Thursday, December 18, 2014

On the Rank of Eagle, and How I Got Here

[Note, I'm typing this in a second period study hall....]

So last night I had my Eagle Board of Review. I explained it to my non-scouting friends, teachers, and, well, about everybody non-scouting, as this: it's a two-hour (give or take) review and panel interview. For the first half hour or so they review the paperwork - all of my rank advancement stuff back to when I joined, the project paperwork, and the other pertinent documents. "They" is a panel that I have picked of either scouters or people I know (in this case 4 scout-related (one troop leader, one district advancement chair, one former district advancement chair, and a district commissioner) and 1 non-scout related (one vice principal)).

They review my paperwork, and then bring me in for questioning. In prior board of reviews they just go down the list of requirements and ask about them (when did you tie this bowline or whatever?) but I knew this was bound to be different - it's the last one effectively. They asked things in sections, but what threw me off a bit was after the usual (oath, law, slogan, etc) was that they started asking about me. And not just about me, but about the things I do outside of scouts. Having the Vice Principal and someone representing a volunteer group you're in gives them a list of things you've done. So they went down the list.

Then came the scouting questions. They asked about my experiences and merit badges and points of the scout law and ten thousand other things you could have probably Googled but the point is that if you've made it this far you really shouldn't have to. Talking about yourself is a strange thing. I'm not a big fan of myself (actually I find me kind of annoying), but I did the best I could in answering. Which is what they were after, I guess.

I had been told for years about the horror stories of Eagle Boards. What I had gathered from it was this: they were intense, long, and very thorough. While that held true, I found myself relaxing a bit after the first section or so of questioning. I picked a relatively tough board, but they all knew me from something. One of the most important things, I think at least, that can be gathered from organizations is networking.

I had also been told horror stories about how long it took to deliberate after the questioning. For the review of records and deliberation I wasn't allowed to be present, which I understand. Strangely enough, the "green room" for us was the room in which I had all but two boards of reviews in. So I sat down expecting a wait. Five minutes later, Mr. Y (the troop representative of the board, and probably my biggest mentor throughout scouting) appears in the door (I'm thinking that something didn't match up, there was no way it was that quick) and says "I cannot say whether the smoke from the Vatican is white or black." So I follow him back into the room, and they put me at the front (again) and Mr. Ellenberger (the district advancement chair) says: "Congratulations, on behalf of the board we'd like to welcome you into the ranks of Eagle." And that was that.

To say it's an amazing feeling is an understatement. I've been working up the ranks since I was in the first grade, so in a way this has been 11 years in the making. To everyone, and I mean everyone from Mr. Y to the other leaders to anyone who had a part in the project to my amazing family and friends (and girlfriend) who have listened and counseled me through this process, thank you. It takes a village and I am very very grateful for mine.