Re: Advancement to First Class vs. Merit Badges
Alan Houser (troop24@EMF.NET)
Fri, 30 May 1997 23:51:12 -0700
Kenneth Wheeler <wheele1k@NCR.DISA.MIL> wrote:
> ... My preference, recognizing that
> very few things in this life have no exceptions, would be to have work
> on merit badges start after attainment of First Class rank. My review
> of the requirements suggests that there is a two step structure to
> advancement T-FC and Star through Eagle, with the attainment of First
> Class being the goal for producing competence in basic outdoor skills
> (camping, basic first aid, basic orienteering), able to take care of
> himself and his fellows, and have a good time in the woods.
> Merit Badges would then be over and above this basic competence, and
> would serve as reinforcement for the basic knowledge gained while
> advancing through First Class.
> ... I am approaching this from an intellectual point of
> view, as I have no real experience (I was a Boy Scout for about a year
> as a 12 year old, but was one of the boys that scouting lost before
> making first class), and have been working with my son's troop for all
> of 3 months now. I am looking for other opinions from the more
> experienced scouters on the list as to how thier programs are
> structured, or whether BSA has an existing policy that I do not know
> about. Thanks for your time.
I was in Boy Scouts for a little bit longer than you (two years, maybe),
but one of the things I remember was that I couldn't earn any of the
merit badges I was really interested in (like Nature, Bird Study, or
Photography) until I made First Class. Perhaps if I could have, I would
have stayed around long enough to make First Class.
Scouting is supposed to be fun, from the boy's point of view. Why
shouldn't he be able to do any of the fun things that BSA offers?
Of course, some of the fun does have some prerequisites: no canoeing
until you've demonstrated you can swim. But why shouldn't he be able
to work on Stamp Collecting MB the day he joins the troop?
And if you were to look over the list of merit badges available, you
would see that the MB program is more than just advanced Scout skills.
There are merit badges which relate to personal growth and physical
fitness, public service and citizenship, career opportunities, and
One of the things I have found is that the sense of accomplishment for
a new Scout to earn and receive a merit badge (Safety is a good first
MB) provides him with the incentive to go and explore other opportunities,
as well as to learn the basic Scout skills he needs for rank advancement.
Advancement in Boy Scouting is best done at the pace the Scout sets for
himself. A good program provides the opportunities for him, but he has
to choose for himself to make use of those opportunities. Push too hard
and he will push back and quit. On the other hand, a good campout will
sometimes surprise him with what he has learned and what gets signed off
in his book, since he thought he was just having fun.
Since you have only been with the troop for 3 months, I would encourage
you to attend Boy Scout Leader training. If you came up out of Cub
Scouts as I did with my son, there is a lot of difference between the
Cub Scout program and the Boy Scout program, and it is important for
you and for your son and the other Scouts that you learn how to make
the Boy Scout program work for the best of the Scouts. Even if you
didn't come out of Cub Scouting, take the training!
Alan R. Houser ** Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24 ** firstname.lastname@example.org
** WWW page ** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/t24.html **
Scoutmaster, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Jamboree Troop #637
** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/council/nj-637.html **
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City