Jump to content

Making a good merit badge clinic

Recommended Posts

Hi Scouters,


One part of my Wood Badge ticket is to develop and run a Traffic Safety merit badge clinic.  I'm just getting my thoughts together and starting to review the material.


I know that merit badge classes are not everybody's favorite, and so I wanted to ask, in your view, what would make a merit badge class a strong merit badge course.


The general plan is to do a course that is 1/2 day, probably mostly a hands on review of the course material after Scouts study and prepare at home, with small groups of scouts rotating through activity stations.  Perhaps we could make the setup more patrol-ly and less adult-y,  but with adults attending each station for organization and sign off. 


A fellow Scouter helps organize an excellent Fire Safety merit badge course, and we're talking about offering Fire Safety in the morning and Traffic Safety in the afternoon, at a fire station / police station shared campus venue. 


I'd love to hear any best practices you may have used or witnessed with regard to badge classes.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's possible, with some kind of structure?   We can make sure that some materials are available for the Scouts to use, and have adults available to answer questions.  It could be like patrol challenges -- here's a ten minute window to prepare -- I'll check back on you and then I'd like you teach me X and Y.    


I've never seen a merit badge class like that but it could be interesting. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with @EagleDad.


In fact, don't be afraid to advertise that during the clinic scouts who bring a blue-card will be able to receive a partial covering requirements x, y, and z and be introduced to a counselor who he and a buddy could meet with to follow-up on completing the badge. For the few scouts who ask "Can I do pre-requisites before the clinic?" you might offer a list of counselors to whom they can bring their blue-card to in advance and get a partial before the clinic start. (Ideally, those counselors will also be at the clinic.)


The "day of" goal is getting boys to practice skills that the badge touches on.


As a scout I remember being introduced to the controls in vehicles ranging from sports cars to a semi-trailers. Never earned a badge for any of it, but sure had fun!

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi. Current scout here. I have been to a couple merit badge fairs/clinics and I personally don’t learn anything from them. It’s usually a group of 10 or so. You don’t get the full experience of actual learning & fulfilling what a merit badge is intended to do. I also highly suggest making this a “partial clinic†where as they don’t get the full requirements at the clinic, but can do pre reqs and possibly achieve it.


I think you or someone mentioned stations with adults at each one? This could work or not work, depends how knowlegable and capable your volunteers are.


I’d have 5 stations or so.


Random order-

1. 1-2 requirments

2. 1-2 requirments

3. 1-2 requirments

4. 1-2 requirments

5. Scouts who did pre reqs

6. Review, talk in group (maybe have multiple of these?)


I suggest if you do stations no more then 4 scouts at each. More then that and you lose the experience. I had a cooking merit badge class once and there was 8 picnic tables full, not enjoyable.


I wish you luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, I attend a Vocational High School, and there is something called “Law & Public Safetyâ€, which is early training for police officers, etc. I don’t know if there are any near you, but you could ask the instructor to come teach, I find s/he would be more beneficial than a regular Officer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

... Advancement is the scouts responsibility, character is mine. ... 


I'm quoting Barry's post as he has a very good answer.  He's exactly right concerning concerning the overall MB program purpose and approach.  With that said though, Barry correctly describes the structure around a merit badge course without addressing the meat.  


The meat is what do you do in the course?  

  • Think of yourself as a presenter / entertainer trying to hold the interest of a crowd.  They don't have to be there.  They don't have to earn the badge.
    • Will they be glad they spent the time with you?  
    • Will they leave energized about the topic ?
    • Will they leave with more knowledge or new insights ?
    • If someone asks them what they learned or about their experience, how will they answer?  
  • The worst thing a MB counselor can do is walk the MB requirements point by point.
    • Find an approach.
      • How you would want to introduce a new person to the subject
      • A way to make the MB subject interesting
    • THEN
      • Map the requirements to parts of your course and your time with the scout. 
      • Extend and add as needed
  •  It's important to remember
    • A MBC must make sure the requirements were covered in the same way a person must breath.
      • Breathing does not mean you have an interesting life
      • Breathing does not mean every breath is as deep and rich
    • A MBC should find a way to inspire and draw interest to the subject


I fully agree the MB program structure should grow maturity and independence and teach scouts to complete what they start.  But similar, a MBC has a responsibility to be a useful resource to the scout.  If the scout approaches you about a MB and you are a subject expert, fine.  You don't need to develop a course.  The one-on-one (or 2-on-1 really) nature lends itself to directly working together.  But, if you offer a course, you owe it to the scout to do more than just walk the requirements one-by-one.  You owe the scout an inspiring, rewarding experience. 


Otherwise, it's better to NOT offer the course as it will damage his whole view of the MB program and earning future MBs.


Example ... Some of the most rewarding MBs my sons have earned.

  • Archaeology ... Going to a state park where the park ranger showed the scouts in detail is archaeology dig site
  • Photography ... Running around with cameras and later assembling collages of pictures
  • Metal or welding ... Bending sheet metal and using a forge
  • Chess ... Playing chess at camp at night during down pours
  • Canoeing ... Weekend long canoe trip
  • Archery ... Building and shooting arrows
  • Oceanography ... Presenters were experts.  Navy officer and deep sea researcher.

A common threads

  • Real authoritative expertise
  • Great way to cover the topic
Edited by fred johnson
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...