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jeanvaljean

Lack of MB opportunities

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first post, first timer on this blog. My son loves being a scout, and he loves working on his merit badges, unfortunately, we are not able to find opportunities for him. We got luck with couple of MB Mania and his summer camp. I tried options like Cranbrook etc, but they are very limited. Any suggestions? thanks in advance.

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Hi Jeanvaljean,

 

There are as many opportunities as there are merit badges. They are meant to be done individually. I'd suggest your son go online and figure out what MB he'd like to do. Then he should contact his scoutmaster and ask him to help get a list of merit badge counselors for that MB. The Council likely has a list but sometimes they will only give that list out to scoutmasters. Anyway, once your son has a list of counselors he should start call one and ask if the counselor can work with him and what he needs to do. Your son will need what's called a blue card and he can also get that from his scoutmaster. There's some paperwork to be done but it all fits on that blue card.

 

Best of luck.

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Hi Jeanvaljean,

 

There are as many opportunities as there are merit badges. They are meant to be done individually. I'd suggest your son go online and figure out what MB he'd like to do. Then he should contact his scoutmaster and ask him to help get a list of merit badge counselors for that MB. The Council likely has a list but sometimes they will only give that list out to scoutmasters. Anyway, once your son has a list of counselors he should start call one and ask if the counselor can work with him and what he needs to do. Your son will need what's called a blue card and he can also get that from his scoutmaster. There's some paperwork to be done but it all fits on that blue card.

 

Best of luck.

Thanks for the quick response, that's what I thought too, that it is individual work, unfortunately it seems that it is still like cub scout in our troop ...

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Thanks for the quick response, that's what I thought too, that it is individual work, unfortunately it seems that it is still like cub scout in our troop ...

 

Welcome to the forum!!

 

That may have more to do with the troop leadership than with MB's.  If done properly, most of the MB's are worked on and earn OUTSIDE the program of the troop.  While I'm not wildly excited about MB "schools" and the high amount of time spent on MB's at summer camp, it does allow the scout to rub elbows with boys from different troops.  This expanded awareness of scouting beyond their own troop is a nice side-effect of the MB program.

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Jeanvaljean, just out of curiosity:

 

What rank is your son, and how old is he?

 

Has your son gone to the Scoutmaster and asked for a merit badge card and the name of a counselor for an MB he is interested in?  If so, what happened?

Edited by NJCubScouter

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Jeanvaljean, just out of curiosity:

 

What rank is your son, and how old is he?

 

Has your son gone to the Scoutmaster and asked for a merit badge card and the name of a counselor for an MB he is interested in?  If so, what happened?

yes hello, sorry for the late response. My son is 12 years old, first class, he loves scouts and he is very driven. The scoutmaster never refused him a blue card, but wasn't able to provide names to counselors, instead it was go talk to the MB coordinator. So basically it became my job, to look at the internet etc to find him opportunities, in some instances we drove more than 80 miles one way to attend a public event that other troops hosted.

 

One of the posters above mentioned Leadership and the more I think about it, the more it is ringing true. When our MB coordinator is really not doing the best for the troop and no one says anything, it is a problem.

 

I have never been a scout, but I am starting to understand why most scouts quit, they come to troop meetings and they get bored, they are not challenged with opportunities to do what they like IMO. That is my perception so far. I have another scout who is a scout and very frustrated that he can't start on any merit badges like his brother ... 

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Let the Scout do the MB research. That's the best lesson you could teach him. Don't do it for him.

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Jeanvaljean, what is the "MB Coordinator" position?  Is that a district position, or a position in your troop?  What does that person do?  I have never heard of that position.  Troops are supposed to have an Advancement Coordinator (which some people call Advanceent Chair), but that person does not get directly involved in the earning of MB's.

 

The Scoutmaster is supposed to have a list of MB counselors, in our district there is a district list.  Some troops have their own list of counselors within the troop, but either way these are MB counselors registered through the council.  The Scout talks to the Scoutmaster about which MB he wants to work on, gets the name and contact information for a counselor, gets a blue card signed, contacts the counselor and they go on from there.  (Keeping in mind there is to be no one-on-one contact between the counselor and the Scout, either in person or by email or other electronic media.) No special event is needed to get a merit badge.  And, although some troops have "merit badge classes" at troop meetings (ours used to, but no longer does), that's not really the way it's supposed to work either.

 

Added note:  If the SM does not have a list of MB counselors, I think it is reasonable to ask the SM why not, and if there is no satisfactory answer, and the SM seems to be making no move to get the list, it is then reasonable to take the issue to the Committee Chair.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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In general troop meetings are not where merit badges get done. The troop meeting is planned and implemented by the scouts. If they are bored at meetings, it is because they aren't planning anything. Merit badges are (supposed to be) done by individual scouts or with a buddy. Sometimes they might demonstrate what they are doing at a troop or patrol meeting.

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Jeanvaljean, what is the "MB Coordinator" position?  Is that a district position, or a position in your troop?  What does that person do?  I have never heard of that position.  Troops are supposed to have an Advancement Coordinator (which some people call Advanceent Chair), but that person does not get directly involved in the earning of MB's.

 

We have a MB Coordinator in our unit. We needed one because of the challenges of getting a current, usable MBC list out of district or council. This person also works to develop MB courses within the troop. They also wade through the plethora of "MB colleges" and offerings in our area to determine which are decent (as in, they follow the GTA and other BSA policies on MBs) and which are just designed to collect $$ and hand out MBs improperly. They also check the backgrounds (as much as they can) of any group outside BSA offering MBs. They work with the SM and the Advancement Coordinator to get this information to the boys. Scouts who do their own research are provided this information so they can make an informed choice.

 

Ten years ago this wasn't necessary and could be done by the SM and AC. With so many "offerings" these days -- some of which are very iffy -- our SM then stepped in and worked up this process with the PLC. And yes, the guides, instructors and librarian help in this effort.

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Jeanvaljean welcome.

 

I'm going to guess that you are in Michigan somewhere due your comment about going to Cranbrook. If you are part of the GLFSC section of Michigan Crossroads Council then your Scoutmaster should have a merit badge counselor list for your district. Lists were sent by the district advancement chairs to the unit leaders (Scoutmasters, Coach for Varsity Scouts, Crew Advisors and Sea Scout Skippers) at the beginning of this school year. Data was encrypted to ensure that only the unit leaders with the correct code could access the list, some crap about MBC privacy was given as the reason.

 

It has made accessing the list a pain in the butt. Unit leaders were told that couldn't print the list and were to keep it stored as a file on their computers. In my unit one must ask the unit leader for a list of counselor names and hope he remembers to email you that list when he gets home from a unit meeting. It reality it usually takes and email or text or 2 to get the names you want. And even the most recent, secure list is not fully updated and accurate. I know there are people listed on it the quit scouting 3 years ago. They are polite when called by a misdirected Scout, but they are finding it annoying at the same time.

 

Others have given you the general process of how your sons are to go about getting blue cards and continue on the path to earning a badge. So I won't belabor that point. The one thing I have found is that many of the listed counselors only work with their own troop, and the variety of MBCs available to Scouts has dropped greatly in this area over the last few years. If your boys are looking for some of the less commonly earned badges they may not be able to find a MBC at all.

 

Good Luck!

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first post, first timer on this blog. My son loves being a scout, and he loves working on his merit badges, unfortunately, we are not able to find opportunities for him. We got luck with couple of MB Mania and his summer camp. I tried options like Cranbrook etc, but they are very limited. Any suggestions? thanks in advance.

 

Have you asked the Scoutmaster to recommend Merit Badge counselors?  The Council/District should have a list of Merit Badge Counselors (MBCs) that work with kids outside of their troop.  The SM should be able to find Merit Badge counselors for most badges.  The way it's supposed to work, is that the Scout gets the name and phone number of a MBC from the SM, as well as a signed (by the SM) blue card. The Scout (not the parent) is supposed to contact the MBC, and along with a Scout buddy arrange to meet the MBC  to work on the badge.  They work on the badge.  

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Merit Badges are fun and a worthy challenge, if one has a knowledgeable MBCounselor.  That is the trick.  

Let's say you want to do the Music MB.  What's to prevent a Scout from going to his school Band Director and asking him/her to sign up as a MBC?   Go to your District DE or Troop Advancement Chair, and obtain the three pieces of paper to fill out and the list (four webpages? Is that a list?) of online training to take.  Presto! another MB opportunity ! Does your Council require a membership fee for signing up as a MBC?  Some do, some do not.  Our Troop pays the fee, it is a one time, life-time thing. No more fees if you keep your YPT up to date. 

The same can be done for just about any MB.  Farm Mechanics?  Chess?  Aviation?   The problem is finding the good candidate to be a MBCounselor. 

 

See you on the trail !

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Ahh...merit badges.  Well, as the program was designed back in the day, the earning of merit badges was supposed to be an individual effort (or in more modern times, with a buddy).  It fosters the "Adult Association" method whereby a Scout (not Mom) is expected to a) identify a MB of interest, b) tell his SM and ask for a blue card and a referral to a Counselor from the District-approved list, c) the SCOUT (not Mom) calls the counselor and sets up an appointment to meet...etc.  There are obviously some MB that are "summer camp" badges, such as Wilderness Survival, and the Aquatics.  The badges that can be done anywhere else, should be, in my opinion (Citizenships, First Aid, Cooking, etc.).  The idea was that the MB Counselor was an "expert" in the field, either by vocation or avocation...not Timmy's mom who volunteered to do 5 different badges for "Troop XX only" (I hate seeing that on the District List).  As others have noted, Troop meetings should be primarily for the purpose of planning the next monthly outing, and developing scout skills for advancement, not sitting in MB "classes".  Boys sit in class all day long...if you make them also do it in the evenings and on weekends, you will lose them.

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