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BSA requirements are out of hand


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#1 fred johnson

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 02:46 PM

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BSA requirements are out of hand.  Pedantic.  Verbose.  Cryptic.  Legalistic.  Youth excitement is killed immediately when they see two pages of small print requirements.  Rank or merit badge.  It gets worse each year and each handbook.  IT DRIVES SCOUTS AWAY.  
 
I was reminded of the issue when I opened the following web page.  
 
 
I really like the old requirements compared to current requirements.  Short and to the point.  We recently worked on the cooking merit badge and that is one of the worst.  New scouts coming in also face multi-page, small print, lengthy requirements for early ranks.  ARGH !!!!  
 
SUGGESTION - Scouts should get short direct requirements.  Leaders and merit badge counselors should have guidelines and work instructions that explain requirements and help guide working with the scout on the requirement.  But what the scout receives should be short and sweet.

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#2 meyerc13

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 03:39 PM

Thanks for posting that.  It's really interesting to see the old and the new side by side.  It's also very sad.  I think if you polled Scouts and Scouters, the vast majority would say the old requirements are the better ones.  What's even sadder is counting the number of 'explain' and 'discuss' requirements, not to mention all of the paper shuffling requirements (written plan, duty roster, prepare a list...).

 

I personally love lists, but I don't see how all of these things make you a better camper.


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#3 fred johnson

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 08:55 AM

It's funny.  Many people talk about raising the bar for Eagle so it means something more than it does now.  I very very much would like simpler requirements, but there is one change I would like to see.

 

I'd like to see camping go from 20 nights (one long term week) to just 40 or 50 nights.  IMHO, I've seen many of what others call paper Eagles be the guys who skim by on the camping requirement.  That's the whole place where you learn to help others, learn your own independence and where you grow.  IMHO, I would not mind seeing the camping requirements look much more simple but increase the nights to 40 or 50.

 

I'd like to see all ther verbose stuff moved to a counselor guide too.  Keep the scout facing requirements simple.


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#4 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 09:11 AM

IMHO, all the rules and regs attached to the various requirements are the results of lawyers, both real and "guardhouse." The article talks about the lawsuit side.  I've seen once, and heard a bunch of stories on how someone got an appeal because the requirements were not clear, or misinterpreted by the adults.

 

I don't think they will ever bring up the nights of camping. When 4 camp outs and summer camp are the bare minimum for JTE, there is a lack of knowledge at the top that "OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING" Heck the last edition of tjhe BS HB even had that quote,and the math that backs it up, wrong.


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#5 Beavah

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 10:44 AM

Yah, the impetus to write more long and legalistic stuff is always control, eh?  Yeh want to control folks with lots and lots of regulation rather than hire good people and trust their judgment.  Sometimes it's because somethin' bad happened and yeh want to "fix" it with a policy rather than educate folks (or "fire" folks), even though policy rarely "fixes" anything.

 

To my mind Merit Badges work best when yeh have a counselor who is genuinely competent in da field, and yeh let him/her decide what's important for a beginner to learn and be able to do.  Who cares if not everybody in da country is doin' exactly the same thing?  Yeh need different campin' skills in the desert than in northern winters.  

 

I'm with @fred johnson.  I'd prefer we take a hatchet to da "requirements", but add to the expectations for "doing" like nights of camping.  Boys learn by doing.

 

Beavah


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#6 Stosh

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 12:35 PM

I had an interesting situation this past week.  All the boys in the week at camp that took the Indian Lore MB got partials.  How this could ever happen is beyond me, but I was kinda stunned.  Does anyone know just how hard it's going to be to find a non-summer camp counselor to sign off on an Indian Lore MB?


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Stosh

 

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#7 NJCubScouter

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 12:54 PM

I had an interesting situation this past week.  All the boys in the week at camp that took the Indian Lore MB got partials.  How this could ever happen is beyond me, but I was kinda stunned.  Does anyone know just how hard it's going to be to find a non-summer camp counselor to sign off on an Indian Lore MB?


I have never heard of a Scout getting Indian Lore MB outside of summer camp. Same for Basketry and Leatherwork. And Fingerprinting, which may be an oddity of our particular camp. I don't think I have ever encountered a non-camp counselor for any of them.
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#8 bsaggcmom

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 04:00 PM

My son needs wilderness survival, nature, soil and water, for his NOA medal. We don't have any non camp counselors for any of them in our district. He just figured out that he could complete the NOA medal with a little more work. At 16.5 yrs old and no more traditional summer camps in his future he may have a tough time getting it done. He decided to work at a highly rated cub scout summer camp this year and not go to camp with the troop. Next summer he'll work at the same camp, after going on a high adventure trip(which he is financing by working at camp) as soon as school is out. 

 

I agree that the rules have gotten out of hand. Scouting seems to be for those with lots of money, and no need to work to support their habit.


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#9 qwazse

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 08:47 PM

There has to be counselors for these badges.
Archeology professors, county agricultural agents, forest rangers, Native American leaders ...

Where did all these people go?
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#10 Stosh

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 09:47 PM

Just because the BSA offers MB's doesn't mean they have qualified counselors.  This is why summer camp MB's are pretty lame in the first place.  They are CIT lead with a rubber stamp of the camp placed on the practice. 


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#11 Hedgehog

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 06:07 AM

My son needs wilderness survival, nature, soil and water, for his NOA medal. We don't have any non camp counselors for any of them in our district. 

 

 

I'm surprised about the Wilderness Survival.  The knowledge base doesn't cover much more than you would need to know for Hiking, Camping and Backpacking MBs and there should be a lot of people who have experience in those areas that would qualify as a counselor.  If you are anywhere near New Jersey and your son's troop wants to do a Wilderness Survival campout, I'd be glad to help organize it and sign off on Merit Badges.  You could even check your local camping store to see if someone there would be interested in signing up to be a counselor for the merit badge.

 

For nature and soil and water, reach out to local parks and conservaton groups.  I suspect that the people working there are more than qualified and would gladly sign up for being a counselor because they could hold merit badge seminars which would draw youth into their parks and programs.  


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#12 qwazse

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 06:08 AM

Just because the BSA offers MB's doesn't mean they have qualified counselors.  This is why summer camp MB's are pretty lame in the first place.  They are CIT lead with a rubber stamp of the camp placed on the practice.

Stosh, I'm saying that here has to be someone in your vicinity with an interest, maybe even a vocation in this stuff. Why aren't they on your district's MBC list?
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#13 packsaddle

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 07:01 AM

I had an interesting situation this past week.  All the boys in the week at camp that took the Indian Lore MB got partials.  How this could ever happen is beyond me, but I was kinda stunned.  Does anyone know just how hard it's going to be to find a non-summer camp counselor to sign off on an Indian Lore MB?

Local historical society may have a member who can do this, also look to local museums who may know of someone. There's also the people involved with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes who are quite eclectic in their abilities. You may be able to find someone among or through them.


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#14 Stosh

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 07:03 AM

I went down to do my requisite sign up to be registered as a MB counselor and I made the very short list of available counselors

and I was the only one who said I would make myself available to the boys of the whole council, not just my own troop.  It's really sad around here when it comes to MB's. 

 

CIT instructors at summer camp and people who sign up for the one day MB University seem to be the only ones available.

 

Those that do sign up like myself are generally doing MB partials that were not completed with the first counselor at camp or university.

 

The "tradition" around here is to have a ton of ASM's cover as many MB's as possible to legitimately sign off on the boys in the troop.


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Stosh

 

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#15 Stosh

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 07:10 AM

We have people in the area who are well versed in the subjects, they just don't go through the signup/ YPT necessary to teach it.

 

I am a local historian, I have contacts with many organizations and know of many people qualified to teach it, but I'm figuring on 3-6 months of my time getting someone interested in helping out, signing them up and training them with YPT just so I can cover what the summer camp screwed up in the first place.

 

Needless to say, when I asked these first year scouts where they wanted to go next year, one boy out of seven said the staff was nice and would want to come back to this camp.  Everyone else wanted to "try" someplace else.  I guess it's going to be another 15 years before I return to this particular camp.


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#16 fred johnson

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 08:33 AM

... Boys learn by doing. ...

 

Agreed.  Years ago I raised my eyebrows when I heard that a local scoutmaster would award the canoeing merit badge to all the scouts that went on the troop multi-day canoe trip.  Back then I was surprised as it did not check off all the requirements.  But on the flip side, they did many many miles and probably 20+ hours in the canoe.  It seems only right.  IMHO, at that point it's up to the counselor to cover the appropriate things.  The requirements should be as simple as go on a 30+ mile overnight canoe trip (or something similar).  During it, the merit badge counselor can mentor all the skills and techniques.  IMHO, that's better than the current 47 categorized requirements. 


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#17 Stosh

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 08:51 AM

Just as a curiosity, I have been kayaking for over 20 years now.  I can safely say I could not teach kayaking MB.  I have no idea what the different parts of the kayak are other than the part one keeps wet and the part that one tries to keep dry.  In my 8' kayak there's no way I could paddle 25 yards in a straight line, in whitewater rapids I couldn't stop it within a boat's length.  Doing a 360o with a sea kayak is not the same as doing it in a whitewater kayak.

 

b. Review the differences in the design between recreational, whitewater, and sea or touring kayaks. Include how length, width, stability, and rocker are involved in the design of each type.

 

One of my kayaks is a Transitional kayak.  That's not even mentioned in the list.

 

Yep, the Mrs. confirms it.  She's been kayaking for a lot longer than I have and has done everything from sea kayaking in Alaska to the whitewater rapids around our area..... She kayaks 2-3 times a week and she told me that without studying she'd be unable to pass the kayaking MB, too.


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Stosh

 

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#18 cyclops

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 11:45 AM

I'm beginning to like Mrs. Stosh...maybe Sainthood for her for that matter...considering....


Edited by cyclops, 08 August 2016 - 11:47 AM.

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#19 Horizon

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 01:25 PM

There has to be counselors for these badges.
Archeology professors, county agricultural agents, forest rangers, Native American leaders ...

Where did all these people go?

They are around - but they might not want to fill out the paperwork to be a registered leader and on a Council list. There are a few I know that are happy to help out a few Scouts at a time, but they don't want their phone or email regularly buzzing.


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#20 walk in the woods

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 02:42 PM

I had an interesting situation this past week.  All the boys in the week at camp that took the Indian Lore MB got partials.  How this could ever happen is beyond me, but I was kinda stunned.  Does anyone know just how hard it's going to be to find a non-summer camp counselor to sign off on an Indian Lore MB?

I think I recall you being from beyond the cheddar curtain.  If you're not too deep into the woods, the Burpee Museum in Rockford used to offer Indian Lore.


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