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UncleP

Plan for Nephew to Earn Eagle Merit Badges

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We've got 50 boys in our Troop and there three other troops in the same town -- pretty popular if you ask me.  :D

 

I share your frustrations with the "school" merit badges and the "school' parts of other merit badges.  However, you have to understand that Eagle is not just a measure of the boy's competence in the outdoors (Camping, Hiking/Biking/Swimming, Cooking) (actually, I think that there should be more emphasis there) but also is a reflection on character (Personal Management, Family Life, Personal Fitness), citizenship (Community, Nation, World) and stewardship (Sustainability / Env. Science) and preparedness (First Aid, Emergency Preparedness).  It really is about being prepared for life.  The "school" merit badges can be pencil whipped or they can be active learning experiences.

 

 

 

I think the National Outdoor award is more challenging than Eagle.  My son is working toward the National Outdoor Medal .  He has his camping segment with one gold pin so far getting his second gold by the end of the summer.  He  will complete the merit badges he needs for the hiking segment at camp this summer.   Looking at taking through his junior year in High School to to get the medal -- it will be a lot of work and will take him longer than Eagle.

 

I am glad to hear it is so popular.  I researched the Boy Scouts when my nephew told me he was interested, and I read that membership was in decline (6-7%?).  Boys need something like scouting, so that they do not end up a cubicle monkey like me.

 

The National Outdoors Award is very interesting, but I do not want my nephew obsessing about it like Eagle.  Right now I think one day of honest fun would do him more good than all the awards in the world.  

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The numbers are very much down from BSA's peak in the seventies. However, a very big youth movement cut in half still remains a very big youth movement.

 

Lots of Eagles wind up in cubicles ... Hopefully however that scouting past gives them a vision of what all can be done to make that a more pleasant place!

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I think I FINALLY get it.

 

The outdoors part of the program is to attract boys, and to use as a tool to teach citizenship, character and physical fitness.  They learn many of these things through osmosis (troop elections, carry out duties of various positions, exposure to nature...).  That way they do not realize that they are being taught.  It also keeps things fun, so they can be retained.

 

I did some more research and apparently in the 1970's camping and the outdoors was greatly reduced by the "improved scouting program", and Boy Scouts underwent significant membership loses.  This was later corrected with outdoors added back into the program. 

 

I work with organizations and systems for my job, so I am curious  If my brief summarization above is correct, and if anyone has any additional information on this?  I work with a great many organizations who forget what their core mission is, and get into trouble because of it.  Were any studies ever performed on the "improved scouting program" for lessons learned?

 

Thanks

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I think I FINALLY get it.

 

The outdoors part of the program is to attract boys, and to use as a tool to teach citizenship, character and physical fitness.  They learn many of these things through osmosis (troop elections, carry out duties of various positions, exposure to nature...).  That way they do not realize that they are being taught.  It also keeps things fun, so they can be retained.

 

I did some more research and apparently in the 1970's camping and the outdoors was greatly reduced by the "improved scouting program", and Boy Scouts underwent significant membership loses.  This was later corrected with outdoors added back into the program. 

 

I work with organizations and systems for my job, so I am curious  If my brief summarization above is correct, and if anyone has any additional information on this?  I work with a great many organizations who forget what their core mission is, and get into trouble because of it.  Were any studies ever performed on the "improved scouting program" for lessons learned?

 

Thanks

Uncle P, I think your synopsis is right on the money.   I was a scout in the '70s, and went thru the ISP.    It was not a pretty sight.   Thankfully enough old school scout leaders stuck around, and many of us scouts were in the outdoors all the time.  We received the traditional approach to scouting that the BSA tried to abandon.    However, the way the ISP was implemented, and the ensuing results, ran many leaders off.   And they never came back.

 

I concur, organizations that forget or think they they've outgrown their core mission are destined for failure.

 

So the BSA in the late '70s/early '80s bit the bullet and brought back the outdoor emphasis.   However, it seems in recent years there are a number of scout leaders at all levels that want to minimize the outdoor aspects of scouting.   Many of them have no interest in the outdoors, even at the paid professional level.   Remarkable, given the BSA has historically been an outdoor-driven organization.   Kind of like someone hiring on at JP Morgan yet hates working with numbers.

 

Excellent question re the studies/after action reports...I haven't heard of any.   And I rather doubt National learned anything from them, if the studies do exist.

 

We see efforts locally and at the national level to emphasis STEM, career-focused scouting, etc.   All worthy endeavors but they appeal to a small segment of the youth population. 

 

The BSA's tried and true recruiting/retention selling point--outdoor adventure--is timeless and still sought after by youth.   However, more and more homework/busy work/indoor/sedentary stuff has been added to the Scout Trail in recent years.   Frankly, much of the homework stuff is of little value to the scout...strictly a matter of perseverance to get it done.   A scout can be an excellent, well-informed citizen without enduring the monotony of the three Citizenship merit badges, for example.   Those three could be combined into one or two.

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... I work with organizations and systems for my job, so I am curious If my brief summarization above is correct, and if anyone has any additional information on this? I work with a great many organizations who forget what their core mission is, and get into trouble because of it. Were any studies ever performed on the "improved scouting program" for lessons learned? ...

Well, now you are moving squarely into the realm of scouting history ... If only this site had a forum for it. Oh wait, it does! http://scouter.com/index.php/forum/37-scouting-history/ Here folks post references to some really informative material.

 

BSA does have some market and organizational research. You can see some of their published material here http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets.aspx.

 

My general observations (i.e.,from the cheap seats of dealing with youth programs in my community): we have experienced some "drift" over the years, but it's nowhere near the shifts of other youth programs that were founded at the same time (e.g., GS/USA, Campfire, etc ...). I think we all agree that parents who seek us out are looking for that kind of stability. Most of us here, however, are concerned even slight drifts from our core could amount to a betrayal of public trust.

Edited by qwazse

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Yah, you got it, @@UncleP!  Scoutin' grew up in da era of the John Dewey democratic citizen education stuff.  Go do things and learn from doing is the way boys thrive.   Doin' it in the outdoors makes da lessons stronger, eh?  In town, yeh can not do the dishes and mom will either do 'em or make yeh do 'em.  Outdoors yeh have gross dishes the next morning, and unhappy friends. :p

 

ISP was a disaster in the 1970s.  It showed just how bad da national office was at really understandin' Scouting.  Paid scouting "executives" worldwide have a checkered history at best.  

 

Da 80s brought back traditional scouting.   There was a long-time national scouter named Green Bar Bill who wrote many of the pre-1970s handbooks and was brought back from retirement for the 80s correction.  Having one main writer of core materials helps make da vision and mission clear, eh?

 

The 1990s revision that introduced New Scout Patrols and Advancement Emphasis came after Bill retired, and with that edition and all da materials since then there hasn't been much vision, eh?  Things are mostly done by large committees and based on marketing surveys rather than mission.  For example, we started a program called First Class Emphasis which tried to get all the boys 3 rank awards in their first year.  There wasn't a  lick of discussion about whether that made sense in terms of kids' learning and growth, eh?  It was all based on marketing metrics that showed boys were most likely to drop out their first year, and boys who earned First Class rank (at any age) were likely to stay involved for da long haul.   See "correlation vs. causation". :confused:

 

Even when our materials are mission-focused they tend to have a heavy dose of Babel, eh?  Materials by committee, with limited editing. 

 

So what we've seen gradually is a shift in program materials to make Scoutin' more like school, eh?  Merit Badge "classes" and worksheets, same-age groups of kids who have to advance together (First Class First Year!), awards more for successful paperwork than for actually learnin' skills a lad can use.   Lots more hoverin' over kids for "safety", etc.  That's just broader society intrudin' on da program, which is what happens when yeh make marketing drive program rather than mission.   It's just been more gradual than it was in da 1970s, so da member losses have been more gradual as well.  Many of da folks here who are long-time scouters still run more traditional programs as part of da loyal opposition. ;) 

 

Still, Scoutin' is a sound program and da biggest youth movement in da history of Planet Earth.  So I reckon there's still somethin' to it, eh?  There are lots of good folks and good troops out there, for sure, and it's still pretty common to hear an Eagle Scout say that Scoutin' was da Number 1 influence on his life, after his family.

 

Beavah

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"Materials by committee, with limited editing. "

 

​Too true.  Often the "committees" never meet and the "editor" is basically clueless.  Hence the internal contradictions in the same B.S.A. publication or with other official publications - and no interest in resolving those conflicts over yeasr of thier being brought to the "attention" of Corporate.  It's as if the quality of the program is regarded as irrelevant to the success of "sales."

 

And if we get frustrated, imagine what it's like to be  a dedicated and competent person in that organization.   :( 

 

And those merit badge mills!  Yeech!

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This is worth re-quoting a second time:

 

"Materials by committee, with limited editing. "

 

I'm reading the new edition of the Boy Scout Handbook.   The quote above sums up the writing style and content thus far.

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The "Index" of the Handbook is once again an exercise is using the Word Search feature, rather than an index.

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Perhaps Eagle might not be his cup of tea. Take a look at the National Outdoor Award Program. Very little school work and is much more intense than Eagle and rare. It just doesn't have decades of branding. In addition since it is now open to Venturing he would have until 21 to complete it. There are even rumblings about expanding Venturing to 26.

 

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/Youth/Awards/NOA.aspx

 

Really? Both my boys got it; I really didn't pay much attention. You stay really active and keep track it is not that hard.

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Thank you for your response.

 

The leadership and "Patrol Method" is something I think my nephew will have problems with.  He is a total loner, and very bright but solitary.  I think being outdoors though may spark something positive in him.  He loves animals and likes open spaces.

 

I personally could never understand the cult of "leadership" thing.  I worked for and with many organizations, and they more they talk about leadership, the worse the organization performs.  From my experiences the nature of work is changing so much, that "leadership" is kind of obsolete.  But maybe something will spark in my nephew - still waters run deep.

My son, who is a 14 year old Life Scout, enjoys his own company. He would rather be reading, or drawing, or working on some other solo project most of the time. Scouts has been a great experience for him in terms of learning to deal with other people, and has helped him be more social. He is currently a Patrol Leader and has his sights set on Senior Patrol Leader this September. He is a straight A student and his Scouting career has progressed quickly due to his hard work, not any plan that I might have had for him. I am an Assistant Scoutmaster, but I give him a wide berth at any and all Scout events. Much of the advice you have been given here is spot on- sign him up, get him a uniform and see what happens. Having the support of his peers may be just the tonic he needs to emerge from his shell.

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Really? Both my boys got it; I really didn't pay much attention. You stay really active and keep track it is not that hard.

 

 

The badge with the segment for camping or hiking is easy.  The other segments are more difficult.

 

However, the Medal is a lot more difficult requiring 125 nights of camping, additional merit badges and additional training. 

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