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Who would go for an Ettiquette Merit badge?

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Seems that the word "ettiquette" has been used alot lately. Especially between me and acco40. And all of it has been in remarks about scout leaders!


A parent who was present at a family dinner the scout had noted the manners the boys dispayed (or should I say the lack of manners). He asked if there was a merit badge that would teach his boy manners and I said no but it sounded like a great idea to me!


What do you think of the idea?

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Has it gotten so bad that we now need an Ettiquette Merit Badge?


I was saddened to see a few years ago that the BSA now feels that we need to have a Family Life Merit Badge and an Eagle required badge at that.


I was under the impression that these things were taught in every home and were a natural part of growing up in America.


I guess I was wrong.

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"Leading by example" might work when they see you opening a door for someone but what about table manners.


Do you think that by sharing a few meals at the monthly campout with someone that has excellent table manners is going to be example enough to teach them to chew with their mouths closed, to cut their food into bite sized pieces and how to properly use eating utinsels? With so many troop that have the adults cook and eat seperate from the scouts, I seriously doubt that bad table manners are even noticed on campouts. Do you even sit at the same table as the boys do?


And, Mike, From you comment, I am sure you teach manners and ettiquette in your home, as have I, but don't be so sure these things are being taught in all homes. How many adults do you see using bad manners?


Let me give you an example. About 8 years ago, I started working for a small company in my home town. The owner was a man of abouot 45. He would adjusting himself in front of everyone (including the ladies)! One day he even went so far as to reach into his pants to do it! He would even stand and dig at his backside in front of everyone. In meetings, no matter who was present, he would lean over to pass gas. He would cough, hack, spit, belch, blow his nose anytime anywhere, and with out the customary "Excuse me." His table manners were no better. One day while at lunch, he was beong so obnoxious that the people at the next table moved across the resteraunt. We told him we couldn't go to dinner with him because we were embarrassed by the whole thing. He just said Okay and we quite doing lunch!


So, If his parents were not teaching him manners 40 years ago, what would make you think that it is being taught 10 years agou or even today. He is not teaching his kids, and do you think his kid will be teaching theres?


By the way, his parent had excellent manners, even at home with each other.


One more example. My girlfriends son, 9 when I met him, held his fork like a shovel and did not even know how to use a knife, let alone properly. He was trying to cut his food holding it lilke a dagger! When I showed him how to do it properly, he was amazed at how easy it was to cut his food and that he learned so fast. his mother's comment, "My mother didn't teach me that."


She is 40. Ettiqutte again not being taught 35 years ago.


How many of us know which fork is which when there are 3 or 4 of them, or which glass is the water glass and which one the wine, where your napkin shoud go, when eating, leaving the table for a short time, or being finished? How many times have you been to a party and noticed or even commented about the ill-mannered oaf at the buffet, and you are judging them by you own manners, not Emily Posts? Would you want this to be your son? One of your scouts?


I may not remember all that I am asking, if I don't, I have a clue, but my parents felt it was important to teach me, and I feel that it is important to teach children.


It is better for them to have some clue as to how to conduct themselves than to be oblivious.


Don't get the impression that I think that an Ettiquette merit badge would solve the manners problem, it won't, but it will let them see what is correct and proper and at an age where they are going to soon want to be impressing people - the boss, the young ladies, and it might just help. It would be a shame for a boy to loose the job opportunity or the woman of his dreams because he ate like a pig at dinner.


Sorry about the soapbox, I guess I feel stronger about the subject than I first thought.(This message has been edited by scoutmaster424)

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Many of you may also be surprised to find out some teenagers don't know how to order food for themselves, even in a fast food place! Many people don't know how to send back food that was prepared incorrectly. About 20 years ago I was in a conversation with some college professors. The college offered a class for freshman that included going out to dinner to a place that you had to sit down and order. They said many 18 year olds had never even been in such a restaurant.


Many children have no siblings and perhaps one parent. I know that I am guilty of letting manners slide since it's only myself and son at dinner. Not to mention the number of families who eat in front of the TV or at different times.


Someone told me that if you ask at chef's/cooking schools, they will set up a practice dinner. It is practice for their students and for you Scouts. Some restaurants do this a few days before opening, letting people eat for free.


There are also the manners about body noises, scratching, opening doors, introducing yourself to someone, polite conversation, etc. I see that phone manners are covered in the Communications badge -- that is good.


I agree with SM424 that a lot isn't going to be corrected at campouts when the adults are not near the boys. Are their ways to work these things into other scout skills and merit badges?



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I don't see any need to add another "soft" badge like Family Life. On the other hand, there are opportunities where we as adult leaders have an opportunity and a responsibility to set a positive example.


Dinning hall meals at camp, for example, are a great opportunity for scouts to act like animals and for adults to correct their behavior. I don't believe that any kids can get away with the bad manners at home that they exhibit at camp, so why let them at camp.


Other opportunities for setting a positive example are when the troop is traveling or meeting the public at some event. For example, when we're traveling some distance to a campout we often stop at a McDonalds type restaurant. Now this is a good opportunity for the SM to lay down the rules of behavior (politeness, clean up your table, no throwing food or anything, restroom behavior, etc,) and enforce them.


Scout trips are often a boy's first time away from parents in this type of setting, so it's a learning experience for some of them to understand that good behavior needs to happen even when mom and dad are not present.

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I agree with scoutmaster424. I believe the merit badge would fill a void in many areas:


Table manners - behavior at the table, in a restaurant, explanation of table layouts, etc.


Religious customs


Flag etiquette


Public behavior - such as covering one's mouth when coughing, offering a seat to others (elderly, very young, a "lady"), etc.


Date etiquette - holding open doors, pulling out a chair for a lady to sit, paying for meals (depending on the circumstance), etc.


An understanding of how etiquette is different in different nations


Even, being a good Samaritan and the associated risks. For example, stopping to help fix a flat tire. If you know the individual, I think this would fall into the category of good etiquette and behavior expected of one's neighbor. If you don't know the individual, while it is very courteous, one is assuming some risk (especially in today's world).


There is a very large list of customs and expected behaviors that our boys should know. Personally, I think it's an excellent idea. While I agree the adults should set the example, it seems to me that the territory is pretty large...too large for all the said areas to be communicated by example. Furthermore, when something is taught by example, a proper explanation of the behavior is not always apparent.


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It has been my observation that many parents, and even other adult leaders in our troop, are sadly lacking in their knowledge of etiquette and the social graces. Our former Scoutmaster had a habit of regular belching during campouts. He had no trouble controlling himself during meetings and such, but apparently thought it was OK to belch loudly during campouts. His attitude was that manners, niceties, and even cleanliness were superfluous on campouts.


Etiquette demonstrates respect for others.


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I'll get to start teaching manners and basic life skills in about a month at our house. Our first child is due in early September. My wife is hoping that our baby is born with the "promptness" skill pre-learned. I won't hold my breath on that one, I happen to know my genetic code makes that a long shot at best.


There will always be oafs and louts out there and yes I've worked around many. I have also seen similar situations in Scouting. So much so that I no longer ask rude Scouts the age old question "Do you do/act like that at home?" I now simply state that "Boy Scouts are gentlemen and we DO NOT act that way. We act THIS way." I had hoped that the trend wasn't so widespread.


One of my biggest challenges every year is to get our patrols to eat as a patrol at one time instead of each guy grabbing his portion as it is prepared and running off to do his own thing. A patrol is a paradigm of a working family. The patrol method might not include the emotion of love but it does contain all of the functional aspects of a strong family when working as intended.


I do not object to a merit badge covering the subject I simply find it depressing to think that as a nation we have gotten so poor at educating our children in the BASICS of human interaction in our own families and society that we now feel the need to abdicate that responsability to schools and civic institutions. (Scouts in our case)


Shame used to be an acceptable way to reinforce ettiqette. Now allegedly shame is a bad thing because it "damages" self esteem and we are breeding it out of the species. My parents are teachers and both have been told that they will be reprimanded if they ever tell a child (even as an aside) that the child is displaying poor ettiquette because they will be shaming the child.


I felt and still feel that way about Family Life merit badge. Apparently the BSA doesn't think that all boys know what a family is and how a family is supposed to interact. Before anyone decides to call me to task on "Who are you to say what is and isn't a family" I'll tell you what a family is. It's a group of people who mutually love, respect and support one another and work for the betterment of each other and themselves. Feel free to add to that as you wish but that is the mimimum requirement. Unfortunately the BSA seems to be right on regarding Family Life judging by some of the egregious examples I've seen in the last few years. (a parent stealing summer camp fees from their kids so they can go party to name one example)


No, am not against either badge. I will/do support both of them, I just wish they weren't needed. Kids have to learn these things somewhere, why not in Scouts? We seem to be one of the few bastions of society left that has standards of decency and as society drops these skills by the wayside it seems appropriate to pick them up.

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Thanks Rooster7!


sm101 - I am not talking about boys being boys nor am I talking about the boys who have been meticulously taught at home wanting to let things slide when away form mom or dad. I guess I am really talking about the fact that there seems to be a complete lack of teaching or learning of ettiquette in todays society.


In all my examples, I only once talked about a kid and that was in the context of his parent(s) not teaching the proper way because they themselves did not know the proper way.


It is the adults who don't know or don't care about good manners that I suppose are really the problem here. And the kids are going to suffer later for it.


And how many scouts are going to pay much attention to a scout leader when mom and dad don't care if they eat like pigs. Why should they.


Do you use the dining hall as an oportunity to teach manners? Teaching and correcting are two different things in my book. You have to get the boy to by into an idea by explaining the subject, not just correcting him by saying, "Johnny, eat with you mouth shut!"


I love Sctmom's Idea of getting something set up to teach the boys proper table manners. I am going to be looking into that for my troop. And Rooster7 is right, there is too much for even us as adults to comprehend, but my parents instilled the importance of proper manner into me so profoundly that if I know I will be in a situation where I do not know what the proper ettiquette is, I go to the library, find Emily Post and look it up.


More examples, what is the proper ettiquette for meeting and speaking with the President of the United States (or even writing him a letter)? I am not sure, but I know where to find it, and believe me, I will know before I am in the situation and so will my son or my scouts!


How many of you know that when you are at a formal dinner and you get up to leave a dinner table (to do something you shouldn't do at the table) that you should put your napkin on the seat of the chair and that when you are finished with dinner , you should fold you napkin and lay it next to your plate? I didn't untiil about a week ago, when I read it! Are the boys going to get that through example without the explanation? Are they even going to notice? (No wonder the waiters wanted to take my plate before I was finished, I was unknowingly signalling them that I was!)


I am not trying to show off my ettiquette prose here, believe me , I am as rough around the edges as I can be. These are things I didn't learn about until I was an adult.


I think I am getting the point across, but I do realize that there are going to be some of you out there who won't get it or see the importance of it.

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Somewhat related to this topic --- I just read an article about a city that has some new rules about parents at youth sports events. When the parents sign the kid up to play ball, the parents MUST attend a 40-minute class about proper conduct at the ball field before the child can play ball.


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I understand where you are coming form.


Families apparently don't interact much anymore. Parents today seem to be looking for the babysitter (TV, Video, etc) and not taking the time to teach them proper behavior. I see this in my small troop. I fight the BSA(Babysitters of America) thing constantly. I asked a parent about what merit badges his son was going to work on and his response was that he didn't know and didn't care, he was getting a weeks vacation out of it. What a great parent.


Anyway, I am glad to see that most of the posters here agree the need for teaching the boys ettiquette be it in the form of a new merit badge or adding things to other merit badges or even in other area.


sctmom - adult behavior at kids sporting events is getting dplorable. I am glad to know that some one is taking it back to the parents!


By the way, I was at a tournement game in Cincinnati a couple years ago. I though it was something that the Little League Baseball Asst. Commissioner over the region was at this game (he really wasn't, his son was playing on the next field). One teams parents were exhibiting such bad behavior that he stopped the game, went to the pitchers mound and admonished them all in front of everyone ending with the threat to stop the game a second time and have everyone from that team removed except for the players and coaches. And boy was he mad! Thing went as they should after that. I am sure things are different for them now.(This message has been edited by scoutmaster424)

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I agree that modern society had degraded the practice of good manners and ettiquettte. However, I'm not so sure it falls under the auspices of a merit badge instead of areas in the Scout Law.


For example,


A scout is courteous. Would cover opening doors for others, not talking with your mouth full of food, saying "excuse me", etc.


A scout is clean. Would cover being presentable at a social function - maybe even using those fingerbowls.




I'm not saying that a merit badge couldn't work, but i'm not sure it essentially isn't in the Scout Law already.


As for which fork to use for what, i would think you could cover that in the cooking merit badge.


Differences in culture could be covered in the cit in world class.




Is society so far down the line that the definition of courteous has to be a merit badge for scouting?






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I don't disagree that some points of ettiquette fall under the realm of other areas in scouting lilke the scout law.


How many of us have meetings where we explain all this stuff about being courteous or about any other point of the scout law? I don't find anywhere like in the program resources where is suggests that you do? I have never thought of it before.


But there are so many things that are not covered elsewhere.


And which fork to use is not a cooking issue that only cooks should know, it is an eating issue and we all eat!


So I guess a merit badge like this should be required for eagle to be sure all the boys get it.

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