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-KJ-

Attn MBCs: WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?!?

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Hello, everyone!

 

I have a brand-new Boy Scout, freshly crossed over from Webelos. And I have a question for all you Merit Badge Counselors:

 

What do you want new Boy Scouts to know? What do you wish they would do? We're a little unclear on how to contact an MBC (there's a website with phone numbers, but it feels a little awkward, there are NONE in our Troop), what we should have for them, where to get it, and basically how to be a good and decent Scout that doesn't make the MBC rue the day they agreed to sign up for the job.

 

So far we've had a crash course on:

"Where's your Scout book?" (huh? I dunno)

"Do you have that card? From last week?" (uh...in dad's car...)

"Did you print out that worksheet?" (yeah. I don't know where it is, though...)

 

We seriously have to be better than this, and I'm just lost on the process. (The poor MBC was doing a group thing for all the Scouts for First Aid.)

 

Otherwise we could develop a checklist on how to do this and I'd send him at it. You know, like a job search. Dress nicely, have your resume ready, be on time, be ready for trick questions like A, B and C, etc.

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Hi KJ,

 

It's awesome your boy wants to work on MBs, he might not have realized the social and paperwork challenge involved in earring one. In general, this is the process:

 

Scout tells SM he's interested in earning a particular MB.

SM help scout identify counselor, gives permission (usually via blue card) to work on MB.

Scout calls counselor, introduces himself, makes appointment to meet, asks what he should bring to first appointment.

Scout works on requirements and makes addional appointments as needed.

Counselor confirms completion (usually by signing the blue card).

Scout relays completion to SM (again, by turning in the blue card).

The badge will be awarded at the next opportunity in the troops schedule.

 

This is usually a little much for an 11 year old. That's why the first three ranks don't require MBs. But, if your son is okay with making those calls, let him keep trying.

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"Be Prepared" covers 99 percent of it. "Ask your Patrol Leader" covers the rest.

 

Nothing special, just think about it a bit and have your son take the lead.

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All that.

 

Seriously, KJ, the first thing you should consider is that this is no longer a "we" problem -- it's a "him" problem.

 

One of the purposes of the merit badge program is to get young men like you son accustomed to dealing with, talking to, following instructions and accepting advice from old folks. That you are trying to anticipate all the concerns of the various MBC removes your son from that learning experience.

 

As a parent, it is appropriate for you to suggest to your son that he discuss this with his Scoutmaster. The first step in earning a MB is to discuss it with your scoutmaster, get his input and approval, the name and contact info for a counselor AND that all-important blue card.

 

At that point, if you son is still unsure of himself, I think it reasonable for a parent to sit down with their son and coach him through his first contact with the counselor. Since his troop doesn't have any in-house counselors, that contact will likely be by phone. So coach him on the questions he should ask. What should I bring? What requirements should I have completed when we meet? What requirements do you want us to do together? Do you recommend I read the MB pamphlet? Do I need to wear my uniform? And all the stuff related to making an appointment.

 

Then point him to a phone and LET HIM DO IT.

 

There is a subtle difference between you teaching your son an important life skill -- such as how to set up and prepare for an important meeting -- versus solving the problem for him. It's the old fish vs. fishing lesson.

 

Personally, if your son just crossed over, he should be focused on T-2-1 requirements, not merit badges. But that's more a troop thing and since you didn't ask......

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Agree with everything said here but would like to add:

Read the merit badge book.

Meet the MBC prepared with the information needed (and with a buddy or parent).

Don't expect the MBC to teach you the requirements. He will however be very willing to help but it's always nice when I see there's been a real effort on the Scout's part.

For more information on merit badges go to http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Merit_Badges

 

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>>coach him through his first contact with the counselor. Since his troop doesn't have any in-house counselors, that contact will likely be by phone. So coach him on the questions he should ask. What should I bring? What requirements should I have completed when we meet? What requirements do you want us to do together? Do you recommend I read the MB pamphlet? Do I need to wear my uniform? And all the stuff related to making an appointment.

 

That is EXACTLY what I'm requesting! You've got it! (Can't coach what you don't know!)

 

I haven't heard what the Troop is planning on for the T-2-1 stuff, they seem to be focusing on summer activities for the moment. So far First Aid was a requirement to go to a Camporee and Weather and ... what? Fingerprinting, I think ... were supposed to be earned there. I've had other scouters (at the scout store, mainly) insist that we should get a huge desk calendar and work out how much time there is to earn certain badges under the various time restrictions and insinuating that it's a difficult and complex process requiring a ton of oversight.

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Those other Scouters are full of crap.

 

Your son has up to seven and a half years ahead of him. He should be focusing on the rank requirements and maybe doing a MB if it's something he's super interested in. Either way, he needs to explore on his own and you need to take a step back and have a cuppa. Relax. He'll do just fine.

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Case in point:

 

Son #1 wanted to do archery first year of summer camp. Folks told me he should focus on craft type MBs because the scoring requirements might be to hard for him. The kid wanted to do Archery so I let him, and he nailed it. It's still a hobby of his. Meanwhile I think he kept that blue card with a partial in leatherwork for seven years!

 

Now if you boy decides he wants to earn a badge that may be a little tedious and throw off some blizzard seven year schedule, let him!

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While I think he should just get used to being in thetroop and not worrying about merit badges just yet, I do realize that there is an exception:

 

Summer camp.

 

THis is my son's first year of boy scouts too. He just crossed over a few months ago. Personally, I think he needs to worry about his T-2-1 before worrying about merit badges.

 

But again, that's just me poersonally...an opinion that matters not. Only his opinion matters now. WEll, I should say decision, not opinion.

 

 

But, summer camp is just a hair under a month away. What's he gonna do while there? Sit in a tent all day and read his handbook?

 

NOPE! He's signed up for First Year Camper, ( used to be called "Trail to something or another" )Electricity MB, Swimming MB and Rifle MB.

 

My son is a really good swimmer. Not Michael Phelps Great, but really good. He's a pretty good shot with a gun too. Shoots his own .22 quite a bit. Can shoot a .410 shotgun and a .12 ga pretty well too.

 

 

So, here he is , been inboy scouits less that 3 months and is already having to decide on what MB's he will need to take at summer camp.

 

Of course, you have to realize that the camp guide also lists who can take what, what age or time restrictions there are, and pretty much all the ones they ofere can be finished during a week of camp.

 

He also started working on his geocaching MB with the entire troop as that was the theme of our recent camporee.

 

But other than summer camp/ camporee, I'd like to see him ignore MB's until he' had more time in the troop just becomeing a good part of the troop.

 

Still his call though.

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In general, I expect a MBC to be able to tell a Scout what he'll need to do to earn the merit badge.

 

The first discussion, which can be by phone, or can be in person, can help set the ground rules. What does the counselor expect as proof that the Scout has done the requirements? What is his interpretation of some of the details? Which requirements will they do together and which ones should the Scout be expected to do on his own? In short, I wouldn't worry about having the Scout being too unprepared for his first meeting.

 

Sure, it could be nice if the Scout has read the requirements, has a blue card, has a copy of the merit badge book, and has read it. But I don't think those things are necessary for the first meeting.

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Ya show up with one of those merit badge.com work sheets all filled out..........

 

 

I am going to take it from you remove it from your view.....then we are going to talk about the requirements......

 

You either know and understand the material or you don't.

 

After you leave I will make confetti out of that sheet.

 

I am not one of those councilors who will simply take the completed worksheet from Meritbadge.com and view it as fulfilling the requirements of the badge.

 

Scout call me on the phone,not the parent

Make the appointment

Keep the appointment

know the material

Mom, Dad or Buddy need to be present.......

 

Mom and dad need to be silent when I am interacting with scout.... Had one mom at the table who actually was doing the merit badge for scout....I suggested they come back when scout knew the material and was able to speak.....Never saw them again.

 

 

shortridge is right KJ your scout has a long journey ahead of him.......He needs to learn the basics.....Go to Summer camp, earn a few of the easier merit badges and have fun. get to first class......have fun.....camp with his patrol and troop....ya have fun......

 

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What is suggested here are the Right ways to do a meritbadge. The process if you as a parent want to see your boy grow into an independent fine young man, who preps and plan in order to be awsome now during Meritbadges, later at college interviews or job interviews etc.

 

In reality a merit Badge Councilor is going to simply be human, they will all want things done differently and some will push your child to excel while others will pass him for breathing.. There is no way to plan on what a Councilor wants unless he has been a past councelor for a different MB.

 

It's like asking for a checklist of what all college professors want..

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Whoever told you to get a big calendar and start tracking dates, deadlines, and requirements for a brand new scout, is crazy.

 

First, what parent seriously has that kind of time!?

Second, whose experience is this, the parent's or the scout's? Supposing we all agree that it is the scout's, then why would the parent need or want to make the schedule? Or why would the scout adhere to a schedule made up by somebody else?

 

Nope, that's a lesson in frustration (and micro management) just waiting to happen. And of course anybody who has ever had or been a teenager knows how well teens tend to react to being micro managed.

 

Don't worry if your scout gets some of it wrong, forgets things, has to re-do some things, etc. He'll learn from that process. (Now there are some limits. For example, my son is working on a merit badge where the MBC lives an hour's drive away. I wouldn't be too thrilled about the uses of my time, or my gas money, if my son were to have me drive him all the way there only to leave 5 minutes later because he wasn't prepared. He might find me significantly less willing to drive him without some evidence of preparation, the next time. But he'd learn from that, too. A scout is thrifty and that includes with other people's time, money, and patience.)

 

 

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Lots of good ideas on this thread. Main thing with newly bridged scouts is having fun and getting to know the guys. Second is scout skills. Anything outside of that is far down the list.

 

As a MBC, I encourage my scouts to be organized. About middle school ages they are getting a lot of this also at school. Your son can search BSA binder on youtube and find a good system that works for many scouts. You can coach and mentor him in this.

 

(I have heard many stories of older scouts starting and restarting and restarting merit badges because of disorganizaton.)

 

You can also coach your son on phone manners (my sons need to write down what they are going to say).

 

My new scout is working on reading MB this summer (has to read anyways for school). That will be it except riflery etc at camp in the afternoon after the new scout program.

 

IMHO, some merit badges lend themselves better to a worksheet than others, scout son (and you) should follow the MBC's lead on this one. Pushing worksheets might undermine the main thing.

 

-- AK

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Yeah, Shortridge is right, and the Scouters pushing (requiring?) a bunch of MBs from a brand new Scout are... misguided to say the least.

 

A new Scout should be spending the bulk of his time working on T-2-1 requirements and just in general learning how to be a proficient in the outdoors. Earning MBs can come later. But...

 

If he's working directly with a MBC rather than doing a class or Summer Camp version... hurray for him. So, here's my advice as a MBC to a Scout's parent.

 

1) work with him first to make sure he know how to call someone he doesn't know on the phone and make a clear request. "Hello, my name is Billy Jones, I'm with Troop 123 in Elmville. I would like to work on the Astronomy Merit Badge and my Scoutmaster suggested you as a Counselor. Would you be able to be my Merit Badge Counselor?"

 

If he needs coaching on how to make a phone call and introduce himself that way, then by all means help him there. But once his SM has given him the blue card and MBCs contact into, that's really the first step, and from there the MBC should be doing any adult coordination/coaching, so then...

 

2) step back and let him sink or swim on his own. You can ask him occasionally (occasionally not meaning every night at dinner...) how the Merit Badge is going, but let him be responsible for it. Far more important than any particular skills he learns for the MB will be the skills needed for organization and self-motivation that MBs really teach, when done right. Don't rob him of those skills by being his Personal Assistant. it's a huge temptation for parents, but you have to let him do it or he's missing out on the biggest part of the experience.

 

It's fair to promise a reward if he earns the MB in my book though, so he has an incentive. Make a big deal when he finishes it, and let him know (not just tell him, but make sure he sees it in your actions) that you are proud of him accomplishing something like that on his own.

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