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ScouterPaul

Pros and Cons of teaching Merit Badges During Troop Meetings

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Our SM is wanting to start holding Merit Badge classes during the Troop Meetings. I have my on opinion on this but will withhold until I receive your valuable opinions.

 

Thanks

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Troop meetings are not meant to be merit badge classes. Scoutmaster training, the Advancement Policies and Procedures manual, The scoutmaster handbook, all make it clear that merit badges are individual studies that the individual scout chooses to learn about. choosing to work on MBs, selecting the topic, contacting and meeting with MB counselor are all a part of the growth development that merit badges help to achieve.

 

Although the monthly theme activities and skill instructions can be used to expose scouts to merit badge opportunities it should not be a production line process. Troop meetings should be preparation for an activity that requires the scouts to grow in knowledge and skills. Once past 1st Class scouts should advance because they make the decision to advance, learn to set goals, make plans and work to that goal.

 

It's funny, often times the troops that make MBs their program are the same ones that complain about boys reaching Eagle before they are mature enough or have the character traits of an eagle. The problem is not the boy, the problem is the leaders removed the personal growth from the MB process and focused on advancement rather than character growth.

 

Follow the program...do not make merit badges your troop program.

 

Bob White

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See my messages about my son saying troop meetings are boring -- they are teaching merit badges. The kids are in class all day at school. Let merit badges be individual endeavors, unless it is directly related to the monthly theme and outdoor activity.

 

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I agree with Bob that Troop meeting are really not the place to teach merit badges. However, if an entire patrol or Troop shows an interest in one badge, then a Troop meeting might be the perfect setting.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I could see part of the troop meeting going for a merti badge, but nut the entire meeting.

 

Bt

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The skill instruction portion of the troop meeting can and often will include skills required for various Merit Badges. However, if you're using bona fide program planning and following troop meeting plans, that skill instruction will be "tiered" for new, experienced, and venture-aged Scouts. If you're consistently herding all of them in one room for group MB instruction, it tends to shoot the program in the foot.

 

One notable exception in our case is when we were preparing for a week-long "medium adventure" trip to an island 60 miles off the coast, during which our Scouts were cooking all their own meals, for the entire week. Obviously, we were interested in them having sufficient cooking skills to feed themselves for a week without malnutrition, illness, constipation, etc. Consequently, we took the old Cooking MB academic requirements and covered them at troop meetings prior to the trip. We all ate great, no mishaps, and 11 of the 12 Scouts who went on the trip earned the MB, too.

 

We're doing Fishing theme this month, and the skill instruction was right out of the Troop Program Features. Same types of knowledge as some of the Fishing MB requirements, but not complete coverage.

 

What I don't understand is why a trained SM would knowingly throw the Program Features out the window and decide to teach MBs at troop meetings...

 

KS

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I totally agree with Korea Scouter. The Program Features are great resources. The thing is, my son had been a boy scout for over 2 years in 3 different troops before we ever saw them! And then it was because I gave them to the SM and the SPL.

 

I don't know if the first troop he was in even had a copy, there was no evidence of it in the meetings whatsoever. The meetings were chaotic and apparently little was accomplished save wrestling the new scouts and calling them names; parents were made to feel very unwelcome, so there was not much chance to observe. The second troop may have had a copy but it also had an SPL who thought leader meant drill sargeant, and who thought leadership meant he and the older scout buddies would go visit outside (talk about rock bands and girls) and let the younger scouts sit around with nothing to do during meetings. The single older scout that was kind to the younger boys and would help them learn was ridiculed for it by the other older boys. He also had severe ADHD, as a result was a poor student, and poor kid had a bad case of acne to boot, all of which caught him tons of ridicule; but to me he was by far the most handsome and the best scout in the troop. He was the only one we really missed when we left.

 

The SM said that the younger scouts just needed to learn that older boys would be like that. Boys will be boys, after all.

 

Our current troop has the Program Features and tries to use them. The older scouts are interested in the younger scouts' progress as well as their own. What a difference it makes!

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I think a mixed program of advancement work and MB work at meetings works out OK. For example, a councelor working on a MB can use some meeting time to go over requrements with a small group of scouts to guide them into what they need to be doing on their own.

 

I don't think troops should be MB factories, but I definitely see the job of SM as one who encourages and enables scouts to earn MB's.

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Troopmeetings should definitely encourage merit badges work but it is not the place to enable it. When you have a small mix of scouts separate to work with a merit badge copunselor you break up the patrols. Scouts need to enable their own advancement trail by contacting and meeting MB counselors outside of the troop meeting setting. Troop meetings are for the scouts to learn, plan, and develop patrols. The troop meeting program should expose the scouts to merit badge opportunities and can even teach some merit badge skills but work with the counselor should be done outside of the troop meeting in order to get the greatest amount of growth and development offered by the advancement program.

 

Bob White

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Troop meetings are not the place for any merit badge activities unless they fall into the skills instruction part of the meeting (imo).

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