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Awarding Merit Badges from summer camp, questions.

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  • #16
    What about the scout's responsibility for a quality MB experience. Our troop guides the scouts in the purpose of the MB experience as well as how to enjoy the experience. If the counselor is just signing off requirements without really giving the scout a quality experience, the scout needs to make some ethical choices. I can't say that we are different from your troop to how we work with the scouts, but I have seen our scouts quit a counselor or redo a completed badge with another counselor because they didn't feel they were getting a quality experience. I'm sure there are scouts, as well as adults, who will "game" the system, but the program is about developing character, so we should encourage ethical choices by the scouts at the begining so they can make the right choices and not wait for some adult to intervine. Barry

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    • #17
      Eagledad / Barry ...
      Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
      ... a quality MB experience ... If the counselor is just signing off requirements without really giving the scout a quality experience, the scout needs to make some ethical choices.
      I understand your frustration. But per your description, you can't use GTA section 7.0.4.7 to take recourse. You described "quality" of the experience.

      Originally posted by BSA Guide To Advancement, Section 7.0.4.7
      This procedure is not to be viewed as an opportunity for retesting on requirements, for interjecting another set of standards over those of a merit badge counselor, or for debating issues such as whether a Scout was strong enough, mature enough, or old enough to have completed requirements.
      My sons have had both really great MBCs and some very poor MBCs. I, in now way, view their receiving MBs from either as unethical. It was the experience they had. Simple as that. Plus, I really don't like the inference other scouts have an ethical dilemma if they accept a badge from a less than quality merit badge counselor.

      ============================

      IMHO ... Troops are 90% removed from the merit badge program. I sort of wish the last 10% was detached too. For example, MBC are approved and maintained by the district. If a MBC didn't follow the requirements or mistakenly awarded a MB, the district staff should be the ones to address the situation and talk to the scout about his not really have earned it. Same with summer camp, summer camp MB program is administered by the camp and council. If there is an issue, it should be corrected by the camp or council, not by the unit.
      Last edited by fred johnson; 07-08-2014, 07:10 PM.

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      • #18
        >>My sons have had both really great MBCs and show very poor MBCs. I in now way view their receiving MBs from either as unethical. It was the experience they had. Simple as that. Plus, I really don't like then the inference that the other scouts they sat next to had lower ethical standards or are less worthy of rank advancement when it comes.

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        • #19

          Originally posted by fred johnson View Post
          Eagledad / Barry ...
          Troops are 90% removed from the merit badge program. I sort of wish the last 10% was detached too. [/B]For example, MBC are approved and maintained by the district. If a MBC didn't follow the requirements or mistakenly awarded a MB, the district staff should be the ones to address the situation and talk to the scout about his not really have earned it. Same with summer camp, summer camp MB program is administered by the camp and council. If there is an issue, it should be corrected by the camp or council, not by the unit.
          Fred -- have you given any thought to what color the sky will be in that world?

          Ain't gonna happen. We're in a relatively small district have hundreds of MBCs. It's all our advancement guy can do to get an accurate list of the counselors every year. Forget any sort of screening of initial applications for quality control. Our system works here only because it is the units who recruit and vet the MBCs. It is the unit leaders who know these folks, know if they are qualified in the subject and know if they are the people of character we want working with our Scouts. The district guys have no way of knowing.

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          • #20
            Rant follows.

            As National Council knows, many council camps do not enforce requirements for some Merit Badges.

            EXAMPLE: "class" of forty+ Scouts listen to lectures on First Aid MB topics for 250 minutes in the heat of Summer and, with no individual testing and even if unconscious for part of 250 minutes, all get MB.

            EXAMPLE: 40+ Scouts listen to lestures on WIlderness Survival (Often inaccurate: bear bag is made of special cloth so bears cannot smell contents), build functionally useless shelter (can be seen through from any angle), start three fires without using match (butane lighters OK; propane torch OK) and with no testing on any of the other ten requirements (and subparts) all who "get" three fires receive MB.

            EXAMPLE: entire "Scoutcraft" staff under 18 and not one of seven registered as a MBC. Handed out Pioneering Metrit Badge by Thursday to a Scout who literally could not tie one knot (I worked with him for thirty minutes and could not get him to tie a Square Knot.).
            Q: "What about your pioneering project?" A: "Project?"


            National Council tells me they do not know how to deal with this. (??!!!)

            Councils say they cannot afford staff to allow individual testing. Interesting the conclusion they draw from this.


            Many camps advertise "Camp _____ is not a Merit Badge mill."
            What if many homes in your town had signs saying, "Prostitutes do not live here"?


            National Council also says MBs given out without indiviidual testing by registered Merit Badge Counselor (that is, a person 18 or older registered with a council as a MBC) have not been earned. Enforcement?


            We once had actual camp inspections.


            This is a disgrace and helps explain why the numbers of "Eagles" have climbed from 1% to 5% to 7% in 2013 and to whatever it is now.

            But, you know, debasing coinage does not maintain, much less increase, its value.

            What are we teaching the Scouts - staff and participants?

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Twocubdad View Post
              Our system works here only because it is the units who recruit and vet the MBCs. It is the unit leaders who know these folks, know if they are qualified in the subject and know if they are the people of character we want working with our Scouts. The district guys have no way of knowing.
              Twocubdad - Yeah, I know it's not going to happen. It won't change, but I'd like to see it removed from the unit. When the MBC is so closely held by the units, that closely held association defeats key features of how the program is supposed to work and adds inconsistency between local units.


              On the flip side, I do disagree ... and maybe it's one of the causes of the problem. Units do NOT oversee the quality of MBCs. It may be that way "somewhat", but that's not how it works ... "officially". A potential MBC has two forms to fill out. An adult leader app and a MBC app. As a long-term CC / COR I've signed dozens of the adult leader applications. Some have been MBC apps, but I think that's by mistake. Plus, some adults in our unit become MBCs without my signature.

              I've always assumed because MBC is a "district" role, not a unit role. On the top of the adult leader application, you fill out the "district" position and district name. You don't need to fill out the unit info.

              As for the MB application, there is no signature line for me, the unit leader. Below is a link to that form. I've rarely seen and never signed them.

              Adult leader application - http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/524-501.pdf
              MBC application - http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34405.pdf
              Last edited by fred johnson; 07-09-2014, 12:50 AM.

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              • #22
                TAHAWK: Plus 1 on your rant.

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                • #23
                  Hopefully when fred has a heart attack the closest scout got his MB from a counselor who met the requirements rather than, like, the experience, man.

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                  • #24
                    Just learned Summer Camp where PLC decided to go has 45 candidates for Wilderness Survival and one "counselor" in three sessions That gives him about eighteen minutes per candiate for instruction and testing - only there will undoubtedly be no testing + time for shelter-building, such as it will be. I wonder if the "counselor" is, in fact, a Counselor. They had a Counselor for that MB but he had to leave after first four weeks, so ?????.
                    Last edited by TAHAWK; 07-09-2014, 07:17 PM.

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                    • #25
                      Gee, sounds like they need some help. If only there was experienced adult that could do that.....

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                      • #26
                        Indeed they do. In all cases, "could" needs to be empowered by "may."

                        My home council has the advancement Committee organize Counselors on a rotating basis so the candiate to Counselor ratio is more like 5/1 Plus, the candidiates are told to arrive prepared to be tested on designated requirements - most of the requirements in fact.

                        This council for this camp has no Advancement Committee. They were stunned when I asked to help ("How?")

                        This place has no process to allow Counselors to function to supplement, much less replace, the non-Counselors. They will let you watch - even make a comment or two and coach the kids having trouble with fires -- but the mill must keep grinding. Absolutely will not have you test and they will not test. The Blue Cards are signed by the Program Director who has had zero contact with the candidates.

                        The worst mills want no part of actual Counselors around to see what is going on. Might interfere with handing out party favors. I was told at one camp that adults - any adults -- merely being present would "bother" the staff.
                        Last edited by TAHAWK; 07-10-2014, 12:01 AM.

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                        • #27
                          TAHAWK, add me to the rant too.

                          But as too the wilderness survival testing I saw a single MBC use the overnighter the camps I've been to do as the "final," and loved it.

                          Long story short, 2 adults, him and a volunteer Scouter, take the Scouts to one point of camp where an "amnesty sheet" is put out and all the contraband comes out. No shaking down, but a very long, silent 30 - 45 minute wait ( at least that is what it felt like when I volunteered).

                          Everyone then goes to the overnight site, is given the scenario, and some supplies from the wreckage. Things happen throughout the night, medical emergencies, food may get taken by animals, earthquakes that separate the group into smaller groups, etc occur that challenge them to use the skills they were taught and practiced.

                          BEST WILDERNESS SURVIVAL OVERNIGHTER I EVER WITNESSED! (Caps for emphasis)

                          I had a great discussion with him and picked up a lot of do's, and a very important DON'T.

                          NEVER MAKE ACTUAL AIR-TO-GROUND SIGNALS THAT ARE VISIBLE FROM THE AIR! ( Emphasis again)

                          You may get a state trooper helicopter landing during your overnighter


                          On a different note, I've found some units will have higher standards in who the MBCs they want the scouts going to, and when they find a deficiency for a particular MB, whether no counselor or an established poor one, they will look for the best person to fill the spot for everyone involved. But every situation is different.

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                          • #28
                            Well scratch that camp off the list. We really do need a good database/review site of camps. I ran across one but was horribly out of date. Eagle92, any chance you can get ahold of the syllabus?

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                            • #29
                              I agree with the rant. This is why I'd like a camp that has few merit badges and more summer camp.

                              Something that would help would be an instructor manual for each merit badge so the 16 year old kid that teaches the merit badge can learn how to teach the material. Another would be to tell the scouts to do all of the explain, describe, and discuss requirements at home, and just do the Do requirements at camp (except for important safety reqs). It would make more time for the scouts to do something besides sit in a classroom and be a lot more fun. Something else would be to do fewer MBs and do them right. If a scout spent three hours every day at camp working on just one MB it would be memorable. Wilderness Survival could be an awesome MB rather than just a boring classroom experience. I'd enjoy taking that MB.

                              What National can do is cut the classroom-ish parts of every MB to be much less than it is. Safety is really important for shotgun MB but is just plain stupid for programming MB.

                              ​Hmm, starting to rant here.

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                              • #30
                                I've lurked around this site for a while and felt I had to comment on this thread. I had the opportunity to witness many merit badge classes when my son was at summer camp. I apologize for the rant below, but this is a topic that is very important and I was disgusted with what I observed at summer camp.

                                The quality of the merit badge classes which I observed was horrible. Every scout in the troop has signed blue cards for the ones they signed up for, but I don't think any of them actually completed the requirements for any merit badge. For example, I saw a 17 year old trying to teach first aid (no prerequisites were required prior to camp) and "completing" it in 3 sessions of 45 minutes each. There are requirements here that could not possibly have been completed (2d).

                                I saw very similar issues with many other merit badge classes. Several boys took Emergency Preparedness and have signed blue cards. Looking at the requirements, I have a very difficult time believing that they actually finished it. The total time spent in class was 3 hours. I'm not a counselor for this merit badge, but I just don't know how all of them could have been covered in that time (especially the family meeting).

                                I also attended the observation session (requirement 8b, "Plan and participate in a three-hour observation session that includes using binoculars or a telescope.") for the Astronomy merit badge. This is a subject that I am very passionate about and am a counselor for. The "3 hour" requirement was done in less than 10 minutes. Would anybody like to guess how many telescopes and/or binoculars were out? The "teacher" of this class also made statements that are incredibly easy to disprove if he would have just looked at the night sky. He also got annoyed when I pointed out his mistakes.

                                I made my displeasure known to the camp director, but unfortunately, it seems like they are graded on how many kids get signed blue cards at the end of the week. The impression I have is that boys go to summer camp now to just get blue card sign offs. After a few years, they have all they need to become an Eagle Scout which is very discouraging to me. Whatever happened to having to contact the counselor and *gasp* actually doing quality work instead of just sliding by?

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