Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Are Scouts receiving merit badges that are not earned?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Are Scouts receiving merit badges that are not earned?

    Hi everyone. This is my first post to this site. I am really concerned about the troop we are in. After one year of my son being in this troop, I am starting to see why there are so many Eagle Scouts in it. For the boys aged 15-17, over half of them are already Eagle Scouts. At this last court of honor, my son was handed 4 merit badges and he only finished the requirements on one of them! He was shocked and so were we. It seems that these camp counselors (from summer camp) who are all teenagers just sign off on blue cards without the boy even coming close to finishing the requirements and the Scoutmasters do not even question it. In other cases, the Scoutmasters are completely aware of the unfinished requirements and handing out the merit badges anyway. They cut corners on the 1st class orienteering requirement doing it in the parking lot of the church instead of the full mile requirement.

    First and foremost, a merit badge is only a piece of cloth. It is meaningless unless the boy KNOWS the material. By knowing it, I don't mean he temporarily memorized it long enough to get signed off on the blue card with or without completing the full requirement. He should be able to know it a year later. Second, every Scoutmaster or merit badge counselor should not be giving away any merit badge or signing any blue card unless he questions the boy and finds out exactly what he did to complete the assignment. Imagine a boy getting a first aid merit badge that he does not remember how he got and finding himself in an emergency situation where someone needs first aid. One boy recently got a Wilderness Survival badge after he built his own survival shelter and he did not even spend the night in it (a requirement)! He was even around other boys doing the same thing and still slept in his tent but got the merit badge anyway. Again, over half of our older boys are already Eagle Scouts. Does that sound suspicious?

    My question to all of you is this: Are you noticing the same thing in your troop? Have you asked your son (or yourself if you are a scout) if there are merit badges on your shirt that you really have not earned or learned it so quickly that you forgot most of it? Please ask your sons this. Ask him if he knows of other boys who have been awarded merit badges that they really did not earn. I want to find out how rampant this problem really is. Thank you.

  • #2
    You have a lot of valid concerns. The problem is rampant especially in summer camps. You need to realize that the SM has absolutely no control over the merit badge process. None. He can appeal to a scouts honor but that is it. He can report the problem to the district advancement chair, sounds like that is not going to happen. You can also report the problem. Will anything come of it ? Maybe, probably not. At least you have 15-17 year olds in your troop. The chorus will chime in here shortly, with GO FIND A NEW TROOP. Good luck.

    Comment


    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      Sure the scoutmaster has some control...

      Don't go to summer camps with poor councilors and when the feedback form comes out let the Camp staff know how you feel........

      Do not recommend councilors who are the giveme guys.

      I have a federal court judge who does the citizenship badges......While the summer camp offers it as well.......A pretty poor job of it I might add. who are my guys going to see????? Since becoming SM I have told all of them no Citizenships at summer camp.
      Last edited by Basementdweller; 09-27-2013, 06:11 AM.

  • #3
    I still haven't figured out how 15 year olds can BE merit badge counselors at camp. Is there some small print codicil which permits other scouts to be merit badge counselors at summer camps?

    Comment


    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      There is some national find print.....It says that they can be a merit badge councilor under the supervision of..........

      Well we all know how that works.

  • #4
    15 year olds can be mb counselor-helpers. If they talk a good game, their sign-offs are probably accepted by time-pressed adults. For other adults, who don't know how to plan & lead -- something that is easier said than done -- it's a numbers game to make themselves look good and thereby salvage their pride.

    So, you really have two problems. One is with a poor summer camp; the other is with troop leadership. Your son can redo the merit badges with different counselors away from camp

    Comment


    • #5
      The problem with finishing up the merit badges with different counselors is finding a merit badge counselor. As you know, there is no database of merit badge counselors on any website that I know of and a local man who is high up in scouts told me it is a continuing problem finding the counselors. Whenever we ask about a particular merit badge counselor to our Scout leaders, we get the "we'll look in to that and get back to you." Nothing.

      Comment


      • #6
        Each council / District does merit badge councilor processing differently.. Some will put it on a web site.. Our district tried it, and had all those on the advancement committee up in arms.. Due to the fact some people do not want their name & contact info on the internet, but also because sometimes it is a parent not a scout that is looking up the MBC and making the phone call.. They like the list in the hands of someone in the troop, and the troop to come up with a good system of how to control assigning MBC's to scouts.. So your son can as the Scoutmaster about what your troops process is. It is best for him not to do all his MB's at summer camp and meritbadge work days.. Those will be the ones he will need to learn how to contact the MBC himself and organize a workable schedule for both them (and probably you as you will need to drive him to it) or find another scout buddy with a parent who will drive..

        Other then that, although the Summer camp seems to have been way to lenient. You sound like you might be thinking to strictly on the meritbadge process.. The MBC should follow the MB requirements exactly not adding or removing from them.. It is not a requirement for them to KNOW something so well that they remember it for over a year.. If the requirement is to do an experiment, once done it's done.. If the scout can not recreate the experiment the next day, then he can't.. He doesn't need to redo the experiment over & over until it is committed to memory. never to be forgotten ever again..

        Comment


        • #7
          Not a new problem and not unique to your troop. Ultimately you can only control what you can control and trying to do otherwise will drive you nuts.

          What is your son doing with the badges that aren't completely earned? Ask him what he thinks he should do, if anything, and use it as an opportunity for growth.

          Comment


          • #8
            I don't buy that SMs don't have any control over the MB process. Bunk. If I knew a camp (or any other) MB counselor were cutting corners that wide, a) I'd be climbing the camp program director's clock and , b) we would not award the badge. I know that's not BSA policy, but sue me.

            If things are as bad as your OP makes it sound, it's because the leaders in your son's unit are complicit in allowing it to happen at this scale.

            I would do two things. First, I'd talk to your son. This is an opportunity for a life lesson the value of actually earning things. Here's your chance to guide him to do the right thing. Ideally, he may decide to return the badges to the Scoutmaster and explain to him how/why he didn't earn them. I would mark if up as a win if your son doesn't want to make a big deal, decides to keep the badges but complete the work to the best of his ability.

            In either event, you need to close the loop with the troop leadership and have conversation with them about standards (advancement and otherwise) and the lessons they are teaching the scouts. The mission of the BSA is to teach young people to make ethical decisions by applying the Scout Oath and Law. Doesn't sound as if your troop is doing a very good job of that. If the leaders aren't horrified to learn of the state of their advancement program AND don't make immediate changes to fix things, then change troops.

            Comment


            • brettw777
              brettw777 commented
              Editing a comment
              Twocubdad, to answer your question, here is what my 13 year old son wants to do. He will not put on the merit badges until we as his parents feel that he has completed the requirements. I am very proud that he feels this way. The problem is that for some of these merit badges, I would not know how to make sure he does complete the requirements without spending a chunk of money on, for example, equipment to build an electricity model, something he should have gotten done at the last merit badge class for that. That was an instructor at Clemson University who was not a teenager and he still did not work on what was supposed to be the boy's hands on participation. I thought each boy was to be questioned about his knowledge of the subject matter and answer accurately before any counselor signed him off on the blue cards but that is clearly not happening. They just attend the class and get signed off. I know the leadership is aware of at least some of this due to the ridiculously high number of Eagle scouts in our troop. Some boys have so many merit badges, they are putting them on the backs of their sashes. My son may do what you suggest and give them back and state that he will would like to get them when he deserves them. The only problem is that I have already contacted the District Commissioner who is going to come to our next meeting to look into the books and merit badge advancements and talk to the leadership. He has agreed to keep me anonymous so I won't be labeled as the "troublemaker" but if my son gives back his merit badges, they will likely know I am the culprit. If nothing is done, I am not sure we will stay in Scouts but might still use the merit badge books for personal learning. I just have no desire to look for a 4th Troop.

              Moosetracker, I cannot imagine why, if there were an online database of merit badge counselors, they would not even want their email addresses revealed. That makes no sense to me. If a MBC does not want to be contacted, what is the point of him being a MBC?

            • moosetracker
              moosetracker commented
              Editing a comment
              They don't mind being contacted by scouts, they don't want their info on the internet to be pulled by those outside of scouting.. I know we had a state trooper in our troop who was assigned to the motorcycle gangs in the state.. He didn't want his contact info on a website. Also as ScoutNut stated, people fear the fact there are people out there trolling and fishing for your contact info to either send junk mail or for other purposes..

              I think though the main reason the Advancement group didn't want the info out there was so that parents couldn't organize and plan out their sons merit badge schedule, or usurp the troops routine on how to the scoutmaster, advancement person and scout come to an agreement on the right MBC for the scout.. Some MBC's the SM does not want working with any of their scouts, so why allow the scout the ability to pick from a list of all MBC's to have the SM tell him that he can't work with the MBC he picked, had already called, and had set something up with the MBC.. Now, you are asking the scout to recall the MBC and cancel..
              Last edited by moosetracker; 09-27-2013, 04:13 AM.

            • Twocubdad
              Twocubdad commented
              Editing a comment
              Good for your son. He's doing the right thing. At this point I'd wait to see what comes of the UC's visit with the troop. There may come a time during the ensuing conversations where it would be appropriate for you son to state his case. Scoutmaster: "Everyone this troop absolutely earned every MB the received! Who here doesn't think they honestly earned a MB?" (Cue Brett Jr.)

              But if not, I think you will be surprised about what you and your son can learn together. Most MBs are written on a middle school level. Get the MB book and read through it. There used to be plans for electric motors there. I remember at my very first troop meeting in 1969 everyone was building electric motors out of iron nails and copper wire. I was bummed because that was the last night they were working on them and it was too late for me to build one. Sounds like a fun rainy Saturday afternoon for you and your son in the garage. The two of you working together, doing a little head scratching here and there all in an effort to solve an ethical issue of someone else's doing isn't a bad thing. No, it's not the usual way of him earning a MB, but that ship has already sailed.

          • #9
            Our troop will not countenance any glossing over of requirements. Boys come home with partials. We're fine with that. Cloudy all week? Nobody earns Astronomy. Too much lightning? Nobody earns Lifesaving.

            Comment


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              That happened to us this year....too much lightning......no biggy.

          • #10
            Originally posted by qwazse View Post
            Our troop will not countenance any glossing over of requirements. Boys come home with partials. We're fine with that. Cloudy all week? Nobody earns Astronomy. Too much lightning? Nobody earns Lifesaving.
            I think that is the way it ought to be. It is about ethics.

            Comment


            • #11
              Moosetracker, I cannot imagine why, if there were an online database of merit badge counselors, they would not even want their email addresses revealed. That makes no sense to me. If a MBC does not want to be contacted, what is the point of him being a MBC?
              So, I take it that if you were a merit badge counselor you would have no problem with putting your email address out there for the ENTIRE WORLD to see, and send junk mail and/or porn to?

              Merit badge counselors CAN be contacted. It is up to the District/Council Advancement Committee to keep a list of current counselors. Some will publish it openly on their District/Council website. Some have a "locked" space on the website that only folks with the correct code can access. Some only have hard copies that can only be gotten from the Council offices by the unit leader (Scoutmaster).

              I suggest you contact the Advancement Chair for your District (or Council of the DAC does not help) and ask for names of counselors for the incorrectly completed summer camp merit badges. I would explain the reason behind your request as well. Better yet, because they might be leery about giving that information to a parent (not knowing if the parent is trying to pull something shady or not), and because it really is not the parents who should be looking for, and contacting counselors, have your SON, the Scout, contact his District Advancement Chair with the request, and explanation.

              Just a note - Nowhere, in any merit badge, is there a requirement that the Scout MEMORIZE the material in the merit badge so that he can spit it out verbatim a year later. That is not how it works.

              BSA requires the Scout to complete the merit badge requirements - AS WRITTEN. NO MORE - NO LESS.

              Comment


              • #12
                Well brettw777 time to get involved and make sure scouts are not short changed. First start small as the model MBC. Set expectations, in writing, up front with scouts and their PARENTS.

                My name is Bret Maverick, you have asked me to be your MBC for nnnn and here is what we will be doing and what I expect from you. Define your availability. Set class size. Summarize classes and state there will be 3,4,6 meetings to meet the merit badge requirements. You will not accept partials from summer camp, merit badge universities as you need to be sure the scout has actually done the work. Make it clear this is your class not the SM or Council, don't like it, then seek another MBC.
                Scouts
                1. Read the merit badge pamphlet
                2. Arrive on time, in uniform with merit badge pamphlet
                3. No prior work accepted, clock starts at first class.
                4. This is a hands-on brain-on lab, not a sit on yer butt tune-out class.
                5. parents can attend, but not interfere
                6. Give me your best work because that is what I am giving you.
                ...
                Fail to do the above and I will provide a partial merit badge card as a parting gift.
                Succeed and you EARN Merit Badge nnnn
                Welcome to Merit Badge nnnn.

                The hardest part is dealing with parents whose expectations have been lowered by Council merit badge camps, District merit badge colleges, and yes Cub Scouts. To them, paying $ and attending guarantees a merit badge. Expect parents and scouts to find and promote these quick and easy paths. This is where you need a SM with a pair to say NO. Hey another volunteer opportunity. Don't get discouraged if your class is just your son and his buddy.

                Step 2: Ask like minded adults to help you with your merit badge classes and hopefully plant a seed that they become merit badge counselors too.

                My $0.02,
                Last edited by RememberSchiff; 09-27-2013, 06:45 AM.

                Comment


                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Send the parents that want to help their son answer questions to the end of the table.......Or the next time it happens to me I will issue mom a merit badge card and not the scout.

                • moosetracker
                  moosetracker commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Some of that you may want to explain to the scout in order for them to decide if they want to accept you for their MBC or not. I have may scouts who come to me to finish up partials they got from camp.. Our camp does not short change and hands out partials. It is your perogative if you will not accept work from a partial.. It is their perogitive to find an MBC who will.

              • #13
                These merit badge days are the byproduct of the instant gratification world we live in....go spend all day somewhere, you better have something to show for it at the end...partial? not good enough.
                That would be one solution though, nobody gets signed off at the fair or camp, have everyone come back with a partial and have them meet with a counselor when you get back to sign off complete.

                Comment


                • RememberSchiff
                  RememberSchiff commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Long ago, when I attended summer camp as a scout, partials were the norm as few could pass Lifesaving, Rowing, Marksmanship, Archery,... in a week. It was commonly accepted, that a scout would have to come back for another week, or next summer, or contact a counselor to finish up. Maybe if we returned "to those thrilling days of yesterday", we would have more skilled scouts and summer camp reservations.

              • #14
                If there are adults in our troop that can be MB Counselors, we have "Field Days", where the scouts come and work on finishing, or redoing a lot of the requirements. We also use campouts to provide an opportunity to finish up these loose ends - it helps make a good campout sometimes. As a scoutmaster, I may not have final authority over the MB process, but I can help facilitate it personally, or provide the opportunity. Reaching out to the community: professionals, colleges, and other organizations to help may require extra effort, but the relationships it develops really makes a difference in making scouting a greater experience. Also, having the scouts associating with other individuals increases their view of the world. It increases ambition, interpersonal skills, and knowledge.

                Specific examples include: Outdoor Program at the local university for Climbing, Survival Skills, and Cycling. ROTC program for orienteering. Professional Surveyor for Surveying. Engineers for Pulp and Paper. Chemistry Grad Students for Chemistry. Many organizations are always looking for service hours also.

                Some may say that this is the responsibility of the scouts, but we are there to facilitate the program for their sakes. And to conclude, the scouts will start using and even developing relationships with other people in the community.

                Comment


                • pcola
                  pcola commented
                  Editing a comment
                  So where do these MB counselors come from? Do they volunteer on their own? Do you really think each district has plenty of able willing adults in a ready made pool? Wouldn't you think that finding counselors for various MBs originates from the scouts? Do you want to settle on mediocre MB counselors, when there can be more inspiring ones out there? Why have adult leaders if the scouts can "facilitate" everything on their own? As adult leaders we are their to help them, not do it for them. I dislike the MB mills and canned programs, that is why I am always on the lookout for people that can give the scouts an added dimension to the subjects. And since the scouts are responsible for activities, they are the ones that set up these activities. I have met too many adult leaders that just let the scouts sink or swim. True Darwinism - survival of the fittest. I choose to help my scouts learn and grow, not get discouraged and quit. Not everyone is an alpha in life.

                • RememberSchiff
                  RememberSchiff commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Sign these people up as legit MBC or register yourself as sort of a proxy MBC - the scout contacts you and you outsource to someone else but still attend all meetings. Either way, the signature on the card has to be a legit MBC at time of signature.

                  Yeah the merit badge system is broken but we scout on and deliver the promise of Scouting - teaching scouts to become men step by step.

                • boomerscout
                  boomerscout commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Becoming a proxy mb counselor sounds like a good workaround, but then how do you handle "For each merit badge, list qualification(s) that support your request.
                  Qualifications could include college degrees, formal training certificates,
                  positions held, and specific life experiences."
                  I can find oodles of qualified instructors, but they are busy and will not bother with the formal registration process to become a mbc
                  On a different note (to someone else), many mb are designed as workshops and not as final exams for a journeyman's license. (Wood carving comes to mind.) Also, just because you've earned a mb does not mean you can teach it. You may not have done all the options that someone else may choose, and you won't have the depth of experience to answer all the questions about that subject.
                  Still, yes, summer camp may have deteriorated into a mb mill

              • #15
                SMs actually have full control of all the processes in the program, including the MB program. A big problem for troops is councils and districts short cut the process to make it easier to run large groups of scouts through the system. They don't require a scout to ask the SM for a blue card, call a counselor to set up meetings and get personal information that is required for the blue card. They shorten the process so that a scout just shows up for class and will likely walk out with most requirements completed without even opening the book. Like scouts learning from older scout role models, unit leaders learn habits (good and BAD) from district and council activities modeled in front of them. If unit leaders don't read the manuals (90% don't), they never know they are doing it wrong. Units can modify the process for summer camps and MB Fairs to make the scouts follow the BSA guidelines. The adults can and should audit the counselors as scouts progress with the badges. Educate your scouts why you require them to use the proper procedures and you will find them doing the quality control for you. Our scouts got to where they didnt waste their time at our district MB fairs because the counseling was so bad. You can change the system, our troop did. First start by doing your own counselor training. Real training that teaches the BSA published guidelines for the scouts, unit adult leaders, and counselors. Then figure out how to use those guidelines even when they aren't required like summer camps. The thing is there aren't really any bad guys here, it's just bad habits that were developed slowly over time. Long story short, our troop eventually was recognized for our quality program and was asked to do MB Counselor training for the whole district. District eventually took over the training using our syllabus. That happened over several years, but it started by one troop deciding to buck the system and follow BSA policies and guidelines. You see, scouts and adults want to do things right, they just need to know what right is. Brett, this may be a good place for you to step in and make a difference. I love this scouting stuff. Barry

                Comment

                Working...
                X