What’s Behind Door Number 12?


My troop meets at a big church. It’s not a megachurch by any means, but people have been known to lose their way down some its many hallways.

To help people navigate better, the church recently installed large numbers next to each of the building’s 12 entrances. Those numbers are designed primarily for first-responders, but they’ll undoubtedly prove helpful to people delivering pizza to the youth group, to friends trying to connect before a Christmas concert, and to anyone else who’s unfamiliar with the building–including people attending Eagle courts of honor held there.

Although most people who attend Eagle courts of honor are the usual suspects (troop members and their families), your invitation list should be much broader. As I discuss in The Eagle Court of Honor Book, you or the family should invite the honoree’s school friends, members of his extended family, representatives of the organization that benefited from his project and anyone else you can think of who would want to help celebrate his accomplishment. Many, if not most, of those people won’t know whether the court of honor is behind door number 1, 2, or 12, which means your invitations need to be as specific as possible.

This is not just an issue when the building you’re using is as large as ours. Even in a small building, you’ll want to direct people to the best entrance, taking into consideration which doors will be unlocked on the day of the ceremony and where stairs might cause a problem for those with mobility issues. Even if you love hiking as much as I do, you shouldn’t make your guests take a hike before settling in to enjoy your court of honor!

What? You don’t have a copy of The Eagle Court of Honor Book yet? Click the title to order one now in either print or Kindle format. When you do, I think you’ll agree with the reader who said, “The information is insightful and a welcome addition for our parents preparing for their sons’ ceremony. It is well organized and easy to follow. It flows like a river.”


The Question of Court of Honor Gifts


I recently came home from a beach vacation with my family. We had a great time, in part because of the service provided by those who hauled our luggage, served us in restaurants, and cleaned the house we were renting. Of course, we did our best to provide appropriate tips, even though we weren’t always sure when tips were appropriate.

You’ve probably been in similar situations. You know you should tip your restaurant server. But what about the cashier at a quick-service restaurant? (There’s a tip jar by the cash register, after all.) What about tour guides? What about tram drivers? What about valet parking attendants (assuming they don’t dent your car!)? There are plenty of gray areas where most people struggle with knowing how to apply the rules of etiquette.

The same is true for gift-giving. Everybody (hopefully) knows to bring a gift to a wedding. But what about an anniversary party?

And what about an Eagle court of honor?

Gifts are nice but certainly not required. But do the people you’re inviting to your next court of honor know that? Will someone be embarrassed because she’s the only person to bring a gift or–perhaps worse–will someone skip the ceremony because he isn’t sure what’s appropriate?

I think the best way to resolve this dilemma is to address it up front. Simply include language like this with the invitation:

  • No gifts, please. Your presence is a gift.


  • Bobby requests any gifts go to the Metropolitan Food Bank, the beneficiary of his Eagle Scout project.

People coming to courts of honor have plenty of questions to consider–what to wear, where to park, how long the ceremony will last. Don’t make them also wonder and worry about the question of gifts.

For more 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.

Under the Wings of Eagles


The purpose of Eagle Scout courts of honor is obviously to honor new Eagle Scouts, but the best courts of honor do more than that. They also recognize those who have helped the honoree along the trail to Eagle–and give a nod to those who will follow in his footsteps.

That last part happened in a very cool ceremony one of my readers told me about.

At a court of honor he attended, two Webelos Scouts participated in the ceremony. These boys served as Eagle rank bearers, similar to ring bearers in a wedding, bringing the Eagle badge forward at the appropriate moment.

That was impressive, but what really impressed my correspondent was what the new Eagle Scout said during the ceremony. He explained that when he had been a Cub Scout, his den chief had been an Eagle Scout and had encouraged, guided, and coached him throughout his Scouting career. In the same spirit, he was taking these Webelos Scouts under his wing and including them in his court of honor. He challenged the Eagle Scouts following him to do the same thing.

I’m sure the audience was impressed that this Scout would think of other people during his moment in the spotlight. I’m also sure that those two Webelos Scouts got a huge boost from participating in the ceremony.

How can you make sure your next court of honor celebrates more than the honoree?

For more 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.

The Legend of the Rose


Reader Jodi Brady shared one of her troop’s traditions with me recently, and I’d like to pass it on to you.

Near the end of each Eagle court of honor, the Scoutmaster reads the Legend of the Rose while the new Eagle Scout presents his mother with seven red roses in a vase. So what’s this legend of which I speak? Here’s the text Brady’s troop uses:

Throughout Scouting’s history, the rose has been associated with the presentation of the Eagle.

The path of a boy from Scout to Eagle is long and often times hard. He does not travel the “Trail To Eagle” alone. Many people have been involved with him in his process.

There is one person in particular that is honored in addition to the Eagle Scout. That person is his mother.

From that first overnight campout to the pinning on of his Eagle, she has shared the adventures of Scouting with her son in a special way.

With her guidance and encouragement, she has helped her son achieve a goal many fail to reach.

She has watched her son mature from a young boy to a young man with a purpose to his life.

She has been there to share his excitement of camping and hiking with his brother Scouts. She has washed load after load of dirty clothes brought home from camping trips. Most important of all, she has been there for her son when the going got rough and spirits low, as only a mother can. Her love has been an important ingredient in her son’s achievement.

We honor her today with the presentation of seven red roses, each rose a symbol of rank in the seven ranks of Scouting.

I love that tradition, and I love how Brady’s troop has modified it to fit particular situations. For example, Brady herself was a single mom for many years, so her husband (the Scoutmaster) gave her 12 roses to represent the years she and her son had done Scouting together.

That tweak brings up an important point about traditions: You should modify them–or break them altogether–if they aren’t effective. I can envision all sorts of situations where the Legend of the Rose might feel more like a fairytale. But if the words fit, use them. And don’t forget to stop by the flower shop on the way to the court of honor!

For more 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.

Anecdotes at Eagle Courts of Honor, Part 2


Recently I posted ideas for developing anecdotes to share at Eagle courts of honor. As I said in that post, effective anecdotes can help you create a compelling, 3-D portrait of your honoree, showing that he’s more than a sum of badges earned and service projects completed.

The ideas in that post are useful if you’re the one telling the anecdote. But what if you’re the ceremony planner or master of ceremonies? Besides sharing that post with people you invite (or grudgingly allow!) to speak, what else can you do?

The first thing to do is lay down clear ground rules. Don’t just have an open-mic session where anyone can come up and say anything they want. Instead, encourage–or require–each speaker to write at least an outline of the story they want to tell. And keep the emphasis on the story; someone who can’t settle on a single story will likely tell one pretty good story and two that are pretty pointless.

If you worry about longwindeness, give people a time limit. In terms of word count, speakers generally talk at a speed of 125 or 150 words per minute, a rule of thumb that can help people plan their remarks.

If you are selecting speakers ahead of time, consider asking each of them to cover one particular aspect of the Scout’s life, such as his days as a new Scout, his experience at Philmont, his service as senior patrol leader, and his Eagle project. By assigning topics, you ensure that the stories won’t overlap.

If you offer an open-mic opportunity, consider limiting the total number of speakers. It’s a good idea to announce at the start of the ceremony that people will have the opportunity to tell stories so they can think ahead. And it’s definitely a good idea for the emcee to hover nearby as people speak, making it easier to subtly cut them off if they get long-winded.

Finally, consider creating a memory box or album where guests who don’t want to speak during the ceremony can write their stories. Some people are more comfortable sharing their memories this way–and the stories they tell may well stay with the honoree longer.

For more 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.


Anecdotes at Eagle Courts of Honor, Part 1


A recent memorial service reflected a fairly long “open mic” segment. As I listened to family and friends share anecdotes, and as I reflected on those anecdotes later, I saw a lot of parallels with the storytelling that often goes on at Eagle courts of honor.

In both cases, the point of an anecdote is to illuminate the life and character of the person being honored. I think anecdotes are especially valuable at courts of honor, because many guests won’t know the honoree very well. Consider, for example, the younger Scouts in the audience who have only known him as senior patrol leader, the relatively uninvolved parents who barely know his name, and the school friends who only know a different side of him. The right anecdotes can help you create a fully realized, three-dimensional portrait of the honoree, showing that he’s far more than the sum of his merit badges, leadership positions, and community service.

So what makes a good anecdote? You can find plenty of advice on the internet (here and here, for example), but let me offer my own anecdote.

Two speakers at that memorial service I attended stood out to me. One told three separate stories, each of which was interesting enough on its own but none of which really illuminated what made the honoree unique. (For example, the departed was a veterinarian, and she talked about how he lovingly he’d cared for her pet, which is something you’d hope any veterinarian would do.) The other woman briefly described how the departed had hired her a few years ago, even though she had been job-hopping and had other issues in her life that would have given him good reason to round-file her application. She then described how he’d kept her on even when, not long after being hired, she got pregnant and needed to have different duties.

That woman’s story, with its singular focus and built-in sequel, said far more about the man than some speakers who talked far longer and knew him better.

What stories can help you create a fully realized, three-dimensional portrait of your newest Eagle Scout?

For more 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.


Grandparent Pins at Eagle Courts of Honor


In case you missed it, one of the newest recognition item for Eagle courts of honor is the Eagle Scout Grandparent Pin. Priced at $6.99, the pin is an affordable way for a new Eagle Scout to recognize key adults in his life, much like the Eagle Scout Mentor Pin does for Scout leaders.

So how do you incorporate these pins into a court of honor? Here’s one option:.Go through the standard presentation process, as I describe in The Eagle Court of Honor Book), where the mom pins on the medal, the Scout pins on the mother’s pin, etc., then say something like this: “We all know it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a very special village to raise a young man like our honoree. Among (Name)’s treasured companions on his Scouting journey—and really on his whole life’s journey—have been his grandparents, (Names). At this time, he will present them with grandparent pins.”

The grandparents can then come forward to receive their pins and a heartfelt hug. You should also mention those grandparents who aren’t able to be at the court of honor because of either death or distance.

One thing to keep in mind is that audience attention tends to wane once the Scout has received his badge. That’s why I recommend keeping the presentation part of the ceremony pretty brief. While it could work to have the honoree say a word about each grandparent (and each mentor), that can get unwieldy. What’s more, his words of thanks might come easier in a more private moment after the court of honor.

For more 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.