Which Merit Badges should Scouts start early?

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Postby Quailman » Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:53 pm

I thought of one more that he might want to get an early start on - Home Repairs. If his father is into maintaining his own home, then they should meet with a MB counselor to understand the requirements and make arrangements to carry them out during the boy's scout career. My youngest started two years ago, but not much has needed repairs lately (My oldest fixed everything when completing his HR MB).

There's a scouter who posted in the Home Repair MB thread that he has a part of his garage workshop set up with plumbing and wiring for the scouts to work on. I wish I had something like that, but there's really no substitute for having to figure out what parts you need and get them from the hardware store or learn how to select lumber that's not warped or full of knots, etc.
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Postby commish3 » Sat Mar 10, 2007 4:31 pm

My approach with scouts is to learn what his interests are then show him how things he was already doing were meeting requirements for merit badges he could earn.

After that I showed them how classes they were taking in school were related to merit badges and how he could complete many of them simply by doing his homework.

I met with many of the teachers at the Jr Highs and High schools that the scouts attended and signed them up as mb counselors. Most only had to make minor lesson adjusts to meet all the merit badge requirements, and some didn't need to make any at all.

It is not difficult for a high school or junior high student to earn 6 or more merit badges a semester at school. Being a god scout made them a better student, and being a good student made them a better scout.
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Postby jr56 » Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:02 pm

A good idea that has been hinted on earlier, is to have the boy look through the requirement bood and see if any familty trips, or school activities will count as credit towards completing a merit badge, usually they will. As far as starting any merit badges, early, that would be up to your son, whatever merit badges strike his interest would be the ones he would want to start on first. There are so many to choose from. A scouts merit badge sash tells alot about their personal interests.
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Postby mommatoodle » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:11 pm

My son has the merit badge book that lists all of the badges. He looks through that book at least once a week. He sees what requirements he may have done in school or someplace else for that week. If the badge interests him he will go to his scout master for a blue card and then look for a counselor. He discovered two years ago after having been in a motor boat that he really enjoyed it. He and his Dad went to the Coast Guard Aux. and took the course. He had to wait two months till actually get his liscence since he wasn't twelve yet. My youngest son became interested in doing the cinematagraphy merit badge after having watched the filming of comedy show (in Canada!). While many of the badges may not be of interest, if a boy looks over the book he will have in the back of his mind some of the requirements and then when he does something he may say...Wow, there's a badge for that!
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Postby wagionvigil » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:32 pm

Now you need to get him the merit badge books for the ones he is interested in
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Postby mommatoodle » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:44 pm

I do that! he currently has one eagle to go - he has 37 merit badges and the looks he gets when he wears his sash! he is very proud of what he has accomplished and he has a list of about 10 more that are ones he has to do! (his idea not ours)
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Postby pipestone1991 » Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:55 pm

As long as the kids get all 21 badges & their Eagle by adulthood.....does it matter?
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Postby mommatoodle » Sun Mar 11, 2007 8:39 pm

Pipestone, no it doesn't matter how many badges a boy gets as long as he gets the 21 for eagle, if that is his goal. some boys find other badges interesting and before you know it they have a sash full. there is nothing wrong with this. my son has discovered many things that he might not have known about. he has also discovered things about himself and what he really cares about. we tease my son about his middle name being boy scout. he was just elected to the OA and can not wait to do his ordeal. he is looking at several different project ideas for his eagle project. he is involved in other things so he is ( i believe) well rounded.
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Postby mscounted » Wed May 30, 2007 9:46 pm

Start with merit badges the boys have a personal interest in. Pushing a new scout to work on the more involved badges may discourage them. If you are lucky, an APO fraternity at a nearby college will host a "Merit Badge University" where the boys can earn up to two merit badges in one day.
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Postby scoutaholic » Thu May 31, 2007 12:34 am

mscounted wrote:Start with merit badges the boys have a personal interest in. Pushing a new scout to work on the more involved badges may discourage them.
... and it may not. Some scouts are ready for 'involved' MBs sooner than other scouts. I usually recommend the ones of personal interest first, then first aid (because 1st Aid covers many of the early rank requirements also). We reqularly plan swimming/lifesaving and camping activities as a troop, so they start on those fairly early. The 'Hard' one I sometimes recommend early is Environmental Science. That one is much easier in a class at camp than on your own at home, so I usually recommend it for their 1st summer camp (even if they go easy on the rest of their schedule to do it).

mscounted wrote:If you are lucky, an APO fraternity at a nearby college will host a "Merit Badge University" where the boys can earn up to two merit badges in one day.

The annual Merit Badge Pow-Wow sponsored by Utah National Parks Council and held at BYU & UVSC is 2 Saturdays, with 4 classes each week. That way you get an intro to each badge the first week, and some homework assignments, and the second week to finish up classwork and pass off. 4 MBs in two weeks.
Our district sponsors a Merit Badge Shindig every January. We do 6 classes on each of 2 Saturdays (with a nominal fee to cover lunch). A few of the classes go 2 hours, but you have a potential of 6 MBs in 2 weeks.
Many of the districts in our council do something similar, with anywhere from 3 to 6 classes. If you plan it right, you can hit several of them and get a bunch of MBs during winter Saturdays.
There are also several businesses in our area that do MB classes. The Planetarium teaches Astronomy (the whole MB in 3 hours on Saturday morning. Made possible by using the star theater to make observations that normally take several hours or days to complete). The zoo does Insect Study and Bird Study (They don't do mammal study because the council camps offer it and they don't want to compete. They won't do Reptile and Amphibian Study because of the requirement to catch, care for, and then return an animal to the wild. BSA is teaching bad ecology and bad animal ownership habits with that one.) The local rec center teaches Swimming, Lifesaving, First Aid, Canoeing (in the pool), Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, and Family Life. Local climbing gyms teach Climbing. The community school program in our local school districts includes classes for most of the requireds. The local leather shop will teach Leatherwork. etc. etc. etc. We have a new aquarium in town, and I'm going to contact them about doing Oceanography.
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Postby ICanCanoeCanU » Thu May 31, 2007 7:16 am

I would never recommend Environmental Science for a younger scout, in fact, I just looked up the 3 different camps our troop attends and all say the badge is for older scouts.

Scouts will have plenty of time to complete these types of badges later.
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Postby Quailman » Thu May 31, 2007 10:03 am

scoutaholic wrote:The zoo does Insect Study and Bird Study (They don't do mammal study because the council camps offer it and they don't want to compete. They won't do Reptile and Amphibian Study because of the requirement to catch, care for, and then return an animal to the wild. BSA is teaching bad ecology and bad animal ownership habits with that one.)


You'll be happy to know that during 2007 the requirement that states...
Maintain one or more reptiles or amphibians for at least a month. Record food accepted, eating methods, changes in coloration, shedding of skins, and general habits; or keep the eggs of a reptile from the time of laying until hatching; or keep the eggs of an amphibian from the time of laying until their transformation into tadpoles (frogs) or larvae (salamanders).


...became an option. The other option is to make weekly observations for three months of a reptile or amphibian at a zoo or nature center. But there was never a requirement to capture, care for,and release a wild creature. People sometimes keep turtles or snakes as pets. If you don't have one yourself, I'm sure your MB counselor would allow you to maintain his or a neighbor's.

As for keeping reptile eggs - yeah, that's probably bad ecology. Here in Texas we get rains that create seasonal pools, and toads will lay their eggs in them only to have them dry up before hatching. I don't think it's so bad to retrieve some and maintain them until they hatch and then return them to a more reliable pool of water.
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Postby scoutaholic » Thu May 31, 2007 10:55 am

Quailman wrote:
scoutaholic wrote:The zoo does Insect Study and Bird Study (They don't do mammal study because the council camps offer it and they don't want to compete. They won't do Reptile and Amphibian Study because of the requirement to catch, care for, and then return an animal to the wild. BSA is teaching bad ecology and bad animal ownership habits with that one.)


You'll be happy to know that during 2007 the requirement that states...
Maintain one or more reptiles or amphibians for at least a month. Record food accepted, eating methods, changes in coloration, shedding of skins, and general habits; or keep the eggs of a reptile from the time of laying until hatching; or keep the eggs of an amphibian from the time of laying until their transformation into tadpoles (frogs) or larvae (salamanders).


...became an option. ....


actually it became on option in January 2006, but there was still a note printed at the bottom of the requirements page which states
...In most cases all specimens should be returned to the wild at the location of original capture after the requirements have been met....
This note is still included at meritbadge.org, but was recently removed from USSSP meritbadge requirement listings. I'll have to check the most recent printed requirements to see if it is still there (unless Paul can tell us about the recent removal of the note on USSSP). The zoo (and I) doesn't object to the keeping of animals as pets, just to the note that says they should be returned to the wild.
The other option to make weekly observations for 3 months would be pretty tough (and possible expensive) for most scouts, unless they live next door to a zoo, and have a pass so that they don't have to pay admission every week.
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Postby Quailman » Thu May 31, 2007 11:19 am

I guess in Utah it would be more difficult than here in reptile central (SE Texas). You can go to many local ponds and observe alligators. We have the same green anole (chameleon-like lizard) living on the SW side of our house, and I half-buried a couple of broken flower pots in the garden that shelter toads during the day. I try not to use chemicals on the lawn, so the toads are my organic insecticide.

BTW, you might let the zoo know about the observation option. Many non-BSA organizations are not always aware of changes to requirements - I always check at our local history museum to make sure they're current before encouraging a boy to enrol. Perhaps the zoo would intiate a reptile & amphibian MB program, and issue passes to scouts so they can return to complete that requirement.
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Postby optimist » Thu May 31, 2007 10:39 pm

The guidance I provide my Scouts is simple:

  1. Don't forget to take merit badges you think you will enjoy. Summer camp is supposed to be a fun learning experience, not a chore.
  2. Overloading with tough merit badges is asking for heartburn. Try to mix things up. Take some subjects you think may be tough (such as most Eagle required merit badges) along with others you think may be easier.
  3. Eagle merit badges may be easier to complete at summer camp, not because they cut any corners (at least hopefully not) but because they are more focused on getting the work done in a specific period of time.
  4. Swimming and First Aid are foundation merit badges upon which several other merit badges and activities depend. Getting them early in your Scouting career is usually beneficial.
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Postby Lynda J » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:03 am

One of the first things that happens when a boy joins our troop it they get a camping merit badge blue card. We have two counselors in our troop for camping. We also sit down and talk to the new boys about badge work and find out where their main interest is. This way we can help them set their goals on badges.
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Postby RWSmith » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:09 am

Lynda J makes an excellent point... a message for SMs and ULs...

IMHO, your chances of growing a Scout into an Eagle greatly improves if you will help guide him along the path by sitting down right from the start and mapping out a plan, in writing, with short-, intermediate- and long-term goals... 2 years is ideal for starters; but, show where 3, 4, even 5 years are acheivable and, more importantly, acceptable.

In most cases, you'll find he's never been exposed to such goal-setting, writing-it-down, self-assessment tools. Incorportate these tools into the Scout's "journey" along the Trail To Eagle... put the idea in his head, right from the start, that he's Eagle material, and foster that vision every chance you get (not just SM conferences) because when he reaches the age of 15 or 16, and the peer pressure and self-doubt hits him, he'll be better prepared, mentally, to handle the pressure.

I think most kids who make Eagle either made the decision very early (and kept that picture in their minds) or they were fortunate enough to have a mentor along the way.

Sometimes we're critical of parents who push their boy(s) hard to achieve Eagle; we accuse them of being overly involved; we wonder "who's the Eagle candidate here... The kid? Or, mom/dad?" Yet, when the same thing happens concerning "making the grades" for college (eg, typically families who are of Asian or Indian descent), we don't even bat an eye. Sometimes I wonder, what's the diff? I guess what I'm saying here is, if the parent is pushing, even if I think it's too hard, let 'em push because I have no right to get involved in that. If, OTOH, the parent is doing... well, then it's time to get involved and make it clear to the parent(s) that pushing is okay, but doing is not.
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Postby scouter01 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:39 am

at first i thought boy scouts was boring ect.....


my parents defintly gave me a shove ( a realy hard one) and now I just turned 13 and am star compared to the 16 year old 2nd class, and 13 year old tenderfoots.. I was mad then that I was getting forced "motivation" but it was necessary and now im having fun.

I hate (as a teenager) to say this, but almost always, my parents no whats best and what to do. lol
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Postby lifescoutforlife » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:02 am

My son has a magnetic board which has all the merit badges on it. The first row is ones that he has on his sash already. Then he has a place for ones that he has finished and is waiting for at the next COH. Then a space for ones that he is working on at the present time, and the next rows are the ones he wants to take a camp with the camp name beside it. Then at the bottom are all the rest. A friend of his from Utah gave him this idea so he can always see what he has to do to reach this goal.
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Postby ronin718 » Mon Jun 04, 2007 3:07 pm

That white board's a great idea. We just finished putting up a huge white board in my son's room. We have the MB poster on one side of the bed and the white board on the other. I might have to get some of that thin colored tape and create an MB's to Eagle chart.
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