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Posts posted by InquisitiveScouter

  1. 2 hours ago, scoutldr said:


    I think this misconception is part of the reason so many people are reluctant to be MBCs.

    The training slides from national have in the notes

    "In order to qualify as a merit badge counselor, prospective volunteers must have the education and skills needed to provide instruction and to evaluate performance. It is also important they are older than the Scouts and are able to set that positive example. This calls for both good rapport and good character.

    These are the only qualifications the BSA National Council places on merit badge counselors—regardless of the merit badge. Local councils, however, when approving counselors, may look for more, but they are not allowed to accept less."

    Link  https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/training/advancement/merit_badge_counselor/the_essentials.pptx


    And from G2A

    "Council advancement committees have the responsibility to implement an approval procedure that assures merit badge counselors have the necessary skills and education to offer quality experiences in the badges they counsel. The intent is for Scouts to learn from those with an appropriate level of expertise."

    Key concepts here are "offer a quality experience" and "appropriate level of expertise"  Although these phrases are vague, IMO, some use them to set the bar far too high for MBCs.


    For example, I am a counselor for Scuba Diving (I do hold an Advanced Open Water Diver cert.) , but I am not a Scuba Instructor.

    Now, BSA mandates "All phases of scuba instruction— classroom, pool, and open-water training—are limited to instructors trained and certified by one of the BSA’s recognized scuba agencies as found in the Guide to Safe Scouting."

    The distinction here is between Scuba Instruction and Scuba Merit Badge Counseling. These are two different things.  (I had to have this discussion with our council person who approves MBCs.)

    If a Scout wants to earn Scuba MB, I connect them with a certified local dive shop to earn their certification, which is but one requirement of the MB.  If they have their certification already, we go through the rest of the requirements and I sign off the badge. 


  2. 1 hour ago, RememberSchiff said:

    @InquisitiveScouter    you are a SupermanSmall.png.9605955bca42d21d1874fffe118da882.png MBC for 61 merit badges and "The average person could do at least 10 or so, comfortably."  ??? :huh:

    Before covid, I remember a meeting where some suggested  MBC's have a simple uniform of a sash with the merit badges they counsel - advertising I guess.




    Lol, thanks!  No, just a jack of all trades, master of none.  And lots of different experiences in life, Scouting, and the military.

    Here are an average 23 that most Scouters could (or should be able to) do without specialized training or being a professional in some field:

    (NOTE to Scouters...if you cannot go through the requirements for any of these and be able to counsel a Scout, please consider "earning" these merit badges on your own.  Yes, you could take at least one merit badge class at Summer Camp or elsewhere!  You'll learn a LOT and have some fun, too.  They'll make you a better Scouter.)

    1.  American Heritage

    2.  Art

    3.  Automotive Maintenance

    4.  Backpacking

    5.  Camping

    6.  Citizenship in the Community

    7.  Citizenship in the Nation

    8. Citizenship in the World

    9.  Citizenship in Society

    10. Communication

    11.  Cooking

    12.  Emergency Preparedness

    13.  Family Life

    14.  First Aid

    15.  Hiking

    16.  Home Repairs

    17.  Nature

    18.  Personal Fitness

    19.  Personal Management

    20.  Pets

    21.  Reading

    22.  Scholarship

    23.  Scouting Heritage



  3. 52 minutes ago, skeptic said:

    This jogged a thought.  Our youth, the peers of scout that is living in such a situation, often become the protectors in some form.  But they also have been known to point out an issue.  Over more than 40 years, I have seen it.  The group becomes a safe place for the youth, even extending to them a temporary escape, quietly taking them in to their homes when one is needed.  These are the things too often we do not see, and I admit that much of my experience is past tense, discovered in visiting with past youth over decades.  A few of those mistreated youth, now adults, have directly told me their story, years later, being thankful for the haven we and some members offered.

    This was me as a youth...  Scouting was my haven.  I am deeply grateful for it and all those who helped me survive, youth and adult.

    • Upvote 1
  4. 1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

    Sadly in my area there is zero verification of competency/qualifications.


    Here, I got the third degree when I submitted my application locally to counsel 60 merit badges.  So, I submitted a spreadsheet listing qualifications and experience, including copies of my pertinent certifications. (About 15 pages worth of documentation, just to make the point.)  All were approved 😜  And I am about to add another! (and maybe later the Cit in Society.)


    The average person could do at least 10 or so, comfortably.

  5. 20 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

    Since I don't get to be a Den Leader any longer I am considering taking the MBC training.


    What level of proof of competency is required for a particular MB to be a counselor? 

    The "proof" required totally depends on your local council or district, depending on who is approving MBC applications.

    12 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

    Is just having some knowledge good enough or is a specific degree and/or career in the subject matter required?

    There is good discussion and guidance in the Guide to Advancement 2021, starting on page 40 (Section 7)  This is a good read, and recommend you take some time to digest it.  


    • Upvote 1
  6. 16 minutes ago, IWasAbusedinScouting said:

    But who cares, right?

    I care. 

    There is no punishment I can think of that would fit the criminals who hurt you.  And, BSA engaged in, and continues to engage in, despicable practices in dealing with this. 

    There is no final healing for those of us who bear the psychological scars of abuse.  We carry them always.  I'm reminded of mine often, and you endured far worse than I, and live with yours daily, as well.

    I offer you my tearful empathy, and an admonition that we survivors can help prevent this from happening to others.

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 2
  7. 8 hours ago, yknot said:

     You seem to be arguing that we should not be so vigilant. I flat out don't agree with that. I don't have any problem with people who like adult beverages at the proper time or place. I certainly enjoy when appropriate. But there seems to be this tacit acceptance of  a certain level of subterranean alcohol abuse in some areas of scouting that is concerning. 

    No one said anything of the sort...

    You read too much into what people write.  Take their words at face value.  If you think they are implying something, or being vague, ask a direct question to get a direct answer.  Your method is combative and attributes words and ideas to people that they simply did not state.  It does not win friends, nor influence people 😜


  8. Those prices sound fairly standard...

    Some suggestions:

    1.  Check that camp's Adult Leaders Guide.  There is often a free adult per xx Scouts provision.   If they have that, lobby hard with the Troop to use that to reduce your expenses.  If they push back, then,

    2.  Go to camp locally with your kids as part of a Provisional Troop (is that the Maverick program you were talking about??), with you "volunteering" as the Provisional Troop Leadership.  If both you and your spouse go the same week, then the camp can offer that week for girls provisional, so it's an advantage for the camp.  Camps should give the Provisional Adults the week for free.  If they don't, I'd talk with the Camp Director and see what they can do.  If there is a sibling discount locally, that'd be even better.  I know you'd rather be with your Troop, but finances may drive you to this...

    3.  Consider a family Scout camp.  You and your family find your own place to camp, and you and your spouse act as merit badge counselors.  You are a patrol of four.  Have your kids make the menus, and do the cooking, and both could earn most of Cooking Merit Badge in the week.  Not even near the ideal, but they'll get a whole lot out of it.  And you will learn a ton!!

  9. 1 hour ago, skeptic said:

    From the BSA official material.


      "The official scout uniform consists of shirt, pants, belt, and socks. A neckerchief and hat are optional. In reality, each unit may have different uniform expectations, with some expecting socks to hat while others expect just the shirt. Having all scouts consistently uniformed for meetings and outings makes for a much better adventure. It is also important to remember that the scout uniform is not a mandatory part of scouting and a scout should not be prohibited from participating just because they do not have a uniform, or a complete uniform."


    "Imitation of United States Army, Navy, or Marine Corps uniforms is prohibited, in accordance with the provisions of the organization’s Congressional Charter."


    Doesn't say Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine, for those who follow letter of the law 😜


  10. 20 minutes ago, ThenNow said:

    In some ways, I’m not sure the tally we will see tomorrow will mean whatever it appears to mean. I put the odds at zero that it will be overwhelming in either direction. The numbers are just not there. There are two motivated factions, each with a devoted constituency they likely “turned out,” as they say. Given the assumption of a failed dispositive result, this is what I think.

    We are in for something that could end up looking like a MAD warfare scenario. There will be an all out assault on claimant votes both accept and reject. Both sides will try to invalidate the other’s respective tally by all means available and at any cost. TCC, Kosnoff, AIG, Patterson (Zalkin/Pfau), et al., with be seeking to upend “accept” votes. Coalition and its allies with try to undermine the “rejects” (used advisedly). The Kosnoff/TCC letter, e-ballot, time-barred and $3500 off-ramp claims, attorney e-signatures, aggregator methods, Coalition efforts to dog clients into changing votes and 30’000+/- claims lacking basic identifiers - LC, CO, abuser, year(s), etc. - will all be “painted” targets awaiting guided missile lock.  I think it’s about to get ugly, not to mention the Purdue Kraken stirring beneath the dark waters. Well, what do I know, other than this is a terrible mess. Ack. Oh, yeah. Happy New Year.



  11. 2 minutes ago, IrrationalGoat said:

    Regarding specific advice and needing more details, here is an overview of how my troop is structured and what meetings look like.


    Every six months we elect a new ASPL, and the current ASPL moves up to SPL. At the new SPL's first PLC (we have a PLC at the first meeting of every month, every scout is expected to attend and as a group we plan out the meetings and outings for that month) they appoint scouts of their choice to the following positions: Quartermaster, Scribe, Historian, Game Master, Troop Guide, Chaplain Aide, and Webmaster. Next, as a group, we plan a monthly theme for each of the six months of the SPLs term. Examples of things we have done include -

    Merit Badges (anything from First Aid to Personal Fitness, usually Eagle-required and something that one of our adult leaders is a counselor for. We usually would take a whole month to do a merit badge (3-4 meetings, depending on the month.) Ideally each scout completes the merit badge.) 

    Rank Advancement and Merit Badge work time - sometimes we set aside a whole month for rank advancement, often having group lessons and sign-offs as well as individual worktime.

    Aquatics - usually done in the summer, we would meet at a local lake to swim for a meeting, maybe meet at our local aquatic center for a meeting, maybe go canoeing or kayaking at another local lake for a meeting.

    Outdoors - we would usually go to a park near our meeting location, likely would have a swimming meeting of some sort. Again, usually done during the summer (I think the low point of our troop was when January rolled around and the month's theme had been planned as outdoor things - the only problem? It got dark well before out evening meetings, so there was no real way to do anything outdoors during a weekly meeting 😂😂😂)

    Go-kart Building - we once built a go-kart (push powered) as a troop one month, that was lots of fun. Everyone brought some scraps and by the end of the month we managed to have something resembling a go-kart.


    Ok, so that is what the beginning of a new SPLs term looks like. In my troop, terms last for six months. 

    Here is what our standard month looks like - 


    First meeting of the month - PLC. We have no flag ceremonies at PLC meetings, and we end the meeting when the whole month is planned (usually 30-50 minutes in). We take the monthly theme that we planned at the SPLs first meeting, and plan what we will do at each meeting a how it relates to the theme. For example, if the theme is Citizenship in the Community merit badge, we would plan two or three meetings to go over requirements and fill out worksheets as a group, and then perhaps we would choose one meeting to go to a City Hall meeting (one of the requirements for Citizenship in the Community. We usually also plan one outing. Examples include: snowshoeing at our local mountain in the winter, going on a day hike or biking trip, going on an overnight camping trip. We try to do one or more snow related outings in the winter and from March-November we usually try to do one camping trip or hike per month.


    Now that I have explained how we plan our months here is an overview of a standard meeting - 


    Flag Ceremony, with Scout Oath and Law recited, followed by announcements - 5 - 10 minutes

    Go to table and begin working on whatever we have planned. If we are doing a merit badge we will have the counselor teach the group and try to get through requirements in a timely and reasonable manner.  50 - 70 minutes

    We usually do a game toward the end of the meeting 10 - 15 minutes

    Closing flag ceremony and announcements - 5 minutes


    Here is how we plan a camping trip - 

    During the PLC, we will bring up what we want to do for an outing that month. We will decide what weekends are available and whether or not we want to do a day hike, backpacking trip, or camping trip. Then we will decide where we want to go. We will then decide when we want to meet to carpool to our campsite or trailhead (usually on Saturday) and then when we will get back (usually on Sunday).  We would then usually split into two "cooking patrols" of about 3-5 scouts each. Each cooking patrol would have one person (rotating scouts each time) who planned all the meals for their cooking patrol for that camping trip. They would usually fit their menu around a requirement they were trying to meet. Then, the leader of the cooking patrol would divide up the food items to bring between the other members of the cooking patrol, to avoid having one person buy everything a collect money from the other members (this didn't always end with everyone happy, to put it one way). 

    So, the day of the campout rolls around, we all meet in the designated meeting location and carpool to the campsite (usually at 1 pm ish). We would then unpack and set up tents and set up the camp in general (cooking stoves, garbage bags, coolers, watercoolers, etc.) Once everything was all set up we would usually do an activity together, often a preplanned hike or canoeing trip or somethings. Then, we would usually have maybe an hour of free time to play games or work on rank advancement with leaders individually (following youth protection rules). We might have group rank advancement for an hour or so. Then we would usually start to think about dinner. For dinner, each patrol would prepare, cook, and eat, whatever they planned. Adults brought their own food (my dad would often bring a steak and grill it up in front of everyone else who brought a Mountain house meal or ramen noodles or something 😂😂😂). The two cooking patrols would cook the meals separately and only cook for the members in their patrol, but the two coking patrols would almost always eat together and share laughs and jokes. Then, we would usually play a game after dinner (often German spotlight or some other kind of in-the-dark tag game). After that, we would often have a campfire and a cracker barrel as a troop (when I say troop, keep in mind I'm referring to less than a dozen scouts). We would tell stories, make jokes, and eventually head to our tents to go to bed (scouts would choose who they slept with on their own, we usually had brothers/friends sleep in the same tent and usually had 3-5 tents. Occasionally we would pull out the "Taj Mahal", a 12 or so person tent our troop owns, and all the scouts would sleep in that tent. Scouts and adults never slept in the same tent, except rarely if it was father/son or something like that (the adults would usually find a way to sleep in their minivans or SUVs though). The next morning, we would wake up, usually at separate times but around 6-9 in the morning. Someone would start a fire and slowly more and more people would get up. The leaders of the cooking patrol would start breakfast whenever they decided, often having to go wake the members of their cooking patrols to help them out. We would then have breakfast, in the same structure as dinner, and then usually play a game (frisbee, tag, capture the flag, etc.) for an hour or two afterwards. Then we would start to pack up and and have lunch, and would carpool back to the meeting spot after lunch (usually 1-2 pm). From there, everyone would head home, with a full belly, a fun experience, and hopefully a few new requirements under their belt. and that's a successful outing.


    Our meeting attendance is usually about 80-90% for most scouts, as we have gotten bigger, some scouts attendance is more like 30% or 50%, but most scouts and adults have good attendance.


    So that is our troop essentially functions. The thing is, we do all of the planning and activities as a group. Which, as I said, isn't really a problem when we had about 6-10 boys in the troop at any given time. Now we have over a dozen scouts, so I suppose my question is, what would forming two patrols look like. It will likely end up being a girls patrol and boys patrol (seeing as that is how the whole of the organization requires it to be). What will having two SPLs look like? Will the boys and girls patrols do all the PLCs together and have all the same monthly themes? Or will they do PLCs separately and have their own monthly themes? If they do plan meetings and have PLCs together and have the same monthly themes, will they do the same activities together? Because that is basically how our troop functions right now, we have grown a lot and haven't changed our structure in accordance with the new growth. Will we go on the same camping trips? Or separate ones? If we do go to the same camping trip, will we eat together and sit around the same fire and play games together or will we try to be as separate as possible?

     I will likely end up talking to my SM and some of the adults leaders about what the best course of action is, I am mostly looking for ideas and trying to get a better understanding here. Thanks for all the replies, unfortunately I don't have the time to give a good reply to every comment, but I really appreciate it.



    Sounds like things are on a good track... except for one thing...

    The Committee and adults should not have put you in the position of having to figure out what to do with the girl troop/patrol.  They are supposed to be entirely separate, and choose and run their own program.  But, as you have found, the reality can be quite different.

  12. 1 hour ago, skeptic said:

    I guess I do not understand finger printing.  It has always been my belief that once they have your prints, unless something occurs to affect the fingers, they will be the same.  Not sure if that follows with age, though, other than size, I believe the basic pattern is the same.  So, what is the point of requiring new printing if they already exist?


    Ahhh...because they are checking for that fingerprint being matched to criminal records for other names, aliases, false identities, etc.  

  13. 9 minutes ago, skeptic said:

    Yep; and they are on file already with the state teaching department.  So, since that is the case, simply addend them from the teaching file to the BSA/Volunteer file?  No additional prints then need to be done.  Of course, I may also have prints from my short time in the Peace Corp, and not sure if they printed us in the military.  

    In PA, it isn't just the fingerprints...they must fingerprint you and run those through the FBI database.  Costs about $25, and must be done every five years, until you reach 10 years of PA residency.  At that point, you may file an Affidavit stating such, and that you have not committed certain offenses (these offenses would appear on your PA State Police Criminal Check, which is also required.)

    https://www.dhs.pa.gov/KeepKidsSafe/Resources/Documents/Disclosure Statement for Volunteers.pdf

  14. Welcome!

    Here's a plan for your next meeting:

    Opening - Scout Oath and Law -SPL

    Patrol Meetings - Run by PLs, their choice on activities (have ASPL, SM and ASMs assist and instruct if needed)

    Game - SPL

    Scoutmasters Minute

    Closing - Scoutmaster's Benediction- delegate this to your ASPL

    So, really, all you have to do is open and find a good game to play.


    Have fun and learn!


  15. 37 minutes ago, skeptic said:



     I thought I had posted something, but cannot find it.  We were notified in the last day or two by council of the new law, and I have already taken the online certification and received the official coverage from the state.  Working out the connected fingerprinting is still in limbo.  The law does not appear to allow for them picking up already printed individuals from other mandated areas, such as teachers.  I had to be printed as a credentialed teacher, in order to work.  So you would think that file could be appenede, but currently they are looking at a separate method.  Seems not only poor planning, but also it is annoying, as there is of course an expense involved.  Fingerprints do not change normally, so why not just marry the files, especially ones like mine that allowed me to teach for two decades or so.  What do I know, other than governmental processes are often bloated and poorly designed.

    Sounds like similar growing pains we went through in Pennsylvania.

  16. 57 minutes ago, qwazse said:

    My apologies if I confuse anyone. But there is a distinction between substance dependence (very prevalent in our country) and substance abuse. Or, at least, there had been.

    The two obviously blend into one another. So much so that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders now no longer makes that distinction, putting most of the symptoms under substance use disorder. (Data wonks may click here for more.)

    Based on recent surveys, it is very likely that at least one of the scouters and several parents in an average unit have an alcohol use disorder. Hopefully they will identify it, seek treatment and recover before scouts notice it. I’ve also learned that the high prevalence might be distinctly American, I saw a profound absence of Hungarian subjects with SUD (all young adults, the rate was low single digit) and when I contacted my colleagues about it, they said, “No, how much would you expect us to have?”

    Oh, and alcohol is the tip of the iceberg. Cannabis dependence is rising rapidly with the increasing availability. It’s a whole lot easier to conceal as well.

    So, going forward, substance use will continue to be a consideration with our young ASMs (or young adults in any youth program).

    So, BSA Adult Application should be revised to, "Do you use illegal substances, have a dependence on or abuse alcohol or have substance abuse disorder?"  Or some other legalese text, but if, and only if, there was statistical evidence that this significantly contributed to child abuse cases.  Otherwise, this should be covered by the BSA Scouter Code of Conduct: 

    "7. I confirm that I have fully disclosed and will disclose in the future any of the following:

        Any criminal suspicion, charges, or convictions of a crime or offense involving abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, or any misconduct involving minors or juveniles •

        Any investigation or court order involving domestic violence, child abuse, or similar matter

        Any criminal charges or convictions for offenses involving controlled substances, driving while intoxicated, firearms, or dangerous weapons

    8. I will not possess, distribute, transport, consume, or use any of the following items prohibited by law or in violation of any Scouting rules, regulations, and policies:

    • Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, including marijuana

    • Concealed or unconcealed firearms, fireworks, or explosives

    • Pornography or materials containing words or images inconsistent with Scouting values

    9. If I am taking prescription medications with the potential of impairing my functioning or judgment, I will not engage in activities that would put youth at risk, including driving or operating equipment."

  17. 53 minutes ago, qwazse said:

    Cannabis dependence is rising rapidly with the increasing availability. It’s a whole lot easier to conceal as well.

    We were at our camp for a district event, and one of our Scouts found a bag of marijuana on the ground in a high traffic area.  We gave it to the Ranger and reported it to the SE.  I asked the SE if he wanted me to contact authorities.  He said, "No, they would handle it."  Ranger had friends in LE, and he said he would give it to them for destruction.  Ranger also said they would not have police respond, as nothing would result from an investigation, and the local LE was overburdened anyway.  Sounded fishy to me, so I asked my lawyer.  He said, as long as I did not know it was anyone in our unit, I had no positive duty to report.  That would be up to property owners/event supervisors/hosts (i.e., council).

    When we returned home, I wrote an email to all parents letting them know about the issue, and let them know they could contact me or the SE with questions.  (If they contacted me, then I would tell what happened again, and refer them to SE.)

    Ranger indicated they find makeshift paraphernalia at summer camp quite often.  I have run across same at other camps while exploring hiking paths.  Sad...

    But that is a "high" note...pun intended 😜


  18. 4 hours ago, yknot said:

    OK. Well I'd say that's a completely wrong belief on multiple levels. Adults who are dependent on alcohol should absolutely be screened out. The reasons are so obvious I don't think it's worth articulating them. 


    I'm not a clinician, but I see there is a difference between abuse and dependence.




    The BSA Adult Application screens for "abuse" not "dependence".  Question 6b on the right side.


    Sounds like you might advocate to change the verbiage from "abuse" to "dependence", but I think, unless you are a clinician who deals with this distinction, you might be using the wrong terms and have a misunderstanding.

    If you are a health care provider who deals with this, then please, enlighten us further...



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