Following my proposed strategy for working through Advancement, the next step is to have a plan for completing merit badges. Here are my ideas for helping a Scout reach Life by the time he turns 14 (or very close). This perspective is mostly focused on required MBs since everybody needs them.
BADGES FROM PROFESSIONALS
Let’s start with the ones I’d solicit some help with:
- First Aid
- Emergency Preparedness
For these two badges, I would look for Scout-specific classes offered through your local fire station or given by an EMT or similar First Responder. These medical personnel have lots of experience, real stories to tell and are the professionals in this field of work – all important characteristics that should make an impression on these young minds – the kind of “stuff” we hope will help them take it seriously and remember the content. I know First Aid is a popular merit badge offered at the week-long summer camps. However, I wouldn’t waste the time in that outdoor setting when First Aid is so easy to coordinate closer to home.
BADGES THROUGH HOME UNIT COUNSELORS
The next few involve a long-term effort that is either deep in subject matter or has a need to be tracked and recorded over time. These merit badges are much better done in your home unit over several weeks:
- Camping (much more than just spending 20 nights out under the stars)
- Personal Management (creating plans, organizing lists, following schedules)
- Personal Fitness (organizing and completing a 12-week physical fitness program)
- Family Life (track and record chores for 90 days, plan and carry out a project)
- Hiking or Cycling (completing multiple trips to accomplish varying distances)
- Communications (keep a log, give a speech, interview someone, plan a program)
- Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World (discuss local issues, take a tour, explain government)
You can and should invite the Merit Badge Counselor in your area to help with any details you may not be able to handle yourself. It would be even better if your Zone or District offered a semi-annual Merit Badge Pow-wow where the boys work through requirements over an extended period of time.
BADGES AT SUMMER CAMP
Lastly, the next few required badges are the ones I think are best accomplished at your week-long summer camp:
- Environmental Science
You could argue that Swimming and Lifesaving could also be done at a pool or Rec Center in your neighborhood. I agree. If your Troop can do that, you should…even if there’s an extra cost involved. Do what you can to use the outdoor summer camp setting to get elective badges that are not as easy to accomplish at home. Such as Wilderness Survival, Rifle Shooting, Archery, Canoeing, Rowing, Climbing, Orienteering and even Pioneering. For some reason, Basketry, Leatherwork and Wood Carving also seem to be popular ones to knock out at camp!
As with anything else, there are LOTS of different ways to approach this list of merit badges. Use what’s available in your area. If you’re one of those Troops that is planning to do all of these on your own (without attending an organized scout camp), more power to you! That would be an amazing level of support from parents and leaders that I could only imagine. Either way, get the boys involved, have them make the arrangements, let them plan the schedule and even TEACH some of the material. But most of all, HAVE FUN doing this!