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sctmom

Merit Badge classes

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I just attended my first Merit Badge day/college/roundup for our council. I taught a Citizenship class. Went very well. I had only 14 boys in my class so we had lots of chances for all of the boys to talk and share their thoughts. They all did a great job writing a letter to their congressman. Those who had visited a capital or federal installation had a chance to tell me about what they learned. The others understood they would have to work on that with the troop.

 

I was a bit disappointed in the fact that apparently no one prepares ahead of time for this. None of the boys had a copy of the Merit Badge pamphlet. There is a expectation that you WILL walk away with the badge as long as you aren't thrown out of class. The first aid class had over 60 kids in it! And only 3 or 4 adults. I have a hard time believing that every boy demonstrated everything they said they covered. I think that there should be very strict class limits so that all the boys get the most out of the program.

 

Overall it was good. It was very organized considering there were over 500 boys there and many adults. It was a positive experience to see these young men take part in "adult" conversations. One of the young men in my troop came over and talked to me at lunch, had lots of questions about the troop I'm with, lots of information to share about his troop. Even though it was a beautiful day outside, they even all came back from lunch on time! Of course, they wanted to take a break 15 minutes later, but I couldn't blame them for that.

 

The organizers also made sure to get the names and info on all adults present, in order to contact them later about being Merit Badge counselors.

 

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I have never been a big fan of "merit badge colleges" for a variety of reasons. It seems the most of the Scouts who attend EXPECT to "get" the badges they signed up for just because they were in the classes.

 

I feel a counselor working with a smaller group of Scouts (5-10) can teach more in the same time & get more participation from the Scouts.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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The OA chapter in my district run a Merit Badge Clinic each year, alternating between land and water formats. The classes are spread over six to eight weeks. Classes are held two consecutive Saturdays with two 1 hour sessions each day. Then a two to four week break for scouts to work on the requirements followed by two more consecutive Saturdays. We hold these in March and April but start promoting them in October so the boys intending to go for Personal Fitness, Personal Managment , Family LIfe and the others with long projects can contact the counselor in advance and complete the badge at the clinic. Still I've had angry parents caling me complaining that their son got a partial when he attended all the classes. As for class size we limit it to ten per counselor, we have had four or five counselors for Citizenships and a dozen when we do Lifesaving. Sometimes Clinics work well because the boys get to meet counselors and they know your face before they call you for some other badge later.

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My district has merit badge clinics as well. They're held every Friday night in a college building. There are four or five merit badges offered per month, and it seems to work out pretty well.

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I'm not sure if my thoughts should be in another thread or not, but here goes. I am a merit badge counselor for several merit badges. Recently, I oversaw three separate groups within my troop for Emergency Preparedness, Family Life, and Personal Management. One of my sons was in all three groups. Upon achieving the rank of Life, he was lectured by the advancement coordinator who happened to sit on the BOR, for having too many "group merit badges." This irritated me for several reasons:

 

My son has earned several merit badges that involved "group sessions", but he has earned just as many without group sessions. In other words, he knows how to work with adult counselors as an individual and in smaller groups.

 

With exception to the Emergency Preparedness merit badge, very few of these group sessions were for the purpose of instruction. In other words, most of the requirements were earned/completed outside of the group. For the EP sessions, multiple counselors (six) were utilized to provide instruction on an individual basis. For all other cases, the group sessions were used for discussion and the signing off of requirements.

 

Following the G2SS, at least one other person (aside from the Scout and Counselor) needs to be present for merit badge counseling to occur. It only makes sense to make that person another Scout. For me, it is more practical to set up a schedule and to invite a small group (six to ten Scouts), then try to meet with the same ten Scouts on five different nights (in pairs of two). A counselor should make wise use of his time.

 

I don't believe in group merit badges. That is to say, the group doesn't earn the badge, the individual does. Quite often, when I am done overseeing these merit badge sessions, less than half the boys will earn the badge. Some will come back later to finish up. Others never complete the badge.

 

Finally, and this is the part that bothers me most, there is an inference that the Scout has not truly earned a "group merit badge". That somehow, because it was done in a group setting, the badge has less worth. And even more disparaging, the logical conclusion is, the Scout has not truly earned his rank because of these "group merit badges".

 

For all of the reasons mentioned above, I found the advancement coordinator's remarks to be inappropriate. To some degree, she made my son feel as if his badge was inferior.

 

And of course, the other unmentioned implication is that I was "easier on him" than others. This was never stated, but because of her other remarks and the fact that I was the counselor for these three badges, I felt that it was implied.

 

So, what do you think? Am I being overly sensitive? If there is no reason to suspect the counselor of being 'easy' on his or other kids, should "group merit badges" ever be criticized? What exactly constitutes a "group merit badge"? More than two kids? If requirements are being earned elsewhere (outside of the session), what's wrong with a counselor requesting "all interested boys" to meet on a certain night?

 

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Rooster7,

You over sensetive? NAH!!!!!!!!

 

I feel it makes no difference if a merit badge is earned with a group or as an individual. The important thing is did he learn & earn the badge or just "get" the badge.

 

IMHO, the advencement chairman was out of line. I hope this is your Troop advancement chair.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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