Working on Eagle

What I learned (and what I hoped he learned) from my son’s Eagle Scout project:

Beneficiaries: It doesn’t take much at all to make some people very, very happy. Or maybe you work hard and give a lot of time and sweat to something, but the corresponding gratitude is disproportionately greater. He did the project for a small charity (a ministry within Catholic Charities) which serves a community in great need (homeless families) with limited funding. For somebody to come in and do something meaningful for them makes them observably giddy.

Sponsors: Ask and you shall receive. I will forever go to Home Depot, if possible, with all of my household construction and repair needs because they donated the vast majority of the materials he used. I am sure other companies would have also done this, but since Home Depot was the one who was asked and said yes, they have my loyalty.

Adults: There are many adults who support and encourage boys in their scouting journeys and who will go out of their way to help them. There are some adults who will expend their talent and dozens of hours of their time to help your son succeed, simply because somebody else did it for their son. Your son does not deserve this; you do not deserve this. Your son owes these people a debt of gratitude; you owe other scouts the same sacrifice, even if all you are able to do is make sure your boys consistently show up to help them with their Eagle projects.

Scouts: Teen boys are capable of giving up sleeping late on a Saturday morning to provide cheerful labor to a fellow scout. Perhaps they aren’t cheerful from bed to work site, but once there, they do good stuff with a great attitude. Teen boys are capable of moving around a crowded work site with loaded paint rollers without getting paint anywhere other than the wall. Teen boys are capable of tremendous kindness. Nobody complained about the 3 year old running amok. Teen boys are capable of great patience. I watched one 8th grader painting wood trim with my 8 year old daughter and another scout who has a mental handicap. Never did he complain or get frustrated with either of them, even though he did most of the work and had to touch up their areas.

Scouting in general: perhaps we’ve just been lucky, or maybe it’s because we live in areas with military families, but in each of the four troops in three states to which we have belonged, we have found both the adults and the youth to be welcoming and supportive. The first questions the current troop asked were how old the boys were and what we were doing about Eagle projects. And they helped make it happen, even though we have no history with them.

Other thoughts: You can always use more paper towels. There will always be things that don’t work out as you expect. It will take longer to finish the project than you think. And lastly, the boys work so hard that the least you can do for them is buy the good pizza for lunch.