20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby fritz1255 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:30 pm

What we ended up doing was a 20-miler within Gettysburg National Park. We camped at McMillan Woods Friday night, had a cold breakfast Saturday morning, then hit the trail at 7:00 AM. We were done by 2:00 PM (about a 3-mph pace with break for lunch). Only problem we encountered was that the trail map supplied by the National Park Service is woefully inaccurate, so we ended up doing a little improvisation at various parts of the hike. Many of the trails are not shown at all, and the ones that are shown are often not shown correctly. I suppose that bad maps are a problem that Civil War Generals had to contend with as well, but we could have done with a little less authentic experience. Maybe a prospective Eagle Scout from one of the neighboring councils could update the map as an Eagle project - it would certainly require many hours to complete.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:35 pm

Had a Scout in a nearby troop use the Relay for Life for his 20-miler. No WAY would I have signed that off. That's not a hike. How are they supposed to file a hike plan or hike report for trapsing around circles for 20-miles? Was he carrying his pack? Did he bring his 10 essentials? Plan his menu? What interesting things did he see along the way? What did he learn from this? NOTHING.

I'd like to see the Merit Badge book updated to clarify. Sad that it needs done. IMHO, it should be a point to point, or an out-and-back. Not a series of circles.

This is an EAGLE badge. I would hope that counselors would not water it down, but apparently that's not always the case.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby joat » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:40 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote:This is an EAGLE badge. I would hope that counselors would not water it down, but apparently that's not always the case.
If a merit badge counselor is watering down requirement, is re-wording the requirements going fix him? If the problem is the counselor, the solution is to remove that counselor, and to tighten up the counselor approval process for new counselors.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:51 pm

Unfortunately many of the amazing hiking trails that many of us grew up with are long gone. Some still survive or are offered just once a year.

Canal towpaths are wonderful, typically very protected and flat. We are in the middle of a 50 mile towpath a few hundred yards from my house.

You do not need to invent a new trail for Hiking Merit Badge. That is not the requirement. Doing the planning and review requirements on any trail is very challenging. The worksheets show all of the parameters that have to be analyzed.

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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby fritz1255 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:50 am

One aspect to keep in mind that is more-or-less safety related is that you should have a contingency plan for hikers who can't finish the hike. Our hike was in a sort of convoluted figure-eight pattern, and one of the younger boys dropped out after the first loop. His dad stayed with him, and we reconnected with them at the end of the hike.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby Quailman » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:13 am

AquilaNegra2 wrote:Had a Scout in a nearby troop use the Relay for Life for his 20-miler. No WAY would I have signed that off. That's not a hike. How are they supposed to file a hike plan or hike report for trapsing around circles for 20-miles? Was he carrying his pack? Did he bring his 10 essentials? Plan his menu? What interesting things did he see along the way? What did he learn from this? NOTHING.

I'd like to see the Merit Badge book updated to clarify. Sad that it needs done. IMHO, it should be a point to point, or an out-and-back. Not a series of circles.

This is an EAGLE badge. I would hope that counselors would not water it down, but apparently that's not always the case.


You don't have to like it, but to not accept this person's effort in hiking 20 continuous miles would IMHO be adding to the requirements.

4. Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike, including map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
...
6. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*

His map route plan might say "start at point A and walk in a circle, returning to point A after 3/4 mile; repeat 27 times." How is this necessarily different from "start at the Foggy Bottom Trailhead and follow the Appalachian Trail to the Big Little Creek Trailhead." If he plans for possible variations in weather, brings proper equipment and first aid gear, etc. I believe he's met the requirement. Who's to say he didn't plan his menu? To hike 20 miles, whether it's in a circle, along a towpath, or up and down Long's Peak, takes proper planning and execution.

Furthermore, a local walkathon allows for the possibility of dropping out anywhere along the route without requiring rescue/extraction. Also, it can be a challenge to find a buddy for a 20 mile hike. If your troop did the hike the day you had to sit for the SAT, the odds are slim that anyone will want to do another 20 miler that doesn't help them meet a requirement.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby smtroop168 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:48 am

Actually the requirements do not that any of the hikes must be done with a buddy or in a group (even though it is a good hiking practice). Also there is no requirement that the counselor pre or post approve the hikes. Should there be? BSA says no.

Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while hiking, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, and altitude sickness.
Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices. including the principles of Leave No Trace, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
Explain how hiking is an aerobic activity. Develop a plan for conditioning yourself for 10-mile hikes, and describe how you will increase your fitness for longer hikes.
Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike, including map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of at least ten continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.*
Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*
After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous "trek") in requirements 5 and 6, write a short report of your experience. Give dates and descriptions of routes covered, the weather, and interesting things you saw. Share this report with your merit badge counselor.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:50 pm

Quailman wrote:You don't have to like it, but to not accept this person's effort in hiking 20 continuous miles would IMHO be adding to the requirements.


I would not accept it. It's not a hike, it's a walk. If you're going to take 80 laps around a circle, why not 20 miles on a treadmill, or 12,000 steps on a stair-stepper? Same thing. None of those gives the Scout experience in hiking -- hiking includes having to make decisions you weren't prepared for, properly dealing with inclement weather, observations along the trail, considerable planning, and much more. Allowing a Scout to circumvent the spirit of the requirements shortchanges him.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby scoutaholic » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:23 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote:
Quailman wrote:You don't have to like it, but to not accept this person's effort in hiking 20 continuous miles would IMHO be adding to the requirements.


I would not accept it. It's not a hike, it's a walk. If you're going to take 80 laps around a circle, why not 20 miles on a treadmill, or 12,000 steps on a stair-stepper? Same thing. None of those gives the Scout experience in hiking -- hiking includes having to make decisions you weren't prepared for, properly dealing with inclement weather, observations along the trail, considerable planning, and much more. Allowing a Scout to circumvent the spirit of the requirements shortchanges him.


As much as we may not like it, a walk IS a hike. According to dictionary.com a hike is...
www.dictionary.com wrote:a long walk or march for recreational activity, military training, or the like.
80 laps is technically a hike. I would not accept the treadmill or stair-stepper, because those don't actually cover any disance (although some may argue otherwise). If the boy prepared his hike plan in advance and writes the required report (rqmt 7) including all the required information, I would have to give him the credit. Hopefully the 5 other hikes (rqmt 5) give him experience in what we would call real hiking.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby wagionvigil » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:38 pm

What needs to be asked is, What is the purpose of the Requirement? Does what the scout did meet the spirit of the requirement?

Leaders need to start asking themselves these questions rather than just saying it does not meet the requirement. AFter they look atr it a while maybe they will see it differently. The reason I pose those two questions is they were the questions asked in a review during an appeal on a Merit Badge for a scout close to his 18th BD and the Scout won. Not on this particular MB.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:22 am

You left out this part: "to walk or march a great distance, esp. through rural areas, for pleasure, exercise, military training, or the like." Notice how it changes the color of the words.

Wagion is absolutely correct. Look at the spirit of the requirements.

If Scouts want to do a technical bare-minimum that rests on the omission of what should be obvious, they'll need to find another Hiking MBC.

Does the "other references" wording in the Bird Study badge mean that Scouts can simply sketch off a picture on the Internet rather than from the field?
How about the fire safety requirement to visit a fire station? Can a Scout go and visit the station, but not interact with the firemen? It never says he needs to talk to him.
Spend a "night" in their shelter for the WS badge? What constitutes a night? 11:59 - 12:01? And why CAN'T the shelter be right outside the back porch? After all, just because it's a wilderness survival badge doesn't mean it has to be in the wilderness. It doesn't say so in the book, so I guess that would be adding to the requirements.

Absurdity. And a watering down of the program.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby wagionvigil » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:19 am

Are MB's being watered Down? IMO they are. Swimming,Lifesaving BSA Life Guard have all been watered down over the years. The Reason? Too many complaining parents that only see one thing the Eagle for the Resume. I am one that still think swimming and Lifesaving should be required with no option for Eagle. I follow the rules but that does not mean I agree with all of them or like all of them. We as leaders and counselors owe the boys a quality and fair program. And if that means going along with some policies I do not agree with then I will. I will say if it is a safety or health rule I agree with it. The problem is with some requirements on some merit badges. The Council Advancemen Chair and I were talking on Wed at camp and we were discussing the spirit of the requirements. He and I are old school both retired educators and we follow the rules even if we disagree. He just removed a District Adv Chair for adding to the requirements. I disagree with the rule that any scout can take any mb. I disagree with the rule that you can take lifesaving without swimming. I disagree with the Triple advancement t21. I disagree that a brand new scout can take merit badges. But I do what is required of me to provide the program.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby Quailman » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:27 am

(to AquilaNegra2)

If a scout hiked ten miles through the woods and over hill and dale five times, I wouldn't have a problem with his walking 20 miles on any terrain to complete the badge. What if, as our troop did once, he took a wrong turn and deviated from his plan on one of the ten-milers, hiking an extra three miles and coming out at the wrong trailhead. Would you give him credit for that one even though he didn't follow his plan?

And since brought up Bird Study:

AquilaNegra2 wrote:Does the "other references" wording in the Bird Study badge mean that Scouts can simply sketch off a picture on the Internet rather than from the field?


5 Observe and be able to identify at least 20 species of wild birds. Prepare a field notebook, making a separate entry for each species, and record the following information from your field observations and other references.
a Note the date and time.
b Note the location and habitat.
c Describe the bird's main feeding habitat and list two types of food that the bird is likely to eat.
d Note whether the bird is a migrant or a summer, winter, or year-round resident of your area.


I'm a Bird Study MBC. From other knowledge he should have if he's met with me before making his observations, he should be able to guess what the bird will eat (it's based on bill shape), but without making year-round observations, there's no way he could know the answer to 4d without looking it up. If you are referring to requirement 2, it says "by sketching or tracing a perched bird". That means a bird in a perched (not flying) position, not a real life bird that's perching. There's a sketch in the MB booklet they can trace, or they may copy it freehand. Or I have a larger picture I copied with permission of the publisher.

[edit] I posted this from home, and as I was driving to work I realized that that I had strayed from the original topic. I'd like to apologize. I'll try to only discuss hiking here. I guess the whole point is that it is up to the MB counselor's interpretation, though a scout would be justified in asking why the MB counselor wants him to meet the requirement in a manner not spelled out in the reqs.[/edit]
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mt_goodrich » Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:25 am

Like others, I feel a Walk-A-Thon has its place and has been a wonderful way to raise money for certain charities, etc.

By the letter of the law, yes, Walk-A-Thons do qualify. Would I want my boys to do this? Not to earn a Hiking MB. I don't think it falls within the spirit of the law.

I feel that by doing a Walk-A-Thon around a track is defeating the whole purpose of the Hiking MB.

Oh...wanted to edit it this by saying that, as a youth, I enjoyed earning my Hiking and Backpacking MB's. I was fortunate to be in a troop that embraced these activities and had many wonderful opportunities to go hiking and backpacking in Wisconsin.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:49 am

Remember by the procedures listed elsewhere on this site, the scout is supposed to call and then meet with the MBC to go over requirements. This is where the counselor and scout can set expectations and discuss "what counts". He can bring evidence of what has done for certain requirements and the MBC evaluates those' same as a scout bringing a partial to a new counselor after camp. You as the counselor cannot add to the requirements, but you can tell the scout that you may not be the right counselor for him and he should look elsewhere.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:13 pm

There are many walk-a-thons that are more than walking around a loop 27 times. One example os our Walk for cancer which is a 35 mile, very arduous two day trek through forest preserve.

The issue should not be the venue, but what the scout can demonstrate as the result of taking the walk. Did the scout actually plan for the hike? Is the scout able to describe his preparations, his equipment, etc. Does the scout have a log of the hike, including observations, etc?

Rather than to dis the activity, we should be checking into what actually occurred and how the scout exemplified the meeting of the requirements -- remember that it is the responsibility of the MB counselor to certify that thre requirements have been met.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:05 pm

Quailman wrote:(to AquilaNegra2)
If a scout hiked ten miles through the woods and over hill and dale five times, I wouldn't have a problem with his walking 20 miles on any terrain to complete the badge. What if, as our troop did once, he took a wrong turn and deviated from his plan on one of the ten-milers, hiking an extra three miles and coming out at the wrong trailhead. Would you give him credit for that one even though he didn't follow his plan?

Absolutely. That's part of my point - Hiking helps a Scout to learn to think when things don't go exactly as planned. Making 80 laps around a school track takes that away from him. There's only one 20-miler -- that's purposeful. 10-milers are fun hikes. 20-milers are not. They test a Scout's endurance, his problem-solving skills, his planning, and much more. 80 laps around a track does none of these. If a Scout wants to try and make this hike something outside of the spirit of the badge and do as little as possible, he can do it with someone else.

Quailman wrote:And since brought up Bird Study:
5 Observe and be able to identify at least 20 species of wild birds. Prepare a field notebook, making a separate entry for each species, and record the following information from your field observations and other references.
a Note the date and time.
b Note the location and habitat.
c Describe the bird's main feeding habitat and list two types of food that the bird is likely to eat.
d Note whether the bird is a migrant or a summer, winter, or year-round resident of your area.

I was making a point that if a Scout wants to pick apart the wording of a requirement rather than embracing the letter AND the spirit of the badge, he could define the 'and' and do his bird study badge without ever actually BEING in the field. There are a lot of different badges that a Scout could argue over the verbiage, and do very little to earn. People are so often concerned with the "no more" portion that they forget the "no less".
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:10 am

And as a counselor I would tell the scout that he can not do a field record without being in the field. The problem is not with the scouts the problem is with the MB counselors if the requirements are being watered down through mis-interpretation. Kids are kids and they will try to get away with what they can get away with. When they know that the written word is the controlling policy, they will follow the policy.

If a SM feels that a particular MB counselor is not following the current requirements for the badge, than all that they have to do is to NOT send scouts to that counselor.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:26 pm

As a hiking MBC, I would not reccommend a 20-mile walk across town. And the suggestion of walking in circles on a track, YUCK! It's HIKING!!!

Yeah, I probably would be compelled to sign off on the kid that walks around the block. But has that kid demonstrated scout spirit, an awareness of the outdoors, or knowledge of hiking? No. As that scout's MBC I will have grossly failed, and instead taught the scout how to game the system rather than learn to parreciate a wonderful outdoor activity. And that young man is not fooling anyone who has actually earned the merit badge.

The idea of more than a single mile on concrete or asphalt for a "hike" not only makes me cringe but ouch, can you you feel the pain?

It's been a while since I was back East, but I recall a lot of great hikes within 100 miles of Philly. Don't you guys have something called the Appalachian Trail? I also remember hiking Round Valley (?) Reservoir in NJ which was easy, mostly flat, and about 20 to 24 miles.

Or how about hiking along the Gettysburg AutoRoute? It's 19.5 miles, there is a footpath along the entire route, add frequent sidetrips off the footpath like Little Round Top, and you easily will get 25 miles in a day without a lot of climbing plus learn some history. If 11 to 18 year old boys could do it in 1863 on a diet of coffee, salt pork and beans, I think your average boy scout can handle it. Given the choice, I'd rather bike it and get a cycling merit badge requirement, but you could just as easily hike it. Work in the movie Gettysburg, and you are also knocking out a bunch of citizenship badge requirements. Wow, almost makes we wish I didn't live in Oregon (just kidding).

Have fun.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:10 pm

I looked over the prior posts a little more carefully, and per the 6/18/08 post I see you guys did the 20-miler at Gettysburg. Cool. Great minds apparently do think alike.

So, the scout working on the merit badge prepared his own hike plan, right? Of course he did, otherwise he has not satisifed the requirement.

Perhaps next time, the prepared scout will get a better hiking map than the tourist map you get at the gift shop.
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