Posts Tagged ‘Advancement’


2013 auction prizesI was looking for a way to further excite the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 to attend troop activities and earn their advancement when I came up with the idea of having a troop auction for prizes at the end of the year. I do not remember if I got the idea from another troop or if I came up with it myself. I do know that it has been a part of our program for over twenty years, and that other Scouts leaders have developed their own auction programs after listening to how Troop 68 conducts theirs.

Here is how it works. The Scouts earn “troop bucks” each time they go on an outing and for each merit badge and rank they earn during the year. They earn $25 per troop outing. They earn $50 for each merit badge. They earn $100 for attaining Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class; $150 for attaining Star or Life Rank; and $200 for reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. These bucks are then used to bid on prizes during the “troop auction” held after the December court of honor.

When I first began doing the auction I would hand out troop bucks at each court of honor. The bucks were actually Monopoly money with our troop stamp stamped over the top of it so the boys could not use Monopoly money from their own games. The Scouts had to store the money themselves. If they lost it it would not be replaced.

The Monopoly money worked well for a few years, but then Monopoly money disappeared from store shelves. Another problem was that brothers started pooling their money together to bid on the bigger prizes. That was not the way the bucks were meant to be used and was very unfair to those Scouts who did not have brothers in the troop.

I created a troop bucks certificate on the computer to replace the Monopoly money. The certificate contained the Scout’s name. amount earned, and the year earned. Certificates could only be used by the person who’s name appeared on it. The year on the certificate helped to keep things honest for the one prize we auctioned for which only bucks earned that year could be used to bid. I also awarded the certificate once a year, at the December court of honor. That created less work for me and less chance of Scouts losing the bucks before the year’s last court of honor.

Any unused troop bucks could be saved to be used another year on regular prizes. Once a Scout turned 18 years old his troop bucks became non-valid. It was interesting to watch older Scouts try to use up any troop bucks they owned at their last auction before they turned eighteen. Bidding is done in $5 increments.

We I started the troop auction we based the amount spent on prizes by the amount of advancement earned during the year. A certain amount would be added to the kitty for each merit badge and rank. The more the Scouts advanced, the more money was thrown into the kitty, and the more prizes or bigger prizes could be bought. That worked well until the troop started shrinking. Ten Scouts had trouble earning a large fund so we changed the financing to a lump some. I also based the number of prizes on the number of Scouts currently enrolled in the program. We did not need 30 prizes when we only had eight Scouts.

I also wanted to keep the cost of the auction down so I began looking for prizes throughout the year, not just a month before the auction. I started getting pretty good and finding nice items for free or little cost.

Each auction contains some “traditional” items. There is the Boy Scout Handbook, because someone is going to wear theirs out during the year. Boy Scout bolo ties and merit badge sashes have also been used as prizes on a regular basis. I usually try to include some sort of camping gear. And then there are some fun prizes, of course.

Tonight is Troop 68′s final court of honor for the year. The troop auction will immediately follow it. The picture posted with this article shows most of the prizes which will be auctioned. A merit badges sash is missing, as is the $20 cash prize for which only 2013 troop bucks will be allowed to be used to bid. There will be a lot of first time bidders at this auction. It should be a good night.

Has your troop does anything like this as a part of your program?

moviemaking-mbI always liked the Cinematography merit badge. Maybe it is because I like movies so well. Or maybe it has something to do with all those years I spent working with Mel TV3, our local community access television station. I did become a councilor for the badge shortly after it became available. I have a feeling that if this merit badge would have been available in the 1970′s I may have added one more to my sleeve.

It was announced today that what we have known as the Cinematography merit badge will now be known as the Moviemaking merit badge. That may be a better descriptive name for the badge. According to the Bryan On Scouting blog:

Think of it as the long-awaited sequel.

Cinematography merit badge is now Moviemaking merit badge, effective immediately. The design of the badge won’t change, and new pamphlets are expected in Scout shops in mid-November.

Why make this change? Well, anyone who sticks around to watch a movie’s credits knows that cinematography is just one specific part of making a movie. So calling a merit badge that covers all of moviemaking “Cinematography” was something of a misnomer.

The BSA’s merit badge team also saw this as a chance to make a few other changes, including:

Tweaked requirements in light of the title change and focus away from cinematography and more toward moviemaking in general.
Updated text in a number of places to reflect the name change and address newer technology
New information about intellectual property.

For more information about the merit badge change check out
http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/10/03/cinematography-merit-badge-becomes-moviemaking-merit-badge/

What do you think of the change?

The merit badge program of the Boy Scouts of America is a wonderful way to introduce boys to new hobbies, sports, crafts, and even possible careers. The awards require a Boy Scout to meet new people in the community who are the merit badge counselors. The counselor, who is knowledgeable in the badge subject matter and approved by the local Scout Council, works with the Scout to complete the badge requirements. When the counselor is satisfied that the Scout has completed the requirements he or she sings the merit badge application, commonly referred to as the blue card. The Boy Scout gives the card to his scoutmaster or troop advancement person who records it with the Scout Office.

As I stated earlier, the local council approves all merit badge counselors. Each counselor must fill out a B.S.A. application and a merit badge counselor form. He or she must also complete the online Youth Protection Training course. It is the council’s responsibility to keep an updated list of counselors.

The council may set restrictions on counselors. For example, twenty years ago , my council had a rule that a person could be a counselor for only six merit badges, and that a Boy Scout could only earn two badges with any counselor. Ten years ago, a person could be a counselor for as many badges as he thought he qualifies for, if the council agreed, and a Scout could go to a counselor for any of those merit badges.

At a recent roundtable the subject of merit badge counselors came up and I was surprised by the latest change. Our district will only allow a person to be a counselor for five merit badges. The reason for this guideline was to get the Boy Scout to meet and work with a larger variety of people within his community. While I understand the reasoning behind this, I am not sure I totally agree with it since I am involved with a Boy Scout troop located in a city of only 33oo people. How far should we expect a Scout to travel to earn a merit badge?

I was a counselor for six merit badges. Then I was able to increase that number to eight. Now, it looks like I will have to drop three of them to get down to five. I plan to drop Backpacking and Wilderness Survival, two merit badges that I have never had a Scout come to me to earn. I think I will also drop Cinematography. The ones I plan to keep are Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Collections, Hiking, and Scouting Heritage. I was once thinking about being a Chess merit badge counselor, but I guess that is no longer an option unless I drop something else.

Does your council or district have guidelines for merit badge counselors? What are they? Post a reply to this article and share them with us. I am curious to see what others are doing.

I will never forget the Hiking Skill Award. “Why?” you ask. Because back in the 1980′s, while on an overnighter at a local state park, I decided to take the troop on a five mile hike to complete a requirement for this skill award. And we got lost. The five mile hike turned into an eight mile hike. Luckily, we found someone to drive us back to our campsite. It was not a high point for a young scoutmaster. I guess you could say I learned a few things myself from that particular hike.

The requirements for the Hiking Skill Award were:

1) Tell how to take a safe hike:
a. Cross country, day and night.
b. Along a highway, day and night.

2) a. Tell how to keep from getting lost.
b. Tell what to do if you are lost.

3) a. On a map, point out 10 different symbols, including contour lines. Tell what they represent.
b. Orient a map.
c. Point out on a map where you are.

4) a. Show how a compass works.
b. Give its eight principle points.

5) a. Show how to use a compass and a map together.
b. Using a compass and a map together, follow a route you marked on the map far enough to show you know how.

6) Take a hike in the field.
a. Before leaving, have your plan approved by your leader, including purpose, route, and clothing.
b. Take a five mile hike with your troop, patrol, or two or more other Scouts. Wear the right clothing. Take the right equipment. Follow good hike rules.

7) Take a hike in your town.
a. Before leaving, have your plan approved by your leader, including purpose, route, and clothing.
b. Take a five mile hike in a place of interest outside your neighborhood with your troop, patrol, an adult, or two or more other Scouts. Wear the right clothing. Take the right equipment. Follow good hike rules.
c. After you get back, tell what you did and learned.

(There was alternative requirements for Scouts who used a wheelchair or crutches.)

I almost wish I young enough to be a Boy Scout again. The merit badge I have been waiting for has finally arrived. Scouting Heritage is has been approved and is ready for Boy Scouts to begin earning. Since I am too old to earn it myself, I will be signing on as a merit badge counselor.

The merit badge requirements have been posted at scouting.org. It is not going to be an easy merit badge for a boy to earn. A Scout is going to have to interview at least three different people. He needs to create a Scouting memorabilia collection. Some research will also need to be done on Scouting’s history.

When I first read the requirements I thought that requirement #4 would be one that would limit many boys from earning the badge. It states:

  1. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Attend either a BSA national jamboree, OR world Scout jamboree, OR a national BSA high-adventure base. While there, keep a journal documenting your day-to-day experiences. Upon your return, report to your counselor what you did, saw, and learned. You may include photos, brochures, and other documents in your report.
    2. Write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.* Obtain information about this facility. Give a short report on what you think the role of this museum is in the Scouting program.

I missed in 4b where it states “WRITE or visit” the national museum. Good thing I read it a second time. The list of requirements can be found at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/mb-scout_heritage.aspx

What do you think about this merit badge? Are you as excited about it as I am? Leave a comment.

Are you a Boy Scout? Would you like to do something different this year, the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America? How about earning a merit badge from the early days of Scouting that have been off the books for years? The BSA is bringing back four merit badges that you earn this year only. The badges include Signaling, Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry.

These badges must be completed before December 31, 2010, or you lose out on your chance to earn something from Scouting’s history.

For more information checking out the blog of Scouting Magazine, the Cracker Barrel, at http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2010/01/historical-merit-badges-help-boy-scouts-celebrate-scoutings-past.html

I was a scoutmaster for several years when I noticed that we had a number of Boy Scouts who would go along on many of the outings, but would not show up regularly for troop meetings, and would not take the time to earn their advancement. I talked to them. I encouraged them. But it did not make a difference. They would not put forth the effort to earn their ranks and merit badges.

As a scoutmaster, I feel it is important for a Scout to continue forward on his advancement. I do not expect every boy to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, but I do expect them to make a steady progress. While I am willing to work with the boys on some things, I believe the Boy Scout needs to take the responsibility to keep moving forward.
Out of my frustration came an idea. If a Scout did not earn a rank or merit badge within the last six months he would not be able to attend an outing until he did. Summer camp and high adventure bases would be excluded. I think I brought this up to the Patrol Leader Council before we began enforcing the “Those In Need Of Advancement” policy, which became known as TINOA. Any Scout on the TINOA list would not be able to go along on an outing.
Have you ever had an idea which seemed like a good one at the time, but it turned out not to be as good as you first thought? Have you ever had an idea backfire on you? Have you ever had an example of the Boy Scouts proving themselves smarter than you?
The TINOA policy actually worked fairly well for a couple of years. The boys began to work on their advancement a bit. After a while though, I began to notice that some of the older Scouts began missing quite a few activities. When I questioned them about it they replied, “Well, I am TINOA. I can’t go on the outing.” They had begun using the policy as an excuse to miss troop activities. They could use the policy to skip activities instead of using sports, families, friends, or girls as the excuse.
The policy had backfired. The troop soon dropped it and never brought it back. I have heard it said that the Boy Scouts of America has the program working pretty well and that we do not need to change it with addition requirements. TINOA was a good example of how you should not mess around with a good thing.

Have you heard about the Scouting Heritage Merit Badge yet? No? Well, that is probably because there is no such merit badge… yet. On the BSA Innovation Engine (found at http://ideas.scouting.org/ ) there are a lot of ideas thrown around for new merit badges. This one happened to catch the eye of Cubmaster Chris and I as we recorded a new episode of the Leader’s Campfire podcast last night. During this episode we discuss some of the ideas found on the BSA Innovation Engine, along with Jerry from The Scoutmaster Minute podcast.

The idea for a Scouting Heritage Merit Badge was posted by alobdell. He, or she, gave this merit badge some serious thought before submitting it to the engine. Here is what he/she wrote:

Include Scouting Heritage as a Merit Badge. Many of our Scouts do not know about the movement of Scouting. Requirements could include some of the following.
1. Write an essay about one of the Founders of Scouting. Make a presentation about the origin of Scouting to a non-Scout group such as a Church or civic organization.

2. Learn about Careers in Scouting.

3. Exchange letters with a Scout in another Scout Council.

4. Learn about the World Scouting Organization

5. Conduct an interview with a Veteran Scouter

6. Meet a Scouting Professional

7. Visit your Scout Council Headquarters

8. Learn about the BSA’s Adventure Bases
9. Attend a District Rountable or District Meeting
10. Make a display of Scouting information and material for your community to be open to the public for at least one week.

Chris and I agreed that this would be an excellent merit badge idea and a great idea for some sort of Cub Scout level award. To tell the truth, I thought this was one of the best ideas for a new merit badge listed on the idea engine. Chris thought this was a good idea with the 100th anniversary of Scouting coming up in 2010. Jerry had to leave us for a family function before we discussed this during the podcast, but knowing Jerry, he would give his thumbs up to this merit badge also.

Unfortunately, the BSA Innovation Engine is only open to professional Scouters to vote on the various ideas, so Chris, Jerry, and I could not leave a vote for this merit badge. However, Chris has installed a simular engine on the PTC Media site that is open for all of us non-professional Scouters to use. Check it out at http://www.ptcmedia.net/?q=node/801 and leave a few ideas of your own for everyone to check out.