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SWScouter

Woe the Discrepancy?

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Sometimes I just don't understand the Boy Scout advancement requirements. For example, a scout has a choice of earning one of the Cycling, Hiking, or Swimming Merit Badges for Eagle. Looking at these three merit badges and considering the swimming requirements for Second Class and First Class, I don't understand why any scout would ever earn Cycling or Hiking for the requirement.

 

Here are the requirements dealing with doing each activity for any distance:

 

Cycling:

8. Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates, routes traveled, and interesting things seen.*

9. After fulfilling requirement 8, lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours.

 

Hiking:

5. Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of at least ten continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.*

6. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*

 

Swimming:

5. Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke for 25 yards, breaststroke for 25 yards, and elementary backstroke for 50 yards.

 

So, for Cycling, a scout must go on a ride on at least seven different days and essentially spend several hours cycling.

 

For hiking, a scout must go on a hike at least six different days and spend several hours of hiking.

 

For Swimming, the scout can complete all the requirements in one day and really doesn't have to spend much time swimming at all, the longest swim being only 150 yards.

 

It just seems like the Swimming MB should have some distance requirements added such as: 2 1/2 mile swims, 2 1 mile swims, and 1 2 mile swim to make it even begin to approach the level of activity as the Cycling and Hiking MBs. Even there, I think the hiking MB is much more demanding than the Cycling MB. I don't think there's too many people that would plan on completing a 20 mile hike in under 8 hours as required for Cycling's 50 mile ride.

 

SWScouter

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I agree, but have a couple of scouts that are holding out for hiking. They can swim well enough to pass the swimmer's test, but are generally not that comfortable in the water.

 

If you troop hikes a fair amount, you probably do 1-2 10 mile hikes a year. Given that, it would take a typical scout 3-4 years to complete the requirements. The 20 miler is a real challenge. We have yet to complete a 20 miler in a single day. (And probably won't if I'm with them). :-)

 

It does seem a little lopsided. But I haven't seen the BSA do anything to make MBs tougher. The trend has been in the other direction. I wouldn't bring it up to national, or they may trim out some requirements from the other two. :-(

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IMHO, the "swimmers test" is seldom administered the way it is designed. I have seen too many instances where the scout is passed if he can manage to thrash his way to the end of the pool regardless of "comfort" or technique. Swimming is not like hiking or cycling where the goal is to just go from point A to point B any way you can. If they are "not that comfortable in the water" then they are Beginners...not Swimmers.

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SWS,

What is Nationals definition of a "DAY"?, Dawn to dusk? 24 hours?

 

How about this for the 20 mile hike requirement. Start at 2 PM on Saturday and hike 10 miles. Camp for the night. Sunday morning start at 8AM and finish the last 10 miles by 2 PM. Walla, a 20 mile hike in one day, as stated by the requirements, if you use the 24 hour rule. Nowhere does it state you can't take a rest, albeit a long one at that.

 

Years ago, in the 70's we did a 21 miler in one day, The Johnnie Appleseed Trail in central Ohio. Since then it has been cut back to 17 miles and now is no longer in existence. If my mind serves me right, I think it took us 8 to 10 hours to complete the hike to get our patch and medal. Also due to someones misinterpretation of the rules (again back in the 70's), our troop pulled off a two day 50 Miler (12-14 hour days). Man, what a #&@#. And then we had to have our own patches made up because we didn't qualify for BSA's patch.

 

As for the Hiking MB requirements, our Troop is fortunate enough to have two OA Trails in the area, a 13.2 miler and a 26 miler. We also have the Buckeye Trail (1500 miles) run through the area along with the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail (approx. 100 miles) and two other 10+ milers, all within 30 miles.

 

The second weekend of May, for JOTT, we're planning to hike the 13 mile trail starting at 2:30 PM on Sat. (6 miles of the trail plus 4 more on side trails) and the rest (with an addition 4 miles) on Sun. morning. This way the boys get the JOTT and the trail patch, as well as the 20 miler for the Hiking M.B in under 24 hours.(This message has been edited by ASM915)

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My son,now Eagle Scout, completed the hiking merit badge because he had a medical problem that prohibited him from jumping into water over his head. Our troop has had several boys who did not like to swim or who could not float and completed the hiking or cycling as well. We have always had good adult and scout support (scout spirit) to help these who have chosen to under take these badges. On the hiking/cycling we usually have 2 adults in a chase vehicle in case of emergency, inaddition to the 2 or more participating with the boys. The parks in our area have some really good hiking and biking trails that we can get maps for.

My youngest completed the swimming merit badge at his first summer camp but has went on some hikes with older boys doing the hiking merit badge to support them. We do a 10 miler to a hamburger stand north of our town that is a little over 5 miles each way. There are always boys ready for this hike as they get a break and a burger half way through.

 

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Welcome to the forums Kbandit.

This unit has had boys who are excellent swimmers but simply don't like cold water or dirty water or fish or whatever. They grudgingly pass the swim test and then go no further. Once they've gotten the canoing or rowing badges they don't visit the waterfront ever again.

On the other hand they really like cycling and hiking and opt for those. If Swimming MB is done correctly the correctness of the STROKE is as important as the distance covered during the MB. Also some of the other activities go well beyond the rank swim tests. It takes the scout beyond mere ability to swim and on to real swimming skills that are aside from mere endurance. Such skills are mostly absent from hiking and cycling and the relative efficiency of travel for those two activities causes distance to be more of a factor in the requirements.

 

One note, I may be wrong in this interpretation but when engaging in a hike, there is no overnight backpack component. That is a backpacking trip. If we are taking a hike of some length, we do it with no overnight camping but rather with the entire trip started and completed with only food and rest breaks. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about this but it is the way we distinguish the activities for Backpacking MB from Hiking MB.

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Cycling is hard, especially since it is entirely oriented towards road bikes. One of our committee members has been pushing National to add a mountain bike section. You just don't do a 50 mile mountain bike trip in one day. We have a bike trip every year, and we are doing much more off-road than we were 10 years ago.

 

Ed

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Ed, I agree, 50 mile road and dirt rides are hardly comparable. I for one would welcome a Mt. Bike option for the Cycling MB.

 

ASM915, a day may contain 24 hours (or not, remember March 11) but a 24 hour time period isn't necessarily one day. Day is dawn to dusk as opposed to night, or midnight to midnight as defined as civil time. Look it up in a dictionary. It seems that defining words a la Clinton to suit our needs instead of following the spirit of the requirement is not doing anyone any good! I may also go so far in saying that it is not showing very much scout spirit either.

 

Packsaddle, backpacking activities may count for Hiking MB, however they may not count for both Hiking and Backpacking MBs. You are correct, there is no overnight or backpacking requirements for the Hiking MB.

 

Kbandit, welcome to the forum. I'm curious, did those scouts that didn't like to swim earn 2nd and 1st class? If so, how? My feeling is if a scout can pass the BSA swimmer's test, there is very little reason why that scout shouldn't be able to earn the Swimming MB. Perhaps this goes back to what Scoutldr suggested when he wrote, "IMHO, the "swimmers test" is seldom administered the way it is designed."

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I've done a couple 20+ mile hikes. Those are tough. Hardest was a 10 hour 26 mile RT up Pikes Peak with a 8,000ft gain. I was 19 years old then. Couldn't do that at 44 now. Heck, anything over 15 miles is pretty tough.

I've also done a 100 miler on a mountain bike in about 10 hours. Never again.

 

Swimming MB clearly is the easy button.

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An easy 50-miler....any bike on the Outer Banks with the wind at your back - just an all-day coast. Pikes Peak...Gern, I'm in awe.;)

For cycling we sometimes pack equipment into a chase (safety) vehicle and go for 20 miles across the hills to camp at some park. Bedtime is usually very early those evenings.

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Did 38 miles down Haleakala on Maui last week. 38 miles, 400 yards of it uphill (and you coast through most of that). We started at just under 10,000 feet and ended up at the ocean. Pretty cool, eh? If only I had them take me 12 miles back up the hill, I guess we could have gotten a 50 miler in. :)

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My husband and several friends are competitive long distance swimmers and cyclists. Now I know they're nuts but they do a swim around Key West marathon that is about 12.5 miles. That's a long, long way to swim. And they do road races and tours of 60-100 miles on a fairly regular basis too. But as these guys will tell you (endlessly, if you'll just listen) swimming even relatively shorter distances is very hard work - harder than cycling - because the muscles used are so totally different than with walking or cycling and there's a much more aerobic component to swimming. Not to knock either hiking or cycling - the badges do require a lot of effort. But the swimming one, done properly, is no piece of cake either and those of us who tend to think of swimming as a day of lounging pool-side with the occasional splash and dip to cool off probably are missing something in our estimations.

 

Me though? If I were a boy scout I'd probably gravitate toward the hiking MB just because I enjoy the "adventure" of it. You never know what you'll see that day when you start a hike and often you get to explore out of the way trails that most people in their cars or on their bikes never see.

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Pack, our Philmont crew is planning on climbing Pikes Peak (14,110ft) again next month as a prep hike. This time we will be taking 2 days instead of 10 hours. I'm looking forward to it. 4th time to climb it for me. First time for my son. Last month we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, 20 mile RT, 4,000ft gain. We are gonna be in awesome shape for Philmont in July, eh?

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SWS,

You can keep Billie boy all to your self. I have no use for him.

 

I don't want to be accused of bending any rules, that is why I asked if "dawn to dusk" is Nationals definition. I only tossed out the idea to see how others felt about the 20 miler. Two 10 milers is fine. With the towpath in our backyard, we can get a 20 miler fairly easy in a long day.

 

AS for Swimming MB. As posted by others here, if they can't do the strokes correctly, they shouldn't pass. I think some of the survivor skills taught in the MB should be taught back in the rank advancements for TF,SC and FC. The scout might be a very poor swimmer, but that is know reason for him not to be taught self-survival skills in case he/she ever ends up in the water unexpectedly. There is no reason, if someone keeps their smarts about them, to drown.

 

Lisabob is correct, swimmers are the most fit athletes (other then the Tri-Athletes) of all due to the CV workout they get. That is one reason Track coaches hate them. They're a double edged sword. They come into track season so CV fit, their brain forgets that their legs aren't conditioned for track yet and they injure themselves easily because their body outruns their legs.

 

Hiking and Cycling only us so many muscles. Swimming, your using everything.

If your in fair shape, you can hike a mile in 15-20 minutes, bike a mile in 5-10 minutes. Ever work the Mile Swim at camp? Most of those guys (adults included) are out there30 30, 60, 90 minutes. Maybe the Mile Swim should be added to the MB requirements to give it a distance component, like the other two. Actually the 500 or 1000 meter would be appropriate. Keep the Miler for the award.

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