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Merit Badge Program Implementation

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Here is a situation - I am a swimming merit badge counselor. I had a Scout call me saying he had a partial from summer camp. He needed to be signed off on one remaining requirement. The requirement happened to be number 3 - Before doing the following requirements, successfully complete Second Class rank requirements 7a-7c and First Class rank requirements 9a-9c.


That's how things are done at my council's summer camp.

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I like your thoughts from a perspective of a summercamp counselor. As a MB counselor, I also typically see scouts that havent read the MB book, or done much of any preparation. There is common view that the MB program is like school, where the scout goes to a counselor (or class at summer camp, MB university, or troop meeting), the counselor serves as a teacher, and the scout comes out with a MB in the same manner as he gets a grade at the end of a school semester.


A few minutes of chatting with a scout to find out his readiness, his interest, and help him set some goals and expectations can help improve the MB program implementation.


Same for a counselor talking to a scout, helping him set some goals, and scheduling follow up meetings. No need to chase down the scout; it is his responsibility to come back to the counselor.


I hadn't considered the special challenges faced by summer camp counselors where they are expected to take a scout, no matter his starting point, and help him complete requirements for the badge.


Good discussion.

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Great discussion. In my opinion it boils down to two different philosophies about what the merit badge program is about and I see both of them here.


The first as some have stated is that the most important part of the program is about the boys "learning" something form the merit badge. The second view some people hold is about the scout "demonstrating" a level of knowledge/skill of a subject.


I see both sides. At a recent COH the SM asked me to talk to the boys about the meaning of being and Eagle (and getting rank/merit badges). I have given this talk to every boy who I have ever done a SM conference with. I take one of my old Eagle patches and ask them if they want to be an Eagle Scout. Of course the answer is usually yes so I give them the patch and tell them to sew it on! They look at me strange and say they can't do that. When I ask why they tell me they haven't "earned" it. Ah, now we can talk! I explain to them that the patch is really just a piece of cloth with colorful thread and that it is the knowledge, skills and fun that they had in getting the award that give it true meaning. If it is just given to them does it really have any meaning?


I have had several boys years down the road getting Eagle which have mentioned "The Mr. H Talk" during there Eagle COH, so I guess the point gets taken.



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Wow Herme. I love the "Mr. H talk" and should the day come that I am SM I am SOOOO gonna steal that and use it.


As for the SM's role in the MB process I guess it depends on factors like the size of the troop. I belonged to three troops as a boy. Two had about 10 scouts one had 15-20 active scouts.


In such small troops the SM is very hands-on in the MB process, nearly half the time he IS the counselor.


Still I can easily imagine that in a larger troop (such as the one my son just joined) things work very differently.

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Well, since I'm the one who came up with "The Scoutmaster is the Gatekeeper", let me explain it...


The Scoutmaster is the (Guardian, Steward, Gatekeeper) of most of the things a Troop and its PLC do or fail to do. He's the principal Program Officer of the unit, and he's accountable to the COR through the Committee for his charges (now, is that precise language from BSA materials? No. I trust you get the point).


With regard to the Advancement Method:


- He's the guy who assigns Scouts to Merit Badge Counselors (see Requirements #33215). If Mr SM says "Go to the website and pick a name, here's a Blue Card" ... if he gets a youth back who knows diddly and has a signed off MB ... it's Mr SMs own bloody fault!!

- If Momma X, who is a MB Counselor for the Troop only, signs blue cards for her son for 27 different MBs, and the SM accepts that, it's his own bloody fault. He's supposed to be aware of what the kids are doing. A visit to get a blue card is a mini-SM-conference, for Pete's sake. It's a chance for the SM to check in 1/1 with the youth.

- If the PLC wants the Troop to go to (insert Museum here) and they have a 1 night "EARN YOUR (insert MB here) MB AT OUR ACTIVITY" program, and he doesn't say "We'll do the activity, but after it's done I'll issue those interested blue cards", and he accepts what the Museum does, and they do a 300/1 lecture with someone for "Meet with a (insert skilled trade/craft here) and discuss the careers available in (insert field here), well, it's his own bloody fault.

- If at Scout Camp, the kids are all sleeping around the picnic table, and yet they earned the MB by Osmosis, it's the Scoutmaster's bloody fault. Why wasn't he walking the areas and asking tough questions of the Area Directors and the Program Director about the quality of program presented? Oh: And if he didn't get good answers, why wasn't he talking to the Reservation Director and his COR about same?


The Scoutmaster gatekeeps the program by ensuring those he permits to put program in front of Scouts passes his/her muster!



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I'm old school:


- When I was a youth, I never got a MB at home without at least two visits with my Counselor: The first visit, he shared his passion, his knowledge, and his standards. The second, I had to show my skills. (At least once, that became a third (ask me how much I like diamond hitches...)

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If at Scout Camp, the kids are all sleeping around the picnic table, and yet they earned the MB by Osmosis, it's the Scoutmaster's bloody fault. Why wasn't he walking the areas and asking tough questions of the Area Directors and the Program Director about the quality of program presented? Oh: And if he didn't get good answers, why wasn't he talking to the Reservation Director and his COR about same?



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Let me bounce this off of y'all.

We have MBC that are counselors for 30-40 badges because 10 years ago, there were maybe 3 Scouters to do the work. The problem is that as new people come in to be MBC with expertise in that field, the boys are directed to the old-timers. So the best qualified people don't get to teach the boys and then get told they don't volunteer enough.

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Can any of you describe what your troop Advancement Coordinator does?


While our SM signs off the MB bluecard, our AC does most the other things you guys describe as the SM's duty.. That the SM doesn't have time for because he is busy doing other SM things.


Just asking because I don't see anyone else even give the AC a mention.


My husband worked as a Swimming MC with a scout who was just "never going to get it". He had ADHD and just couldn't focus and wanted to play in the water.. But he is the AC of the troop also, and the kid could pass the swimming pre-test at summer camp. Without the swimming MB he could not go on troop water activities like canoeing or white water.. So my husband put in the time with him, but drew the line at ever passing him, even though pushed by the mother to turn a blind eye and pass him.. He was not going to have the responsibility of having the kid get hurt at the next troop aquatic event, knowing he passed him when he did not have the skills.


That though is an exception. With citizenship, the scouts are guided to start with community and move up to world.. He will sit down with them and discuss MB's they plan to take and if they are the right fit, or if they are old enough.. Summer camps give guidelines as to what is appropriate for new scouts or what the age or rank requirement is to take the more advanced MB, or even what MB you should have before taking a certain MB. The AC makes sure to follow those guidelines.


The SM only needs sign the bluecard knowing if the AC has given the boy the bluecard to take to him, then the boy is ready to take the MB.

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No, moosetracker.


In the Troop I served, when I was AC, I had 6 major tasks:


- Keep Troopmaster.

- Obtain info from the youth (sometimes through the Scribe, other times directly)

- Cut advancement reports

- Advise the Scoutmaster on youth progress, boy by boy (usually though output reports)

- Gather BORs together. In my Troop, the Committee Chair deemed chairing boards his personal task.

- After Internet recharter, execute recharter.


The Scoutmaster jealously guarded his prerogative to have regular ongoing contact with the youth, including assigning Counselors.


What you described might be the easy way, but it's not the Cowboy Way ... to use a quote from Riders in the Sky :D

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As AC in our troop, I:


-record advancements in Troopmaster and upload to Scoutnet

-Buy badges and hand them to the SM labeled and ready to pass on to the boys

-Make sure COH award lists are complete

-Keep the troop copy of the MBC list and give counselor name and contact information to the boys

-Keep a stash of blue cards for if the SM misses a meeting or runs out (And yes, I do sign them as needed)

-Put the recharter information together and upload it to council at recharter time (no one else knows Troopmaster well enough)

co-ordinate some BORs - the CC seems to think arranging them is his job and so does most of that.

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Well my husband is close..


He does:

1) Troopmaster also, but thinks of this as job #2.. But does like control over making sure advancements are recorded right. (Don't think he does recharter though)

2) The organizing of the paperwork to get the awards for COH.. But someone else gets them.

3) Advises committee, SM and boys on boys advancements at Committee meetings, with Reports and on Poster boards in room.

4) Organizes the BOR.

5) Keeps the MBC list and helps a boy choose a good counsilor (not his parent, not ones on the list he would prefer they don't use)

6) Keeps the blue cards. Boy goes to him first, then the SM. (also keeps everything else for troop he's a walking file cabinent.)

7) Coordinates the "opportunities" for scout to first class advancement.. Like on an outing he may organize an orienteering course, some boys may do the course while other do capture the flag.. Or he may assign or oversee the older boys tasks at what they need to prepare to teach the younger boys during the 15 minute pre-troop warmup time..

8) pulls the boys books to record what has been signed off in them.

9) Works with the person in charge of Summer camp to make sure the boys take appropriate age/ rank / ability merit badges..

10) With some of the boys help them with the presentation of their initail Eagle project presentation in order to be accepted by the EBOR as their project. First it has to be in front of the troop committee before they present it to the District Eagle Board.. Usually in the form of a dry run dress rehearsal, before the committee dress rehersal, before the EBOR presentation. If the boy can pass muster at our committee drilling and question asking, the EBOR usually is a breeze.

11) Helps those who ask for it with their presentations and/or prep for their final meeting with the EBOR after everything including the project is complete..


There are probably other things I have left out.

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ditto here just logistic.. My husband works far from the Scout store, so it would be a Saturday trip 1 1/2 round trip for him. Another person works less then a mile from the Scout store.


He fills out the paper work but the purchase goes to someone in the troop who can do it with little effort.

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