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COH and SPL

Every Troop runs different - for us (in normal times) - we give out Awards once a month at a weekly Troop meeting, then have Scheduled COH every 6 months, where we transition Scout Leaders and do any Eagles. I am thinking of given SPL more responsibility in both. Traditionally the SM has handed out the Awards at meeting - I am thinking the SPL should do this - has anyone seen this before? I am also really thinking of having the SPL take a very active lead in presenting the Eagle Rank - has anyone seen this, and what exactly did it in-tell?

My troops have one or two Scouts that are working on the Communications MB emcee the quarterly COH. An SPL (if not one of the emcees) opens and closes the COH and introduces the emcees.

Eagle Courts of Honor are at the discretion of the Eagle Scout. The Scout decides who should be the emcee, who should do each part of the ceremony and serve on the color guard. The SM or another leader, usually also an Eagle Scout, administers the oath. The emcee and the Scouts reading the various roles are often Eagle Scouts or other Scouts the new Eagle knows well. Because the people are different, each Eagle COH I have attended has been different but special.

One unique Eagle COH I attended, the Eagle was in both a Troop and Crew. He invited both Scouts and Ventures to participate in the ceremony. He also had his younger sister, who was a Cub Scout serve on the color guard.

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In terms of distributing awards between courts of honor, our SPL (or ASPL if the SPL isn’t available)
distributes ranks at the end of the troop meeting as part of the “announcements”. We generally do that once a month or so, with the Court of Honor roughly quarterly (at least historically). Obviously, not meeting in person for several months has thrown off our usual schtick.

Typically, our CoH is organized and run by two to three scouts working on Communication MB, similar to what @edavignon described, coordinating with the SM and Advancement Chair. Our SPL, CC, and SM all have speaking roles in various portions. The patrols put on skits to break up the talking and distribution of awards. The advancement chair generally does the actual distribution of the awards from off-stage so that they stay organized. Then the scout goes out to shake the SM’s hand for the obligatory photo op.

Eagle Courts of Honor vary quite a bit for us, depending on how the scout and his family want to manage it. Some have been conducted as part of our regular CoH, but most are generally managed by the family with some support from the troop and youth/adult leaders. The Eagle Rank material (neckerchief, medal) is always presented by the scout’s parent(s), and the Eagle presents the parent and mentor pins. One of our Eagle Scouts — or an adult leader who earned Eagle — is designated to issue the Eagle Challenge/Charge/Promise (however you’d prefer to describe it). Beyond that, I’ve seen everything from a small family-and-friends ceremony to everyone-that-will-fit-plus-a-few events. One unit scheduled a single large Eagle CoH at the same time every year so that they could invite prior Eagles back to join in the celebration. The scouts were awarded their Eagle ranks and recognized soon after their BoR. However, every August they had a big Eagle event recognizing all of the Eagles from that year and conducting a formal Eagle CoH.

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As a Scoutmaster I have done it a few different ways, depending on the circumstances and the youth leadership, as well as my own experience. I always assign a Communication merit badge candidate to put together the agenda, make assignments, follow up, and emcee the COH. I usually have multiple sessions with the emcee, to provide template agendas and make sure that they have practiced communication enough for the COH to be successful (i.e. talk in-person, call, text, call again, follow through). As the emcee, they will hold the microphone for most of the night, and pass it to the person who needs it next.

I help the emcee know who to turn the time over to, and “sculpt” the order of the awards on the program. This is usually done by me filling in blanks in their script with the name of the person they are tossing to, and what award is next on the agenda. Usually the TotinChip, CyberChip etc. were given out in the weekly meeting, but we still highlight those awards at the beginning, progress through camp awards, activity patches (paddleboard, mile swim), merit badges, then ranks in increasing order.

Transitions between the different award sections are facilitated through the Scout values (Oath, Law, Outdoor Code, etc.) songs, jokes, skits, and the emcee determines the order. This was part of the assignments they made in planning, from the color guard at the beginning to the refreshments at the end, and everything in-between. We usually have the emcee provide the programming, then yield time to the person or people giving specific awards (I am usually near the stage to help prompt the emcee as necessary).

Award Presenters have included Committee Chair, Committee Members, Scoutmaster, ASM or Troop Guide for First Year Scouts, and SPL or Patrol Leader.

With young youth leaders (and a less experienced Scoutmaster) I would give out the awards. Prior to handing over an award, I would always try to engage each youth receiving a merit badge or rank, by interviewing them on what they learned, their favorite part, most memorable or the most difficult part, etc. I would give them the microphone, so each Scout had to perform a little, before I finally gave the award with a firm Scout handshake and congratulations as the audience applauds.

Then over time, I transitioned to the ASMs and I passing out ranks, and I would defer to the youth for the merit badges. All recipients of the same merit badge receive them from the PL or SPL at the same time, and the SPL or PL asks their choice of recipient interview questions “what did you learn, what did you like / not like” questions. After summer camp last year, the SPL and ASPL from camp gave out all of the camp patches, and the merit badges from camp. After the “interview” they give the award and Scout handshake. (This is behavior they have seen me do so they learn through EDGE) The audience applauds all youth for the same merit badge at the same time.

Ranks are better awarded individually, inviting the parents to join the youth as they (sometimes with prompting) review and respond to interview questions on what they did and what they learned. More recently, rather than me or an ASM awarding the rank, I have involved a Scout of the rank being earned give out that rank and ask the questions, so a current Life Scout awards that rank to the new Life Scouts, etc.

I usually engage committee members to take over for the Eagle award, and if available I involve former adult leaders of the youth receiving Eagle. I have been asked to go to the COH of a Scout I helped while he was younger to “read him in” as an Eagle and have him swear an Eagle oath (modified scout oath for lifelong)

I don’t think there is a wrong or right way, but best to identify and use the resources you have, let the youth lead, guide them as they do, and make sure the youth receiving awards are in the spotlight.

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