Posts Tagged ‘merit badge’


Earlier this year I was asked to run a class at a council merit badge clinic. The council has been trying to hold these on a monthly schedule this year. They had asked me once before to run a class but I had to pass do to my schedule. This time they asked me to run a class for the Collections merit badge. The date worked for me so I agreed to do it. I have a hunch I may not be asked back.

As the evening approached I gathered a couple boxes of stuff from my house to demonstrate different types of collections. I brought along some comic books, Star Wars toys, and a couple other things I collect. I also grabbed a package of Scout Handbooks that I had just received from eBay. I had reviewed the merit badge requirements so I was all ready for the class.

I arrived a little early so that I had enough time to set up my display and ask any questions I might have before the class began. Six Scouts had signed up for the Collections merit badge which I thought was a nice manageable group. If the Scouts came prepared we should not have a problem completing the requirements in the three hour session.

I knew we were going to have a problem once the Scouts arrived. Only two had come to the session somewhat prepared. Two others had only found out they were signed up for the class a night or two before the class so they had no idea what to expect. Well, we will make the best of it, I thought to myself.

We did what we could during the next few hours. The Scouts paid attention and seemed to want the badge. As a merit badge councilor I am trained to pass off requirements once they are completed. I am not going to sign a requirement that the Scout has not even tried to complete which means that all six Scouts went home from the session with a partial. I was proud that we at least completed three quarters of the requirements. I gave each Scout my contact information so they could finish the badge later.

I hoped that the Scouts would decide to finish the badge but only one Scout ever contacted me to do so. It is nearly a half year after the session and the other five boys still have not contacted me. Either they are not interested in finishing the merit badge or they found another counselor to work with, I guess.

I have not been asked to come back and run another class, and I think I know why. The cost of attending a class was $25.00. A Scout and their parents probably expect to receive a merit badge after attending a session. Sorry, but I am not signing off on a badge unless a Scout completes the requirements, whether they pay a fee for the class or not.

I have heard complaints from a couple Scouts in my troop who have attended a some of these classes. They go to the session prepared with the prerequisites for the councilor to review. They have stated to me that it is not fair that they prepare for the class to receive the badge, but other Scouts attend that are not prepared yet received a signed blue card stating they completed the requirements. If this is true, what kind of statement are we sending to Scouts? That you can buy a merit badge?

I did not get paid for my time running my merit badge class. I thought maybe the council would give the councilors a few bucks for their time and gas but I was told the money collected went to pay for the use of the facility. While I am sure there was a charge for the use of the rooms I would bet it did not come close to the money collected by the council. After all, there were several merit badge sessions that evenings, each with a group of Scouts. I think the council uses these sessions as a bit of a fundraiser, but I could be wrong.

Like I stated earlier, I do not think I will be asked back to run a merit badge session since I did not sign the blue cards at the end of the evening. You know what? That is alright with me. I do not believe a Scout should receive an award if he did not try to complete all the requirements. What do you think about it? Does your council conduct merit badge courses?

mpsc2014bThe Boy Scouts have come home. About an hour and a half ago the ten Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Melrose Troop 68 arrived home from spending the week at Many Point Scout Camp in northwest Minnesota. From the few minutes I was able to talk to them I discovered they had a great time but were ready to get home, clean up, and get back to life with their families.

The ten Scouts did an excellent job earning advancement while they were at camp. When I left them Monday afternoon I made a deal with them. I told them that if they earned a total of 25 completed merit badges during the week I would host a movie/pizza party. Eight of them were earning the Cooking merit badge which I did not think they could complete during camp so I did not count these against the total. I thought that 25 badges would present a good goal but would still be challenging.

Someday I will learn my lesson for betting against the Scouts. They earned their goal and went beyond it. They came home with 33 completed merit badges. It might be 34 after we check one Scout’s camping outings to see if he completed his Camping Merit Badge. Eight of these merit badges were the Cooking badge. It seems that with the new requirements this year the boys can complete the award during the week at camp. Oh well, even if I took the eight Cooking merit badges off the total it still leaves 25 completed badges, which met the goal. I guess I better get ready to buy some pizzas.

Here is a breakdown of the merit badges earned at summer camp this year:
8- Cooking, 2- Climbing, 2- Environmental Science, 4- Fishing,
1- Fish and Wildlife Management, 1- Forestry, 3- Game Design,
2- Geocaching, 1- Kayaking, 1- Lifesaving, 1- Mammal Study,
1- Nature, 1- Rowing, 1- Shotgun Shooting, 3- Weather,
1- Wilderness Survival (and possibly 1- Camping).

Congratulations to all the Boy Scouts for doing a great job at camp this week. Even though they earned a lot of badges while at camp they still managed to have a lot of fun and participate in in lots of activities.

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?

A few years ago the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 spent a month introducing themselves to the world of geocaching. One parent came to the meetings and showed the Scouts how it was done, and worked with them to find two geocaches located nearby our meeting place. This month, the troop once again visited that monthly theme, but this time brought in a merit badge councilor to help them earn one of the newest merit badges of the Boy Scouts of America (introduced in 2010). For many of the Scouts, this was a new experience and they enjoyed their first hunt during the meeting.

Yesterday, the troop held an outing to work on the merit badge requirements and find the half dozen or so caches in Melrose. Unfortunately, only one Scout showed up for the activity. Sports seemed to be the reason most of the others did not attend, although we discovered one Scout forgot about it and planned something else. Well, the one Scout, the scoutmaster, and the assistant scoutmaster went around town looking for the hidden treasures and found most of them. And they learned a few things. And the Boy Scout and the leaders and a good time.

The Scout and his father, the scoutmaster, stopped by my house when they had finished their searches. Scoutmaster Jim had a few questions about scoutmastering and the Scout was excited to share his day’s experiences. In fact, I got caught up in his enthusiasm and before you knew it we were planning to create our own cache in town. I found an old 35mm film canister. We put a paper in it for a log and a red 68 numeral patch to represent our troop. We named it “Scout By Numbers” and found a great place for it near the river in town. Then we posted it to geocaching.com to let others know about it. We are hoping that other Boy Scouts hunt for our cache and trade their troop number patch for ours.

The Scout was so exited about creating a new cache that I believe he will be creating one or two of his own. I just wish the others boys in the troop would have participated in the outing so they could have had the fun that geocaching offers.

Has your troop done any geocaching? Have any of your boys earned the merit badge?

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.

The Boy Scouts of America has a new merit badge. Chess anyone? That is correct. You may now earn the Chess Merit Badge as of Saturday, September 10. According to the B.S.A. Supply Line, “The USCF (United States Chess Federation) provided the primary contributing writers for the Merit Badge pamphlet. They will be helping to promote the badge through communications with the Chess delegate teams (similar to BSA’s National Committees and Boards) and e-mail blasts, plus website and “tournament news” announcements.”

When I first heard about this new merit badge, I was a little skeptical about what it could include for requirements. Maybe some history of the game. A little about strategies. And of course, how to play a game of chess. Now that the merit badge requirements have been posted (see http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Chess ) I have come to the conclusion that this could be a great merit badge for those Boy Scouts who enjoy playing the game, and may be a good tool to introduce new boys to the game.

I think any Boy Scout who earns this merit badge will have to spend some time learning more about chess. A Scout will not only have to know how to play but will also need to know history, terminology, strategies, and how to score. I would have to do some studying to earn this badge myself, and I have played the game since I was a kid. I have thought about becoming a councilor, but I would have to get a merit badge book and read it before working with any Scouts.

Take a look at the requirements at the link posted earlier in the post, and let me know what you think of the Chess Merit badge.

When I was a Boy Scout in the 1970’s there was no such thing as a home video recorder, so there was not a Cinematography Merit Badge. There was the Photography Merit Badge, however. I like taking pictures so I thought I would try earning that badge. I grabbed my Kodak Instamatic camera that used 126 film, a merit badge book, and began taking pictures.

One of the requirements for the merit badge was to tell a story with photographs. I decided to do a story of the missing cookie mystery. The members of my troop would be the “actors” of my story. Even my scoutmaster got in on the action. He held sheets of paper with my opening and closing titles. I discovered, after the film was developed, that the writing on the paper was not dark enough and it was difficult to read the titles.

The plot of the story was simple. The troop’s snack, a batch of cookies, had disappeared. It was up to the troop members to find them. They began searching the building in which we had our troop meetings. Pictures were taken of my fellow Scouts looking in various nooks and crannies. They finally catch the cookie thieves in a corner of the balcony, eating the evidence.

Unfortunately, I never finished the merit badge. I do not know why not. Maybe I lost interest, or we lost our counselor. All I know is that I still have the photographs of my picture story. Here are the pictures for you to view, in the order they were meant to be used. The photos are thumbnailed. Click on any for a larger view.

100 Days of Scouting: Day #10.

It looks like Boy Scouts with iPhones and iPod Touch’s will soon be able to keep track of their merit badges on their devices. According to scoutingnews.org:

Beginning in early 2011, Boy Scouts will be able to manage their merit badges with an interactive application for the Apple iPhone. The application which will be available for $1.99 through the iTunes Store, will let Scouts review merit badge requirements, keep track of their progress by requirement, and even share their success on Facebook.

I can see good points and bad points about this. It may be good for the boys to have a “tech” way to keep track of advancement other than carrying around a handbook which never seems to be very handy. It might not be so good because many troops have a “no phones or electronic devices on outings” policy. This could create some conflicts.

It will be interesting to see if this will become a popular download for the boys. I also wonder if they will be creating an app for Android based devices.

Read the whole news story at
http://www.scoutingnews.org/2010/12/15/merit-badges-iphone-app/ .