Send me a motivated boy on his 14th birthday and he can get to Eagle a little after his 16th birthday.
I served 8 years as a Scoutmaster, and my own son made Eagle. But I'll say this; there are 8 methods in Scouting. Advancement is one of them. A great many kids go in and out of Scouting without making Eagle (including myself), but they still get a heck of a lot of good out of Scouting. I give all the support I can to help a motivated Scout make Eagle, but I don't see the percentage of kids who make Eagle in a Troop as a measure of the effectiveness of that Troop. Eagle has to be something that the Scout wants to do, not something that I push the kid into because I think that it's the best thing for him or because it makes me look good. The worth of an Eagle is as much the journey it took him to make it as it is the rank itself. If you turn a Troop into "Eagle School", I'm not so sure the kids benefit so much from it.
That's pretty much what our new SM said.
And I agree that not all Scouts want to make Eagle, and will get a great deal out of Scouting without doing so. Our younger son (adopted) has delayed development and really struggled to make 2nd Class. It took him three tries to pass the SM conference. He is getting an enormous amount of personal growth from Scouting.
The thing that makes me angry are the people who hold Scouts back because Eagle is only for "the few". We were really proud of our (older) son because he came home and told us he wanted Eagle, after being told it was next to impossible. We changed troops and he proved he was willing to work hard to get there - so far at least.
Can you tell me about the 8 methods? I am very interested..
I have been giving this more thought and I see what you mean, I think, now. It would be hard to tease apart into separate issues all of the great things about Scouting. I think the wonderful friendships, both for our boys and for us, are a huge part of what we like about it.
Scouting is about GOOD PEOPLE, if I had to sum it up into one thing only.