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ItsBrian

Educating New Scouts on Merit Badges

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I’m having trouble with new scouts doing merit badges outside of summer camp, but they haven’t been educated yet on how to do so, etc.

 

Has anyone ever found/made like a “handout†to give to new scouts instead of a long boring presentation ?

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Consider a skit where you guys act out the process.

One guy plays your SM, another the MBC, and two others a boy and his buddy interested in a badge.

Try and have some fun with it based on your best and worst experiences.

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Isn’t there a description in the Scout Handbook? I have “lent†my copy of the current handbook to my troop so I don’t have it here to look at, but my guess is that it’s in there. I do realize that it may be considered heresy to suggest that Scouts read the parts of the handbook regarding the advancement process to find out how to advance. The Scouts in my troop usually look at me like I’m from some other planet when I suggest they read the handbook.

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No reflection on you ItsBrian, but my heart sank at that question.

 

No boring presentation needed.

No hand out needed.

To borrow from Nike - Just Do It!

 

With few exceptions (Sustainability MB comes to mind) skills should be hands on whenever possible. Take the younger Scouts outside, grab a tent and show them how to pitch it, or how to change a tire on a bike, or read a map and compass, or what ever skill the MB is about.

 

Scouting was never supposed to be about presentations, or handouts or classrooms. It was designed to be hands on and experiencing things.

 

Granted people learn differently, so some will learn better by reading first. As NJCubScouter said, the handbook is a great place to start, so is the fieldbook. Some do better with EDGE method, some do better with just jumping in and figuring it out. Regardless, just get them with their hands in/on/around something they want to learn.

Edited by HelpfulTracks
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Consider a skit where you guys act out the process.

One guy plays your SM, another the MBC, and two others a boy and his buddy interested in a badge.

Try and have some fun with it based on your best and worst experiences.

  

No reflection on you ItsBrian, but my heart sank at that question.

 

No boring presentation needed.

No hand out needed.

To borrow from Nike - Just Do It!

 

With few exceptions (Sustainability MB comes to mind) skills should be hands on whenever possible. Take the younger Scouts outside, grab a tent and show them how to pitch it, or how to change a tire on a bike, or read a map and compass, or what ever skill the MB is about.

 

Scouting was never supposed to be about presentations, or handouts or classrooms. It was designed to be hands on and experiencing things.

 

Granted people learn differently, so some will learn better by reading first. As NJCubScouter said, the handbook is a great place to start, so is the fieldbook. Some do better with EDGE method, some do better with just jumping in and figuring it out. Regardless, just get them with their hands in/on/around something they want to learn.

  

Isn’t there a description in the Scout Handbook? I have “lent†my copy of the current handbook to my troop so I don’t have it here to look at, but my guess is that it’s in there. I do realize that it may be considered heresy to suggest that Scouts read the parts of the handbook regarding the advancement process to find out how to advance. The Scouts in my troop usually look at me like I’m from some other planet when I suggest they read the handbook.

To respond to all at once, they know about merit badges, but they want nothing to do with it. I figured if we gave them a “step by step†(or something like that) so to say,

 

The CC really wants us to do a presentation... Funny thing is, we have most of our troop MBCs have most eagle required ones (before someone says it’s no good, the MBCs have no Scouts in the troop). They are willing to help them but refuse to do a troop “classâ€, which is great because I hate them too.

 

Then, at the COH last night we were talking about how all scouts that aged out have earned eagle, then the new scouts say “Guess I’m breaking itâ€, so they have no motivation either. But, they want to earn it so it’s a big cluster of issues.

 

They like the activities and camping better and doesn’t want to do the MBs, advancing, etc. (who doesn’t?)

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Then, at the COH last night we were talking about how all scouts that aged out have earned eagle, then the new scouts say “Guess I’m breaking itâ€, so they have no motivation either. But, they want to earn it so it’s a big cluster of issues.

 

They like the activities and camping better and doesn’t want to do the MBs, advancing, etc. (who doesn’t?)

 

You may just have a batch of scouts for whom advancement isn't important.  We've got a few.

 

Or, at some point, one of them will start advancing, and the others won't want to be left behind.  We've had a few do that--stay scout or tenderfoot for a couple of years, but then when they saw their friends getting to star or life, decided it was time to get moving and are doing well now.

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You may just have a batch of scouts for whom advancement isn't important.  We've got a few.

 

Or, at some point, one of them will start advancing, and the others won't want to be left behind.  We've had a few do that--stay scout or tenderfoot for a couple of years, but then when they saw their friends getting to star or life, decided it was time to get moving and are doing well now.

I feel like that might happen eventually. But, not a single one out of the like 7 are trying to advance. They are 14-15 and most of them are tenderfoot. Those 7 make up the majority of our troop. 11 Scouts total, 4 senior, one ages out soon. Troop will be gone if they drop out or age out & have no interest in staying.

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I feel like that might happen eventually. But, not a single one out of the like 7 are trying to advance. They are 14-15 and most of them are tenderfoot. Those 7 make up the majority of our troop. 11 Scouts total, 4 senior, one ages out soon. Troop will be gone if they drop out or age out & have no interest in staying.

This is why Eagle is still a pretty rare award among boys. People look around their troop at the time they are awash in MBs and think BSA's stats are off. They ignore the boys who left their troop and other troops who are on the opposite cycle. Nearly every boy in Son #1's den earned Eagle. Son #2 was the only scout from his den who did.

 

I disagree that no presentation is needed. Boys somehow need to be reminded that this process is for them. But, it certainly should not be a lecture from a CC. That will almost guarantee the boys won't earn a single MB outside of camp. Make a skit. Make it funny. Try to laugh at yourselves. Maybe have a scout with that slow-going attitude be part of it. See if someone will play a mom badgering a scout to stop playing games, then the scout takes up gaming MB.

 

If you do anything as a troop, go through the requirements of a bunch of badges and see which ones would make a good activity for a meeting or weekend (without trying to earn a badge). Do that. Repeat.

 

Then, try to figure out what you all would really like to master. (Service projects, scout skills, mechanics, BSA guard) and try to do that.

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I would have older boys do a presentation.

 

I have seen the same trend...Summer Camp and Merit Badge Academies have eroded the will of many boys to do it on their own. Each year it gets worse. It seems that they will only do a MB if it is Eagle Required and if the Troop does it at a meeting class room style because that is what they are used to at the Camps and Academies. I am sure their are other issues going on as well. Sure feels like swimming against the current of late.

 

Am I the only one that thinks if BSA made a rule that Eagle required MB's could only be taught outside of Camp and Academies I think the Eagle numbers for would sharply drop?

 

On the upside I really appreciate the boys who seek me out as  a MBC and it is a pleasure to do the one-on-one.

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Just my opinion but I would be more concerned with the ones that are 14 to 15 about rank advancements than merit badges  earned.  One thing that our unit does with each new scout is gives them a binder when they join the unit with the tenderfoot thru 1st class requirements.  Most of merit badges that are earned by our scouts before they earn the rank of 1st class have been earned at summer camp or at merit badge university type setting.  The few merit badges that are earned by these young scouts in other setting we see a gravy.

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I don't understand the question. Are we talking about advancement or the fun of experiencing the subject of a MB. To tell me they don't want to do MBs is to say there are no MBs that are interesting to the scouts. Really? Are there no scouts interested in aviation, astronomy or cycling? No interest in car engine mechanics? Is there no curiosity of electronics? The troop is doing it wrong.

 

Our troop recruits at least two MB counselors a month to do a short presentation at a troop meeting to raise interest in their MBs. You don't think rifles, shot guns, bows and arrows, or fishing poles sitting on a table doesn't pull the interest of teenagers. Cameras, horse bridles, and auto mechanics tools? How about a telescope just sitting in the middle of a room with a sign that says, call me.

 

Merit badges are fun, so what is the troop doing wrong?

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Consider a skit where you guys act out the process.

One guy plays your SM, another the MBC, and two others a boy and his buddy interested in a badge.

Try and have some fun with it based on your best and worst experiences.

I think that's a great idea.  Really play it up like qwazse said in his other post.

 

We have a lot of scouts that don't seem interested in badges and only earn them at summer camp.  Like others have said, there's nothing wrong with this.  I feel that in our troop there are several reasons for this attitude. 

 

The first, is that the scouts don't care about badges and just want to have fun.  That's great, no complaints about that.  I don't feel there should be any pressure to rank up.

 

The second, is that badges are rarely talked about except for summer camp. It doesn't seem like scouts are aware of badges.  I saw a scout with a video camera going on a campout and asked if he was doing the movie making merit badge.  He was surprised there was a movie making merit badge and he was just taking the camera to screw around. I just had a conversation with a new parent and she expressed how motivated her scout was with popcorn sales and he wanted to make a poster and would even make a sales video if possible and I told her that if the scout was into that stuff he should check out Amer. Business or Salesmanship badges.  It's my opinion that in our troop the scouts are only aware of badges that are offered at summer camp or if the troop works on something.  I would like to see a discussion once a year about options that scouts have but that is not my decision to make.  Scouts could go around and also talk about badges they've earned that they enjoyed or did not enjoy, keeping in mind that each person's experience would be different.

 

Third, the badge requirements seem overwhelming or intimidating.  I've read the requirements for a few badges and just shook my head.  A few badge requirements seem overwhelming to me as an adult.  As others have said, I assume scouts don't want to do badge homework and more paperwork or projects after already doing that kind of stuff in school.  A creative person could probably make some of it more interesting but I think some things are just always going to be boring to adolescents.

 

Fourth, resources to accomplish the badge.  You can't do rifle badge without a rifle and a range of some sort.  I haven't looked at all the badge requirements lately but if I recall, many of what I would consider are the fun badges require obvious specific items or environments.  I think something like Geocaching would be enjoyed by most scouts but until someone has done it once, they probably wouldn't be motivated to do the badge.  You also need GPS of some kind and people may not realize that there are apps for phones now. 

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I don't understand the question. Are we talking about advancement or the fun of experiencing the subject of a MB. To tell me they don't want to do MBs is to say there are no MBs that are interesting to the scouts. Really? Are there no scouts interested in aviation, astronomy or cycling? No interest in car engine mechanics? Is there no curiosity of electronics? The troop is doing it wrong.

 

Our troop recruits at least two MB counselors a month to do a short presentation at a troop meeting to raise interest in their MBs. You don't think a rifles, shot guns, bows and arrows, or fishing poles sitting on a table doesn't pull the interest of teenagers. Cameras, horse bridles, and auto mechanics tools? How about a telescope just sitting in the middle of a room with a sign that says, call me.

 

Merit badges are fun, so what is the troop doing wrong?

 

Barry

 

We have done this in the past.  In the 10 plus years that I have worked with my local troop we have never had over 15 active youth.  At this time we have 10 new scouts working on tenderfoot,  1 that turns 18 in 7 months that only needs his project to earn the rank of Eagle.  2 others that only need their project and completing  one or two more Merit badges for Eagle such as Personal Finance.  And 4 other Boys that are between 1st class and Star. 

 

Being a small troop we try and gear our program more toward the needs of the youth of the troop at any given time which at this time is scouting skills which is rank advancement up to the rank of 1st class.  If the youth makeup of our troop was different then we would adapt to meet the needs of the new makeup of the youth membership of the unit.

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Some people (our district advancement folks in particular) believe advancement is the most important part of Scouting.  But - advancement is just one of the seven _methods_ of Scouting.  The real measure of success is: are we instilling the values of citizenship, fitness, service and (the recently added) leadership.

 

In my Troop, we encourage them to advance and we give them incentive by putting a minimum rank on high adventure, but otherwise we leave it up to them.  As long as they are having fun they will stay involved.  As long as they are involved they are seeing/learning/living the values.  

 

I think a presentation or skit is only necessary if they do not understand the mechanics of merit badges - have an interest, get a blue card, meet with the counselor, do the work, etc

OR - a skit/presentation could be useful to pique their interest in the variety of badges available.

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  One thing that our unit does with each new scout is gives them a binder when they join the unit with the tenderfoot thru 1st class requirements. 

Curious to why you give them a binder when it's already in the scout handbook?

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