Which Merit Badges should Scouts start early?

Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Cycling, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, Family Life, First Aid, Hiking, Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, and Swimming.

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Which Merit Badges should Scouts start early?

Postby darkicered » Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:14 pm

I'm new to the forum, and only briefly looked through the other postings to see if this has already been covered, so if it has, I apologize!

My oldest son joined Boy Scouts two years ago after 5 years in Cub Scouts. His younger brother just joined this year, also after 5 years in Cub Scouts. I was (and still am) the Cubmaster for their pack, so most of my experience has been with Cub Scouts. Oh, if I only knew two years ago what I know now! Our Troop tends to focus on "The Trail to First Class" with the new Scouts, and much of the time the Scout spends at meetings and on campouts the first year is on Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements. I think this is a great idea, but in the time between when my oldest son and his brother joined, I have come to realize that there might some merit badges that a Scout should start right away, as soon as he joins, so that he can get "credit" for the activities he does with the Troop. A prime example of this is the Camping merit badge, which requires 20 days and 20 nights campinig. Had I known about this when he first joined, my oldest son would be well on his way to earning his Camping merit badge. As it is, he and his younger brother will probably both earn it around the same time because they are both starting it together this year.

OK, so after that bit of background, my question then is this: Are there other merit badges that, like Camping, have requirements that take quite a bit of time and should be started as soon as possible? I have read through some of the merit badge requirements, especially the Eagle-required, but I am hoping that someone with more experience in this area can provide some enlightenment.

Thanks,

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Postby PaulSWolf » Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:32 pm

The 20 days and nghts do NOT have to be only after he "starts" the badge.

The requirement reads
Show experience in camping by doing the following:

1. Camp a total of at least 20 days and 20 nights. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. The 20 days and 20 nights must be at a designated Scouting activity or event. You may use a week of long-term camp toward this requirement. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.
ANY 20 days and nights of camping while a Scout can be counted, subject to the limit on only one week of long term camp. The Troop should have records of which camping trips he's been on, and that record can be used to Show experience.
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Postby Quailman » Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:21 pm

If a Troop activity is covering a requirement for a merit badge, check to see that they are tracking it. I did not realize that the troop had done a full 10 mile hike on a campout a couple of years ago (I couldn't attend that one) until I saw that my oldest son had a partial in Hiking. They covered all the non-actual-hiking requirements (safety, planning, etc)before setting out, even for those who had it before.

Review the Citizen in the Nation and Citizen in the Community requirements. Not that they need to act quickly on these, but if you're passing through the state capital on a family trip, you could tour the capitol while you're there. Same for Historical Places.

I sent a message to our entire troop today about a service opportunity with a charitable organization (Cit. Comm. #7). I suggested that even the boys who just crossed over might want to take advantage of it even though they don't need to earn the MB yet. Keep your eyes open for service opportunities. My family would have volunteered at a community holiday dinner in December had three of us not taken ill. So keep this requirement in the back of your head.

Other Eagle-required MBs like Personal Fitness, Personal Management and Family Life require that you track exercise/finances/chores daily for three months. Those takes diligence, but do not have to be doen right away. I can't think of any that would have a long-term commitment like the 20 nights camping (even though Paul pointed out that all nights count once they join). For rank requirements, have them document in their books the troop/patrol activities they participate in. They can also list the wildlife (and I think plants) for another requirement.

Other than that, review the requirements in relation to your sons' curricula. In our school system, World Geography is taught in 9th grade, so it makes sense to save Citizen in the World until then. Likewise with US history and Citizen in the Nation in 8th grade. Some MB work seems a lot like homework, so IMO it helps to work on them when the related school coursework is being covered.

Have your sons look over the list of merit badges and find one or two that they can work on independently. I find it's a nice time filler if I can remind my son to work on XYZ merit badge on a Saturday morning after chores instead of video games. And he selected the badge so there's no fussing.
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Postby evmori » Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:34 pm

PaulSWolf wrote:The 20 days and nghts do NOT have to be only after he "starts" the badge.

The requirement reads
Show experience in camping by doing the following:

1. Camp a total of at least 20 days and 20 nights. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. The 20 days and 20 nights must be at a designated Scouting activity or event. You may use a week of long-term camp toward this requirement. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.
ANY 20 days and nights of camping while a Scout can be counted, subject to the limit on only one week of long term camp. The Troop should have records of which camping trips he's been on, and that record can be used to Show experience.


We've kicked this around before. It is up to the MB counselor to decide when the camping starts. That said, the Troop should be keeping a log for each Scout for camping.
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Postby PaulSWolf » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:15 pm

As a Scoutmaster or District Advancement Committee member, I wouldn't recommend any counselor that didn't give Scouts credit for Scout camping that fits the definition in the requirement.
Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. The 20 days and 20 nights must be at a designated Scouting activity or event. You may use a week of long-term camp toward this requirement. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.
If it was a weekend campout in a tent he pitched or under the sky at a designated Scouting activity or event, such as a weekend camping trip, a backpacking trip, camporee, OA weekend, etc., it meets the requirement. If it was summer camp or Jamboree, etc., then up to 7 days would be counted, again so long as it was in a tent or under the sky.

Sure there may be a counselor that wouldn't count camping under such conditions, but he wouldn't be a counselor for very long if I had anything to say about it.
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Postby Mrw » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:28 pm

One thing I would add to this is the 2nd Class and 1st Class requirements that they participate in a given number of troop activities. I always tell the boys it is THEIR responsibility to keep a record of these. I suggest keeping a list on the inside of the book cover until these are completed. This should likely cover many of those camping nights.
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It's in there!

Postby mom2twoscouts » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:45 pm

I don't have the book with me, but I KNOW that there are certain pages that have you keep track of your troop activities.

I have to say, that I have always found the scout book very easy to understand, more so than any of the cub books!
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Postby evmori » Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:35 am

Troopmaster give the Advancement Chair the ability to track just about anything a Scout does. Every unit should have this software.

As to the original question, Personal Management would be a good one to start early.
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Postby DadScout » Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:01 am

I'm with Paul on the Camping MB. I've not seen an instance where troop records didn't suffice for stuff before being given the blue card.

The only MB we suggest getting early is Swimming. It's a good lead in to the other aquatic MB's and the boy can see he has one Eagle require MB under his belt. We normally tackle this at a boys first summer camp, steering them to the "new scout" program and swimming MB.

The few that boys seem to have a lot of trouble with is: Family Life & Personal Mgmt. The boys tend to keep putting things off that are in the MB and they require ## days of tracking things. It's not that the MB's are hard, just not as exciting I guess.
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Postby wagionvigil » Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:18 am

Swimming MB is included in our first year camper program
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Postby lifescoutforlife » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:40 am

At our camp the first year program is in the morning and kids can take swimming and first aid in the after noon.
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Postby Mad Dog » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:54 am

evmori wrote:Troopmaster give the Advancement Chair the ability to track just about anything a Scout does. Every unit should have this software.


Our troop has Troopmaster but our old Advancement Chair just used it to track merit badges. I have been working with our new Advancement Chair to go back and fill in all the details. Troopmaster is a great tool if used properly. Now, if a boy needs backup for a camping merit badge or a record of community service we can just print a report out for him. We have yet to have a counselor turn it down as proof of a requirement.
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Postby Mrw » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:55 am

Our camp does not offer first aid. That is the one badge we teach in the troop to make sure all the boys earn it. We teach that to the first year kids and encourage the other patrols to use the time to work on another merit badge together too.
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Postby Fibonacci » Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:57 am

Our troop has Troopmaster but our old Advancement Chair just used it to track merit badges. I have been working with our new Advancement Chair to go back and fill in all the details. Troopmaster is a great tool if used properly.

I have been Advancement Chair for several years and use TroopMaster. However, I cannot keep track of all activities and service because the boys don't send me the information.

For example, the troop puts out American Flags in town for holidays. Each patrol does it twice during the year. But if the Patrol Leader (or the person he assigns) doesn't send me a roster of who actually participated, I can't enter anything into TroopMaster. I spent one year bugging the Patrol Leaders to send me the info, but it just wasn't worth it. (We even created a special position of Patrol Scribe, but I still didn't receive the information.)

Also, we have created a special category in TroopMaster for Town Flags, separate from Service; when I send a Scout his Advancement record, it doesn't include the hours spent putting up & taking down Town Flags. So we tell boys to keep track of all service hours on their own. They also keep track of the number of activities they've participated in beyond troop meetings (needed for 2nd and 1st Class.) Yes, I can help them to backtrack thru the troop activities & service to create a reasonable list, but I think this is an area that the boys need to own.
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Postby evmori » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:07 pm

Fibonacci wrote:
Our troop has Troopmaster but our old Advancement Chair just used it to track merit badges. I have been working with our new Advancement Chair to go back and fill in all the details. Troopmaster is a great tool if used properly.

I have been Advancement Chair for several years and use TroopMaster. However, I cannot keep track of all activities and service because the boys don't send me the information.

For example, the troop puts out American Flags in town for holidays. Each patrol does it twice during the year. But if the Patrol Leader (or the person he assigns) doesn't send me a roster of who actually participated, I can't enter anything into TroopMaster. I spent one year bugging the Patrol Leaders to send me the info, but it just wasn't worth it. (We even created a special position of Patrol Scribe, but I still didn't receive the information.)

Also, we have created a special category in TroopMaster for Town Flags, separate from Service; when I send a Scout his Advancement record, it doesn't include the hours spent putting up & taking down Town Flags. So we tell boys to keep track of all service hours on their own. They also keep track of the number of activities they've participated in beyond troop meetings (needed for 2nd and 1st Class.) Yes, I can help them to backtrack thru the troop activities & service to create a reasonable list, but I think this is an area that the boys need to own.


Maybe it's time for the Scouts to step up to the plate! After all, it is their advancement, not ours!
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Postby Mrw » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:31 pm

We are fairly new to using troopmaster and at this point I am not tracking requirements for rank badges. We expect the boys to keep track on their own. We do track attendance at meetings and activities, and could back-track if need be. But I tell the boys they are not to rely on someone else's memory of who did what and when.

This might help them a little later too, when they need to track and document chores, expenses and time spent on an Eagle project or merit badge.
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Postby ASM-142 » Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:29 pm

I use Troopmaster as well for keeping track of almost everything for my trrop. Twice a year I generate reports for the scouts to verify my data which at times I know is incomplete. At this time I also tell the scouts that unless they provide me with updates there is nothing that I can not update my records.
If it is not written down then it is not an official rule
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Postby WeeWillie » Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:48 am

Camping MB is definitely not a 1st year badge. If your troop is real Scout Troop and not a Merit Badge Mill, your Scouts will meet the requirements through ACTIVE participation. For example, two weeks prior to a camping trip our patrols put together their menu. We make sure we schedule at least 2 Requirement 9 camping trips. (backpacking / float trip, 1000ft hike / bike trip...)

Good 1st year badges
Cit in the Community* - tracks with 6th Grade in our schools
Fire Safety, Traffic Safety, Crime Prevention, Finger Printing - generally fun.
Scholarship - Spring
Family Life* - Summer
Reading - Summer
Home Repairs - Summer
Swimming* - Summer Camp
Hobby badges or Dog/Pet Care

The above allows you Scout to have fun and pick up a few Eagle Required MBs so he can quickly earn Star after his 1st Year.

*Eagle Required
Fishing - (not a SE AZ speciality)
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Postby scubascout » Sat Mar 10, 2007 10:05 am

swimming and envi sci*

*get it over with
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Postby ICanCanoeCanU » Sat Mar 10, 2007 10:58 am

Troopmaster may be a fine way of tracking advancement but so is the old fashion way with manual entries on advancement sheets. This is how our troop does it and we have no problem, never have.

We also have the patrol leaders take attendance for all meetings, campouts or any other activities, these are rolled up to the SPL who is responsible to turn in the sheets. So we do track this BUT that being said...
our scouts are responsible to track their own doings. If a scout doesn't keep track for themselves they are pretty much sol. We remind them of this during early BORs. We ask them if they are keeping a log of community service, etc and remind them that they will need the record later for further advancement.

How do you expect scouts to learn to be responsible if adults are always bailing them out with record keeping? Just doesn't make sense.

And yes, we have had scouts find out the hard way that they need to track this stuff. On the other hand, our records are very valuable as we have had to prove to council (more than once) that a scout has earned an ER badge after turning in their application. We also have the record in case a counselor requests proof and doesn't take the scouts word, which unfortunatly has also happened.

As for what they should do early - be involved, take responsibility and earn the First Aid and Swimming badges asap.
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