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  • #31
    >


    I tend to agree. However, let's face it --- that version of the advancement program went away when Scout Camps began engineering easy, efficient ways to get advancement requirements signed off.

    Scout camps tend to be the prime offenders on that except for things like swimming, which camps tend to take seriously.

    Comment


    • #32
      Could it be the 800 lbs gorilla in the room nobody seems to want to talk about much?

      If you could make a list of people who, if honest, would say "I want this Scout to advance to the rank of Eagle".

      The Scout's parents
      National
      (figured I would get these out of they way first since they get the most heat in these forums)
      The Scout
      The Scoutmaster
      The Troop Committee
      COR
      District
      Council
      MBC

      With all these people having a desire to see a Scout reach Eagle it's time to introduce the gorilla, or gorillas:

      Personal Management
      Citizenship in the Community
      Citizenship in the Nation
      Citizenship in the World
      Communications

      The theory behind Eagle required merit badges is a worthy one. The skills and experiences acquired through these merit badges, when done properly, are valuable. But what has happened is the highest rank that is possible to earn in a program based on getting outside is contingent on work done that would be considered classroom oriented. If we were to rename these merit badges as a teenage boy sees them, they might look something like this:

      Math
      Social Studies
      Social Studies
      Social Studies
      Language Arts

      I'm not sure I've have yet to meet a Scout that says he joined Scouting because he just can't get enough school.

      Because of all this, the list of well-meaning people who all want a Scout to advance to Eagle can change their thinking from, "How can we offer a program the boys will embrace and enthusiastically strive to reach the highest rank possible" to, "How can we convince these boys to do these merit badges they hate so we can get them to Eagle".

      If you look at the list of people and positions, you can fill in any of them in the blanks of the statement "_______ is putting pressure on _______ to get this boy to Eagle". All this causes the school-type ERMB (Hey, just made a new acronym!) to be cheapened just to get them done. Enter the Merit Badge Academies, Badge-a-palooza, or whatever you want to call them.

      We get 20 kids in a room, talk about George Washington, set pre-reqs that are never checked to see if they are done, and here is your ERMB. Not only does Scouting require school-type merit badges for the highest rank of an outdoor program, these merit badges are treating as an annoyance, leaving them not only boring for the boys but ultimately useless.

      Let me ask you, instead of the list of ERMB I gave, your instead saw silver linings around:

      Cooking
      Orienteering
      Pioneering
      Canoeing
      Backpacking

      Would you not think that young man has earned the highest rank of an outdoor program?

      Comment


      • #33
        There are a lot of good replies here that describe the problem. And most of them are correctly hitting at the main point that Scouting isn't about advancement, its about growth in the Three Aims of character, fitness and citizenship.

        Advancement is only one of Eight Methods to achieving those goals as intended by the BSA, but it gets more than its fair share of focus because adults dont really know how to measure progress any other way.

        Truthfully when done correctly, advancement is toward the top of the list for the impact it can have on a scout of reaching those Three Aim goals. But the problem is most adults in their ignorance of the program focus on the prize of advancement and dont even consider the real objectives of character, fitness and citizenship. MB Colleges, fairs, academies, whatever you want to call them are a good example of focusing on the prizes of advancement and ignoring the three aims. Can those programs be presented so that the scouts get the full impact of developing character, you bet. But the vast majority doesnt because that is not the concern of the planners.

        This whole discussion is wrapped around the adults misplaced operation of the boy scout program. I see it as a BSA cultural problem because there really isnt much emphasis directing adults otherwise. The First Class rank is traditionall supposed to indicate that the scout has learned all the skills necessary to survive in the woods by himself. Yet, how many here honestly feel comfortable with drooping off their 11 year old scout in the woods for two nights by themselves? What were we really trying to do then by getting the scout to First Class?

        If adults arent really serious about the skills scouts are supposed to gain from their experiences of advancement, then they aren't going to develop the process of advancement in their program that was intended by the BSA. Or at least the traditional BSA.

        Barry

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        • #34
          I'd have no problems leaving either of my sons (1st class and Star Scouts) for two nights camping on their own. My wife might not be so confident, but they have the skills to do that.

          I do think that the classroom badges are the hardest to get scouts to do. I truly don't understand why we have three different Eagle Required Citizenship badges (until 1958, we just had a single badge required--Civics). One should be enough. Let's replace the other two with outdoor oriented badges. Scouting is Outing, and the only way we will succeed as an organization is to embrace that.

          Comment


          • #35
            On the subject of the "three Citizenships" and why they are all required, in the past I have discussed my "pet theory" which I call the "good idea syndrome." In my opinion, when it comes to advancement (and other recognitions) the BSA has a tendency to adopt every good idea that comes along, without really looking at the big picture and deciding whether there are just too many requirements. Taken by themselves, having required merit badges for Citizenship in the Nation, World and Community are all good ideas. Taken by themselves, having required MB's for Communications, Family Life and Personal Management are also good ideas. But is it really a good idea to have SIX required merit badges that do not really involve the outdoor program and, to one extent or another, are "classroom badges"? (Some might not think Family Life belongs on that list, but some might also think that Emergency Prep and/or Environmental Science do belong on that list.) The BSA never seems to be able to take a good look at the list and make the difficult decision that even though all of these required badges are a good idea, one or two of them should be removed and replaced by, say, Cooking, or not replaced at all. (There is no law saying there have to be 12 required MB's, when I was a Scout there were 11, and in reading various lists in the past, I think that even in the "modern era" the number has been as low as 10.) If I had to pick one to take off the list, the first one probably would be Family Life, and the second would probably be Citizenship in the World. I am pretty sure neither are going to be removed.

            The good idea syndrome also affects the lower ranks, if you look at some of the things that have been added over the past 10 years, and I don't believe anything has been removed. I really think they need to take a sharp pencil to the requirements for T, 2C and 1C and remove maybe one or two from each one. Again, it won't happen -- because each of the requirements, by itself, is a "good idea."

            Comment


            • #36
              Irsap, I like your proposed list of Eagle required. Outdoor challenges are more interesting, and challenging, than the homework/roadblock/obstacle MBs that are on the list now. Your list would also bolster the public's image of Eagle, as someone who is proficient in the outdoors.

              NJ, I concur with your "good idea" theory...lots of stuff gets approved because no one wants to be the guy who speaks up and says "we don't need do that." Don't make waves, be a team player, etc.

              And once the good idea gets approved, it usually lasts a lifetime. Though I firmly believe those three citizenship MBs should be combined into one, I doubt there is a BSA staffer anywhere that would take on that project.

              Comment


              • #37
                Irsap, I like your proposed list of Eagle required. Outdoor challenges are more interesting, and challenging, than the homework/roadblock/obstacle MBs that are on the list now. Your list would also bolster the public's image of Eagle, as someone who is proficient in the outdoors.

                NJ, I concur with your "good idea" theory...lots of stuff gets approved because no one wants to be the guy who speaks up and says "we don't need do that." Don't make waves, be a team player, etc.

                And once the good idea gets approved, it usually lasts a lifetime. Though I firmly believe those three citizenship MBs should be combined into one, I doubt there is a BSA staffer anywhere that would take on that project.

                Comment

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