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Citizenship in the Community - Req. #7

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  • Citizenship in the Community - Req. #7

    A scout in our troop working to complete Citizenship in the Community wants to know whether or not his volunteer service at our church's vacation bible school can qualify for requirement #7. What do you think?

    Some have the opinion that vacation bible school is not the kind of service the BSA writers had in mind when the requirement was written. The pamphlet uses community service organizations addressing problems like illiteracy and poverty, environmental and health issues, or helping the elderly, children or animals as examples.

    The argument in favor of agreeing with the scout is that furthering belief in God and religion "brings people in your community together to work for the good of your community," but, our community is relatively affluent: it's not poverty-stricken children being served. On the other hand there is no question the scout has served well for three summers and plans to do so again this year. He is highly sought after by the staff each year and really enjoys participating.

  • #2
    I think it falls short for the MB as I feel like the overall requirement is designed to get the scout to find an organization outside his normal circles.


    • #3
      We've discussed this before. Many churches see VBS as a form of community service. Most of the families served are not members of the church. If you consider that religious education (of a personal nature) is prohibitively expensive for many Christian families -- even seemingly affluent ones, and the volunteer youth model seems to work well, then the boy's service makes sense. If on the other hand, the "outreach" is seen as just another religious exercise, then maybe the service aspect is not so relevant. (Although, there's nothing to say that religious devotion and community service are mutually exclusive.)

      More important than what we think, the MBC should ask the boy how he thinks his service (whatever it is) benefits the community. Obviously, if you're the MBC, walk him through this. If not, tell him to talk to the MBC along those lines.


      • #4
        Do the following:

        1. Choose a charitable organization outside of Scouting that interests you and brings people in your community together to work for the good of your community.

        It would seem that a few churches might be meeting this criteria. Not all churches are interested in meeting the needs of their communities other than their own people. That would need to be properly defined. Obviously the Salvation Army is a church that does exclusive work for the community around them, yet they are a church first.

        2. Using a variety of resources (including newspapers, fliers and other literature, the Internet, volunteers, and employees of the organization), find out more about this organization.

        If this is done using a variety of resources research the church it could be okay.

        3. With your counselor's and your parent's approval, contact the organization and find out what young people can do to help. While working on this merit badge, volunteer at least eight hours of your time for the organization. After your volunteer experience is over, discuss what you have learned with your counselor.

        Looks like counselor, parents and organization must agree that the scout is able to do at least eight hours of volunteer work. I would think the boy could request working for VBS, but that's not a given. That’s a pretty big presumption on the part of the scout. VBS is a part of many churches that don’t do a whole lot for the community around them. Many tend to be rather self serving. Churches that host food pantries, clothing/furniture resources for those less fortunate, community meals for the homeless, warming centers in the winter, etc. are all experiences that would be more in line to the "good of your community" as stated in sub-requirement #1. Those churches tend to be more social ministry focused, rather than just VBS which is more in tuned to helping the organization more than helping the individuals. VBS is designed as a program of evangelism meant to bring others into the congregation, thus helping the congregation as well as the individual. Salvation Army really receives very little if any benefit as an organization because of their work. I'm thinking that even with the recognition they receive, the vast majority of people recognize the Salvation Army more as a service organization than a Christian church whose sole purpose is social ministry to others. The question lies more in how much does the organization exist primarily to help others and how much it exists primarily to serve its own membership.


        • #5
          First I'd like to apologize to the the forum. I failed to include two pertinent facts. I am the father of the scout in question, and I am also the scoutmaster. (I am not the merit badge counselor.) I appreciate your comments.

          I told my son I thought his VBS service, although wonderful, should not be used to fulfill this requirement, but I wanted the input of the forum. Thank you.

          There are other ministries of our church that would be wonderful choices for fulfilling this requirement (food pantry, donated goods, even refugee resettlement), not to mention many other groups in town or even ministries of other local churches.


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            That would be my first option if I were working with a church. I know it's a matter of interpretation when it comes to "community", but I'm thinking community is meant as something beyond the membership community of the organization itself.

            I hope your boy still volunteers for VBS even if he doesn't get credit for it. It's a great program for the church.