As you may remember from the experience yourself, adolescence is a challenging time for nearly every human being. Universally, our DNA and our cultures issue the command, “Become independent!” The question, then, is how do we let our children establish their own independence, as they must do, in relative safety. In many aboriginal tribes, this was a task for the village elders. Throughout history, apprenticeship also served as means of mentoring adolescents. Today, Scouting is a wonderful solution. The Scouting experience gives each child the opportunity to establish independence, build confidence, and experience leadership, all under the watchful guidance of caring adult mentors.
Our children are very busy today, and as an Eagle Coach I am very careful not to tell a boy that he should be an Eagle Scout. Like any serious pursuit, becoming an Eagle Scout requires dedication, many hours and a good dose of perseverance. With everything else that your son may be juggling in his life, I am not the one to judge whether his pursuit of Eagle Scout rank is appropriate The urge to do so must come from within. It must be his. If the Scout truly wants it, and shows that to me with his efforts and not just his words, I will do everything in my power to assist him as an Eagle Coach.
Your son needs your support, and your encouragement. You may need to pick him up after a big disappointment or setback. But please, let the desire be his. Nagging by parents, I have found, often has quite the opposite effect than intended! I once had a dad call me, quite desperate that his son was one month away from his 18th birthday (the Eagle application deadline) with a lot of work remaining. “What can I do to get him finished,” he asked. I replied, knowing how much his son wanted to be an Eagle Scout, “If you really want to help your son, walk away from his Eagle project and application and don’t mention the subject again.” He followed my advice, and of course, his son completed everything on time and easily passed his Eagle Board of Review.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is an incredible achievement for a young man. I tell Scouts that it is not the award that is most important, but whom they become in the process of earning the award. I guarantee you that you will see a new maturity and confidence in your son when he has completed his Eagle Scout Service Project. This is the reason that all branches of the US military will advance an Eagle Scout at least one full pay grade when he joins. If there is a modern-day equivalent to a boy killing his first lion, this is it!
There is wonderful book by Michael Malone, entitled “Four Percent.” This is the approximate percentage of boys who start Scouting and eventually earn Eagle Scout. In the book, Mr. Malone calls the Eagle Scout award the PhD of Boyhood. I completely agree, and look forward to helping your son complete his dissertation and earn his doctorate of boyhood!