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Limit Merit Badges At Summer Camp?

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Eagle77,

 

No problem! And I agree, there needs to be more free time at some camps for shooting sports, boating, etc. Heck I remember being talked into doing  one of the handicraft MBs by my Indian Lore MBC in my free time. I enjoyed it.

 

All,

 

One thing I heard about, and visited the camp out of season, was 3 troops that had a campground and ran their own weeklong summer camp. I don;t know all the details, but I do know that for every so many Scouts you brought, you had to bring so many MBCs

 

As for paper pushing MBs, One thing I have forbid my son from doing, and I strongly recommend other Scouts not to do, is take paperpushing MBs.  But I've been told that after X number of years going to camp, that's all that is really available for the older ones to do. I don;t recall b/c after I did HA, I had a job.

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However, I like the idea of merit badges when they're done right. I can't fix National but here's an idea I can control. At summer camp scouts can only take merit badges that are staffed by people that could be a counselor outside of camp. Or, we will only accept blue cards from someone that's a counselor, so the scouts will have to redo other merit badges when they get back home. Likely that means anything with certification is okay -- climbing, shooting, and water front, and possibly crafts like leather work and basketry. 

 

I read this with a bit of amusement as my 16 yo spent the summer teaching and signing off on Basketry and Leatherwork at a local summer camp. Clearly not old enough to be a MBC. Easy enough for anyone to tell if the work for the merit badge was actually completed, sure.

 

The problem our troop has with scouts completing partial merit badges is finding counselors to work with on MBs, especially non-Eagle required MBs. Larger troops in the area handle it by assigning MBs to parents to counsel. We are a smaller troop and don't have those resources, and I'm not a fan of keeping it all in-house either.

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The problem our troop has with scouts completing partial merit badges is finding counselors to work with on MBs, especially non-Eagle required MBs. Larger troops in the area handle it by assigning MBs to parents to counsel. We are a smaller troop and don't have those resources, and I'm not a fan of keeping it all in-house either.

 

Registered MBCs in your area are supposed to support any one who asks.

 

We have a large troop and we do support our guys when they have partials. If other troops' kids come to us we never turn them away.

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I read this with a bit of amusement as my 16 yo spent the summer teaching and signing off on Basketry and Leatherwork at a local summer camp. Clearly not old enough to be a MBC. Easy enough for anyone to tell if the work for the merit badge was actually completed, sure.

 

The problem our troop has with scouts completing partial merit badges is finding counselors to work with on MBs, especially non-Eagle required MBs. Larger troops in the area handle it by assigning MBs to parents to counsel. We are a smaller troop and don't have those resources, and I'm not a fan of keeping it all in-house either.

 Its interesting, in that I am on the Council MB list and have contacted exactly once (Backpacking MB). 

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I read this with a bit of amusement as my 16 yo spent the summer teaching and signing off on Basketry and Leatherwork at a local summer camp. Clearly not old enough to be a MBC. Easy enough for anyone to tell if the work for the merit badge was actually completed, sure.

 

Usually one of the 18+ staffers then is the officially registered MBC.  The younger staffer still signs, but has a process agreement with the administering council that that process is okay.  Not pretty, but understandable.  And if they do a quality job, it's nice to have a scout closer to their age do the teaching.

 

 

Or, we will only accept blue cards from someone that's a counselor, so the scouts will have to redo other merit badges when they get back home.

 

I always have problem with trying to 2nd guess or subvert the camp processes.  I'm all for quality experiences.  But I always fear creating a negative experience from a marginal one.  Merit badges are generally introductory.  If the scout experienced and learned some things about the topic and the MBC process was the agreed and advertised process, then I'm not going to step in.  I'm going to leave it between the counselor and the scout.  And, I'll shake their hand and congratulate them for trying something new.  

 

I often provide comments back to the camp about quality, completeness or experience.  

 

I often try to get the scout out learning more or develop a skill I think was weak or missed.  But I would not interfere with the process between the scout and the MBC ... UNLESS something egregious happened.   by egregious, I mean such as for camping the scout received a signed blue card from summer camp but the staff never verified for the camp he camped 20 nights and we know he only camped 10 nights with the troop.

 

BLUNTLY - The MBC process is not troop advancement territory.  It is between the council, the district, the MBC and the scout.  SMs sign cards, but that is for a conversation between scout and SM.  It is not approval or endorsement.  

 

BLUNTLY - It is wrong to take the scouts to a summer camp that has a merit badge program, but then not let them earn the merit badges from the camp.  It may be well meant to give the scouts a better experience, but I see it effectively as mean (not intentionally, but still mean) and creating a negative experience.  

Edited by fred johnson

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BLUNTLY - The MBC process is not troop advancement territory.  It is between the council, the district, the MBC and the scout.  SMs sign cards, but that is for a conversation between scout and SM.  It is not approval or endorsement.  

 

Except as provided by the GTA as noted below and under Section 7.0.

 

5.0.1.4 Statement on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement in Camp Programs

 

Though stated earlier in this publication, it bears repeating here: No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement requirements. There are no camp-related exemptions except those described in “Advancement for Members With Special Needs,†10.0.0.0. Camp counselors and those assisting them, regardless the circumstances, are not permitted to modify requirements. If requirements as written cannot be competed at camp, they must be done elsewhere, before or after the camp experience. The Application for Merit Badge “blue card†(see “About the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Cardâ€), 7.0.0.2) has space to record and initial what is finished, and age 18 is the only limit to finishing partials.

 

If unit leadership or others dissatisfied with the quality of advancement instruction at camp become concerned Scouts are being approved for merit badges they have not earned, a report should be filed with the council advancement committee. The form found in the appendix (see “Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns,†11.1.0.0) may be used for this purpose. See also “Once It Is Earned, It’s Earned,†7.0.4.6, and “Limited Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges,†7.0.4.7.

 

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Bad Wolf ... Good section to quote.  Where does it say scouts can participate in an official merit badge program and then leaders can choose to not recognize the merit badges?  

 

These are the council camps.  You may not agree with the interpretations, but it is effectively the council running the camps.  

 

The 2nd paragraph is key and the references in that paragraph.  If dissatisfied, file a report.  If you don't hear, call.  If still not satisfied, escalate.  Follow-through.

 

=================================

 

Then apply section 7.0.4.6 ... Only time you can require a scout to work with a follow-on or another counselor is if the the leader made the scout aware of the mandated procedures and issues and the scout choose to ignore them.  Except for that, the correction occurs through the council and MB system without affecting the scout.   

 

=================================

 

Now there is ... section 7.0.4.7 Limtied Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges

 

Section 7.0.4.7 ---> "This procedure is NOT ... FOR INTERJECTING ANOTHER SET OF STANDARDS OVER THOSE OF A MERIT BADGE COUNSELOR ... "

 

It is for the individual case.  It is for the egregious situation.  Example:  Camping merit badge approved and the scout only has ten days camping.  It is not for taking the council summer camp merit badge program and then denying all the scouts for any of the merit badges.  

 

=================================

 

Personally, I find it hard to get scouts to buy into the values of scouting and take scouts to the official council camp ... as the council that approves and administers their advancement and awards and is the official keeper and interpreter of the rules ... take scouts to the official council summer camp and at the same time tell the scouts that the council does not know what they are doing with the summer camp merit badge system.  Even though the rest of the scouts at camp are getting the badges.  Even though the camp does the OA call-out.  There is a level setting of fairness and just a general dissing of the scouting program you are trying to get them to buy into. 

 

In my opinion, support the council, take your scouts there.  If you think the program is being shorted, file a report.  If you don't hear back, call.  If you are not satisfied, escalate it.  And keep doing it until you are satisfied or pounded down.  

 

... or run your own summer camp by renting a group camp site somewhere and do it all yourself ... 

Edited by fred johnson

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Bad Wolf ... Good section to quote.  Where does it say scouts can participate in an official merit badge program and then leaders can choose to not recognize the merit badges?  
 

 

I think that one section quoted provides for a remedy for merit badges obviously not earned. This is why I noted it.

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I have no interest in playing bureaucratic BSA games anymore.  File all the reports you want.  Here's how we handle it. 

 

When the sign up sheets for summer camp come out in late winter, I take the list of MBs offered and sit down with a big bottle of Witeout.  The scouts never see the MBs they don't see -- citizenships, personal fitness, communication.  Why the hell do you want to spend the afternoon sitting on your bunk writing an essay on your rights and responsibilities while your buddies are at the shotgun range?

 

Our philosophy is summer camp is a time for the Scouts to bond, have a good time with their mates in a Scout-like environment and build memories.  I don't give a rat's rear if they complete a single requirement -- advancement is totally secondary.  That philosophy has been very successful for us.  .  Consequently, it the rule that our Scouts attend summer camp six, seven, even eight years, if their birthdays allow.  Obviously that means they STAY IN SCOUTING six, seven, eight years.  Routinely our scouts go to camp without signing up for ANY MBs or take their favorites over and again. A couple years ago our crew from Philmont landed about 11:30 Saturday night and didn't get home until after 1:00 am.  Yet they were all packed and ready to go to summer camp the next morning at 11 am.

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I have no interest in playing bureaucratic BSA games anymore.  File all the reports you want.  Here's how we handle it. 

 

When the sign up sheets for summer camp come out in late winter, I take the list of MBs offered and sit down with a big bottle of Witeout.  The scouts never see the MBs they don't see -- citizenships, personal fitness, communication.  Why the hell do you want to spend the afternoon sitting on your bunk writing an essay on your rights and responsibilities while your buddies are at the shotgun range?

 

Our philosophy is summer camp is a time for the Scouts to bond, have a good time with their mates in a Scout-like environment and build memories.  I don't give a rat's rear if they complete a single requirement -- advancement is totally secondary.  That philosophy has been very successful for us.  .  Consequently, it the rule that our Scouts attend summer camp six, seven, even eight years, if their birthdays allow.  Obviously that means they STAY IN SCOUTING six, seven, eight years.  Routinely our scouts go to camp without signing up for ANY MBs or take their favorites over and again. A couple years ago our crew from Philmont landed about 11:30 Saturday night and didn't get home until after 1:00 am.  Yet they were all packed and ready to go to summer camp the next morning at 11 am.

 

  I had four scouts who aged out. One was Life the other three were Star. Not one single one of these boys had any interest in becoming Eagle. Sat and talked with each at different times the main thing that all four said was we are not here for the advacenment or rank we are just here for the adventure and good time. These boys also did very well at the different leadership positions that they held. All four never missed a summer camp or HA trip that we had while they were in the troop. .

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We've had a few of those boys as well. One had mild regrets later but they mostly were there for the camaraderie and adventure. They were excellent Life Scouts too, when they turned 18.

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 What was even more surprising is the parents seemed to be accepting to it too. I'm sure they may have been a little more happy if they were to have earned Eagle, but all in all were just happy that their sons were having a good time and enjoying it. After aging out 1 boy moved away the other 3 would take part in the troop program while on summer break. Gave them ASM patches and had them do YPT it was great.

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With all the camps geared toward MBs, what troops to do when there is no alternative activity? If there is none, one is going to see more and more troops doing their own thing. Yet another nail in the coffin of BSA camps out there.

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So how do we, at the troop level, deemphasize poorly done MBs and emphasize just having fun doing cool stuff at camp? I can't audit 30 merit badges to see how they're done. I'd rather just say no MBs will be signed off from camp but learn what you can, we will accept anything you made (including score sheets and photos) but the rest will have to be done at home with a counselor on your own time. Rather than sit through a boring fishing MB class the scouts can just go to the lake, fish, take a picture, and go do something else fun.

 

I would much rather see summer camp have a lot more "just check it out" and if they want to complete the mb then they can do the paperwork at home but get their hands dirty cleaning guns and making bow strings at camp under the guidance of someone that knows this stuff.

 

As skeptic covered, it's not possible for you to implement a process like this without breaking the rules yourself ("who guards the guardian?")

Until the last updates to the Guide to Advancement, the counselor's signature was the end of the line.  Now, you have the "limited recourse" option for obvious cases where it's not possible that the badge was actually earned.  The recourse is not for "poorly done" MBs and it doesn't allow you to create a two-tiered system.

MBs are separate from the troop program precisely because they are an individual pursuit.  Turning a boy into a Scout is the troop's job, and they do that by First Class (or not at all); the ranks after that are the Scout's business, it's all individual stuff: service, MBs, responsibility.

 

It's also not your place to put a limit on how many badges a Scout can take at camp.  If you have an opinion on they way camp should be, then you need to sit down with your Scouts and talk it out with them.  If your vision sounds good to them, they'll follow you, if not, it's not your authoritarian right to strongarm them.

In our troop we had the opposite, some checkmark-driven patch hound who informed the boys/parents each year that they were not allowed to have more than 1 free period during the day.  He was as convicted that his vision was right as you are that yours is.

 

Taking your example, I took Fishing MB at camp and it was one of the best experiences I had.  We went to a lake one day, river the next, trout stream the next, fly fishing another.  The "boring class" part was the backbone of what we were doing: learning how to cast differently in different situations, where fish lay, what fish look for, how to tie flies, how to clean a fish, etc.

If you had been my SM, you would have robbed me of that experience because you know better, but you don't.

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