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Eagle92

MBs at Meetings

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Ok I admit it's been a while since I did SM Fundamentals, and taught SM Specific, about 5-6 years now, but I was told that the MB classes over a series of meetings is now mentioned in training in order to meet the needs of the scouts, and families since the kids these days have so much going on. Rationale was if you want to keep them coming back, you have to move away from some of the traditional ways of doing things.

 

Wanted to know if this was true or not. I understand adapting, improvising, and using resources to meet the needs of the scouts. Heck I modify my den plans from the new Den planning book all the time. But something just bothers me about MB classes at meetings. Don't know if it is the taking away of the patrol method, or the idea of going contacting adults, some of whom you may not know on your own, and meeting with them with your buddy.

 

I admit my most of MBs were either earned at summer camp, or "stealth advancement" in that we were doing the stuff as part of regular program and the MBC signed it off. Only 2 involved actually meeting with an MBC on my own initiative: Liefesaving MB (and that was to talk to the MBC on whether he would accept my lifeguard certification or not) and Personal management.

 

The one MB class at a troop meetings my troop did caused some issues as it pulled the bulk of the older scouts away from running the meeting. Did it for 6-8 meetings and never did it again.

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Troops have different personalities, and issues such as the one your raise are among the many reasons why.

 

My philosophy as a Scoutmaster was to offer experiences and competitions which would help teach the Trail To First Class requirements. To me, First Class was the most important rank since it fulfilled the promise of Scouting to teach boys hiking and camping skills.

 

Scouts were warmly welcome to pursue Star, Life and Eagle, but they did that on their own initiative.

 

So.... no Merit Badge classes in my troop. This was thirty years ago.

 

We did first aid training and exercises often enough --- Scouts probably earned a lot of the First Aid Merit Badge from that, but most earned it at summer camp.

 

The Troop program tended to be about games and competitions learning, using and practicing Scouting skills, planning for the next camping trip or outing and recovering from the last camping trip or outing.

 

I favored the kind of "stealth advancement" you describe.

 

Frequent practice tended to develop Scout skills that Scouts could actually use when they needed them. "Once and done" wasn't an issue since by and large much of the learning was practicing skills that Scouts already had nominally learned.

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Merit badges at troop meetings is not part of the current Scoutmaster training.

 

Someone may have broadly interpreted MBCounselor Orientation at http://scouting.org/filestore/pdf/18-125.pdf which is a 2010 document:

"Group instruction and orientation are encouraged where special facilities and expert personnel make this most practical or when Scouts are dependent on a few counselors for assistance. However, this group experience should include individual attention to each candidates projects and his ability to fulfill all requirements."

 

And http://scouting.org/Training/Adult/Supplemental/MeritBadgeCounselorInstructorsGuide.aspx which says "Group instruction is acceptable, but each Scout must be tested and passed individually."

 

But, of more importance on that webpage: "The advancement program allows the Scout to move ahead in his own way and at his own pace. Rather than competing against others, he challenges himself to go as far as his ambition will carry him. The rate of advancement depends upon his interest, effort, and ability."

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Boys that are in school full time asking for another class in the evening?

Never saw it happen.

If the boys wanted to hear from a counselor about a particular MB they could invite him to come and present on it. It's each boy's responsibility to start the badge if he's interested.

 

Our boys do ask to meet with counselors during meeting time. We allow for that. It's the easiest way to address YP issues. And it's a good way to demonstrate for younger boys how to work on MBs.

 

As boys mature, we see he following progression:

1. Earn a badge at camp.

2. Earn a badge from a counselor who frequents our meetings.

3. Earn a badge from a counselor who is willing to drop by on our meeting night,

4. With a buddy, earn a badge from a counselor at the location of the counselor's choosing.

5. Plan a troop/patrol outing with an outfitter who can counsel a MB of interest.

 

Some boys will rack a few badges at district/counsel pow-wows/universities. But that's he exception, and they don't seem to advance any faster for it.

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Q,

I like your approach!

I have a group of young scouts who aren't quite familiar with the merit badge concept and how things work. (Stage 1) I am working on easing them into the idea by trying stages 2 and 3!

Steve

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we had some crossovers whose parents used this for reason to have some MB during meetings. we tried a few. For me it was a few too many. biggest issue was the fact that they were doing badge A in which 5 boys needed and the rest had nothing to do - many just quit coming.

 

we have now gone back to the way we've always done things and attendence has picked back up and the excitment has returned. As SM I show up 30 mins early every week and expect to stay 30 mins late - this allows any working on a badge to know that the room will be unlocked and they can get with their MBC then. The only thing we are still struggling with is a particular MBC that is giving the answers rather than having boys learn and tell the MBC.

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I ask because one of the units in the district is starting to do this more and more. And this was the unit that was on their way to being 100% boy run to boot.

 

They got a new SM with about a year as ASM but 2 years as CM, and a lot of parents who were CS leaders. This was after the original SM stepped down b/c he thought the troop was ready. I think it is slowly turning inthe opposite direction. They've done 4 MBs at meeting over the past year. And another one is set up for 4 meetings over the next 2 months.

 

Now grant you the communications I am seeing are from adults on FB, which is another concern of mine, (why are adult planning thing and getting MB counselors), but I know FB does have age restrictions, and that may explain why I am seeing mostly adults posting. I am hoping to Talk to some scouts when oldest's den goes camping with them ina a month and a half.

 

 

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When the heck do you have time for merit badges during meetings?

By the time my guys plan the next camping trip, do menus, plan patrol activities, have patrol meetings, check and clean gear, dry and repack tents, do inter-patrol competitions, and work on Scout Skills there's no time for merit badge classes.

We do offer First Aid once a year because we have qualified instructors (EMTs) but we do that an hour before the meeting.

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I second Eagle 732. We don't have time. We attend enough Summer Camps, and have enough merit badge counselors in our troop and the surrounding area for any boy who wants to get badges done.

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Just reading this thread with interest.

 

What is exactly is a merit badge counselor? Is it a leader in the area with specialist skills or is it someone that is brought in from outside? How does it work? It's not a system we really have this side of the pond from what I can make out.

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732 -- yep, that's what the adults are for, to handle the chores. Don't want to pull anyone away from napping through Citizenship!

 

We frequently cover merit badge topics at troop meetings, often in the winter when it's dark out and outdoor activities are more difficult. But we don't teach the merit badge. We usually don't mention the requirements. We do cover much of the information a Scout would need to know to complete the badge. This all takes place during the usual instruction time. Sometimes there are separate breakouts for the MB, which tend to be a bit more advanced, and basic T-2-1 skills; sometimes the MB topics are the only instruction offered that night.

 

At the end of the night we don't line the guys up and distribute blue cards. If a Scout wants to earn the badge, he goes through the normal process of pulling a blue card and working with the counselor to complete the requirements individually.

 

Last winter we did four weeks on Engineering. Had a number of parents in various engineering fields do presentations on what they do. Civil, mechanical, electronic, a couple guys work in nuclear, another for a race team. Pretty interesting stuff. We had one session on truss construction and had patrols compete to see which could build the strongest popsicle-stick brige. It was cool because the guys got into analyzing the failures and what they could have done to make them stronger. Funny, one bridge held all the bricks we had for weights. Problem was, the problems was to build a bridge which could SPAN 24 inches. They built a bridge exactly 24" long which wasn't long enough to carry. Dang contract spec -- they'll bite you in the butt everytime.

 

That was in January and I don't think we have one boy earn the MB yet. Complete failure. Hardly. The kids learned some stuff and had a good time doing it.

 

THAT'S how we do merit badge class during troop meetings.

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MBs during Troop meeting? Not likely. Practice of Skills. Planning of events/camps/hikes/etc. Announce plans. MB posibilities anr announced. Meet after Troop Meeting with Mr. Pachung to learn about the Physical Fitness MB. Call Mr. Caching to ask about his Farm Mechanics MB class on saturday.

 

It is up to the boy to make it happen. Ask the SM for a blue card. Talk to the counselor. Arrange for the fulfilling of requirements. Bring signed card back to SM.

 

MBCounselor is an interested adult that will certify the boy has met the requirements. It is good if the adult is somewhat expert or skillful in the topic, but such is not required. The responsible adult will not counsel Plumbing MB if they don't know much about it (sweating a copper joint, pump pressure, etc.). We do seek out adults in the field (airport manager for Aviation MB) to be available for the interested Scout. But not during the usual Troop meeting hours.

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I don't see the big deal with doing SOME requirements of a MB at a meeting, if your meetings have patrol time worked into them and a particular patrol wants to meet with a MBC for their time, then fine. Or even individual scouts meeting with their MBC to check-off achievements for a particular badge.

 

I don't see why a scout can't set-up / talk with MBC about the planning of the MB at the scout meeting. So long as it doesn't turn into a "classroom" meeting with a MB lecture for all scouts, although that might be a good way to trudge through the 3 Citizenship MB's for the most part...too much discuss and writing in those, too little DOing, but thats another post.

 

Finally, anything that COULD be done outside of an indoor setting SHOULD be. Cooking MB, Camping MB (don't laugh) - should not take place in the church library. The prep part (what you are cooking, where and when you are going camping, development or gear list, etc...) could be done that way.

 

I think its an important aspect of the troop meeting, so long as it does NOT become the main focus of the overall meeting.

 

Dean

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