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BSAChaplain

Creating a Merit Badge

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Back in the old days...okay not really the old days, just 25 years ago. Our council sold blank MB patches and I was told (but have no documentation) that if there was a MB that someone wanted to earn, but was not in existence, a Scoutmaster had the right to develop requirements, even select a counselor and the Scout could earn the _________ merit badge. Of course it would never substitue for an Eagle required badge, but it was still a valid MB for advancment.

 

Do any of you, who have sat around the fire a little longer that I, have any recollection of that? Can you fill in the details or dispell the myth? Do you know if such an opportunity still exists? If not, how does a MB become a MB?

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In my short time as a Scout and Scouter, I do not remember a 'Blank' Meritbadge, least in my Council.

 

MBs go in and out of fashion. I have a friend that earned his Rabbit Husbandry MB. No longer in the catalog. A boy in my old Troop earned his Blacksmithing MB. Is that available anymore? At the National Jamboree I met a group that is lobbying Irving to create a Racing Pigeon MB. MBs are created (Computer Science) and laid down as the "market" requires. Other Scout associations around the world have really (to our eyes) foriegn and neat badges. Saudi Arabia has a "Camel Care" badge I saw exhibited once. Sometimes MBs are created by dividing (old Citizenship into the multi Citizenship MBs) or combining (Backpacking) to adjust things.

 

I would, however, like to say that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Irving is planning to combine the Cooking MB with the Pet Care MB.

 

YiS

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I likewise have no recollection of such a merit badge, although I claim far from exhaustive knowledge. The Girl Scouts do have council-specific merit badges, but I don't think I've ever seen one for the BSA.

 

Blacksmithing is now an option under the Metalwork merit badge. I love looking through my dad's handbook - it has so many out-of-date merit badges

Automobiling

Bee Keeping

Beef Production

Bookbinding

Cement Work

Citrus Fruit Culture

Dairying

Farm Home And Its Planning

Farm Layout and Building Arrangement

Farm Records and Bookkeeping

First Aid to Animals

Foundry Practice

Fruit Culture

Grasses, Legumes and Forage Crops

Hog and Pork Production

Masonry

Nut Culture

Pathfinding

Pigeon Raising

Poultry Keeping

Rabbit Raising

Seamanship

Taxidermy

 

not to mention all the other awards that have changed names.

 

And reading through them, you sure do get the (accurate) impression that times are a lot different.

 

For Life Saving - "street clothes" include "shirt, tie, and coat".

 

Some requirements are a lot easier - Bird Study has gone from 40 birds down to 20.

 

But you didn't ask about any of that. Thanks for the opportunity to go off on a tangent.

 

Oak Tree

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I have never heard of either a "blank" merit badge or the ability to create your own merit badge, and it does not sound very likely to me. One can quickly imagine the kind of chaos it could cause the potential for abuse. I have heard of merit badges being "piloted" in one or more councils before actually being introduced, but that is done by national, not by a troop. Any Scouter can suggest a merit badge, but national decides what are merit badges, what the requirements are, publishes the pamphlet, etc.

 

Of course, the BSA does produce a blank round patch, but it is the blank patrol patch. Could it be that someone confused the blank patrol patch with a merit badge? (I realize they are not the same size, I am just speculating.)

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I said:

 

One can quickly imagine the kind of chaos it could cause the potential for abuse.

 

I meant

 

"One can quickly imagine the kind of chaos it could cause, and the potential for abuse."

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Been around since 1963...don't recall a do it yourself MB. There were blank patrol medallions, however.

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Just as a side comment about new MB's being developed all the time...has anyone else seen the new Composite Materials MB? It was just announced in our council a week or so ago and I picked up the description at the trading post..didn't look for the MB book yet though to see if it was in stock!

 

sue m

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The only time I heard of a blank badge was when I was working with Girl Scouts. They had one that was named "My Badge".

 

It shocked me when Composite Material was announced. With all the great badge ideas out there

one on making plywood and such The word I got was that some big plywood company covered all the cost of getting the badge off the ground.

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It seems to me the ramp to a new merit badge coming from the field involves:

 

- Getting a buy-in from the District and Council Advancement Chairmen/women.

- Getting a buy-in from the District and Council Commissioners.

- Getting a buy-in from the Council Scout Executive, strong enough that he is willing to support the effort at Region and National!

 

Of course, finding an underwriter for the merit badge pamphlet will not hurt matters either ;)

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Thanks for the responses. The reason that I started thinking about this was in my other Scouting Forum - MySpace.com - there is a thread running about the Duct Tape Merit Badge http://www.dtmb.gobot.com/custom2.html. It's kinda funny, but again, it got me to thinking.

 

Oak Tree - I think your dad and mine had the same handbook, 1948???

 

Sue, my council office has the books in. We bought one and mailed it to my brother in law with an application to be a Counselor along with the address of his local council.

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BSAChaplain,

 

Pretty close. This one is Fifth Edition, Second Printing - April, 1949.

 

I love looking at it - there are many aspects that are recognizable, but so many things have changed. The rank requirements for the first three ranks (Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class) are almost entirely different. Cut your own tent pegs. Describe how to make a one-man latrine. Stalk another Scout. Know Morse code.

 

Bird Study was a required Eagle merit badge.

 

There are 111 merit badges in the book, compared to the 121 today (and I agree - was Composite Materials really the best of all the available options for a new merit badge?)

 

Of the 111, sixty-six of them no longer exist with an identical name.

 

And of the 45 that still do have the same name, only four remain substantially identical: Athletics, Bugling, Hiking, and Sculpture. And of these, only Athletics has the same actual requirements (and even here, the wording has been simplified a little.)

 

As I look through them, I see various patterns to how things have changed.

- The requirements are written at a simpler grade level.

- We now have lots more "talking" and less doing.

- There are a ton of goofy new safety requirements (e.g. Basketry, Surveying).

- The old merit badge requirements were more to the point - they were shorter and didn't involve anywhere near the number of requirements and options, and they generally started out with the main task. E.g. for Hiking, the old requirements had the hikes as requirements #1 and #2, whereas they are now #5 and #6.

- There was more actual activity, as opposed to tests or demonstrations or descriptions for the counselor. E.g. survey actual property, operate farm machinery, drive a car.

- It was less politically correct. You've got to love the Stalking merit badge. The Safety merit badge included "Demonstrate with a modern gun..." Swimming included "swim silently for 50 ft", which has military overtones in my mind.

 

The general trend is that many of the badges have gotten easier, and become more academic. Camping went from 50 nights (!) to 20. The bicycling trips got shorter. Scholarship used to require your being in the top 1/3 of your class. Reading went from 12 books to 6. Dog care went from 6 months to 2 months. The required stamp collection is much smaller. I only noticed one merit badge that got substantially harder, and that was Cooking. It used to be a simple introductory level badge that involved cooking one relatively complex meal for 4, but now involves cooking at least 9 meals.

 

And just to really show a difference, here are the diseases that had to be described in Public Health:

1949: tuberculosis, typhoid fever, diphtheria, malaria, hookworm, Rocky Mountain spotted fevel, tetanus (lockjaw), and rabies.

2006: tetanus, influenza, syphilis, hepatitis, emphysema, AIDS, encephalitis, meningitis, salmonellosis, Lyme disease, herpes, and lead poisoning

(source - meritbadge.com)

 

Oak Tree

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I've been lobbying for some time to add the Reclining merit badge......but I have not heard back from national for some reason. ;)

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The composites merit bade is not about plywood. Composites are a combination of plastic resin and a fiber reinforcement. The badge is about things like fiberglass, kevlar and carbon fiber. Developing the merit badge was funded by a gift from the M.C. Gill Corporation.

 

SR540Beaver, if you could get Lazy Boy to fund it we might get a reclining merit badge.

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I found some info over at usscouts.org.

 

There was a comment in the overall merit badges section... that a new merit badge costs about $75,000 to start up.

 

What I saw implied by the comment was ... BSA will be more favorable to a new badge if money to start it up comes with it.

 

At the same time, there was another comment that the National Advancement Committee had set a goal of keeping 120 or so merit badges in the inventory. In other words, at the moment, we are talking a zero-sum game. One comes in, one will go out.

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