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CNYScouter

Why are MB's important?

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I came home from work yesterday and my son, who is a 13 year Star Scout, asked me why MBs were so important?

 

I asked him what he meant.

 

He said that he couldnt understand why the troops he has been in have placed such an importance on earning MBs as he thought there were more important things they should be doing.

 

He said that he thought that most of the required MBs were useful and important but didnt understand why a Troop would be doing any of the other MBs.

 

He said that after taking Oceanography MB at summer camp he thought that he would never use it in real life or as with most of the other non-required MBs.

 

Here was my answer to him:

 

I told him that its not that MBs were not unimportant as they allowed him to try different things to see if he liked them. I told him you never know when you do a MB you may discover a new hobby or find something that you may want to pursue as a career when he got older.

I also said to him they gave him a well-rounded education. I said that this is the same reason you have to take social studies, technology and home careers in school to give you a good all around education.

 

I didnt press it beyond this but would like to discuss what he thinks that his troop should be doing instead of MBs

 

CNYScouter

 

 

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One of the reasons I think merit badges are important is that they teach the scout how to deal with other adults. That "adult association" thing.

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Merit badges also develop the charactor of the scout, if done prpoerly. The scout is responsible for contacting the MB counciller(sp), reading the merit badge book, interpeting the requirements of the merit badge, and planning his time to do them. As one of our former SM told a scout in his 1st Class BOR, the advancement up to 1st Class is programmed in with the normal troop activities. The scout plans thier path in the quest to achieve Star, Life and Eagle. The meri badges allow the scout to customize his advancement to his own liking or dreams. So, I guess that really makes it a boy run advancements ;>

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Merit badges are important because they give a scout the chance to meet goals and challenges.

They also give him an insight into different aspects of life.

I earned almost 70 badges as a Girl Scout. I am thankful for each and everyone. Because to this day things I learned doing those badges help me every day. Whether it is the planning of a project or a skill.

 

Plus most of them are just plain fun

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Balance. Its all about balance. Too much of a good thing (even if the thing is good) can be bad. Those other troops simply emphasized merit badges too much, at the expense of the more important things they should be doing. Even so, if they did the 'more important things' at the exclusion of everything else then I think your son would have difficulty with that as well, because he (like most boys) is looking for a well rounded scouting experience that keeps things interesting and makes him want to continue on.

 

Merit badges are important because they are an integral part of the advancement program, which is one of the methods used by scouting to achieve its aims. Plus, (i) they can expand his horizons through development of new skills/interests and meeting new people, (ii) they look real good on a sash, (iii) they give him something to do at troop meetings when the unit leaders can't think of anything better to do, (iv) they help to fund BSA Inc. (in memory of J), (v) they get him to read rather than play video games, (vi) they teach skills that one day may save his life, the life of someone else, or provide a means of employment to support a family, (vii) they can teach him things that he may never learn in school or on his own, (viii) they give his father a topic to discuss on the scouter forums, and (ix) they provide a great souvenir that he can one day pull out of his attic to give to his grandson who will sell it on e-bay.

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I agree with just about everything said about the importance of MBs. Could it be that his troop is forcing the MB by teaching lots of MBs? If that's the case, they could be forcing scouts to take MBs that they do not have any interest in pursuing. I see that as on of the primary reasons for not doing a lot of MB work in the troop setting.

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EagleInKY beat me to my point, but I wanted to ask further: Does your son's troop schedule Merit Badges as a part of the Troop meeting? If so, how often? If a Troop is "force feeding" merit badges to the boys, the boys may indeed be taking merit badges that they have no interest in doing.

 

Like Eagle said, this could be the source of his questioning. Hopefully this is not the case and he was just having a 13 year old moment.

 

ASM59

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MB's are like gold dust. They are shiny and sparkle and when you touch them it rubs off on you. Some of the most fascinating things I have shared with Scouts are MB's. The ones that I teach are the ones that I love. I show and tell and then they do. Even the small things a person learns in life can have lifelong consequences that can be beneficial.

 

Today, after many years, I remember some of my MB counselors and how and what they taught me. I still use some of those things and have improved and added to them but some are still the same. Some were fairly insignificant but they gave me a beginning in a direction and I took it from there. I will only teach the things that I know and care about because enthusiasm carries the weight of the message and unravels complexities.

 

I know that a young person may find that their experiences involving MB's are not highly important for various reasons. Some feel that the counselor just gave them a badge but even that kind of irritation can lead a person to make a decision in their life to do things well, be excited about what they teach, and be honest. I have a truth that I teach every time and it comes from being a Scout in a MB class. I tell Scouts that I only ask them to do what the book says, no more, no less. I have this picture in my mind when I say that of one particular person. He is still there in my mind and it has been 30 plus years ago.

 

 

FB

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To answer some questions:

 

In April, my son and I switched troops.

In his first Troop MBs were done every week for the whole meeting.

 

In his new Troop, MBs are done once a month for the whole meeting.

 

I think some of his questions came from the SM steering him into taking Surveying MB.

He had the choice of taking this or hanging out and doing nothing or playing football or Frisbee during the monthly Troop meeting.

 

I do disagree with doing MBs during Troop meetings, but that will not change in this Troop.

There are parents, some who are also adult leaders in the Troop, who are insisting that this is the only time their sons have to work on MBs.

 

 

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That doesn't sound like the Scouting program to me!

 

Sounds like a a group of parents that wnat to produce "Paper eagles"

 

Is this a boy lead troop - doesn't sound like it. Why isn't there an alternative programon MB night for boys not interested in the Merit Badge offered.

 

Maybe that is where you could step up and volunteer to help the boys develop.

 

ronvo

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Ronvo-

 

I was told there used to be an alternate night for MBs but the scouts complained they were so busy with other activities most couldnt make it so it is now done on a Troop meeting night.

SM supports this 100%.

 

You are right that this is not a very boy lead unit and I think we do have parents that want paper Eagles.

We have actually debated in committee meeting how much to be boy lead.

 

We had a leader step-down, just as I joined the Troop, who was the MB coordinator.

I volunteered for this position assuming I would be the person the boys came to when they wanted to take a MB.

I have since found out that I am expected to call up and schedule the MBs to be taken at the Troop meetings.

I want to try to get this troop into a more boy lead unit.

If we are going to have MBs at Troop meeting, I want the Scouts to be the ones making the arrangements for the councilors to come in.

I have not had the chance to discuss this with the SM yet.

Im wondering what would happen if I do nothing?

 

Every adult at our last committee meeting said they wanted their sons to learn leadership.

In studying the BSA literature I see that the way scouts learn leadership is to become a boy lead unit.

 

I am very new to this group so I am just going to keep plugging away and trying to get this Troop to becoame a real "Scout" group.

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CNYscouter - now I see this through a different light. Your son is right, there are many more important things to be done at the meetings. He sees clearly what the these adult leaders in the troop are missing. I feel that merit badges are important, but as an activity to allow the youth to grow outside of the regular meetings, not as the topic of meeting itself! As for the adults that insist this is the only time thier sons can work on merit badges, well, I would say tough! If the BOYS (not thier parents) want to advance, they will figure out a way to fit in the work.

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Niscouter - I feel the same way

 

I had a SM tell me one time his feelings on MBs at Troop meetings and I thought that it pretty much expressed my view:

 

After 3 or 4 years of summer camp and a couple of Merit Badge -O-Rees, if a Scout can not earn on his own the 6 or 7 MBs left for Eagle he doesnt deserve it.

 

But, since I am new and only a ASM i do not have much control on how things are being done in the Troop right now.

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CNYScouter,

 

This was my suspicion, and why I asked the questions I did. My advice, be courteous and kind but stand firm in your conviction that things need to change.

 

Our Troop was totally adult lead in the past; it is slowly changing in the right direction now. Its not that anyone was opposed to seeing a boy lead troop, but more that they didnt know how to take the adult lead troop and change it. It became easier to just keep it adult lead. After hanging out in these forums for a while, I began to see how to begin making the necessary changes. My dropping hints and suggestions (learned in these forums) have slowly helped to turn our Troop in a new direction. Our adults now see how this can work and at our last Court of Honor, our SM was proud to announce the improvements in this area.

 

Big ships have relatively small rudders, but those rudders are what turn the ship. It may take time, but stay firm. Keep dropping little helpful hints. Attend Committee meetings and make suggestions that MBs be offered at other times and encourage PLC meetings with real planning by the boys. You should be able to offer your opinion without becoming a pain. If someone takes offense at you offering your opinion, its their problem.

 

Just my 2 cents . . .

 

ASM59

 

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