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Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 3

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?The Ask the Expert floodgates are wide open.

I’m now getting roughly 50 emails a week with Ask the Expert questions, a sign that Scouters out there care enough to seek out the right answer to their burning BSA queries. (By the way, ask your question by emailing scoutingmag@gmail.com, subject “Ask the Expert.”)

For the third round of rapid-fire FAQs, I’ve picked out nine popular questions and tracked down the right answers.

We’ll cover parents who make light of a Scout earning lots of merit badges, a troop that won’t count the same leadership position twice, a discussion of who should pin on an Eagle medal, unofficial belts, jamboree entertainment, and more.

Let’s go … 

(1) No such thing as too many

Question from Tracy: “How did you answer those parents and Scouters who make light of the fact a Scout has earned a lot of merit badges? They refer to it as his collection and imply he hasn’t really earned them all.”

Answer from Bryan: Sounds like those parents need to mind their own business. It’s one thing if they have reason to believe the Scout isn’t properly completing all merit badge requirements. In that case, they should privately meet with the Scoutmaster or his merit badge counselor. Otherwise, I see nothing wrong with Scouts earning large numbers of merit badges. The program is designed to match the wide-ranging interests of teenage boys. Why fault a boy who wants to expand his horizons beyond the minimum number of MBs required for Eagle?

(2) What’s Cooking?

Question from Denise: “My son is a 14-year-old Scout, and he earned the Cooking merit badge his first year. Assuming it takes him another three to four years to earn Eagle, will the Cooking badge count as an Eagle badge or a regular badge? If cooking is now an Eagle badge are they upping the number of badges he needs to earn?”

Answer from Bryan: Cooking merit badge becomes Eagle-required on Jan. 1, 2014. As I mentioned in my Cooking MB FAQs post, any Scout who earns Eagle after Jan. 1 needs Cooking merit badge. But Denise’s son has already earned it, so he’s good. No boy needs to re-earn Cooking MB. As to the second part of Denise’s question, the total number of merit badges required for Eagle will remain unchanged at 21. The only change is in the split between Eagle-required and elective. As of Jan. 1, 2014, a boy will need 13 Eagle-required and eight elective instead of 12 and nine.

(3) Been there, done that

Question from John: “Our troop will not count toward advancement serving in the same leadership position twice. Is this a BSA policy or just our troop policy? We can see both the pros and cons to this and thought we would ask for other points of view.”

Answer from Chris Hunt, BSA Advancement Team: “The requirement simply says to serve in one or more positions of responsibility. It does not say serve in position of responsibility that you have not already served in. A troop may organize its operation such that Scouts end up serving in different positions so they get a variety of experiences, and that would be a good thing. But including a parameter that a Scout must serve in a different position in order to advance represents adding to the existing requirements and is not permitted.”

(4) Who’s on stage?

Question from Terri: I cannot find anything about entertainment at the Jamboree. I have a Boy Scout and a Venturer attending. Can you give us any information on this?”

Answer from Bryan: I’ve been told there are no plans to announce the musical acts in advance. But as someone who’s seen the lineup, I can say your Scout and Venturer won’t be disappointed by the entertainment at either stadium show.

(5) Pin it on him

Question from Alan: “Does BSA have a specific requirement or recommendation for who is to pin the Eagle Scout Medal on to the new Eagle Scout?”

Answer from Chris Hunt, BSA Advancement Team: “The National Advancement Team has established no guidelines on who should present Eagle medals, but we would offer as a ‘best practice’ that it should be someone who will leave a lasting memory for the Scout. The emphasis on the Scout is intentional. My grandfather—a distinguished Scouter in his own right—presented my medal, and I’ll never forget the experience. To others, the Scoutmaster who changed a Scout’s life or the den leader who shined a light onto the possibility of a bright future would be the right presenter. Another approach might be to consider a Scout’s life ambitions. The local mayor might be the right presenter for a Scout interested in community leadership or political science, or the inspirational teacher for the Scout who is considering becoming an educator. Think about the presenters who will add value to the Scout’s experience, as we continue to work with him toward the aims to develop citizenship, character, and personal fitness.”

(6) In the loop

Question from Chad: “I stumbled across your site while I was looking for a simple ‘guide’ to currently available square knots that can be worn on the Scouting uniform. Is there a simple guide which shows what knots can be worn/earned/given to a youth Scout, and what can currently be worn/earned by an adult?

Answer from Bryan: A youth may wear the silver-on-purple religious emblem knot, the Heroism Award, Honor Medal, Medal of Merit, the James E. West knot, Venturing Leadership Award, Venturing Silver Award, William T. Hornaday Award, Sea Scout Quartermaster Award, and OA Distinguished Service Award. Once he becomes an adult, he may wear the Arrow of Light knot and Eagle Scout or Eagle Scout NESA Life Membership knot. (Thanks to all who pointed out the error in this original answer!) For more info, check out my guide to square knots, including an explanation of how to earn adult knots and sew them on right-side-up.

(7) Belt it out

Question from Patt: “I’ve been stationed overseas in a couple of different countries and have participated in international Scouting events. One item in particular I like to wear is a leather belt designed to look like the World Scout Movement Knot. Is it wrong to wear this unofficial belt with my official uniform?”

Answer from Bill Evans, BSA Program Impact Department: “The only program where we offer the option of wearing any belt of choice is the Venturing program.  Cub Scouts are very specific on which belt to wear, while the direction for wearing the green and khaki Boy Scout uniform only offers two options: official uniform belt or a leather camp, high-adventure base, or Wood Badge belt.”

Reference: Page 14 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia (PDF).

(8) PROJECT? What project?

Question from John: “Advancement requires serving in a position of responsibility or a leadership project. (‘While a First Class Scout, serve actively in your unit for four months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility, or carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the unit.’) What are some examples of these types of projects?

Answer from Chris Hunt, BSA Advancement Team: “We don’t normally provide examples for this sort of thing because we don’t want to establish a ‘standard.’ It’s better if both youth leaders and adult leaders brainstorm prospective projects that will help the individual unit. That said, it’s hard to resist coming up with an example. But remember, it’s just an example from one Scouter to another that maybe could generate that brainstorming. If I were a Scoutmaster I would probably have a mental list of things I would like to see improved. Maybe there are behavioral issues, for example, that might be resolved if Scouts who are not involved in troop leadership were to give input and take ownership of the solutions. A leadership project might then be to assemble a Scout focus group and give leadership to the creation of a troop code of conduct that all the Scouts could accept. Such a code would have to be drafted and edited, perhaps reviewed by all the Scouts in the troop for input, and be reviewed by the PLC for further adjustments. The Scout could then present the code to the troop committee for its review, and finally have it printed and signed by all the Scouts.

(9) One task, two requirements?

Question from Dave: Can a single task satisfy the requirements of two (or more) separate merit badges? For example, Scouts in my troop are going to visit a courthouse and view live court to satisfy a requirement for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.  Can they use that same visit to satisfy a requirement for the Law merit badge? My instinct is no, Scouts need to complete each merit badge independently, but I thought I would Ask the Expert.”

Answer from Chris Hunt, BSA Advancement Team: “We address this in the revised Guide to Advancement, which should be released within the next 30 days. It will be posted on scouting.org first as a PDF and then printed and distributed to Scout Shops. The book is in final editing and the actual wording may get some minor adjustments. If folks follow us on Twitter they will be the first to know about the release of GTA 2013.”

4.2.3.6 Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity

From time to time it may be appropriate for a Scout to
apply what was done to meet one requirement toward
the completion of another. In deciding whether to allow
this, unit leaders or merit badge counselors should
consider the following.

When, for all practical purposes, two requirements match
up exactly and have the same basic intent—for example,
camping nights for Second Class and First Class ranks
and for the Camping merit badge—it is appropriate
and permissible, unless it is stated otherwise in the
requirements, to use those matching activities for both
the ranks and the merit badge.

Where matching requirements are oriented toward
safety, such as those related to first aid or CPR,
the person signing off the requirements should be
satisfied the Scout remembers what he learned from
the previous experience.

Some requirements may have the appearance of
aligning, but upon further examination actually differ.
These seemingly similar requirements usually have
nuances intended to create quite different experiences.
The Communication and Citizenship in the Community
merit badges are a good example. Each requires the
Scout to attend a public meeting, but that is where the
similarity ends. For Communication, the Scout is asked to
practice active listening skills during the meeting and
present an objective report that includes all points of
view. For Citizenship, he is asked to examine differences
in opinions and then to defend one side. The Scout may
attend the same public meeting, but to pass the
requirements for both merit badges he must actively listen
and prepare a report, and also examine differences in
opinion and defend one side.

When contemplating whether to double-count service hours
or a service project, and apply the same work to pass a
second advancement requirement, each Scout should ask
himself: “Do I want to get double credit for helping others
this one time, or do I want to undertake a second effort and
make a greater difference in the lives of even more
people?” To reach his decision, each Scout should follow
familiar guideposts found in some of those words and
phrases we live by, such as “helpful,” “kind,” “Do a Good
Turn Daily,” and “help other people at all times.”

As Scout leaders and advancement administrators, we
must ask ourselves an even more pointed question: “Is it
my goal to produce Scouts who check a task off a list or
Scouts who will become the leaders in our communities?”
To answer our own question, we should consult the same
criteria that guide Scouts.

Thanks to all the Scouters who sent in questions and to BSA experts Bill Evans and Chris Hunt.

Be ahead of the game

Scouters who follow the BSA Advancement Team on Twitter (@advbsa) are usually the first to know about advancement changes.

See if your question has already been answered

Before submitting your question, browse through previous Ask the Expert posts.

Ask your question

I can’t track down all the answers, but send your Ask the Expert questions to me and I’ll do my best.


Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by ed_needs_a_bicycle

34 Comments on Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 3

  1. H. David Pendleton // June 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm // Reply

    Good questions to get the right answers to, but you are mistaken that there is only one knot that Boy Scouts can wear. Boy Scouts can also wear the James E. West Award provided that they meet the criteria for it.

    • Neil Lupton // June 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm // Reply

      Hello Bryan and David,

      I believe that David is right. Also

      1) I believe that if a Cub Scout or Boy Scout is awarded the Honor Medal or Medal of Merit, they can wear the square knot. Doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.
      2) Same thing for the Hornaday Award knot.
      3) Since “youth” in Bryan’s original answer would include Venturers and Sea Scouts, I believe that they can wear the knot for the Venturing Leadership Award. I’m not certain about their wearing the knot for the Arrow of Light and Eagle Scout award but I would think so.

    • Actually, there are several others.

      There are all the “lifesaving” awards that have knots.

      Hornaday Award

      OA Distinguished Service Award

      Venturing Leadership Award

      Venturing Silver Award and Sea Scout Quartermaster Award.

  2. Matt Culbertson // June 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm // Reply

    Bryan…actually I believe a youth could wear the knots for Heroism, Medal of Merit and the James West one

  3. Don’t forget about the Hornaday award.

    • Y’all are right. I’ve fixed the post with a more-complete list. Thank you!

  4. Bill Short // June 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm // Reply

    For the square knots isn’t a youth also able to wear the Arrow of Light and Eagle square knots if earned. Or am I misreading the question ?

    • For Arrow of Light, a Boy Scout would wear his arrow-shaped Arrow of Light Award patch. Once he’s an adult, he can wear the Arrow of Light knot. For Eagle, a Boy Scout would wear his Eagle rank badge until he becomes an adult, at which point he wears the Eagle Scout square knot.

      • John Hammonds // June 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm // Reply

        Can a Sea Scout wear the Eagle knot instead of the badge since their Sea Scout rank goes on the left pocket where the Eagle patch would go?

      • Brian, relating to the “Youth” classification. In Boy Scouting it is 18, while in Venturing its 21. While most “Youth” in Venturing I have met prefer to wear their Eagle patch rather than the knot. Some will do the same with their AOL. What is the right way? Also please apply the same questions to Sea Scouts too. While they are considered part of Venturing, they have their own Uniform Requirements.

  5. There are several award knots that a youth may wear,

    Heroism Award
    Honor Medal
    James E. West Fellowship Award
    Medal of Merit
    Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award
    Venturing Leadership Award
    Venturing Silver Award
    William T. Hornaday Medal
    Youth Religious Emblem

    There scenarios I am not sure about: Eagle and Arrow of Light knot on Venturing and Sea Scout uniform for youth that are over 18. Quartermaster knot on Venturing and Boy Scout uniforms, under 18.

    • This list looks right. Thanks, Robert.

  6. I read somewhere that souters should not wear more than ninie award knots on there uniform. Is that a requirement or a suggestion?

    • Guide to Awards and Insignia. It’s free online or a few bucks in your scout shop.

      • from the Guide:
        “Knots are worn above the left pocket in rows of three. It is recommended that the number of knots be limited to three rows of three (a total of nine knots).”

        recommended. so yes, ‘should’ is the right word. but should is not must.

    • Steve Stockham // June 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm // Reply

      It has been a “suggestion” that scouters limit the knots worn to three rows. There has been no hard and fast rule and, in fact, there are one or two notable scouters that display four rows! Any more than nine knots and it starts to get pretty crowded up there!

  7. Recommendation, can be found in the Guide Awards and Insignia.

  8. I see the logic of some your examples on “one task, two requirements”. But the extension of this is that some Scouters will take it as a green light to end-run the system. In my former troop, one assistant Scoutmaster advocated the idea that if a Scout can backpack 15 miles for a weekend trip he counts for Backpacker merit badge, the Scout ought to be able to use it as a two-fer for a 10-miler for Hiking merit badge. His rationalization was that if a Scout can haul a backpack for 15 miles, he is capable of hiking without one for 10 miles — so why not count the mileage for both merit badges? A “Little League father” of one of the Scouts in our troop was only to happy to hear of this shortcut so he could take advantage of it.

    • Matt Culbertson // June 19, 2013 at 7:19 am // Reply

      Alex…there are lots of examples where units use a single event to sign off multiple rank requirements too. Since the BSA advancement system allows a scout to work on all three of the lower ranks at the same time you can have lots of “Little League fathers (and moms)” looking for shortcuts. Even though the requirements don’t match up exactly as Chris Hunt pending GTA change says the following could occur

      Pass the BSA swim test….good to go for 2nd class swimming reqs

      Go on your 2nd class 5 miler which includes orienteering trail…get 2nd/1st class hike/orienteering/map/compass done

      First Aid…one lengthy session and all 3 ranks are done

      Flags..T and 2nd done at same ceremony

      3Rs and Cyberbullying…same session

      Lashings/Knots…same session culminating in a camp gadget

      Even cooking if planned correctly a scout can assist (TF), cook lunch and breakfast for his patrol (2nd) and then do 3 meals for his troop (1st) on the same campout

      • Neil Lupton // June 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm // Reply

        Hello Matt and others,

        This becomes almost a philosophical issue. What is the purpose of the advancement system and, indeed, of Scouting?

        If the purpose is to learn and demonstrate skills, then double counting would seem to pose no particular problem. If the skill is required by two or more different sets of requirements, and the Scout has the skill, then they have it. Why do it twice.

        On the other hand, if the purpose is to have as many different outdoor experiences, adventures, etc. then the more different opportunities that the Scout has, the more that objective is met.

        Of course, if the parent’s objective is to get through Scouting requirements as fast as possible so that the Scout can earn rank quickly and then on to the next activity to build the college resume, that directly contraindicates the second possible purpose above.

        So the question would seem to be which does more for the citizenship, character and fitness of youth: learning and demonstrating basic skills as quickly and efficiently as possible or having a broad variety of experiences and adventures?

        • Matt Culbertson // June 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm //

          Neil…There is some excellent verbage in Chapter 2 of the Guide to Advancement on what Advancement is.

          I do come from the “old school” who thinks that skills should be learned and then built upon at the next rank and you should have to earn a rank before you start any requirements for the next rank with a small time in grade between ranks. I know am in the clear minority on this.

          There was a requirement in ancient times that part of the scout’s rank requirements was to discuss his approach to earning the next rank with his SM.

  9. Why do the Boy Scouts have no rules or regulations that keeps adult leaders from posting negative comments on Facebook to other scouts in a pack to drive them out of the pack?

    • Matt Culbertson // June 19, 2013 at 8:16 am // Reply

      They do..it’s called Bullying. Guide to Safe Scouting refers:

      No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are prohibited in Scouting.

      • That is not true I was slandered on facebook that forced me out of attending scouting and the Boy Scouts of American did nothing about it!

        • Matt Culbertson // June 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm //

          Sorry to hear that…you asked if there was a rule about it and there is. How it was applied in your case I can’t speak to only to say that it should have been reported to your Scout Executive. If you were slandered, you also could speak with an attorney.

  10. Hello Mr. Wendell! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! I had a quick comment in regards to the merit badge question.

    I think some of the negative attitude towards having a large number of merit badges that Tracy refers to has to do with a real concern in today’s Scouting.

    Historically, Merit Badges were much more difficult to earn as a rule. Instead of just testing a Scout’s knowledge on the subject in question, they would make sure that he was proficient in the skills required.

    I certainly cannot speak for all parts of the country, but in my experience I have sadly seen many merit badges turned into a simple checklist at best; a virtual freebie at worst.

    I think it could very possibly be frustration from this apathy about proficiency which causes people to make negative comments about earning a large number of merit badges.

    As a Scout, I definitely respect those Scouts who show the initiative to earn a lot of merit badges, but I also think it is a lot more fun to earn badges which require a lot of effort and really mean something to me.

    Of course not every case is the same, and I can only speak from my personal experience. I wrote a blog post about how merit badges were earned in the past that you might enjoy reading: http://scoutingrediscovered.com/scoutcraft/rediscovering-the-merit-badge/

    Thanks for keeping up this blog!

    • Fortunately, BSA has given fairly clear guidance on the purpose of the current merit badge program, and it doesn’t include mastery of a subject. In fact, it doesn’t even call for above average competence:
      “There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur regularly. The uncomplicated process—beginning in a discussion with a Scoutmaster, continuing through meetings with a counselor, and culminating in advancement and recognition—provides several learning experiences. It gives a Scout the confidence achieved
      through overcoming obstacles. Social skills improve. Self-reliance develops. Examples are set and followed. And fi elds of study and interest are explored beyond the limits of the school classroom.”
      The merit badge program is intentionally designed to introduce a Scout to a wide variety of subjects, with the hope that one or more may generate interest that will lead to further study outside of the requirements to earn the merit badge, or perhaps even outside the Scouting program. There is no requirement or desire to make earning a merit badge equivalent to earning a certification or qualification for a set of skills. If Scouts want to go beyond the intent of the merit badge program and become more proficient in a subject, then they can do so on their own. In fact, that would be the desired result of the merit badge program.

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Steve!

        I know that what you say is true, and you describe a commonly accepted view of Merit Badges.

        The research I’ve done has led me to believe that it hasn’t always been that way, though. The Merit Badge was originally developed to award a Scout who has earned Merit in a certain field. The Merit Badge of the past is fundamentally different from the Merit Badge of the present.

        While I agree that all you say are advantages of simply having Merit Badges be looked upon as an ‘teaser’ to a certain subject, I think the other way of looking at Merit Badges definitely has many advantages as well.

        I think you are doing it a bit injustice to say that “there is no … desire to make earning a merit badge equivalent to earning a certification or qualification for a set of skills.”

        I know that I, for one, respect the badge and have a whole lot more fun learning it when I’m required to put effort and work into it. I know there are many others who agree with me.

        Also, I think it would give Scouts an even truer taste of what that field is like if Merit Badges required real skills to be learned. All the “confidence”, “Social skills”, and etc. would all be gained by following the old school view of Merit Badges and much more.

        I would be proud to wear the First Aid Merit Badge only if I thought I was thoroughly proficient in all that it requires. I would like to think that other Scouts who wear the badge can be trusted upon to truly have those skills, and I know that the founders of Scouting had that in mind.

        Surely you can’t have anything against a more rigorous Merit Badge system? I know that Scouts such as I would treasure the Badges more and have a lot more fun earning them.

        • H. David Pendleton // June 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm //

          While some may consider what Steve043 wrote about the BSA Merit Badge Program as “commonly accepted” that IS NOT the case. It is the current policy put out by the BSA (and thus should be accepted by all Scouts and Scouters alike) and no Troop or Scoutmaster has the authority to add additional requirements (or take out requirements) for any Merit Badge.

          While additional knowledge of the Merit Badge subject may have been required in the past, it is no longer necessary. As long as the Scout meets the requirements as laid out for the Merit Badge, nothing more or nothing less, then they have met the requirements and have earned the Merit Badge.

          If a Scouter feels that any BSA policy needs changed, then there are procedures to request changes. Submit them & see if the National Advancement Committee decides to implement them regarding the Merit Badge Program. Evidently some time in the past, someone submitted the changes in such a manner that we have arrived to the current system.

          As for the First Aid Merit Badge, its purpose is to not make a boy from the age of 11-17 an emergency room nurse, an EMT, or other first responder. It is to give them the skills to take care of minor medical emergencies and then know what to do for more serious cases. Part of this training is to also learn to let the most qualified person available to perform the First Aid. It will be on only rare occasions when there is no adults around to assist. This Basic First Aid Training can be done in a relatively short time as even the American Red Cross teaches such a course in less than a day. The issue is the Scout should not just earn the First Aid Merit Badge and then never practice the activities again. Like anything else, it needs to be reinforced. This can be done by having older Scouts teach new Scouts the basic First Aid requirements for advancement & the Merit Badge, Patrol Competitions, etc.

        • Steve043 // June 20, 2013 at 9:14 am //

          I’ve read your blog, and while your research cites the 1913 standards for earning a merit badge, it seems to ignore later changes to the program that reoriented the purpose of earning merit badges. My father was a Scout in the 1950s, and in speaking with him on this topic last evening he related that he remembered that merit badge requirements were not as rigorous as you advocate they need to be. I was a Scout in the 1980s and share my father’s recollection. So, the program hasn’t been so different from its current form for well over 60 years, or in other words for more than half of the existence of BSA.

          In your research, you may also have found that earning “ranks” beyond 1st Class merely required earning additional merit badges. Would you advocate we return to this rank model as well, simply because that was how things were done for a few years when the organization was forming?

          You may want to expand your research beyond the first few years of the organization to get a broader, more comprehensive view of the role of merit badges in Scouting.

    • Deaf Scouter // June 19, 2013 at 10:32 am // Reply

      I was also having a hard time with Bryan’s number one’s answer but at the same time realize this is a hot topic of discontentment that many of us are well aware of. Merit badge events are gaining popularity in today’s Scouting family of busyness. It has created for some used to the old way of doing things a negativity or better worded, a nonchalance and skepticism of the ‘earned’ part of the merit badge that devalues things for Scouts, Scouters, parents and leaders.

      This apathy (nonchalance and skepticism of the ‘earned’ part of the merit badge) prevails in many units, districts and councils that to such a rate that adult leadership can be at lost of how to combat or be frustrated with as it spills over onto them, the leaders thus creating problems within their units, districts or councils. Sometimes we need ‘stock’ answers from the experts which I feel Bryan missed in his answer to Tracy. The fact that this question was picked and place as number one shows that MANY struggle with this apathy/ nonchalance/ skepticism mentality that can easily turn into a debate (or war of words). Its a really fine line to walk for many.

      How do we answer courteously with kindness while not letting the Scout’s ‘earned’ merit badges become something of non-importance? In creating a stock answer to help yourself, read up on the ‘purpose’ of merit badges:
      * acquire new skills and/or hobbies
      * explore career possibilities
      * grow in confidence, social skills and self-reliance
      * experience learning in many different settings

      Now turn the tide by asking quietly instead:
      Did the Scout acquire new skills? Did the Scout learn about a new hobby? Is Scouts’ ‘collection’ not really a ‘journey or adventure’ that is ‘enriching or exposing’ the scout to explore ‘other’ career possibilities? On the ‘earned’ part, has not the Scout taken time and effort to do the merit badge work? Isn’t it the merit badge counselor’s job to insure that the requirements are met and there is a procedure to reporting merit badge counselor that you feel are not following BSA advancement guidelines? Should we as leaders, Scouters or parents devalue the Scouts’ efforts by questioning the ‘earned’ aspects here in front of the scouts thus belittling their time and effort? Let them know there is always going to be different points of views on thing but is that not what happens in the real world?

      So the next time someone devalues the scouts ‘earned’ merit badges or values them ‘unimportant collection’, ask a quiet question back which redirects them to think about purpose of merit badges instead. Has the scout met these purposes and/or growing/learning on his journey/adventure to leadership thus becoming ‘Prepared. For Life.’ which is BSA’s goals?

  11. We have an investiture ceremony into the troop where the scout’s mother presents the Scout Rank. She will also present his final rank Eagle Scout. (Certainly, if there is an issue, the father or guardian will fill that role.)

  12. @ “H. David Pendleton”

    Thanks for the comment, Mr. Pendleton! I think you might have misunderstood me; I’m sorry about that. I’m not trying to say what the BSA’s current official policy on Merit Badges is. I am simply advocating a return to (what I believe) is the original spirit in which Merit Badges were created.

    In the past, Scouts had a much higher respect in their communities than they do now. In many cases, they were trusted by the police more than adults to help with emergencies that arose. I believe that this was partly because Scouts and Scouters in general held themselves to higher standards. I so long to see that spirit return.

    Merit Badges are a case in point, and one that we can work on today. When a Scout earned a Merit Badge, it not only gave him a very accurate introduction to the field, but I also equipped him with tangible, valuable skills which could serve him and others in the real world.

    I don’t believe that Scouting is simply passive and receptive. No matter how valuable it might be as a method of education, it is so much more than that. I believe Scouting is active, and Scouts have much to offer the real world.

    I used the First Aid Merit Badge as an example. I will admit that it looks ridiculous when you exaggerated it, but I don’t think that is quite fair. I’m not wishing to turn Scouts into an army of professional EMTs, that is quite a ‘straw-man’ argument. I do, however, wish to see Scouts with real skills in First Aid and who can be trusted in emergencies more than the average citizen.

    I am an 18-year-old Eagle Scout, and this spirit that I’d like to see return to Scouting is something I’ve discovered on my own through reading the writings of the great men of Scouting’s past.

    I think you hit the nail right on the head about keeping up practice on the skills once learned. I don’t think enough attention is given to that. Too many times, I’ve seen Merit Badges or skills signed off, and then completely forgotten within a week’s time.

    Thanks again for your comment!

  13. john Ballard // January 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm // Reply

    Will Venture Patrols (in Scout troops) still exist under the new program?

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