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Eagle Scout Letter

Mike has written the attached letter and will personalize and sign it for any Eagle Scout out there who requests it. All you have to do is mail a self-addressed, stamped ($1.50) 9x 12 (large) envelope. If you do not mind your Eagle Scout Letter arriving folded you are welcome to send a regular size self-addressed, stamped ($.49) envelope. Please be sure to note, your letter will be tri-folded so if you’re planning on framing you should use the large envelope information (one request per envelope please) to:

Eagle Scout Letter
1207 4th Street, PH 1
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Here’s the deal – you guys are Eagle Scouts so you can follow directions, right? Do not forget to include the SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE. Please allow 12+ weeks for it to get filled out, get Mike’s signature and then back in the mail to you. If you forget the envelope, or don’t include postage or it’s the wrong size, all bets are off – you might get it and you might not.



Dear __________________________Back in 1977, I got a letter from The President of the United States, congratulating me on becoming an Eagle Scout. It was printed on thick, creamy paper, and had the presidential seal stamped on the bottom, right next to Gerald Ford’s name. Impressive. However, as I studied the president’s photocopied signature, and considered the fact that I had never even met the man, I came to the conclusion that I was holding a Form Letter.

Don’t get me wrong; it was a nice gesture, but I decided then and there, that if I ever found myself in the position of sending out hundreds of identical letters to Eagle Scouts everywhere, I wouldn’t pretend to fool them into thinking they had received a heartfelt expression of unique sentiment. After all, a Scout is Trustworthy, whether he goes on to become the President of the United States or the host of a show on cable television. Which is why I am compelled to admit that I did not write this letter specifically for you. I disclose this deliberately, in the hope that doing so will imbue my well wishes with a measure of credibility greater than those of any former president. And even though many Eagle Scouts have received this exact letter, you will notice that the time has been taken to scribble your name into the blanks provided, a personal touch not included in President Ford’s Form Letter, or to my knowledge, any correspondence originating from the current leader of the free world.

Having said all that ________________________, I will now offer my sincere congratulations for what you’ve achieved.

As you may have heard, the Eagle Award is kind of a big deal. Most of the guys in my old troop bailed out around Star or First Class. You stuck it out, and that makes you special. But don’t get cocky, _________________________. Contrary to what many have told you, this award will NOT change the way the world looks at you. Sorry, but it’s true. The vast majority of people you’re going to meet in life aren’t going to care about what you’ve accomplished in The Boy Scouts, and you know what? That’s fine. Because while others may benefit from being around the type of adult you might become, the only person that will ever be truly affected by what you have accomplished, is _______________________________.

Remember this always. The Eagle Award comes with no magic power or influence. It is merely a reminder that you have succeeded in one area where most others have failed. That could be the start of a very positive pattern. Or, it could be something else. I knew a guy who got his Eagle a couple years before me. His chest literally puffed up, and never returned to its normal size. He started walking around like the world owed him a living. His Dad got him into a decent school, and when he finally graduated, he actually carried his degree in his pocket – took it to job interviews, and showed it around like it was his first merit badge. Today, he is a miserable, pompous, pain in the butt with no friends, two ex-wives, and a job he hates. Always complaining about this or that. He still has an old football trophy on his mantle, next to his diploma, and an identical copy of that same form letter from Gerald Ford, framed on his desk, congratulating him for something he did 30 years ago.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t wait for the world to acknowledge your accomplishments. By all means, take pride in what you’ve done, but don’t let it go to your head. When you’re finished with Scouting, donate your uniform to The Salvation Army. Fold up your sash and stow it away somewhere private, with all the other tokens of what you’ve done so far. Then, roll up your sleeves, get out in the world, and put what you’ve learned to use.

Live the Scout Law. Remember the Scout Oath. Be unique. And don’t forget to have fun. Otherwise, _________________________, you’ll wind up like most everybody else – a human form letter.

Mike-Rowe-esletter-crosslegs esletter-greenlogo

Mike Rowe
Perpetual Apprentice – mikeroweWORKS.com

PS. The signature, for what it’s worth, is really mine.

  • laura montalbano

    wow very well said Mike! I’m a Girl Scout leader and have been hard pressed to get my daughters to do a gold award.but they haven’t graduated high school yet there’s still hope. So hats off to you for all you do!

  • Caleb Clardy

    I would really like a copy of this, even though I earned my Eagle several years ago.

  • Sam Coover

    This is awesome! My First Class Scout will love this when his time comes. He is a huge fan! What are the chances we could talk Mike into video-recording his letter to play at any Eagle Scout Court of Honor to go along with the signed letter? Of course it would still be generic, but the video would make a wonderful addition to the ceremony.

  • NilsRibi

    Great letter Mike. Earned my Eagle in 1970 and the letter and certificate were “signed” by Tricky Dicky”…oh well. I’m still proud of earning it and being able to help others. Best, Nils

  • outtheretoo


    In the spirit of your approach and encouragement, I offer this opinion:

    Thank you for taking a different, creative path for encouraging everyone to take pride in their accomplishments and yet to consider that whereas it is nice to receive a pat on the back for a job well done, neither that path or the ultimate merit/reward is the real indicator of the
    individual’s build of character but rather just points out a moment in time.

    The character comes from within, and it is formed by a self-drive that practices integrity, honesty, empathy for others and a spontaneous need to help others -whether you feel you have the resources, time or not.

    Scouting is just a microcosm for life development and a nice chance for, not proof of, developing or encouraging many of these traits. Scouting for boys and girls of all ages, simply has the potential to pass on some of the best social characteristics in society to encourage empathy for others and to battle indifference and entitlement. If the scoutmaster and leaders do not possess these qualities, the scout is more likely to take away less than optimal experiences that would have made them perhaps an exemplar member of society. Consequently, for those individual scouts, the well-meaning merit badge and achievement levels like Life and Eagle are less of a road map and more of the aggrandizement, which in your comments are perhaps encouraging them to avoid.

    In other words, in Scouting for all ages and for all sexes, the merit and awards system is at crossed-purposes with the actual Scouting base of building and reinforcing individual and group character and service in our society. This has sadly always been true for the program. The goals are always primarily the next level of achievement, like our society teaches every day, and not the actual behavior and introduction to integrated skills that the scout merit/awards recognition system originally sought to encourage and build.

    This erosion of quality and loss of special mentorship and leadership is no more evident than in the leadership in Scouting and how their chance to inspire priceless foundational development in our youth is many times squandered because the leaders themselves are not chosen for the very qualities Scouting sought to develop, encourage and pass on through generations. No one argues with the fact that youth are impressionable and there are some great opportunities to pass on the better parts of our societal interaction in Scouting. The problem seems to be that we spout out the Scout Oath and never really understand, study or practice what that means partially because it has simply been delegated to a “motto” and not as the singular goal. The goal for Scouts, for decades now, is merit/awards, and that is more a “digital machine” approach and not the “analogue experience” pursued long ago and even presently in the hearts of our best scout leaders, the unsung heroes.

    The form letter you describe in many ways simply illustrates the ever-growing practices of our society to reward apparent achievement with vacuous awards, while making them look important and thus implying great achievement –this being the way to say everyone can be a leader but in actuality not truly instilling the skills to be such. We in power have countless ways to deliver apparent but actually non-existent access to that power. The Eagle Scout level of achievement should imply a serious path of having absorbed, understood and practiced the base individual and group character toward that which our society strives. In truth, if these things are taught, exemplified, reinforced and instilled in the individual in Scouting, there is no need for the merit/awards system, which as mentioned has evolved as the goal and not the map of the path of character development. Time and exposure are important here and not award. Every Scout, regardless of their level of current achievement of merits/awards, should be learning and practicing, empathy, fairness, tolerance and individual compassion, not aggrandizement-driven service. It really is that simple, and we need scout leaders who naturally and consistently walk and teach that path. Unfortunately, Scouting has gotten away from us and into the realm of leadership dictation of that path rather than original integrity of character-dictation of the path.

    There are unfortunately endless examples of the diminishment of what the scouting experience (for all youth) could deliver; however, some very simple examples might be in order:

    In my scouting days, the best scout leaders were amazing examples to the youth. The youth knew it, and they quietly lived the example of what scouting could be. Merit badges were earned and levels attained but there was no way on that path that these special leaders did not influence your approach to yourself and the group and empathy for others. Community service was the cornerstone of basically everything in those leaders. It did not matter what the troop did actually because the leaders lived and acted what the scouts wanted to become – nice people who helped those who were in need. This was obvious. In fact as tribute to my Father, he was this way and a scout leader to the leaders simply as a father of some of the boys. He never wanted to be a troop scoutmaster because he felt that he could do so much more outside the system. He did not believe in accolades or the merit/awards system. He believed practicing to be a better person for others was its own motivation and might actually be impeded by achievement levels becoming status levels, rather than indicators of a traveled
    route and time exposed to a good way. When Scouting awarded him the “Silver Beaver” honor, he appreciated it but placed it in his drawer, never to be seen again and just continued on as usual. This is of course my opinion but when he left Scouting, when all his kids moved on, he resisted Scouting’s calls for him to return because he saw the leadership all together missing the point of scouting. He used to actually walk past the regional scouting office in our hometown and more than once mentioned he could not understand why there were offices like that and all that bureaucracy, when so many troops had so little.

    Eagle Scout is obtained partially by completing an “Eagle Project” that is in many ways to exemplify the use of the leadership and integrated skills and calls to service that the scouting experience has instilled in the individual. It is to demonstrate how good you are on all levels from empathy, leadership, organization, coordination, sequencing, group inspiration and motivation, planning and execution of that plan, management, quality control and humanistic and charitable skills application.

    Not that Eagle Projects ever really taxed all of these character categories but it seems that the expectations have lowered over the decades, as perhaps the bar of those expectations has been systematically dropped. In illustration, decades ago, an Eagle Project in our neck of the woods was assumed to be extensive, highly planned, involving a lot of people, do some real good for your community and make a clear impact. It was a pretty big deal. As a Life Scout, you looked forward to planning the big project.

    There was a scout who had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, who had only his Eagle Project between him and earning the level. He was a quadriplegic and controlled his wheelchair with his mouth. His Eagle project was to call (he dialed with puffs of his mouth) kids, and especially other disabled kids, from all over the state of Colorado to do a coordinated set of activities over a given two days to raise awareness for a charity that had nothing to do with Muscular Dystrophy but which helped the less fortunate than he. He coordinated some 120 kids, some of whom just moved a ball more than they usually could or did anything out of the ordinary in movement; so, they could show all of them doing something special for the charity in a very coordinate way. He organized it himself. He pulled it off, and it actually drew a great deal of awareness to the project. It seemed to me that he was without a doubt a better member of society and a leader type for the experience, not for the award.

    Since then, I have observed varying levels of Eagle Projects, all seeming to be simply obligations to pass through to the honor. Curiously, there seem to be projects like picking up trash and building a bench. In every case I have observed, including the ones who think they might wish to do something for our project but balk at any real work, I find them to be means to an end for becoming an Eagle and not a demonstration of how good they can be based on
    their scout experience.

    From a coordinated and-lead-by-example behavioral problem; recently while at a state park, I observed a scout troop, on what turned out to be a formal boating outing on the lake, of 9-10 year olds pile out of their cars, and as fifteen or so kids will tend to do when they are excited and letting off energy, they started to run around, all over the place. Five adults accompanied them: scout leaders and parents, I assumed. They paid no attention to the kids.

    Eventually, the kids spontaneously started to form a tight group and were doing some sort of dance. I thought this was interesting, until I realized they were, as a very coordinated group, stomping out a very large and alive anthill. I saw that the adults did see what they were doing but did nothing about it. I went over to the adults and told them to stop the kids immediately, which they did but looked totally surprised at me. I told the kids not kill or disturb anything in the park –not a single thing. Then I went back to the adults and told them to control the kids and not allow them to damage the park. To my amazement, the adults agreed to control the kids but did not really see there was a problem. These were the leaders of these kids.

    As they were heading to the boat ramp, one of the kids came up to me and asked what they should do if a mosquito bit them. I told him to blow it off of his arm and not to hurt it. He said, “okay”. Curiously later, one of the boats came close to shore so one of the accompanying fathers could get off to go sit in his car. I asked him if he was ill, and he told me he simply couldn’t take being on the boat anymore -with everyone’s behavior. I asked him, “Kids or adults?”, and he said, “Both.”

    Clearly theses are just small examples of the existence and erosion of the character that Scouting sought to build and still seeks to imply with merits/awards. Yet, as the old saying goes, “Trying to change someone’s life with your words is like trying to steer your car with the horn”. You have certainly seen such with the visceral reaction to some very well-intentioned, creative approaches of yours. I am not sure why Scouting would be any different than anything else, when it comes to implying better but getting what we tolerate. I simply believe that the best happening in Scouting happens under the radar and is part of great mentorship and character development and is so far beyond accolades, merits and awards that it is generally unrecognizable by those in the system of Scouting whose driven goal is to perpetuate and obtain those merit/award levels.

    Scouting has such potential but it has perhaps long lost its ability to adapt and insulate itself from normality through integrity, empathy, fairness and creativity –after all a potent combination for better, more sustainable social health, and is that not the ultimate goal of

    Your comments on the process-generated Presidents’ accommodation letters were very interesting because as you put it, the “human form letter” is a real risk, when we forget and mistake the “how” of Scouting for the all important “Why”.

    Thank you for stirring the pot.

    Best Regards,

    William D. Kuenning
    Military Family Voices

  • Mark Syferd

    First off let me say thank you for showing people the jobs that people take for granted everyday and the people who do them. I have been a factory worker for 20 years and LOVE what I do. It’s not a glorious job and tell people that I “put the pictures on diapers” may not sound impressive, but it has allowed me to provide for my wife and 4 kids for the last 15+ years. Now as for you letter, I want to thank you for doing this for the Eagle Scouts. I earned mine 20 years ago I would have loved to received a letter from someone who really understands what it take to get it. I have received many form letter thanking me for my hard work, years of service, donations, etc. To have gotten a letter from someone who actually took the time to sign it themselves means so much more. At least then you would believe they took the time to at least read your name and see what you are getting the letter for. Once again thank you for your work and showing the blue collar roots of America. I have and will always be a fan.
    Mark Syferd

  • http://BoomMyBusiness.com/ Dave Mitchell

    Just sent this to our Scoutmaster, Venture Crew Advisor, and Scouting Committee.

    Thanks for all you do, Mike!

  • carlcasino

    Well said Mike, My letter was actually signed by Harry S. Truman. September 29 1952. Certificate #576. I support your effort to impress out youth, and more importantly their parents, that a PhD does not make you a productive citizen. More than likely it makes you an Educated Derelict. Our educational system is a disaster and MUST get back to the basics and leave the Social Engineering to the family unit. When America decides to return the basics that made America the Greatest Experiment in modern history we may survive as a nation.

  • Brent Ferguson

    Got my son thru Eagle, now if I can only get him EMPLOYED! I’ve kicked him in the a$$ enough, maybe your letter will help kick start that fire and drive him to earn pride in what he is DOING, rather than dreaming about the cush job he wants to have. Thanks for doing this!

  • Shannon Marie Conley

    Dear Michael,
    A letter. Thank you. Even though I have never achieved an eagle scout award I do feel I have earned one. Having survived a world where personal achievements were limited, I managed to raise two beautiful and intelligent woman. No formal education and divorced working in retail, studying at night and volunteering for emergency services has given way to some self esteem and a path with honor and humility that I look forward to following. The idea that I could contribute to society in some meaningful way has not been easily conceived.Through humor and a mind that I could relate, I found compassion and honesty, the likes of which I had never known in you Mike. Volunteering and hard work became necessary and I understood for the first time in my life I am more than my outer shell. I have guts. And with a little patients and love, I can be the woman God intends me to be. From a human being. Just me.

    • Shannon Marie Conley

      P.S. Into the light.

  • James Lehman

    Dear Mike: I will be requesting your letter for some nascent Eagles I know, and my Eagle’d son, who is now 21 and starting his adult journey. He is in Community College, paying his own way by working for a local farmer. Trucks, tractors, combines, slinging hay bales. He and I saw you at the National Jamboree a few years back. I have used your previous Eagle letter at some Scout occasions, and had a lot of nodding heads in response.
    “Dirty Jobs” was and is one of the best ever reasons for owning a TV set. QVC, not so much. I have not yet seen SGDI but will make sure to watch this sunday when I return from teaching at Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills this weekend in West by god Virginia near Harpers Ferry.
    I had heard you lived in Maryland still, but I see that is no longer the case. Shucks, I was going to invite you to attend our District RoundTable some time.
    Thank you for “Being There” (good movie!)

  • Shannon Marie Conley

    You will never break the chain. From a human heart. Amen