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mrkstvns

Most and Least Popular Merit Badges

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Plus, Philmont closing. I'm sure some scouts were counting on their high adventure for that badge.

I would estimate that the drop is 99% Philmont not being open last Summer. The 1200 MB decline in backpacking is about 5% of a typical Philmont Summer. 

The 30 miler over 5 days in no easy task logistically (or otherwise). 

If not for Philmont I wouldn’t have gotten it. My son probably won’t since he missed last Summer due to fires and his Summer is already booked for this year.

Edited by HelpfulTracks

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11 minutes ago, HelpfulTracks said:

I would estimate that the drop is 99% Philmont not being open last Summer. The 1200 MB decline in backpacking is about 5% of a typical Philmont Summer. 

The 30 miler over 5 days in no easy task logistically (or otherwise). 

If not for Philmont I wouldn’t have gotten it. My son probably won’t since he missed last Summer due to fires and his Summer is already booked for this year.

Well I guess that is a problem of itself. Every state has plenty of backpacking, so Philmont should not be the got-to for Scout Backpacking.

  • Upvote 4

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Venturing could be a good resource for teaching troops how to backpack. We had one crew that even planned and ran a backpack themed Camporee. And, maybe OA could find some service in this area as well. They are after all BSA's outdoor experts.

We're going get those Backpacking MB numbers up one way or another. Not sure I can help on Business Management. Aren't they called "The Man"?

Barry

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10 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Well I guess that is a problem of itself. Every state has plenty of backpacking, so Philmont should not be the got-to for Scout Backpacking.

It is not the location, we have some of the very best trails located within an hours drive. It’s the planning and having enough adults and youth willing and capable of making 5 day 50 plus mile trek. For some of those that planned for Philmont last year, turning around and planning their own trek.

It’s the 5 days and fitting it into a busy Scouting schedule.

My son, for example, already has 4.5 weeks out of 10 in Scouting events. All of which he committed to before he found out he could not go to Philmont last year.

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

The saddest observation I see in the list is that Backpacking is down by a third...

Sad because that should be such a core activity of any unit's program.

While backpacking for me is pretty much no longer likely, unless I have a lot of time and it is very short, it is because of age and health.  But, I wonder how much of an effect the fire issues have had on it, especially in the West.  Half of our local trails have been off limits for most of the past five+ years, or only available for a few weeks if we are lucky.  Even drive-in sites have been restricted.  Add the increased cost factors, as most sites that we could go to that were free, or really inexpensive, are now being "run" by vendors, and the cost is often restrictive, as well as the number that can use it.  Then add in charges for extra vehicles, and it is even worse.  It will be interesting to see if locally this spring and summer we have more units out, assuming the rain damage does not perpetuate the fire danger issues with a new face.  I do know that there are a number of trails reported basically gone or so badly damaged that they are not going to be viable.  We do have some option if we can arrange to actually go in on some of these and work with the FS to repair them.  But, often the work is limited to the older, more experienced scouts and scouters.  I wonder if similr issues apply in other areas of the wilder country.

Edited by RememberSchiff
Removed duplicate post - RS

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Question: has anybody ever tried backpacking from one side of your county/parish to the other? This would mostly involve back roads, between properties, etc ...

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When scanning some of the historical graphs and data I noted that a number of badges show an almost immediate precipitous drop as soon as they were dropped from Eagle requirements or options.  That includes the conservation badges that were options in the fifties from "group" choices.  You needed at least one.  I had two, but that was more to do with thinking I would work on the Hornaday award, but then we moved and I started high school and while staying in, kind of got dragged in other directions, including working.  Until the late forties, early fifties (have to check the dates for changes) Bird Study was an Eagle badge.  It then was replaced by Nature, and now Environmental Science or Sustainability.  Swimming and Life Saving were for a long time pretty much non-optional as well.  Safety held on for a long while, longer than Public Health, Firemanship, and Citizenship in the Home.  Of course, it is obvious what happened to the farm-related badges; people left the farms.  Similarly, some of the trade type badges were more common due to the need to simply know some of those skills.  Today, most people will pay to have stuff done and do not care to learn to do it themselves.  Home repairs was very common when I was a scout, but today, you almost need to twist their arms.  Not sure what happened to the mainstay "gimme", Fingerprinting.  Again, many of the more school related badges were popular until the late sixties, early seventies, as you often could arrange to have your teacher be the counselor.  In the fifties, most credentialed teachers were accepted almost without question as counselors.  As such, Reading and Scholarship were far more common, though reading was simply more of a youthful pastime then, as many of the detractions today did not exist.  

Thinking back a little, I think in some respects the needed merit badge system of the late forties and through the fifties, with the "groups" challenged more widespread sampling of what was offered.  Every Eagle needed to have at least two or three badges they likely would not have considered other than needing one from that group.  I wonder how much that was determined by the similar wider range of "general" subjects for college graduation.  Today, the very basic college curriclum seems thin on classes that simply broaden your general knowledge.  

 

Change is always happening, and we very likely may see another major one once the Scouts BSA moves into full gear.  Females may have interests in some subjects that prior to this were not broadly considered.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, we just keep trying to focus on the basics and the end result of better youth and citizens.

 

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District could encourage some friendly competition to boost those last place merit badges.  Perhaps a ribbon for a troop's flag for someone in their troop earning one in the bottom 10?

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54 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Question: has anybody ever tried backpacking from one side of your county/parish to the other? This would mostly involve back roads, between properties, etc ...

Where I Iive in Ohio that would be an almost unbroken trek past cornfields and suburbia, change in elevation maybe 20 feet altogether.

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5 hours ago, T2Eagle said:

Where I Iive in Ohio that would be an almost unbroken trek past cornfields and suburbia, change in elevation maybe 20 feet altogether.

:rolleyes:! My brother is a hiking guide for YMCA of the Rockies. He lives in Ohio! His conditioning routine involves reps up and down what amounts to a gully behind a farm.

However, don't knock the flatland/suburbia trip. The program would be more popular if the public saw more scouts backpacking through their neighborhoods.

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I've been eyeing the Flint Hills Nature Trail in Kansas. Not to do all of it in one go, but I'd love to spend a few days along it. Link  I love the open prairie and that whole area up there. 

Same with the Ouachita Trail in SE Oklahoma heading towards Little Rock. My troop has been there a decade or so ago, and I'd love to see my scouts get more active and try it again. 

My personal goal this year is grab one of my friends and hit the urban trails around OKC for training purposes. Not ideal, but conditioning none the less. My hope is I can get my troop (scouts and scouters) interested in hiking and in the long term, canoeing. They have gotten so used to car camping, it's depressing. 

 

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19 hours ago, Treflienne said:

@mrkstvns,  he was referring to the fires of 2018.

Okay....I can see that causing a dip in the numbers.  But I wouldn't have expected it to make the numbers plummet by 34%.  

Philmont plans to be open for treks this summer, so I'm hoping that the numbers of Backpacking merit badges edges back up this year.

I'd hate to think that such a big drop is due only to declining outdoor focus or fewer adult leaders who know how to hike the backcountry.

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10 hours ago, Buggie said:

Same with the Ouachita Trail in SE Oklahoma heading towards Little Rock. My troop has been there a decade or so ago, and I'd love to see my scouts get more active and try it again. 

I've been looking at that one too!

Also thinking about doing some hiking in the Kisatchie National Forest in Arkansas. I've heard they have some good trails there.

If you ever get into Texas, the Lone Star Trail is nice. It's about 140 miles --- mostly forested, mostly flat with only slight elevation changes. Easy for anyone who has hiked Philmont or any mountainous terrain.  It's (mostly) National Forest land, so backcountry camping is allowed. 

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