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    • This isn't an opinion, it is policy. If the blue card is signed by the counselor, then the scout has earned it. Your "beef" is with the camp / counselor, the scout should still be awarded the badge. 
    • This. ----------------- In the National Annual Report, https://www.scouting.org/about/annual-report/year2023/  they should change the verbiage from "earned" Merit Badges to "awarded" Merit Badges.  There is a difference... Consider Camping Merit Badge. (For which, even after much advice and counsel, several of our Scouts still sign up every year at Summer Camp.) Including the subordinate items, there are 30 different requirements to complete for the badge. How many are "outdoors" requirements?  5: 8 (d) While camping in the outdoors, cook ...[three meals]... [It's funny that they even have to preface this one.] 9 (a) Camp a total of at least 20 nights... 9 (b) On any of these camping experiences, you must do TWO of the following... [so, counted as two...] 9 (c) On any of these camping experiences, perform a conservation project... And of these five, I would posit that all should be done with the unit.  Also, of the five, which usually are completed at Summer Camp? (I'll let you answer that one yourself.) The rest of the 25 requirements are academically oriented.  Discuss, describe, explain, plan, etc...  Some could be made into activities, but generally are not.  Many "sessions" I have witnessed involved an instructor (under 18, so not the counselor...) lecturing to kids sitting around a picnic table, and then marking off a requirements for them.  The Scouts endure this torture just to get the piece of cloth... ----------------------------- Before signing a blue card, I ask Scouts about the activities they did for the badge.  I always found discrepancies for a sizeable number from Summer Camps,.  When I pointed these out to the Scouts, most admitted they had never even read the requirements.  They just relied on the instructor to teach them what they needed.  Less than a fourth of these Scouts would take me up on my offer to finish the requirements as they were written, so that they actually "earned" the badge. Discussing this with the committee, I was dispirited that many of the parents held the same view... that if the instructor/counselor signed off on it, it was good enough.  I told them I would decline to sign blue cards if I found that a Scout had not completed the requirements.  The committee accepted this.  But, there are other "unit leaders" who did not agree, and those leaders are the ones who signed blue cards or would mark things completed in Scoutbook.  I am only responsible for my own actions. After filing about 8 reports https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-800_WB.pdf with zero feedback or questions from the camps we attended, I realize that time was wasted, and those reports went into file #13. I call this the "dirty little secret" of BSA Summer Camps... the wide-ranging lack of integrity in the Merit Badge program.  The consequences of this are visible across the board, IMO.  Scout skills are abysmal. Summer Camp is supposed to be about unit long-term camping and doing activities that units do not normally have the expertise to put on for themselves.  Summer Camp is not about Merit Badges.  But we have corrupted the "camping" and turned this experience into something it is not supposed to be.  And Scouts, parents, leaders, staffs, "counselors", and professionals turn a blind eye.  Why?  Because Merit Badges generate revenue.  
    • You make a number of valid, or at least seemingly valid, points.  But, I have heard indirectly of many issues with poorly disciplined or overbearing kids on teams, and if  a child is NOT good enough, they will be gone by middle school age for the most part.  More importantly, IF you feel youth sports have few YP issues, you are not paying attention.  Only recently have many states stepped in to begin a better oversight of these teams.  In California, and I believe many other states now, there are state madated certifications for adults involved in these teams.  It remains to be seen if those mandates will be properl policed, just as BSA YP continues to have that challenge.  But, BSA is mostly working to assure these State mandates are met.    Sadly, just as in BSA, some groups are more attentive than others I suspect.  And for me, the mention of travel teams can pack their coolers is a bit scary, as that suggests that they may turn a blind eye to alcholol issues in some cases.  The two types of youth offerings are not the same, and both have their own unique challenges.  IF sportsmanship, as I learned it anyway, was assured in these leagues I would be more inclined to understand; but we all have read or seen the lack of sportsmanship in youth situations, both little league types, high school programs, and travel.  And Professional sports also too often set a very poor example, both in regard to respect of other players, but also looking the other way in regard to the actual rules.       None of it is easy, nor are they free of serious concerns.  But the basic tenets of Scouting still stand up to one of the best guides for real citizenship and a character filled life.  
    • While there are a few delusional folks out there, I think the vast majority of parents sign their kids up for club teams simply because their kids enjoy playing sports. Parents don't mind the added expense and time commitment as long as their child is having fun, making friends, and getting exercise. In many large suburban school districts, kids need to play their primary sport during the club season in order to make their high school varsity team. This is most common with soccer, basketball, and baseball / softball. A kid's skill level is unlikely to keep up with peers if they sit out the club season. That's an extra 2-3 months of practice for the club participants (compounded over 10 years). Usually, the high school coach doesn't require club participation. Rather, when it's time to make the varsity roster, it's obvious who has been putting in the work and who hasn't. I love Scouting. It was the best experience of my youth; however, I can tell my son prefers basketball. I will try to thread the needle as long as we can. However, if you're looking for legitimate reasons why families might prefer travel sports to Scouting, I've got a few: Civic Pride - Today, there is more pride associated with high school sports teams than Scouting. Two years ago, our local high school won a state championship in basketball. The town threw a parade and we still have signage up marking the achievement. My son wants to have an Eagle Court of Honor like his dad, but I think he'd really prefer to ride a fire truck through downtown. Socialization - Youth sports have effectively replaced a lot of bowing and softball leagues for adults. Parents make friends while traveling for youth sports. Unlike Scouting, you can pack a cooler to most events. A colleague of mine did the youth hockey grind for many years, but now that his son is in the Navy, he misses it. Exclusivity - I applaud Scouting for its inclusivity; however, I can tell my son is getting frustrated by the behavior issues of a few Packmates (so much so that it's souring his experience). Club sports try and serve as many youth as possible, but they won't hesitate to cut the trouble-makers loose. Competition - My son is frustrated that everyone gets the badges in Cub Scouts, even though some kids only show up to half the events and others are poorly behaved. Sports force kids out of their comfort zones. We can joke about kids being soft, but I watch my son guard peers who are better than him and it both humbles him and strengthens his resolve. Some competition is good, even at a young age. No Fundraising - Sometimes it's nice just to be able to write a check. Few YP Concerns - Self explanatory.
    • I don't think calling another scouting organization that doubled in size a joke is scout like, my friend. Nor is it something to draw laughter. I'm trying to recall the part of the Scout Law that teaches us to do either of those things. BSA losing 1.2+ million in 5 years doesn't give those in the BSA a solid perch to smirk from. Those are 60,000 youth being served in the scouting movement.
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