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Historical Merit Badge program update (... or not)

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Our scouts are supposed to begin registering for summer camp merit badges next week, which is supposed to include the four historical badges. As of Monday, our council program director -- you know, the professional who is supposed to have the direct link to this sort of stuff -- doesn't know what's happening and can't give us any advice as to whether or not our Scouts should register for these badges.


This is really starting to tick me off.

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The word we are getting from my Council it that these historical badges will become official some time in April 2010. Until that time, scouts can "earn" these badges by working with a Counselor, but they cannot be used for advancement for the ranks of star and above.


We already have some scouts that have "earned" these merit badges and have recieved the cloth emblems for their sashes - they are for sale at our Council office. The troop's advancement paperwork that was submitted to Council for these badges is sitting in a pile and has not been processed.


According to my DE, these badges were posted on the official BSA web site and they recieved emails from National saying they were good to go. A short time after they were posted, these badges were pulled from the web site and everyone was told they were on hold. My Council then decided to go ahead and offer these badges anyway, as is there right to do.


These merit badges cannot be entered into a scouts official record as earned because there is no code assigned for them yet in ScoutNet. Also, no one can be entered into the system as a Counselor for these historical merit badges.


Having been told this, my District quickly put out an email to all our troop leadership informing them not to use these badges for advancment. Thankfully,

there have been no reports of any almost-18-year-old Life scouts using one of these historical badges as their 21st to meet the Eagle requirement.


The joke going around my District is these should be renamed, the "Hysterical" Merit Badges.




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The Scouting grapevine (tracing back through what I consider to be relatively reliable sources) says that the badges will be official by April, and that the requirements will not change.


I want to believe it...

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AvidSM, are there official requirements from National on the historic merit badges? If there are please post the link.


Yes I am getting a little fed up with the delay on getting information on this.

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We received the word in our council on March 2nd that it was a go with this program. Below are the requirements as originally released by Scouting magazine on January 12, 2010:





It was first offered in 1911 and discontinued in 1952.



1 - Demonstrate the use of the rule, square, level, plumb-line, miter, chalk-line and bevel.

2 - Demonstrate the proper way to drive, set, and clinch a nail, draw a spike with a claw-hammer, and to join two pieces of wood with screws.

3 - Show correct use of the cross-cut saw and of the rip-saw.

4 - Show how to plane the edge, end and the broad surface of a board.

5 - Demonstrate how to lay shingles.

6 - Make a simple article of furniture for practical use in the home or on the home grounds, finished in a workmanlike manner, all work to be done without assistance.





It was first offered in 1911 and discontinued in 1952.



1 - Demonstrate a general knowledge of the district within a three-mile radius of the local Scout Headquarters, or his house so as to be able to guide people at any time day or night to points within this area.

2 - Know the population of the five principal neighboring towns and cities as selected by his Guide or Counselor. Demonstrate direction for reaching them from Scout Headquarters or his house.

3 - If in the country, know the breeds of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs owned on the five neighboring farms; if in the city, demonstrate directions to tourist camp and to five places for purchasing food supplies.

4 - Demonstrate how to direct tourists from his home to gas, oil, tire, and general auto repair.

5 - Give telephone number, if any, and directions for reaching the nearest police station, fire-fighting apparatus, Court House or Municipal Building, the nearest Country Farm Agent's office, doctor, veterinarian and hospital.

6 - Know something of the history of his community and the location of its principal places of interest and public buildings.

7 - Submit a scale map, not necessarily drawn by himself, upon which he has personally indicated as much of the above-required information.





It was first offered in 1910 and discontinued in 1992.



1 - Make an electric buzzer outfit, wireless, blinker, or other signaling device. Send and receive in the International Morse Code, by buzzer or other sound device, a complete message of not less than 35 words, at a rate of not less than 35 letters per minute.

2 - Demonstrate an ability to send and receive a message in the International Morse Code by wigwag and by blinker or other light signaling device at a rate of not less than 20 letters per minute.

3 - Send and receive by Semaphore Code at the rate of not less than 30 letters per minute.

4 - Know the proper application of the International Morse Code and Semaphore Codes; when, where, and how they can be used to best advantage.

5 - Discuss briefly various other codes and methods of signaling which are in common use.





It was first offered as "Stalking" in 1911 and discontinued in 1952.



1- Demonstrate by means of a tracking game or otherwise, ability to stalk skillfully in shelter and wind, etc., when occasion demands.

2 - Know and recognize the tracks of ten different kinds of animals or birds in his vicinity, three of which may be domestic.

3 - Submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed two different kinds of wild animals or birds on ordinary ground far enough to determine the direction in which they were going, and their gait or speed.

Give names of animals or birds trailed, their direction of travel, and describe gait and speed; or submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed six different kinds of wild animal or birds in snow, sand, dust or mud, far enough to determine the direction in which they were going, and their gait or speed. Give names of animals or birds trailed, their direction of travel, and describe gait and speed.

4 - Submit evidence the he has scored at least 30 points from the following groups: [Group (f) and 4 of the 5 groups (a), (b), ©, (d), (e) must be represented in the score of 30 and at least 7 points must be scored from (a), (b), or ©].

Make a clear photograph of:

a. Live bird away from nest (4 points)

b. Live woodchuck or smaller wild animal (3 points)

c. Live wild animal larger than woodchuck (4 points)

d. Live bird on nest (3 points)

e. Tracks of live wild animal or bird (2 points)

f. Make satisfactory plaster cast of wild animal or bird tracks with identification imprint on back of each (2 points)



Requirements were REINTRODUCED effective January 1 - December 31, 2010 ONLY. Scouts must start and finish all requirements within the year 2010.



The above requirements were verified against those given out on March 2 with the only change being the word "tracking" in requirement 1 under Tracking was originally released as "stalking" (easy to understand why the wordsmiths made that change).


Hope the above is helpful to you!(This message has been edited by NE-IV-88-Beaver)

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Where can I find that on the www.scouting.org website?




- The requirements are released by the National Council.

- A begin date is set.

- The MBs are loaded in the advancement module of ScoutNet


You're playing with fire with your youth. TRUSTWORTHY. Are you going to load advancements worked on before the approved begin date? Trustworthy and loyal cut both ways, to the boy and to the organization.


Now, I'm the first to agree the National Council has flummoxed this by not getting things on for 3 months of the Anniversary year, but that does not give me the right to say "Here are requirements, go forth" when they are not National's requirements.

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Sorry, John!


I realize that Scouting magazine is not an official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. Oh wait, sorry again, but it does say on the inside that they are an official publication.


A recent update said that the Historic Merit Badge Program is not canceled but is still a go!




Another source:




"TRUSTWORTHY" - I'm not advocating that anyone do anything, John. I made a statement "We received the word in our council on March 2nd that it was a go with this program."


On March 2, the professional in my council responsible for the Advancement Committee sent the following:


Subject: FW: HistoricalMBFlyer.pdf




I hope you are all doing well. I have a few updates for you.


1. Below is a link to the info and requirements for the Historical

Merit Badge Program. The program IS A GO!


I think that supports the statement that I made.


I know that our Scout Shop has the badges in stock because I saw them in early March.


Someone requested information on the requirements. I supplied the information that Scouting magazine published and that was also attached to the above from our council professional, that's all


"TRUSTWORTHY" - It's not something that I'm making up, John. I'm relaying information that was given to me by my council and they are going with it, therefore I'm not doing a disservice to anyone, regardless of your opinion!


And yes, I agree with you, National has flummoxed this program from the word "Go". What should have been a simple task has been mismanaged and made into a glaring example of their current ineffectiveness for all to see.


Others may do as they wish!!

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Scouting magazine pulled back the requirements. The requirements are not on the merit badge section of the national council website. Folks from National have been asking councils to pull unapproved requirements.


Show me where these requirements are approved.


As I said, I agree that National has bolo'd this. That said, our mission of serving the youth members does not include giving them bad requirements.


Where is the source of the requirements you posted? If something is on the National website, it's an approved deal. These aren't. What's your source?

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The requirements have been made available from lots of places. I know that none of them meet the "truly official" criteria, but they are reliable sources, including council web sites.


How are we playing with fire if we use our own judgement? Just don't finalize the merit badges until they come out officially. Are the BSA auditors going to come in and go over my troop advancement records with a fine-toothed comb? Perhaps they'll dock my pay? Nothing bad is going to happen from trying to figure out something intelligent to do about these badges.

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This issue reminds me of BORs to a degree. Let's face it id the adults screw up and the youth do something incorrectly under the adult's direction, we don't penalize the youth for the adult's mistake. The same should apply to when National screws up royally: we should not penalize youth who have started on these WHEN the information was presented. Official sources posted the requirements and who do have motivated scouts who will work on something, especially when it was posted they had to earn it between Jan 1 and Dec 31 2010.


Now I don't think Scout who have NOT started on them should,they need to wait until the offical requirements are out. BUT those who HAVE started, using the requirements THAT WERE POSTED ON NATIONAL SITES ( CAPS FOR EMPHASIS) should be allowed to finish those up.


Also fo those who started under the old requirements, they need to finish up by 31 Dec, since they started under the old timeline, Those who start under the new requireements need to follwo that timeline.


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I am skeptical that these requirements are going to be adopted as listed here without more changes.


The most glaring absence is safety and first aid.


There is no way Carpentry will be able to be earned without discussing first aid, eye protection, etc.


The other thing that is unclear is whether you can use power tools. I do almost all the things described in Carpentry with power tools. Is this going to be OK to earn the merit badge or will they restrict them to hand tools? For those out there who have already started working on these how did you handle these issues?

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Tool safety and first aid were taught back then without the need for explicitly making it a requirement. Common sense was common practice.


No power tools are mentioned in the requirements, those are ALL hand tools. Remember this was 1911, the badge would lose its historic value if today's scout could use today's power tools.


Had to find an old hand rip saw. Found a dull, rusty one at a barn sale. So I added a demo on saw sharpening. Of course that was after they tried to rip a pine board with a dull saw. Good lesson in keeping your tools in good condition, making them last. Old values and skills take time to learn. That's the real lesson in this badge.


My two Indian Head pennies,




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