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Eagle Scout - Old Traditions Die Hard

I am an Eagle Scout and am proud to sit in the Eagles nest, I love scouting, I really do regardless, the Lord has spoken through his chosen servants to end the scouting program. I will miss the scouting program but the time has come to say goodbye. As much as I will miss the scouting organization, regardless, I feel like I already said goodbye several years ago with several policy changes they have made. I believe that scouting has changed to accommodate social changes but not the other changes, the spiritual changes that plagues our times. This has caused me to have mixed feeling about the program and its future.

My Eagle Story

I got it by the skin of my teeth I was 16 years old and I was told by my scout leader that if I did not finish up my Eagle by a certain month that I would not get my Eagle as they were adding additional merit badges that would take 6 additional months to earn. I and 72 Eagles in my Stake managed to quickly pull off our projects and get our Eagles.

By the time I was 15 I had lost interest in scouting, I had been stuck in the same spot from age 14 - 16 not progressing towards my eagle scout. By the time I finally felt the pressure to go for it, my interest in camping had come to an end. I was interested in girls, driving, dating, basketball etc. Scouting just was something that I did because it was part of the church program. School was also taking its toll as I was super busy with academics and preparing for my mission.

I wondered even back in the late 90s if the church one day was going to cut ties with the scouts.

Church Starts Cutting Ties

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in May of 2017 that they were going to have Cub Scouts and Scouts be part of the young men's program until the age of 14.

Is the Eagle Really The Most Important Thing?

Immediately several people in my ward were already telling me that I needed to help my son get his Eagle before his 14th birthday, he was only 10 at the time and not even in 11 year old scouts yet.

This got me thinking why is the Eagle Scout so important? Is is really that important for our salvation to get the rank?

The Eagle Scout does show dedication to the program and the church, it does show great faith.

Growing up it was really heavily pushed to get your Eagle before your 18th birthday. The trend then became to not allow 16 year old boys to get their driver's license until they achieve their eagle. The newest trend, even before the announcement, that Scouting would not longer be sponsored by the church past age 14, was that scouts were being asked to get it by their 14th birthday.

I even was honored to be a mentor for one Eagle who I taught in a Sunday School class. I will never forget this amazing 14 year old.

Regardless, I think the push to get scouts to earn their Eagle earlier and earlier is a direct result of the fact that scouts lose their interest in scouting at the age of 14 and 15, it stops being a priority.

What is Scouting Really?

I am going to say something that is a bit blunt, Scouting is a Boy's club, scouting is something to keep boys off the streets and to give them an outlet, it is a wonderful program but it is a boys club. Some kids love scouting and some don't how do we help those who don't love it?

Scouting is a Good Thing but, Scouts Do Lose Interest

As I look back on my experience as a scout, I feel that the early experiences were super positive, that I really enjoyed the camp outs and the fun, Cub Scouting is Amazing, I love cub scouting I was a Cub Master for several years. I loved every moment of it. When I got older scouting was no longer that fun anymore it was spoon fed to me, until I finally got my rank.

100 Year of Scouting

I went to the 100 years anniversary of scouting with the Church and thought that it was amazing. However, I noticed right after that event, due to political pressure and a change in the times we live in, caused the scouts to make decisions that were not in the best interest of the church. Many of those changes disappointed me. The organization that I grew up with was becoming a dead shell of what it once was.

The Latest Announcement

When the church finally announced that it was cutting ties with the scouts I got the alert on my phone while attending my son's patriotic program at school. That was a very interesting time to receive such a message.

Old Traditions Die Hard

A few weeks later we were at my son's pack meeting where he earned his Arrow of the Light. I am so proud that he earned his Arrow of Light. I am grateful for the scouting organization and what it has taught him and me, however, the church is ending it's relationship with them. At the end of the meeting the 11 year old scout leader said "We don't know what the future of scouting for you will be but, you still have time to earn your eagle if you apply yourself"

I laughed so hard inside, it is important that we shoot high, however, there is no way that I am going to push my son into getting his eagle before he is 13 it is just not going to happen, I will fully participate in scouting with my son until the ties are fully cut on January 1, 2020 but old traditions die hard.

The Meaning of the Eagle Scout

The eagle has lost it meaning to me and I feel that it has become a rite of passage. I believe that there is going to be one big push to get as many Eagles as they can before the deadline. I think it is important that we don't put new wine into old bottles that we embrace this change and realize that the youth will be served better by focusing on their spiritual growth rather than a specific award. I am excited to help my boys grow in new ways. I won't forget what scouting has taught me nor what it has taught and will teach my son for the next year and half, but I believe that the new program that the church has will be a tool to help our youth grow spiritually. Mixed feelings about this yes, however, I have been having mixed feelings about scouts for many years now.

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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