son’s little sister would be jealous of all the attention he was getting on his big day.

She told me her son solved this problem by presenting his little sister with a small rose corsage, similar to the ones often worn by Eagle moms. As that mom explained, the cost was minimal (under $5), but “the look of delight on our daughter’s face when her big brother presented this corsage to her before the ceremony was priceless. She knew that even though this was his big day, he was thinking about her.”

Rose corsages wouldn’t work for little brothers, but with a little imagination, you can come up with something to present to them. A Scout lapel pin backed with a small piece of red, white, and blue ribbon would be appropriate, for example, or the new Eagle might present his nine-year-old brother with his very own Boy Scout handbook.

How do you recognize siblings at Eagle courts of honors? Post your thoughts in the comments section on the blog.


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 20-Cent Court-of-Honor Treasure

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These days, technology has made it easier (and cheaper) than ever to include a slide show in a court of honor. The hardest part, in fact, is sorting through hundreds of images to find those that chronicle the honoree’s growth in Scouting. During the sorting process, of course, you’re likely to find far more pictures than the two or three dozen you’re likely to use in the ceremony. After all, you don’t want the slide show portion of the show to balloon out of control. (If you’ve ever sat through a relative’s marathon showing of vacation pictures, you know how easily that can happen.)

I recommend burning all the relevant pictures you find onto a CD and presenting it to the honoree. One of my readers named Hal Smith did just that several years ago for his son’s best friend. The CD he created contained about 200 photos (culled from a collection of more than 7,000–yikes!) and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by the new Eagle Scout for years to come.

But the best thing about the CD, Hal said, was that the Scout’s mother got to share it with her terminally ill father before his death. Looking at the photos together allowed them to talk about happier times and not dwell on thoughts of cancer and loss. Not bad for a 20-cent piece of plastic.


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.

How Eagle Scouts Can Pay It Forward

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One of the most popular exhibits at this summer’s National Jamboree was the National Eagle Scout Association tent. And one of the neatest activities that happened there was the distribution of Future Eagle Scout pins. Over the course of the Jamboree, staff members distributed 2,000 of the pins, issuing a challenge to each recipient to become an Eagle Scout. (There’s no doubt the coins work; several Scouts who’d received similar coins at the 2013 Jamboree came back this summer to show off their Eagle Scout patches.)

So what’s the connection with Eagle courts of honor? Your next honoree could have a similar, albeit smaller, impact on the younger Scouts in attendance.

Several years ago, I heard from a mom whose son handed out Scout Oath and Scout Law pocket coins to his troop’s newest members during his ceremony. As he did so, he said, “My Scouting journey is complete and yours is just beginning; keep this coin with you always to remember to live by the Scout Oath.”

The new Scouts were excited to be part of the ceremony and to receive their coins. The group picture taken that day will doubtless reappear when some of those boys step forward to receive their Eagle Scout badges.

How does your troop involve younger Scouts in Eagle courts of honor? Post your comments 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.

Catholic Committee Honors New Eagle Scouts

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Like many faith groups, the Roman Catholic Church strongly supports Scouting. In fact, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting is among the strongest organizations of its kind.

Among the many things the committee does is present certificates to new Eagle Scouts. The best way to get started is to contact your diocesan chair or chaplain. If you’re not sure who that person is, the NCCS website has a handy locator feature. Just enter your ZIP code at http://www.nccs-bsa.org/index.php/locate-me to find contact information. (I checked several ZIP codes and found email addresses and phone numbers for both chairs and chaplains, as well as contact information for the local diocese.)

For more information on certificates and congratulatory letters–including how to incorporate them into a court of honor–order a copy of The Eagle Court of Honor Book. It includes a sample request letter, as well as detailed information about how to present what you receive. You’ll also find lots of information on my blog; just enter “congratulatory letter” in the search box.


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.

Going to the Mat with Eagle Court of Honor Certificates

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Many Eagle Scouts end up with more certificates, letters, and plaques than they know what to do with. There’s the official Eagle Scout certificate, of course, and hopefully a NESA certificate and one of my Eagle Mountain Certificates. And then there are the certificates sent by various public officials and branches of the military, many of which will eventually end up with a scrapbook.

Displaying all these recognition items at the court of honor can be a problem—or an expensive proposition if you decide to frame them all. Of course, you can wave them around during the ceremony, but only people in the front few rows will be able to see what they say.

One of my readers found a simple solution. She bought ready-made mats at Walmart for $3.97 and matted (but didn’t frame) the certificates her son had received. She then set the certificates up on brass plate stands, which she found for $1.00. (Don’t tell that reader, but you can find mats online for $1.00 or less at sites like wholesaleartframes.com.)

This is an impressive and inexpensive way to display certificates, and it lets you later put those certificates in a scrapbook or frame them if you prefer. In fact, you could reuse the mats and stands for future courts of honor.


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.