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UncleP

How Important Are Merit Badges Really

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A great example is the citizen merit badges.  For a inexperienced 11 year old, they may be good.  But for a seventeen year old who is academically average, they are lame and way less than they learned in school.

 

 

Actually 2 were 16 year old juniors and one was a sophmore at an early college HS.  The two 16 year olds had Civics as freshman, and they didn't know a lot of the MB material. the Sophmore will take Civics/poliSci next year.

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I would like to thank everyone who replied.  I understand that everyone has many issues that they are dealing with, and I appreciate the time and effort given.

 

I think I have some ideas how to advise my nephew.  The thing is that bad parenting runs in my family (my sister treats her son the way our mother treated me), so a great many things that seem obvious to most people get right past me. 

 

My nephew is very bright, and is in a gifted program at school.  But he is very sad.  He sees a therapist, and I and school and now scouts do what they can for him.  His therapist thought that maybe scouts would be a good chance for some positive socialization in a safe environment.  He is definitely improving, but his parents still make him live like he is in a solitary confinement cell.  Last Friday he father said that he had a bad week, and that he did not want to hear any noise at all until Monday morning.   Think of what that's like for a boy.

 

I was raised the same way, and it has caused issues, but I was lucky and got a lot of help.  I want to pay it forward and help him like I was helped.

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UncleP, in addition to the question I asked earlier about what rank your nephew is, I have another question:

 

Is your nephew having fun being a Boy Scout?

 

If he is having fun, the chances are that he is also learning useful things, maybe very gradually and maybe without even knowing it - and even without getting checked off for it in his Scout handbooks.  Chances are also that given time (he's like 12, right?), other things that are "expected" of him will fall into place, like advancement and leadership and other things.  But if, for right now, he is having some fun and learning a thing or two, and getting experience in dealing with other people, and nothing else, that is still better than how he was spending his spare time before.  Right?

 

My nephew is working towards Second Class.  He enjoys parts of scouting, mostly being outside and being able to move around and actually make noise.  The meetings and being part of a group are really hard on him.  Remember he comes from a home environment where he has learned to squeeze through a door only partially open to avoid making noise or letting in a draft.

 

Sometimes he does not even realize how different the way he is being raise is.  I am afraid when he does realize it will make him even sadder.  But he has got to open up his world.  I worked in the high tech sector with guys who lives had been very restricted, and you could see how effected they were.

 

The big problem is he has so few chances to enjoy himself, that when he gets one he becomes desperate to make the most of it.  That desperation causes him to make the worst of it, and he is starting to be afraid to enjoy himself for fear of what will happen. 

 

He is learning stuff and improving.  When you are on the bottom their is no place to go but up.

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The big problem is he has so few chances to enjoy himself, that when he gets one he becomes desperate to make the most of it.  That desperation causes him to make the worst of it, and he is starting to be afraid to enjoy himself for fear of what will happen. 

 

He is learning stuff and improving.  When you are on the bottom their is no place to go but up.

My nephew is working towards Second Class.  He enjoys parts of scouting, mostly being outside and being able to move around and actually make noise.  The meetings and being part of a group are really hard on him.  Remember he comes from a home environment where he has learned to squeeze through a door only partially open to avoid making noise or letting in a draft.

 

This, again, is one of the great strengths of Scouting.  We like to call it "a safe place to fail".  Hopefully, with a good Scoutmaster (who should be aware of his situation), the SM conferences can be a place to discuss things like: (1) what he likes, or (2) how things went on *** activity ( see @@Stosh no x's :) ) and what could be done to improve either the activity or his ability to enjoy it.

 

It sounds like Scouting is exactly the type of outlet your nephew needs, so I hope he can rise above his challenges and discomfort to really get to enjoy it.

 

As a side note, when he gets to be 14, I'd really encourage him to go to NYLT or your local equivalent.  The lessons in those programs are really well focused to helping him interact with others, and evaluating what is or is not working (again either within the activity or within himself), overall it is a great confidence builder and I've never seen any Scouting program having such a sudden a profound effect of a Scout's maturity and confidence as that one does.

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I fully agree with the ideal.  And, many scouts do develop life long hobbies or new professions or just have their eyes opened up to new things.  

 

The trouble is the mix.  

  • too many lame MB programs
  • too many MB programs where the MB content is way less than the scout's life or school experiences
  • too many MB programs that just have no added value to the scout and leave the scout with a "that was a waste" attitude.  

Every one of my sons has had experiences with MBs that were just bad or beyond bad.  I'm often the driver and sitting in the back of the room.  I've finally developed enough trust with my sons that if they look back at me with an expression that it's a waste, we leave.  My son went to a computer MB session two Decembers ago. He really wanted to learn something.  It was bad ... even from my view.  Same with my sons attending dentistry and crime prevention.  The presenter didn't know anything special and was not even experienced in the topics.  We left.  

 

I really think the MB program can be great when it is the right match and done well.  ... AND every scout has their favorite badge that they are glad they did it.  But it's 2 bad for every one good or even worse.  

 

A great example is the citizen merit badges.  For a inexperienced 11 year old, they may be good.  But for a seventeen year old who is academically average, they are lame and way less than they learned in school.

 

 

Seems to me the trouble is "Merit Badge Program".  Sounds like your son is attending Merit Badge "classes" - doing that will suck the fun out of any merit badge.

 

Merit Badges were designed to be done individually, with individual counselors (those these days, up to two people working together is de-riguer).  They were not designed to be done in a group, classroom setting - not at summer camp, not at merit badge universities, not at merit badge programs, not at Troop meetings.  It's way beyond time to go back to doing it the old-fashioned way - a Scout chooses a merit badge he's interested in, contacts the counselor, does the work, and reviews it with the counselor.  Not this scout goes to a class with 20 other Scouts and sits through 3 hours of lecture.  Individual attention can work at summer camp too - a Counselor may have 10 scouts for fishing merit badge and might hold "office hours" at a set time to meet, but the Scouts still would do the work individually.

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Seems to me the trouble is "Merit Badge Program".  Sounds like your son is attending Merit Badge "classes" - doing that will suck the fun out of any merit badge.

 

Merit Badges were designed to be done individually, with individual counselors (those these days, up to two people working together is de-riguer).  They were not designed to be done in a group, classroom setting - not at summer camp, not at merit badge universities, not at merit badge programs, not at Troop meetings.  It's way beyond time to go back to doing it the old-fashioned way - a Scout chooses a merit badge he's interested in, contacts the counselor, does the work, and reviews it with the counselor.  Not this scout goes to a class with 20 other Scouts and sits through 3 hours of lecture.  Individual attention can work at summer camp too - a Counselor may have 10 scouts for fishing merit badge and might hold "office hours" at a set time to meet, but the Scouts still would do the work individually.

 

Almost all scouts earn MBs these days through some form of class or lecture.  I agree with your ideal.  I just don't see that as how almost 99% of the MBs are earned. 

 

The only time I've been contacted to work one on one is after the scout is all done and needs signatures.  IMHO, that also defeats the program.  It's supposed to be about mentorship.  

Edited by fred johnson

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