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CalicoPenn

Do We Really Need Eagle Required Merit Badges?

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Save money for college now. Mine was 17,5 thirty years ago and is now over 65k. At that rate you'll be paying near 100k/year.

 

Back to Eagle badges, I don't see any problem with the ones required. Using the college analogy, all colleges have required courses so why are required MBs any different? They are built around core scouting values (citizenship, outdoorsmanship, family, first aid/prep, etc.). BSA has made several "either/or" badges (e.g., swimming, hiking, cycling) to provide that personalization others have requested. All other MBs for Eagle are elective. Heck, BSA removed the required badges for the lower ranks years ago, so if anything they more than personalized the journey to Eagle.

 

My biggest beef with BSA is the plethora of stuff to earn. If there was one central location to research (and illustrate for the boys how to earn) all badges, patches, pins and awards out there I'd be happy. As it is we have to rely on hobby Scouters to cobble together a network of this stuff for us to help the boys fine their way.

Edited by Mozartbrau

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We put away so much for my sons college, and planned on him getting loans, jobs and whatever for the rest.. My opinion was he was the one with time to pay back the loans while we had to concentrate on retirement..  But, when I had college loans the interest was very low, in fact although you paid off on time, there was no incentive to pay back early, because you could earn more with it in your bank gaining interest then you would loose with the interest charged by the loan..  I was shocked with the interest rate on college loans these days, higher then house loans or a normal bank loan.. It is definitely not a loan to help kids get an education, it's a racket and they are making a huge profit off these kids...

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In another thread, a Scouter and parent mentions a perspective on merit badges and summer camps that we've all likely become familiar with, and one in which Councils have responded to with gusto and that is that summer camp is seen to be less productive if a Scout hasn't earned some Eagle-required Merit Badges at camp and that got me to thinking.  Is there a reason we need "required" merit badges for Eagle Scout rank?  Wouldn't the Scouts be better served by the program if there wasn't a pressure to earn certain specific merit badges?

 

Consider this Swiftian proposal:  Drop the required merit badges to two - that's right, two - First Aid and Camping - and I only added Camping as a second required merit badge because we are the Boy Scouts of America and American's expect Boy Scouts to be able to camp.  That's part one.  Part two is to take all the rest of the merit badges and lump them into like categories - for example, all the nature merit badges in the category Nature, all the sports merit badges in the category Athletics, all the arts and crafts merit badges in the category Arts and Crafts. 

 

I would propose the categories be:  Athletics, Academics, Outdoor Sports (shooting sports, fishing, climbing), Nature and Environment, Society (your citizenships, etc.), Outdoor and Scouting Skills (hiking, backpacking, etc.) Water Activities, History and Culture, Arts and Crafts, Labor and Trade, Professions and Commerce, Agriculture and Animals (which would take in pets, vet science, horsemanship), Health and Safety, Games and Hobbies, Transportation, Science and Technology and Bugling (cause I just can't figure a place for it in the rest of the list - ok, maybe Scouting Skills)  That is 16 categories.     Once that's done,  the next requirement would be to earn 2 merit badges each from 6 of the categories (Scout's Choice) and 1 each from the other 10 categories.  With the two required, that's 24 merit badges - all but two the Scout's choice - and I think it leads to a more well-rounded Scout. 

 

For those that can't fathom giving Scouts that much freedom to make their own choices, I might allow that we can name the 6 categories that 2 merit badges be earned from - and my suggestions, if we were to go that way, would be Nature and Environment, Outdoor and Scouting Skills, Water Activities, Health and Safety, Society and Science and Technology.

 

So my modest proposal - any thoughts?

 

I like the general idea, but to some degree, most of the MBs would need to be re-written to be more rigorous.  In general, the current Eagle-required MBS are more rigorous than the average MB. 

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Although I defiantly agree with the student learning to do without mom in tow at the college stage of the game.. I personally was not happy with not seeing the grades, luckily my son went to college locally and lived at home, and he was pretty responsible.. But, the only thing we could do was tell him if he failed a grade, he would pay to retake it.. We never would know if he was passing with D's or C's..  I always wondered how many parents spent thousands for students who partied their college away and four years later they found they were out thousands and their child passed little more then maybe gym class..

 

Well, while legally, you can't force a student to show his grades to Mom and Dad, the power of the purse is paramount.  FERPA doesn't cover what goes on in my house.  My boys are early in high school (freshman and sophomore), but when it comes time to go to University, the general rule will be if I dont' see your grades, I don't sign the check.  I can't see how a parent could spend thousands (besides a single semester) and not know how their kid was doing. 

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I think there need to be Eagle-required MB's. I do not think there need to be 13 of them. I think National needs to learn to make tough decisions and cut the list down to 10 or 11. Instead, National is afflicted with what I call Good Idea Syndrome. They implement every Good Idea that comes along. Having Cooking be required is a Good Idea. Same for Family Life, each of the three Citizenships, Communications, and all the rest. All Good Ideas, but add them all together and you have an imbalance between required and elective MBs. Same with the National this award and the National that award. All Good Ideas, but all together it's all too much.

I would combine citizenship into a single MB and leave the rest alone.  

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My opinion as an active CUB Scouter and interested parent of a WEBELOS boy...

required MB's don't seem like such a big deal.... 

now getting into the weeds of them, I might find flaws to pick, but what's the big deal about requiring 13 out of the 21.  Are any seriously that imposible to get, or are they seriously that boring or uninteresting?

I might agree from the surface, 3 different citizenship badges seems silly.... but the rest seem not so far off base.

I might buy reducing the qty of required ones, &/or grouping like you suggest... theres a lot of this in Cubs.... "Do all of these, and three of these...."

But in the end a mix of required + enough electives to make it fun seems like a good way to go to me

 

I still like the old ranking of a solid FC and forget the rest of the fluff because that's all it is.

 

What do you mean by solid FC?  Forgive me if that seems obvious.... I'm a Cubmaster and my socuting experience as a youth was brief and a long time ago....

 

.....

 

Giving the scouts choices may be good, but start at the heart of the issue.  Merit badge counselors have no guidance how to teach.  

 

Revise the program by creating expectations for merit badge counselors

  • Guidelines
    • Hands-on and physical demonstrations.  Avoid power point presentations.  
    • Personal learning experience.  Participatory and interactive.  Avoid class room lectures.  
    • Actively learning instead of passive learning.
    • Requirements completed as part of learning.  Avoid an after-the-fact review or test.
  • Rules
    • No worksheets.  Scouting is not school.

Scouts is about doing things.  Merit badges should be that way too.

 

I find this point interesting.  I have have been involved with the troop on the periphery, mostly to facilitate communication and awareness between or CO's troop and pack.  Recently, I was copied on an email about their looking for merit badge counselors, and they were planning an counselor's orientation.  Sadly, it was an evening that i could not attend.... but i'm interested in helping.  Just really don't know what is required of a counselor.  

Specifically, they were in need of a few specific badge counselors for some unfinished badges from summer camp.  Some of them I have experience with..... but since I don't know what is required, I don't know the level of expertise needed.

 

I've asked and researched, and it all seems a bit vague and open ended.

 

I also have some old hobbies I used to be seriously involved with that I could likely be helpful with...

 

for example... scuba....  I'm certified divemaster and asst instructor, also certified full trimix technical diver, among other things.... but I haven't dove in a number of years so I'm not about to take a boy diving.... would I be able to make a good counselor for that?  I can't tell....???

 

similar situation for aviation MB, as an inactive but licensed private instrument rated pilot???

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My opinion as an active CUB Scouter and interested parent of a WEBELOS boy...

required MB's don't seem like such a big deal.... 

now getting into the weeds of them, I might find flaws to pick, but what's the big deal about requiring 13 out of the 21.  Are any seriously that imposible to get, or are they seriously that boring or uninteresting?

I might agree from the surface, 3 different citizenship badges seems silly.... but the rest seem not so far off base.

I might buy reducing the qty of required ones, &/or grouping like you suggest... theres a lot of this in Cubs.... "Do all of these, and three of these...."

But in the end a mix of required + enough electives to make it fun seems like a good way to go to me

 

 

What do you mean by solid FC?  Forgive me if that seems obvious.... I'm a Cubmaster and my socuting experience as a youth was brief and a long time ago....

 

 

I find this point interesting.  I have have been involved with the troop on the periphery, mostly to facilitate communication and awareness between or CO's troop and pack.  Recently, I was copied on an email about their looking for merit badge counselors, and they were planning an counselor's orientation.  Sadly, it was an evening that i could not attend.... but i'm interested in helping.  Just really don't know what is required of a counselor.  

Specifically, they were in need of a few specific badge counselors for some unfinished badges from summer camp.  Some of them I have experience with..... but since I don't know what is required, I don't know the level of expertise needed.

 

I've asked and researched, and it all seems a bit vague and open ended.

 

I also have some old hobbies I used to be seriously involved with that I could likely be helpful with...

 

for example... scuba....  I'm certified divemaster and asst instructor, also certified full trimix technical diver, among other things.... but I haven't dove in a number of years so I'm not about to take a boy diving.... would I be able to make a good counselor for that?  I can't tell....???

 

similar situation for aviation MB, as an inactive but licensed private instrument rated pilot???

 

I would say you're ok with Scuba. I'm in about the same boat--certified Asst Instructor (although I haven't actively had that certification since 1988), certified nitrox.  I haven't scuba dove in this century (last time probably about 1994).  That said, I've read the MB guidelines for Scuba, and I think you should be Ok.

 

Here are the requirements for the MB:

Scuba Diving merit badge requirements 25px-128px-Padlock-orange.png
  1. Do the following: a.Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while scuba diving, including hypothermia, hyperventilation, squeezes, decompression illness, nitrogen narcosis, motion sickness, fatigue, overexertion, heat reactions, dehydration, injuries by aquatic life, and cuts and scrapes. b.Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person, and explain how to recognize such conditions. Demonstrate the proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.
  2. Before completing requirements 3 through 6, earn the Swimming merit badge.
  3. Discuss the Scuba Diver’s Code with your merit badge counselor, and explain the importance of each guideline to a scuba diver’s safety.
  4. Earn an Open Water Diver Certification from a scuba organization recognized by the Boy Scouts of America scuba policy.
  5. Explain what an ecosystem is, and describe four aquatic ecosystems a diver might experience.
  6. Find out about three career opportunities in the scuba industry. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

 

Edited by perdidochas

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Two thoughts:

 

@ is right on the cost of education at a public university.  My son graduates this spring, and the average across his undergrad education was 16K a year.

 

Many (not all) major public universities require a classic liberal arts education as part of the undergraduate curriculum.  So much English, so much history, so much science, so much fine arts.  I think a well designed curriculum could be placed in the Eagle Required family.

 

As for me, I would place FOUR merit badges as unconditional Eagle required:

Camping

First Aid

Cooking

Personal Fitness

 

Beyond that, I would go for Citizenship group, Arts Group, Conservation Group, Outdoor Activities Group, and Skills/Occupations Group.  Further, by doing that ... twenty one merit badges would all be in the Eagle required category.  Subtracting my first four, that would place four merit badges in each of the groups.  Funny:  Citizenship has 3.  Keep em.

 

Let's keep the bar to Eagle high, folks.

Edited by John-in-KC

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Since I can't quite figure out how to split your quote ,,,

My opinion as an active CUB Scouter and interested parent of a WEBELOS boy...

required MB's don't seem like such a big deal.... 

now getting into the weeds of them, I might find flaws to pick, but what's the big deal about requiring 13 out of the 21.  Are any seriously that imposible to get, or are they seriously that boring or uninteresting?

If a boy waits until 17 to do all three Citizenships, yes it can be a bit dull. If a boy does them at summer camp while his buddies are catching bass or sailing, it can be really dull. If the boys picks the "simplest" minimum effort requirements, it can be dull and meaningless. I honestly don't see how consolidating the three would change that.

The one advantage of separating them: If he takes each from a different local counselor who has a different interest in public affairs and can provide the boy with interesting opportunities in his own home town, it can be a true voyage of discovery.

 

What do you mean by solid FC?  Forgive me if that seems obvious.... I'm a Cubmaster and my socuting experience as a youth was brief and a long time ago....
 

Stosh can speak for himself on that, I often phrase it as "We want all of our youth to be first class scouts (the concept, not the patch)." That's because I'm on the venturing side of things as well, and half my youth can't earn that patch, and a few of my boy scouts aren't all that motivated towards advancement. But, that does not excuse them from being comfortable in their own skin in the wild and responsible citizens in their community.

Advancement beyond that is there for those willing to take the initiative, but if all the boys do is hike and camp (maybe hunt and fish) and coordinate a district-wide service project and help little old ladies across the street and rapel off cliffs and biner their girlfriends and sisters in ... most of us are okay with that.

 

...

I find this point interesting.  I have have been involved with the troop on the periphery, mostly to facilitate communication and awareness between or CO's troop and pack.  Recently, I was copied on an email about their looking for merit badge counselors, and they were planning an counselor's orientation.  Sadly, it was an evening that i could not attend.... but i'm interested in helping.  Just really don't know what is required of a counselor.  

Specifically, they were in need of a few specific badge counselors for some unfinished badges from summer camp.  Some of them I have experience with..... but since I don't know what is required, I don't know the level of expertise needed.

 

I've asked and researched, and it all seems a bit vague and open ended.

Yes, the program is really designed to allow adults with diverse backgrounds to be resources for the boys. My suggestion: catch up with the person who taught the training over a cup of coffee and let him/her know three things you're most interested in helping boys learn about and ask him if there is a demand for those in the troop our your district. Counseling is not always about providing boys the training yourself but arranging for a boy and his buddy (sometimes his patrol and troop) to get the training from contacts who you trust, then reviewing with them what they've learned at the end of the day. For those partials, the arranging (i.e. summer camp) has already been done, the boy just needs to go over with a counselor the things he didn't complete.

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....  Recently, I was copied on an email about their looking for merit badge counselors, and they were planning an counselor's orientation.  Sadly, it was an evening that i could not attend.... but i'm interested in helping.  Just really don't know what is required of a counselor.  

Specifically, they were in need of a few specific badge counselors for some unfinished badges from summer camp.  Some of them I have experience with..... but since I don't know what is required, I don't know the level of expertise needed.

 

Curious as to who sent the email, adults in the troop or scouts?.. Also were they trying to keep all the MB counselors as being adult members / parents from the troop, or looking outside the troop..  The District "should" have a list of available counselors within the district and the scouts calling and working with complete strangers is great training for scouts (YPT being followed, usually by a parent within earshot but not sitting in on the conversation is the norm..)

 

It always depends on the talents of the councilor if the MB is interesting or boring.. Take Citizen & the World - my son took it with a councilor who tried to get a decent group of kids together so that they worked together on working with currency from different countries and did a mock up United Nations.. His friend took it with someone at summer camp who passed out the worksheets you find on the internet, and made it a writing exercise.. Fun .vs. boring..

 

The troop should keep their ear open for counselors outside their troop which others feel do a good job and who do a poor job, and they can take the district list and scratch out the ones who do a poor job, they can recommend those known to do a good job, but leave the unknown one on the list as they might be better travel wise or time slot wise for the scouts, and then the scout can come back and rate them for you.  The troop should not be finding the counselor and setting up the meetings (ie have the MB done during troop meetings) for the scout.. 

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I'm surrounded by college graduates who no apparent skill in any one area.  I am of the old school that believed that when you release an Eagle Scout on society, there should be a core set of skills and values attached.

  • Upvote 2

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I'm surrounded by college graduates who no apparent skill in any one area.  I am of the old school that believed that when you release an Eagle Scout on society, there should be a core set of skills and values attached.

 

One Scoutmaster of mine commented that there are a lot of Eagle Scouts out there who, if dropped in the woods in the middle of nowhere, would die of starvation and exposure. He thought this was a sad state of affairs and that there was no excuse for it.

  • Upvote 1

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One Scoutmaster of mine commented that there are a lot of Eagle Scouts out there who, if dropped in the woods in the middle of nowhere, would die of starvation and exposure. He thought this was a sad state of affairs and that there was no excuse for it.

My oldest son thinks that of some Eagle scouts (including those that he was in scouts with)!

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One Scoutmaster of mine commented that there are a lot of Eagle Scouts out there who, if dropped in the woods in the middle of nowhere, would die of starvation and exposure. He thought this was a sad state of affairs and that there was no excuse for it.

 

Like this one. Broke just about every rule we teach first year Scouts.

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