Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Purposes of the Merit Bagde Program. (Partials)
Purposes of the Merit Bagde Program. (Partials)
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 18:36:03 -0700
Three years ago when I went to the Advancement Training at
Philmont, we had a discussion on the purpose of the merit badge
program. The members of the National Advancement Committee who
were there doing the training, made it clear that making the
Scout an expert in the area of the merit badge was not the
intent. They were designed more to be introductions to
different areas that might get the Scout interested in pursuing
the area of interest in more depth.
National does not use the word introduction in their literature,
but then again, they say nothing about making the Scout an
expert First Aid provider by earning the merit badge. The Red
Cross requires you to take CPR training every year and First Aid
training every three years in order to carry a card that says
you are trained to a certain level by the Red Cross.
So, as this discussion continues to rage on, I thought I would
put here the purposes of the Merit Badge Program as designed by
BSA. I do this because there are too many people reading too
much into what the program is suppose to do. One thing that
people like to believe about the program is that is supposed to
make you skilled in the area of the merit badge. WRONG ANSWER
in MY VIEW. I see the Scout developing skills, but nothing in
the purposes of the program says they plan to make the Scout an
expert. Please read what national has to say is behind the
merit badge program. Keep in mind the Aims of Scouting while
you read this.
>From National BSA Advancement Policies and Procedures (1998):
"Earning merit badges gives a Scout the kind of self-confidence
that comes from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal. Through
the merit badge program, a Scout also learns career skills,
develops socially, and may develop physical skills and hobbies
that give a lifetime of healthful recreation."
Providing more filler, the "Merit Badge Counselor Orientation
Supplemental Adult Leader Training, BSA # 34542, 1995 printing
"The merit badge program is one of Scouting's basic
character-developing tools. Earning merit badges gives boys the
kind of self-confidence that comes only from overcoming
difficult obstacles to achieve a goal.
Through the merit badge program, boys learn career skills that
might help them choose their lifework. Some merit badges help
boys develop physical fitness and provide hobbies that give a
lifetime of healthful recreation.
Working with a merit badge counselor gives Scouts contact with
an adult with whom they might not be acquainted. This is a
valuable experience. ..."
When I put together the Merit Badge Counselor Orientation that I
use here in Catalina Council, I gave this issue a lot of thought
and research. At the end the outline I placed some of my more
common questions and how I would answer them. Here is my answer
to the original question about partials.
Is there a time limit, from start to finish, for completing a
The only time limit is their 18th birthday, all merit badges
must be completed before their 18th birthday. (Except for
disabled Scouts with prior approval, via the procedures outlined
in the Advancement Policies and Procedures.) This usually
brings up the question of partials done with another counselor.
I tell them that as the person who finally signs off the merit
badge, you need to satisfy yourself that they did the work or
know the material. They should not have to do the requirements
over if they can demonstrate this. Keep in mind the NO LESS
discussion, as well as the NO MORE when working with scouts with
As I see it, it becomes a judgment call on the part of the
counselor who signs off the merit badge.
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Legacy Systems Analyst, Anteon Corporation
Catalina Council Advancement Chairman
Instructor Trainer for Water Safety, Southern Arizona Chapter,
American Red Cross
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