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Anyone Ever See a Troop Run Like an "Eagle Mill" ?

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I have to agree BW. I mean honestly, how much is a Scout really getting out of the program when he is an Eagle at 14 years old because he was constantly offered Eagle-required MBs by his Troop?


Up until this year, as far as I can tell the MBs were being taught to the entire Troop (about 40 boys) by one person (MBC/ASM/SM/SPL), mostly at Troop Meetings. So naturally the Troop was pumping out plenty of Merit Badges, but I wonder what percentage of those 40 boys have retained the information he was supposedly credited for learning?


A new SM has taken over and has made clear the Troop is not going to be an Eagle factory or MB mill any longer. Parents are freaking out now because they are afraid their son isn't going to like Scouting if he's not constantly handed a MB to do. (And I do mean "handed"; rarely before now were the boys responsible for picking a MB they wanted to do themselves.)


It's an uphill hike from here... things were made too easy for this Troop and now it's become the rule rather than the exception to constantly be on watch for how many scouts need what MB and make sure we get it taught. That, in my opinion, is not a boy-led Troop at all. What do you think?


The new SM could potentially lose Scouts by insisting on a boy-led Troop, the patrol method, and doing away with the eagle factory and MB mill. Essentially, the SM is

taking the Committee and Parents away from the power they have had for some time to dictate the way the Troop is run.


Is it better to lose Scouts in order to preserve the BSA program? I think so. I just wish the parents/ other committee members were better educated on what the Scouting methods are. This aint the 3rd Year Webelos Program!


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Has your Scoutmaster given any thought to helping ween the guys off of their dependence on MB activity by asking the PLC to plan activites that would allow qualified instructors (youth where possible) to learn and put into practice the skills needed for a MB that the PLC chose?


For example, if your PLC decided that they would like to have a campout that emphasizes Pioneering, one of the older Scouts who has demostrated an interest in the topic could be delegated the responsibilty to plan the program for a weekend campout at which older boys could instruct younger boys in rope making, lashing, and the construction of pioneering projects. Along the way, younger boys could learn and be tested on their First Class requirments, and begin getting information that would help them complete Pioneering IF THEY CHOSE TO PURSUE IT. The older guys get the experience of teaching, which is obviously a valuable skill. We also see much value in youth teaching in that they learn the skill better.


During the weekend, or in the run up to the event during meetings, it is not inappropriate for a MB instructor to use a few minutes to introduce the MB and its requirements to the Troop, and to give the Scouts a heads up as to what they might want to concentrate on if they decide to work on the badge.


The rate at which MBs are earned may slow, unless each Scout pursues advancement on his own, but your Troop will move toward being a model Troop.



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We offer some MB training about twice a year. They are some of the bigger ones, such as First Aid. We wrap the entire theme of the month around it though. Older scouts help the instructor. PLC puts on competitions or demonstrations, etc. We also don't do 100% of it in the meeting. Some portions of it will be done in other settings. For example, the First Aid MB will also be part of the activities in that month's campout.


I've seen Eagle Mill troops. That is definitely NOT what I see us as doing. Unfortunately, some believe that if you offer ANY MB training in a troop meeting, you're a MB Mill. I just don't see it that way.

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I really dislike what the adults who offer this sort of thing are doing to the program.

Trying to fix something that has been in place for a while can be difficult.

To my way of thinking you or the Scoutmaster has 3 options.

1/ Do nothing. Leave everything as is.

2/ Lay down the law and tell everyone the way it is going to be. Kinda like "My way or the Highway!"

3/ Look at where the troop is today. Look at everything. Uniforming, Advancement, Equipment, adult support, The Troop Committee, Trained Leaders. Everything. Take the time to write down what he sees. A kind of State Of The Troop Report. The list is more then lightly a long list. He then should work out what he sees things like if everything was perfect. From this he should be able to get some long term goals and some short term goals. He then needs to share these goals with the Troop committee, the other adult leaders and the PLC.

If advancement is the one that he wants to tackle first, he needs to work with everyone to come up with a plan that will lead up to the goal. This might at first mean that MB "Classes that were the back bone of every meeting are cut back. It might mean that the troop stops offering as many "In House" Merit Badges and starts asking the Scouts to use the District Merit Badge List. It might mean asking the PLC to come up with Troop Meeting programs that cover MB requirements without having the classes. The activities are "Hidden" in games and Patrol meetings. Camp outs should allow a boy who is working on a MB the opportunity to work on it. If he is working on cooking or camping. Requirements can be covered in service projects.

The way it is presented is very important.


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All, very well put.

Being a new Scoutmaster for a new troop (1/2 year old) it has been difficult not to become a MB mill, or a Badge mill.

I have stuck to my guns with the scouts and the parents, we will not just churn out the badges, period.

I tell the PLC to plan it, and we will get it done. They have finally got it. This year (Starting in September) the PLC has designed the program with three things in mind.

1. New scout in February. The troop will get 8 New boys in February, the PLC has decided it is time to get some First classes and they are working towards it. Out of 10 Scouts (size of troop) we will have 7 to 8 First classes by December.

2. MB's. They contacted the MB counselors (with my help) and started having them taught at Troop meetings. I Have discussed the approach with the MB counselors. Basically give homework and make sure that they do it. If the Counselor gives home work, that is the scouts ticket to get into the training.

Cooking MB has taken 2 months to complete, but it is getting done.

3. Having fun and attending Camporees and Summer camp. We will see if it works.





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Eamonn -

As always, you have wonderful advice. I thank ya!


The new SM is definitely weaning the boys from the constant "we'll do nothing but MB work during Troop meetings." We have a MB of the Month - it's offered at a different time/day than the weekly Troop meeting. He has worked with the PLC, explaining how they can still do MBs in the Troop meetings, but they must be part of a theme, to include the monthly camping/outing. If there is no correlation with the month's theme, then a MB is just not feasible. In other words, if the month's theme is Camping, we aren't going to do the Dentistry MB in Troop meetings. I think this makes perfect sense!


I think what is upsetting the parents (who are also the committee members) is that they now lack the planning control they had a few weeks ago. The parents and committee was used to dictating the planning for the month, assigning the Troop to do a MB, and providing an instructor or MBC to teach the MB to the boys. The parents and committee chose the MB for the boys based on a Troop advancement report (you know, the big checklist of who has vs. who needs what MB). I always thought this was atrocious! But I was only one committee member and I really didn't want to butt heads about it without the SM and PLC support. We had a very weak "go with the flow" PLC before now, as well. The previous SM was instead saying (in essence), "Hey guys, most of you need ____ MB, so we're going to do that this month, okay." And what boy is going to say no? The intentions have always been great, and geared toward the boys betterment, just not exactly mirroring the methods of Scouting.


I am hoping for a good mesh, a compromise, and the weaning of the MBs as they've known it.

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Hey Dan -


I see what you mean, but I mean the Troop (38 boys at last count) has several active parents and registered leaders who are also Merit Badge Counselors. Any of those MBCs can step up and offer to hold a MB session. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not going to be done in the regular weekly Troop meeting, that's all. So in essence, the entire Troop is offered a Merit Badge of the Month (not an eagle required).


Anyway, in addition, each of the Troops in our District volunteers someone to offer the entire District a Merit Badge of the Month. Each month, a different Troop Leader holds a MB session for the District on one Saturday per month. It's open to the first 16 boys that call up the Scout hut and sign up.


Please understand we are on an island, and separated from our Council Service Center by an ocean and a bunch of miles!

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I think the scout should decide what merit badge he wants to take, and call the counselor, set up the meeting. Not just walk into a meeting. It does not matter if you are on a island, if you have the counselors available.

You do not even want to know how I feel about Summer Camps Merit Badges!

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Dan -

I suppose so.


It's just something our District has set up, a MB of the Month program. Based on that, our Troop picked it up as an "in-house" deal and we decided to offer a MB of the Month within the Troop as well.


Sometimes we don't have a MB of the Month in the Troop because parents who are MBCs are too busy or the Troop is too busy but most of the time we do.


Boys are given a list of the MBCs for the District as well and are still entirely free and encouraged to seek out MBs on their own!


Formerly, our Troop did MBs in almost every weekly Troop meeting and every monthly campout. That's what we just put a stop to. It was a serious disservice to the Scouting program.

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