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Twocubdad

Attracting Older MBCs to Camp

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Pack -- we've eliminated them in our troop. I take the camp schedule and white-out Communications' date=' the citizenships, Personal Fitness, etc. before we distribute to the Scouts. The only blow-back I get is from parents. The Scouts generally appreciate it. I mean really, who wants to take Communications at summer camp.[/quote']

 

Did something similar with my son. Had 3 categories of classes: YES, Look Into It, and HECK NO! With the exception of those that had age requirements by the camp, all the HECK NO classes were paperwork ones.

 

Gotta remember that for this year with the troop.

 

One other question as an aside. Do you recommend to you scouts you only take X number of MBs at camp so that they have time to have fun and do other things like free shooting, swimming, etc?

 

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... One other question as an aside. Do you recommend to you scouts you only take X number of MBs at camp so that they have time to have fun and do other things like free shooting' date=' swimming, etc? ...[/quote']

 

I recommend 3 at a time. If they knock one off early and are on track with the other two, then they may go ask the SM for another blue card and ask the counselor if it's okay to start mid-week. (Some counselors actually prefer to take boys in two waves.)

 

Actually this is my general rule for any first-class scout at any time throughout the year. Each boy knows that when I walk up to them and ask "What's the plan?" he should be able to tell me:

1. how many MBs, service hours, and POR time he needs for his next rank, and

2. which two or three MBs he is currently working on and with whom.

 

I honestly don't make a distinction between pencil-whipped MBs for home and outdoor-activity-oriented MBs for camp. If the boy's only working on three at a time, it still gives him opportunity to hike and camp (be it that week during summer or those half-dozen weekends at home).

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What would it take for you to be on camp staff for a few weeks of the summer? Better food? Accommodations? Pay? For the sake of argument' date=' let's put aside the obvious problem of vacation time aside.[/quote']

 

As a former camp staffer myself, I think there are two major factors at play here (one from the potential MBC's end and one from the camp management's end):

 

Firstly, I think the biggest barrier stopping more "older" adults from being MBC's at camp is merely the time commitment for the gig. The average person over the age of, say, 21 or 22 who lives in the "real world" and has a "real job" (and has bills to pay and a family and a house..), simply does not have the ability to take 5 to 10 weeks (depending on the length of the camp's season) to go be a on a summer camp staff. I don't know many people that get 10 weeks of vacation time or can simply take a 10 week leave-of-absence from their job. Not to mention having to practically abandon your family (your wife, kids, pets, house, etc.) for 2 months to go work at camp. Even the school teachers that I know who do get their summers "off", simply can't pack-up and leave for a 2-month summer job in the woods (they have families, summertime obligations to their jobs, a mortgage to pay, etc.) The main source for adult staffers is college students, school teachers, and retirees (and only if they're able to afford to work for the wages Scout camps offer, and often times only if they're single or they're able to bring the whole family).

 

Secondly, merit badge counseling is only one part of the job of a camp staff member. So, sure, a 45-year-old high school science teacher may make a better Environmental Science councilor than an 19 year-old college student. But that 19-year-old will be 1,000 times better at all of the other duties and expectations put on a typical staffer. The average camp staff member probably only spends 3-5 hours a day actually teaching merit badges; and another 10-12 hours doing other stuff (remember there's a lot more to camp than just merit badge classes). I found the "older" staff, while great at teaching merit badges, often lack at the ability to do all that "other stuff" as well as a good 15-25 year-old Scout can (especially when it comes to connecting with the Scouts on a peer-to-peer level, or doing hours of physical labor, or being enthusiastic, entertaining and relevant to a bunch of 14-year-olds). Overall, I (and the boys) would much rather have a camp full of spirited and enthusiastic young guys that give "good" MB instruction than one dominated by 40-year-old experts that give "great" instruction and keep detailed paperwork.

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Lack of detail on paperwork is not THE problem. It is a problem but not the one discussed here. Perhaps the MB program you describe exists somewhere. I haven't seen it outside the programs in which the boys are DOING something...like canoeing, swimming, etc.

If those teenaged peers (just sit here long enough and I'll sign the forms, wink, wink) on camp staff actually did a 'good' job at MB counseling, I would be 'good' with it. ''Good' would be a 'great' improvement over what I've seen. But having looked closely at the way those MBs are 'passed' over the years, and considering the sloth I observe in the 'students' on their way to 'passing', my advice would be to make the 'students' as 'spirited and enthusiastic' as your theoretical "15-25 year-old Scout" counselor. And that's not going to happen working on Citizenship - for the student or, from my view, the counselor for that matter.

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While there may be a lot of "old fogeys' who could not keep up with the "yutes," I know quite a few who can and do. One of the most feared, as well as most loved, staffers was this crusty old retired Marine who did the First Year Camper program growing up. While I did not have him my first year at camp, I did encounter him for my religious award BOR. Firm but fair. Could chew you out and make you feel 2 inches tall without raising his voice. But when you passed muster with him, made you feel 10 feet tall and proud.

 

He kept us with us "youngins" on staff. In fact I think working staff kept him young. And he made inpact in my council. When he died, we had folks flying in from all over to pay their last respects.

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Truck in real food and pay more than 5 cents an hour. Private restroom with locks that work built by someone other than 13-yr-old arrowmen who don't know what a square or level are or how to use them.

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Don't overlook the expertise that a youth staffer can gain from working with a pro. A youth MBC can pass on better instruction the rest of the summer if he gets to work one week with an expert.

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Don't overlook the expertise that a youth staffer can gain from working with a pro. A youth MBC can pass on better instruction the rest of the summer if he gets to work one week with an expert.

 

 

At the most basic level, a youth with tremendous excitement about a topic could very well be an excellent teacher. What he or she cannot be is a Merit Badge Counselor any more than he or she can be a Scoutmaster.

 

If BSA has insufficient interest in enforcing the rules, it should change them or eliminate them. Announcing clear rules and them knowingly allowing them to be systematically ignored by paid Scouters produces disrespect for rules and cynicism about rules - contrary to the mission of Scouting

 

 

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ok this might just be way too simple, but considering our camp has started to not give the 2 free adults and still charging for extra adults. Why not offer reduced fee for number of badges you are willing to teach the week you are there? Our camp has 4 different MB blocks 2 days am/pm and next 2 days am/pm. So if charging $100 to an adult why not off $25 off for each block you take. Me personally I'd take am blocks so I could still have an afternoon nap.

 

Even though our troop works Lent bake sales at fish fry to cover the cost for our adults I'd still do this to help out our troop, and I have a feeling each of the adults that come from my troop would take at least 2 blocks. Though I'm sure we'd want to work it out so that we have a couple free during each block time in case there's a need and also to have someone to play cribbage or chess with or go on a hike with after the short nap.

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And what would be the incentive for me to drag all my MB equipment halfway across the state to get to the council camp for a MB that I can do at home? Unless you are an old foggy at 65+ one probably has to take off from work to be there the full week as well. I don't see enough incentive to make it happen effectively. Sure there will be one or two out there that would cover a MB for one week here and there, but when one has to line up MB counselors for a 6-7 week program, I don't think the headache is worth it.

 

For me, I preferred teaching TF-FC skills over being a MB counselor. All the stuff was already there, I was an ASM and so I could get away from the troop for the teaching sessions anyway. Worked nicely. Didn't need to be registered and didn't need any extra training. It was fun for both the boys and me.

 

Also, I don't think MB's need to be the main focus of summer camp anyway. I would rather have the time spent in open swim/waterfront, open gun/archery range and camp-wide games.

 

If a boy wants to go and sit under a tree and whittle all day long, this is the time and place for it. Been there, done that, it was a good day.

 

With all the scheduling outlined by camp, just when does the boy have time to make his camp gadget?

 

Stosh

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Actually, AARP membership isn't required. I know a lot of 50ish corporate guys who have four-plus weeks of vacation banging around looking for something to do. No, you're not going to get a 30 something guy with a couple young kids to give up another week of vacation to Scouts.

 

I didn't really intend to limit the thread to MBCs either. Nothing in the world wrong with working the T-2-1 program, although in my experience the older Scouts are more capable of running that program than many merit badges -- if they have the proper leadership. Unfortunately, T-2-1 seems to be the dumping ground for new staffers unqualified to do anything else. I know our camp's T-2-1 program would greatly benefit from an old fogey sitting in a chair, drinking coffee and pointing with a hiking stick.

 

 

 

One other question as an aside. Do you recommend to you scouts you only take X number of MBs at camp so that they have time to have fun and do other things like free shooting, swimming, etc?

 

Missed your question the first time, E94. No, don't put limits on the number of MBs a Scout can take. I do try to let him and his parents know how much fun he will be missing and the opportunities to really take in summer camp if he's sitting through six hours of class per day. We have a very active troop program going on in the afternoon and evening, so most our guys know to leave the time open.

 

While we don't have a cap, on the other end I do provide considerable cover for Scouts who only want to take a couple MBs -- or even none (usually reserved for the older guys). I pound on the parents that the idea that it's Scout camp -- he whole idea is to have down time.

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A 50-something guy with 3-4 weeks vacation does not fill out the needed 4-6 weeks of summer camp MB offerings. Okay, then find two 50-something guys and coordinate their schedules. Okay, that's one MB, how many are offered? 35? Okay 70 more guys and a lot of headache later.

 

In order to safely offer a MB for the whole summer, the camp has to have a counselor on-hand for every week. With that being said, it would be nice to have an older MB counselor, but for all practical purposes, just hiring a college student is a lot less hassle and they're going to be there very week.

 

Stosh

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One merit badge taught well at summer camp for just a week by one qualified old fart or for more weeks by many coordinated old farts is one badge more than is taught well now.

 

I am there at camp for a week and mostly just take photos while merit badge classes are going on.

 

I could one teach one or more badges while there and who knows maybe the college kid counselor who can do these things "1000x better than I" :rolleyes: might learn something so as to better teach in the remaining weeks. But Noooooo... "Say Mr. RS, at the Lodge we are offering a YP class for all the adults here at camp. Want to re-certify since you aren't doing anything?"

 

My $0.02 for the college kid to spend on can of Arizona at the camp store.

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The most important quality that I want in a camp staff is their ability to be a strong role model and connect with the Scouts. I like camps where the councilors are more like "big brothers" and "friends" to the Scouts and less like "teachers" and "fathers." Sorry, but no 45-year-old, no matter how knowledgeable in a subject and dedicated to the program, can do that as well as an enthusiastic and spirited 19-year-old.

 

Basically, as a Scoutmaster and a parent, I want to send my Scouts to summer camp where the program is led by SPLs, not by Scoutmasters.

 

Maybe I've just been blessed and have gone to "good" camps that actually do have well-trained, well-managed, well-groomed and well-developed staffs and merit badge programs. The camps I've attended usually are able to do it "right" and provide quality instruction despite most of the instructors only being in high school or college. I'm a teacher and a parent, and I am constantly impressed with the quality, knowledge, expertise, techniques and overall professionalism of the staff I've encountered at camp and really look up to them (despite being more than twice, if not three or four times, their age). I've even learned things from these "kids" on subjects that I thought I was a pro in (and for badges I am a councilor for).

 

I've experienced and seen more way more "great" moments with 16-25 year olds teaching badges (even "hard" ones, like the citizenships, swimming or environmental science) than I've seen with the seasoned pros. Whereas, when it comes to summer camp merit badges, I've probably had more issues with older MBCs who make up their own rules, cut corners, are out of touch with current practices or techniques, can't connect with the kids, try to run a simple MB class like a college-level course, don't differentiate their instruction, don't make it fun, etc.

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I gave myself 24 hours before responding to SMMatthew. I was initially outraged and then partially understanding of his position.

 

The most important quality that I want in a camp staff is their ability to be a strong role model and connect with the Scouts. I like camps where the councilors are more like "big brothers" and "friends" to the Scouts and less like "teachers" and "fathers." Sorry' date=' but no 45-year-old, no matter how knowledgeable in a subject and dedicated to the program, can do that as well as an enthusiastic and spirited 19-year-old.[/quote']

​Adult Association is not a 19 year old who knows everything. (Ask him!) Boys need to be exposed to adult men whom they want to emulate.

 

The camps I've attended usually are able to do it "right" and provide quality instruction despite most of the instructors only being in high school or college. I'm a teacher and a parent' date=' and I am constantly impressed with the quality, knowledge, expertise, techniques and overall professionalism of the staff I've encountered at camp and really look up to them (despite being more than twice, if not three or four times, their age). I've even learned things from these "kids" on subjects that I thought I was a pro in (and for badges I am a councilor for).[/quote']

This attitude is either based in ignorance or good fortune. I'll assume a little of both.

 

I've experienced and seen more way more "great" moments with 16-25 year olds teaching badges than I've seen with the seasoned pros.

And you've obviously never been exposed to an old geezer who could swing an axe, roll a kayak, identify 30 kinds of moss, name every bird in your area by their song, and make their scouts hunger for more knowledge.

 

Whereas' date=' when it comes to summer camp merit badges, I've probably had more issues with older MBCs who make up their own rules, cut corners, are out of touch with current practices or techniques, can't connect with the kids, try to run a simple MB class like a college-level course, don't differentiate their instruction, don't make it fun, etc.[/quote']

And this is where I start to understand your attitude. It sounds like all the adult scouters you know wear the bedazzled uniforms that we complain about at Roundtable. The overweight South American general types are giving the rest of us a bad reputation.

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