20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:02 pm

And I have completed all four of the Lincoln Trails, and found that two of them (20+ miles) are almost solely on concrete. The worst is the Illinois Lincoln Trail where you actually check in in businesses with your book so the council can tell that you have truely earned your medal. Most of the trail is alongside highways and you have to be careful to not get hit by traffic.

Do these trails count?!?!? -- yes indeed. Do they involve the sort of planning that is mentioned in the previous post -- NO.

BUT take the Ten O'clock Line 20 miles of trail in the forest of Indiana or the Tulip Tree Trace -- while they are not on concrete and are not in a circle, they are well marked trails (which are also so walked that there is a depression where you walk) and do not require any planning, compass-work or the like. Basically you start the trail with sufficient water to last the 20 miles and walk until you complete the 20 miles. Scouting skills used -- usually none (unless you get some blisters).

My point? -- it is more the scout than the activity that is the defining issue in judging whether I as a hiking merit badge accept a hike. Did the scout do any planning, what did the scout take with him, was he ready to do first aid when he needed, did he have the proper shoes (I ask the candidates to bring the shoes that they hike in to the MB session), etc. These are the defining issues, not the where.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:37 pm

All good points. But isn't the where still important because it directly relates to what the scout had to learn in order to complete the hike with adequate and appropriate planning and preparation, and the variety of new challeges that had to be overcome? The scout's choice of where to hike I think also says something of that scout's character and spirit.

A more successful hike should really be more of a wilderness experience. I disagree with the prior postings that there is not as much wilderness as there used to be when "we" were young, and therefore we should accept and expect less. Do we expect and accept less of the boys today then we did of their fathers and grandfathers? I certainly hope not. Living in Oregon I know it is easier to find the great outdoors than it might be in other parts of the country, but I have spent a lot of time in the mid-Atlantic states and NE and between the extensive park systems, Applachian Trail and offshoot trails, shorelines, and similar venues, I have never had a problem finding a peaceful and safe wilderness setting close at hand. Even in Oregon I usually have to drive a few hours for the best hikes, and often camp or backpack in the day and night before. With five minutes and Google it is not that hard to find a great place to hike within 200 miles (usually a lot less) of Anywhere, USA and I assume every hiking MBC has a personal library of field guides.

I do not recommend 10-milers for the trail to 1st class hikes, because I prefer to build up to more challenging hikes and backpacking rather than overwhelm new scouts and potentially turn them away from hiking

My suggestion of the Gettysburg route was based on my impression that the scouts or leaders involved for some reason were reluctant to tackle a more authentic outdoors experience. But a hike is a hike is a hike. My remaining concern is that it be and was a scout planned hike.

For those scouts who are shy to attempt more challenging hikes, start with a few easy hikes on the more well groomed trails, and work up to more challenging hikes. At a certain point the easy hikes start to get a little dull, and you'll want to conquer greater challenges. The Hiking merit badge is not a race, and if it takes you a few years because you are really thinking it through and looking for great options, so what? When looking for great hikes you probably will find great cycling routes or other outdoor fun, in which case do that instead; chances are you'll still work in some merit badge credit, and more importantly, have fun.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:25 pm

I never said that we should accept less. I simply said that there are many ways in which a scout can accomplish both the spirit and the letter of the requirements for a particular badge. We have to remember that it will be the MB counselor who will make that determination. The best that any unit leader can do is to work with the scout to ensure that they make appropriate choices in their scouting activities so that they have both the skill set and the maturity to take 'appropriate' choices.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby milominderbinder2 » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:25 pm

We as counselors want the experience to be as meaningful as possible but still we are required to follow the Boy Scout Requirements. Note the section on pages 22-23 on earning merit badges, in particular:

Requirements. You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated -- no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements.

This text is also on meritbadge.org:
http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Merit_Badges

We can never add or subtract from the requirements.

- Craig
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:58 pm

No more and no less is exactly what we are required to do as MBCs. But as a MBC we can encourage the scout to think beyond meeting the bare minimum requirements of the most narrow interpretation possible of a merit badge requirement. This discussion underscores what I think can devalue higher rank advancement in BSA. We are hopefully teaching the boys to take pride in themselves and their accomplishments. I for one do not like to see a scout barely skate by an Eagle requirement; but you're right, some people choose that path to get what they want.

As the MBC I can and should direct the scout toward a more meaningful experience, and I'm sure that is what everyone taking the time to participate in this type of discussion is doing. No doubt, with creative and narrow language interpretation I could help a scout crank out the requirements of any badge with minimal effort; but that would be wrong.

All that said, the kid who chooses to walk 20 miles around the food court at the mall has met the merit badge requirement. And when that kid happens to find himself in situation where he could use the skills he should have learned planning and completing a 20-mile backcountry hike I hope his only regret is wet feet.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby fritz1255 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:29 am

The (inaccurate) trail map that is available at the gift shop (for free) at Gettysburg is the the only one available as far as I know. Again, I would love to see an Eagle scout candidate from that Council/District make a better one for his project. Even the descriptions of mileage given for parts of the road tour were incorrect, at least according to the GPS that we had along, and this was confirmed by how long it did or did not take to do the loops. There was some unavoidable "on the fly" plan revision that took place.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:29 pm

Not necessary to reinvent the wheel. The Gettysburg battlefield and every other square inch of this great land is already mapped by somebody. I'm sure you can generate your own perfect topo map off of National Geographic's TOPO mapping program (makes a nice sticking stuffer). A quick visit to Trails.com always tells me that there are various field guides with maps which I can peruse for free with a quick visit to a good bookstore or your local outfitterbook, assuming I don't already have it in my library. You can go to USGS.gov for their map of the area, or get a USGS map from your local outfitter. Sometimes the best maps are available from local orienteering clubs. Good maps are usually just a click away.

Playing with the USGS mapping program, it's amazing how close Lee got to Harrisburg, PA and maybe winning the Civil War. My people apparently were close and personal with holding off Pickets Charge, and Gettysburg always gets to me. Maps can be so much fun!

By using a lousy map the guys learned a great lesson the hard way, which probably means the lesson will stick. Getting the right map and checking the weather forecase are the most important part of the pre-trip planning process. Do some research before you go, and make sure you have what you need.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:54 pm

alex gregory wrote:All that said, the kid who chooses to walk 20 miles around the food court at the mall has met the merit badge requirement.

I completely disagree. Walking 20 miles is not the same as HIKING 20 miles.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:41 am

Sorry to be a pest, but I looked Hiking in the American Heritage Dictionary, and it defines Hiking (v.) as "
to go on an extended walk for pleasure or exercise"; (n.) "A long walk or march."

Then to verify, I looked up Hiking on Dictionary.com and found that its first definition states (v.) "1. To walk or march a great distance, esp. through rual areas, for pleasure, execrise, military training, or the like."

As they say, "The Devil is in the definition." And I have said, the DECISION IS THAT OF THE MB COUNSELOR IN CONSULTATION WITH THE SCOUT, it is not ours.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby alex gregory » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:47 am

I'm not sure where we disagree if you read my entire posting. You're right, walking 20 miles is not the same as hiking 20 miles, and any MBC that suggests otherwise is doing the boys a huge disservice.

Unfortunately, given the obligation to require absolutely no more than the specific wording of each requirement, as a MBC I think you have to grudgingly accept any garbage walk that satisfies the mileage requirement. I don't like it either, and I do not counsel anything less than actual wilderness hiking.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby Quailman » Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:50 pm

I'm not absolutely sure I disagree with you, but I think maybe walking 20 miles is the same as hiking 20 miles. IMO, the point being debated is whether the route should circle back over itself multiple times and/or cover difficult terrain - or at least landscape other than walking around a city block or a track circuit. The way I see it, if someone can walk 20 miles in one day and has prepared a plan beforehand and a report afterwards, it meets the requirement.

I will grant that walking 20 miles along the Highline Canal (a 44 mile, very flat trail in the greater Denver area) is less strenuous than say, hiking from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (~5,500 vertical feet down and back up), but for a teenager to properly plan and prepare to do 20 miles in one day is an accomplishment and what is asked for. The requirement doesn't say to walk one way vs. round trip, or a loop route so you're seeing new scenery. I might prefer these, but to require them instead of a 20 mile walk/hike in a more confined area is IMO adding to the requirements.

And I don't think any walk of 20 miles in any circumstances should be called a "garbage walk".
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby WeeWillie » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:59 am

Read Hiking merit badge pamphlet, Get Ready. It describes types of hikes and the conditions of those hikes. Walkathon isn't listed, nor is it described. Niether is mall walking.
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby smtroop168 » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:32 pm

Read the MB pamphlet? Are we supposed to do that? :lol:
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby wagionvigil » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:41 pm

99% Donot and They donot with their Troop leadership support. :twisted:
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Re: 20-Miler Hike for Hiking Merit Badge

Postby mhjacobson » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:54 pm

The requirements are simply stated, and the supporting material in MB handbooks are not the requirments. From the Manual Boy Scout Requirements, 2008, p 116 "Hiking MB"

1 Is the usual first aid requirements
2 is the usual question regarding goor hiking practices
3 "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.
4 Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike, include map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
5 Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of 10 continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.
6 Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.
7 After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous "trek") in requirements 5 & 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."

Guess what! There is no requirement that the hikes have to be urban, suburbal, wilderness, country, or anything else. The requirements simply state that the hikes have to be of a particular length, and have to have a plan, and a journal. Nothing else is required. Remember the mantra that all are taught when being instructed to be a merit badge counselor (or SM when talking about advancement): "Nothing less nothing more."

Again, it is up the to the MB counselor, when discussing the intent of the scout BEFORE the hike takes place, if a walk-a-thon is acceptable. If you are uncomfortable with the broad scope of the requirements, then I suggest that you write to your Council Advancement Committee your suggestions for change with the request that they endorse them and send them up the chain to the National Committee.
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