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Lisabob

mb pre-reqs and sign up for summer camp

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I've agreed to help organize paperwork and mb sign-ups for summer camp this year and I noticed that the summer camp we'll be attending provides a list of merit badge pre-reqs that scouts ought to have done if they expect to complete the mb at camp. I've got two questions.

 

1. How much guidance/nudging do you engage in, in terms of getting scouts signed up for appropriate mbs? I know that there are no age/rank limits in the vast majority of cases (at least, not technically) but there are several mbs that this camp does not recommend for younger or less experienced scouts. In most cases, I think these are considered to be physically challenging (ex: whitewater mb), although a few might be too intense even if not physically challenging (environmental science?).

 

2. Once the scouts have made their selections, whose responsibility is it to keep track of whether or not scouts have met the pre-reqs? The camp seems to want a written record from the troop of pre-reqs that have already been met. Does this mean the scouts will find a mb counselor and start working with him or her prior to camp? Does a letter from the SM indicating that Johnny has done items a-c with the troop (but not a sign off from a mb counselor) count? Etc..

 

I get the feeling that this is a large camp with a pretty active program so that may explain why they seem to be placing a lot of paperwork requirements (in terms of checking off mb pre-reqs, for example) on the troop. I'm just not sure how much I'm supposed to be simply keeping records, and how much I'm supposed to be guiding scouts' choices and fulfillment of the pre-reqs.

 

2.

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1. We give the boys general guidance. Usually they'll listen to our advice about whether a class would be too boring. They won't always like the advice about whether they're too young for an exciting activity. If it's not a camp rule, just a recommendation, then we'll let the Scouts ignore the recommendation if they want to. If it's a camp rule, then we won't sign the Scout up for something he's not qualified for.

 

2. I'd advise ignoring this altogether. First I'd say you should just leave it up the Scout, and secondly, I'd advise that they ignore it as well. Our camp has a similar list that ends up with little bearing on the reality of the course. I'd say they should go to camp, and see what they actually do in camp, and finish up any extra work afterwards. Theoretically the camp should give you an accurate list of what was actually accomplished in camp, although this seems to be much more theory than fact at many camps. It should be up to the individual Scout to make sure that he ends up with an accurate blue card for partials, although I'd recommend that you help create these for them as you debrief them the meeting after camp.

 

Oak Tree

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Lisa,

 

I'm going to beg to differ with Oak Tree.

 

My camp offers Weather MB in the Ecology Lodge. If you look at requirement 8, this merit badge has things you cannot do at camp, to wit:

 

- (extract 8a) Keep a daily weather log for 1 week using information from this instrument as well as from other sources such as local radio and television stations or NOAA Weather Radio.

 

- (extract 8b) Visit a National Weather Service office or talk with a local radio or television weathercaster, private meteorologist, local agricultural Extension service office, or university meteorology instructor.

 

To meet either of these requirements demands outside work.

 

The Scout, and his parent, have two choices:

 

a) Do the work so the MB can be completed at camp.

b) Don't do the work and get a partial.

 

I'd look at the SPL and the appropriate PLs, along with the Troop Scribe, to be the ones responsible for monitoring advancement from the time Scouts sign up until they roll out the parking lot for camp.

 

Of course, that means the Scribe has to be with you when you work with Scout to develop their lists, or you/he have to exchange some email, depending on how your Troop tracks signups.

 

My thoughts. Others will differ. That's ok.

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We have our 1st year Scouts sign up for leatherwork, wood carving, basketry & wilderness Survival. Our Trail to First Class program at camp isn't that great and this way the Scouts will come home with four badges & some real cool projects! It also keeps them busy. The other Scouts pick what they want to take. We offer guidance there. As far as the pre-reqs, we pass out the merit badge list from our summer camp packet. It lists all the badges & the pre-reqs. After the Scouts complete their merit badge selections, we put together a schedule for each Scout listing the badge, time & pre-reqs. It is up to the Scouts to get the pre-reqs done.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Like Ed, we encourage first year's to do lots of handicraft projects. It gives them something to do with their time back at the campsite. I've found this often helps with the homesickness bug. I don't like our First Class program at camp either, so we don't sign our boys up for that.

 

We put together a MB signup sheet that has recommendations for each age, prerequisites for camp, and other notes (such as costs or difficulty). For example, we discourage taking multiple shooting sports during the same week because they all require extra time on the range. It's difficult to get the necessary time in to complete the badges.

 

We've let scouts go against the recommendation, but there's usually justification for it. For example, sailing is recommended for older scouts, but if a scout's dad has a sailboat and he's been sailing for years, then he should be just fine.

 

After we give out the signup sheets, we have all the scouts fill them out and turn them in. We then group them into similar interests. You'll find that the majority of your kids usually fall into their natural peer groups with similar MBs. (Probably because they already talked it over). Nevertheless, these become the "buddy groups" at camp. They get together and make up their schedule. Of course, there's usually a couple of "odd balls", that we have to work with to get their schedule in synch with others.

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I don't think we as leaders should be chasing after each scout making sure he has everything done. I don't believe the scouts are babies. If they want something they need to realize that they must go out and get it. Doing it for them takes away from the experience. What will this teach them? That later in life I don't have to rely on myself for anything, someone else will always be there to do it for me. What is next have the parents do the work for them? I wonder if they do their homework too? I would advise strongly against doing any of the work for them. If they want to advance they will. We cannot push them we can only give advice.

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taamland,

I agree 100%. The Scouts are the ones earning the merit badges, we aren't. It is a good thing to check on their progress & make sure they are actually attending their MB classes.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Ditto. We give them the info up front, it's up to them to do the work. We may prod them a little, but it's their responsibility.

 

The only heartburn I get (and this is back related to Summer Camp MBCs) is that sometimes the MBC at Summer Camp signs everyone off as doing the pre-reqs, without any evidence or follow-up. I had a scout who I know did not do the pre-reqs get signed off for completing a MB at camp. I asked him how that happened. Turns out, he was late to class the first day. The counselor had asked "did everyone do the pre-reqs?". No ones hand went up, so he immediately signed everyone off for doing them. My guess is this happens more often than we want to admit.

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At our camp on Wednesday evening there is a leaders Ice Cream Social and all of the counselors are present with their records. The leaders can go over all of their scouts and see who is progressing and who is not. See who has been ditching classes. Who needs to complete a project. Who is already done with the badge. We then go back to camp and hold a "counseling session" with those who need it.

Just a simple reminder to go to class, finish, requirement 8, etc. It seems to work great. It also gets the leaders a little one on one time with the staff too.

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Our camp started something in 2004 that I liked. They have a bunch of notebooks with copies of the attendance and requirements check-offs for each area of camp. These are updated at the end of every day (usually by dinner time). They are kept in the Scoutmaster's Lounge. I or one of the ASMs will check it at least a couple of times to see how our guys are doing.

 

And as for our Wednesday evenings, we have filet mignon. No joke. And it's cooked by the SE.

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I am on staff for a Week-long Merit Badge camp held Opening week at one of our scout camps. As this is an intense program, we have the SM sign off that A: the scout is able to do an intense week of merit badges (this "should" weed out scouts who don't want to go) also the SM signs off that the scout is a "good" scout.

 

In addition, many badges have prerequisites.... mostly the "read and explain" as a written paper... these are REQUIRED at Check-In.... no prerequisites, no check-in. You can sit and work on the prerequisites, but if they aren't "there" we won't check you in (not saying they have to be correct, just something that looks right). This is so the "basic" info is done, and the counselors can use the 4 classes to assure that every scout is taught the merit badge material and understands it, and if every scout walks in with the written work done, they ever scout should have SOME understanding of the material. The MBC can also check the prerequisites during the first few days and counsel the scouts to correct problems early on, assuring that fewer scouts get partials.

 

 

As for the New Scout program - Our Camps have a GREAT "trailblazer" program. The troops I've been in have always steered the "open merit badge slot" towards a required badge... usually swimming, sometimes First Aid. The Swimming badge completes some of the more "logistically challenging" requirements for Tenderfoot/2nd class/1st class.... the swimming requirements.

 

 

 

Jon

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