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CalicoPenn

Do We Really Need Eagle Required Merit Badges?

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Sadly, giving out "agendas" in elementary school is happening whether we think it is necessary or not. They are taking away recess in many elementary schools, parents in our district have fought tooth and nail to keep it.

By middle school sports teams practice 7 days a week, yep, 7 days.  Miss practice don't play, robotics teams members are not seen at troop meetings during "build and competition" times.  My son is in 8th grade and I can't help him with math anymore, had to pass that off to the "engineer husband"  We loose kids at troop meetings because they have to much homework...... one of my many personal issues

 

Yep, we see that too. We simply elect not to play their game.

 

Kid misses practice and does not play or gets cut? Big deal. He's not going to in the NFL anyway. Has more time for other things he can control.

 

Kid misses homework assignment or forgets to study for a test? Oh well, he gets a lousy grade and learns a lesson.

 

Kid has three things on the same weekend, I let him pick BUT he has to let the other two know in advance that he won't be there.

 

Kids who want to stay in Scouting will stay there. I don't care if my son makes Eagle or not. Won't kill him if he doesn't. The important things are 1) is he having fun? 2) is he learning anything? 3) is he experiencing personal growth? 4) is he developing fond memories and enjoying his youth.

 

We have to help kids prioritize and not let schools, over zealous coaches or irrational parental expectations (e.g., Bobby is going to play pro football) dictate how our kids live their lives. 

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My parents only allowed me to choose 1 activity at a time. I had school, school sports team, plus one other. I chose scouts.

My neighbors are always complaining about all the driving, and scheduling for their kids, but they allow them to do everything. In the buffet of life, one cannot choose "all of the above". My neighbors by not teaching their kids to prioritize and choose are doing them a disservice.

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My parents let me take as many extracurricular activities I wanted to.  Then the left me alone to figure it out on my own what was too much or not.

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We have a kid who we haven't seen since fall, the told us he plays baseball and practices on Monday nights.  His parents think he is the next Derek Jeter, whatever.

We have several scouts who are on the robotics team, build and competition season lasts a couple month, we don't see them, we know ahead of time.

Captain of the swim team, check.  Co captain of the soccer team, yep.  We don't see them during their "season"

Star of the school play, things get tight for them only at the end of rehearsals and during the shows.

Science Olympiad, Odyssey of the Mind, Debate Team, Confirmation classes, I could go on and on

 

Often times these things take priority over scouts for the families and I'll admit we have well rounded scouts.

Are we going to tell them they can't come back?  I'm not, as long as they are living the scout oath and law and let us know what is going on.

It is not my decision what other people do. 

 

I grew up choosing an activity and I stayed with that activity until the year was done, no deciding I didn't like it half way through and move onto something else.  I made a commitment, I kept it. Of course way back then there weren't so many options, it's one of the reasons the numbers of scouts are falling.  We have so much competition and if we tell someone that they need to choose between scouts and the lacross team, we could loose that scout.

 

As for my kid, he does scouts and not much else.  Some people criticize us for not involving him in more, whatever.  This is works for my family so I won't criticize what works for others.  Do I think it is going to be a problem for people down the road when they realize they can't do everything, oh yes, bit I can't change them any more than they can change me.

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Should we take this to mean that the parents are pressuring you to make sure the boys do these Eagle Scout-required badges at camp instead of hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and camping under the stars?  Should we take this to mean that the parents are pressuring/coercing the unit leaders into doing merit badges as a unit instead of leaving it to the boys to handle it?

 

I know what I would be doing - finding a unit that could use my skills and leadership to do it the right way.  I would not be taking a week out of my life to go to summer camp to babysit a bunch of teenagers to make sure they earn those Eagle Scout merit badges.  I would not be arranging for anyone to come in and do the merit badges as a Troop.   I would not be doing anything with merit badges other than providing a Scout with a list of counselors and a blue card. 

 

It's the middle of April - if it were me, I would be having a meeting with the committee, advocating for the boys that would live to spend summer camp doing just what you told us they would love to do, insisting that the boys be allowed to do this or telling them to find someone else to accompany them to camp.

 

 

I, personally, never recommend a Scout take one of the classroom Eagle required (ER) MBs. If they ask me what I suggest, I will suggest the outdoorsy ER badges, the unique badges for that camp (we go to different out of council camps each summer), and fun  badges (aka outdoors, especially aquatics, badges).  That said, Scouts often want to take the ERs, to get them over with. 

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Yep, we see that too. We simply elect not to play their game.

 

Kid misses practice and does not play or gets cut? Big deal. He's not going to in the NFL anyway. Has more time for other things he can control.

 

Kid misses homework assignment or forgets to study for a test? Oh well, he gets a lousy grade and learns a lesson.

 

Kid has three things on the same weekend, I let him pick BUT he has to let the other two know in advance that he won't be there.

 

Kids who want to stay in Scouting will stay there. I don't care if my son makes Eagle or not. Won't kill him if he doesn't. The important things are 1) is he having fun? 2) is he learning anything? 3) is he experiencing personal growth? 4) is he developing fond memories and enjoying his youth.

 

We have to help kids prioritize and not let schools, over zealous coaches or irrational parental expectations (e.g., Bobby is going to play pro football) dictate how our kids live their lives. 

 

I agree with you on the reasoning for my sons being in Scouts (oldest is an Eagle).  That said, my wife feels otherwise.  She thinks the 4 you do, as well as getting Eagle. 

 

I also agree with you on the prioritizing thing. The boys need to choose their priorities (in extracurriculars, academics is always first), not me.  They have to choose between the lacrosse practice and possibly not playing in the game, or the OA campout or working on their buddy's Eagle project. 

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I only recommend he fun MB's as well.  If the Scout wants Eagle he'll have to bite the bullet and go after it based on his decision, not my recommendation.  I'll support him in his choices, but I give him the heads up it's not going to be "fun".

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Excellent discussion, appreciate the insights.

 

Calico, I concur with your proposal.   It's a darn good one.  Most of those Eagle required MBs are square fillers anyway--"homework" MBs.   Keep a couple required (like Camping and Personal Fitness) that are outdoor/fitness oriented, and let the scout decide the rest.  

 

I think we'd be pleasantly surprised at how much more creative and motivated the scouts would be if Calico's proposal was enacted.

 

The scouts' lives are way too structured these days.   Let them think for themselves.

 

Other random thoughts and responses:

 

- I join the others that say "combine the Citizenships into one" or something similar.   For far too long, those MBs have been an unholy trio of tedium.   It's been almost 40 years since I earned them as a scout, and they still top my list of the least favorite MBs I earned of thirtysomething.    The kicker:   I loved civics, US history, and international relations, even as a student.   Still do.   But The Three Citizenships?   Forced marches.

 

- I've always considered MBs to be primarily a test of individual initiative on the part of the scout.   Some are best earned at scout camp, in a class, yes.   But most of the others?   The scout himself should initiate the process with the SM and counselor to earn the badge.   From start to finish, it should be the scout does the work, follows up, finishes the badge.   There are many kinds of Eagles, but the best ones have plenty of "gumption."   Show some hustle, as our old coaches would say.   MB fairs have always struck me as robbing the scout of the best lessons he could learn:  perseverance, follow through, stick to it.    Often these are just as important to learn as the MB subject matter itself.

Edited by desertrat77

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