Courts of Honor and the Coronovirus

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People across America are slowly–probably too slowly–coming to realize that the best way to flatten the curve and save thousands, if not millions, of lives is to stop congregating in large groups and to cancel or postpone large events.

If you’re planning an Eagle court of honor for this spring–and you’ve done a good job promoting it–your event falls into the large-event category, and I seriously think you should postpone it until summer or even fall. Even if conditions improve more quickly than expected, attending a court of honor may be the last thing on invited guests’ minds.

I realize that delaying a court of honor comes with all sorts of inconveniences, such as in the case of an 18-year-old Eagle Scout who’s heading off to college this fall or the military even sooner. If you delay a few weeks, you might as well delay a few months–or even a couple of years.

That is totally okay. One of the most impactful Eagle courts of honor I ever participated in was for a Scout who’d been at college for a couple of years and had been overseas on a mission trip or two during that time. It was a much different event that mostly involved close friends and family and was less forward looking than the typical ceremony. After all, he’d been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt, so there was no need for the ceremony to go forth and do great things. That ceremony, incidentally, was the inspiration for the College and Career script in The Eagle Court of Honor Book.

(People sometimes compare planning an Eagle court of honor to planning a wedding. A court of honor that is significantly delayed beyond high school graduation might compare with someone’s second wedding.)

Speaking of The Eagle Court of Honor Book, I’m still shipping copies during this crisis, so you can do some planning when you get tired of binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix. You can also buy the book from Amazon in either print or Kindle formats.

I’m also still selling the personalized Eagle Mountain Certificate (both the Scout and mentor editions). You can order a print version to save for an in-person court of honor or a digital version to use in a virtual court of honor.

Whatever you do, stay safe out there!


NOW AVAILABLE: The fourth edition of The Eagle Court of Honor Book is now available from EagleBook.com and on Amazon! Updated to reflect the inclusion of girls in Scouts BSA, the book features gender-neutral ceremonies, a new Scouting segment called “Scouting for Girls,” and downloadable boys’ and girls’ versions of all ceremony materials. Print versions will be available soon from Amazon and ScoutStuff.org.

Youth Leadership: Knowing When to Say When

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It’s probably the most daunting, and potentially divisive, question adults in youth-led Scouts BSA troops have to ask themselves: When do we interfere with the job our youth leaders are doing?

Ask 100 veteran leaders this question, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. That’s because–aside from issues of health and safety–it can be really hard to tell whether your interference will be helpful or harmful.

A Scouter I taught with at the Philmont Training Center several years ago had a great approach. Adults in his troop used the mnemonic device CFD to ask themselves–and each other–whether adult involvement was warranted in any given situation:

  • Confusion
  • Frustration
  • Danger

Danger is obvious, of course, but confusion and frustration hint at the gray area where adults dither over whether to get involved. But if you think about a time you’ve taught a child of any age any skill that’s a stretch for them, you’ll realize that confusion and frustration often lead to dysfunction, not accomplishment.

My friend said the adult leaders in his troop had all bought into the CFD concept. In fact, if they saw a leader beginning to overstep his boundaries, they would quietly ask “CFD?” as a gentle reminder.

Another good question is “Good chaos?” There’s no doubt that Scout-led troops tend to be chaotic, especially in the early days of transitioning from adult-led. If that chaos is productive, you should let it continue. If not, it’s time to briefly get off the sidelines and onto the playing field.


Need more great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.

Collect Them All and Win!

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Would you like to win a free copy of The Eagle Court of Honor Book or The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook? Read on to learn how.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a fun book (at least for English majors like me) called The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal. As the name indicates, the book traces the history of our language through 100 representative words. Number 35 on the list is “gaggle,” as in “a gaggle of geese.” In the entry for that word, Crystal explains that such colorful collective nouns date to the 15th century. The 1486 book The Book of St. Albans contains about 200 of them, including “an unkindness of ravens” and “a prudence of vicars.”

Crystal points out that the game of creating collective nouns continues to this day. He mentions, for example, “an absence of waiters,” “a rash of dermatologists,” and “a clutch of car mechanics.”

Crystal’s book got me to thinking about Scouting. We have terms for lots of groups: Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, etc. But we could always use more! Hence the contest.

Here’s how the contest works: Invent your own Scouting-related collective noun and post it in the comments section for this post (or email me at mark@mark-ray.com). I’ll pick the top 10 and publish them here–and you’ll win a free book for your trouble.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • An aroma of Philmont hikers
  • A procrastination of Eagle Scout candidates
  • A cobbler of Dutch oven chefs

New Jersey Scouts help rescue NBC journalist Ann Curry

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Bryan on Scouting

ann-curry-photo Scouts learn first-aid skills in Scouting without ever knowing when they’ll need to use them. Or on whom.

Last month a group of New Jersey Boy Scouts helped rescue the NBC journalist Ann Curry after she had broken her ankle while hiking.

On April 5, 2014, Scouts from Troop and Crew 368 out of Berkeley Heights, N.J., were on a Philmont training hike through Harriman State Park in New York.

That’s when, as Scouter Rick Jurgens told me this morning, they came across Curry. Only they didn’t know it was the Emmy-winning journalist right away.

“We were hiking along, and we came to a trail intersection,” Jurgens said, “and a lady was sitting on the ground with her one leg out. We didn’t think anything of it, but one of the guys asked if everything is OK. She said, ‘No, not really. I think I broke my ankle.’ She told us to keep going, but the guys refused.”

With…

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Elves, Heroes, and Eagle Scouts

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It’s World Cancer Day, and I’m remembering one of the most inspiring stories I’ve been able to share with readers. Ten years ago this fall, Life Scout Derek Slinger was battling cancer and rushing to finish his Eagle Scout service project before his 18th birthday. Just when his dream of becoming an Eagle Scout seemed to be slipping out of reach, a team of friends, family, elves, and cartoonists came together to create a Christmas miracle.

You can read the whole article here (text only) and here (with graphics).

Derek passed away on August 31, 2006 after a three-year battle with osteosarcoma. It’s time to stand strong against cancer.