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Scoutmaster options - Improperly accomplished merit badges

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Consider having the scouts demonstrate the survival float plus the clothes inflation on a canoe trip or when you take your annual swim test. Its good practice and may save a life someday.


I applaud your efforts to improve the instruction your troop gets. Keep up the good work.

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To respond to some of the statements made as they relate to the camp we attend.

Youth counselors who are under 18 do sign blue cards. The WIlderness Survival MB in my earlier example was signed by a Scout who is not 18, I know this because he is in my troop.

I live about 10 minutes from the camp and stop by on a regular basis to help out. I actually ran into the Council Executive and cornered him. I noticed he was wearing Wood Badge beads so I offered him some feedback which I reminded him was a gift. I don't think he liked it so much.



I do believe that market forces influence MB sign offs with or without actually completing the requirements. One of my committee members was teaching a MB at camp and by week 3 he was disgusted with the process. The camp program director was leaning heavily on him to sign off MBs as completed even if Scouts didn't come to all the classes and complete all the requirements. He says he won't be back next year. Imagine what mom would think if little Johnny came home with all partials!

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As I have commented before, I am on the District and Council Advancement Committee, a few years back the Camps were a little loose in giving away merit badges. A group of us on the COuncil Advancement Committee addressed the Staff during Staff week and emphasized the need to "do it right" to be sure the requirements were done.


That year there were many partials handed out and many Scoutmasters said thank you, and we will be back as we know you arent a mill


DOnt know the current status, it may be time for another trip during staff week. It does take the backing of the Program and Camp Director that if a counselor says the requirement is not met, that the Counselor is supported and the Directors dont fold

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Signed off merit badges are proof of completion in the eyes of the MB counselor. However, for Safe Swim Defense - physical fitness and ability groups state that the Scouts should have the necessary physical fitness level (usually by a health history form) and demonstrated ability. As a Scoutmaster on a troop event, you don't have to take the possession of the swimming or lifesaving MB as "evidence" if you do not want to.

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Nah, Never said it was an A for effort badge.

I said that the boys met the MINIMUM requirement to earn it.


That means they met a minimun.The bare minimum standards. I also said that this DOES NOT mean you turn them loose unsupervised and alone.


Of course they think they are experts...they think that about everything! One perfect hotdog and they think they are chefs. Back down the driveway without wrecking and they think they are master drivers who can text, talk, change clothes and read ...all while driving and adjusting the radio.


I'm saying, now that these boys got a swimming badge, take them swimming. Put thenm in the water every weekend if you can to build up strenght , stamina and to let them perfect their form.



Just like drivers Ed: 2 weeks behind the wheel does not make you a safe experienced driver...only time,practice and experience do that.



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What do they call the guy who graduates last in his class at med school?


Doctor. Scary, huh?


If the scout meets the minimum requirement he passes. He may not remember the skills a week later and that is sad but it doesn't take away the merit badge. Maybe BSA should require a swim check, a current Red Cross first aid certification and a demonstrated ability to tie a bowline as part of the EBOR. That would be interesting.


Seriously, it bothers me that many scouts pass with the minimum and then do not maintain or improve their skills. A week ago we were at a high adventure base and the staff conducted a brief map and compass training before the trek. We were going on a white water canoe trek so map and compass was not a priority in our preparation... the river only goes one way and when we get to a dam we're done. Still, I was embarrassed that one our scouts could not orient a map. In fact, he didn't know which end of the needle pointed north. Worse still, he announced that he had orienteering merit badge... earned at the same reservation.


Oh well, we'll work on that one.




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Sorry I've not been able to respond during the day.


First, someone mentioned their Scout Reservation allowed under 18 staff to sign out Merit Badges. Those apps are on their face invalid. Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures #33088 says clearly that a Counselor must be 18 years old, and makes no exceptions for seasonal camp staffs. That calls for a businesslike talk with the SM and COR confronting the District Advancement Chair.


Now, Mr or Mrs Scoutmaster: Your charges are minor children. You are their voice as the customer of services given by your Council. Your Scouts and their parents are paying darn good money for events your PLC decides to attend. If something is not right, your duty is to speak up. Don't wait for the end of camp. Speak up at once. I trust each of you are walking to the Lodges starting Day 1 of camp. You should be looking at how each Lodge is run. Are your Scouts at the picnic table, sleeping, while a 16 year old is droning? Have a quiet word with the Lodge director. Are they being taught something patently wrong? Seek out the PD and ask what is going on... Start low. Your campsite commissioner is indeed the go-between between you, the unit serving volunteer, and the volunteers, seasonal staff, and professionals of your Scout Camp.


If you perceive the feedback you are offering (it is a gift, after all) is not being accepted, evaluated, and worked, elevate the issue. The leadership chain in the program side of a Scout Camp runs from the J-Staffer to his Lodge Director to the Program Director to the Camp or Reservation Director. The Council has taken these kids money; you have the right to insist on a quality service rendered.


Remember: You are the one who signs the merit badge application, authorizing the Scout to begin the badge. You are putting your name down saying "The Camp Staff meets my approval as a group of Counselors, you may work with them." To be honest, you have more control over a camp staff than you do over Mr Smith back in town. You are trusting Mr Smith to mentor and evaluate properly. You get to have eyeballs on the work of a Camp Staff.


Do not let things get out of hand. If you believe the Scout is not being taught the skills you need the camp to teach him, pull the Scout out. I would ask that when you do that, you do have a talk with the Reservation Director and state your reasons why. You want to do this before the testing is finished. I've been an aquatics commissioner at my Scout Reservation; I can tell you when the J-Staff sits down with the Director and talks about each Scout.


If the quality of the program is such that you do pull a Scout from a class, let him have some other fun. The ranges are always popular. You don't have things a Scout can learn in camp? I know a lot of Scouts who'd love to get better at chess.


Now comes the tough part. When you, Mr or Mrs Scoutmaster make a tough call, it's time to keep others in the loop. Your committee chair needs to know in real time. Your COR needs to know in real time. You are going to be asking your COR to go out and do the tough part of his job ... represent the interest of the Chartered Partner as a voter in the Council. Trust me, Council Presidents (volunteers like us) make time to visit with Chartered Partners ... they're generally successful businesspeople, and they understand that a squeaking wheel needs to be greased, or it will continue to make noise. Trust me, if a COR tells the SE that Troop NNN is taking their money someplace else next year, the SE sees those dollar signs, and he's not going to like that. A good SE will seek out that feedback, and he'll do something about it.


The point is this: Whether you call the Scoutmaster the guardian, the gatekeeper, or the consumer, he is the one who speaks for the young people. If you don't say something, change will never happen.


I hope this answers questions. Shortridge, thanks for your comments earlier today, I think you knew where I was going :)

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Just a reminder to what the swimming MB requirements are: it's not just about how far you can swim, but how well and how far.


swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: . . .


Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner . . .


So technically, the "minimum" requirements are fairly tough. That said, if the MBC says they passed - they passed. My son took that MB class, not at summer camp mind you, and while completing the distance, was not in the best "strong manner" but the counselor, a seasoned adult, told me he checked off the requirement but advised that he keep practicing. He did and now I think he is part fish. :)

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First we try to head it off at camp, as others have said.

If not discovered until too late, we talk with scouts and parents about the shortcomings, then come up with plan to help the guys really meet the requirements as written. We tell them they may, but have never had anyone appeal to get MB on technicality and all of our guys have the pride of knowing they earned every bit of it.

I don't get too worked up about it. We're volunteers and staffs are notoriously inexperienced and underpaid. We tell parents before we leave and staff when we arrive that we plan to work hard, but expect to bring home partial merit badge paperwork. It's no big deal. Let the boys have fun and enjoy camp!

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One year at camp, I taught Lifesaving MB and I was called a few unScoutlike names by both youth and adults b/c #1 I wanted the MB skills to be mastered before signing off, and #2 I had a few goof offs that ate up enough time that I got fed up and kicked them out b/c they were a detriment to my students that did want to learn. I did get complaints for kicking out students as well as for issuing partials fo those who did not complete the work. Some SMs and scouts did think that they should get the MB just for showing up to class. Not with me, especially with a MB that can not only save someone else's life, but could potentially endanger the rescuer's as well

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while it's been a long time since I taught Lifesaving MB and YMCA Lifeguard, I can tell you this: the go without support is based strongly on escapes, releases, and holds skills of the rescuer. I've seen 5'2" 90 lb girls take on a 6' 185+ pound instructor who is doing his best to drown them when working on active victims and the girls succeed in the rescue. If someone uses the correct holds, positioning the victim correctly, they may have a wild ride to the edge of the pool or beach, but they can handle it. 9/10 of the time the 'drowning victim" tires themself out.


I loved playing victim :) Bring on the "peanutbutter" ;)

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Well, the consensus on the MB's is that your screwed...so be it.


While you might be able to offset the lack of swimming proficiency with other controlled aquatic activities, I'd personally be more worried about signal this less-than-proficient performance might send to the Scout and the Scout's parents.


I would maintain that achieving the Swimming MB in this case may signal a false sense of water security to the Scout and the parent. This could potentially result in the Scout being involved in non-Scouting water activities with his family or friends that might not, in fact, be safe for the Scout.


While for me, it would not be a moral dilemma, I could see where for some, it might be.

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