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Showing content with the highest reputation on 11/06/19 in all areas

  1. 5 points
    Great discussion, but @DuctTape has it. Merit Badge "Universities" (or whatever the local term is) circumvents one of the MAIN purposes of the Merit Badge program. It is NOT supposed to be "listen to this group lecture and answer a few questions and get your blue card signed." It is to teach INDIVIDUAL initiative, decision-making, and action. Having Mrs. Billysmom say "OK, Saturday we are going to the MBU and getting some meritbadges and here are all the ones you can get. After all, we need to get you to Eagle by age 16 so it looks good on your college application" Rather, it is: 1. SCOUT decides he needs to earn a MB if he's ever going to advance past First Class. 2. SCOUT approaches SM and says, "Mr SM, I think I would like to take Advanced Nuclear Physics MB" 3. SM says, "That's Great, however...how about something more useful right now, like Dog Care. I hear you have a new puppy?" 4. SCOUT, "Ok, sounds good, what do I need to do?" 5. SM: "Here are some names of the Dog Care MB counselors approved by the District. YOU (NOT YOUR MOM) need to call them and see if one of them has time to work with you". And here's a blue card to give to the counselor. 6 SCOUT: "(calling MB Counselor with parent listening in) Hello, Mr. Dog Care? My name is Billy from Troop XXX. I have a new puppy and would really like to earn the Dog Care MB. My SM recommended I call you." 7. MBC: "Nice to meet you, Billy. How about Saturday at 9 am? Be sure to get a copy of the Dog Care MB Pamphlet and look over the requirements before you come. OH, and please bring a buddy or a parent with you!" 8. SCOUT: "Thanks! I will. See you then!" 9. Scout and MBC then meet (following YPT requirements) as often as necessary to get it done and signed blue card is returned to the SM. The program was NOT designed to be a group effort like a freshman lecture hall in college. It is designed to get the SCOUT to get off his/her keister and take initiative and initiate some "Adult Association" and learn about a topic from a recognized "expert" in the field either by vocation or avocation. It grinds my gears when a troop registers a bunch of parents as MBC without regard to their expertise in the field and are listed in the District as "for Troop XXX only." Then at the EBOR, we observe that NONE of their MB were obtained from outside the troop or summer camp setting. By prodding, pushing and leading scouts to the MB trough and spoonfeeding MB we are cheating the Scout out of one of the most important developmental lessons in becoming adults.
  2. 4 points
    Do you think our rush to critique is just old-timer emotional whimsy? Hmm, maybe so. But our scouts are free to do what ever they want, and I would guess that our Eagles probably average 1 MB from a MB college at best. So, while the opportunities for scouts may be popular, the popularity is from the adult perspective. Scouts do not want to spend a full Saturday sitting in class like they have done all week at their school. If district would just run it like a university under the BSA advancement guidelines, I wouldn't mind. But, they run it like an middle school treating scouts like children instead of adults attending a class at a university. Plus they don't follow the BSA guidelines. District sets the vision of a quality boy run troop program for all their troops and their vision based from MB college is terrible. Great for the adults, terrible for the scouts. Barry
  3. 4 points
    What is often missing in the rush to mBs via "colleges" or the like is the real benefit of the Adult Association method. The more personal the time spent with the youth, the more the adult assiciation as a method can be used to accomplish the aims. The biggest problem with the mB mills and the give-away mBs is they are an example of the opposite of our aims. Cutting corners and taking the easy way out is not ethical decision making. By focusing on advancement as the goal, handing out signed blue cards to scouts who have not fulfilled the reqs, showing scouts how to cheat the system and denying scouts the benefit of true adult association is the worst example we can provide the scouts. It goes against the very Aims of the movement.
  4. 3 points
    "Have you read the Merit Badge Pamphlet?" "No. Were we supposed to?" "Did you read thru the prerequisites? They were on the website when you registered." "They were where? Our {insert Scout Adult Leader here) signed us up." " Well, after the class, I can give you a partial, and we can schedule another session to check you out." "But I have this worksheet I filled out. I got it online! At the (insert website here), isn't that how you do it?" " No, it isn't. It is a way for YOU to study the subject, but look at this (hold out the MB pamphlet, open to the requirements), and here (open the BSA requirement book), and you tell me if you have fulfilled the requirements to (mention the hands on , do stuff, perform a skill) ? " Well. let's talk about (insert MB topic here). "
  5. 2 points
    To use the old phrase: "A game with a purpose" The purpose needs to be worthwhile The game needs to be relevant.
  6. 2 points
    I think in our rush to critique merit badge colleges, we're missing out on a key point. These opportunities for Scouts are popular - that's why they exist. Having sessions like this provide opportunities for Scouts to learn things they might not, to advance when they might not. We hold an annual merit badge college. At the event, Scouts spend one day working on one single merit badge. Class size is 10-15 scouts per class. The class runs about 6 hours. In that time, the scouts complete the bulk of the requirements. If there are longer form requirements we assign them as prerequisites just like at summer camp. Would it be wonderful if every MB was earned by working directly with a counselor - perhaps. But, Scouts are only going to invest so much time in doing one-on-one sessions. Merit badge colleges provide an alternative path to experience more Scouting. Does every participant treat it as an additive activity - no. Some do use it to replace one-on-one merit badge sessions. But, a great many do see it as a way to earn an extra badge they might not normally. I would think it would be good for us to do two things here: leverage these as additional opportunities for Scouts. Take a merit badge you never have before. Complete that required merit badge you've been dreading. develop best practices for these sorts of events that make them as productive as possible. What is a good class size, how should they be structured, what about individual tasks in the context of that course. So, in short. Let's not throw out these popular sessions, but let's find a way to better integrate them so Scouts extract maximum value.
  7. 2 points
    Yep. We are camping next weekend, and I am sure I will hear a few comments about how cold they are, as it is supposed to drop down to 68 Friday night!
  8. 1 point
    How has your units famIies received this? Have you had committee/parents meetings yet about it? Ours was last Sunday. It went well. Good ideas, good discussion. We made some adjustments, mostly everyone was positive. We set the pack up for future increases and financial stability, even though it meant eliminating a few items we normally paid for to keep costs down. Had several parents that owned businesses offer to donate what was needed to cover defecit, as I refused to ask families for more money to cover a problem that was not our fault on short notice. I wanted this meeting to be about permanent solutions, not temporary ones. We were still going to be short at recharter, my DE was aware that we would be. We would be able to pay the balance in January after a normal dues payment, but the beginning of the year would be a little lean on funds until next dues in April. With PWD and B&G coming up it would have been tough, but manageable. One of the parents showed up on my doorstep tonight with a check for $1250, no stipulations. 😊 I had no idea it was coming. That will cover the recharter shortfall. I am so grateful that we can move forward in the plus column starting next year, grateful to parents who understand that this is still an excellent program, and so worth it.
  9. 1 point
    Again, my observation is that they are generally popular for the adults, not the scouts. Now I admit that all the events I've observed are not well run and certainly not run for the convenience of the scouts. If they were an opportunity for one or two badges, well then maybe. Well, this would be a good start, but this discussion was started with National discouraging such events, not trying to improve quality. They must have some kind of data to make that suggestion. And, while I respect your suggestion here, as a district trainer, I would rather put that effort in teaching units how to do their own advancement program under the BSA guidelines. If I were involved at the district level again, I would change the MB college to District Training weekend so that adults and scouts attend their respected classes at the same time . I would include first-aid and specialized safety skills. I would not force anyone to stay any longer than the one or two classes they need. I would also ask OA and Venturing Crews to set up stands to show off or demonstrate their specialty. Scuba, Law Enforcement, Aviation and other cool themes. I would, and our district does this, have MB counselor training before this event to get them trained and prepared for large groups of scouts. In fact, that training is how we develop an annual district counselor list. As I said, district needs to set the example it wants for its units. It matters a lot. Barry
  10. 1 point
    Agreed. One big mistake that we make in "BSA" Scouting is that we don't differentiate well between the two very different age levels in Scouts BSA. Scouts 11-14 are often quite different than those 15-18. In my mind, I see four distinct age ranges: Lions/Tigers/Wolves Bears/Webelos Scouts BSA 11-14 Scouts BSA 15-18 So yes, while I agree with your point I'd suggest our approach needs to be tailored to each age range. I think you're saying much the same thing. One trap we need to avoid is that of changing our program to be more relevant. I think STEM Scouts was an example of that. In reality, I think we need to fine tune our current programs such that they align better with these age ranges today. For example - maybe a little less pioneering at the 11-14 & 15-18 age ranges and an increasing focus on things like the environment.
  11. 1 point
    I respect the deep knowledge of the posters here. We've all been posting together on various topics for years. In many walks of life there is a tendency to look at something we don't think is going well and arrive at the conclusion that it a can't be done well. My sense is that's happening here. We all have stories of bad summer camp merit badge classes and badge merit badge college classes. These events are generally popular. Are some poorly run - without doubt. But not all. So wouldn't it be good for the Scouts to continue to have these popular events, but just make them better? Perhaps the BSA could put together a day long Merit Badge College director's conference. Teach people how to run a good event. Talk about how to teach materials, class size, program quality, deal with prerequisites. In my mind, this is where the BSA can add a LOT of value for us adult leaders.
  12. 1 point
    Largely agree with your thoughts. MB universities/colleges/fairs can be structured so that the selection process/choice/approval still happens. Similar to summer camp, if you know the schedule of what is being offered, that is shared to the scouts, and those desiring to attend can make selections from the list of what is available and discuss with their SM what they have selected. If SM deems appropriate, blue card issued, scout goes off to the MBU to work with the counselor. Some may feel that the BSA is implying that MBs are supposed to be one-on-one, scout to MBC- but it does not explicitly state that. We would never be able to offer MBs at summer camp if that were the case. Group instruction is a part of the lives of the youth. In any given school year, they are learning much, much more information in any given subject than that which is learned from any MB, and they do it with group instruction. Are limits on the size of the group important? YES! However, I would hope that is up to the MBC on the appropriate size. As an MBC for Citizenship in the World, an ideal size for me is no more than 5 scouts. I want the requirements to be dynamic discussion, not just "you listened to me, now repeat back what I said", and a group larger than 5 for me makes those discussions too lengthy that I feel many scouts tune out what their fellow scouts are saying by the time it gets to the 6th kid/7th kid, etc. I am also an MBC for Art MB, and I have no problem with that being a group of 20- most art classes in elementary/middle school/high school/college are larger than that. Are there MBUs being run as "show up, you get the badge"? I'm sure there are. Improving quality would be what I would focus on, rather than just trying to eliminate them completely. Offering MBs at unit level is important as well, but I wouldn't want to confine a kid to only what the unit/council can offer. If your unit doesn't have a chemistry MBC, and the nearest one within the council is 65 miles away, likelihood that Billy/Sally Scout is going to realistically be able to work on that MB is small to non-existent. However, if the council is going to have a MB fair at a site that is 10 miles from Billy/Sally Scout's hometown on a given day, and that MBC is going to be there, I'm all in on it! Billy/Sally Scout may already know that chemistry is their passion, and they may go on to be the person who finds the cure for a disease later in their life, and that opportunity as a Scout to work on a MB was the catalyst.
  13. 1 point
    Generally speaking - yes. The BSA needs to be relevant to today's youth. I think the BSA has to be careful in who it targets it's program to. We need to make sure our relevance is to kids. If we target adult sensibilities, that may be good for Cub Scout initial recruitment, but over time we'll still lose Scouts. Make it fun and interesting to kids - and most especially kids in the program.
  14. 1 point
    It always feels colder at the beginning of the season ... this frosty morning on my walk to the coffee shop I crossed paths with one of our committee on his way home with his dogs. He busted my chops for me having my balaclava on. "Too soon for that." Said the guy who already had his coffee in hand! Come spring, same temperature, and I might be in shorts.
  15. 1 point
    Would it perhaps be more accurate to describe the BSA as an adventure program? The best packs and troops I know spend a lot of time outdoors and do some mature things, but they are not really nature programs. I learned more about nature in one year of high school biology than 6 years of Scouting. Sure we spent a lot of time outdoors, where we were always doing things such as hiking, camping, and canoeing. Today troops do all those things, but they also go to a lot of other interesting places too. Another light analogy is the national park system. If you explored all of it, you'd see lots of nature. But you'd also see battlegrounds, forts, museums, historical figures, locations of national importance such as Lincoln's birthplace. So, maybe instead of saying we're a nature program - say that we're an adventure program.
  16. 1 point
    Don't Walk The Trail Alone!
  17. 1 point
    I think everyone should mention their definition of cold weather camping. For us, the 20's are considered cool for September, but not that unusual. Cold is below 0. Umm, I don't want to take 20 minutes to put all that clothing back on. Wide mouth Gatorade bottle. Say what? That's one issue I've never seen. I'd be surprised as most watches are based on a crystal. They will lose power to the display before the timing circuit fails. Better yet, bury them in snow. Snow is a great insulator. If we left our large water bottles out they'd freeze solid. A better thing to do with small water bottles is to insulate them, put boiling water in them, and put them on your thighs inside your bag. It'll keep you warmer most of the night. In the morning you'll have warm water to drink.
  18. 1 point
    I agree. Summer camps have turned into MB mills, with many non-outdoor offerings. The scouts should be hiking, swimming, boating, and shooting. Either for the MB or just for the fun of it. Life is sedentary enough in 2019. Too many scouts sitting on picnic benches at summer camp these days.
  19. 1 point
    I know we argue about Sports versus Scouting. I ran across this on another Scout Facebook page. It is long, but worthy of your reading. I attribute it to the name at the top. 'Nuf said... Brock Moore October 23 at 9:26 AM I promised myself years ago, every time I saw this I would re-post. Happens about twice a year. Rings true EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.... Here goes!!! Most people won't take the time to read this all the way to the end. I hope that you will. 17 INCHES" - you will not regret reading this An excellent article to read from beginning to end. Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.” Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there. In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy? After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally … “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer. “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach. “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?” “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident. “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?” “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”............“Seventeen inches!” “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues? “Seventeen inches!” “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'” Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? " The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!” Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?” Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.” “And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.” I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path. “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.” Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches." And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it! "Don't widen the plate."
  20. 1 point
    Make Scouting Great Again
  21. 1 point
    @5thGenTexan, though it may look a bit odd, I hit the "thanks" button to show my gratitude and respect for all you're doing for scouting. As a rural scouter myself, I believe there are more leaders in circumstances similar to yours than the BSA recognizes. Especially in rural areas, where there are limited numbers of adults who could or should work with scouts. Often the rural leaders do double and triple duty, and must put up with long-term dysfunctional circumstances simply because there are no other options. This can be very draining on a number of levels. My recommendation is a frank talk with all of the adults. Here's what I'm observing/experiencing, here's the impact it's having on the unit and me personally, and close with an "I" message (your expectations going forward, your plans to possibly step down, etc.). If the others can't or won't respect that, then stepping down may be the best thing for you and your family. "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" My personal experience: I've stayed the course and "never say die" many times during my professional life and volunteer experiences. But there is a line. I've crossed that line several times to the detriment of my family and myself. You'll know when and where that line is. Again, my respects and thanks to you! Best wishes and please let us know how it goes.
  22. 1 point
    Depending on the size of your troop, you may well have been limited to one scout elected, but that was not the blanket rule. I was elected 50 years ago, and there was a chart in the OA handbook showing how many scouts could be on the ballot, based on the number of scouts in your unit. (I am at work, and that 50 year old handbook is at home, so I cannot give the exact ratios - as I recall, we were allowed up to 4 and I was the only one to be elected that year) It then showed how many of those on the ballot each scout could vote for; and how many of those scouts could be elected. Just as today, it took a minimum of 50% of the votes cast to be elected. Having a limit on how many you could vote for, and having a limit on how many could be elected, made the OA more difficult to get into than the 'elect them all' thinking of many current troops.
  23. 1 point
    Just returned from week 6 of Camp Rockefeller summer camp. Quapaw Council, Damascus, Arkansas. This place rocks! Great staff, excellent facilities, older Scout activities; it had it all. The "ROCKS" (trail to first class) program included swimming & first aid merit badge. The material was presented well & the Scouts were active during the class - doing not just sitting & listening. Meals were good. Trading post shutdown the soda machine during heat advisory days (2). I had 1 16 yr old Life Scout go just to participate in the Buffalo National River canoe trip. Right on the edge (~10 miles) of the Ozark National Forest, the camp shares the same type of terrain. This one is going on the list of places to go back to.
  24. 1 point
    I have been a leader in our troop for 4-5 yrs, and have attended a number of Eagle ceremonies from our troop and others. I would say that a gift is not expected, or encouraged - but if you feel close to the scout or family, then let that be your guide. Some of the boys I have seen reach Eagle have been boys that have come up with my son since Tiger cubs. others are older brothers of troop memebers that I didn't really know personally. Since I tend to take alot of photos of our troop and it's activities - one thing I have always done (esp since Digital cameras makes this easy) is to search thru my Cub and boy scout files and have a print made of every photo I can find with that boy in it. These I give to the family privately before the COH - for memories, and in case they want to use them at the ceremony. It doesn't cost much at all, but is something they have all greatly appreciated. As I am coming up on MORE Eagle ceremonies of boys that I am particularly close to - those of my son's peers and church families we know - I will be giving a more personalized gift - baised on my relationship with the boy in question, and his interests. In particular, I am thinking of a boy a little older than my son, who has been a great mentor to my son and a good friend to me. Since his mother was disabled last year, (severe head injury)and the family has had some dificulties, and because I have LOADS of photos of this boy over the years - I am making him a scrapbook of memories that he can add to if he wants. I know it's something his Dad - (our SM) won't think of (he's got too much other stuff on his mind) and that his mom would have done something like that if she was able to. bottom line? this is one instance where a gift, if given, should come from the heart. If you feel like giving a gift, then do so. laura
  25. 1 point
    When I received my Eagle ('88), I did receive a couple of gifts but I was not expecting any. The gentleman who was my SM when I first joined the troop presented me with a Cross Pen set and my Grandmother gave me a gold eagle watch from the franklin mint. My parents gave me an eagle pocket knife. These were presented to me privately, before the actual ceremony, but at the site. I received many cards from friends, relatives, and those who had some interest in my scouting career (CO members, merit badge counselors, etc.) I do not remember if any had money in them or not. I still have all those cards and I treasure them for the words written in them for more than any more money they might have once held. If I were going to an Eagle COH today, I would not bring a gift unless I was close to the scout in question, but I would bring a card with a message appropriate to my relationship with the scout. Gavvin