Double and Triple Billing at Eagle Courts of Honor


I recently participated in a court of honor for two Eagle Scouts, one from my troop and one from another troop. While it’s unusual to have a two-troop court of honor, this one worked really well, with planning and leadership more or less evenly divided between the two units.

But it also got me thinking about something I discuss in The Eagle Court of Honor Book, which is what makes multi-Scout courts of honor work and what can make them fail. The key, I think, is compatibility. The more two or three Scouts have in common, the more likely a joint court of honor will effective.

There are plenty of ways the Scouts could be compatible, but these three are probably the most important:

  • Age: Are the Scouts about the same age? A ceremony featuring a 13-year-old eighth-grader and an 18-year-old who’s home from college for spring break would seem strange.
  • Scouting involvement and commitment: Are the honorees all hard-core Scouts, or did they barely cross the finish line? Either option works better than having a court of honor where two honorees have done the bare minimum and the third has earned 50 merit badges, gone to three high adventure bases, and served as the senior patrol leader for your council’s NYLT course.
  •  Guest lists: At a joint court of honor, would you basically have two or three audiences of widely varying sizes? Or would both sides of the auditorium be equally full.(Of course, assuming all the honorees are from the same troop, you’ll have plenty of overlap among the guest lists, which is a good thing.)

So what’s been your experience with multi-Scout courts of honor? Feel free to post your comments below.

For more ideas, see my post on sending invitations for multi-Scout courts of honor. And for a slew of other 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.



How When Affects Who at Eagle Courts of Honor


Many people (including me) like to compare planning an Eagle court of honor with planning a wedding. But there are plenty of differences including–let’s hope!–cost.

One big difference is when the events occur. You don’t have to go to very many weddings to realize that Saturday is the most popular day of the week for people to get hitched. One study found that seven out of 10 weddings occur on Saturdays, and I’d bet most of the rest occur on Friday evenings or Sunday afternoons.

Courts of honor, on the other hand, can occur just about any time during the week. Some troops hold them in lieu of their regular troop meetings, which probably means a weeknight. Other troops follow the wedding model and focus on weekends.

There’s no right answer here, but it’s important to think about how when affects who. If the honoree’s family is hoping for a lot of out-of-town guests, a Saturday is probably the best option since it allows for travel time. If they want to fill the chairs with current troop members, it probably makes sense to hold the ceremony at the same time (and place) as your troop meetings.

So when you start planning your next court of honor, start with the guest list. Thinking about who will help you make a better decision about when.

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


Is There a Christmas Court of Honor in Your (Near) Future?


Not long ago, I had a conversation with the mother of a new Eagle Scout. When I asked her about plans for her son’s court of honor, she said he wasn’t going to have one. He’d earned his rank not long before his 18th birthday, had left for college before a ceremony could be planned, and had now shifted more or less into grownup mode. Having the sort of ceremony he’d often seen as a Scout simply didn’t interest him.

Now, there’s no rule that a Scout has to have a court of honor, but there’s also no reason that a Scout in that situation shouldn’t be recognized for his achievement. Which brings us to the winter break every college student will soon be enjoying.

Yes, I know the weeks between now and the start of spring semester are crazy busy. But I also know those young men–and perhaps you–will have some downtime after the Christmas presents are unwrapped, the Hanukkah menorah is put away, Kwanzaa and Festivus have been celebrated and Cousin Eddie and his family have driven off into the sunset in their tenement on wheels.

The trick is to think a little differently–okay, a lot differently–than you may be used to. Instead of spending weeks planning an elaborate ceremony, sending out invitations, printing programs, etc., pare the ceremony down to its basics. Find a time that you, the Scout, his family and a few of his close Scouting friends are available. Gather at a convenient location–his home, your meeting place, or even a local restaurant. Share stories about his time in Scouting, then go through an informal version of the formal presentation outlined in The Eagle Court of Honor Book, which includes the honoree’s Scouting history, a personal statement from him the Eagle charge, and the presentation of his badge and other tokens.

The whole event might take half an hour, but it would definitely be time well spent. And it might be the first time he realizes that being an Eagle Scout and being in grownup mode are not incompatible.

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


One More Time–Building Connections at Eagle Courts of Honor


When I first became Scoutmaster, our troop had a neat tradition: the reception at each Eagle court of honor was hosted by the previous recipient’s family. The troop paid for the cake, punch, etc., but that family took care of ordering everything, serving, and cleaning up afterwards.

Using this system relieved the troop leaders and current recipient’s family of some work, but more importantly, it served as a bridge from one Eagle to the next and kept previous Eagles involved in the troop—at least in a small way.

Now, I have to say this scheme didn’t always work perfectly; occasionally, for example, a family would quickly disengage from the troop after their son became an Eagle Scout at 17 years, 11 months, and 29 days. But it worked well enough that we kept it going for years.

Consider establishing a similar tradition in your troop. But don’t limit yourself to the reception. Perhaps the previous honoree could serve as master of ceremonies or as part of the honor guard. Perhaps he could deliver the Eagle charge. (Think how powerful the charge could be when presented by a young man who comes back from college for the occasion.) Perhaps all past Eagles from the troop could sit up on stage in an Eagles’ nest. Whatever you decide to do, find a way to get your previous Eagles involved. After all, the Eagle Scout trail never ends.

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


A Great Source for Court of Honor Backdrops


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 and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both and

Cupcakes in the Parking Lot


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 and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both and

Sister (and Brother) Acts at Eagle Courts of Honor


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 and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both and