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New Merit Badge Requirements

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I must have been pulling a Rip Van Winkle, here. It seems that a number of the Eagle required merit badges have been revised, as have the 2nd and 1st Class requirements. While I was aware of the rank requirement changes, and did not agree with many, I was unaware of the new stiffness and elevated level of effort required for some of the merit badges, like swimming. What's up with that? Has National suddenly decided that there are too many Scouts attaining Eagle, and thus the bar should be elevated to make it tougher? (i.e., the racing technique requirements in the swimming merit badge.) I was always under the impression that the purpose of merit badges was simply to provide exposure to many varied experiences for Scouts, and give them a taste of what each was like...not to make them reach an expert level of competency in each. Am I reading this wrong, or has National taken a turn onto a road that will have Scouts climb an Everest-like trail rather than an uphill, but still challenging trail?


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Good point. I was in a troop last year that had two boys who could not swim, even after lessons at summer camp for two years, and many practice sessions at other times. After holding up advancement to 1st Class for two years, the troop committee decided to advance them under the waiver provision. Many Scouts don't learn to swim until they join Scouting, yet are now expected to be good enough to perform the new 1st Class requirements as young as 10 or 11. While I believe these new standards were set to help ensure greater water safety, I disagree with the difficulty level. And non-swimmers still have to follow all other water safety resrtictions found in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

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