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RogueRiverRun

Earning Merit Badges before rank of "Scout"?

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I would ask the SM or another BSA resource but I'm not directly involved in my family members BSA experience so I pose my question here for you knowledgeable folk. For my own edification CAN (not should) a brand new Boy Scout earn a merit badge(s) prior to earning the rank of Scout?

 

Reading the handbook and any online resources I would say that technically it is allowed. I see no restrictions on when a merit badge can be earned. However at a personal level I would argue that it is more important for the new Scout to focus on the initial ranks and acclimating to the overall scout experience first.

 

Thank you.

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RogueRiverRun, welcome to the forums!

 

Interesting question that may get a variety of answers.  The correct answer may be different for a boy who has joined since January 2016 and is using the new handbook, in which Scout has been transformed from the "joining badge", with requirements that could be done in the young man's first meeting, to a rank, with requirements that are a little more substantial.  My personal preference would be for boys to hold off earning merit badges until they are Second Class with just a few boxes to check for First Class, but that is not the "way of things" in the BSA currently.  Our troop attends a camp with a "first year Scout" program in which the boys earn three merit badges, or two if they are not ready for Swimming MB.  These are boys who have probably crossed over from a pack in March or April and now it's July, and they probably aren't even Tenderfoot yet.  But they have three MB's.  I would prefer they spend that time learning their basic Scouting skills through First Class, and they do spend about half the day on those, and the rest on MB's.  I would prefer they spend the whole day on Scouting skills with maybe an open swim or open archery or rifle or whatever in the middle of the day to blow off some steam.  But what do I know?  What was the question again?  :)

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@@RogueRiverRun, welcome to the forums!

 

A boy wants to earn a MB? Got a good counselor for him? GIVE HIM HIS BLUE CARD!

 

If he earns it before getting his scout badge, I'd give him the patch at a meeting, and tell him you would like his next badge to be oval. Then I'd turn to the Star and Life Scouts and say "Hmmm, new boy is earning MBs ... while you guys are doing what?" :laugh:

 

The trail to First Class is the real base in terms of preparing a boy to hike and camp independently with his mates. But not all MBs build off of that base. In fact, most don't. Also, in any troop I cared about, the trail to First Class took a couple of years to earn.

 

Working on MBs never got in the way of a boy earning Scout. In fact many counselors, as they work with a boy, will ask about his rank, his patrol, etc ... So if the boy needs "that extra nudge" to advance an oval, he might just get it there.

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A scout can work on Merit Badges at anytime according to the guide to advancement:

 

7.0.0.3 The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader
 

 

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or quali ed Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at any time.
 

 

However at a personal level I would argue that it is more important for the new Scout to focus on the initial ranks and acclimating to the overall scout experience first.

 

The Guide to Advancement says that you are not permitted to add requirements to advancement:

 

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements.

 

and that it is the Scout's decision when to start a merit badge:

 

It is then the Scout’s decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge. 

 

If the boy thinks that they are ready to pursue a merit badge, once they are registered as a Boy Scout, they should be permitted to work on it.

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It's one thing to permit a Scout to work on something, which as Hedgehog says, the leaders don't have a choice about.  It is another thing to encourage.  I personally don't think it's a good idea to encourage an easily distracted 10-year-old who hasn't reached the first rung on the ladder to be working on something that is a requirement for the FIFTH rank he is going to earn.  It is not a matter of prohibiting something. 

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@@NJCubScouter, when did YOU earn your 1st MB? Tenderfoot?

As soon as I unearth mine req book, I'll let you know if I can figure out which of mine came first.

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I know I earned my first Merit Bade - Dog Care - before I earned my Tenderfoot Rank.  The Scout rank was new when I became a Boy Scout - my Scoutmaster just handed the badge to me as soon as I crossed over - he figured any Webelos coming in to his Troop that had earned the Arrow of Light already knew the stuff and he didn't want to waste time.

 

The answer though is that yes, a Scout can earn merit badges before he earns his Scout rank - but even with the "enhanced" requirements, it shouldn;t be dificult to earn the Scout rank in under a month.

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Merit Badges are supposed to begin  with  the Scout's interest, not considerations of advancement.  

 

"It all begins with a Scout’s initial interest and effort in a merit badge subject, followed by a discussion with the unit leader or designated assistant, continues through meetings with a counselor, and culminates in advancement and recognition."

 

So is he interested?

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My first MB was Coin Collecting. I was Second Class. The rule was that you had to be Second Class. Whether that was a national rule at the time (this would have been 1970-71) or just a "local rule", I don't know. But that is the way it was in our troop.

 

The one thing I remember about Coin Collecting was that I walked to the home of the counselor, who was not involved with our troop and was a complete stranger, and met with him, alone, in his house. My parents didn't know him either. Except that he was just another guy, who like my father, was giving his time to the youth of the community, so what could go wrong, right? And nobody thought a thing about it. Amazing, compared to today.

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I don't see any conflict between earning merit badges and working on ST21 advancement.  Coin Collecting and Dog Care have been mentioned as first merit badges that posters here earned.  How could either of those interests have interfered with other requirements?  I'm guessing they were interests that predated starting Boy Scouts.

 

Scouting isn't school where you have some fixed amount of time in a day where you learn a discreet number of subjects.  Generally the trail to first class, and the skills necessary for it are learned by  camping with your troop and patrol.  Learning and demonstrating new skills for merit badges can also be accomplished then, or can be accomplished during non camping time.

 

YMMV, but I actually don't encourage our newest scouts to spend their summer camp at the T21 areas, I really feel that those skills are best learned over time as part of the camping experience rather than in a classroom type setting.

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Welcome Rogue,

I am at summer camp right now with 7 brand new scouts. 3 hours this morning in the First Year Camper program lunch a bit of free time and 2 MB'S of their choice. Technically speaking, they should be able to get a MB or two before the rank of Scout.

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SInce Scout is now a rank, with more and more structured requirements I think earning a MB before Scout will become the norm.  It could just be easier.  Our troop just had a campout on the lake where the boys earned the mototboating MB.  Several hadn't earned Scout yet.  now we don't have too many (if any) asking for blue cards on their own--they are earning as part of a specific activity.  when my son became a scout a couple of years ago he went to a MB day hald by the council the weekend after blue/gold xover so he earned a badge before scout and this was before it was a BoR rank.

 

I think it could be a good opportunity if it is pursuing an interest (not trying to get a jump on the ERs like CitC/N/W) letting a new boy earn something, be a part of the next CoH--especially if the trail to Scout rank has slowed.

 

But I do agree with several others that ideally Scout is earned expeditiously and then they start working the parts of the advancement trail.

Edited by wdfa89

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It's one thing to permit a Scout to work on something, which as Hedgehog says, the leaders don't have a choice about.  It is another thing to encourage.  I personally don't think it's a good idea to encourage an easily distracted 10-year-old who hasn't reached the first rung on the ladder to be working on something that is a requirement for the FIFTH rank he is going to earn.  It is not a matter of prohibiting something. 

 

I think leaders (adult and youth) should actively and positively encourage Scouts to participate in all aspects of the program.

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Per the advancement regulations, as soon as a boy joins Boy Scouting, he can start working on Merit Badges.

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