I coached a girl’s softball team years ago. The city gave me a list of twenty girls. When we met, it was obvious some were really good ball players, but the rest could not throw or catch a ball (“bench warmers”). 

Their parents had not enrolled them in the program to not play, so I asked all the girls to vote on a plan I had. The best two were team captains and, one by one, they chose their team of ten. We practiced team against team. When competing against other teams, each of our “teams” took turns up at bat and fielding.

Obviously, we weren’t the best. All teams competed for the championship. Again, they voted. Would only the best compete? I was surprised that everyone voted to keep our two teams. We lost the game, but we won the hearts of the girls who might have been bench warmers and their families. Those who learned the greatest lesson were the really good players who had sacrificed for the better good. We also finished with all 20 girls. All the other teams had their best 10.

I recently read “Four Percent” by Michael S. Malone. It is about how 4 percent of boys in Scouting actually obtain their Eagle. It has many short paragraphs about many Eagle Scouts. In BSA, it is assumed that one gets his Eagle on his own, with family help and financing acceptable.

I was particularly drawn to a few short sentences in the book about the Coyote Patrol from Troop 16 in Texarkana, Texas. In 2011, the 12 boys in this patrol decided that they would all get their Eagles at the same time and have this accomplished by 2012 in honor of the Eagle bicentennial celebration. The push was on.

I might remind you readers that, as in the case of the baseball players, no two boys are identical. Some are tall, and others are short. Some are stronger, some have different skills, etc. It takes bonding and a great deal of self sacrifice and patience to accomplish what these 12 Boy Scouts did.

Together, they earned 321 merit badges, hiked almost 1000 miles, and camped 687 nights. Three out of every four weeks were spent working on their own projects and helping others to accomplish theirs. They collaborated as a group. In December 2012, in a group Court of Honor, they all received their Eagle badges.

I find myself wondering why working to receive an Eagle Badge has to be such a solitary task. The working world usually requires the ability to work well with others, to have patience and compassion, as well as being strong leaders.

I’d really like to know how you with Scouting in mind feel about the power of a group. It has been done before, but there are no statistics to prove or disprove whether this could be advantageous in certain circumstances. We will stand by for your thoughts. Thanks.

Joyce Olesen
is a grandmother, mother, and daughter of Scouters. She love kids, camping, country music and sport cars. Her Dad was a Scout leader in Chicago in the early 1920’s and having only daughters did not bolster his Scouting hopes. As his "Scout" she was tying regulation knots by the time she was 7.

One comment

  1. Darryl Alder
    Darryl Alder says:

    As always, you provide such a keen insight into the mundane. I read 4 Percent and must have skipped over this story. Thanks for giving it light, it deserved it and I needed the inspiration.
    Sadly my attempt to do the same never quite made it. I was was Patrol in the Eagle Patrol, Troop 345 in East Millcreek Utah. By our name you can tell we wanted to become Eagles, but we did not do it as a group. We each did it on our own, getting there at different times.
    I had a second chance with my Wood Badge Fox Patrol, but their leader got ahead of the group getting her beads first, but the rest got it done about the same time.
    It really makes we wonder if I am too quick out of the gate to wait for others. I am going to slow down for the good of the group.
    Thanks for the idea

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