Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by mrkstvns

  1. 46 minutes ago, yknot said:

    Sounds like a great opportunity to tap into some deep knowledge and passion!

    Scouters who want to build up their fishing and teaching skills might also find support from their local parks or natural resources department.  In my area, there are "How to Teach Fishing" workshops that are completely free of charge, put on by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. (They specifically target scout leaders, teachers and camp staff among their audience).




  2. 9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:


    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.  

    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.



    • Like 1

  3. 2 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    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.


    Your post is well taken.  

    There are, indeed, good merit badge classes. We should encourage the experienced, knowledgable counselors to keep doing those.

    The problem is that there are also many merit badge events that are NOT good.  They take short cuts. When there are multiple options to meet a requirement, the bad merit badge class always picks the easiest and simplest, not the one that delivers a meaningful experience. The bad merit badge class tries to condense 8 hours worth of requirements into a 2-hour lecture with no real activities and no testing.  

    The document pointed to in the OP identifies many of the bad practices that permeate merit badge events.

    Discussions like this are good so that scouters realize that we don't have to put up with the really bad merit badge events. We can complain about the bad ones to council and district scouters, we can discourage scouts from participating in the rubber-stamp events or in camps that stuff too many badges into far too little time, we can try to educate our parents that "more and faster is not better".  We can also put together better quality merit badge "experiences" that have more hands-on, less classroom, more time, and frankly, are just plain more fun.  Do that and the demand for el-lame-O merit badge events will decline.  National standards banning too-short classes would be a good first step (except for Fingerprinting, which is really the only merit badge that can be adequately covered in 2 hours).

    What I would like to see is GOOD merit badge events being the only ones that are supported, encouraged and promoted by scouters.

    • Upvote 1

  4. 13 hours ago, MattR said:

    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.

    For most of my life, I'd have considered cold weather camping to be nights in the teens.

    Today, I'm working with scouts in Texas where many of the sports stores sell bags that don't even get you down into the 40s.  Our scouts will tell you that 40 is cold and lower than that is INSANE.

  5. Here's another quick tip for winter camping....

    Take care of your batteries for lights or emergency cell phones.

    Just like there's frosty cold days when your car battery won't have enough juice to get you going, if your flashlight batteries get too cold, or your cell phone batteries get to cold, they can lose their pizazz.  

    • Charge batteries before you go
    • Lithium batteries hold their charge better than carbon batteries
    • Keeping the flashlight in your sleeping bag with you means you'll have light when nature calls in the middle of the night
    • Don't trust the time on electronic devices when you wake up ---- they have a tendency to lose time as the battery gets cold

  6. This past weekend I was at University of Scouting and there was a guy there talking about BSA's "Certified Angling Instructor" certification.  There is evidently a weekend-long course available that teaches scouters how to teach young scouts to fish and how to counsel Fishing, Fly Fishing, and Fish and Wildlife Mgmt merit badges.

    Have any of y'all done this course?  If so, do you find it helps you out in your unit?

  7. On 9/23/2019 at 8:17 AM, RookieScouter said:

    ...We have a scout night next month. I like the idea of a video showing all the things we do. I tend to take too many pictures at events. Lol.... When I put posters together it's hard to just choose a few pictures. 

    Regardless of whether you're putting together a flier, a web site, a video, a pamphlet....whatever, remember the first commandment of effective graphic design:  LESS IS MORE

    If it's hard to just choose a few pictures, ask your son to pick out the *ONE* most exciting picture.  Then pick ONE word (or at most a short phrase).  Now you've got your whole poster:...Your poster is the really cool picture of a kid rapelling down a cliff --- blown up to fill all the available space, and just the word "ADVENTURE" laid over the top of it, set in 300 point type, bolded, and made red.  Now stick a small QR code in the bottom corner (the code can jump to your landing page....but I'll save that discussion for another day).

    Let the collage of photos and the 2,000 word text bore somebody else....not the new kid you want to attract.

    • Thanks 1

  8. 9 minutes ago, SteveMM said:

    There's a strong push going on right now, led by me and another Committee Member, to limit our troop's participation in merit badge weekends to one per year.  In previous years, we've gone to as many as three or even four in a calendar year.  It's part of the reason we have some Scouts with merit badges wrapping all around their sash, but don't remember half of what they learned.  Our goal is to replace those merit badge weekends with more traditional hiking, fishing, and camping trips.  So far we're winning.  Merit badge weekends are NOT needed.  My son got his Eagle in early August at the age of 15 while splitting his free time with competitive travel soccer.  He has attended exactly one merit badge weekend in his Scouting career.

    I like hearing about troops that provide in-house opportunities to help their youth --- after all, we're taught the importance of "servant leadership" so we need to do what the boys need.

    I like that you're not participating in more than one MB weekend per year, but I would be cautious about going overboard by making such a thing a "rule" or a "policy".  Scout leaders should always remember to "remove barriers and open doors". If you implement a rule, you're doing a disservice to the scout who has a right to expect that you are following the "Guide to Advancement" and not just making up unnecessary rules that treat your own scouts differently from scouts in other troops. 


    • Thanks 1

  9. 15 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

    There are acceptable group settings to earn MBs at summer camp.  Historically, these used to be primarily outdoor focused (rifle/shotgun/lifesaving/etc.).  Many units didn't access to properties or equipment during the course of the year, so it was standard practice at camp. 

    Quite right.

    The core outdoor-focused merit badges being offered at summer camp are great.  They give scouts access to resources (rifle ranges, canoes, etc.) and to trained, certified people (lifeguards, rifle instructors, etc.) that few troops have. Summer camp is the time-honored way for scouts to do the outdoor activities they've been promised but that troops back in town just can't be expected to provide.

    On the other hand, why on earth should summer camps offer classroom-focused classes like Citizenship in the Community or Family Life which are FAR better done back home in the troop or in the community. Having those classes at camp just gives scouts a poor merit badge experience and discourages scouts from getting outdoors and having fun at camp.

  10. Well, it's that time of year again.  Time to dig out the cold weather sleeping bad and time to teach the kids about layering their clothes and staying warm no matter how low the mercury drops.

    Here's a simple tip that might help you out on your next winter camping trip....

    Before you go to bed, turn your water containers upside down (assuming they don't leak).  Water tends to freeze from the top down, and if you turn your water jug upside down, the layer of ice will form on the BOTTOM of your water jug, not at the top, so you'll still be able to get water out of it in the morning when you wake up and start fixing breakfast.  Try it at home with a water bottle in your freezer....it works!


  11. There's a document out on scouting.org that seems to discourage many of the common practices that enable merit badge events (like fairs, universities, etc.) and that also seems to discourage bad practices that are very common in almost all merit badge summer camps and winter camps.

    I wonder if this will indicate a trend away from the current merit badge mills that prevail across the country...

    The document is "Merit Badge Group Instruction Guide" and is available here:

    Some interesting points that appear there...

    • "Group instruction should be focused on those scenarios where the benefits are compelling"
    • "The focus must on the quality of the Scout's counseling experience, and not on the number of Scouts who can take a class or complete a badge."
    • "Simply taking notes, completing a workbook, or listening during a group instruction session does not constitute completing a requirement"
    • "For many badges---perhaps even most of them---partial completion is not only acceptable but expected from a merit badge event."
    • "most classes should be small"
    • "Group tasks do not fulfill requirements..."
    • "...completing a worksheet does not constitute completing a requirement."


  12. 41 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    I saw this with my son.  He was in a den for two years of 12+ scouts.  It was awful.  Then he went to a den of 3.  It kinda worked, but not that well.  One kid would miss a meeting and it was then two.  We eventually got to 4, and it was OK.  6 would have been a lot more fun.


    As always though....your mileage may vary.

    My son was also in a den with over 12 scouts. It's a lot, but the boys were already friends since all were in the same grade in the same elementary school. The den hung together all the way through AoL. The den had a very strong Den Leader (Eagle scout) who had committed to stay with the boy for the 4-5 years it would take to get to AoL ---- and he did. He also had a good Den Chief and supportive parents to back him up.  12+ may not be ideal in most packs, but it worked great in this case.

  13. 15 minutes ago, 69RoadRunner said:


    Our secret ingredient was cranberries.  I made 3 things, chili, fresh cranberry applesauce and since the favorite Philmont meal is stuffing with chicken and cranberries, I made it to demo for the scouts who didn't do Philmont.


    That Stuffing with chicken and cranberries sounds like a real winner!   You wouldn't happen to have a recipe you could share?

    • Upvote 1