Archive for the ‘ceremony’ Tag

Creating an Eagle Court of Honor   1 comment

Roy Rogers, appearing at an Eagle Court of Honor in Pennsylvania in a1950.

Roy Rogers, appearing at an Eagle Court of Honor in Pennsylvania in 1950.

The Eagle Badge is the highest award in Scouting. It is the fulfillment of years of preparation, countless events and activities, and affirmation by adults that the Scout is worthy of this great honor. When a young man achieves something that important, they deserve special recognition.

That recognition is typically done at an Eagle Court of Honor (ECOH). These are often hosted by the Eagle’s family, though they are also hosted by the Scout’s troop – especially if multiple boys are receiving the award. There is no requirement that an Eagle have a special presentation at an ECOH. It is traditional, though.

Another tradition is that the ECOH is often personalized for the boy. That can strike fear into the hearts of parents, that are often not active Scouters and don’t know where to begin. So, start here!

There is no “official” ECOH. There are no elements that must be included, though many troops and even councils have traditions that most will want to be included. That’s fine … there is still a lot of room for personalization.

I had the pleasure of creating 2 ECOHs for my 2 sons (well, 3 sons, as you shall see). When I developed the scripts, here were my priorities:

  • It’s about the boy, and the event must reflect his interests. He must approve the script.
  • It should be a Scouting event with maximum attendance of family, Scouts and friends (in that order).
  • It’s an entertainment event, so it should be something the audience enjoys.

I recently emcee’d an ECOH for the Kasman family. Marty Kasman is an Eagle Scout, as well as a recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope. He wrote the script for his son Daniel’s ECOH with these priorities:

  • Inspire younger boys
  • Demonstrate the good that Scouts do

There are many resources below that will guide you in preparing for the ceremony.  Here are a few observations and tips that I encourage you to consider:

1. Schedule the event when it’s most convenient for the people you want to be there. If the ECOH is scheduled at the regular troop meeting time, you’ll probably get a lot of boys … but weeknights are difficult for family and friends to travel any distance to attend. Weekends are always best for them (and worst for the boys).

2. Don’t do the same old tired ceremony that the boys have seen many times. A little creativity goes a long way. Remember, it’s an entertainment event.

3. The boy(s) being honored should be as involved in the creation of the event as they want to be. Some boys will want to be very involved, though few are really capable of writing a complete script.

4. The ceremony should reflect the boy. In Christopher’s case, he was the Senior Patrol Leader (the boy leader of the troop) at the time, and had been helping do Scout campfires since he was in Cub Scouts. It was perfectly natural that his ECOH should be a campfire event, complete with singing, storytelling and S’Mores. Michael, on the other hand, teamed up with his buddy Lyle (my honorary 3rd son), and they wanted their event to be a party. Their ECOH had a “normal” ceremony … and was followed by a dance with actual girls in attendance (go to a few ECOHs and you’ll see how unusual that is!). I haven’t seen either of those ideas done as an ECOH since.

5. If you have non-Scouters attending that don’t know what an ECOH is, make sure you have a friendly emcee that will explain what’s going on as it happens.

6. Special appearances by treasured Scouters are very popular with the guys in khaki. At Christopher’s event, I was able to present a district award to a Scouter who had coordinated Christopher’s Eagle project for a local park (where Christopher now works!). This Scouter happened to be celebrating his 60th year as an Eagle Scout, and the ovation when he was introduced brought tears to his eyes. Make memories.

7. Have a good photographer on hand that is not an immediate family member. You know how much I love photography. I failed at capturing ECOH memories in photographs. Twice.

8. One traditional element that makes very little sense to me is gathering letters of congratulation from VIPs. If you request a congratulatory letter far in advance, you can generally get them from mayors, senators, celebrities – even Presidents. Here’s my question: does your son really care if he has a form letter from a congressman in a notebook on a shelf that he’ll never look at again? If so, great. If not … put your efforts into more productive pursuits.

9. Every ECOH these days seems to include a slide show of photos from the Eagle’s Scouting career. Those can be fun … for a few minutes. Three minutes, great. Five minutes … uncomfortable. Anything longer than that really doesn’t matter, because you will have lost most of your audience.

10. Use your resources … other adults from you son’s patrol and troop will be happy to help you pull this event off. Non-immediate family members, too. Don’t try and do it all yourself, because you will make yourself crazy. And why would you do that on a day made for celebration with your son?


Christopher Mowry’s ECOH Script

Eagle Court of Honor Handbook

MacScouter’s ECOH Handbook’s Court of Honor

Eagle Scout Mike Rowe’s Speech At The 2013 National Jamboree

Building Memories   3 comments

When Lauren went away to college, when we cut down the Christmas tree became an annual dance.  Now that she's home, having her niece be a part of the tradition was very important!

When Lauren went away to college, scheduling our Christmas tree expedition became an annual dance with every family member’s calendar. Now that she’s home, the family’s schedule is much easier — which meant getting Lauren’s new niece to the Christmas Tree farm was very important this year!

The tiniest things can become traditions.  And with children, those tiniest things are supremely important.

Anything can be a tradition!  Anything.  Holidays seems to bring them out for everyone, but really anything can become a tradition:

  • When we drove 32 miles to St Joseph (which was a big deal in my small world growing up), we usually stopped at the Dairy Queen in Savannah for a treat.  Nobody makes banana splits like those anymore!
  • When Velda and I were dating, we had a booth that we had to sit at when we went to our favorite bar restaurant, The Heidelberg.  It happened to be booth # 13 … one of many 13s that followed us through our courtship … until we were married on May 13.
  • Christmas mornings were a time of wonder for our young family.  The Christmas tree was very lonely in our living room … until Christmas Eve night, when Santa delivered all of the presents after the kids went to bed!  Bedtime was negotiated fiercely every year … and the time kids could venture downstairs Christmas morning was also negotiated!

Why are traditions so important?

Traditions are comforting, like a chair that is just right for you.  We like repetition, and it can make us feel very good when we know what’s coming.  The anticipation of familiarity is very satisfying.  We want things to be just like we remember them.  We want to control our environment so that we can make it predictable.

Traditions teach values. One of my favorite traditions in Scouting is to carry ashes from campfire to campfire … symbolically uniting that night’s campfire with every campfire that had preceded it since the tradition began.  Scouting campfires are important … and here’s a ceremony I used that helped make sure that the Scouts and Scouters understood that importance:

Legend has it that Baden-Powell would always take a small amount of ashes from a ceremonial campfire  and then spread these ashes into the next campfire.  The main purpose of these ashes is to share with you the memories of past campfires and to bring all Scouts and Scouters together in the world brotherhood of Scouting.

The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to Brownsea Island in July of 1907, the first Boy Scout camp.  They have been carried around the world to almost 400 Scouting campfires in many countries where Scouting fellowship has been shared.  The ashes came to me in 1996 at Camp Thunderbird near Seattle, and first came to Pack 575 at Hart Park in September of 1996.  I will now add these ashes to this campfire. Lord Baden-Powell said:

 “We carry our friendships with us in these ashes from other campfires with comrades in other lands. May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Scouts and guides all nations together.  With greetings from our brothers and sisters around the world, I add these ashes, and the fellowship therein, to our campfire.”

Every time I used that ceremony, it was an emotional, memorable moment.  Traditions work.

People who share in a tradition are connected.  There’s a reason that families use Grandma’s silver at holiday meals.  There’s a reason that going out to dinner when a family member has a birthday is important.  Those memories tie us together.  Sharing life’s memories together fills us with warmth and happiness.

Build some memories with your family, extended family and friends.  It could be going for a walk on Saturday mornings, the family lunch after church on Sunday, or sharing opening day of baseball season with your buddy.  It could be anything.

And it will be a treasured memory.

One tradition I've seen repeated at several nursing school graduations is the lighting of candles to commemorate the sharing of knowledge.  Here, for the Antelope Valley College graduates, December 2012.

One tradition I’ve seen repeated at several nursing school graduations is the lighting of candles to commemorate the sharing of knowledge. Here, shared by the Antelope Valley College nurse graduates, December 2012. My favorite part of this picture is the glow of the various cellphone and camera screens from the audience at the bottom of the pic!


The Interculturalist

Heart of the Matter