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TAHAWK

More Mills?

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I really like the idea of all-day camp programs focusing in a particular area. Some camps just aren't set up for "trek"-type programs, and some older Scouts don't want that. But an intensive, in-camp program would seem ideal.

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The latest Boys' Life has this helpful tip from a reader on page 7:

 

"If you want to earn more merit badge at a Scout camp, research the badges you want before going. For example: If you need Environmental Science, do the observations before going. This saves more time to earn other badges. I earned 15 at my last Scout camp!"

 

 

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Egad! That's the model we want to set for our boys...15 badges in a week!

 

 

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It's too bloody bad the editor at Scouter Magazine would never take this question for Front-Line Stuff:

 

My Council Scout Camp is a merit badge mill. The youth staff is unqualified to train MBs, the area Directors and Assistant Directors literally rubber stamp MB apps, and our youth learn not a damned thing. The Reservation Director and the SE only care about the money. How can we get the attention of our Council Camping Committee and Advancement Committee that their program is damaging to youth?---SM J, somewhere in the US

 

Where is Secret DE when we need him?

 

ETA: When I was Advancement Chair of my Troop, it was pretty easy to see that while our Scout Camp was a MB school, the badges were not gifts. I came home with a stack of partials each year that was about a third the size of the completed piles.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Fifteen merit badges is THREE PER DAY. That's insane, even counting for lots of prerequisites done in advance.

 

"How can we get the attention of our Council Camping Committee and Advancement Committee that their program is damaging to youth?"

 

Don't go back, and strongly suggest that the PLC write a letter of complaint.

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Shortridge,

 

Sadly, I think a PLC letter would get a "bedbug" letter, at the very best, back.

 

Remember also that letter is a hypothetical pipe dream to Scouting mag. There is NWIH they'd ever publish something like that.

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If the leaders of a unit feel that the boys are being given MB's (not earning) or that they are attending a MB Mill then they should get out of the camp chair and walk around the program areas. Ask to help the counselors. Some are overwhelmed just by the number of scouts they are teaching. Some staffers are new to teaching and some do not have the experience or knowledge that an adult of 35 or 40 years of age has. I have also seen college kids (with more knowledge than needed) teach scouts and hold their attention better than most adult scouters. The quality is there, the senoir staff just have to demand and expect their best. The new or junior staffers also should be given everything they need to succeed. Time to prepare as well tools, books, MB pamphlets, and any other resources to make the MB experience the best. The leaders in our troop have helped with cooking, at the waterfront and the archery range. Ask the program director were you can help, they won't turn you down.

 

I have also seen leaders of some units question the counselors as to why Little Johnnie wasn't passed for a MB. When confronted by an adult leader most 16 to 18 yr olds cave (Staffers are also trained not to argue and shouldn't). I have never seen the tactic tried on an adult counselor because they will stand up to the unit leader and most unit leaders are more apt to accept an adults version than Little Johnnie's story.

 

I can't speak for all camps but our council sends out all the info an SM needs to pass to the PLC. Program areas, MB's offered, daily happenings, open program hrs, etc ... If a unit has questions they have the Camp phone #, email address as well as the council office info. No reason to say "We didn't know".

 

As SM, I ensure that the scouts in our unit also sign up for MB's that they are suited to. If Tommy doesn't know the taut line hitch he will not be doing pioneering, if he is a whiz with a compass maybe he might like orienteering. We should not discourage scouts from trying new things but don't set them up to fail from day 1. If prerequisites are not done prior to camp it is the unit leaders responsibility to not issue a bluecard to the scout.

 

Our camps are actually increasing the number of MB's offered. The council VP for Activities and Camp director came up with an idea to improve program by getting scouters to teach a MB that they counsel the other 51 weeks a year at camp the week they attend. The counselors provided a list of requirements that have to be done as prerequisites. The camp director snail mailed and emailed the SM's that are attending that particular week the info and then the rest is up to the scouts. A good way to broaden and vary the program. They also have a week of camp called Trail to Eagle were a 1st class or above can work on Eagle required MB's such as Family Life or the Citizenships.

 

Our council camps use a scout and leader feedback form to provide the camp staff with both positive and negative input on the program that was provided. Every area of the week is covered from check-in to check-out. As SM, I have the SPL sit with the troop and the boys voice their opinions and they write up their feedback. I instruct the SPL to ensure that all are heard from. I monitor but do not interfere as it is their voice. The leaders in attendance do the same as well.

 

 

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