Merit Badge event ?

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Merit Badge event ?

Postby kimberbakos » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:14 pm

Why are so many opposed to the merit badge events? My son has attended a few of them and I think they are great. He gets the opportunity to work on MBs that we don't have local counsellors for, and at all we have attended those conducting the MB sessions are professionals who really have a lot of experience/knowledge to share. All required a number of prerequisites to be done, so they weren't truly done in just a few hours. And as some of the more popular MBs have filled up quickly, my son has taken a few, like architecture, that he never would have chosen to do but ended up learning a lot from. I feel any time spent learning new ideas and trying new things is time well spent.

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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby lifescoutforlife » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:09 am

I'm not to sure why people don't like these. My son has taken 2 MB's at these that he could not even get in our council. I fell that these can be a great learning experience if the councilor has things organized.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby RMM » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:15 am

I like the idea for Merit Badge events for the purpose of being exposed to and working on merit badges you would normally not have the ability to work on. However, I have seen a few events where the MBs are the required badges and the MBCs substract requirements and then sign the Blue Card stating the Scout earned the badge. Last year I had a Scout bring back a Cit in Comm signed Blue Card. When we were discussing his experience I asked which movie he watched and he watched and what did he learn by providing service to a charitable organization. The Scout said the MBC said they did not have to do that.

That Scouter is no longer a MBC. The Scout then stated that maybe he did not earn the MB. He then asked me if he could wait to receive the MB until he watched a movie and worked for a community charitable organization and get back with me. He did both. It was an honor to present him to the Troop Advancement Committee for a life BOR after the MB was presented.

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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby RMM » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:15 am

I like the idea for Merit Badge events for the purpose of being exposed to and working on merit badges you would normally not have the ability to work on. However, I have seen a few events where the MBs are the required badges and the MBCs substract requirements and then sign the Blue Card stating the Scout earned the badge. Last year I had a Scout bring back a Cit in Comm signed Blue Card. When we were discussing his experience I asked which movie he watched and he watched and what did he learn by providing service to a charitable organization. The Scout said the MBC said they did not have to do that.

That Scouter is no longer a MBC. The Scout then stated that maybe he did not earn the MB. He then asked me if he could wait to receive the MB until he watched a movie and worked for a community charitable organization and get back with me. He did both. It was an honor to present him to the Troop Advancement Committee for a life BOR after the MB was presented.

YIS
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby scoutaholic » Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:38 pm

I posted some comments that were lost when the servers were changed. I'll see if I can remember what I wrote.


I have heard-of and seen MB events that support both sides of this argument.

Some events have qualified instructors (MBCs) who present the material required, make sure to include everyone in discussion, make assignments to do things that can't be done in class, and track the completion of each scout and only sign blue cards for those who have earned them.

Some events have MBCs who either don't know the material, or don't know how to present it. They add to or subtract from the requirements. They sign blue cards for every boy who shows up regardless of his participation in discussions or his completion of the requirements.


Good examples:

I took my son to an Astronomy MB class taught at the local planetarium. When we arrived they handed him a worksheet (customized for the organization of the class), and sent him to find the answers to some parts from the displays. Then they put all the scouts (and their leaders) in the star theater. They presented information and had the boys write down parts of it, or pass it off with their leader, who then initialed the worksheet. This way, every boy had to be able to point out the constellations/stars/etc. They were able to set the clock in the star theater so that those requirements that normally take several days of observation could all be done in one morning. After the star show, planetarium staff went over the answers on the worksheets individually with each scout. Then the registered MBCs (there are 2 on staff at the planetarium) signed blue cards for those boys who had completed everything.

BYU, UVSC, and UNP Council co-sponsor an annual MB event using university resources (people, rooms, & equipment). All of their classes that I have observed are taught by well-qualified instructors. They have several assistants in each class, so that the boys can pass off individually and the main instructor doesn't have to individually do them all. They publish assignments ahead of class, so boys can come prepared with the things that won't be covered in the class room. They have sessions 2 weeks apart so boys can complete some assignments between sessions after some instuction has been given. They only sign blue cards if the boy has completed everything for the MB. Otherwise, the boy has to take his worksheets/notes/etc to another MBC to finish up.

I have taught several classes at district MB events. Classes are taught on 2 consecutive Saturdays. I make sure to discuss anything needed to complete out-of-class work during the week in between, and make assignments. I make sure to include everyone in discussions. I individually track who was there, who participated in discussions, and who completed outside assignments. I sign completed cards for only the boys who have earned them. Those who don't complete assignments or participate in discussions get partials. When(If) the boys come back to me to finish up, I concentrate discussion on those parts he needed to complete, but also briefly discuss the rest of the material to be sure he actually learned it.

I took my son to a one-day MB event. The Pulp & Paper MBC went over needed information (suggesting several times that they should take notes for when they want to pass off), demonstrated, and then helped the boys to make paper. At the end of class, he handed each boy his business card and said something like, 'call me when you are ready to pass off, or if you need help to make arrangements to do requirement 5 on your own.'



Bad examples:

At the same one-day event mentioned above - The American Heritage MBC was surprised that only one boy came to class instead of the 10 registered. He waited half of his time for the other boys to show. My son had prepared some thoughts to discuss, but the MBC didn't want to discuss them. He wasn't willing to discuss American Heritage, only Black Heritage. He brought up several discussion ideas, but didn't follow through with any of them. In the end he suggested that my son should skip his other classes or come back on breaks to discuss parts of the MB. What a waste of time.

Again at the same one-day event - The Photography MBC came in late, spent about 20-minutes intruducing the needed information but not actually covering it, then said 'I told them it wouldn't take an hour'. He then looked at the assignment that my son had done (the only boy who had done it), encouraged everyone else to do it and find out more about photography, signed a blue card for everyone in the room, and dismissed early.

I accompanied my son to a Leatherwork class at summer camp. When we arrived, there were several boys sitting around, unsupervised, working on projects. The MBC (actually a youth staff member who was too young to be MBC) was sitting in the corner working on his own project and ignoring the group. When we disturbed him he said, 'go buy a kit in the traiding post, and show me when you are done.'
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby pipestone1991 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:58 pm

MB Universities were you earn one badge are great. It is this problem were many councils are allowing scouts to get (not really earn per se, not enough time to accually look over the material comprehensively). The same thing can be applied to summer camp. A scout earning 5-6 mbs at summer camp is ridiculus. There is no way they are processing all of the material.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:28 am

I disagree with you. If it is a badge where the Scout already has knowledge (art, graphic art, astronomy, chemistry, etc), he has likely "processed" all that information beforehand. #1 will be bringing his stamp collection to camp, and expects to have the badge signed off in the first hour. #2 has already done all the requirements for at least six badges that are offered at camp, but our troop does not have counselors for. Rather than putting a limit on them, let's make certain the counselors are QUALIFIED and not simply there for their whopping $150/wk.

Examples of good MB clinics:
Geology - The big city natural history museum offered a Scout clinic. It was set up with various stations that corresponded to requirements. A professional geologist and geological engineer taught a general overview, then helped the boys one-on-one (or two, or three). For boys who needed more time than was available in one day, there was email and phone support.

Fire Safety - MB clinic on three consecutive Saturdays [with homework between], then each Scout needed to make arrangements to meet with the fire captain at the station for 90-120 minutes. Have to say this was a lot tougher than #1 anticipated, but he learned a great deal.

Examples of poor MB clinics:
American Heritage - They watched "Miracle" (about the US hockey team) and another one about basketball. I made mine watch Tora, Tora, Tora and The Patriot before I would let him get his badge.

ANY Eagle-required badge in a one-day clinic. Yes, by letter-of-the-law there are some that can be earned in 3 hours. I don't believe that fulfills the spirit of the badge.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby evmori » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:15 am

I never like these events. There are a lot offered that can't be completed during the event & the instruction is usually shaky at best. If a Scout has enough knowledge in a MB then he should find a counselor & get 'er done!
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:08 am

My earlier post was lost in the transition.

We have had a local MB college here for 5 years. It's run over 2 saturdays with a month in between for homework and prereqs before the 1st session. The key to these types of events is Quality Assurance. Solid expectations on both the scout and MBC on what is required. The MBCs I choose are seasoned veterans who will not skirt the rules. They are putting their name on the blue card and understand the implications of their actions, especially for Eagle Badges. We have about a 50% completion after week two. Most partials are due to the scout's lack of effort.

scoutaholic wrote:Some events have MBCs who either don't know the material, or don't know how to present it. They add to or subtract from the requirements. They sign blue cards for every boy who shows up regardless of his participation in discussions or his completion of the requirements.
- Never gonna happen here. Not sure how/why these events would even think of using unqualified MBCs and it begs the question on who qualified them to be MBCs. I think the process most councils (including mine) use is weak.


RMM wrote:Last year I had a Scout bring back a Cit in Comm signed Blue Card. When we were discussing his experience I asked which movie he watched and he watched and what did he learn by providing service to a charitable organization. The Scout said the MBC said they did not have to do that.

That Scouter is no longer a MBC. The Scout then stated that maybe he did not earn the MB. He then asked me if he could wait to receive the MB until he watched a movie and worked for a community charitable organization and get back with me. He did both. It was an honor to present him to the Troop Advancement Committee for a life BOR after the MB was presented.
- Good for him.

AquilaNegra2 wrote: #1 will be bringing his stamp collection to camp, and expects to have the badge signed off in the first hour.
- Why do summer camps offer badges such as this one? It's because they can show we offer 38 or 42 MBs so come here! If he can do it in an hour, go to a Stamp Collection MBC (he'll probably learn more) and use the camp time for outside MBs.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby milominderbinder2 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:59 pm

There are a number of major problems with certain merit badge events:

"In the end, the Scout must be reviewed individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badges requirements." 33088, p. 26
1. Some are merit badge factories who do not individually test each Scout as required. They claim that if they say it or show it to a room full of teenagers, that means that they all understood and can now demonstrate the skill or knowledge as well. In their zeal to give away merit badges, they steal from the boy the chance to actually learn.

"A merit badge cannot be taken away once it has been earned, provided the counselor is a registered counselor for the merit badge." 33088, p. 26
2. Some councils wave the requirement that the counselors must be registered and approved at their merit badge factories. All it takes one disgruntle parent to make a case of it and it comes out that those Scouts never earned those merit badges. Why would you set up your boys for such failure? To what gain?

"Scouts must be tested individually, and they must meet all the requirements." 33088, p. 26
3. Some merit badge factories do not require Scouts to do all of the requirements. How can a Scout earn a merit badge that requires a week's work in one afternoon with no pre-reqs? But some factories don't let the requirements get in the way.

There are other issues that are not tied directly to the requirements. Often Scouts will say that the hardest part of doing a certain merit badge was making the phone calls and setting up the appointments, getting canceled, having to reschedule. While that is not a part of the requirements it is a big part of what the Scout learns.

The person teaching a certain merit badge at the event may actually be covering for someone who did not show up. They may have never taught this badge before and have little experience working with boys in this area.

Also, walking over to the next picnic table and meeting with someone for two hours is not the same as going to their office or shop. You lose that in the event.

So a Merit Badge Event can be a wonderful opportunity for a Scout but too many times the problem is with the adult leaders who won't give the boys the program they are entitled to.

You as a Scout Leader can make sure that your Scouts get the best of both world.

Assign the Scouts counselors who you know. Send them to the merit badge event, have them take notes and learn the skills. When come home they can individually demonstrate their knowledge and skills with the local counselor who you trust.

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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:24 am

All I can say for us is that for our MBC, we have taken great effort to ensure a quality program and that the counselors we choose "do it right". It's not a one day event. It actually spans from registration (1 Oct) where the scouts get their prereqs spelled out through Early Feb when we hold the second session most of which is the one-on-one show the counselor time. We have 2 trained MBCs per badge to allow a 5-1 ratio.

Any of you is invited to come see.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby Hubert » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:28 pm

I enjoy these, I took Crime Prevention at one and really enjoyed it. I felt I did better learning there than I did on my own. Im the type of person that learns better in groups than I do by myself.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby milominderbinder2 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:00 pm

Hubert wrote:I enjoy these, I took Crime Prevention at one and really enjoyed it. I felt I did better learning there than I did on my own. Im the type of person that learns better in groups than I do by myself.

I think that this is true for most Scouts.

Teach in a group but test individually.

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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby mhjacobson » Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:44 pm

It has more to do with the monitoring of the quality of the MB academy than the format. Each year, our council sponsors a one day MB university with the ability of the scouts to earn ONE Eagle required MB or two optional ones. The scouts are to use the MB worksheets to prepare for the academy so that they have the necessary pre-requisites completed and ready to go. Members of the council advancement committee are there to monitor the quality of the programs that take place in the various rooms (those who do not offer a quality program are not invited to return for the next year). Every one winds up a winner --the scouts are able to earn MB that they might not otherwise be able to find, and the council knows that there is a quality program there that the scouts can access.

BTW -- last year we have over 150 scouts earn over 200 MN.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby kimberbakos » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:26 am

Well, we went to one today where I saw all the concerns posted here put into practice. For example, a couple of MBCs were no-shows, so that left the kids with an empty class session. They were encouraged to go to music and get that MB, with the adults telling them it is the "easiest" one to get and takes only 15 min. max. How could kids who didn't do the prereq of learning a piece of music and playing it for the MBC get that done in 15 min? And if they weren't planning on doing that MB (only 13 Scouts had signed up for it) did they even have their instruments? It made me angry because my son has already completed this MB and really had to work for it - his MBC had him come back 2x to play his piece of music to his satisfaction. Scoutmasters were mad when some MBs didn't have prereqs listed (which should have been done) and then the MBC didn't just give the MB to the kids who showed up. I was proud of my son, who had done all the prereqs and had completed worksheets - I know he really earned the four badges he got today.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby Quailman » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:22 pm

Not to justify the way that event was handled, but where in the Music MB reqs does it say the scout must play a musical instrument?

The first req says "Sing or play a simple song or hymn chosen by your counselor..." I agree that they couldn't learn to sing a song chosen by their counselor at a one day event, unless it's Mary Had a Little Lamb or something similar. I share your frustration. And the other adults were wrong. Fingerprinting is the easiest, by concensus of scouts I've spoken with. This ranks second if the scout is in band or orchestra.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby Mrw » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:53 pm

My music minded son will tell you that music is the easiest if you already play an instrument. But they both said fingerprinting was very easy as well.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby Mrw » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:56 pm

As far as doing prerequisites, our boys are told when a merit badge clinic is announced, that they should not expect to just show up and get the badges for being there. The counselors are there for boys who have done part of the work already. And it should be relatively obvious from looking at the requirements, which ones should have been done before.
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby smtroop168 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:54 pm

This is what we do at my MBC. See link which speaks to administrative requirements and click on the badge which takes you to the prereqs.

www.keystonebsa.org
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Re: Merit Badge event ?

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:18 pm

mhjacobson wrote:... Members of the council advancement committee are there to monitor the quality of the programs that take place in the various rooms (those who do not offer a quality program are not invited to return for the next year). Every one winds up a winner --the scouts are able to earn MB that they might not otherwise be able to find, and the council knows that there is a quality program there that the scouts can access.


The best MB event my boys have been to had the same oversight. The Council was heavily involved and made many changes before the actual event. As a result, the quality was superb, and badges earned there were truly earned. If you are anywhere within 5 hours or so (or even more, camping available), I'd strongly suggest going. http://sprucegoose.org/education/scouts.html

They're going to one next month whose reputation is not quite as stellar. I'm requiring my own to complete the MB book and worksheet before they go (the 'no more' rule doesn't apply to parents :twisted: ) so I'm confident they've earned them. And their SM is 'strongly suggesting' to the troop that no Eagle-required badges be completed there. There *are* badges, though, that can be completed in two hours' time if they've done the work beforehand.
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