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OldGreyEagle

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

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I find this whole topic amusing. We advise the boys that they can take as many MB classes as they want but they will be missing all the fun stuff they rest of us are doing. Summer camp is way to important to wast it in class.

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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.

 

A Scout signs up for 3 merit badges at summer camp & just decides not to go without telling anyone. Each day he leaves for his merit badge classes & does whatever. You take your weekly walk around camp to see how your Scouts are doing & find out this Scout has never been there yet when you asked him during the week how his merit badges were going he tells you fine.

 

Sorta sounds like a not trustworthy issue to me. That might not be a reason to send a Scout home according to BSA standards, but it did happen in my unit one summer camp & the Scout was sent home. For lying.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Some of our troop's leaders are too hung up on advancement at camp. Several times, I reminded these leaders that as long as the boys were safe and having fun, then their summer camp experience was a success.

 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with giving gentle reminders to the boys that skipping "classes" or not doing "homework" will result in not earning the merit badge, but ultimately that is the choice for the boy to make. As previously mentioned, this is a great learning experience for the boys.

 

LisaBob, I loved your son's camp stories! My 12 year old signed up for 4 merit badges this summer, and he is not a self-motivated kind of kid. I kept my mouth shut, even though I knew he would regret not having more free time, and he learned a better lesson on his own, than he would have if I had told him 4 would probably be too many for him. He ended up dropping out of Pioneering, and I'm glad no one forced him to continue. During the time that Pioneering met, he was able to go to free swim with his friends, which I agreed was a much better choice for my hyperactive son.

 

My older son had at least one unfinished merit badge at each of his 1st 3 summer camps, but he had fun, and that was more important than completing everything. After all, summer camp is not WORK, it is CAMP!

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We didn't go so far as to kick the Scout from camp, but we did have a few serious discussions during and after camp with some boys who decided to blow off their merit badges.

 

Part of the reason was because they were blowing off the classes to just "hang around" (read: cause trouble).

 

Part of the reason was we only had 2 leaders, thus we couldn't keep an eye on the ditchers while also keeping an eye out for the others (we had a lot of novice scouts, we were at BTSR during a very hot week of June, and we needed to keep an eye out for heat injuries).

 

A significant reason was because the ditchers were at camp through the personal financial generosity of our District President (senior church leader) and my partner and I couldn't stomach the boys wasting $300 each to "just hang out".

 

A few of the got their act together by the end of the week and were even enjoying themselves. The others had phone conversations with their parents (and got blistered ears for their whining) and a follow up talking to from the SM when he arrived near the end of the week. We haven't seen one since then, but he was trying to quit from day one and only stayed the week because his mom made him be a man about it (he's almost 14) and keep his end of the commitment he made (he'd participate fully in camp if our District President paid his way). He also had to stay simply because his parents couldn't afford to come get him from camp. Its sad that we may have lost him, but I don't think we had much of a chance with him to start with.

 

Fast forward a bit. We're getting our final BoRs ready for our CoH next week, and some will get the extra learning lesson of watching other receive awards and ranks while they end up "just hanging out" in the audience aside from participating in skits and flag ceremonies.

 

On the flip side we did have some really motivated boys who came away with about a dozen MBs and some progress towards ranks, as well as helping motivate the troop to earn assorted awards for service projects and Polar Bear swim.

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Maybe it's time to ditch the merit badge class theme and adopt a summer camp fun theme. There's got to be more to camp than class vs. hang out.

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FScouter, astoundingly I agree with you on this and have thought so for many years.

 

I've long thought that the way merit badges are done at summer camp does not do the whole merit badge concept justice.

 

Get rid of the handicraft merit badges at summer camp. No more leatherwork. No more basketry.

 

Outdoors merit bagdes could stay. Swimming, canoeing, sailing, life saving, hiking, backpacking could stay and be worked into a week long outdoors program.

 

Trail to First Class? Work that into the outdoor program if you really want TTFC.

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CalicoPenn:

 

Advance signups are a must at most camps, if only to make sure you don't have chaos at Sunday sign-up night when 50 Scouts are all fighting for the 10 Motorboating MB slots. (First-come, first-serve advance sign-up also encourages units to register well in advance, putting the council on good financial ground - but money doesn't play a role in the BSA, does it? Nahh.)

 

At my old camp, we had a Sunday night "Merit Badge Midway" where Scouts who hadn't signed up could stop by a program area table in the dining hall and see what was available. Often those limited-space badges and programs (such as Climbing, COPE, Motorboating, BSA Lifeguard) were already filled to capacity, with a waiting list.

 

From a logistical standpoint, advance sign-up also gives the camp notice that it'll need to make special arrangements - like lining up another van for an off-site trip to a sewage plant or the state capitol (one of those trips was for an ecology badge, the other for a Citizenship badge - hard to tell them apart sometimes). Or for arranging for 10 more fishing poles, a couple more loaner canoes or an extra box of rope... you see where I'm going. Much easier to get those things a few weeks ahead than the night before.

 

GoldWinger:

 

As much as I like that idea, how many council camps are really set up for long-distance backpacking treks?

 

Backpacking MB calls for three 15-milers, three days each (though as that's just five miles a day, I don't know one can really describe it as "long-distance").

 

You'd be seeing a lot of the same scenery to get those 15 miles in at any camp I've been to. Going off-site, of course, is an option - a local state or national park, for example - but then why not ditch the whole council camp entirely and run your own program?

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A couple more thoughts on this...

1 - We have a kid in our Troop who joined Scouts late (14), and has enjoyed non-merit badge activities the past 3 summer camps, earning only 2 mb's per camp. He always signed up for 4 or 5 classes, but ditched some of the classes or showed up only part of the time and got partials. Now he is 17 and will be turning 18 next April. Despited having advanced in rank, he does not have enough merit badges to earn Eagle. While he acts like he doesn't care, the older Scouts have used his situation as motivation to ensure they come back with camp with enough merit badges so they never end up in his situation. I talk to all Scouts about this and remind them it is up to them to to ensure they both earn the necessary rank and sufficient merit badges for Eagle.

2 - While I do not have a problem with a Scout "taking a break" and not having a merit badge class either in the morning or afternoon, I do have a problem if they are hanging around our camp alone or with only one adult. If they go hiking, fishing, finishing partial merit badges, or working on advancement, fine. But just hanging around the camp or trading post leads to trouble, and that's what they can get sent home for.

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How about this situation.........

 

A few boys sign up for merit badge classes. They go to the classes and sign in. Then they bail out on the class. The classes are very large, and they are not missed. This happens for a few days, before the leaders find out about what the boys are doing. How do you handle it?

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"Get rid of the handicraft merit badges at summer camp. No more leatherwork. No more basketry. "

 

When I went to summer camp a couple decades ago, these two merit badges were not offered as structured classes that required a sign-up. Rather, the shelter area outside the trading post (where the materials could be purchased) had the tools and counselors available all day long from 30 minutes after breakfast until about an hour before dinner.

 

In other words, they were additional options to do as a free-time activity. Earning those merit badges was not required to participate, but the option was there for those who wanted to take advantage of it.

 

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A few boys sign up for merit badge classes. They go to the classes and sign in. Then they bail out on the class. The classes are very large, and they are not missed. This happens for a few days, before the leaders find out about what the boys are doing. How do you handle it?

 

1st - Sit these boys down & have a little chat. Find out where they were & what they were doing.

 

2nd - Have them apologize to the MB counselors for disrespecting them.

 

3rd - When mom & dad show up for parents night or to pick up these boys at the end of camp, with the boys present, fill the parents in on what happened & let everyone know that this will be reviewed by the unit committee & there might be additional consequences.

 

While all this is going on, the boys who blew off these classes should be assigned some unpleasant menial task like cleaning the latrine daily, daily garbage detail, etc.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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A few boys sign up for merit badge classes. They go to the classes and sign in. Then they bail out on the class. The classes are very large, and they are not missed. This happens for a few days, before the leaders find out about what the boys are doing. How do you handle it?

 

Have a SM conference with them to find out what they were doing instead, and congratulate them on taking the initiative to do something that they found to be more fun?

 

(this is assuming that their alternate activity was not destructive or immoral, that other scouts did not get the opportunity to take the class as a result, and that the scouts did not try to claim having completed the MB's if they did not.)

 

 

 

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"A few boys sign up for merit badge classes. They go to the classes and sign in. Then they bail out on the class. The classes are very large, and they are not missed. This happens for a few days, before the leaders find out about what the boys are doing. How do you handle it? "

 

I inform the camp that I won't bother sending my scout to the classes until they can get the class size down to a manageable size. If the scouts aren't missed then their better off not going.

Might as well just send one scout with a camcorder and have the whole troop can watch it rather than going to camp.

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"I inform the camp that I won't bother sending my scout to the classes until they can get the class size down to a manageable size. If the scouts aren't missed then their better off not going."

 

Well, that's easy - put size limits on the classes, say a max of 10-12 Scouts. Then sit back and watch the complaints come in from leaders and parents whose registrations weren't in earlier and whose Scouts are now forced into so-called "boring" classes, the only ones left.

 

Or you can put size limits on the classes and hire more instructors so everyone gets their first or second program choice. Then sit back and watch the complaints come in from leaders and parents who now have to pay more to undewrite the additional salaries.

 

Or you can cut down on the number of troops that can come during each session. Then sit back and watch the complaints come in from leaders and parents who now have to pay more to operate the same level of program with less money.

 

Wingnut - Sorry if this seems snarky, but it really is a lose-lose situation for the camp.

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