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Merit Badge Pamphlet accessibility - how does your Troop approach these?


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5 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Back to the heart of scouting.  Outings and social interactions. 

  • Canoeing MB?  Go canoeing.  Hold the paddle.  During the trip, show a j-stroke and how to properly enter and exit the canoe.   Discuss the names and parts of the canoe.
  • Bicycling MB?  Go biking and fix a tire and etc, etc.  
  • Camping MB?  Go camping.  Work thru the requirement details in a one-on-one basis.  
  • Citizen of the nation MB?  Have the conversations.  Go visit historical sites.  Have the discussions. 

MB pamphlets should be the fall back, but not the main path.  Scouting is not school with assigned text books and worksheets. 

MB pamphlets are better for the MBC than for the scout.  More like the teacher's answer guide.  

So what you're saying is get rid of the pamphlets, as there's little need for a pamphlet where the activities are the driving motivation.

We've had that discussion and I'm all for it. But it requires changing the requirements for all the MBs and I doubt it will happen.

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I wish the MBP were rolled into scoutbook. Even if it were something like a subscription at the troop level to have them in a reasonable check out/in format, it would be better. The paper ones made se

I think an MBC should have the pamphlets for the MBs he or she covers.  This is especially true for technical subjects.  I'm an MBC for Veterinary Medicine, Animal Science, Pets, and Public Health.  T

^ I will say that the Scout Life website has a good set of pages set up for the Programming merit badge that speaks to the requirements much better than any pamphlet could. Includes a list of various

On 8/16/2022 at 4:28 PM, IndyDad said:

I find the topic of Merit Badge Pamphlets a bit confusing from a BSA standpoint.

It is all about profit to National.

Merit Badge Pamphlets could be digitized and made available online for a pittance of the hardcopy version.

For some reason, National has not figured out how to cut its costs (no longer publishing hardcopy MB books) yet make merit badge pamphlets available online.

 

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3 hours ago, SiouxRanger said:

It is all about profit to National.

What about other costs? I wonder if they own all images and writing in the pamphlets? Is any of it licensing? That is, do they have to pay anyone when they make / sell one? 

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28 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

What about other costs? I wonder if they own all images and writing in the pamphlets? Is any of it licensing? That is, do they have to pay anyone when they make / sell one? 

They're written and put together by volunteers.  One of our adults has authored two himself.  They're not paying anyone for content.

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4 hours ago, MattR said:

So what you're saying is get rid of the pamphlets, as there's little need for a pamphlet where the activities are the driving motivation.

We've had that discussion and I'm all for it. But it requires changing the requirements for all the MBs and I doubt it will happen.

I'm not suggesting to eliminate the MBs pamphlets.  I'm not suggesting rewriting the requirements ... except to reduce the number of words and reduce the legalism.

I'm saying the MBs should reflect more social interaction and more activity.  Though okay as a fallback, I don't want to send scouts away to read a MB pamphlet.

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3 hours ago, T2Eagle said:

They're not paying anyone for content.

Even images? Did they do the photos and diagrams themselves or are they from stock photo with limited rights?

If they have full rights, it is sad to not discount the online access. 

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I think an MBC should have the pamphlets for the MBs he or she covers.  This is especially true for technical subjects.  I'm an MBC for Veterinary Medicine, Animal Science, Pets, and Public Health.  The two-word subjects are far more complicated than Pets.  The requirements appear to be pretty clear, the level of detail my brain has vastly differs from the level that a Scout would need or be ready for.  Using the pamphlet, I can get the class to the appropriate level.

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7 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

Even images? Did they do the photos and diagrams themselves or are they from stock photo with limited rights?

If they have full rights, it is sad to not discount the online access. 

Again volunteers do the photos for BSA, with BSA having the rights.

 

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3 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Again volunteers do the photos for BSA, with BSA having the rights.

 

Checking the books I have on hand, a fair number are done by the volunteers, but also credit government agencies, Shutterstock, and various colleges and individuals. Some of those could have complicated rights issues depending on the negotiated release.

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4 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Again volunteers do the photos for BSA, with BSA having the rights.

Based on @malraux, it seems like some are, while others could be complicated based on how they licensed them.  

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2 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

Based on @malraux, it seems like some are, while others could be complicated based on how they licensed them.  

It's not that complicated. Obtaining permissions from institutions and individuals is generally no more complicated than writing a letter or nowadays having an email record. If it's stock photography with a usage fee it can generally be replaced with something similar that is free or recreated.  

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3 minutes ago, yknot said:

It's not that complicated. Obtaining permissions from institutions and individuals is generally no more complicated than writing a letter or nowadays having an email record. If it's stock photography with a usage fee it can generally be replaced with something similar that is free or recreated.  

It’s not complicated except in scale and cost. I’m sure all the individuals who contributed don’t care about how the photos are done but if the bsa is changing the distribution method and price it might require a new release. Shutterstock will almost certainly have some fee, so changing things up with new pictures will just take time. 10 to 15 issues to address with each book times 100+ books is a pain. 

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5 minutes ago, malraux said:

It’s not complicated except in scale and cost. I’m sure all the individuals who contributed don’t care about how the photos are done but if the bsa is changing the distribution method and price it might require a new release. Shutterstock will almost certainly have some fee, so changing things up with new pictures will just take time. 10 to 15 issues to address with each book times 100+ books is a pain. 

There are no magic wands but of all the problems BSA has right now this one is fairly small and would be simple to fix. It's a summer intern level project. For starters, a lot of the artwork is merely to make an old fashioned printed product look pretty and is not instructional or useful. You would delete those images when converting to a downloadable free online version.  The only things you'd want to keep would be photos illustrating a skill, informational charts, etc.  Additionally, the current booklets are sold for a profit. If they were made available free for educational purposes, many fees go away. 

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On 8/17/2022 at 11:43 AM, malraux said:

I wish the MBP were rolled into scoutbook. Even if it were something like a subscription at the troop level to have them in a reasonable check out/in format, it would be better. The paper ones made sense back in the day, but everything is moving electronic now.

I've been advocating this for a while.  But I think it should be done at not fee at all.  Value add for a mediocre (but improving) product as a means to attract regular use.

If you want a specific pamphlet, my experience is they are pretty easy to find with some light googling.  You do what you feel okay with, but the information is out there.  I find them very useful for the info in them.  When paired with the free and regularly updated requirements PDFs they make for a good resource.

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I’d recommend purchasing the MB pamphlets for the Eagle required merit badges for your library at a minimum.  They have a lot of good material and our MB Counselors use them during the sessions - especially the Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World, Personal Management, Personal Fitness, Family Life, Cooking and Camping.

With Swimming/First Aid/Life Saving typically being summer camp MBs the Scouts pursue, I haven’t seen many Scouts purchasing these.

One of our MB Counselors (Personal Fitness) purchased 10 MB books during the last time he offered the badge for the Scouts taking the badge and then added them to our library.

I agree with the posts about digitizing.  I also think the digital worksheets PDFs most Scouts download could be packaged with the content.

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