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Lot of wrong information about that second discussion with the SM about the MB. Page 41 of the GTA states that the 2nd discussion with the SM is supposed to be about the scouts experience, not a retest. As a SM you're signing the blue card not as an approval or denial, but acknowledging that the adult association of the discussion has taken place. 

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Lot of good comments Summary is the BSA (SA??) has not fully defined what it is and what they do.  When I joined way back when it was a game with a purpose, we had adventures, learned things, sam

This. ----------------- In the National Annual Report, https://www.scouting.org/about/annual-report/year2023/  they should change the verbiage from "earned" Merit Badges to "awarded" Merit B

To be honest, I think the program is too easy to get wrong and consequently scouts are not joining or are leaving because they're not having fun when they're younger or not being challenged when they'

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And there is a place that makes summer camp badges difficult at times.  Going through dozens of signed blue cards from camp, how many of us will have a serious talk with each scout about what he learned or did?  Hard to selectively judge unless something rings an alarm, like hearing from the counselor that the youth was not going, or not participating.  Of course then, the card also should never be signed as completed if that were the case.  We want to trust the youth, and hopefully will find few times to seriously challenge some things.  Fine lines and balance much of the time.  I am reminded of the great book by Cochraan, Be Prepared.  The SM in the story has taken over a troubled troop where much has been let slide.  He has two youth that are Eagles, and he has concerns about them based on observations of their skills and so on.  So, when he suspects they may not really be swimmers due to indictions they avoid the water and make excuses, he takes them in a row boat to the middle of the lake.  It is only a few hundred yards from shore which for someone with the swimming and life saving badges should not be an issue to swim back.  So, he tells them he wants them to swim back to shore and they refuse and admit they are pretty much unable to swim.  He challenges them as to how then they could be Eagles.  More discussion and he finally rows them all back.  He informs them that he is distressed by their obvious issues, especially as he needs them as leaders.  So, he suggests that they give him back their Eagles untilcan validate they deserve them.  I know, not allowed or realistic, but it is a story.  The book is really fun and also encouraging.  Ultimately, one boy's father challenges the issue and threatens the SM, while the other youth's parent acknowledges an issue.  And one boy does prove himself and is again given his Eagle.  The other drops out and has other issues as well.  Idealistic, but also makes us think.

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18 hours ago, MattR said:

They're joking, right? What kid is going to brag to his friends that he kept a journal of being active for a month? If you want a scout to be physically active then reward them for hiking 10 miles or going on a long bike ride. This requirement is a farce and everyone knows it. This type of thing is so watered down, such that everyone can get it, that the rank requirements are more participation award than recognition. That's why membership is going down. Asking the adults to work around this mess just causes arguments and frustration. That's why adults don't want to volunteer.

You mock, but somewhere there is a kid sitting at home on his device that needs to start being physically active so he can train to participate with the troop on a day-long hike, a canoe trip, a long bike ride, whatever. We have some kids who struggle. Everyone is different. For some the requirements are easy, for others, some might take a little work. I watched my son complete the physical fitness requirements and MB as a young scout, and no, it wasn't difficult for him. But there was a sense of accomplishment. That the activities he participates in and effort he made has a difference in his fitness. So he can participate in the challenging physical activities with the troop. Remember we have volunteers at the unit level. They are not high-level professionals training for years to conduct the program. So we might have to spell it out for them. 

The point is to encourage young people to make moral and ethical choices. I watch kids at summer camp skip breakfast and go straight to the trading post to load up on candy bars. It might work for a kid in the first year program, but not so well for the ones spending all day on the ropes course, or training for the mile swim. Some have to be told about the food pyramid. While the mess hall food isn't always the best, it has the nutrients they need to get through their daily activities. 

So I see where the program goes askew. It is the focus on these seemingly mundane requirements. When the focus is really on going outdoors, having adventures, having fun. If you focus on the latter, the requirements will happen. It is not about checking boxes in the handbook. We need to give kids the "why" to complete them.

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So, a few observations:

Comment 1:

Back in 1969 and 1970, I was under age 18, and counseled merit badges both years.

About a year ago, I asked my camp director, me being curious how it was I could counsel merit badges being under age 18, said, "we knew that you knew what you were doing, so if you approved a scout's completion of a merit badge, we (adults) signed off on the approval."

Hmmm.

On the one hand, I did know my skills dead-bang-cold, and I did not approve anyone who had not demonstrated that they could actually do the skill.  (And, being a naive kid who knew his skills, I had no concept of "approving the unskilled" to get them out the door.)  Camping, pioneering, knife & ax, fire-building, etc…camp craft stuff.

AND, I was hired for the summer camp staff position by a middle level Council Scout Professional who well-knew my  age.  So, I was definitely hired to counsel Scoutcraft merit badges being under age 18.

Comment 2:

Having attended summer camps with my sons for over 20 years, I have been impressed (appalled) by the lack of knowledge of the summer camp staff regarding their merit badge assignments.

I volunteer at the local camp to mentor summer camp staff to do what can be done to give them a head start. Many are barely knowledgeable. We do what we can.

Comment 3:

Our local summer camp has moved from 6 weeks of summer camp to 4 weeks over the last 3 years.  Attendance has dropped significantly. Maybe by 30%.

Our Camp Directors over the last few years have had a difficult time finding staff.  A 4 week paid stint at summer camp does not fill a summer, leaving about half a summer unemployed. Summer camp salaries, being what they are, really low, don't make up for half an unpaid summer.

So, potential skilled staff go elsewhere.

So, our Camp Directors have hired under age 18 staff so that the "show may go on."

I've read the Leader and SPL summer camp evaluations, and the number two complaint is that the staff were not knowledgeable.

Food issues was number one.

Our Council SE's salary and benefits is about 10% of the Council Budget.

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16 hours ago, Tron said:

scouts experience, not a retest

Recommend a different thread.

I never retest the Scout.

Yes, we discuss the experience.  "How did you like the badge?" "Tell me about a challenge you had, and what you did to deal with it." "Did the Merit Badge Counselor require you to do anything more than the written requirements in order to receive the badge?" "Would you recommend this badge or counselor to your friends?  Why or why not?" etc.

The attitude here is not to play "gotcha", but to gauge the Scout's experience with the badge and counselor.  So, if a Scout comes to me with a Hiking MB card, for example, I would love to hear about his 20-miler.  That is no small feat!  If the Scout says, "Well, we never did a 20-mile hike", then we have a problem, and I have a further conversation with the Scout along the lines of previous posts.  Then I have a conversation with the MBC, or the Program Director at camp. 

I'm not being the Grand Inquisitor as you seem to think.  But I do not turn a blind eye to unethical behavior, when it arises.  That would only perpetuate the "dirty little secret".  Over time, I am seeing more and more instances of Scouts not completing requirements as stated, and Merit Badge Counselors (or Camp Staff Instructors) signing off badges when they should not.

"The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

This includes the Merit Badge program...

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Recommend a different thread.

I never retest the Scout.

Yes, we discuss the experience.  "How did you like the badge?" "Tell me about a challenge you had, and what you did to deal with it." "Did the Merit Badge Counselor require you to do anything more than the written requirements in order to receive the badge?" "Would you recommend this badge or counselor to your friends?  Why or why not?" etc.

The attitude here is not to play "gotcha", but to gauge the Scout's experience with the badge and counselor.  So, if a Scout comes to me with a Hiking MB card, for example, I would love to hear about his 20-miler.  That is no small feat!  If the Scout says, "Well, we never did a 20-mile hike", then we have a problem, and I have a further conversation with the Scout along the lines of previous posts.  Then I have a conversation with the MBC, or the Program Director at camp. 

I'm not being the Grand Inquisitor as you seem to think.  But I do not turn a blind eye to unethical behavior, when it arises.  That would only perpetuate the "dirty little secret".  Over time, I am seeing more and more instances of Scouts not completing requirements as stated, and Merit Badge Counselors (or Camp Staff Instructors) signing off badges when they should not.

"The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

This includes the Merit Badge program...

 

 

 

Interesting comment, presents the question:  is Scouting an "experience" or "learning (skills mastery)?"

"Experience" implies:  "Go through the steps, complete them in some measure of demonstrated competency of skills and you are done." (Whether you remember them tomorrow or not.)

"Learning" implies:   "You've made 8 failed attempts and now you've demonstrated the skill 3 times perfectly-you've learned. Come back tomorrow and if you can do it again, you've mastered it and passed."

An anecdote:  While on that camp staff in 1969, the waterfront director at an evening staff meeting, asked me if I could put bow lines on all of the 20 camp canoes down at the waterfront. He said, "I don't want rope just tied on, I want ropes eye-spliced on to the front, and end splices on the tag ends. Do you know how to do that?"

"Yes, I do."

I slipped out of the meeting, (I was a minor nobody), went to the commissary, cut a number of lengths of manila rope for the job, and went to the waterfront.

My flashlight, attracting billions of mosquitos, I shut it off…hmmm…lovely…I eye-spliced 20 bow lines in the dark, by touch.

I returned to the staff meeting saying nothing.

The waterfront director came up to me at some point and asked when I thought I could get the bow lines put on the canoes.

"It is done."

That is mastery. I don't expect a scout to be quite that skilled, but they at least have to get it right once, and then once again after some interlude.

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And I will just have add:

When things go really bad in the outback, and your life depends on it (the news has stories weekly of folks who have died), having MASTERY of a skill is potentially lifesaving. And if not saving your life, will make a stressful situation more comfortable.

Louis Pasteur's quote "Chance favors the prepared mind" means that the better prepared and more knowledgeable you are, the more you'll be able to take advantage of any chance opportunities or observations.

Once, headed into a federal wilderness in winter time, the rangers, after looking at our gear said we passed and could go in. Knowing the difficult decisions rescuers faced in crisis, I told him, if a crisis, come look for us last. We will be OK.

(Well, and not knowing the future crisis, maybe that doomed us, but we were confident of our skills.)

And, many times merely having confidence in one's ability, allows one emotionally to continue on to solve an unknown crisis, that without that confidence would have caused them to hesitate and be lost.

THAT is what Scouting did for me.

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