Eagle Court of Honor Preparation and Planning
As soon as the Eagle Scout presentation kit arrives, if not before, the Scoutmaster or troop committee chairman should begin serious preparations for the Eagle Scout Court of Honor. The Eagle candidate and his family should be invited to designate an award presenter who should then be contacted and his participation firmed up. If a hall or other facility is to be used for the ceremony, the necessary arrangements should be made with the owners or other responsible group as soon as possible.
In order to obtain letters of recognition and congratulations from government officials, the requests must be mailed a minimum of four weeks prior to the ceremony.
When the who, what, when, and where have been established, those who will actually plan the Court of Honor should be brought together. This group will usually include representatives from the troop committee, the patrol leaders council, and the troop ladies auxiliary (if the troop has one). Coordination should be established concerning such details as:
- Other advancement recognition
- Ceremony details, including props, public address system, and the movements of the participants
- Invitations to the guests
- Printing of the program
- Publicity, with special emphasis on photographs in newspapers
When the planning is complete, it is essential that all key people understand their roles in the arrangements and in the ceremony itself. Periodic rechecking to make sure that preparation in all assignment areas are progressing on schedule is a good idea. The presenter and any other guests who will have a speaking part in the award presentation should be contacted directly. It is helpful if these people have a thorough understanding of their individuals duties as well as some general information concerning Scouting history and the significance of the Eagle Award.
As the day of the ceremony draws near, those who will participate should be well prepared. They should know precisely how the entire Court of Honor is to take place. In summary, everyone should understand where and why they fit in.
Features Of A Good Eagle Ceremony
Here are a few things to keep in mind while planning an Eagle Court of Honor:
- The ceremony should have a crisp definitive opening.
- A proper introduction of the Eagle Scout candidate should be made by someone or some group the Scouts in the Troop respect.
- A complete and easy to understand explanation should be made regarding what must be accomplished to attain the Eagle Scout rank. (Explicit mention should be made of the candidate’s Eagle Service project.)
- The Eagle candidate’s parents should be escorted to the front of the room and should stand or sit near their son. (If neither of his parents is able to attend, his guardian, a close relative or friend should join him.)
- The Eagle candidate should reaffirm his belief in the ideals of Scouting by either reciting the Scout Oath or participating in the Eagle charge.
- The presenter should be someone of special significance to the Eagle candidate. The presenter should be given a few moments to speak concerning the individual Scout or the Eagle Award.
- Either the presenter, assisted by a troop committee member, the Scoutmaster, or the Scout’s parents should pin the badge on the Eagle recipient.
- Both the mother and father should receive some recognition from the Eagle Scout himself.
- The Eagle Scout should receive congratulations from all people involved. All or some of the letters of congratulations may be read to those present.
- The Eagle Scout should be given the opportunity to say a few words if he is inclined to do so.
- The ceremony must have a definite closing.
Small Pitfalls To Avoid
In Eagle ceremonies, as in so many other areas of life, it is often the small things that cause the problems and ruin the big things. The following are small items that are often overlooked:
- When using candles for the ceremony, get a supply of fresh candles. Don’t try to get by with candles that have previously been used. The Eagle ceremony is a big enough event to warrant fresh candles. Then, save them and use them for other purposes.
- Make sure you have matches or a working lighter available. A lot of people have given up smoking and it is more difficult to ask a group of people for matches and get a positive response.
- Check the PA system immediately before the start of the ceremony.
- Check all props before the start of the ceremony. This includes the lectern, any lights being used, the candles, etc.
- Remind the parents of the Eagle Scout that their son will be pinning awards on them also. They should dress in a way to facilitate this. The mother should wear a dress or suit with lapels or a blouse with a collar. This makes life for the Eagle Scout a lot simpler than a turtleneck sweater. The father should wear a tie or, at least, a jacket with lapels.
- Order the Eagle Presentation Kit as soon as word is received from National that the application has been approved. Council service centers do not always have them in stock and it may take several weeks to get one.
- Prior to the ceremony, detach the badges and pins from the presentation box. This can be a little tricky, and trying to figure it out for the first time in the middle of the ceremony interrupts the flow and pacing of the ceremony.
- PLEASE rehearse the ceremony. Stumbling over words detracts from the quality of the ceremony. The young man worked hard to achieve the rank of Eagle; we want to make the ceremony appropriate to his achievement.
Other General Thoughts
A guest book which can be signed by everyone who attends the Eagle Court of Honor makes a wonderful memento of the occasion for the new Eagle Scout.
Some of the ceremonies in this document include the presentation of a membership in the National Eagle Scout Association. Such a presentation can be added to any of the ceremonies. Consider presenting a NESA membership to the new Eagle Scout. Whether you present the membership or not, invite a representative of NESA to attend the ceremony and to say a few words as part of the ceremony.
All of the Courts of Honor in this document assume that the Eagle Scout comes from the “traditional family:” one mother and one father. This is not necessarily true. Be prepared to handle the exceptions by modifying the ceremonies, as appropriate. Some Eagle Scouts will be part of a single parent family while others will involve multiple sets of parents. Be sensitive to individual situations.
Finally, a word of advice to the mother of the Eagle Scout: enjoy the ceremony. Let someone else do the work of providing refreshments and decorating the hall. This day belongs to your son and to you; make it a day that you will remember fondly.
Eagle Court of Honor Execution
Keep in mind that the purpose of an Eagle Court of Honor is first, to honor the Scout. If the Court of Honor is executed well, it will inspire other Scouts to follow the adventurous and rewarding Eagle trail. A dignified and meaningful Court of Honor will also show the community the result of the Scouting program, so they will direct other boys into the Scouting programs and support the movement.
Some things to think about while planning the event:
- Make it simple, but keep it fun.
- The Master of Ceremonies (MC) sets the tone and the pace of the ceremony.
- Keep the aisle space clear for parading the colors.
- Use props with candles; Scout spirit candle.
- Make sure the candidate’s parents sit in a special place.
- An Eagle Ceremony should be held separately from troop Court-Of-Honors.
- Master the lighting and sound system before a ceremony..
- Have the principle speakers sit close to the front to reduce program lag time in traveling to the podium.
- Have the troop march in with patrol flags, and sit together for colors.
- It is appropriate to let humor in and to expect the unexpected.
- Have the Eagle speak from prepared notes!
- Daytime window light may affect slide programs