Summer camp, or merit badge factory?

Summer camp is one of Scouting’s great traditions. For youth and adult alike, it’s great to get away for a week or more, camp under the canopy of trees, enjoy the fine summer weather (yes, even the liquid sunshine!), and get back in touch with the great outdoors and what’s really important.

However, most camps are set up just like school. Scouts are up and off to breakfast, then fill their days with a schedule of classes. There’s a short break for lunch. Dinnertime comes around, and there are more merit badge opportunities in the evening. If a Scout wants to work really hard, he can earn seven or eight merit badges.

Is that the point of going to camp? Continue reading “Summer camp, or merit badge factory?”

The merit badge counselor’s role

If you’re a merit badge counselor, you’re probably pretty familiar with the role that merit badges play in the Boy Scout advancement system. Once they reach First Class, Scouts must earn a certain number of merit badges to continue advancing, with some drawn from the list of badges required for the rank of Eagle Scout and the rest on any subject at the Scout’s discretion.

The merit badge counselor, therefore, has a pivotal role in the advancement process for our older Scouts, and the Scouting experience for all Boy Scouts. Continue reading “The merit badge counselor’s role”

How to become a merit badge counselor

merit_badgesAside from Eagle Scout, merit badges are probably the most visible and iconic part of Scouting to those not involved in the program.

“Did you get a merit badge for that?” is sometimes asked when someone does an extraordinarily good deed – a social currency akin to earning “brownie points” for anything from volunteering for an assignment to trying to impress the boss.

Merit badges are part of a Scout’s advancement, though not the entire program as some may believe. Aside from the dozen-plus Eagle-required merit badges, there are more than a hundred additional ones that allow a Scout the chance to explore a wide spectrum of interests, skills and potential careers. They combine the method of advancement with the method of adult association in giving Scouts an opportunity unavailable anywhere else. Continue reading “How to become a merit badge counselor”

Prepared for college – and life

graduation_250Prepared for Life.

It’s not just a slogan – it’s what Scouts become as a result of being Scouts.

For most of our Scouts, life after Scouting begins at college, and for many, it means living away from home for the first time in their lives. It’s true of their classmates as well. Most high school graduates going away to college may be prepared academically, but it’s likely that they aren’t ready for the new adventure that independent living brings.

Unless they were Scouts! Continue reading “Prepared for college – and life”

Q&A: More on SSNs, counselor ID numbers

questionmark_200Time now for a couple more questions from readers.

Social Security numbers in troop records

From a troop committee chair:

Troopmaster has a place in the adult records for a leader’s social security number. Should we be recording the SSNs of our adults? It seems to me like that’s private information.

A unit has no reason to retain Social Security numbers of its adult members. It has no use for them, and in fact it can be a liability to the unit when stored in a database such as Troopmaster, which can typically be accessed by multiple persons in the unit. This is why the SSN field is blacked out on the unit copy of the application form – units are expected not to file that bit of info away. Continue reading “Q&A: More on SSNs, counselor ID numbers”