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gblotter

Eliminate merit badges, advancement from Scouting

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2 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

I can't thumbs-up your entire post because I think this thread went a little off the rails on the subject of the OP's motivation for starting the thread (which should virtually never be a subject for discussion, in my opinion, and it always leads to trouble.)  But I think the quote above captures the essence of the issue, and I agree with it.  I think we can, and should, keep the advancement program itself separate from the issue of "local variations" on the program that sometimes make it too "easy," and less often make it more difficult.  Quite often the discussions of advancement in this forum throw the baby out with the bathwater, to coin a phrase.

I totally disagree with you. The vast majority of the comments on this forum are favorable to your point of view. The opposing voices are relatively few.

 

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2 hours ago, mashmaster said:

Camp IMHO is a horrible place to sit inside.  Do something fun at camp!

I agree that summer camp is a terrible place to offer book study merit badges (Eagle required or otherwise). When I see camp schedules listing Citizenship in the World MB and Communications MB, I think what a waste.

Perhaps one exception might be Environmental Science. That merit badge is rather bookish, but earning it at camp seems to be most effective because of ready access to so many resources. I'd hate trying to earn that one at home.

Edited by gblotter
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1 hour ago, ItsBrian said:

I had around 2-3 free periods two years ago at camp. I never expected it to feel so good to just relax. 

I advise the scouts in my troop to schedule at least one free period, to just relax, roam around, whatever.

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24 minutes ago, Chisos said:

I advise the scouts in my troop to schedule at least one free period, to just relax, roam around, whatever.

I was merit badge crazy my first two years. Then I got elected as SPL, then after my 2nd term everything went downhill and I'm tired.

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5 hours ago, Chisos said:

I advise the scouts in my troop to schedule at least one free period, to just relax, roam around, whatever.

I did the same this year. Our merit badge signups for camp are happening right now. There are four merit badge class periods during the day. I suggested each Scout do three merit badges and leave the fourth open as free time. So far everyone (including my own son) has ignored me and signed up for four merit badges. Part of it is that these boys all want to be together in the same classes. Their friendships are tight which is certainly not a bad thing.

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When I see stuff like what happened last night I get very discouraged. And sometimes I feel like my two sons: advancement doesn't mean a thing since everyone is receiving ranks and badges and not actually knowing the skills to earn it. Oldest has commented on MB mills and summer camp classes.  Middle son has commented about current advancement situation. But I know in the overall scheme of things, advancement is important.

Yes, the Scout who has no medical problems that cannot camp with out dad being with him is now Second Class. SM told him at the Tenderfoot SMC that he would not advance further until he started staying away from dad.  Since that SMC, of the 2 camp outs I was at with them, dad stayed outside the shelter until he fell asleep, and son when home when when dad would not stay near him. Then you got the Scout who appears to have no interest in the program, and is only in it because mom is pushing him.  Neither one seems interested in the program. And from what I see the parents are pushing a "one and done" or "high speed low drag" approach to advancement. And sadly the SM and other adults save 1 don't see a problem with it.

On the opposite extreme is the Tenderfoot who has every thing done for Second Class except 1 requirement, AND everything done for First Class except 2 requirements, one of which will be completed next week. This Tenderfoot is one whom I would trust with my, or my sons' lives with as he truly knows the basic S-T-2-1 Skills. Except swimming. He is a non-swimmer, and that is something he is going to work on as soon as a pool opens up.

Talking to the wife, my plan is to work with those Scouts I do have relationships with to make sure they get the program as it is suppose to be done. And the ones I have relationships with get what Scouting is suppose to be. I can only do so much, and I do not have time to waste on those who do not get it.

An aside, I think I know why other adults do not want the PLs and SPL signing off on rank. While the excuse is that the Scouts will give away the ranks to their friends, I actually think the adults are afraid the Scouts will hold each other to higher standards and not sign off on stuff until the Scouts truly mastered the skills. I think they beleive advancement will occur at a snail's pace.

 

 

 

 

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On 2/24/2018 at 9:23 PM, gblotter said:

I read so many threads with very experienced Scouters speaking quite negatively about merit badges and rank advancement. There is so much disparaging talk about Eagle mills and merit badge factories. Focusing on merit badges and the trail to Eagle means you are missing the point of Scouting and not having a quality experience. You are only a true Scout if you are in it for the fun. Some have even advocated for eliminating merit badges classes entirely from troop meetings and summer camp schedules. In the minds of some, advancement seems to be at the root of all that is wrong with Scouting because it introduces a corrupt motivation and becomes a distraction from having fun. This talk never ends here on Scouter.com which leads to me ask ...

How many folks think that eliminating merit badges and rank advancement from the Scouting program would be a good thing? I'm actually not trolling - I'm asking a serious question.

I think  advancement and merit badges requires boys to get out of their comfort zone.  It's a motivator for some.  One boy I knew (he was one of my Tiger Cubs and later one of my Webelos) had a fear of water and would not swim.  He wanted to get Eagle, so he worked hard to learn to swim.  He learned to swim well enough for both the BSA Swim test and the  Swimming Merit Badge   

 

That said, if it were my druthers, I'd change up the Merit badges required for Eagle. First, I'd reduce the book learning merit badges.  I would combine Family Life and Personal Management into a Life Management merit badge. I'd merge all the Citizenship badges into one.  I would only allow physical badges (Shooting, various types of boating, climbing, etc.) and nature badges (Nature, Bird Study) and crafting badges (leather work, welding)  at Summer camp.  I would add the requirement of at least one nature merit badge (beyond Environmental Science).    

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18 hours ago, mashmaster said:

My problem with merit badges and advancement were reinforced at lunch today.  A fellow dad was complaining to me that summer camp didn't offer many Eagle merit badges.  I mentioned that first aid, swimming, camping, cooking are and he said his son needs the classroom ones like the citizenships.  I said why doesn't he do those outside of camp, lot of opportunity for classroom and just book study for those.   He is at summer camp, shouldn't he be doing things outside?  It is one of those things that dad is pushing kiddo to get Eagle merit badges for advancement with merit badges.  He is also the dad that follows his kid around to stations.

When boys want to push themselves and get the merit badges, heck ya, let's do it!  Camp IMHO is a horrible place to sit inside.  Do something fun at camp!

I agree totally with that.  Personally, I think it's horrible that summer camps are teaching the Citizenship badges. I encouraged my sons (both of whom are Eagles) to only take fun badges at Summer Camp. I wasn't paying that much money for them to learn Citizenship in the Community from a high school student, when the counselors for that badge in the Troop were for the most part, retired military officers, and were educated men who knew about citizenship.  They had fun climbing, riding horses, canoeing, sailing, etc.  

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15 hours ago, gblotter said:

I agree that summer camp is a terrible place to offer book study merit badges (Eagle required or otherwise). When I see camp schedules listing Citizenship in the World MB and Communications MB, I think what a waste.

Perhaps one exception might be Environmental Science. That merit badge is rather bookish, but earning it at camp seems to be most effective because of ready access to so many resources. I'd hate trying to earn that one at home.

Environmental science isn't bad at all at home, if you have a counselor. I did an Environmental Science class on Thursday nights (our regular meeting was Monday night), for about a month.  Gave us the time to go into detail, do some experiments, etc.  That said, it's the most bookish MB that I think should be taught at summer camp.  

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14 hours ago, ItsBrian said:

I was merit badge crazy my first two years. Then I got elected as SPL, then after my 2nd term everything went downhill and I'm tired.

I know you are getting close to Eagle.  Just finish the Eagle required, and get your 21 total.  An Eagle with 21 badges is still an Eagle.  (My oldest got his Eagle with 21 badges. He ended up with a few more when he was a summer camp counselor, but I'm not sure he actually was awarded them. It didn't matter to him, he was having too much fun.)

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5 minutes ago, perdidochas said:

Environmental science isn't bad at all at home, if you have a counselor. I did an Environmental Science class on Thursday nights (our regular meeting was Monday night), for about a month.  Gave us the time to go into detail, do some experiments, etc.  That said, it's the most bookish MB that I think should be taught at summer camp.  

Summer camp is a great place to do the observations requirements.

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6 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Then you got the Scout who appears to have no interest in the program, and is only in it because mom is pushing him.

I see this too, but mainly in our older Scouts. I'd love to use them as mentors for the younger Scouts, but they never show up for anything. These older boys are distracted with sports/girls/cars/homework and rarely participate in campouts or other Scouting activities. And when they do show up, it is under pressure from parents. They give minimal effort to troop leadership assignments - just lip service, really. In our troop, that is where I see the quality problems surfacing.

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3 hours ago, gblotter said:

I see this too, but mainly in our older Scouts. I'd love to use them as mentors for the younger Scouts, but they never show up for anything. These older boys are distracted with sports/girls/cars/homework and rarely participate in campouts or other Scouting activities. And when they do show up, it is under pressure from parents. They give minimal effort to troop leadership assignments - just lip service, really. In our troop, that is where I see the quality problems surfacing.

I have just the opposite in my little troop. I have 2 Eagle Scouts that enjoy teaching but I have new cross-overs and slightly older scouts that don't care and don't try. The older boys want to mentor but the little guys could care less. Unfortunately, the Eagles both age out in 2 months. Then the troop will be left with 3 new cross-overs, 1 third year that has no drive or ambition and a Life scout that is starting his project. We also have 1 Life scout that is currently living on the other side of the state, he comes when he can about every 4-6 weeks, he's pretty much done except for a project too. 

It is disheartening for older boys to try to mentor, only to have little ones show no desire or interest. My third year has 6 things left for 1st Class and has had the same 6 things left for over a year. We finally dragged him across the second class line last week. He had been done his requirements for 6 weeks and didn't want to bother with the SMC or BoR. The older boys have done all they can to get him thru 1st but the last few things are on him and only him to do. The SM tells the older boys to get the third year done, but they can't, short of going his house and helping him sort his garbage, and things like that.

This batch of cross-overs and the ones that quit from last year have no clue what BS is about. They aren't ready to be in the troop with or without a parent in tow. The Cub parents are equally clueless. I think the new Cub requirements have really hurt the troop level. I really fear for the troop in a couple of months. When the Eagles leave and head to college out of town the troop won't need to worry about advancement or merit badges. Because if left to their own devices the little ones will do nothing and pursue nothing. 

 

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I think performance of the WDL has more of an input on how the new scouts will act. We had two dens of Webelos from two different troops, using essentially the same set of requirements. And we have two completely different outlooks with the groups.

The June 2015 to December 2016 requirements were the ones my middle son used to get Webelos and AOL. They had no problems earning the ranks as intended and 14 months after crossing over, they are all still in Boy Scouts, whether my troop or another troop. It took their 2 WDLs  more time to plan things, and a lot more coordination needed with other dens in the pack, but they did it. As I stated in other threads, they allowed the Webelos more freedom to do things on their own. Best example I can give is building a catapult for a competition. With the exception of using the power tools to cut and drill holes into the lumber, the Webelos did it all themselves. They designed it, built it, painted it, etc, When they entered the competition, they assembled it, carried it, and fired it.

The other den had a bunch of helicopter parents who did the work for their Webelos. They did things for them, would not let them try things on their own, and would not let them fail. They "sea lawyered" some of the June 2015 - December 2016 requirements, and had a field day when the December 2016  to current requirements came out because then all of them could advance. Two examples of not letting their kids fail come to mind. In the catapult competition above, adults were the ones that did all the work on the catapult. They built it, painted it and tested it. I remember one of the parents showing it off at their meeting. All the Webelos did was disassemble it and put it pack together again so that pictures could be taken of them building it. When the competition began, the entire Webelos den could not carry it from the set up area to the firing range. The adults had to help them as it was too heavy.

The second incident ticked me off as the WDL and the SM worked it out that one of the Boy Scouts would teach CASTAWAY so that they could camp with us on our wilderness survival weekend. It was also coordinated with another pack's WDL, the first den above, so that everyone would meet at their meeting place in one place and work together. Instead of following the plan, the parents ignored the Boy Scout, was rude to the other den, and did their own thing. It was so bad, that the other den invited the Boy Scout to their meeting place to do the next two weeks of meetings at their place, and if the other den wanted to come they could. They didn't bother visiting the other den, or learning about castaway. When that den shows up for the castaway weekend, parents and Webelos are clueless as to what is going on and what to do. Instead of building shelters, the Webelos are off goofing off, and the parents are complaining about not knowing what is going on. Eventually the parents start building one gigantic shelter for them so the Webelos could "earn" castaway. 

Only 4 of the 9 Webelos who Crossed Over remain with us after 11 months. One of the reasons I am told they quit is that Boy Scouts is too much work

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On 2/26/2018 at 11:22 AM, gblotter said:

Analyzing external vs internal motivations is interesting (and complex). I get what you are saying, but I try to reconcile that with my son's experience earning the Railroading merit badge. He took that class only because it was offered at a Merit Badge Midway. It was definitely externally driven. He had no prior interest in trains, but he gained an interest because of the excellent merit badge instructor. He's glad he didn't miss out on that experience, even though he never would have gone down that path from a purely internal motivation. ...............

Gblotter, you bring up an interesting side to that whole idea.... there's something in there some place about our being in the opportunity business....giving the scouts opportunities.... I think both points are valid.... I still think it should be internally motivated and driven, but how can we adults make those opportunities available while keeping that internal focus?  hmmm.... a head scratcher

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