scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Define a Merit Badge Mill
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Tue Mar 14 2000 - 18:11:25 CST
> Well, our boys don't attend merit badge mills... er I mean fairs, so
> that's not an issue with our troop. We've always held that the
> quality of the merit badge counselor has a direct bearing on the
> quality of the education of the boys.
> Often in the troop programs, the patrol hosting the program for the month will
> incorporate a merit badge workshop or 2. We had one such month where several
Everyone says they don't attend merit badge mills, but what is a merit
To me, a merit badge mill is a troop that seeks to churn out Eagles as
fast as they can. They seek to implement a systemized program where boys
advance through Scouting in assembly line fashion. They see advancement
as a goal rather than a method.
It makes no difference if that assembly line is conducted at a merit badge
fair, summer camp, or at weekly troop meetings.
In our troop Scouts earn merit badges in a variety of ways.
1. Summer Camp.
2. Merit Badge Seminar.
3. Troop Meetings.
4. Troop Activities.
5. With buddy and M.B. counselor.
Our Scouts are encouraged to attend summer camp their 1st and 2nd year of
Scouting. After that we encourage them to attend high adventure programs.
Summer camp centers around advancement, high adventure does not. For the
older boys not attending summer camp, a merit badge seminar serves to fill
The Merit Badge Seminar we attend attracts 500 Scouts. It is extremely
well organized and many of the MB Counselors are nationally prominent in
their field (U of I professors). Paramedics teach First Aid, Fire Safety
is taught at a fire station, policemen teach fingerprinting, etc. The
quality of counselors is excellent, much higher than any summer camp I've
ever attended. Classes are kept small. Scouts are given their homework
assignments well in advance so they can read the M.B. book and do all the
preliminary work to "be prepared" when they enter the class. The M.B.
class will last 2-4 hours, depending on the badge. At the conclusion of
the event they receive either a partial or a completion for the classes
they attend. It is an excellent opportunity for the boys. They look
forward to it each year.
We have usually 2 or 3 merit badges at troop meetings during any given
year, sometimes as many as 4-5.
We have the usual M.B.s available through troop activities; i.e. camping,
cooking, canoeing, cycling, etc. We offer many outdoor programs
throughout the year. We might incorporate special M.B.s into events such
as Aviation or Climbing.
No Scout can attain Eagle in our troop without doing significant extra
outside merit badge work. Our program will supply some opportunity, but
not all. Eagle requires an extra effort on the part of the Scout. Most
Scouts have a good mixture of summer camp badges, MB Seminar, badges they
earned at troop meetings and outdoor activities, plus badges they sought
on their own with a buddy.
Scouting isn't about the rank you end at, it's about the journey that
brought you there. I currently have 3 boys finishing Eagle, two this
month, one next month, that's when their 18th birthdays happen. If they
don't make that deadline, they don't make it at all. I am confident they
will all finish, but whether they finish Eagle or not, those boys have
shared an incredible journey together through Scouting these past 7 years,
and that's really what it's all about.
Scoutmaster Troop 33