Eagle. It is Boy Scouts highest rank. Historically a little over 2% of all scouts have attained it. It requires service, dedication, leadership, and commitment. It is celebrated with a special ceremony known as the Eagle Court of Honor.
I don't know how these are conducted in other troops, but the troop with which I am familiar gives each scout and his family broad latitude to personalize the ceremony according to what is important to them. They select the speakers and overall program, and there is usually a slideshow tracing his scouting journey, including a lot of fun times.
On Tuesday evening, December 11, 2012, our son was recognized for his accomplishment in becoming an Eagle Scout. A few of the adult leaders spoke of things that had happened along the way; one said that the young man exemplified the aspect of "cheerfulness." All who spoke reminded him that he now represents all Eagle scouts, and charged him to continue to be an example to others of service, honor, loyalty, and courage.
His slide show included various summer camps, snow-shoe trips, and other activities, with a few silly pictures tossed in for fun. There were a number of pictures from a 50-mile hike with beautiful scenery, and one close up of his feet with several band-aids on them.
The Eagle scout himself had time to reflect on all his scouting experiences, and bestowed special honor on a few adults by giving them "mentor" pins. And he seemed to realize how much he appreciates all the adults who have helped him along the way. It was wonderful to see this side of him.
As his mother, I remember the first time he was asked to be emcee for some event, possibly a troop court of honor (these are held regularly), and how nervous he was before that. Then I watched him gain confidence in leading these and other events. He took his turn (more than once, I believe) as the Senior Patrol Leader, who is the scout leader for the entire troop, and he did so with confidence. He learned first aid skills, taught knots and lashings, before passing that function on to a younger scout coming up in the ranks, became a rock-climbing instructor, dug various snow caves to sleep in (much warmer than pitching tents on top of the snow, he tells me), and the list can go on and on.
I have to say that I have a real appreciation for the adult men who were role models for the scouts, leading by example and encouragement, as they taught the boys many basic skills, and helped them to teach those skills to the younger scouts. I consider it a privilege to have been a part of this experience. Most of all, I am very proud of my son.