Jump to content

Merit Badges, Teaching and your son

Recommended Posts

Lots of good answers above. One word of emphasis, a Merit Badge Counselor is a registered position in the District and the application is approved at that level. Many MBC register with the caveat that they will counsel "Troop XXX Only". I personally do not like that, but it is allowed. So, if you are indeed a bona fide "expert" by vocation or avocation in a certain subject, by all means, submit an application and get on the District list. Hopefully you will welcome "all comers" who can take advantage of your special knowledge and/or training. CAN you counsel your own son? There is no written prohibition, however my opinion is it is shortchanging him of the opportunity for "Adult Association" with OTHER adults and teaches him initiative and confidence.

Link to post
Share on other sites



I never expected so many comments. All had good advice, however some posts were a little harsh.


I did have a conversation with my son last night about how the Troop will be different from the Pack. I told him that in the past I initiated when he and his fellow Webs would start working on an activity pin. I told him going forward that he will have to take the initiative to approach the SM or SPL and ask about working on advancements. I told him that I'd be happy to talk with him about something if he comes and asks me, but things are more in his court in driving his Scout career now.


I'm going to have a talk with the SM about needs that the troop may have for an adult, he has said previously he'd like me to be involved and already gave me an app. I do already know that he'll be working with a different ASM in his patrol, which I think is good. Maybe I can do something in the background or on the committee. I think I would enjoy being a MBC, but need to learn more about it first.


Or...maybe I'll just stay involved with the pack to keep myself out of trouble.


Thanks guys.

Link to post
Share on other sites



That is exactly what I did......Son crossed over two years ago and I stayed with the Pack as CM...... I was just replaced at our succession planning meeting.


Scout son is working on first class.....Disappointed in his progress, but it is his progress, He has 10 merit badges all from summer camp.


His biggest joy is hanging out with his patrol....... I am the second adult on most of the outings but I let him do his thing...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. Do breathe deep and step back... from the advice of self-styled grizzled veterans who emphasize their judgment over BSA policy and regale you with tips based on their vast experience.


Grizzled vets they may be, but there are 20-year veterans with 20 years of experience, and there are 20-year veterans who've had the same 1 year of experience 20 times. Both kinds know how to pose as a grizzled vet offering sage advice.


We don't need to question their intentions or motivations. They may be well intentioned pillars of their communities. But YOU are your son's father. Learn what BSA allows/requires and decide what is right according to your judgment. Light your light and let it shine man, don't hide it under a bushel and rely on the lights of others who want us all to go their way.


As self appointed Squadron Commander of Helicopter Parent Squadron One, I offer you this perspective: I will not buckle to just any presumptuous busybody who advises me on how to raise my children. I consider their advice but follow MY judgment. Their way may even be a Right Way, but there are often multiple Right Ways... don't let people pressure you into abandoning the one you prefer unless your preference isn't strong and you've got excellent reasons to give in.


All this advice about "giving him space," letting him "take the lead," "this is his journey not yours," and "your son doesn't need to work on any merit badges for awhile" ... it all comes from people who don't know you, don't know your son, don't know how you relate to him, or what he needs, nearly as well as you do. They presume that you are tugging apron strings and they presume they know best when and how such strings should be cut.


edited to correct a pronoun to its possessive form(This message has been edited by Callooh! Callay!)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Must respectfully disagree with you CC. Yes I'm one gizzled vets with 30 years in ( GREAT SCOUT IT'S BEEN 30 YEARS NOW?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I don't feel that old ;) )


Unless there are other issues, i.e. medical, emotional, psychological, etc most Crossovers are ready to begin things on their on with experienced PL and Jr leaders to work with them. This is a natural part of the growing up process.


I have seen to often well intentioned parents, especially those that served as CS leaders, that no only hurt their own sons in the long term, but also cause problems for the rest of the troop. I've written about one example that irritated the troop so badly because the parents involved ruined something that we had planned for a year and spent 14+ hours round trip to do, that the scouts said NO MORE.


But what do I know? ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

As one who always appreciates a competent command of the King's English, I enjoy your posts, CC. But, if I may ask, if one is adamant about raising his son "his way", and not listening to the sage advice of those of us who have successfully raised our sons and helped to develop countless others, why in the world would he enroll him in Scouts? To force everyone else to alter the program and do it HIS way???

Link to post
Share on other sites

eagle.....I guess I am now a 18 year veteran now....Didn't think about it that much till now....



Callooh! Callay!


Trying to figure out where ya got that name from....the band the bar or the movie.....but I disgress..



It is not often a person admits being a helicopter parents......I was surprised we got to the second page before someone said it. What is to be gained or more to the point why even bother with scouting if your just going to do "it" for your son.......


I don't think being a helicopter parent is anything to be proud of....Especially in scouting where we are trying to get the young men to be self sufficient and leaders......tough for them to do when their voices and actions are suffocated under the scout of blades and associated down draft.


Give it a break...If new scout approaches SM and asks to work on a merit badge he will not be told no in most cases............If the BOY is motivated to work on merit badges on his own with out a busy body dad forcing merit badges then fine.......Most boys don't need to worry about them for the first year and that is fair advice....Most will go to summer camp and earn a couple.


The OP says boy crossed over last night and wants to start working on them now........

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, hmmm...


I suppose some of our comments could be construed as parenting advice, though I think that's a bit of a stretch. Me thinks someone might be a might sensitive to the topic. ;)


Anyways, as one of those grizzled vets, let me say that I wasn't givin' parenting advice so much as giving Scouting advice along with the rationale for that advice. I always figure it helps folks understand if they get a bit of the "why" as well as the "what." AlabamaDan seems to want to know how to make his son's (and his own) scouting successful. I can assure you, it won't be successful if as a first year parent in "I was a great cub leader" mode starts quotin' boy scoutin' books and demanding that the troop modify its procedures to accommodate his wishes.


The result will be that his son's peers and the older boys in the troop feel that his son is "cheating", is a "daddy's boy", and really doesn't deserve the ranks/privileges he gets. No amount of "I know my boy better!" is goin' to change that youth sentiment or the impact on his son. The result will be that those same older boys will not trust or respect AlabamaDan as a potential adult leader, and in a good troop he wouldn't be approved as an ASM (which is, I assume, a long-term direction he wants to head in). No amount of quotin' guidebooks at older boys and veterans will change that impression. The result will be adult conflict in the troop, hard feelings, disturbed structures of youth and adult leadership. And as a Commissioner who spends more than half my time tryin' to rescue troops from this sort of thing, I can say more often than not it ends badly.


As parents, we're of course free to raise our kids as we see fit. However, if we choose to enroll them in someone else's program - school, band, sports, scouts, theater, robot club, church youth group, whatever - then the price for havin' other people and organizations provide services for our kids is that we have to adapt to their norms and expectations. If we aren't willin' to do that with school, we home school. Not willin' to do that with band? Teach your kid to play yourself. Not willing to do that with sports? Well, then team sports at least are out. Not willin' to do that with scouting? Then take your kid campin' on your own and make up your own system of rewards for achievement.


It's always our choice as parents, eh? Nobody is tryin' to take that away. Scoutin' is here just to offer a particular type of service to kids, parents, and families. If yeh don't think that service is a good fit for your parenting style or family, whether it's because yeh don't like the "duty to God" bits or you'd prefer to be hands-on in directing your kid's activities yourself, then no hard feelings, eh? We'll even help yeh find other opportunities, because Scouting is not what you're lookin' for.


All things considered, I think scoutin' is a pretty parent-friendly place compared to most middle school and high school youth activities, especially for folks like AlabamaDan who seem to be into outdoorsmanship and the scouting gestalt. Start out on the right foot, and there are lots of parent opportunities to share great times with your kid in the program. And not just from the sidelines, eh? ;)



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Grizzled veteran? Maybe a Slightly Soiled Sophomore. One son just completing 1st year, older son his 2nd. So memories are pretty fresh.


In cubs boys really like (mostly) being the son of a leader. Some status and perks. Certainly get to go to a lot of events.


In Boy Scouts in tends to work against them. There is always a suspicion that they get extra treatment and I for one make them work harder. And that is not fair either. I will not sign off on my boys and not even give my opinion if they met the requirement or not. Will I help them learn knots? Sure. (and they help me). But they have missed a few deadlines because I was the only one to sign off and I wasn't there.


To be fair if you are an adult leader your boy tends to get a little more help from the other adult leaders. Unfortunately the boy leadership hesitates more in doling out punishment (please punish him!)


It was hard on both of us the first year. My boy forgot his flashlight and I had a spare. I turned him away and he coped. He paid for his replacement.


There were times I turned my chair 180 degrees because I was cringing so much at him trying to set up his tent or make a fire. I hated sending him away when a year before we would hang out around the fire together. (and my son has a bunch of disabilities and you want to hover)


But it was great when I turned around and he managed to set up the tent on his own. Or didn't need a flashlight at all. Or solved the problem by himself. Sometimes another adult could work with him on completing the swim test because he inspired in him some part that I could not reach.


My boys still see me around and may come over to ask me a quick question. Or laugh with the others as I bring up the rear of the hike. And yes I have been around the times they have gotten injured. So I am there "just in case" but in the deep background.


Yes CC is entitled to his viewpoint. In my experience the boys whose Dads hover the first year or so advance quicker but seem to lag in leadership development later. Don't worry you will still be around.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While I will be generalizing, please bear with me. It does deal with parents interfering with the scouts and how it can cause major problems.


My troop planned a major trip to a military park for some great hiking. He planned to do it for a year: going over info, organizing additional activities besides the hikes, going over the history of the battle, etc. Because it was a long trip, 7+ hours one way, and there were some CS and family appropriate things and trails to do, it was decided to make this into a family event since we had a bunch of CS siblings. MISTAKE!


Now the scouts prepared for the trip as we normally do, and were ready for inclement weather. PLs called their scouts to make sure they watched the weather and had what was needed cold wet weather. And all of the scouts were ready. We wanted this trip!


Problem was that the CS and siblings were capable of doing the hike in the cold wet weather. We started out, but within a 1/2 we got pulled into the cars b/c the siblings were complaining that it wasn't far that big brother could do it and they couldn't. Scouts were not happy. An adult came up with the idea of driving around, and getting out the car at the various stops to do the activity at that stop. It was a mess, parents complained that the cars were getting wet, siblings were complaining that they couldn't have fun, and it ended up with us leaving the park and staying in the gym of the church we got to use.


Long story short it was the absolute worse trip ever in my scouting career, and ticked off so many scouts that WE decided to never again to include families. We did not want the parents ruining our trip b/c they either didn't think we could do something that we we were not only able to do, but have done before, or they didn't want to upset the siblings. It wasn't until all the scouts of that fiasco had either aged out and move along in their lives, or like me was a leader, did we EVER have another family activity.


I guess what I am trying to say is that the SCOUTS want independence. The SCOUTS want to do things without the parents. The SCOUTS need to do the things that they want to do. And parents do need to take a step back an watch.


If there is a concern, ok don't let the scout go on the trip, or if you don't like the troop, join another. But do not ruin it of the other scouts.


IMHO, it is very, stressing VERY, hard for CS leaders to move up and become BS leaders. let's face it, you've been trained for 2,3,5 years to take charge, organize, and do things with your scouts. to paraphrase YODA, they have much to unlearn. Heck even I do. Last time I visited a troop camping, one of the scouts accidentally cut himself. Instinctively, I pulled out my FA kit, got the scout over to me, and bandaged it up. When I realized what I did, not letting a patrol member do it, I apologized to the SM, who laffed and said "Don't let the SPL see you doing that."


And I hope that when oldest becomes a BS in about 2 years, I will remember the all important question, "Have you asked your Patrol Leader?"



Link to post
Share on other sites

One my scout moms, who I dearly love, is my ex-Webelos co-leader. She was super organized leaving me to do the fun stuff.


I am teaching a (popular)MB and at the SM's request doing it as a "group". At least I do some talking and they break up and do demonstrate. So it is semi-structured and they have to do a lot of work at home. I try to make it interesting as the MB book is a bit dry.


I booked 4 evenings to cover the material and work with boys, do check offs. She was "4 evenings! It shouldn't take more than one". I had to explain that it is mostly on their schedule, I cant make them do the work, that I will sign off only if they show me they did the work, and the structure is mostly to help them stumble in the right direction. But just sitting and listening or filling out the form is not the MB.


Now she was a GREAT DL and WDL. Master of the optimal advancement schedule while still having fun and not giving easy credit. But she was having a hard time making that 1st year transition.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't see the OP as a helicopter parent at all. Simply a concerned parent.


Just because a parent takes a concerned interest in their child's scouting career doesn't make them a helicopter parent. And the 1st year in Boy Scouts is somewhat stressful. There's a lot of responsibility for the kid to learn and a lot of backing off for the parent to do. There's no need to claim that a parent is hovering just because they want to make sure they know how things get done.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if I'm a helicoper parent or not. I had a small Webelos Den for the last two years and the 4 of us did alot of stuff together. Most of the time it was me, another dad and the boys. We honestly enjoy spending time with the boys and they us. I don't worry about him doing things without me. He's been on Troop trips without me and comes back talking about it. I remember one time they went rafting and I "wanted" to go, but the other dad and I decided it was time to start getting them ready for us not being around. So I didn't go on that one and he didn't go on others. I realize it's time for us to seperate a little more, for him to gain independence and such. We both just need to find a balance where we're both happy. We're in the unusual situation that we both enjoy each other's company - as opposed to other preteens and parents.


Good stuff here and I'm taking it all to heart.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...