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OldGreyEagle

...When a kid Blows off his merit badges...

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So, this was mentioned twice on the sending a kid home thread. I want to be sure I understand. You have a scout sign up for 3 merit badges, gets to camp and decides he doesnt want to be do the three merit badges so you send him home? Is that the gist?

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Not me. As long as he's not hanging around causing trouble, I don't care. This isn't school so if he doesn't want the merit badges and just wants to fish, that's fine.

 

 

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Whose merit badges are these, and whose advancement is this this? Evidendently there are scout leaders who see it as theirs rather than as the scouts'.

 

Working on advancement at summer camp is a great opportunity for some scouts but it certainly should not be forced on them. There are plenty of other things to do a camp besides merit badges.

 

If one follows the BSA standards for sending scouts home, then not attending merit badge classes in itself does not meet any of the BSA standards for such an action.

 

 

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the only time we send scouts home if they are being a danger to themselves or the unit. No I caught a bunch of heat 2 years ago from 2 moms that signed thier boys up 7 sent them to camp, both boy's just wanted to hang out and fish. That was fine by us but when we got home mom was mad as you can guess both boy's have left the program, being it was forced upon them. So no we would never send a scout unless he is causing issues.

 

YIS

Doug

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I don't mind a kid blowing off MB classes as long as they do not expect to get the MB later.(as has happened - kid only showed up on the last class and expeceted blue cards - parents did the same)

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95% of me tells me to say "fine, no problem." The other tiny 5% says to ask "OK, great, what do you plan to do at camp." If the answer is virtually anything Scoutlike, including get to know kids from other Troops, etc. that's fine. But if he kind of shuffles his feet and says "I dunno, just hang." I might pursue it a bit more.

 

Has he heard bad things about the merit badges or been scared off?

 

Was he forced to sign up for the merit badges and he doesn't really want to do them?

 

Is he tired of round-the-clock multitasking?

 

Is he planning to use his full creative effort to cause trouble? :)

 

Going to camp for a vacation is great and that's a perfectly acceptable answer. But even a vacation has some structure and I would probably pursue enough to find out what the Scout's planned structure is and why that structure has changed.

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If one of our Scouts signs up for a MB class, he has an obligation to attend. Many of our MB classes at camp are full, so if he signed up and didn't he attend, he most likely kept another Scout from being able to earn that badge. Blowing off a class wouldn't be a reason to send a boy home, but it would trigger a SM conference. We would have a talk about setting goals and achieving them, and finishing what you started. We haven't had to deal with this issue to date.

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We have to register for MB months in advance. If the scout decides up front that he doesnt' want to do MB, and his parents agree, who are we to disagree?

 

It's when he signs up for MB and then we find out the last day that he didn't go to the "sessions" (we're not allowed to call them "classes") that we get upset.

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I like BrentAllen's answer in conjunction with NeilLup's.

 

But if the Scout just wants to go to camp and not do MB work, I would encourage him to just say so up front so everyone is on the same page.

Fishing is fine, so is meeting other Scouts and "just hanging out". But the points of those who have pointed out that he may be keeping another Scout out of a class by signing up for one is totally valid especially if it is a space restricted small availability class like Scuba, etc.

 

Would I prefer that he was doing some advancement, emphatically yes, but there are other methods of Scouting and ways of advancement other than MB work that may be in play here... and it depends on the Scout in question.

 

I wouldn't be sending a non-trouble making Scout home for not going to MB sessions.

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>>It's when he signs up for MB and then we find out the last day that he didn't go to the "sessions" (we're not allowed to call them "classes") that we get upset.

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I think it's sad, and a poor reflection on a Council and their Summer Camp, if they require boys to sign up for merit badges before getting to camp (though I can see a couple of exceptions, such as Scuba, where the camp may be sending information about any special equipment that needs to be brought along, or any extra costs involved). It's equally sad if a Troop treats Summer Camp as nothing more than a merit badge factory, especially if they're willing to send a Scout home because he's decided to blow off those sessions.

 

If a summer camp can't absorb whatever number of Scouts want to take a particular class, it has bigger problems to work out. Though we had a pretty good idea of what merit badges we wanted to work on before we got to camp, we always waited until camp actually started and we could learn something about how that particular merit badge session was going to be handled before taking the session. For instance, I took one particular merit badge because of a planned hike to the bogs on the Scout Reservation that were otherwise off limits as a protected wildlife sanctuary. I wouldn't have known to take that merit badge in advance of learning that this would be part of the merit badge work, and didn't learn it would be part of the badge work until we got to camp. To this day, I remember things about bogs that I never would have learned otherwise.

 

Had I wanted to concentrate on Horsemanship (Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan had it's own horse ranch, and offered this merit badge at camp). I would have known in advance that it would cost an additional $50.

 

And we always - always - always had the option of just "dropping out" of any merit badge session. As our wise Scoutmaster used to tell us - summer camp is supposed to be fun, and if you aren't having fun at a merit badge session, then just stop going - if you finished any of the requirements, ask for the partial - you can always finish it at home, or the next year.

 

If the lad just wants to fish all day - encourage him to work on Fishing Merit Badge. It won't cost him any more time, and if he's clever, he'll read certain requirements to meet his own standards. One of my fellow Scouts worked on the fishing merit badge three years in a row. He could never seem to catch the required number of fish to earn the merit badge. In his third year, we learned why. It wasn't that he wasn't catching the fish - it was that he wasn't catching fish that met HIS standards for catching a fish. He wasn't about to claim that merit badge because he caught some blue gills - not when there were bass, northern pike, and muskies in the lake! How did we learn this? He spent more time in a rowboat that third year (we had some Scouts - including me - working on Rowing Merit Badge and he would come along as company while we rowed out on the lake), and caught the fish he was looking for. When the Counselor mentioned at lunch that it took him long-enough to catch his fish, he just off-handedly mentioned that he caught the number of fish he needed long ago - they just weren't the right fish. The Counselor was floored - and our wise Scoutmaster just grinned.

 

There were always plenty of things to do around camp that didn't require taking a merit badge. Sure, the lakefront might be closed to swimming in the morning during merit badge sessions, but the commissioners camp welcomed Scouts at their campfire as much as they welcomed the Scout Leaders. I learned more about cooking in a dutch oven by hanging out at the Commissioner's Camp than I learned in my Troop - and I wasn't earning a single merit badge while I was hanging out at the Commissioner's Camp.

 

Now, if a lad is blowing off a merit badge session, I'm going to ask him why - not in a way to try to guilt him back into going, or to somehow get some point about responsibility across, but because there may be more going on than I see from the surface. It may be that the Counselor is just doing a really poor job of presenting the badge, it may be that the lad took on more than he could chew at this time, it may be that the lad just wants some down time, or that the lad is really just not that interested in the badge after all and feels he has no other options.

 

Calico

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We try to nip this in the bud in advance. Who is going to blow off their water skiing session. We let the new scouts know in no uncertain terms that until they have Swimming and First Aid mb there are certain trips they are not eligible for. We did have two older scouts decide that they wanted to do lifeguard to "hang at the pool all day" of course it does not hurt that our new eagle scout has a summer job at the city pool as a lifeguard. Warn them in advance about the boring parts and do not let them take MB's that can not be completed at camp. Why do camps offer sports or athletics without making sure the boys know the prereq's. Those are the most likely ones to be blown off they think its like PE in school and it isn't.

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When you have 900 - 1,000 boys showing up for camp each week, it is pretty hard to wait and schedule them once they arrive. I think our council does a pretty good job of letting us register in early April online. One advantage is the boys can prepare for those merit badges they register for - read the MB pamplets, work on the skills (splices for Pioneering, for example) and complete any requirements that can't be completed at camp.

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I can understand the point about scheduling issues that Brent is trying to make. When camps are set up like this, it is hardly the scout's fault that he needs to choose MB classes far in advance, or else miss out entirely. Still, a scout is courteous and filling a space that he has no intention of actually using, isn't courteous to those scouts who would have liked to take the MB in question.

 

But I have heard many good reasons for ditching MB classes, just from my own son. First year at camp? Ditched some because toward the end of the week he was having more fun catching frogs and hanging with the older boys who befriended him (big important deal to him, since he was a lonely 11 year old provo scout with no one from his troop in attendance). Second year at camp? Ditched one because of truly poor quality of class. Third year at camp? Ditched one because the MBC picked on him for 3 days straight for not being the "right" religion (I kid you not). Ditched another because a troop adult insisted on attending too and wasn't a pleasant person to be near. Fourth year? Got really smart, chose classes that he couldn't wait to get to (rifles for 2nd time, canoeing, climbing) with people he knew he could get along with, and was also lucky that the camp had an outstanding staff of MBCs. Says he didn't skip a single session.

 

If his SM had thought to reprimand him for any of the above, I'd have been pretty seriously annoyed.

 

I thought he might be on the 3 year plan for rifles by the way, Calico...(but he finished it, to my surprise). Thanks for the fishing story.

 

 

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>>Still, a scout is courteous and filling a space that he has no intention of actually using, isn't courteous to those scouts who would have liked to take the MB in question.

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