Archive for the ‘court of honor’ Category


I will be attending an Eagle Scout court of honor today. It is for the seventeenth Boy Scout to attain this rank since I became the scoutmaster of Troop 68 in 1981. Am I proud of this Scout? You bet I am, as I am proud of each of the young men of Troop 68 who have earned this recognition. I am looking forward to attending this ceremony.

One part of the ceremony that I always enjoy, that has been a part of many of the Eagle Scout courts of honor that I have attended, is when a young man (or two) who previously earned the rank comes forward to the podium and recites the Trail To The Eagle. Not only does it bring back memories for the new Eagle Scout, his friends, and his parents, but it also gives the rest of the audience a small idea what this Scout had to accomplish on the way to this lofty goal.

At this time, I would like to include the Trail To The Eagle as a part of this blog entry:

This is the trail to the Eagle, the Eagle whose heights you struggled to reach. We remember well when you first came to the base of the cliff, and how you looked up with ambition and determination. Look back for a moment, look back over the cliff you have climbed; look back at the experience you have encountered in your ascent. These experiences should not be forgotten, and you should profit by making sure that the adverse ones do not occur again. Experience is a valuable teacher if you heed its teachings.

We remember when you took your first step upon the trail that leads upward. With your first step, you began living the Scout Oath and Law. While you were on the trail, we watched you study and then we watched you learn by doing. First you were only a candidate, building yourself physically, mentally, and morally. Then your brother Scouts called you a Tenderfoot and they were right, you were indeed a Tenderfoot. But not for long, for soon you reached the first ledge where you were greeted by a group of Second Class Scouts. Some, like yourself, were stopping to catch their breath before continuing along the Eagle trail.

You began to study more, you worked harder, and almost before you knew it, you came to another ledge, the ledge where First Class Scouts dwell. There you found a tempting green meadow by a crystal clear stream, bathed by the sun. Here you were tempted to remain. Yes, you could have remained there to live in First Class glory, but your ambition stirred you on.

We remember your progress to Star Scout. You found the trail from First Class had been an optical illusion, not as difficult as it has seemed. This spurred you on, and again you climbed higher. Now the trail was steeper, it was less worn. Fewer Scouts seemed to be heading in your direction. You looked back and saw the crowds below you. You looked up and saw the few above you.

With the same determination with which you started your climb, you continued up the trail to the second peak, Life rank. The heart badge was then placed on your uniform. You will never forget the thoughts in your heart. It has been experienced by most Scouts on reaching the ledge of Life. “Now I am close to Eagle. I will carry on.” The trail became tougher, but more interesting. The original simple principles, the Scout Oath and Law, now had a fuller meaning. Your understanding of them was greater.

Yes, we have watched your character unfold and become manly. We have watched your leadership ability expand into a valuable asset. We have watched your mind develop and your wisdom increase. We have watched all of these things in you. Now that you are at the threshold of your goal, we welcome you. For you have done your climbing in a true Scout-like-manner. This is the trail to the Eagle.

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    The previous blog post explained the agenda of a Troop 68 court of honor. This agenda works well for us. However, we sometimes need to be flexible. Our September court of honor was a good example who things can change quickly.

    One of our youngest and newest Boy Scouts, we’ll call him Duke, had worked hard to complete his Tenderfoot Rank requirements to receive the award at this court of honor. He was very excited about getting his first rank. During the course of working on his Tenderfoot he also almost completed his Second Class Rank.

    When the day of the court of honor arrived Duke’s parents happened to be in the Twin Cities, one hundred miles away from Melrose. They called Duke to let him know that they would be a little late getting to the court of honor. Duke informed me of this as soon as he arrived at the city hall. He wanted his parents to be there with him when he received the award. I told him there would be no problem. We could rearrange the agenda a bit to push back the rank presentations.

    We began the night with announcements which we usually do at the end of the ceremonies. That gave his parents about ten extra minutes to get closer to town. Then we began the opening ceremony. The honor guard brought the flags forward and we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately, the Scouts did not have a Scouting-related opening ready so we lost a few minutes there.

    The award presentations began with the year pins, the recruiter patch, and the merit badges. Duke’s parents still had not arrived. No problem. It was time for some entertainment. Wait! The Scouts had forgotten to plan or practice a skit or song for this portion of the meeting. Now we have a problem. Wait! We could present the Progressive Scout Award and the Progressive Patrol Award.

    Finally, all the awards had been given out except for Duke’s Tenderfoot Rank. I knew that Duke had really looked forward to his parents being there for the presentation. And I knew his parents wanted to be there. There was only one thing left to do. Break out the refreshments!

    Duke’s parents arrived as we were drinking punch and eating the cookies. As we reconvened the court of honor they stood proudly next to their son as he received the first of his ranks on his way to attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Eagle Scout, you ask? Oh yes, I reply. Duke has two brothers who are Eagles. This eleven year old has already set his sites on soaring with the Eagles. I have no doubt that I will be attending his Eagle court of honor someday, with his parents standing proudly by his side again.

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      Ah, the troop court of honor. The quarterly award night. Time to recognize accomplishments. Time for the Scouts to shine before their family and friends.

      The Boy Scouts and families of Troop 68 usually have a good time during our courts of honor. After twenty-five years the troop has an agenda and format set. We try to have a mixture of fun and seriousness as we go through the ceremony.

      We begin the court of honor with the presentation of the colors, a patriotic ceremony, a Scouting-related ceremony, and an invocation by the troop chaplain. Then we begin the presentations with the recruitment patches, year pins, and other such awards. This is followed by the recognition of merit badges that have been earned since the last court of honor.

      This brings us to the “half way” point of the evening. The Scouts provide entertainment by performing a skit or song, or we could play a brief game, like a trivia contest between the Boy Scouts and their parents.

      It is time for the presentation of the ranks. The Scout is asked to escort his parents to the front of the room. We usually use the various rank ceremonies found in the Woods Wisdom book. I will then present the rank patch, card, and pin to the father so that he may then have the honor of presenting it to his son. The Scout will then take the pin and pin it to his mother’s shirt or scarf. This way we involve both parents in the ceremony. By the way, if the mother is not able to attend the ceremony then the Scout pins the pin on his father’s shirt.

      The final awards presented are two troop recognitions. The Progressive Scout Award is given to the Boy Scout who has earned the most advancement since the last court of honor. The Progressive Patrol Award is given to the patrol with the most accumulated advancement, with a minimum of at least two boys showing progress. Both awards are certificates, but the Progressive Patrol Award also comes with a twenty dollar credit for the patrol to use for a patrol activity held before the next court of honor.

      The court of honor ends with a closing ceremony and the retiring of the colors. After a few announcements we make our way to the table where the juice is waiting to be drank and the cookies are waiting to be eaten. Of course, parents and families members get to eat and drink first. Sometimes, the way the boys rush to the tables, I think the refreshments are the main reason we hold the court of honor.

      Happy Scouting!

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        Boy Scout Troop 68 of Melrose held it’s first court of honor of 2007 on Monday, March 26, at the Melrose City Hall meeting rooms. Over seventy percent of the troop’s membership received awards during the celebration. The award ceremony began the presentation of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. The “Climbing the Ladder To Eagle” opening was followed by the invocation given by the troop’s chaplain Eymard.


        Senior patrol leader Dakota and Scoutmaster Steve welcomed the troop’s newest members, Kyle and Lucas, and their parents by presenting the boys with the Scout Badge. Lawrence and Zack were awarded their one year anniversary pin. Dakota received the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.


        A brief entertainment skit, based on the show “Who’s Line Is It?” television series, was enjoyed by the Scouts and parents in attendance. Mike, Dakota, Alex, and Jonah did a great job adlibbing to the three scenarios that were given to them.


        Six ranks were presented during the court of honor. Avery, Billy, and Lawrence received Tenderfoot, the first of the six Scouting ranks. The second rank, Second Class, was presented to Zack and Jonah. Dakota earned the Star Rank, the sixth of the BSA ranks.


        Scoutmaster Steve had a special announcement. Chris’ Eagle Scout application was approved by the BSA national office. Chris is the seventeenth Boy Scout of the current troop to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouting highest award. Chris is the eighteenth Boy Scout in the history of Melrose to earn the award.


        The Progressive Scout Award, a Troop 68 award to recognize the Boy Scout who has achieved the most advancement since the last court of honor, was presented to Dakota. The Progressive Patrol Award was earned by the Nighthawk Patrol who had five members who earned their next rank in Scouting. The leadership of Melrose Troop 68 would like to congratulate all the Boy Scouts who received awards during the court of honor.
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          The Boy Scout advancement program was quite different in the 1970′s from what it is today. Earning skill awards was a standard requirement for the first three ranks. The skill awards were a metal belt loop, similar to some of today’s Cub Scouting awards. There was twelve skill awards designed to introduce Scouts to skill areas such as camping, citizenship, first aid, and other basic Scouting skill areas.

          Another change in the rank requirements was that A Scout needed to earn at least one merit badge for every rank. Yes, you read that correctly. A Scout needed to earn a merit badge for the rank of Tenderfoot, in addition to two skill awards.

          Things sure have changed since then. Merit badges are no longer needed for the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. Skill awards were discontinued in the late 1980′s. The BSA seems to change portions of the advancement program every few years to keep it relevant to today’s world, while still trying to maintain the traditional Scouting values and ideals.

          I have nothing to brag about when I talk about my advancement while a Boy Scout. I was a Scout for three and a half years, but I only reached the rank of Second Class. The rank of Eagle Scout was not even in my sights. I did earn several skill awards and three merit badges, including Pioneering and Reading.

          The worst thing about the advancement program when I was a Scout is that I do not remember receiving the awards. I earned them, I still have them, but I do not remember a single court of honor during my years as a Scout. I honestly could not tell you if we even held a court of honor back then. I certainly do not have any pictures from such a ceremony.

          Today, I am the scoutmaster of the troop in my hometown. We now hold courts of honor four times a year, whether we have 20 merit badges and ten ranks to present, or if we only have one merit badge to hand out. We try to add some humor to the ceremony and make it fun for the Scouts and the parents while still maintaining the dignity and solemnity of the actual presentations.

          As a Scoutmaster, I want the Scouts to look back and to remember their award presentations as a positive moment of their Scouting years. I hope they will not think back and have no memory of such an important Scouting event as, unfortunately, I do.

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