Court of Honor Thank You Gifts on the Cheap (and Easy)

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I’m writing this post just before Thanksgiving Day, when most of us focus more on gratitude than we do the other 364 days of the year. But giving thanks shouldn’t be limited to Thanksgiving Day. In the world of Scouting, it’s especially important whenever Eagle Scout courts of honor happen.

How can your next Eagle Scout thank those who helped him along his journey? Years ago, a mom who’d bought The Eagle Court of Honor Book shared a great idea with me.

Several months before her son’s court of honor, she began thinking about inexpensive but thoughtful gifts her son could present to some people at his court of honor. That January, she bought a few wall calendars (at terrific markdown) that featured photos of eagles and wildlife. Next, she bought (also on sale) some 10″ x 13″ frames. She and her son glued the calendar photos to textured poster board, outlined the photos with a gold paint marker, and framed them. A personal note from her son on the back completed each gift.

The neat thing was how well the gifts fit the recipients. A wolf picture went to his Wolf Cub Scout leader, a bear picture to his Bear leader, eagle pictures to his Boy Scout leaders, etc. (Choosing a picture for the Webelos Scout leader was a problem, but that’s another story!) And all these gifts cost less than $2 a piece, allowing the family to give gifts to lots of leaders without breaking the bank.

How do Scouts in your troop say thanks? Share your ideas in the comments section.

And thank you for all you do for the Scouts you serve!


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.”

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Dear (Eagle Scout) John

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For new Eagle Scouts, receiving a thick stack of congratulatory letters from politicians and celebrities can be pretty exciting. But let’s face it, the letters often sound a lot alike—and may sound a lot like “Dear John” letters.

If you choose to read the letters as part of a court of honor, you can greatly improve their impact with a little planning. First of all, make photocopies of the letters you plan to read (which doesn’t have to be the complete set!) and put them in logical order—the mayor before the Congressman before the President, for example. Next, go through each of the copies and highlight the sections want to read during the ceremony. You should never, for example, read the part where your Senator apologizes for not being able to attend the ceremony (Did you really expect her to?), but you should always read the parts that talk about the significance of the Eagle badge or the writer’s personal connection with Scouting.

A little thought and strategic pruning can go a long way toward making congratulatory letters a meaningful part of the court of honor—and not just a pile of junk mail.


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.”

My Favorite Court of Honor Life Hack

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Let me say at the outset that I’m not a card-carrying member of the uniform police. Although I like to see Scouts in correct uniform, my blood pressure doesn’t rise when I see the occasional patch out of place. And I certainly don’t get upset when a new Eagle Scout’s mom pins her son’s medal in the wrong spot.

Having said that, I’ve watched more than a few moms get to that pivotal moment in a court of honor when they do the pinning and panic. It’s like they fear  their sons will have to start their Scouting journeys anew if they mess up, like sewing on dozens of merit badges over the years hasn’t earned them a mulligan.

Fortunately, someone showed me a simple life hack years ago that neatly solves this problem: Before the court of honor, pin the medal on the Scout’s uniform in the right place–centered just above the left pocket–and then remove it. When you do, you’ll be left with tiny holes that will show Mom just where the medal should go during the ceremony.

So what life hacks have you discovered in planning courts of honor? I’d love to hear from you and share them with other Scouters.


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.”

When It’s Better NOT to Light a Candle

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“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Lots of people have been credited with that saying, including Confucius and Eleanor Roosevelt, and there’s certainly plenty of wisdom packed into those dozen words. But sometimes it’s better not to light a candle–and I don’t mean just when you’re worried about setting off a smoke detector.

Recently one of my readers wrote to me looking for ideas for using an unlit candle in an Eagle court of honor. His goal was to use the candle to represent the future potential of the ceremony’s honoree.

Here’s what I came up with:

Earlier this evening, Scouts lit the candles you see here on this table as a reminder of the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, principles that shine brightly in the heart of our honoree. But there’s one more candle on the table, and it remains unlit. It represents the journey our honoree is beginning today. No one can know where his journey will take him, who he will serve along the way, or how he will live as an Eagle Scout. But one thing is sure: When he lights this candle, he will help to illuminate some of the dark places in our world. He will exemplify the old proverb that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness and these familiar words from the Bible: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Feel free to use or adapt this language for your next court of honor. And let me know what you think; I’m always interested in hearing from you.


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.”

For Want of a Butterfly Clutch

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During World War II, a famous proverb was posted on the wall of the Anglo-American Supply Headquarters in London. It went like this:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The stakes aren’t quite that high when it comes to Eagle courts of honor, but that doesn’t mean you should pay less attention to your supply list as you prepare. I still cringe when I think about the time when, in the middle of one of our troop’s courts of honor, someone remembered that the Eagle badge kit was still sitting on the Scoutmaster’s desk out in our Scout house. Fortunately, I was able to hustle over and retrieve it in time.

Even if you never make that boneheaded mistake, it’s not at all uncommon for a butterfly clutch–the small bit of hardware that holds a lapel pin in place–to slip off a table and vanish in the carpet. In fact, a few spares should probably be on your supply list. (You can buy a lifetime supply on Amazon for $7.99.)

Speaking of supply lists, one of the nine planning checklists in The Eagle Court of Honor Book lists all the equipment and awards you should have on hand for each ceremony. I encourage you to make a copy and then, just like Santa Claus, check your list twice before your court of honor begins.


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.”

What’s Behind Door Number 12?

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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

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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.

or

  • 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.