General Information on Eagle Courts of Honor

The Eagle Scout Court of Honor

The Eagle Scout Award represents many years of dedicated effort. It is a firm demonstration of how people, working together through the years, can truly help mold a young man with a solid sense of leadership, citizenship, and responsibility.

The Eagle Scout Court of Honor is a very personal event in both the life of the Eagle Scout and the lives of his family and friends. Thus, in situations where many Eagles are to be presented, it is essential that adequate recognition be given to each individual young man. Far too often there are so many boys receiving awards at a given Court of Honor that the individual scout is lost in the shuffle. It is a tremendously important moment for the Eagle when he receives his badge, and attention should be focused solely on him when the big moment arrives.

Appropriate planning can insure a memorable Eagle recognition ceremony and award presentation, one that will not soon be forgotten by key participants. This portion of the information has been prepared to assist Scoutmasters, troop committee chairmen, advancement committeemen, and others in their planning. Helpful comments are given regarding general prearrangements, features of a good Eagle award ceremony, and the Eagle charge. On behalf of all Eagles yet to be, it is hoped that your award presentations will always be performed with the sensitivity, care and dignity which the occasion deserves.

General Prearrangements

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
  • Decorations
  • Refreshments
  • Invitations to the guests
  • Printing of the program
  • Publicity, with special emphasis on photographs in newspapers
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, all participants should understand where and why they fit in.

Features of a Good Eagle Ceremony

  • 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 (or excerpts from the letters) 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. 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. The council service center does not always have them in stock and it may take several weeks to get one.
  • 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 Eagle Court of Honor ceremonies include the presentation of a membership in the National Eagle Scout Association. Such a presentation can be added to any ceremony. 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.

Most Eagle Court of Honor ceremonies 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 ceremony, 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 family of the Eagle Scout: enjoy the ceremony. Let someone else do the work of providing refreshments and decorating the hall. This day belongs to the new Eagle Scout and to you; make it a day that you will remember fondly.