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Merit Badge classes at scout meetings?

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  • #16
    Our Troop will periodically have a MB class meet before regular troop meetings. some may be every other week some monthly. But never seems to be more than one running at a time. Every few years they run the cycle for the Citizenship badges. Allows for bringing in local politicos to talk and take questions. Auto repair was popular this past year. On a rare occasion we will have a meeting where we all meet somewhere like the police station to do Fingerprinting. But this happens at most once a year. It does give scouts a sense of change. We will occasionally have a meeting at the local indoor rock climbing place as well.

    Some MB councilors will meet with scouts one-on-one during meetings during Game time. or after the meeting.

    We don't as a troop do a lot of MBs during campouts, but I hope to do some cooking MB stuff in the coming year especially as there will be high demand for time on it next year.

    But meetings in general for Patrol Time, Trip Planning and Scout Skill development.

    Comment


    • #17
      Cnew, Noticed everyone here has been discussing the cons? Here are some Pros (none of which benefit the boy, only the adults):

      MBC doesn't have to figure out a meeting place.
      MBC only needs to teach once a year
      MBC doesn't get phone calls from parents
      MBC doesn't get phone calls from kids
      Parents use the peer pressure to get there kids the MBs
      Scouts earn more MBs quicker and easier to mom and dad's satisfaction.

      In the meantime, for fun and games, see if your troop can offer the Bugling merit badge as a class...

      Comment


      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        I like it.

        You forgot

        Scoutmaster does not have to figure out a program 18 weeks of the year, Notice I said SM not spl because it isn't boy led.

    • #18
      Originally posted by Brewmeister View Post
      Sorry to say, but if you had boys who did not serve as master of ceremonies, they did not complete the Communications badge, and if it was awarded it was not earned. Which is sad because it's an Eagle badge. If the card is signed off, it's a done deal, unless you can appeal to the boys that a shortcut was unintentionally taken, and will they live up to the Scout Law and finish it after the awarding of the patch?

      We've gone through this to some extent with our troop. I've argued against merit badge meetings (we have separate meetings from the troop meetings), but ended up locking horns with an ASM who said "we need to help the boys." My response was that this approach makes for a very fine Webelos activity badge meeting...in the interest of making peace in the short term I let it drop. If we have parents/leaders who want to be counselors and set up separate meetings, I can live with that if we are not taking troop time, and if the badges are actually completed, which they have been thus far. But yes, that is not how the process is supposed to work.

      Since you appear to have a merit-badge focused program, you can expect to encounter a LOT of resistance (from parents) if you are proposing changes and telling them they can't get their 12-week personal fitness program done in a 60 minute meeting...so be prepared. Unfortunately for the average parent who is only peripherally aware of what scouting is all about, they care about what they see--the badges on the sash.
      We've been doing the exercise part of the Personal Fitness badge as a troop over the summer. We did the 12 weeks, now the boys have to learn the material and talk to a Counselor about it. In our troop of 30+, only two have gotten the badge so far.

      Comment


      • #19
        I have witnessed too many abuses of scouting requirements to enumerate them all in a headlong rush to rank advancements. It's apparent that a unit's "Scouting Culture" can easily be focused in an unhealthy lopsided way upon reaching Eagle Rank. If the culture of the unit is "Advancement at any cost," then it will take a very patient and diligent effort to change it around. Perhaps you really want to help change that culture in which case you'd better be ready for a long slog. Maybe you're just interested in providing an "honest" and balanced experience for your boys in which case switching units would be the most direct path.

        I'm a district advancement committee member and unit commissioner. I've been a scouter since the early 80s and have seen very few if any group Merit Badge situations that did not involve serious corner cutting and ignoring of requirements. For example, two summers ago I was the Nature MB counselor for an area week-long scout camp. My first meeting with the boys had 20 to 30 participants who had signed up. As it became clear that I expected the boys to actually do each requirement the numbers dropped. They went for the easy classes instead. I believe I ended up giving about 2 partials in the entire week. Individual testing is always a challenge in these settings. I watched how the local EMTs "taught" the First Aid MB: conducted about 3 sessions of sitting in a pavilion telling first aid stuff at the end of which all the boys were signed off whether they'd ever done or answered anything at all! I also taught Pioneering at a camp. Out of the 30 or so boys who attended sessions and learned various parts I have signed exactly one boy's blue card as done and given several partials. One boy has returned to follow up on the partial but has not returned with the completed model. These numbers contrast starkly with the troops where MBs are taught in the group and the entire troop earns the badge though no careful individual record is kept. I think Baden Powell must roll over in his grave each time these misguided events occur.

        Comment


        • #20
          Does your Troop use the Troop Meeting Plan Worksheet?

          http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34425.pdf

          You will not find a time on this for Merit Badge Instruction.

          Comment


          • #21
            Our troop's policy is no merit badge work during troop meetings. Our scoutmaster is at 99% of troop meetings 1 hour early for scouts to work on merit badges or advancement. It makes it easy for scouts to have a place to work and MBC know there will be atleast 2 deep leadership. We have had, on occasion, a scout organize a merit badge "class" for a few scouts, but it is up to the individual MBC if they will council a group (I will not council more than 1 scout in a meeting for Family Life). We have a few "in house" counselors, but not all scouts even use them. We feel very strongly that a scout will be better prepared for life if he contacts and sets up merit badge sessions with people he may not know. That being said, we loose MANY crossovers to the troop up the street who does all required merit badges in house during troop meetings, it is easier. IMO easier is not always better.

            Comment


            • #22
              we don't do them during meetings. we meet formally from 7-8 or so. from 6-7 it is generally accepted that is the time to come in and get advancements signed off, or work one on one with Troop MB counselors. Every now and again we will run a MB in that period. I did Personal Fitness. I did some classroom stuff for the more "book learnin" parts, made them come back over the 12 weeks to individually do the demo/performance items, and met every 2 weeks for the group to go over to the track and do the periodic progress checks. I felt for that badge it made it fun as well as motivational for the boys to work on it together to some degree (the mile runs, exercises). We have run some non eagle required that way, like bringing in a horsemanship expert to cover the "textbook" items before we went out on a day trip to some stables.

              I agree with the value and need for the boys to reach out to adult counselors and go thru the process. I also think a few of these group MBs can be alright as well--certainly not all, or a majority, and some it just isn't appropriate

              Comment


              • #23
                I'm a cub scouter, and my days of my 1 or 2 years as a scout were a long time ago so that I really can't remember much about what we did at meetings....so please forgive me for asking....

                But what do you do at meetings if not work on skills and such, many of which will surely apply to merit badges?

                I get the point that has been stated here many times that it benefits the scout to call, coordinate, etc...
                & I get that it might be good to not do merit badge "cram courses" that takes all boys through start to finish....
                But what's wrong with working as a group on some requirement that might be applied towards a merit badge?
                If not that, what do you do in the meetings?

                Comment


                • #24
                  Ideally, troop meetings should be focused on T-2-1 skills. Those who are already First Class do the teaching. The balance of the meeting is for planning the monthly campout, games, etc. The annual planning session is done by the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC). It is refreshing to see so many on the board who recognize the true purpose of the Merit Badge program.

                  Comment


                  • #25
                    blw2 -- see my post, #9 above, on how we cover merit badge topics during troop instruction time.

                    From time-to-time the troop does sponsor merit badge classes where appropriate. We've got a class for Personal Management cranking up shortly. But it won't be held during troop meetings, rather Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons. Extra effort and initiative is required -- you don't just sit through a regular meeting and get the badge. Three or four parents with finance backgrounds -- a CPA, a banker and a financial planner that I know of -- will be leading the class. That gives us a student-to-instructor ratio of less than 2:1 easily allowing for individual completion of requirements. And I'll tell you these guys will teach a whole lot more than what is required by the merit badge. I get parents who ask to sit in. Last time we did this one of the Scout's fathers spotted him real money to invest. The kid made a bunch of money. I tried to get stock tips from him myself.

                    Comment


                    • #26
                      BLW,

                      One of the biggest differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts is the program. Cub Scouts has advancement oriented meeting now , whereas Boy Scouts is not so much. While some MB requirements can be met during some meetings, that is not the objective.

                      What happens is that the PLC picks 12 topics they want to do during the year. Sometimes info can be found here http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34425.pdf, other times they make their own.

                      I admit the only MB we ever taught was canoeing, and that was in preparation for a weekend canoe trip. Meetings were at the local lake. highlight of the month was the canore trip.

                      Comment


                      • #27
                        Originally posted by blw2 View Post
                        ... But what do you do at meetings if not work on skills and such, many of which will surely apply to merit badges?
                        You would be surprised how much effort it is for boys to plan a camp-out.
                        • PL's need to find out what each scout's goals are. Then decide if there's a common theme that we will need to devote time to.
                        • They plan activities for the outing. With our troop, this often involves coming to a consensus on a hike plan because that seems to be their favorite pass-time. My troop, growing up, this involved deciding on the evening campfire.
                        • They determine which facilities they'd like to reserve.
                        • They determine the departure and return times. (We adults try to be as flexible with our weekends as possible to work around their schedule.)
                        • Meals are a big deal. Boys make the menu. This alone can take a couple meetings. First to get a rough idea, second to find out if the guys who are actually going on the trip are willing to cook and eat it! They need to decide who's shopping. (Often, the SM will shop for the boys using his club membership. I've given up yelling at the guy for being soft in this area.)
                        • Who's bringing what tent/tarp for whom to sleep under? Individual vs. collective gear? Who needs a loan of something, who has something to spare.
                        • Drivers need to be identified. A sign-up sheet circulated.
                        • Basically, the tour plan has to be outlined by the boys. If we could figure out how to make it work, they would be the ones logging on to file it.
                        All of this stuff that a Pack might do in its committee meeting, a troop should be doing in its regular meetings or patrol meetings.

                        Originally posted by blw2 View Post
                        ... But what's wrong with working as a group on some requirement that might be applied towards a merit badge?
                        There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching a skill that the boys want to learn! They can call a counselor and have him or her come in and maybe explain some of the finer points of the requirements. Maybe provide them a practice session. But, even when our boys had the chance to do worksheet-type paperwork, for a badge-on-the-spot ... only a minority would have completed it ... EVEN WHEN THE ANSWERS WERE SPELLED OUT DURING THE MEETING! Isn't it better to take that time pencil-whipping and use it to demonstrate something cool? Anyone who wants a patch for it can ask for a blue card and line up an appointment with a counselor. If they didn't remember anything specific from the meeting, they master requirements by the first step in the tried and true method of learning MB skills: referencing a pamphlet!

                        Originally posted by blw2 View Post
                        If not that, what do you do in the meetings?
                        Well, then there's announcements for service projects, fundraisers, paperwork, etc ... And reports from the previous outing. After those, the boys are thrilled to go and complete inventory (i.e. clean pots and store gear) from the last camp out!

                        We do work on the occasional first class skill during meetings. Some skills, like flag protocol, are amenable to perfecting during meetings. We've actually started cooking dinner during some meetings (with the leftover food from the club shopping). But knots, for example, are learned most quickly when there's something (besides an impatient scout in a boring meeting) to tie down.

                        Comment


                        • #28
                          Originally posted by CNYScouter View Post
                          Does your Troop use the Troop Meeting Plan Worksheet?

                          http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34425.pdf

                          You will not find a time on this for Merit Badge Instruction.
                          Skills instruction.....

                          Comment


                          • #29
                            Peri,

                            A lot of folks, when the phrase "merit badges sessions at meetings," or however you want to phrase it, think completeing the entire MB at the end of X number of meetings. The Troop Program Features, or as some old fogeys will slip in at times "Woods Wisdom," focuses on skills rather than completing the MB. Can a MB be earned with a little extra effort, yep. I know when we did canoeing back in May for the trip, we covered requirements 2-12 either at the lake in training, and/or on the trip iteself. For those who want the MB, requirements 1 and 13 remain.

                            Again the idea is to focus on the skills and prep work needed on the monthly trip, not necessarily getting the MB.

                            Comment


                            • #30
                              Working on the subject matter of MBs at patrol and troop meetings seems OK to me. (According to BSA, training is supposed to primarily be in a patrol setting, not a troop setting.) The Scout who wants the MB then takes care of contacting the Counselor and arranging meetings (a good life skill)/.

                              Cnew, Noticed everyone here has been discussing the cons? Here are some Pros (none of which benefit the boy, only the adults):

                              MBC doesn't have to figure out a meeting place.
                              MBC only needs to teach once a year
                              MBC doesn't get phone calls from parents
                              MBC doesn't get phone calls from kids
                              Parents use the peer pressure to get there kids the MBs
                              Scouts earn more MBs quicker and easier to mom and dad's satisfaction.
                              I do not regard it as a problem to suggest a meeting place if the Scout does not. We have a public library

                              ​If I did not enjoy being a MBC, I would not be an MBC The first requirement is a high level of interest in the topic. If you find an MBC who only wants to do "it" once a year, look elsewhere for someone with an interest in the topic.

                              ​I don't mind communicating with parents. But, then, communicating was my profession, in one form or another, for over forty years.

                              ​Communicating with the candidates is part of the designed BSA process. It is to me encouraged, not minimized.

                              Scouts are to earn MBs because they are interested, not because anyone else is interested. That, again, is the designed BSA process.

                              ​Adults driving more MBs quicker is not part of the designed process. The Scout's interest is supposed to drive the process. Advancement is not a goal; it is a tool. It's pull, not push.


                              It is useful if adults know some things about Boy Scouting. BSA provides a syllabus for parent training.

                              Comment

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