Group instruction of merit badges

You find them in just about every council. They can take place once or several times a year. Sometimes they’re run by the council; much of the time they tie in with a local college, museum or company. They’re attended by dozens or hundreds of Scouts.

I’m referring to events known by various names: Merit Badge College, University, Clinic, Badge-a-Palooza, Badge-O-Ree or just Merit Badge Day.

These are events, typically on a weekend and often lasting anywhere from a few hours to a couple days. They offer instruction in anywhere from a handful to dozens of merit badges, conducted by a field of experts and merit badge counselors.

They can be very efficient ways for a Scout to earn one or more merit badges in a short period of time. Continue reading “Group instruction of merit badges”

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”