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Pilot programs at summer camp - did they become merit badges?

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  • Pilot programs at summer camp - did they become merit badges?

    Our camp did a pilot program for Pistol shooting this summer and I'm wondering if others involved in pilot programs could tell me if those programs became actual merit badges the next year, or if it took longer?

    We had 7 boys interested in taking the pistol class, but we were only allowed 2 spots. The other 5 boys did get to do open pistol shooting after taking a safety course, but they, (and our 12 yr. old scouts) are hoping pistol shooting will be an actual merit badge next year.

    Any thoughts on how quickly these pilot programs become actual merit badges?

  • #2
    Not necessarily going to become merit badges, just BSA-approved activities. Some of us are in councils which pilot-tested ATVs and PWCs a few years ago which are now approved and being implemented in a number of camps nation wide.

    I rather doubt we'll see any of these activities become MBs anytime soon as the restrictions keep many scouts from participating.

    RichardB is a forum member and posts occasionally. His office is the one responsible for running these pilot programs and developing the permanent programs. There was quite a buzz at the shooting ranges about the possibility of Scouts shooting handguns and already a movement to add a handgun range to our camp. Maybe Richard or someone from one of the pilot camps and provide some details.


    • #3
      I just got back from Philmont. They also had a pistol shooting range as a 'pilot program'. Before it could become a MB, National will have to decide to change the policy to allow pistol shooting for Boy Scouts. It is currently only allowed for Venturing youth (outside any pilot programs). While that would be great (IMHO), it will also put increased burden on the camp staff. Adding the pistol rating to the shooting sports directors adds a day to their training. The classes for rifle shotgun muzzleloading rifle and archery add up to a minimum of over 50 hours now. And the need for the rifle and shotgun MBs at summer camp are seldom fully met. Handguns also require one instructor per shooter, plus an RSO. That is a lot of staff for camps....



      • #4
        I am an NRA rifle/pistol/shotgun instructor (just volunteered 2 weeks of my vacation at our local BSA Camp, Hugh Taylor Birch.

        During the 2 weeks (9am to 9pm) I was there, other than the Shooting Sports Director (NRA Training Counselor in Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun/Muzzle Loader) we had between 3-4 other NRA range instructors/RSO's and 1 NRA Training Counselor out at the range (shotgun/pistol ranges) there during the week too.

        The Camp Shooting Sports director had been running Instructor training courses the past year or 2, so I think he got more help this year than ever.

        I would be interested to know were these pistols in the Pilot run, single-shot revolvers or semi-automatic pistols? For Boy Scouts the Shotgun/Rifle have to be single shot, bolt action....

        I have taught the Pistol Course for our Crew, and would be thrilled to make it available to the Boy Scout Troop, but maybe not every 11 year old Scout would be ready for it... just like Shotgun.

        Personally, I think getting Rifle or Shotgun MB 1st would give a Scout a chance to season to shooting sports ... or if they just allowed Boy Scouts who are 14 (Venturing Age) to shoot pistols....... that might be easier.

        Times, they are a-changin'
        (This message has been edited by dg98adams)


        • #5
          I can only speak to the Philmont program. They were single action revolvers chambered for .38. In our Council we use Ruger semis in .22, but may only do so for the Venturing youth.



          • #6
            I think our camp used semiautomatic Rugers, but I didn't ever make it to the new pistol range, which was quite a hike from the rest of the activities. The boys had to be 13 or older, but I would have been more comfortable with 14 and up.

            Camp Loud Thunder,(near Andalusia, IL) did have to add several more staff members, just for pistol shooting. Many of the NRA trained instructors were retired gentleman who had the time and were more than happy to come out to work with the boy scouts. One of the staff members said that the program took extra long because they had to teach the boys all the NRA safety rules and instructions and then the BSA safety rules and instructions, even though there was overlap between the two.


            • #7
              Our camp also has 3 .22 Ruger Mark III's semi's, primarily used for Venture Crew pistol shooting.


              • #8
                One instructor per shooter? Dang ... That's not going to happen on a widespread basis anytime soon


                • #9
                  Since it's looking like pistol shooting will not become a merit badge in the near future, I guess I will encourage my young scouts to join Venturing when they are old enough.

                  shortridge: If Councils talk to their local NRA groups, they might be surprised to find enough people willing to become (or already are) pistol instructors, especially those of retirement age who do not need to take time off work in order to come out to work at summer camp.


                  • #10
                    with all the offerings out there pistol shooting is that big a deal??????

                    Pretty silly if ya ask me.

                    I take the son to the range to shoot.....I take a number of his friends who are in his patrol on occasion. We shoot more than 22's.....

                    Not everything has to happen under the control of the BSA


                    • #11
                      A lot has to do with the laws of the particular state . That even impacts on Rifle/shotgun shooting. In NY with the strict pistol laws, I don't see it happening. Hell, you can't even take a youth under 12 out shoot unless you are the parent except for BB guns.


                      • #12
                        Funscout -- does everything have to result in a merit badge? Isn't that what belt loops are for? Can't your boys just participate in some fun scout activities, funscout?


                        • #13
                          fundscout - Still, color me skeptical. To run this on a range with 10 stations, you need 10 instructors. I just don't see many camps able to get those staff numbers consistently to make this part of a regular program. There are only so many qualified retires able and eager to spend six or seven weeks in a row on a hot firing range. If they exist, I expect camps would have found them already.

                          Is there really a huge call for pistol shooting among Scouts?


                          • #14
                            I suspect pistol shooting was such a big deal for our guys simply because they knew ours was the only summer camp able to offer it to boy scouts. The boys thought that was pretty cool.

                            Basementdweller: not all our boys have parents/uncles, etc. who can or will take them to a pistol range. Your kids are fortunate to have that option.

                            Twocubdad: Belt loops are for cub scouts, but I know what you mean. No, not everything has to end in a merit badge. Our camp didn't offer the brand new Kayaking merit badge this summer, but we still had kids sign up for kayaking BSA. We also had several do C.O.P.E. (some for the 3rd time), some did the mile swim, some did the Paul Bunyan Award, and we had some kids do MicroTrek, which was for older boys and offered no merit badges. We also take part in troop swims, etc. and the boys go to open swim, shoot, boat, etc., which do not give merit badges.

                            Most of our boys also schedule in free time so they have flexibility with their day. The camp is for them, and it's up to them to choose what they want to do.

                            shortridge: we only had 6 boys shoot at a time, during 3 time slots, so each week at camp there were only 18 total kids in the pistol classes. Like, I said, I think the fact that it was new and hard to get into is what made it so popular.

                            I haven't been on this forum in a long time and had forgotten that simple, innocent questions and comments get picked over and judged by people who are supposed to be courteous, kind, ...... All I really wanted to know was if others had experience with pilot merit badge programs so I could let my scouts know what to expect concerning the pistol program. Are there any moderators out there who can help keep this discussion on track? Thank you in advance, for your help.


                            • #15
                              I reread one of my posts, and I'm wondering if some of you took offense to my encouraging scouts to join venturing. I did NOT mean INSTEAD of boy scouts, and I only meant those kids who were unable to do pistols at camp and have no other opportunity to do so.

                              I hope this clears things up.