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Summer Camp MB mill - as usual

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I would humbly suggest that much of this discussion is looking at the merit badge mill problem in much the same way as nutrition advocates look at the McDonald's menu.


The fundamental problem is that most consumers of McDonald's food aren't interested in the same things that nutrition advocates are. While the consumers appreciate their efforts, the consumers' interests are in inexpensive, reasonably tasty, and tummy satisfying food; if it happens to be nutritious too, well that's fine but not particularly important to the consumers. Naturally, the corporation is more interested in what the consumers want than in what the nutrition advocates want.


Our Scouting culture today largely driven by the completion of advancement requirements, including merit badges. The interests of most Scouting consumers are centered (at least in substantial part) on measurable results in the form of checked-off requirements and signed blue cards. This is how most average Scouts, average parents, and average Joe and Jane Scouter think about Program. This is somewhat intensified with Summer Camp because Summer Camp is a big deal and costs a lot of money.


That doesn't make this sort of discussion and all of these concerns about merit badge mills futile. It just means that these concerns aren't at the top of the list of either the consumers or the providers of summer camp.


It also means that while these issues are real, they do not signal the demise of Scouting any more than a Big Mac signals the demise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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If Scouting is truly about values and about helping to build good people, then the general acceptance of systematic fraud is a symptom of the demise of Scouting.



If Scouting is not about values, then who cares? We could simply auction off (or "Buy it now.") Eagle badges the way we auction off some adult awards.


On my honor I will do my best, unless it's difficult or inconvenient.




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Well this past weekend I had a sad conversation with a new SM. My council operates a great summer camp, and a great HA sea base, a HA program that I would have killed for as a youth BTW. While my predominate resposnibility this weeking was promoting CS camping, I was on the Pamlico Sea Base's Ship Charter back in the day, and have kept up with developments. And the Pamlico Sea Base's display was set up next to mine. So every now and then I talked about it.


Well the new SM from the local Eagle mill troop, came up to the display and we talked about PSB. Said it sounded nice, but what MBs were offered at the PSB. When I told him none, it was a HA program, he looked very dissappointed. Again very sad b/c he doesn't get it, and is hurting his scouts and the program. Hopefully he can get to training, but somehow I doubt it. He was a CM for several years, if I remember correctly, and I think I saw him at only 1 district CS event ever.




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I love analogies.


dkurt --- the only problem with this one is that we "nutritional advocates" tend to be the wholesale buyers of the Big Macs.


Although I don't disagree with your premise. I've said a number of times, including in this thread, that we're swimming against the current of the market forces in Scouting. Most troops and their "coffee swilling leaders", as BP calls them, want the wall-to-wall MB programs.


(Although in defense of coffee swillers I think I run a pretty good camp program with a coffee mug surgically attached to my left hand.) :)

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Your story really hit the nail on the head as to what is wrong with boy scout programs today. It is all about gimee gimee more badges faster, faster, don't bother me with actually learning any real scoutcraft, values, citizenship, or leadership I just want my Eagle ASAP and then its goodbye scouts.


Tahawk- your post also states it so succintly and so well, "if scouting is no longer about values then we might as well just sell Eagle badges on Ebay."


To those of you scout leaders who don't seem to mind or care about the direction scouting is currently heading then I say to you it is time to examine your motivations for being a SM or ASM. If it is not to give your boys the most complete scouting experience possible, but instead to run a classroom Eagle mill troop than I respectively suggest you volunteer your time elsewhere where that mindset is already present, such as coaching sports, totally adult controlled.

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You just reminded me of a fellow who works the Bb gun range at Camp McNeill.


He LOVES his coffee.. I'm honestly not sure if I have ever seen him without his tainless mug in hand.


If we were to tell him that camp ran completely out of water...I swear he'd chew dry coffee grounds or use them like snuff! :)


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E-92: Palmico Seabase looks AWSOME!

But it does offer at least one MB (Small Boat Sailing) and it's located with Camp Boddie which has plenty of MBs in its summer camp program. To quote the PSB website: "These programs operate on the same schedule as a traditional summer camp, with check in beginning on Sunday and the week concluding on Saturday morning. This allows units to travel together to one convienant [sic] location for their summer adventuree. Younger Scouts can participate in merit badge programs at Camp Boddie while older Scouts can go outside the box and into the water at the Pamlico Sea Base."

That sounds about right.... organized learning early on for scouts at Camp Boddie to pursue specific goals, complete with "Trail to Eagle" classes that offer all three Citizenships, Communications, and E-Prep. And then, down the road a year or two, after puberty has muscled them up a bit so they can better take on High Adventure activities, and they've knocked out a bunch of MBs in their "Eagle Mills," they can do the way cool PSB programs with nary a care for what gegaws these experiences will entitle them to sew on their uniforms. Very nice.(This message has been edited by callooh! callay!)

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BadenP: "To those of you scout leaders who don't seem to mind or care about the direction scouting is currently heading... ... I respectively [sic] suggest you volunteer your time elsewhere"


Understood: Scouting is headed in a direction. You don't like it. You want those who feel less strongly about it than you to go volunteer elsewhere.

BSA policies leave some things up to Scouter judgment as to how to balance the inherent tension between some of Scouting's goals. You want Scouters who don't judge as you do to go away.

The BSA's mission and vision statements are likely familiar to you (or available at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/mission.aspx ).


There is tension between the two statements. The mission promotes the high ideals of the "Scout Oath and Law;" whereas the vision is to "prepare every eligible youth." It's unrealistic to think "every eligible youth" will be receptive to high ideals. But tension between aspirations and possibility can keep an organization vital and striving.

The most fundamental conflict of goals within Scouting is the conflict between its mission to promote high ideals, standards, and values embodied in the Oath and the Law and its goal to be a large organization with wide appeal. You can have standards and values, and you can have wide appeal, and you can have both simultaneously. But you can't always have more of each. At some point, you've got the widest appeal you can have without changing your standards and values. Even then, changes in standards and values may widen the organization's appeal to one demographic but decrease its appeal to another.

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A good many factors go into the decline in Scouting membership since I was a Scout and two of every three boys spent some time as a Scout. Adults are far less inclined to join any organization, from Scouting to bowling teams, to fraternal organizations. This strangles program. Scouting is no longer like Mom, apple pie and the Flag. We are "controversial." We don't have a unit in every school -- or very many schools at all.


Still, when the proportion that made Eagle was 1% instead of 4%, Scouting was a program with mass appeal. Now it is not.


My district twenty years ago - perhaps 25% of the council, had 37 Troops. The entire council has less than twice that now -- on paper. (Some registered Troops have not met in years.) Ignore phony programs like "in-school scouting" and phantom units/Scouts ("Dig deep for Scouting."), and the numbers in my council have fallen every year since 1982.


In the face of such dire results, looking at alternative approaches might be in order.



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It has NEVER been and still is not the mission of the BSA to allow scout leaders to run a troop like an Eagle mill, it is not a local option or is it in line with any BSA program. Those scout leaders who are running these mill troops are doing so based on their own twisted interpretations of the BSA policies, these violators are the ones who have no place in leading these boys or running these troops and should IMO leave the BSA. CC apparently you seem to be in this group or agree with their premise. The falling troop/boy scout numbers you describe in your post are due to the reckless, ill thought out, and in the boys eyes these boring mill troop programs. Which are the result of undertrained leaders with few scout skills who try to over compensate by running a classroom program with little outdoor experiences for the boys. These are the kind of leaders bringing boy scouts down, and add NOTHING to the making the program better or instilling in the boys a sense of the scout law and oath. The boys leaving boy scouts only validates my point, whether you agree or not is not even relevant.

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So why are numbers dropping.



Failure to deliver the promise of adventure.



Lets face it in the 80's when the decline started there were not the huge numbers of water parks, zip lines, skate parks and other local high adventures. Star Wars was as exciting as it got.


I know a number of boys who lead virtual lives in the "World of Warcraft" and scouting is their parents way of tempering that life. How many more become their xbox Avatar and their gamers rep is more important that "Demonstrating how to whip and fuse a rope".


How many new Eagle scouts cannot build a fire or lash a useful camp item? Just sayin

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Yes Pamlico Sea Base ( www.pamlicoseabase.org ;) ) is AWESOME, and it provides units the opprotunity to schedule normal summercamp with the younger scouts, and HA witht he older scouts at the same time. Didn't realize they advertised Small Boat Sailing, but Boddie does as well. Again if I was touth, I would love the opportunity for a HA activity in my own backyard.


The problem with units becoming Eagle Mills for which BadenP, others, and I are upset about is that it is not the Scouting program as it is suppose to be. Look at the Troop Program Features, vols 1-3, to see that the focus is learning a particular set of skills, and then applying them at the monthly camp out. You teach skills based upon ability, with the older scouts, and occasionally an expert, teaching the skills. While some skills can be used for advancement, esp. the T-2-1 level, the goal is not advancement, but learing and having fun.


Merit badge Summer Camp Mills remind me of the game of dominoes. Dominoes started out as game of fun and people corrupted it into a game of chance. Folks have been known to lose fortunes, herds of cattle, and yes Eskimoes have even gambled away wives in games of dominoes (although I was told those games were fixed ;) ) I'm glad the domino was a staff emblem at my old camp, because it reminded staffers that Scouting is a game with a purpsoe and that it should be FUN! Summer camp should be the highlight of a Scout's year because they can eat and breathe Scouting for however long they are at camp, having FUN without the outside world butting in.


When summer camp turns into a MB mill, their is pressure for scouts to perform,a nd the fun goes away.

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