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DrBeado

Merit Badge Universities

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Merit Badge Universities (MBUs) seem to be all the craze in our area (about 3 a year within easy driving distance). I have always been uncomfortable with them for a variety of reasons, but I just got my "Merit Badge Counselor letter" and wonder how MBUs can be reconciled with the directions counselors are given in the letter. It states "...you can coach more than one at a time, but only one Scout at a time can satisfy you that he can meet the requirements." A bit earlier it also says "When one Scout in a group answers a question it can't possibly be prove that all the others in the group also know the answer."

 

What are others' opinions of MBU's and how do you deal with this issue of group testing? If you know of MBU's that have resolved this problem I would like to hear how they did it?

 

Thanks.

 

DrBeado

 

PS: I also think that MBU's take away the requirement for self-initiative that I think is an important role of approaching a counselor you do not know. Finally, I wonder how well Scouts actually retain anything they learn at MBU's when they get it all in a single 8-hour stretch instead of stretched out over weeks or months in a different situation (even at summer camp, it is a couple of hours a day over several days).

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I have never been a big fan of MBU's. There are a lot of badges that can be taught & completed at on of these but for the most part MBU's seem to be a quick way for Scouts to "get" not earn merit badges.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I don't like the idea of MBUs. I've been to "cram" sessions for subjects like network training and the information doesn't stick.

 

I really don't care for the cursory way that most merit badges are taught at summer camp.

 

Alas, this is a symptom of our society's demand for advancement and benchmarks.

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I would have no problems with Merit badge Universities if they only taught the information. Where I have have a problem is in the quality of the testing. I like the idea of the scouts seeing others working toward MBs and in our council it is held on a university campus which I think is a great opportunity for motivating scouts to continue their educational pursuits. I have seen several different MBUs. I only wish I could say that I've seen any of them done properly.

 

Bob

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How do y'all feel about a MB workshop, 6 or 8 hours with a dozen or so boys (our troop), focussed on one MB? I'm planning one on Environmental Science. The essay on an endangered species is prerequisite for attendance as we won't have time to research and write one.

 

I've got some cool toys, being an industrial hygienist.

 

Anyone done something similar and have advice?

 

Julia

 

PS: I wasn't convinced on the merit badges at camp either....

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As a parent of a son who enjoys the MBUs, and as a MB counselor myself, I also have my doubts about the quality of this program. Since my son does enjoy going to these, I make sure he fills out the worksheet for these badges that meritbadge.com offers. This way, I know he's done the work.

 

In our area, MBs offered are ones that have very few approved counselors, if any. There is a high rate of partials given on these merit badges. To get a partial with little hope of finishing it, unless it's offered at the next MBU - how fair is that?

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I think lots of partials may be the sign of a good program. Much better than my boy's experience (I was in the audience). The actual presentation was good, and my son had a good time. But a couple minute explanation of Ohm's law to 11 and 12 year olds is NOT "learn Ohm's law and how to apply it" (or something to that effect). Also, everybody who tried to build their circuit got credit for building it, whether or not they actually completed it. I think every scout there got the completed badge, whether or not they really understood anything. The temptation is strong to let things slide, because so many boys who do not complete the requirements will be disappointed and maybe never come back to that topic. It's the equivalent of grade inflation

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I must have stuck my head in the sand,up till now I have never heard of a Merit Badge University.

However, I was the Scoutmaster of one of the troops that went to the 2001 National Jamboree. Talk about a Merit Badge Factory. We had boys coming back from the Merit Badge Midway,having passed all sorts of merit badges in a two hour session. One boy completed the Dentisry merit badge in half an hour.

Of course the boys talked to each other and passed the word as to which merit badges were the easy ones,and sure enough these "Classes" were the ones that were filled every day.

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Seems to me some merit badges lend themselves to MBUs and others don't. Citizenship MBs can't be earned in one day, for example, but there are many MB that can be. I don't think their is a huge difference between a well-run MBU and summer camp.

 

Our Council advancement committee recently outlawed MBUs, for all practical purpose. I frankly think that's a bit heavy-handed. A well-run MBU can be a very positive Scout experience, bringing in experts and resources that aren't available on a one-on-one basis. Not to mention the chance to interact with Scouts from other units.

 

These kids learn and are tested in classroom settings everyday. There's no reason merit badges should be different.

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Where the testing falls apart in MBUs and also in many summer camps is in group testing. Merit badges must include individual testing for each applicants on every requirement. All too often if a requirement says "tell" one applicant tells and everyone else nods their head and all othem get credit for the requirement. Or the requirement says to "show" and one or two applicants demonstrate and everyone gets credit. Plus A big part of the Merit Badge program is the growth in socail and communication skills gathered by the scout as he learns to contact and deal with the various counselors. All that is cut out in the MBU.

 

Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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"These kids learn and are tested in classroom settings everyday. There's no reason merit badges should be different. "

 

If testing actually occurred, that would be one thing.

 

My son "earned" the fishing merit badge at camp in one day. He started the class on day two but since he had already caught a handful of fish the day before, they signed him off. He didn't learn squat about fishing but he has his merit badge.

 

I see the same thing with some of the local counselors. They say, "I'll run a group of guys through that in one day." "Run them through it"? That doesn't sound too thorough.

 

There needs to be some standard of testing and the counselors need to be hard nosed and say, "you didn't complete it so you take home a partial."

 

 

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Well well well....

 

I have only been perusing this site for a few weeks, but it seems that every thread I read I find Bob White and yaworski arguing the opposite sides of the issue. It looks like you two CAN agree some some issues after all. Maybe its the start of something new.....

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I think this problem may even be worse at the Cub Scout level due to the boys age and parents and leaders "making" it too easy. I posted this in another thread last week, so I'll make a long story short. We went on a council sponsered overnighter a week or so ago and at the end, they gave us a sheet that said what all requirements the boys met during the various activities. It was basically the same thing listed here, if they "participated", they got credit. They got credit for the throwing life saving technique for Aquanaut by tossing bean bags thru holes in a board. Nothing about water safty was ever discussed. It was October, so the pool was closed. That is just one example of many I questioned, but most parents and leaders bought off on it. I will say that the BB and Archery range were more worthwile and the boys did learn something there. These methods are counter-productive to what Scouting is about. Right now I am grinning and bearing it, but thinking about volunteering as a Den Leader since my son's Webelo Den is so large.

 

BTW, Yaworski and Bob White like to keep us on our toes by agreeing once in awhile. Makes you do a double take! :)

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Go for it! Being a Webelos Den Leader is really great! It is different than Tiger/Wolf/Bear because it's much more outdoor oriented. Hiking, joint den/troop activities, cabin camping, tent camping, camporees, Webelos summer camp - stay outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

 

If you're weak in outdoor skills (like me) check with your council and the neighboring ones (they almost all have wesites) and find out when they're offering Webelos Outdoor Leader Training. An added bonus (and back on-thread) only the WDL can sign-off, no parents!

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We would do well to remember that Cub Scouting is home and neighborhood based,and the criterion for cub scouts is "Do Your Best"

In our council, we ask that all boys travel in pairs,even when meeting with a Merit Badge Counselor.

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