Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
TAHAWK

Summer Camp Merit Badge Mill Grinds On.

Recommended Posts

No sense singling out the camp or council since it's a wide-spread practice at council summer camps to deliberately violate the rules for many Merit Badges. The councils know what they are doing. I have written acknowledgement from B.S.A. Corporate that this is a known practice and have received no indication of any plan - or will - to correct it.

 

2014 Summer Camp evidenced no change from all but one prior experience since 1981 in council camps in five states. It's a long-standing practice.

 

The practice? All Merit Badges in Scoutcraft and Citizenship areas again given out without individual testing and most "Merit Badge Counselors" were not, in fact, Merit Badge Counselors. "Prerequisites" not enforced. Candidates not required to have, much less read, Merit Badge pamphlets. (I am not sure about the other Merit badge areas.)

 

One egregious example. Fifteen candidates for Wilderness Survival and one moderately informed staffer. That meant 15.5 minutes per candidate for the week. The staffer, despite excellent presentation and interpersonal skills, did not have time to even mention all the topics of the requirements. Eight of the candidates were Scout or Tenderfoot. Six candidates were attending their first BSA camping experience. Nevertheless, the badges were given out. Not even the "three fire" requirement was enforced, so it was worse than last year.

 

What could be done? Refuse to certify camps who show that they are structuring their Merit Badge programs to violate the rules. Demand as a condition of certification that all Merit Badge "counselors" in fact be Merit Badge Counselors and that ratios of candidates to Counselors be limited to those allowing compliance with the rules. Eliminate the Scout Executives who lead these systematic violations of the rules.

 

OR

 

Eliminate the rules and stop pretending. Creating rules and allowing for massive and routine violation creates disrespect for rules in general and for those who persist in such specious and untrustworthy behavior. Change the title of the award to "Potential Eagle Scout."

 

 

 

In further news, Eagle Scout is now being awarded at a rate 700% what it was in the 1960's - and climbing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there a requirement that a scout has a copy and/or have read the MB pamphlet in order to fulfill the requirements and earn the badge? I have not seen one. In the case of The Swimming MB I can't think of one thing in that pamphlet my son did not already know although I am sure there was some obscure detail or two. That said, I would imagine in most circumstances reading the pamphlet is a really good idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely not required. However, here is a course where the students do not even touch the text, are not tested, but all get an "A."

 

"Traditional values"

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Advancement used to be about recognizing acquisition of skills and knowledge. Now advancement is about recognizing exposure to skills and knowledge. Advancement used to be about passing the test. Now advancement is about showing up. Advancement used to be about youth meeting the expectations of leaders. Now advancement is about leaders meeting the expectations of parents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is signing young scouts up for a merit badge that we all know they can not do. If we all refuse to allow first year scouts and maybe second year scouts from signing up for complex badges the classes will be better. A 1st yr scout in environmental science, wilderness survival, rock climbing, cooking, or any eagle badge other than swimming is ridiculous. We should all push the more crafty ones. When the scouts get older they can choose for themselves. If only older scouts are in the more technical badge classes the instructor can cover more material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the real problem is money. Camps make money. 16 year old counselors are cheaper than 18 year old counselors. The programs that require certification (shooting, climbing, water, ...) tend to have the best counselors and the scouts get more out of them. How much are you as parents willing to spend?

 

The 700% figure is an eye opener to me. So back in the good old days nobody cared about Eagle, they just had fun? I'm jealous. We just did a review of summer camp with the scouts and it's evenly split between those that want to have more fun and those that want more merit badges. I'd chuck the lousy one's if I could.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SM Bob, but for the Scoutmasters, the scam would not be possible.

 

The staff knows the candidates are not earning the MBs: "You pretend to give me a job I can do; I pretend to do it."

 

The Council execs know it's wrong, are sworn to do it right, but deliberately break the rules.

 

B.S.A. Corporate knows it's wrong and allows it to happen.

 

The kids know they didn't earn the MBs but almost everyone else tells them "great job," so it must be OK. (Happily, I have had a number come to me after getting the Blue Card signed to work on the MB. THEY should be in charge.)

 

Say it again: "Traditional Values"

 

 

MattR, Eagle was special; something 1% achieved. You had to earn all the badges, including Lifesaving with no alternatives. It wasn't lack of caring that held people back. It was hard to achieve. Now, all the children are expected to be above average (and in OA).

 

The focus at Summer Camp back then was on fun - and a couple of Merit Badges that were hard to earn "down the hill." The thinking was that two MBs in a week was 104 a year. That left time for fun. The notion that Citizenship and the like would even be offered at camp would have been seen as outlandish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It also depends on how much pressure is put on the boys by the adults and the quality of the camp staff. My boys all signed up for MB's at camp. They all got wood carving, but some took partials on First Aid, Wilderness Survival, Archery. It's going to be a hassle getting them completed back home. My PL gave up on his Wilderness Survival MB to bring another homesick boy back to camp so that he would have a buddy for the night. There were only 4 boys and they were all Webelos cross-overs this spring. This was their first summer camp. Two of them also advanced in rank because of their participation in the Trail to First Class sessions as well. No adults from the troop were involved in any of this process except for me (SM) who signed the blue cards to allow them to take the MB. They got more than what I expected for first year newbies. Archery? First Aid? Wilderness Survival? Yep, some of them earned them completely. Wilderness Survival overnight, Archery final score, were some of the only requirements that held them back. They will need to finish them up with local MB counselors.

 

I tested the boys on their Trail to First Class items they had checked off and I was totally satisfied with the training they got. It also reassured me that these camp staffers were probably doing quite well on the MB side of things as well.

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best quality staff cannot comply with the rules when the ratio of staff to candidates is too high and Council dictates that the candidate WILL get the MBs. The staff I saw were well within the range of the acceptable. Some were very strong. None could follow the rules with a few minutes/candidiate/week + the Council dictate that the MBs would be given with no individual testing. ("We are not here to hand out partials.")

 

The PL you mention sounds first rate. Good for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would much prefer having Summer Camps limited to non-Eagle-required Merit Badges. As with most here, I know for a fact the Scouts are not doing all the work required for these Badges during a one-week Summer Camp.

 

Our previous Scoutmaster, whom I admire greatly, once had a Scout come up to him at a campout where I (then just a Scout Parent) happened to be within earshot. The Scout was excitedly telling the Scoutmaster that he had just completed the Orienteering Merit Badge and how much he liked it. The Scoutmaster pulled a map and said, "That's great, Jonny! Orient this map." The kid did not even have any idea where to begin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only ER badges my camp offer are Swimming, Lifesaving, FA and ES (2 hours per day). Seems reasonable although the 1 hour for the others is a bit skimpy IMHO. I would much rather see 2 solid MB earned in a week rather than 3 or 4 (or worse). The camp manual advises no more than 3 my my new SM and ASM encouraged 4 against my recommendation.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Advancement used to be about recognizing acquisition of skills and knowledge. Now advancement is about recognizing exposure to skills and knowledge. Advancement used to be about passing the test. Now advancement is about showing up. Advancement used to be about youth meeting the expectations of leaders. Now advancement is about leaders meeting the expectations of parents.

 

Welcome to the new Boy Scout Common Core standards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. Before camp out SM meets with the boys and discussed which MBs to take. First years all take First Class Adventure and Swimming. The other boys are guided to take badges that are appropriate to their experience. If they are taking the more difficult badges (archery, riflery, wilderness survival or any of the boating MBs) they are encouraged to take a free period to practice those skills. My second year son took archery, woodcarving, kayaking and first aid. First aid was taught by a MD. He got a partial in archery because he couldn'tget the accuracy requirement. We had a couple of scouts get partials in e-prep because they didn't fulfill the prerequisite of making a emergency kid for their family. The camp required SM sign off on prerequisites that couldn't be done at camp. To sign get sign off, each scout had to meet with me and show me the work or explain what they did consistent with the requirements. Any prerequisite that needed parent approval or was done at home required a parent signature on the prerequisite form. All of the classes were taught by council approved MB counselors who were over 18. I frequently saw the boys writing up outlines and reading the MB books during camp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a new camp is in order. We don't go to our council camp because of the program, the one we go to is first rate and we tell our council guys that so they know. Step up your program and we'll be back. Had plenty of partials handed out this year, we don't call those failures, we just tell our guys they have some post-requisites to finish up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×