Merit Badge Clinics?

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Merit Badge Clinics?

Postby Chip » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:31 pm

Do other scouters share my concern about the trend of clinics as the preferred venue for merit badge attainment? At one time these were rare. Now councils, districts, units, charter organizations, and private businesses are offering merit badge clinics. A web search in any locality will bring up dozens.

My concern is that clinics are short-circuiting a time-honored process and taking initiative from the scout in the interest of expediency. The traditional process of getting a counselor name and telephone number from his leader, then calling and making an appointment is now the exception. Many scouts complete their entire scouting experience and never once call a counselor. Cold calling a heretofore strange adult is a challenge for most boys and a valuable life skill. My other issue is fidelity to the requirements. No more no less. That’s what the Guide to Advancement says. Since most merit badges were never designed to be completed in a single session, most clinic counselors have to compromise the standards to award a completion. We may say different but is each scout really individually tested to the letter of the requirements?

My question to my scout leader brethren is this: Are we short-changing our scouts by facilitating rapid merit badge attainment at clinics rather than the traditional route of one scout, one counselor?
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Re: Merit Badge Clinics?

Postby Quailman » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:12 pm

Everyone who would read this forum and post in it will share your concerns. There are, however, too many parents and leaders who view the MB as a piece of cloth rather than an achievement.

The Guide to Advancement addresses group instruction and states that it should only be used when there is a valid reason or benefit. An example might be that there is only one Oceanography MBC, and his time is limited. Another might be that the local Ham Radio club wants to have a clinic and bring the necessary equipment to a Scout Hut for the day.

I do Bird Study at a MB day (two, actually), but several of the requirements must be completed as prerequisites, and the boys must meet me the next day at a local birding venue to complete the field work. I'm flexible if another badge has a follow-up at the same time, but sadly, most don't.

I will say that my district is strict about prerequisites. If you don't bring them you can't earn the badge, even if there's no follow-up work.

I share your lament about missing out on adult interaction. It's one of the methods of Scouting, and there's no substitute for it. At Eagle BORs you can tell which boys took the initiative and called the counselors and which ones showed up on MB day.
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