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SteveMM

Choosing merit badges for a Scout's first summer camp

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I was talking recently to the parent of a brand new Scout in our troop, and asked what merit badges his son is taking at summer camp in a couple of weeks.  He said he'd had a discussion with our SM, and was told that the Scout should choose anything he wanted, just have fun this first year, and worry about advancement later.  When he listed off the badges this Scout was taking, I had to clamp down on my tongue.  They were all "elective" badges, with not one that will help with the Scout's advancement.

When my son went to his first summer camp (which was four years ago this week, by the way) it was suggested that he take swimming, cooking, or first aid (or all of the above) plus whatever else he wanted.  It was a good mix of required badges and fun badges.  The reasoning behind this was twofold.  First, a number of requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class are found in those merit badges.  Second, they're Eagle-required badges that he would need eventually anyhow.  I would add that these merit badges teach necessary skills that every Scout should have.

Do you think this new Scout parent was given bad advice, or am I focused too much on advancement?  While I get that there shouldn't be a rush to advance, I think stagnation is just as bad if not worse.  I don't think it's good for a boy to remain at the Scout rank for a year.

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3 minutes ago, wdfa89 said:

Please please please avoid the citizenships or other classroom oriented badges--or those w/ a bunch of prereqs or (if accomplished correctly) have multi-week logs to keep so they are guaranteed to be a partial.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, at least for a Scout's first summer camp.  I can't think of a better way to bore a Scout right out of the program than to take the citizenships in his first year.  My son did take one or more of them at camp later, however, because he wasn't able to attend the various MB days throughout the year due to sports.  Summer camp was really the best place for him to take them.

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Many camps have some sort of First Class or First Year program.  Those focus on exposing the scout to the entire camp while working on Scout through FC requirements.  Outside of that, the most important aspect of a first year scout is for him to have fun and want to return.  MBs are not required for advancement until Star and he will have plenty of time to work on Eagle required MBs by that time.  

Otherwise I agree completely with @wdfa89

 

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I HATE THAT SUMMER CAMP IS TURNING INTO A MB MILL! (Emphasis, ok maybe a little shouting in anger at this occurring ; )

All jokes aside, summer camp  needs to be fun. All electives is fine. Heck taking a MB twice, if it isn't in demand, is fine. The new Scout has plenty of time to work on required MBs. 

But if you are adamant on Eagle required MBs, First Aid and Swimming are the ones I recommend.

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2 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

But if you are adamant on Eagle required MBs, First Aid and Swimming are the ones I recommend.

I'd add Cooking in to that list, but I agree with you.  I'd never suggest that a Scout take one of the Citizenship merit badges at his first summer camp.  That's just cruel.  Although, it's funny (or not) but I just found a string of emails from 2015 when I was sending my son's list of merit badges to our advancement chair.  His list was:

1) Swimming
2) Cooking
3) Leatherwork
4) Fishing
5) Citizenship in the Nation
 
He also took Standup Paddleboarding, which wasn't (and I think still isn't) a merit badge, but it's something he wanted to learn.  If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have been quite so cruel.  In my defense, I was a new Scouting parent and we had a different advancement chair at the time, and he suggested it.

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53 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I HATE THAT SUMMER CAMP IS TURNING INTO A MB MILL! (Emphasis, ok maybe a little shouting in anger at this occurring ; )

All jokes aside, summer camp  needs to be fun. All electives is fine. Heck taking a MB twice, if it isn't in demand, is fine. The new Scout has plenty of time to work on required MBs. 

But if you are adamant on Eagle required MBs, First Aid and Swimming are the ones I recommend.

Why do parents believe scouts only have one summer camp to get their stinking badges. We don't need no stinking..........

If camp is fun, they will come.

Swimming so the scout can attend water activities. Fun stuff for the rest of the week.

Barry

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If it’s a first year scout, I highly suggest the first year scout program at your summer camp. 

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1 hour ago, SteveMM said:

I'd add Cooking in to that list, but I agree with you. 

I no longer recommend Cooking summer camp it will be a partial. They need to do cooking at home in addition to at camp. Plus it is a waste of food if you are not eating it.

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12 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I no longer recommend Cooking summer camp it will be a partial. They need to do cooking at home in addition to at camp. Plus it is a waste of food if you are not eating it.

I was just looking at the requirements for Cooking.  Did they recently add the below line?  I don't remember it when my son took the merit badge.  I'm pretty sure they definitely doubled up, using these merit badge requirements for advancement.  Given this statement, I retract my suggestion of Cooking as a good first year merit badge, unless the Scout has some interest in cooking in general.

The meals prepared for Cooking merit badge requirements 4, 5, and 6 will count only toward fulfilling those requirements and will not count toward rank advancement or other merit badges. Meals prepared for rank advancement or other merit badges may not count toward the Cooking merit badge. You must not repeat any menus for meals actually prepared or cooked in requirements 4, 5, and 6.

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Have fun and go do stuff.  Oh, you have never fired a rifle, hey take that.  

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I have yet to see good results from a 1st year scout program and they seem to teach the same things we do in our weekly program. We highly encourage scouts to take Swimming and FA their first year and the other 2 or 3 is based on interest. This allows them to complete requirements in 2nd and 1st class. Advancment is one of the methods and it should be encouraged but not dictated.  

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57 minutes ago, TMSM said:

I have yet to see good results from a 1st year scout program and they seem to teach the same things we do in our weekly program. We highly encourage scouts to take Swimming and FA their first year and the other 2 or 3 is based on interest. This allows them to complete requirements in 2nd and 1st class. Advancment is one of the methods and it should be encouraged but not dictated.  

This is exactly how I feel.  Our young Scouts don't do the 1st year program at summer camp because the older Scouts teach that stuff during weekly meetings.  Swimming is a no-brainer because without it you can't do a lot of the fun stuff at the waterfront.  I really think First Aid is right behind it for me.  That leaves a lot of wiggle room for fun electives that first year.

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13 minutes ago, SteveMM said:

This is exactly how I feel.  Our young Scouts don't do the 1st year program at summer camp because the older Scouts teach that stuff during weekly meetings.  Swimming is a no-brainer because without it you can't do a lot of the fun stuff at the waterfront.  I really think First Aid is right behind it for me.  That leaves a lot of wiggle room for fun electives that first year.

We are pretty much the same, but because we want scouts to actively use their independence to control their program, we don't tell them to ignore the summer camp first year program, we just ask that our Older Scouts sign off their books. That way the scouts have their independence and the troop protects the integrity of skills knowledge. Works pretty well.

Barry

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Posted (edited)

Judging by the recommendations made here, I'd say the only hard and fast rules of summer camp would be to not do the Citizenships or other "classroom" merit badges at camp.

Our regular camp is a mile higher in elevation than our town. No one in their right mind does Swimming there. Too cold.

Invariably, the camp is under total fire restrictions when we're there. How the scouts complete Cooking there (other than the cooking at home) is beyond me. I doubt they're getting the full benefit of the badge.

A lot of first-years have difficulty scoring enough points to complete Archery or Shotgun Shooting. They're really popular merit badges, so there's too much waiting in line for range time.

First Aid, Emergency Prep, Leatherwork, and Astronomy are my two cents.

Edited by Saltface

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