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Is Scouting turning into a low-rent vo-tech program?

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  • Is Scouting turning into a low-rent vo-tech program?

    I keep reflecting on the new merit badges being introduced in coming months and those that already have come online. From game design and digital tech to CAD and mining, the emphasis seems to be on vo-tech. Now, the BSA is making a big push toward STEM, it would seem.

    Parents seem to think this is great--gives the boys a "chance to explore a bunch of different careers and see what might interest them," at no or low cost. Career exploration has long been part of merit badges but it seems that "Prepared. For Life." is more about the latter than the former. Less and less about scoutcraft and survival and more about plotting one's career and making life choices.

    Is the BSA turning into a low-cost vo-tech program packaged in an "Outdoor Adventure" wrapper?

  • #2
    Always has been. Animal Husbandry, Bee keeping, Rabbit Keeping, surveying, plumbing, gardening, vet medicine, etc. (more agriculturally oriented) were all prior MB's


    • Scouter99
      Scouter99 commented
      Editing a comment
      What he said.

  • #3
    To some degree, BSA has always been a boy fun organization. Well, boys aren't getting a lot of votech in schools, and they enjoy that sort of thing. It's a no-brainer that BSA should do it. As long as it doesn't replace outdoorcraft, I'm fine with vo-tech as a supplement.


    • #4
      Why is it that you only focused on the high tech / engineering merit badges that are vocational and not metalworking (1927) welding (2012) etc? almost all merit badges have a discuss what types of careers are associated with said merit badge


      • #5
        Shop classes were nice, but I was all about science in high school (e.g., getting excuses from math analysis class to continue extracting the nervous system from the specimen of the day). Me in vo-tech would only take up the space of someone who really needed it for their career.

        The home-repairs MB (and whatever craftsmanship I learned through scouting), however, gave me the personal skills I needed and the much-deserved respect for anyone working in the trades.


        • #6
          It's also a hole to fill. Years ago, the hole to fill was communication, personal mgmt, budgets, health, fitness, leadership, etc. Schools have really geared up to handle those since the the 1920s.

          In fact, it's embarrassing that many of the eagle required badges are much better handled by the school system. BSA has it's twist, but those topics are now covered most years in school.

          So where can BSA fill in a gap and where do boys want to experiment? Welding. Wood working. Many of the hands on merit badges.

          IMHO, I would like to see a merger the badges covered in school (i.e. merge the citizenship badges, merge the personal mgmt & family life) and gear up more on the physical badges that require lashing, hiking, physical skills and movement.


          • #7
            I agree with jblake. There have always been many "career" oriented MB's, it's just that the subjects and variety within those subjects has shifted as the economy and society have changed. In my first Scout Handbook (the 1965 edition I believe) there were still many agricultural merit badges, now there are very few, but a growing number of technology-related badges.

            If anything, the career- and hobby-type merit badges have been DE-emphasized, because they are not Eagle-required. There has been a steady increase in the number of MB's required for Eagle. When I first became a Scout, I think it was 10, which meant that if you earned Eagle, you had a minimum of 11 non-required MB's. (I am ignoring the time period in which there were 24 MB's for Eagle, I do not recall what the required vs. non-required breakdown was. Maybe I have put it out of my mind because that is the "era" in which I aged out as a Life Scout.) As of the beginning of next year, there will be 13 required MB's (not counting the options for some.) That means a Scout could become Eagle with 8 NON-required MB's. Since our Scouts always earn a number of the "craft" badges at summer camp (leatherwork, basketry, etc.), there is less and less incentive to do more than a couple of the "career" badges. And yes, I understand that many Eagles earn more than 21 MB's, sometimes a lot more, but I think the shift in emphasis away from the non-required badges, especially the ones you can't get at summer camp (like most of the career badges), is a real thing.


            • #8
              As much as a lot of us would like to be able to do, you can't turn back the clock. We have evolved into a high-tech industrial urban society and boys nowadays are more likely to need technical skills to "survive" in today's world than outdoor survival skills. I like giving them an opportunity to learn both.
              Last edited by dedkad; 08-29-2013, 01:12 AM.


              • #9
                What dedkad said. However, if I could, I'd like to take a CAD merit badge class and Welding and some other "vo-ech" merit badges. There are some things I've always wanted to learn how to do, but never had the time or the chance.

                I'll gladly settle for watching some boys earn these badges if they want to.


                • #10
                  I like the idea a merit badges that focus on marketable skills. Hopefully, this will inspire some boys to make a career out of a skill, such as plumbing, or welding or any other trade.

                  In my opinion, the cost of a college education is soaring to the point that many folks are debating the reward of a degree, vs the potential income from said degree. I think it is a shame that young men and women, who have Master's degrees make less than $35k per year, and I am willing to bet that they are in debt for more than that.

                  Now the MB's that cover vocational skills can hopefully lead young men, who may not be college material, to a career that they can utilize to support a family.


                  • #11
                    I'm OK with going along with the people who have posted that MB's go along with the skills of the day.
                    I'm just not so sure about " Low-Rent".
                    Here in the area where I live, the units that are viewed as being good tend to be in the areas where rents are anything but low.
                    Not for want of trying. We don't have anything that might be seen as a unit that caters to any ethnic group.
                    Walk around our Summer Camp and it's rare to see a face that isn't white.


                    • Kudu
                      Kudu commented
                      Editing a comment
                      From the "Urban Emphasis" program of 1972, through the recent "Hispanics Hate Camping" media campaign, the Wood Badge dream has been to find a minority that hates Scoutcraft as much as the BSA's professional millionaires do.
                      Last edited by Kudu; 08-31-2013, 09:05 AM.

                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Brewmeister View Post
                    "Prepared. For Life." is ... Less and less about scoutcraft and survival and more about plotting one's career and making life choices.
                    The Chief Scout Executive said as much in when he introduced "Prepared. For Life." as the opposite of the Scoutcraft of June 15, 1916:

                    "Did you know that there was a time when to be a First Class Scout--you guys didn't know this I bet--did you guys have to learn how to catch a runaway horse to be a First Class Scout? When was the last time you saw a runaway horse?"

                    Audience response: "Tuesday"

                    "Tuesday? Whoa! OK. Oh, that's right! This is Amish country, isn't it? So what do we mean by being 'Prepared. For Life'? Obviously we don't have to learn how to catch a runaway horse anymore. That's not an important skill!"

                    Watch his chins shake in moral outrage:



                    • #13
                      In the past 15 years, I personally have had to catch a runaway horse three times. So that begs the question how many times have any First Class scout had to perform CPR? NONE? Gee, maybe we ought to drop that too. I have had to do it 7 times and I'm glad I've had the training. Hmmm, lets do the math here. 3 horses in 15 years, 7 CPR's in 60 years. That kinda averages out to once ever 5 years for horses and once every 10 years for CPR. Yep, gonna drop my bi-annual CPR training and buy a rope. (Don't cha just love it when people start tossing statistics around?)

                      People just have to make sure their brain is engaged when they give gas to their tongue.



                      • Kudu
                        Kudu commented
                        Editing a comment
                        What kind of boy does not want to know "what to do in case of a runaway horse," how to escape quicksand, or land a 747 for that matter?
                        Last edited by Kudu; 08-31-2013, 03:21 PM.

                      • qwazse
                        qwazse commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I would love to know how to catch a runaway horse!