scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: Re: A different version of the question.
Neil Lupton (NeilLup@AOL.COM
Tue Feb 29 2000 - 13:20:07 CST
In a message dated 2/29/00 11:53:00 AM, dizard@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU writes:
<< So far you are the ONLY one that had ANY agreement
with my idea that we should be teaching scouts to
learn SOME of the material on thier own.
All the rest think we have to spoon feed the scouts,
and provide effective "entertainment" to keep them. >>
I thought that I had responded but I guess I did not.
I strongly agree with you. However, this position seems to be more and more
in the minority.
I guess that a large part of the problem comes with what I have heard
described as our binary advancement -- Eagle and not-Eagle. So if a boy
learn all kinds of wonderful things, has great experiences but doesn't earn
the Eagle, he falls into the "not-Eagle" category. And conversely, if he
gets into a merit badge mill Troop, gets his Merit Badges by attending Troop
meetings and going to summer camp and then gets his Eagle Scout award, he
then is "Eagle." He may not have learned much and not had a particularly
good time, but he can put "Eagle" on his college applications and move on to
other things to put on his college applications.
>From many points of view, Scouting therefore is viewed not as an activity
valuable for its own sake but rather as a means to an end. And when it is a
means to an end, then getting to that end as quickly, easily and efficiently
as possible is what people want.
I have had this debate in my own council several times and I have made some
effort to have merit badge classes reduced and tightened up at summer camp.
However, we have many councils and many camps in our area and the savvy
Troops let it be known that if we don't have the MB classes they want, they
will go to an out of council camp that does have the classes. And the
Troops are only responding to the pressure of parents who make the same kind
of comments -- "If your Troop doesn't have a path that quickly and easily
gets my son the Eagle, we will find a Troop that does. Or else we will find
some activity other than Scouting that will achieve our family and personal
I am not sure what the answer is. I suspect that the "Horatius at the
bridge" alternative will only result in the boys finding another way to get
what they want. But perhaps incrementally tightening up the requirements,
requiring more merit badge counselors be visited (this requirement being at
the unit level rather than district/council) and at least making the older
boys take more initiative might help.
I believe it was your earlier post which spoke to the MB clinics. I know
that when I participated in these clinics as a boy, the idea was to whet the
boy's interest and motivate him to take the steps to earn the badge. Now,
if the boy can't leave the clinic with a signed application, he considers it
a waste of time.
In some ways, we may be victims of our own success and our own publicity. We
have made so much of the Eagle award that anything less than the Eagle is
considered a failure. It may be that "we have met the enemy and they is us."