With 135 merit badges to choose from, selection isn’t a problem. But motivating Scouts to earn merit badges sometimes can be.
That’s why the February 2015 ScoutCast offers solutions for getting Scouts excited to earn merit badges.
This month’s guest is Zach Chopp-Adams, an assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 383 in Heartland, Mich., who wrote about this subject for one of his Wood Badge ticket items.
I picked out four of his best tips.
1. Encourage older Scouts to wear their merit badge sash
Sometimes motivating younger boys can be as simple as encouraging older boys to show off the merit badges they’ve earned.
“Have them talk about their favorite merit badges, why it’s their favorite, and what their interests are, and in some cases they can actually help out if a unit does decide to do a merit badge class and a particular older Scout is very, very interested in one topic,” Chopp-Adams says.
2. Find parents with counselor skills
Merit badges are only as good as the counselors that teach them. Chopp-Adams has a way to find out parents who are qualified to be merit badge counselors (once they’re Youth Protection trained, of course).
“One great resource is having a parents’ night to discuss what the parents’ hobbies and skills are and have them sign-up if they would like to as a merit badge counselor,” he says. “Even in a small unit there is typically a large diversity of skills and hobbies amongst the parents that they are more than willing to share.”
3. Look at pop culture
This tip comes from one of the hosts, not the guest, but it’s equally useful.
She suggests tying merit badges to pop culture — TV shows, videogames, movies — whenever possible. An example: The Hunger Games books and movies could inspire a Boy Scout to want to earn Archery merit badge.
4. Have troop “veterans” come home to share
Sometimes young men don’t realize the importance of merit badges until they’ve aged out of the program. Chopp-Adams says you could invite those veterans back to speak to your Scouts.
“I’ve heard of quite a few boys who have earned their Eagle who are in college who have kind of had a revelation moment, especially with Communications and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, where they’re in college and realize that what they’ve learned is a huge help and a huge benefit,” he says. “And in a lot of cases, they come back and share their experience with the boys in the troop.”
Find even more tips
New and “coming soon” merit badges
Check out my Calendar of New Merit badges for the most recently released merit badges and those announced but not yet released.
What do you think?
How do you motivate Scouts to earn merit badges? Leave some ideas in the comments.