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

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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.


Was it popular?


I just can't see a camp director today trying to justify having someone effectively "stand around" without a scheduled class to teach, from a budgetary standpoint. That mindset doesn't exist anymore.


(If you have an "open" program that's proven popular - open swim, open shoot, open archery, open boating - that's different.)


Just like everyone else these days, camps have got to use their resources in the most efficient manner possible. If I can shift my handicrafts instructor over to the pool as a lifeguard during two un-utilized sessions, then I'm sure as heck going to do it.

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Yeah, it was popular actually. There were usually 5-10 boys working on something at any given time, and even more during the free periods. I still have the pocket knife sheath, the belt, the basket and the woven stool that I made while there. The counselors did more than teach the merit badges, they also helped those who were just crafting for fun.


I think it also helped that it was right at the trading post (location, location, location), so when people stopped in for a snack or to pick up merit badge pamphlets, they saw the activities going on and could also see the different crafting items they could work on. Not everyone wanted to go to a free swim or free boating (or take a nap).


Whether it still is popular 20 years later is another, but also relevant, question. Currently, our council has enough of a problem with getting its units to stay in-council for summer camp, mainly due to summer heat/humidity and the lack of a real waterfront for boating.

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"I just can't see a camp director today trying to justify having someone effectively "stand around" without a scheduled class to teach, from a budgetary standpoint. That mindset doesn't exist anymore. "


These kinds of MB sessions are popular among the boys in our Troop, at least. Leatherwork, Basketweaving, Fingerprinting, and some others are offered this way at some of our area camps. They end up being some of the most popular MBs that our boys earn.


I've never hung out at one of these stations long enough to see whether they're popular with the other troops, but our boys not only earn the MBs, they talk them up, show each other their accomplishments, and encourage the younger scouts who are hanging around during free time to "Go do the Fingerprinting -- I did it last year and it was fun!"



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You are right - I didn't see the point that the scouts were signing in and attempting to get signoff on a MB in your prior post. In that case, a SM conference with each individual is called for to reflect on how that action meshes with the scout law (trustworthy?). I would then coach them on laying out a plan on how they will regain your trust (assuming that they care about such things - some will, some won't).

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So here's my bend on this thing....... Because this was intentional, manipulative, and some might say malicious, I think that the boys should have been sent home or suspended from the troop for 4-6 months. Severe, yes, but the message should be loud and clear.


This kind of behavior is what sets the culture for a troop. If we let these boys get off with just a slap of the wrist, then everyone else will begin to think that they too can shuck their responsibilities and commitments. What did the younger scouts learn from this?


Then there is another part of this that bothers me. I don't think that any of us would say that we know where the boys are every minute of the day while we're at Summer camp. However, we do know with almost 100% accuracy, where the boys are during merit badge sessions. Where were these boys, and what were they up to? I would be very uncomfortable with the realization that these boys were not where they should have been at a time when I thought (with 100% certainty) I knew exactly where they were.


Just to finish this little story, I was not at camp while this was occurring. The leaders in camp thought it was cute and did nothing. The boys went home with partials from the MB classes.



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