Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

BSA requirements are out of hand


  • Please log in to reply
68 replies to this topic

#61 Hedgehog

Hedgehog

    Erinaceomorpha Erinaceidae Member

  • Members
  • 684 posts

Posted 01 September 2016 - 06:15 AM

Interesting.  I think the requirements are for the adults.  I tend to like the more detailed requirements because they make sure the boys at least cover those topics.  If those were removed and the requirements were just to cook three meals in the outdoors and at home, then I'm sure everyone would be complaining how easy the merit badge has become.

 

I use the requirements as the basis for discussions with a group of around 8 to 10 scouts.  The discussions are usually mixed with some of the doing requirements.  The kids are usualy interested in hearing about the topics and really participate in the discussions.

 

in my opinion, the key is to work with the kids so they learn MORE than the requirements.  The first thing I go over in cooking is knife safety and the right way to cut, slice and dice.  For camping, I have a discussion about the different tents you would use for backpacking, climbing, winter camping, car camping and summer camp after we talk about the BSA's archaic "types of tents" list.  For backpacking, I talk about how much your pack, sleeping gear, clothing and food should weigh.  Kids like learning, but they tend to resist the idea of learning to fulfill requirements.  They want to learn so that they have enough knowledge to do the activity.


  • 1

#62 SSScout

SSScout

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4033 posts

Posted 01 September 2016 - 12:00 PM

""...how much.... your pack should weigh."

 

When Scoutson crossed over to an active Troop, I  told him  I would buy him anything he wished in the way of equipment .  He chose (!) a five D cell Maglite, super bright, super cool.    He carried it ONCE on a back pack trip.  After that, he borrowed dad's 2 AA cell light.   The Maglite later went in his pickup for work. 


  • 1

#63 John-in-KC

John-in-KC

    Moderator and nice guy

  • Moderators
  • 6817 posts

Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:32 PM

Remember a few years back?

 

The comment from leaders around the nation:  "What does "Be active in your Troop." mean?"

Well, I suspect we got the professionals and national volunteers in "they want to be told how to suck eggs, then we can tell them how to suck eggs." mode.

We all said this at the time "Be careful of what you ask for..."


  • 0

#64 fred johnson

fred johnson

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1594 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:23 AM

Remember a few years back?

 

The comment from leaders around the nation:  "What does "Be active in your Troop." mean?"

Well, I suspect we got the professionals and national volunteers in "they want to be told how to suck eggs, then we can tell them how to suck eggs." mode.

We all said this at the time "Be careful of what you ask for..."

 

Perhaps, but I see it different.  BSA has made a huge effort to make things more consistent.  BSA rewrote the "Advancement Committee Policy and Procedures" as the "Guide To Advancement".  The GTA now answers many of the questions that created inconsistency and abuses.  BSA also now publishes Advancement News quarterly to further clear things up.  ... BUT ... if you look at the Eagle project workbook, things were greatly simplified.  

 

IMHO, this is happening because there is no parallel for merit badges and ranks.    Perhaps, BSA should re-write the annual "2016 Boy Scout Requirements Book" with similar guidance that was added in the GTA.  What does 20 nights of camping mean for the camping merit badge?  What does scout spirit mean for each rank?  

 

We need to keep what faces the scouts simple and sweet.  But we do need further guidance for the adults.

 

The more I think about it, we really do need a re-write of the annual requirements book.  IMHO, right now it's the most worthless book as it just restates the current requirements.  Perhaps it's useful to find the latest greatest, but I go online for that.  Or treat what the scout has as sufficient as it was the BSA published version the scout had.  I'd buy the requirements book ... IF ... it has more useful content such as specific guidance on a specific rank or MB, etc.


Edited by fred johnson, 20 September 2016 - 10:27 AM.

  • 1

#65 CalicoPenn

CalicoPenn

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3151 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:42 PM

I've read through this thread a couple of times and I still am trying to figure out what the issues really are here.  I mean I think I get the gist of it - that the requirements have become really detailed and there are folks who think they've just gotten too detailed and complicated for the average Boy Scout to comprehend and we should simplify them.  Then we get an example from Cooking Merit Badge - how much simpler the requirements are now than they were back in the 1910's.

 

I guess I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what the real complaints are.  Is it that the boys, or perhaps their leaders, aren't capable of reading and comprehending the requirements?  If that's the case then I think we have more problems in this country than we're ready to admit.

 

Is it the idea that the requirements should be a simple checklist - for instance Cook a meal at home, cook a meal on a camping trip, describe the three basin (pot) dish washing process, etc. etc. with the meat of the requirements in the Merit Badge Handbook?  I could certainly see something that reads "Using the requirements in Section 1 of the merit badge handbook, cook a mean at home" - with Section 1 describing what needs to be done to meet the requirement.  I just don't see that working out well - too much room for interpretation if it's not spelled out specifically in the requirements on the first page.

 

I wonder how much of the argument is just from our natural resistance to change, and even more natural resistance to bureaucracy?  Sure, the first requirements for Cooking Merit Badge were pretty easy to understand - it was essentially using certain ingredients and cooking techniques, make a meal.  No chats about safety, no chats about cross contamination, no chats about food handling - just cook a meal.  I'd like to point out that a lot in the world has changed since those cooking merit badge requirements were created.  Upton Sinclair's The Jungle hadn't even been published yet - for those unfamiliar, it was a scathing commentary on the conditions of slaughter houses in Chicago - and that book, probably  more than any other, changed the way we think about food safety forever.   Merit Badges are about more than just doing a task - it's also about learning how to do them right, hopefully with the latest and greatest information, and mostly with an eye towards introducing Scouts to skills, hobbies and potential vocations that will last a lifetime.   Cooking Merit Badge is one of those very few that have usefulness for Patrol operations, for cooking at home, and for potentially being vocational, so this one seems particularly ripe for criticism of being too busy and fussy.

 

Or maybe the objection is to using the government's latest and greatest food nutrition scheme and it's really an anti-government thing more than a bad merit badge, bad bad merit badge kind of thing.  I just don't know.

 

What I do know when I read the requirements is that I believe that even an 11 or 12 year old Scout can understand what the requirement says - and that if they're struggling to figure it out, it's because they haven't actually read the merit badge book which should explain everything to them.  I really have no problem with the merit badge requirements starting off with a discussion of health and safety issues, and first aid skills that are more likely to be needed in a kitchen/cooking environment (frankly, it was long overdue that the BSA started this kind of "cross-training" of certain skills within their merit badges).  If a Scout has already earned the First Aid Merit Badge, he should easily be able to discuss cuts and burns with their counselor, and understand that someone is more likely to be cut or burnt while cooking than sprain one's ankle.  If they haven't earned First Aid Merit Badge yet, then they're up a few points by learning some already.

 

I think it's important to talk about food safety and storage.  Given the popularity of the Food Network, I'd be surprised if many Scouts didn't already know about cross-contamination.  I, for one, think knowing how to store foods properly - raw, and cooked - is pretty important, especially wile camping.  I'd rather not deal with a Patrol down with the trots because the chicken was carried in a Tupperware container in Billy John's backpack for the last 6 hours.

 

I'm just fine with discussing food nutrition and planning meals around the latest and greatest food nutrition standards - we've had many discussions in this forum about turning Scouts on to other ways of cooking and getting away from hot dogs and hamburgers.  This is certainly one way to help do that, and it helps reinforce the message of a Scout being Physically Strong. 

 

Yes - we used to build fireplaces in the woods - we don't do that anymore.  The merit badges aren't designed to teach how things used to be done - they're designed to teach how things are done now.  Like OA Youth Leaders being able to navigate chapter and lodge mergers easier than the adults do of district and council mergers, I think the Scouts are far more resilient and adaptable to change than we old fogies are.

 

Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I just don't have any problems with the requirements being more detailed (less chance of folks getting it wrong) and perhaps just a bit more challenging.


  • 2

#66 Chadamus

Chadamus

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 206 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 03:39 PM

@CalicoPenn I'm with you 100%. More anomalies are out here. ☺
  • 0

#67 fred johnson

fred johnson

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1594 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:16 PM

Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I just don't have any problems with the requirements being more detailed (less chance of folks getting it wrong) and perhaps just a bit more challenging.

 

I agree with most of your points.  I don't want to remove content or meaningful interaction.  I just really think we are way way too chatty with the way the requirements are worded and organized.  

 
First class rank requirements
  • 2004/5 - 499 words.  
  • 2016 - 1144 words.  Well over double in just over ten years.
Second class requirements
  • 2001 ... 489 words.  
  • 2016 ... 1189 words (or so).  Well over double.

I just think we are losing our way with the publications.  The GTA and Advancement News were huge improvements.  Huge!!!  That team should be congratulated.  On the flip side, we are moving the wrong direciton with requirement wording and useful content for the scout.  Perhaps I'm not adjusting to change.  Personally, I still find the 2005 handbook more useful thant he current handbook.  I also find the 1950s / 60s handbook even more useful as it was a size scouts could actually bring with them.  

 
We need the detailed legal verbage to guide the adults, but we need to simplify what the scout sees.  

  • 0

#68 meyerc13

meyerc13

    Roundtable Commissioner

  • Members
  • 271 posts

Posted 21 September 2016 - 09:38 AM

I think that's the main concern - we are making merit badges more of a chore than a fun experience by making them more like homework (or doing your taxes, which is something thankfully most of them haven't had to experience yet) than about learning while doing.

 

Plus, I think we have far too much "explain" and "discuss" and not enough "do" and "demonstrate."  When they are 'doing', should they be following proper food safety protocols?  Absolutely!  But that should be implicit and on the adults.  After all, 'food safety' is still 'safety' and falls under one of the few things that we can all agree is an adult leaders responsibility.

 

Just watch any of those cooking shows on TV.  Do they say "Using the basket ingredients, and using all industry standard food hygeine and food safety protocols, create a delicious, nutritious, and edible meal for the judges"?  No, they don't say that.  Yet if the judges cut into their chicken and its raw, or if they see the contestant grab a handful of lettuce for a salad after handling raw chicken without sanitizing their hands - the judges don't eat the food and the contestant loses that round.


  • 0

Yours in Scouting,

 

Chris Meyer

 

Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner 2015-Present

Lion Guide 2016-Present

Cubmaster 2013-2016

Father of a Boy Scout 2016-Present

 


#69 fred johnson

fred johnson

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1594 posts

Posted 21 September 2016 - 11:24 AM

I think that's the main concern - we are making merit badges more of a chore than a fun experience by making them more like homework (or doing your taxes ....

 

Fully agree.  MBs should be about exploring things and developing interest.  Too often it's just drudgery these days.  I don't think it's the merit badge clinics either that do that. 


  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


IPB Skin By Virteq