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Newly minted MBC... what is your advice, lessons learned...

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  • Newly minted MBC... what is your advice, lessons learned...

    So been an ASM for my son's troop for a little over a year now, was CM in cubbie-land for 3 years prior to that after beginning as a DL for Tiger and Wolf year. Troop is pretty well organized and runs pretty smooth with about 30 active kids with a paper roster of about 45. I just signed up and got approved via the council service center as a MBC for 4 MBs (camping, medicine, geocaching, and family life). If there is one thing I've learned in the last 6 years as a leader of one sort or another, its that each new hat you put on comes with unique challenges, roses and thorns that you might know about and many you never see coming from your previous expiriences.

    So, I'm asking the group for some insight into what your expirience has been as a MBC. What works well for you? What do you wish you knew going in that you know now? What do you wish you would have done differently? Any major pitfalls / blindsides I need to beware of, etc???

    The scouter boards have never really let me down, so lets hear it... I'm looking to learn from others (yours) lessons already learned.

    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    Stick to the Curriculum..Don't add...Don't subtract
    Don't give in to peer pressure to let anyone slide partial work..
    Know your stuff..
    Don't sign off on Work done at Camp..or previous MBC just on their word..Make them rehash what was done so you know if they know what they are doing


    • #3
      Follow YPT.....Don't meet with mom or Dad and scout, if you do. Try to get the lad to buddy up with a friend. Mom or Dad don't sit at the table or space you are working on the merit badge at.....On more than one occasion I have had mom try to complete merit badge while scout son sat quietly beside her.

      I like to use the meeting room at the public library, it is free, it has windows and a door, mom can sit outside and watch what is going on but not be tempted to help. Plus it keeps everyone out of your home. Make sure you make the reservation and tell the librarian what is going on, the first time I did it they were concerned that I was meeting with a lad one on one in room....I introduced scout and parent and all was well.

      The boy makes the call an appointment with you....Not mom or dad.

      Do not accept partials your not comfortable with.....You can find out pretty easily if a lad actually did the work by just holding a casual conversation with him, before he begins his work with you.

      Try to avoid doing group merit badges at troop meetings, Participation does not equal completion in Boy Scouting.

      Make sure your name is on the list at district and you see scouts from all troops......I am taking a couple of scouts and driving nearly 2 hours to see a merit badge councilor in a neighboring council because none of the swimming merit badge councilors on the council website will see anyone outside their home unit.

      If a scout shows up with a letter from his scoutmaster saying he has completed a requirement with the troop such as nights camping, follow it up with a phone call, had a dad try to pull that stunt.....

      I keep a spread sheet of who I met with when and where....I write a brief impression and then attach the scanned merit badge card....

      Don't be disappointed when you don't get a million calls. In my 5 years I have only counciled 10 boys or so and only about 4 partials...


      • #4
        I think BD, brings up an important point. You are now a servant of your district. This shouldn't be too hard for you to handle because as CM, you've already know folks at your roundtable.

        So, if there is something unique that you can offer by way of adding variety to the program (especially for the Medicine and Geocaching MB's), don't hesitate to put yourself out there. Some troops might like the opportunity to have an introduction to the MB as a meeting topic. So if you have time to offer that sort of thing, you can. But, like BD said, avoid walking through all the requirements of the badge and making it a classroom. Make it more of an activity that the boys can enjoy and at the end of the time say "This is about half the MB, if you think you'd enjoy working on this, here's my contact info, arrange an appointment, show up with the pamphlet, and we'll get you started based on what you remember from tonight, and where you'd like to go from here."

        Our troop allows councilors to schedule appointments at meeting times. We insist that the boy arrange for appointments in advance, so that if the adult is on our committee, he/she can allocate time accordingly, and if the youth has a position of responsibility that demands his attention during the meeting, he can arrange for proper coverage. Usually, the SM or I are happy to stick around and do some busy work while MB appointments wrap up. It's also a neat way to meet boys from neighboring units. Other troops absolutely would not allow this. Bottom line: find out what your troop allows/prohibits. Balance that with what suits your style.


        • #5
          I like to remember that MBs are part of a larger advancement program. Everything works together to accomplish scouting's goals. That can only happen if scouts keep doing merit badges and continue to pursue advancement.

          Plus, I like to remember every scout is different. A shy 11 year old working on citizen of the nation will "discuss" at a different level than a 17 year old that has submitted his college applications. One might barely utter a sentence. The other could keep going on and on and on based on more years in school.

          #1 Key. Do not add or subtract from the requirements. Scout completes the badge when requirements are met. But ... REQUIREMENTS ARE STILL SUBJECTIVE.
          #2 Be supportive and compassionate.
          #3 "try" to find a way to give the scout a good experience.
          #4 Feel free to add your own unique experience or perspectives. This is valuable to the scout.
          #5 Use your judgement and common sense.

          I'm okay signing off a scout as long as I can justify that the scout met the requirements and that it has been a learning / growing experience. Unfortunately, this does mean a different level of quality and quantity of output between an 11 year old scout on his 1st badge and a 17 year old scout on his 80th badge.

          To be honest, I'm okay with that as long as the scout grew toward the scouting goals. Especially, if I inspired him to do more merit badges, pursue advancement and/or learn more about the subject.


          • #6
            Teach something. If Scouts show up to meet with you with a completed worksheet and all you do is grade their paper, you're not a counselor, just a bureaucrat.

            The best MBC we have is for Personal Management. He teaches the MB once a year to a small group of 5-6 Scouts. Classes are held over 4 or 5 Saturday mornings for an hour or two with later follow up to review their budgets. The classes FAR exceed what is covered by the merit badge. Pay attention here, the CLASSES far exceed what's included in the MB; earning the badge is still judged only on completion or the requirements.

            This fellow embodies the ideal of Scouts learning from adults of good character who are experts in the field. That should be the standard for all merit badge counselors.


            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              Whenever I have done MBC work, I always gone above and beyond the requirements, but the material covered is never a waste of time for the boys, nor does it count for or against a boy if he listens to that material.

              I have had boys do the merit badge and then ask for more time with me to cover stuff that wasn't in the book/requirements that they were interested in. The books only give a brief overview of the subject. Some boys want more than what the book has to offer.

            • Scouter99
              Scouter99 commented
              Editing a comment
              They're USSSP worksheets, hotlinks them. But I agree they're just a study guide/organizational tool.

          • #7
            I don't accept merit badge. com work sheets for anything......I view them as a study guide nothing more.....Lad hands me one...I will put it in my binder and then we will begin to discuss or work thru the requirements.


            • #8
              I like what's been said so far. With the list you have of mb you'll be doing I would only add that when I work with a boy on family life I like to talk with them about their family project as a mini-test run of leading a project such as an eagle project. That they are in charge NOT mom, dad, guardian, whoever... that means they pick the project, look at their families abilities, and assign the best job for the person for the project.

              While I agree with the don't add to requirements you can still teach them more than is required. There are badges that there are things I know that are above what is required to learn and I will teach that or I will talk about it - they aren't required to demonstrate it or know it ahead of time, but sometimes just adding to the discussions makes it more fun.


              • #9
                dont agree to teach badges at merit badge fairs - this in many way defeats part of the purpose of the adult interaction with mb counselors, also you will always have scouts who will show up without even reading the requirements or doing any prerequisites/projects to completing the badge and yet they will still expect to be given the badge.

                dont do the merit badge as part of a troop meeting esp with essentially the whole troop. this like above is not how either the merit badge process or troop meeting should be.

                always try to be as knowledgeable as possible about the badge. whats in the booklet should never be essentially the limits of your knowledge on the subject. go above and beyond in further research into the subject so your might be able to interact with the scout especially in any areas they might be particularly interested in.

                try to be as interactive as possible. actually doing something, going on trips, interacting and meeting with others will be a much more enjoyable and memorable exp for the scouts than reading from some books.

                accept the fact that most scouts will only see you for the eagle required badges and that its rare to actually have a scout from another troop actually seek you out despite that method will often lead to the best experiences.