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Our Troop is relatively young and one of the tasks Ive been volunteered for is to organize the Merit Badges into a recommended order of difficulty or age appropriateness. While we understand that every boy is different and what may be difficult for one can be easy for another, we think there is probably some common since order to take on the Merit Badges, especially the Eagle required badges. This would only serve as a recommendation to help Scouts and parents decide which badges to work on and in what order. Ive taken some notes from Summer camp recommendations like:

1st year (Basketry ,Canoeing, Fishing, Indian Lore, Leatherwork, Mammal Study, Swimming , Wood Carving)

2nd year (Camping, Cooking, Fish and Wildlife Management, Forestry, Lifesaving, Orienteering, Pioneering, Rowing, Wilderness Survival)

3rd year (Archery, Astronomy, Environmental Science, Rifle Shooting, Soil and Water Conservation)

4th year(Climbing, Horsemanship)

 

Has anyone taken on this task in more detail that they can share?

 

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Take Canoeing out of the first year. The non-swimming aquatics badges are enjoyed the most around the 3rd+ year of camp, in my exp. 11 & 12 yr olds don't have the strength to handle a canoe by themselves (and most will have trouble with a partner).

 

Lifesaving at year 2 - only if he's on a swim team. Again, I'd put this off another year mostly b/c it's a demanding requirement.

 

Rifle shooting - find out the kinds of sights they use. They actually use scopes @ our latest camp. I don't think anybody in the entire camp failed to qualify that week. It may be a good badge for a 2nd year scout.

 

YIS,

 

Gags

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I was getting ready to post and saw Gag's reply. I was going to make the same observations. Canoeing (1st & 2nd year's usually don't have the upper-body strength), Lifesaving (ditto), and Rifle Shooting can easily be a 2nd year badge (if the boy has experience and/or they use scopes).

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I'm not certain I understand the point of this classification scheme. Yes, some MBs are harder than others, but I think the scouts can and should discover this for themselves.

 

Setting up a priori age groups can discourage scouts from pursuing MBs that the adults think are "too hard". A case in point: one of our brand new cross-overs - barely Scout rank - just earned his very first MB - Wilderness Survival. No one told him it was difficult even for 15 year olds, but he did great and had a blast.

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I agree that you should let the scouts' interests dictate--but there are some observations based on conventional wisdom and reading.

1. I think the Camping MB should be the first Eagle MB a scout begins--although it probably won't be the first he finishes.

2. Swimming first summer at camp. As others have noted, Lifesaving when the boy is ready, may take a year or two.

3. My son's troop has done the citizenship badges with groups, and this has worked pretty well (although all the requirements, of course, have to be done individually). I think these are all doable by younger scouts, and might be a good place to start. BUT please note that the Citizenship in the Community requirements have been changed, requiring 8 hours of community service.

4. Family Life is not too hard.

5. Many people say Personal Management is better for older scouts who might have some income to manage.

6. First Aid really needs an instructor, with access to a CPR training device.

7. As far as particularly easy MBs to get boys started, Music is very easy for anybody who is in the band or orchestra. Art is pretty easy, too.

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I must echo the thoughts of Trevorum here.

 

I was only a Scout myself for one year. The two merit badges I completed (we had skill awards back then too) were Camping and Wilderness Survival.

 

I think rather than looking at which ones would be easiest, we should think about which ones you would want every Scout in your Troop to get.

 

Camping, First Aid, Swimming, Citizenship all sound like a good start. Besides, if you burn through all of the easy ones, then later it can feel like hitting a wall. I liken this idea to taking all of the 'easy' courses in college your freshman year and then loading up with the tough ones at then end. Don't most of us do it the other way around?

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Be sure to look at the links with advancement. For example, our brand new troop guys went to summer camp. Most of our boys did not take swimming. Then, they did not have the rescue part for first class. Our community pool is an outdoor pool. So, some of the boys ended up having to go across town to finish that one item for first class that would have been covered if swimming had been taken at camp.

 

Also, ask around and see if any badges are next to impossible to earn at camp. Almost all the boys took rifle. None earned the badge with the required x number of shots in the size of a quarter. In fact, I think only 2 boys at the entire camp were able to hit the target with that accuracy with the guns provided. I know the boys here are telling the younger ones planning to go to camp this next year NOT to take rifle. It sound appealing when they are reading the list, but it was disappointing when almost all Scouts were failing to meet the required standards.

 

Hope that helps a bit though suppose that may be more local in slant.

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I would like to say a bit more in favor of "easy" merit badges. I do think they help some scouts get into the swing of earning MBs, and some of them can be earned pretty quickly, getting the process going. The more immediate gratification is encouraging. I guess my ideal would be for a boy to have one or two "harder" badges going, and to pick up easier ones along the way at MB fairs, camp, etc.

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Hunt - Two years ago I would agree with you. Now, my mind has changed somewhat. Our first year guys went to camp and pocketed a ton of MBs two years ago. Again, last year, pocketed a bunch more. Now, the non-Eagle MBs they work on are counting toward palms! They have very little incentive or drive to go out on their own and work on earning merit badges the "traditional way". It is definitely a trend I've seen with our guys.

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I guess I haven't seen boys pocket enough easy MBs early on to make getting palms too easy--I suppose that could be an issue if they got really large numbers. On the flip side, I don't really like seeing an older scout go and get his Fingerprinting MB just to make his numbers.

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I don't agree with any grouping of merit badges other than how BSA has grouped them. I also don't agree with age restrictions. If you impose age restrictions you are putting up one more barrier to unity and giving older boys one more thing to poke fun at the younger ones about. You are also adding a requirement to a particular badge that doesn't exist. That's a no-no. If a summer camp has age restrictions then fine, follow their rules or don't go to their camp but I strongly disagree with age restrictions, size restrictions etc. They are all Scouts. If they think they can accomplish something they probably can. These artificial restrictions are bougus, detrimental to good order and certainly not listed as BSA policy in any course I have ever taken or book I have ever read. There are numerous anectdotal stories of the small kid/young kid/fat kid/skinny kid accomplishing a merit badge that some adult didn't think he could or should try for. Let the Scout decide what he is interested in. Guide him. Inform him. But don't invent something that isn't there.

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