1909: The Start of the Eagle Award
In the summer of 1909, Adirondack Camp established The Order of the Adirondack Camp Eagle. Known today as simply an “Eagle,” this coveted prize is the highest honor one can earn at Adirondack Camp. While the criteria has changed slightly over its 112-year-old history, the Adirondack Eagle nevertheless remains one of the oldest and longest-running summer camp award in the world.
To obtain the Gold Eagle, a boy must not only have such a good record, but he must have made the most of his summer in camp, and have learned much about nature and woodcraft and have skill along many lines, and courage.
Changes over the Years
For many summers, all campers, regardless of age or line, could earn any of the three Eagle awards. But with the introduction of the Braves Code of Honor and changes to the plaques, the criteria of what needs to be accomplished/learned/memorized (and by who) has evolved over the years. However, staff voting, embodiment of core values, and “making the most of the summer” have always been at the foundation of the Adirondack Eagle award. Additionally, one’s impact on camp is also taken into account. Former Director/Owner Bill Dooley suggested the idea that in the earlier days for Gold - a camper’s impact on the entire Camp, for Silver - impact on the camp line, for Bronze - impact at the cabin level.
By the 1950’s, each Adirondack Eagle tier became tied to a specific age group; Junior Campers could only earn a Bronze Eagle, Intermediate Campers could only earn a Silver Eagle, and Senior Campers or Staff could only earn a Gold Eagle. This change was done intentionally to better recognize the unique achievements of specific age groups.
The Adirondack Eagle Today
Today, the Adirondack Eagle is still a tradition and a high honor awarded to many deserving campers and staff each summer. Our ten plaques remain the main basis for the award but service to camp, accumulation of activity points, passing of silence and memory tests, and overall impact all factor into determining who earns an Eagle. At the end of each session, camp gathers together for a joyous celebration where speeches are spoken and tears are shed as we honor and induct new members to the Order of the Adirondack Camp Eagle.