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  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
    I agree, but I disagree on focusing on effectiveness, max class size or things like that. Rather, I'd want people to focus on making these as interesting as possible. For example, a merit badge class day on metal working better include most of the day working on metal. Bending. Welding. Etc. I remember an oceanography course that I wish my sons could have gotten in on. It had lots of kids in it. But it was led by an active duty submarine officer and an oceanography researcher who could talk real life. That was cool. IMHO, these classes have their place. But it should be done in a context that develops interest and definitely not death by power-point.
  5. 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). "
  6. 3 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!
  7. 2 points
    Agreed. I think the fee increase will have an effect on those currently in scouts. We will, no doubt, lose some. I think it will have a much larger effect on recruiting new scouts into the program. A lot of the people in the program are already "sold" on scouts. Retaining them might be a challenge. Recruiting new people, who aren't yet "sold" on the program might be much more difficult.
  8. 2 points
    I used to tell new Scoutmasters that dealing with the expectations of parents is one of the more challenging parts of the job. They scoutmaster is firm in protecting the program, but also a good sales person of how it works. You will generally find the best scoutmasters have read and studied some of the writings of Baden Powell, William Boyce Bill Hillcourt and other founding scouters to develop simple word explanations for the virtues of scouting. Do a search on Baden Powell quotes to understand what I mean. At it's simplest, scouting build confidence by doing. The new scouts are simply new at doing and just starting to build that confidence. Barry ""We must change boys from a 'what can I get' to a 'what can I give' attitude." Baden Powell
  9. 2 points
    You are dealing with motivation and maturity. Also, young scouts aren't always confident with talking to adults. When the scouts find a need for for advancing, they will find the will. Still, there are some things you can do to build confidence. When we test and finish the new scout on the Scout requirements, we walk him to a list on the table where the scout request a BOR. He just puts down his name and rank for the BOR, then the BOR leader will find him to set a time and day. After he completes the BOR, the BOR leader will then show the scout how to personally ask for a SM Conference, where I, with a big smile, gladly set a time and date. That usually helps a lot. Starting by putting a name on the BOR list seems to be an easy start. And watch out, when they do decide to ask, it seems to came all at once. Barry
  10. 2 points
    To use the old phrase: "A game with a purpose" The purpose needs to be worthwhile The game needs to be relevant.
  11. 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.
  12. 2 points
    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.
  13. 2 points
    Don't Walk The Trail Alone!
  14. 2 points
    That's the first thing I thought of. He's allowed to take JUST his own son, but not JUST the other kid. If he takes his own son AND the other kid, it's acceptable.
  15. 2 points
    That wouldn't violate 1 on 1 and presumably there were 2 registered leaders at the event.
  16. 2 points
    Scouters.com - Uniting Scouters Worldwide
  17. 2 points
    Alas, nowadays it's only about numbers and designing lodge flaps.
  18. 1 point
    I like how you are giving them the time they need. But do they need three saturdays? You can't know what each MB requirement requires from different scouts. And every counselor has their own style of working with the scouts. So, instead of setting limitations and expectations on the counselors, give a MB Couselor class to the counselors for teaching the BSA counselor expectations using the BSA materials. Let them determine what they need, then you can help provide the resources to them. Our troop developed a course for our MB counselors that we gave every year to insure the counselors understand their responsibilities. Other units heard about it and asked to attend. Eventually someone on district found out about it and low and behold our troop created and taught a district level once a year course. It's really not hard course to do, just use the materials that pertain to the MB counselors and explain in some detail to add clarity. About 30 minutes. Barry
  19. 1 point
    Those age breaks are reflected in the scouting program as delivered in other countries. For example, Cambridgeskip recently pointed out that UK activity badges vary by age group (11-14 vs. 15-18). In Cambridgeskip's part of the world, the scouting groups are: - Beavers (6-8) - Cub (8-10) - Scouts (10-14) - Explorers (14-18) In Canada, the age-based programs are: - Beavers (5-7) - Cub (8-10) - Scout (11-14) - Venturer (15-17) - Rover (18-26) Compared to BSA, the age gradations are more narrow, giving a better fit at each level.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 1 point
    @eTimesSoy, welcome to scouter.com!
  23. 1 point
    Scouts that are active will find a way to show off those segments. The scout is clearly active in the program, which I think is the most important point.
  24. 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.
  25. 1 point
    Interesting article. I followed the links in there to the FAQ and the Fund Raising Application. There, I had to pause at guideline #5... 5. If a commercial product is to be sold, will it be sold on its own merits and without reference to the needs of Scouting? All commercial products must sell on their own merits, not the benefit received by the Boy Scouts. The principle of value received is critical in choosing what to sell. Soooooo, you're telling me that popcorn is actually *WORTH* the ridiculously inflated prices shown in the Trails End catalog? If it weren't for the promised "benefit to the Boy Scouts", would ANYBODY ever buy so much as a kernel of the stuff? Sign me, Skeptical
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