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Merit badge work at Troop meetings

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There is no prohibition from National to having a parent be a childs' own merit badge counselor.


Even so, many of us don't want to do it. The appearance of a conflict of interest isn't good, actual conflict is worse.


Just because National says you can, doesn't mean you must. What Ed said!

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Lot's of good advice. MB work during meetings is one of my pet peeves as well. We just don't do it or do it very rarely when it fits into our regular program.


I also have a problem with the 'MB Factory" mind-set. scoutldr has the right take on this. Doing all MB work in classes or group sessions like outings undermines the purpose of this scouting method. Where's the pesonal growth in this? Do boys really earn the Geology MB when they listen tot a 1 hour talk at a commercial cave before their tour. I think not!


As SM, I have a general policy that a parent can't be the MBC for their son. There are exceptions, such as the rare occasion when the MB is being taught in a group setting or when we don't have alternate MBCs

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If socuters aren't supposed to work on merit badges at troop meetings then what is the purose of troop meeting if it is not a conduit for advancement?


No advancement at campouts either? When are they suppose to work on scouting stuff?


Let's add the hours

Troop meetings 4 x 1.5 = 6


One campout a month:

Sat = 8

sun = 2

Total = 16 hours/month of scouting and no advancement?





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Its Me, I think this is a matter of interpretation.


I do not believe it is the case that those 16 (or more) hours of scouting each week are devoid of advancement opportunities. When we look at the rank advancement requirements, we see many examples of things that can and should be done during the normal course of events at weekly meetings and at monthly camp outs. Things like learning basic first aid skills, map & compass work, lashings, cooking/menu planning, fire building, hiking skills, knife and axe skills & safety, etc. can all be introduced in the "skill" segment or the "patrol meeting" segment of a typical troop meeting, and certainly many of these lend themselves well to being done at almost any camp out.


As for MBs, it depends a little bit on the MB. It is less likely that you'd find a natural fit for, say, the "scholarship" MB at a troop meeting (and I'm a counselor for that one, I'm not knocking it!). But so many of the MBs include giving a short presentation to your patrol or troop about the topic, or require you to DO things that might normally take place during a camp out anyway (think: hiking MB, cycling MB, camping MB, cooking MB, fishing MB, orienteering MB, and about a zillion more).


What I think people here are telling you, is that it is seldom a good plan to have scheduled MB "classes" during troop meetings or camp outs. First, not all scouts are interested in the same MBs, so if you hold (say) an Art MB class, some scouts will be bored, which leads to a host of problems (behavioral and otherwise). Second, teaching a group of 10-20-30 or more scouts all at once is not the same as having an MBC work with one or a few truly interested scouts. Not only won't the scouts get the depth of knowledge or skill that they should, but also they won't have much chance to take advantage of the adult-association method at its finest.


Keep in mind too that even if you have a whole group who are interested in the same topic, not all scouts will work at the same pace. Some older scouts might blow through the requirements (based on skill and experience) much faster than your younger scouts. Or, some scouts may be so excited and motivated that they work relentlessly on their own and finish quicker than a scout who just floats along, one requirement at a time.


For all of these reasons, holding formal classes just doesn't work. But that doesn't mean some opportunities for advancement (or specific MB skills) can't be built into the program - it just means that not all scouts will, or should be expected to, take advantage of those opportunities.


Someone else mentioned that their troop sometimes does an intro session for a MB where the MBC will come to a meeting or campout, offer a taste of what the MB is like, and then welcome boys to work with the MBC individually. My son's troop does this several times a year, often leading up to a themed camp out. But the reality is, most MBs cannot be finished in a short meeting plus the time allotted during a campout, so boys who want to finish need to do so on their own. Some do, many do not. (This year, the boys have chosen to take exactly this approach with regard to the climbing MB, the canoeing MB, and the aviation MB.)



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Read what the Advancement Guide (gosh I wish they would put those things on-line) says about teaching MB classes in troop meetings.


I like an old post by Bob White. It stated:


Some Common Traits of Successful Troops


1. Currently trained adults.


2. Leaders wear correct uniform.


3. Scoutmaster concentrates on training Junior Leaders, and knowing the needs and characteristics of each scout.


4. They use the Patrol Method for everything.


5. They follow the contents of the Boy Scout Handbook.


6. The committee supports the decision of the scouts, they dont make decisions for them.


7. They have at least two Assistant Scoutmasters.


8. They recognize scouts three times for each advancement.


9. They DONT use troop meetings as merit badge classes.


10. They plan everything in advance and put it in writing. The difference between a wish and a plan is a plan is written down.


11. The only rules they have are that scouts and leaders follow the Scout Oath and Law.


12. They get outdoors once a month (even if just for a day event)


13. Troop meetings are filled with hands on activities


14. New scouts make First Class, First Year.


15. They keep in contact with Webelos Dens year round.


16. They select leaders they dont recruit them.


17. They participate in District and Council events.


18. They attend Roundtable.


19. Adults smile and play nice together. (If you are not enjoying yourself then neither are the scouts.)


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If socuters aren't supposed to work on merit badges at troop meetings then what is the purose of troop meeting if it is not a conduit for advancement?



Practice youth leadership (including youth-run instruction).

Chances for adult association.

Planning in patrols for upcoming events.

Opportunities to build patrol spirit.

Getting outdoors (yeh don't really have meetings indoors all year, do yeh? ;) )

Havin' a contest.

More fun.




Now, along the way there are opportunities to learn stuff, and the wise PL or ASM will look over shoulders while they're planning meals for the weekend campout (got that signoff...), or doin' the Patrol Yell (got that signoff...) or winning the splinting contest (got that signoff...).


Yah, but it's about the fun and fellowship and learnin' and growin', eh? Advancement is just a (small) part of it.



16 hours/month of scouting and no advancement? When are they supposed to work on scouting stuff?


Hmmm.... Repeat after me.... "Advancement is only 1/8 of Scouting." It's just one method out of eight. If yeh work on advancement all the time, when are they supposed to work on all the rest of scouting stuff? :)


O'course, workin' with a MB counselor wouldn't happen at a meeting and might not happen on an outing either. It'll happen as each boy meets with a MBC. Presto, more time! ;)


But on those campin' trips, I bet they get to do fun stuff like:


All the requirements for campin' MB... just by havin' fun!

Hang out at a campfire tellin' personal stories (Communications requirement 1)

Go bike riding (great start on Cycling MB)

Participate in a mock rescue (Emergency Preparedness, First Aid requirements)

Get introduced to a local environmental issue (Environmental Science, possible Eagle Project...)

Take some cool hikes (Hiking MB)

Go swimming, practice rescues (Swimming, Lifesaving MBs)

Visit an airport (Aviation MB)

Visit a military base (Cit. Nation MB)





Advancement's the product of an active program, eh? It ain't the cause or the purpose.


Yeh need to take 6 months off and not do any official work on advancement :). Force everybody to learn the rest of da program. You'll find your kids and your adults will like scoutin' a lot more if yeh do that.




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We don't allow any MB work during meetings times. MB's can be lectured before a meeting if need be at the same location for facilities, but not during a meeting.


I make sure I have enough MB's offered monthly to keep the youth on track. If I see a few older (14 yo +) scouts missing some Eagle Required badges, then I get qualified adults to instruct or councel the badge.



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This summer our PLC asked if the Troop could work on Cit Community merit badge during troop meetings, since six of our nine Scouts had not yet earned the badge. After summer camp in June, our remaining summer meetings until school starts are very unstructured - mostly socializing and playing Ultimate, so I asked if they really wanted to spend time on a classroom type activity. Yes, that's what they wanted to do. So, the PLC set aside time for three weeks to cover many of the requirements. We do not have a merit badge counselor list and each Troop in our District calls on its own to work on merit badges. I know, it's not the way it is supposed to work, but that's the way it is here. Since I had counseled Cit Community in the past, SPL asked if I would work on it with them. We looked over the requirements (which have changed a lot since I counseled the badge years ago) and worked out a plan to cover the requirements.


The boys laid on the floor and poured over maps of our town, locating all the public buildings. They each had their own map and the activity turned into a game of who could find such and such building first.


They spent one meeting talking about what it means to be a citizen. Younger guys were a bit hesitant to speak up, but in the end all of them got talking and it was so interesting to hear what these young guys had to say. Given a "homework" assignment of watching a move, they came back the next week to talk about what they watched. They really enjoyed this and it was so fun listening to them talk about the movie and their reasons on how it fit the requirement. It was interesting to me that none had watched the same movie.


Fortunately for our guys, our town was in the midst of a battle over some land owned by our Commissioners of Public Works who had promised to give it to the Community to be turned into a park, but later decided to sell the property for commercial development. This led to weeks of newspaper editorials and several town meetings. Our guys really got into this and attended the public meetings, talked with some of the key players, and had discussions/debate amongst themselves after. This issue is not yet resolved, and even though the Scouts completed the requirement, they are still keeping up with the news.


The Scouts have not completed the badge, each having to perform eight hours of community service. The Scouts know that this will not be done as a Troop activity, but rather each Scout is selecting his own organization to work with. I have already heard from some of them about their choices and they seem eager to get started.


So, while I agree that working on merit badge requirements as a Troop activity is not something that should be done regularly thereby turning Troop meetings into a classroom, I do think there are times when it can be done well and kept interesting for the boys. Of course, it must be their choice.




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To get an idea of what a troop meeting should look like, take a look at the Program insert in Scouting magazine. I know SMs get it, maybe ASMs too. As a CC, I don't get it. But there are sample troop meeting agendas based on monthly themes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Our SM has said that parents can't sign up to counsel their own sons UNLESS they also extend the opportunity to any other Scout who wants to do it as well. Not sure whether he can do that according to the rules, but it works. When mine are being counseled by me, we document EVERYTHING. Things that are "show" are done on video, and if it's an option to tell or write, they write.


We've recently started doing some of the badges at troop meetings and my boys hate it. They have to work at the pace of the slowest kids, can't ask the gazillion questions they do at home, have no internet access, and they don't get to choose what they work on. It's a bad idea all around, and I hope it changes soon.

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I agree with Beavah that troop meetings should be fun. And I agree with gwd-scouter that merit badges can be fun.


I understand some of the objections to merit badge work, but it is not completely off-limits during troop meetings.


Let's look at recommended troop meeting plans from Troop Program Features, Volume I.


Aquatics, Skills Instruction, Troop Meeting Plan - "Experienced Scouts can work on the Lifesaving or Swimming merit badges."


Athletics, Troop Meeting Plan - "Experienced Scouts can test themselves against the five groups on page 1 of the Athletics merit badge pamphlet."

Athletics, Advancement Opportunities - "Older Scouts can concentrate on the Athletics merit badge this month and should be able to complete many of the requirements."


Backpacking - "Older Scouts can concentrate on the Backpacking and Hiking merit badges this month;"


Business, Advancement Opportunities - "Experienced Scouts may concentrate on the American Business, American Labor, Citizenship in the Community, and Citizenship in the Nation merit badges this month. They should be able to complete many of the requirements."


Boating/Canoeing - "Older Scouts can concentrate on the Canoeing and Rowing merit badges this month;"


Camping - "Older Scouts can concentrate on the Camping merit badge this month, completing most of the requirements."


Citizenship - "Older Scouts should be able to complete some of the requirements for one or more of the Citizenship merit badges."


Communications - "Older Scouts can concentrate on the Communications and Computers merit badges this month; they should be able to complete many of the requirements."


Cooking - Cooking merit badge


Cultural Awareness - Disabilities Awareness merit badge


Emergency Prep - Emergency Prep and First Aid merit badges


Engineering - Camping and Pioneering merit badges


and so it goes.


Now, I'll grant you that some of the requirements can be done on the outing or the Scout can do by himself, but it's just as clear that the troop meeting plans allow for some of the requirements to be done during the troop meetings.


I do agree with Beavah that it's best if you can sign stuff off as a by-product of having fun. And I agree with Lisa'bob that large merit badge classes can be bad. When we do merit badge work in our troop, we let the boys choose their merit badges and break up into small groups. This seems to help quite a bit with the large group problem, and the uninterested Scout problem. Sure, it's not perfect, but they do like to do it from time to time. And it does seem consistent with the Troop Program Features. And quite honestly, it's hard to find any one activity that holds all the Scouts' interests anyway, merit badges or not.


Oak Tree


P.S. Aquila, the Scoutmaster is supposed to provide the name of a counselor to the Scout. The counselor is supposed to be qualified, registered, and able to work with Scouts. Beyond that, I think it's up to the Scoutmaster to decide which name to provide. I think the criteria you list are reasonable, and within the Scoutmaster's prerogative.

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  • 2 months later...

Sorry to re-open this topic. Just got back in to the Scouting swing after a long year in Iraq. I have always been against MB's in scout meetings. That said, we have 12 boys 14 years and up who are "bored" (including my own son) with doing the basic scout skills over with the younger, new crop of boys. At a recent SM Corp meeting, one of the other leaders suggested an MB class during the meeting.


After much thought and discussion with some of these older boys we are considering: using part of one meeting getting the older boys working with the younger ones on basic scout skills, and the next meeting while the younger boys are reviewing the past meetings requirements with an ASMs, taking the older boys off for MB training. The boys wanted "Required MBs" but I'm not real crazy about that. Was thinking of starting with something like Plumbing having the boys cut and thread pipe, soldering pipe and gluing PVC.


Give me your experience and feedback please.




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Welcome home!


Albuquerque? Shoot, this is a no-brainer! Get your older kids to plan a series of off-site evening activities. I can think of lots of outdoor skills to develop and practice on a cold and clear winters' night.


Now, there's nothing that says you cannot use a MB requirements set to be the educational wrap-around, but shoot, get them doing outdoor stuff.


Think about what the vaqueros and conquistadores did in getting your wonderful city running. You can wrap around American Heritage and Cooking!

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Yah, Herms, welcome home and thank you for your service!


I'd think about other fun things like KC says. Patrol competitions? Off-site outdoor meetings?


Lots of times yeh can combine instruction in neat ways. Young guys work T-2-1 first aid while old guys do First Aid MB, but yeh do it all together with fake wounds and such. The senior leader has to task out jobs and triage so that the younger guys are doin' things they're capable of while the old guys get to do a cut down to put in a chest tube! ;)


One thing I have seen work OK is introduction to a merit badge. Have a counselor come and do a fun intro at the meeting, but then have the boys who are interested pursue it independently.




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