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  • merit badge pow wow

    From reading on this board, I gather merit badge pow wows, classes, and "colleges" are frowned upon. Why? What would you do if you were a merit badge counselor and your services were requested for one of these events?

  • #2
    I'll let someone else post the links to their rants on merit badge universities. As long as the boys are obligated to meet the counselor on their own (chaperoned by their parents or maybe with a buddy) to demonstrate they completed the requirements, I'm all for pow wows.


    • #3
      Generally speaking

      The quality of the instruction is low. Participation equals completion in many cases. Group size is too high and many are run for council profit.

      I watched a group of young men earn all three citizenship merit badges on a saturday morning. I watched a group of 11 year olds earn personal finance that afternoon at one of these.

      My guys go to specialty events, Atomic Energy, Sailboating, robotics or Aviation....But they are not pow wows or universities.

      So you have to ask yourself, Is the merit badge just another hurtle on your scouts way to eagle or is a scouting experience to be savored.

      Remember many scouts find a hobby or even a vocational interest through the merit badge program.


      • #4
        Looking at the badges for which I am a counselor, there is no way the badges could be earned in just a few hours. The boys could start them, though.


        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          I think in your case, you would pick the most interesting activity/project that could be done in two hours with the MB. You might want to describe how you decided upon your occupation/hobby, what it took for you to learn it, how much further you could go with it. If there's something in the book that's not entirely clear, in your opinion, you might want to go over that with the boys. Those are what pow-wows are for.

          With the organizers, you need to know what their expectations are, and you want to be clear to them that the badge will not be earned during the event. You might want to have a list of other counselors for the badge so the boys can contact them to complete id.

          Oh, and you want the boys to introduce themselves by name and troop number. What these things are really about is making new friends.

      • #5
        Depends on the MB. The only value I see in these district- or council-wide MB classes is for very narrow or technical MBs which would be difficult for Scouts to earn on their own. Nuclear Science, Oceanography, etc. The resources for these MB -- both expertise and facilities -- are frequently limited. Offering these MBs as in a group setting may be the only opportunity for Scouts to take them and I think is a reasonable accommodation.

        HOWEVER, under no circumstance would I participate in one of these sessions to teach a merit badge which is commonly available. That includes all the Eagle required MBs. If asked to help, I would decline the invitation and remind the organizers that my contact information is on the district MB counselor list and I will be more than happy to work INDIVIDUALLY with any Scout who is interested enough to call and make an appointment (within YPT guidelines, of course)

        One of the great benefits of the merit badge program which has been lost in the rush to efficiently and expeditiously check as many boxes as quickly as we can is the whole notion of Adult Association. One of the major purposes of MBs is to require Scouts to develop relationships with adults of character who have some level of expertise in their chosen field. Personally, I think most MBs should include a couple meetings with the counselor. Too often I see boys print MB work sheets from and expect the only function of the counselor is to grade their paper. How did that Scout benefit from the counselor's expertise?

        Another benefit is having Scouts learn to make and keep appointments, work with unfamiliar adults and go through all the logistics of setting up meetings and working through them. MB colleges completely miss this. Then again, so do summer camps, but that's another thread.


        • #6
          My sons have participated in a limited number of Merit Badge academies. Here they are two Saturdays from about 9 to 1 with about 3 sessions available each day. The one I like best is a drive but over the Christmas break, so busy scouts have time to compete the homework. I think older scouts who wish to knock out a number of academic merit badges appreciate the MBA. With younger son I've signed him up for hands on type badges (welding) or field trip type badges that cover multiple sessions.

          When I was getting started as a MBC I sat in some sessions. I quickly determined that, although it would be a good way to get my name out there, the whole thing seemed too much like more school. I would rather work with smaller groups of boys than the 10-15 that were typically in the group. I also had trouble understanding how to make things interesting in that setting. I'd rather pull together a small group of interested scouts and do a longer session with some hands on activities and breaks for football toss etc...

          My name is on the district list as being open to work with all scouts, but I prefer to work with scouts from my own troop. Typically if I'm not comfortable with his completion of a requirement, I can work with him easily in the future at a troop event. For a scout I don't see often, refusing a signoff means another appointment, and perhaps ride from an adult, so that causes a bit of tension.


          • #7
            I would have no problem if I were the MBC counselor. Simply put, the same requirements for the MBC at a MBC powwow as anytime else. I'm like AK. I prefer to deal with my own troop's scouts. Makes it much easier to say, you didn't do that completely, see me next week when you have it done right.


            • #8
              From what I have gathered, results may vary greatly depending on your location and local practices. My council does run a "Merit Badge Workshop" (phrased that way on purpose) every November. A handful of badges are offered, and with only one exception each class only allows the scouts to cover a limited amount of the requirements. The exception that offers a chance to earn a complete badge seems to be Fingerprinting, which really does seem to have a set of requirements that should not take much time at all. For the last two years I have introduced Engineering Merit Badge at this event, and in about 2 hours I (and another counselor working together) have managed to sign off 3 of the 9 requirements as partials for each scout. We always make sure that every scout participates and speaks up for all completed requirements. At the end of the session, both counselors sign partials and offer up our contact information to allow the boys the chance to arrange the next meeting when they get more work done.

              Its certainly not much of a council fundraiser, since I think the participating boys are charged something $4 to register for the event plus $2 per merit badge session. Since there are only 4 sessions offered total, no boy would even have the opportunity to spend over $12 for the whole day. That probably barely covers the expenses to run the event.


              • qwazse
                qwazse commented
                Editing a comment
                TiNJ, how many scouts were in your class?

              • Tim in NJ
                Tim in NJ commented
                Editing a comment
                18 one year and 16 the other I believe. When some of the scouts contacted me afterwards to complete the badge, I never saw more than 2 at a time.

            • #9
              Again,,,,,, it all depends on the Scouter. Done right, nothing wrong with a MB Day/College/university/Powwow. Advance notice requires that Pre-requisites be known and completed before arrival. MBCounselors need to be true to the spirit of MBs, and not be averse to awarding partials, or not signing off if the boy is not ready. I did Bugling once a few years back, in the sign ups, the Prerequisites were clearly spelled out (SM bluecard, note from SM attesting to serving as Bugler, compose the Bugle call). I was nonplussed when two of the four Scouts that came that day DID NOT HAVE A HORN with them ("Oh, I thought you provided one"), a different two didn't have the note, only one had the bugle call composed. Only two could successfully play the required calls. I gave out three partials and signed one Bluecard. None of the partials ever contacted me back. I called them 8 months later, arranged for two to come and play their calls. I signed those two, never heard again from the last.
              Two weeks ago, our District had a MBDay. Some really unique MBs offered. Pro plumber did an all day Plumbing MB, required and enforced some pre-requisites, had a class of 8 boys, soldering, threading, lots of pipes made. Heard he signed off on 6 of them. One burn, (first Aid!). My Bugling MB had three, passed one, two partials. I wait for them to call me back....