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fred johnson

Merit badge turn off ... LAME ... LAME ... LAME

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......

 

IMHO, it's less about the venue.  It's about the MBC's investment and/or ability to make it a great experience.  

 

IMHO, counselors need to be vetted and on-boarded as part of counseling.  At minimum, a phone call communicating expectations.  If they can't fulfill expectations, then they should not teach the badge.  Period.  

 

 

The MBC's investment?  The MBC's ability?

Isn't it the boy who is doing the work?

 

As i see it the MBC is just there to guide, answer questions, maybe as a side note to swap some stories to help the boy understand or to help encourage him.... but mostly the MBC as it seems to me is there to verify that the boy did the work.

Again, they're not really "teaching" anything.  

Do I have that all wrong?

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... but mostly the MBC as it seems to me is there to verify that the boy did the work.

Again, they're not really "teaching" anything.  

Do I have that all wrong?

 

According to BSA the role of the MBC can be found on slides 22-24 here. I think you have it partially right, in that the boys should be doing some reading and research. I think in the last 20 years or so the way scouting has been implemented has been more adult-to-scout than scout-to-adult. Meaning: We seem to be laying things out for kids more than we did in the past.

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From http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/GuideforMeritBadgeCounselors/MBCounselorGuide.aspx

 

 

As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher and mentor as the Scout works on a merit badge and learns by doing. Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult. [Emphasis added]

 

Me personally it depends on the Scout. Some Scouts take to topics like fish to water. In those cases I mentor, maybe a little teaching is done, and verify they did the work. Indian Lore and the Citizenships tend to be like that more than others I counsel.

 

Sometimes teaching is more involved, a lot more involved. Lifesaving, Canoeing, Wilderness Survival tend to be those MBs

 

And sometimes it's a mix of both. First Aid, especially when changes occur (FYI expect changes in CPR and First Aid techniques next year). Is my best example.

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Well said!

 

I've been approached a couple times about organizing an MBU.   I've said no each time.   The scouts are being cheated by these MBUs.   The scouts are smarter and have more initiative than they are often given credit for.   If they want to earn the MB, they will figure out a way to get it done.   Spoon feeding is not a worthy goal/aim/method.

I don't agree and I'm a very anti MBU  person. I think MBUs could be useful in showing Troops the correct way to manage the MB process and bring in a broader range of hard to find subjects for the scouts.

 

My proposal for a MBU was have all the counselors come to a common location (high school) on Friday night and stand with a small display to show their subject. The scouts can wander around looking for subjects interesting to them and discuss with the counselor how they will present the subject. The scouts could then pick the MBs that were interesting to them, fill out the paperwork and approach their SM for a signature. The Scout then goes back with the approved card and signs up for class that can be presented the next three Saturdays in the same location. The counselor is not required to meet with the scouts at any or all of the three Saturdays, but it does make if convenient if they choose. 

 

This makes it easy for the district because they aren't required to hold any complicated records of who will be in what class when. Our district has this long complicated computer software that requires scouts to sign up for the MB long several weeks a head of the MBU day. The scouts are required to stay at the MBU all day even if they only take one class. My proposal treats the program more like a university where the scouts pick their MB, set up their own schedule with the counselor and only show up for the times they arrange with their counselor. All district has to do is send the troop the information of the date and time of the friday the counselor will be availilble for information and get a school to open their doors for three Saturdays. No complicated tracking software database required. AND, to make it more convenient, adult leadership training will go on the first Saturday. 

 

It seemed like a good idea to me, but my main motivation was for the Troops to see the process they are supposed to follow. I learned a long time ago that district sets the pattern that troops tend to follow. Which is why so many troops in our district have terrible advancement programs. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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The MBC's investment?  The MBC's ability?

Isn't it the boy who is doing the work?

 

As i see it the MBC is just there to guide, answer questions, maybe as a side note to swap some stories to help the boy understand or to help encourage him.... but mostly the MBC as it seems to me is there to verify that the boy did the work.

Again, they're not really "teaching" anything.  

Do I have that all wrong?

 

I strongly disagree.  

 

Eagle94-A1 is right to bring BSA's statement into it.   From http://www.scouting....selorGuide.aspx

As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher and mentor as the Scout works on a merit badge and learns by doing. Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult. [Emphasis added]

 

Not to pick on you at all, but I think this reflects on the fundamental issue of advancement versus adult interaction and mentoring and experiences.  

 

IMHO, if the main MBC role is to check that requirements are done, then the whole MB program is pretty worthless. 

 

Instead of saying it's the boy who's doing the work, I'd say the scout is "actively participating" in the merit badge experience.  

Edited by fred johnson
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I don't think it's worthless at all, for a scout that wants to learn something.

 

It may be worthless, however for a scout that wants me to spoon feed him.

 

Now I have only just signed up for it, sat through a little class that was centered around that PPT linked to earlier here.... and I haven't actually worked through the dynamic yet with any scouts.... But I've read through several of the MB handbooks and tried to get an understanding of what's required of me to help the scouts.  Most of what I've seen in the handbooks, the scout should be reading and doing and asking.  I should be answering his questions, helping by pointing him in the direction to find his answers, helping him to understand.... and yes Sign Off.

 

.... I'd venture a guess that a prepared and on the ball scout would easily be able to complete the requirements straight out of the book all by himself for many of the badges, and all he would need from an MBC would be a discussion to confirm he did the work, and a signature..... the exceptions might include the required visits to professionals that he may need the MBC's advice for..... or maybe just a point in the direction to set it up.

 

I'm not intending to mean that a MBC should be Hands-Off and Un-Inspiring, either..... just the opposite actually.   I just don't see a classroom lecture as all that much fun or helpful to a boy.  He gets enough of that in school!

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I just got a group email from our district advancement chair stating that if we got the email we were officially on the MBC lists.  And, oh by the way, attached is our MB Midway flyer, please make sure to sign up to do a couple of MBs.  Now, I really like our advancement chair and he really is a good guy who likes to do things by the book for the most part.  But he is pressured by council to push their MB Midway to get counselors to volunteer.  This is the second request I have received to sign up.  I am sure by the time this happens in late winter, there will be at least 5-6 more times that I will be asked.

 

Again, like some others have said there are probably some very good counselors who will do a good job at this, but it is so unbelievably crowded with people's unrealistic expectations, I am sure it will be a big disappointment in the end.

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In twenty years I have yet to see a MB college or midway or whatever you want to call it, live up to the scouts' expectations. My son refuses to attend them. He calls them a waste of time; that he'd learn more watching the Discovery Channel. ;)

 

That should tell you something.

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This is not about the venue.  It's more about the MBC investment.

 

Riffle and Shotgun MBs - We expect them to be something similar to a NRA instructor.  I'd expect the MBC to bring training posters, different types of guns and other training tools.  I'd also expect a fair amount of shooting supervised by the MBC.

Archery - Similar.  Training tools.  Equipment.  Skills practice.

Swimming - Similar.  

Hiking - Similar.  Examples of shoes, backpacks, resources.  Go hiking.

Biking - similar.  Bikes.  Trip planning.  

 

Scouts is an active program.  Why do MBCs ever expect to mainly talk about "merit badge" requirements and then send the scout away?  IMHO, the best merit badges are where the MBC never says the word "requirement".  
Edited by fred johnson

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It's been a few years since I was a MBC and I have just re-enlisted so it should be interesting how much things might have changed.  Needless to say, I don't teach MB's, never have, never will.  I don't inspire either.... I simply make the opportunity available to the boy to explore the topic at hand.  It is up to him to make the most of it and if I can ask the right question, it might open yet another door for him to consider. 

 

I am supposed to have skill in the subject matter and so it is a great temptation to be a MB TEACHER.  But that's not the expectation or they would have used that word teacher.

 

I have knowledge so I know what questions to ask to "bump" the boy off of dead-center.  He gets stumped?  Ask a question to direct his thoughts on where to maybe think about next.  But it's HIS journey, not yours.  I am a counselor, I have all the answers, but only the boy knows which of those answers best helps him in his situation.  It is not up to me to decide for him.

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I don't teach MB's, never have, never will.  I don't inspire either.... I simply make the opportunity available to the boy to explore the topic at hand.  It is up to him to make the most of it and if I can ask the right question, it might open yet another door for him to consider.

 

Per BSA from http://www.scouting....selorGuide.aspx ... "As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher and mentor as the Scout works on a merit badge and learns by doing. Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult." [Emphasis added]

 

Scouting is active.

 

  • The swimming MBC should be in the water with the scout.  
  • The astronomy MBC should be up late viewing the stars with the scout.  
  • The chess MBC should play chess with the scout.
  • The horseback MBC should ride a horse with the scout.

... or similar to accomodate the situation.

 

If the MBC's only job is to check progress, sign-off and/or be a resource when the scout is stuck, then the whole MB program is pretty lame and fairly worthless. 

 

 

But it's HIS journey, not yours.

 

I strongly disagree.  The MB program is a journey done together as a partnership between the scout and the counselor / mentor / teacher.  ... if nothing else, think of it as EDGE.  

 

Perhaps a confusion is with the long-term badges (personal fitness, personal mgmt, family life, communications, etc).  For example personal fitness, ... YES .. I believe the MBC should do some exercises with the scout (push ups, run laps, sit ups, etc).  Now if a requirement is do 12 weeks of exercise, yes of course it's the scout's job to do the 12 weeks and report back.  But I'd fully expect the MBC to use EDGE which includes doing some sit ups, push ups and running some laps at least to get the scout started down the right path.

 

If the Personal Fitness MBC counselor does it all sitting down, then it's a pretty lame experience.

Edited by fred johnson

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It depends upon the merit badge. Some are very easy to review with a Scout and sign off once you verify. Personal Management comes to my mind.

 

Some may require both review and teaching.Indian Lore is one example where you made need to mentor techniques (beadwork tricks), and teach the games or songs. First Aid is another example, especially when procedures change, like next year.

 

Then there are some MBs that no matter how much study a Scout does, he will need someone to work with him and teach him in order tomaster the skills. Lifesaving immediately comes to mind. Even someone with years of experience can get into unexpected trouble making a rescue, as I can testify to. That's one MB I made sure mastered before signing off on, and I had no problem dealing with angry SMs.

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That's one MB I made sure mastered before signing off on, and I had no problem dealing with angry SMs.

 

MB are generally introductory.  But that's a different topic.  

 

I am just raising the topic of lame MB experiences.

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MB are generally introductory.  But that's a different topic.  

 

I am just raising the topic of lame MB experiences.

 

While MBs are introductory,  the standard written in older BSHBs in regards to skills was "mastery."  Do not know if it is in the  current Guide to Advancement, but previous editions stated, " the badge represents what he can do, not what he has done. Lifesaving MB is one of those MB that IMHO mastery MUST be achieved, because even with mastery, there is a risk to self. Even with my extensive experience in lifeguarding ( 2 different lifeguard certs, lifeguard instructor, Lifesaving MBC for a number of years after certs expired until recently, and currently holding both Aquatics Supervision certs), I ended  up needing assistance  and being "victim #2" in an attempted rescue. Thankfully someone got to the Scout before I became victim #2.

 

I personally would be mortified and could not live with myself,  if I signed off on  a requirement that a Scout could barely do, and he ended up in trouble and drowning.

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It's been a few years since I was a MBC and I have just re-enlisted so it should be interesting how much things might have changed.  Needless to say, I don't teach MB's, never have, never will.  I don't inspire either.... I simply make the opportunity available to the boy to explore the topic at hand.  It is up to him to make the most of it and if I can ask the right question, it might open yet another door for him to consider. 

 

I am supposed to have skill in the subject matter and so it is a great temptation to be a MB TEACHER.  But that's not the expectation or they would have used that word teacher.

 

I have knowledge so I know what questions to ask to "bump" the boy off of dead-center.  He gets stumped?  Ask a question to direct his thoughts on where to maybe think about next.  But it's HIS journey, not yours.  I am a counselor, I have all the answers, but only the boy knows which of those answers best helps him in his situation.  It is not up to me to decide for him.

well said @@Stosh

 

@@fred johnson, I get your point that some badges might warrant a bit more discussion or showing..... but I agree with Stosh, it's the boys' adventure not mine.

 

You use swimming as an example so I pulled up the requirements.

I see "explain", I see "Discuss", I see "show".  I don't see anything that would necessarily require the MBC to be in the water.   They would have to be present and watching to confirm that the tasks were done, but not necessarily in the water doing.

 

I can perhaps see a need to demonstrate what is meant by 

      b. Do a headfirst surface dive (pike or tuck), and bring the object up again.

as an example

but I think most scouts would already understand..... especially considering that they have read the book which clearly shows it.

 

Does it make it somehow more fun for the fat old guy to be in the water with the scout?  I don't get it if that's the case......

 

and for Astronomy

I can imagine an initial meeting to discuss the requirements.  Perhaps the MBC might show him his telescope.  Just have a friendly side conversation about why the boy wants to earn the badge, how the MBC got into it, etc.......

 

The MBC gives approval, and perhaps a little guidance as to who to contact or whatever for 

    With your counselor's approval and guidance, do ONE of the following:

 

Some time later maybe there's a call or a meeting to the MBC to clarify something for the scout.

 

Then at a later date, I can imagine a meeting at night under a clear sky to walk through the items... the scout explains..... shows the required sketches he did, etc....

The MBC see that the boy can identify the required 10 constellations, maybe they have a conversation about a constellation that the boy identified last week that's not visible tonight....

 

they discuss the three career opportunities that the boy researched for 

    Find out about three career opportunities in astronomy. 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.

 

etc....

 

But at no point is there a class or formalized "teaching" going on.  It's about the boy doing the work, the boy showing the MBC that the work was done, and perhaps a bit of counseling and mentoring happening along the way.....

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