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mrkstvns

Hard Merit Badges

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Are any merit badges really hard?  Flipping through my handy dandy "Requirements 2019" book, it sure doesn't appear that way to me, but scouts tell me otherwise.

I asked my son if any of them were hard, and he told me no, but some took a long time because they required logs to be kept over time.  He also told me that a couple of them were challenging just because he couldn't find a local counselor to help him.

There've been a couple of articles about this subject in "Scouting" magazine. An interview with two scouts who'd earned every merit badge had some agreements and some disparities over which were really the 10 "hardest" merit badges. One scout said his hardest was "Scuba", the other picked "Radio".

I can kind of see "Scuba" being a hard merit badge because a scout needs to complete an open water certification. 

I'm surprised that neither scout picked "Bugling", which is perennially at the bottom of lists of most-earned merit badges.  It's kind of hard because it requires learning quite a few esoteric bugling calls that few scouts have ever heard before. 

So what do y'all think?  

Which merit badges are the hardest to earn?  Are there really any requirements that are tough for a scout to master?

Related Link:
https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/10/07/which-merit-badges-are-the-toughest-we-asked-two-brothers-who-earned-them-all/

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my first thought from your title was "bugling". For a trumpet (or any brass instrument) player it might not be challenging. But for someone who play no instrument or a string instrument it can be very challenging.

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Another vote for Bugling, especially if the counselor requires the calls to be played precisely.

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3 hours ago, DuctTape said:

my first thought from your title was "bugling". For a trumpet (or any brass instrument) player it might not be challenging. But for someone who play no instrument or a string instrument it can be very challenging.

My son played trumpet, but he still never earned Bugling MB. After all, how many people have ever heard a bugler call "Swimming" ?   The number, worldwide, is probably not too terribly much higher than 0...

The only 2 calls I've every heard a Boy Scout sound on a bugle are "Taps" and "Reveille".  

Of course, your mileage may vary...

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I think the difficulty for some badges is based on where you live.   For us, the Snow Sports badge it would be rather hard to achieve here in Florida so a pretty good trip is in order to complete it.  Also finding a counselor is hard here for it.

On the other hand, the water related & fishing badges are easy peasy to find someone here for them.  :laugh:

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1 minute ago, Jackdaws said:

I think the difficulty for some badges is based on where you live.   For us, the Snow Sports badge it would be rather hard to achieve here in Florida so a pretty good trip is in order to complete it.  Also finding a counselor is hard here for it.

On the other hand, the water related & fishing badges are easy peasy to find someone here for them.  :laugh:

You know, I feel like an idiot, but that's something I'd never thought of.  We're in Virginia, where ski slopes and beaches are each less than two hours away.  Not being able to earn a merit badge due to geography never occurred to me.

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30 minutes ago, Jackdaws said:

I think the difficulty for some badges is based on where you live.   For us, the Snow Sports badge it would be rather hard to achieve here in Florida so a pretty good trip is in order to complete it.  Also finding a counselor is hard here for it.

You would hope that would be the case.

Some camps that are inhospitable to an activity go ahead and find workarounds. I classify these as "El Lame-O" merit badge programs...

For example, Camp Hale in Oklahoma lets kids earn a "Winter Sports" merit badge during summer camp.  Never mind that Oklahoma isn't exactly ski country even in the midst of the coldest winter....

How do they do it?  Well, they put plastic sheets on a hill and pretend its snow.  Here's a photo:

IMG_7918

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19 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

You would hope that would be the case.

Some camps that are inhospitable to an activity go ahead and find workarounds. I classify these as "El Lame-O" merit badge programs...

For example, Camp Hale in Oklahoma lets kids earn a "Winter Sports" merit badge during summer camp.  Never mind that Oklahoma isn't exactly ski country even in the midst of the coldest winter....

How do they do it?  Well, they put plastic sheets on a hill and pretend its snow.  Here's a photo:

IMG_7918

Well I guess you could complete this based on these requirements.  Granted D & I maybe challenging depending on how far they took to planning the merit badge area... 

Downhill (Alpine) Skiing Option

a. Show how to use and maintain your own release bindings and explain the use of two others. Explain the international DIN standard and what it means to skiers.
b. Explain the American Teaching System and a basic snow-skiing progression.
c. Discuss the five types of Alpine skis. Demonstrate two ways to carry skis and poles safely and easily.
d. Demonstrate how to ride one kind of lift and explain how to ride two others.
e. On a gentle slope, demonstrate some of the beginning maneuvers learned in skiing. Include the straight run, gliding wedge, wedge stop, sidestep, and herringbone maneuvers.
f. On slightly steeper terrain, show linked wedge turns.
g. On a moderate slope, demonstrate five to 10 christies.
h. Make a controlled run down an intermediate slope and demonstrate the following:
1. Short-, medium-, and long-radius parallel turns
2. A sideslip and safety (hockey) stop to each side
3. Traverse across a slope
i. Demonstrate the ability to ski in varied conditions, including changes in pitch, snow conditions, and moguls. Maintain your balance and ability to turn.
j. Name the major ski organizations in the United States and explain their functions.

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Did you all see the latest Scouting magazine? The FAQ column addressed "group" merit badges. One wonders if this was a reaction to often discussed issues here and/or survey comments. I know I have expressed significant concern with mB mills in the surveys I complete.

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Recalling some of the MB's  I tackled, the hardest was Fruit and Nut Growing - took three years. Others included Dairying, Signaling and Surveying....however, the difficulty rating of today's MB's is no more than the  reflection of the changes now taking place in our society. The  4H type MB's  of my era is simply knowledge and skills of rural America that are no longer needed...

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