All scouting programmes are built around a progressive training scheme and to mark a young persons achievements there is some form of award recognition. Most young people in scouting will be working towards their national top award be it Queens Scout, Eagle Scout, Springbok, Baden Powell Award or Queens Venture Award. (Full List)
How we recognise those achievements is what makes young people remember them, I remember being presented my Queens Scout Award in a fancy function in the chapel as Chirk Castle by the Lord Lieutenant and followed by attending the St Georges Day Parade at Windsor Castle.
In the UK we often can be guilty of lacking that appreciation of the efforts that young people go to in completing the awards. The Scout Association has cancelled the National Presentation of Queen Scout Awards so unless you are in a county with a large number of people gaining the award it will be difficult for a county/district to do anything grand except maybe present you the badge at a unit meeting or run something every two years when there are enough numbers to make and celebration viable. It could be said that a big push need to be made to get more people to complete the Queens Scout Award and therefore have more people to present it to, but with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold being more widely recognised outside of scouting young people opt with their feet.
From what I have seen and witnessed, the BSA is very good always the way through the movement at making a big deal out of it young people achievements from the crossing the bridge as part of gaining their arrow of light through the Blue and Gold at the completion of the Cub Scout programme to the Eagle Court of Honour and the Celebration Dinner. The Young People achievements are celebrated and respected when I worked on a summer camp once a week during one of the evening meals all those who had achieve the rank of Eagle were ask to stand up and given a big cheer and clap from everyone at the meal it was a sign that their achievements were appreciated.
The scheme also does not end with the awarding of the eagle award there are then 3 palms that are awarded for continual service to the troop as an eagle scout, it is further recognition of a young persons involvement in Scouting.
Clarke says : -
We do this well, but sometimes go a bit overboard. Eagle presentations can become more of a coronation or canonization than I feel is appropriate. B.P. warned against badge hunting as opposed to badge earning and I fear that sometimes we’ve made so much of recognition that Scouts can be enthralled with being recognized more than the actual achievement the badge represents.
We are a very self-congratulatory culture and tend to say what we feel at the drop of a hat – contrasted with the reserve I see (and admire, for the most part) in my UK friends. Perhaps we both ought to learn how to balance these things out by looking at each others practices. The two extremes – over congratulatory, florid theatrics and lack of recognition are equally undesirable.
Adam Says :-
The BSA does not have a National Celebration like the UK has. That would be fun, but logistically nightmarish. It would be a lot more fun if the local cities would do something. Some Scout Districts have tried to hold Arrow of Light Ceremonies..but failed to get a lot of people. I somewhat envision a giant Moonie Cult Gathering!
Ceremonies I think are vital since it signifies an accomplishment that was hard work.
Nick Says -
I think one of the problems in the UK (and I know Chris and I have discussed this before) is that not enough recognition is made of the Queen’s Scout Award. If you ask ‘the man in the street’ in the USA what an Eagle Scout is, he will more than likely know (I guess it helps you’ve had some VERY famous Eagles – astronauts are the obvious ones). However, ask someone in the UK what a Queen’s Scout is and you’ll probably get a blank look. Sadly there is more recognition for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which we have incorporated into the Scout schemes (a bit too much in my opinion), but is slightly less challenging!
While I suspect some of the eagle ceremonies are OTT, they are at least celebrating the hard work the young man has put in to gaining his award and I suspect (please correct me if I’m wrong) that new eagles tend to be covered by the local media.
Getting either the QSA or Eagle are great achievements and do deserve recognition.