Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Preparations, the great times, and the horror stories.

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Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby alex gregory » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:08 am

It bugs me that Scouts come home from summer camp with completed blue cards showing they have finished merit badges that obviously could not have been completed at summer camp, especially when we're dealing with Eagle required merit badges. With a signed blue card in hand, there is very little that can be done to require actual completion of the merit badge.

This summer we spent a week @ Camp Makualla in southern Oregon. In that week 4 Scouts in the troop earned Emergency Preparedness, and another Scout earned Personal Fitness.

None of the Scouts had their family conveniently stowed in their backpacks, so it was impossible to complete Emergency Preparedness at summer camp (req. 2c). I was not aware of any disruption in the time-space continuum, so obviously it is impossible to complete Personal Fitness in one week at summer camp (req. 8).

My complaints to the Camp Director have been ignored, I suspect in large part since the Camp is not in our Council.

I don't want to say anything in front of other Scouts since that will just foster resentment (especially getting a pass on the 12-week personal fitness requirement). My comments to the individual Scouts and parents fall on deaf ears, since they are just happy to get the merit badge and are willing to let it slide.

My question is why does this happen so often? Why do Councils tolerate this kind of blatant disregard for completing all merit badge requirements as written? Why don't Camp Directors do a better job training summer camp MBCs?
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:09 pm

I can't speak to the camp you went to, but the ones we have gone to have never "given" a badge to any of my scouts. The camp has specific prereqs that must be attested to by the unit leader on the 1st day of class when the scout turns in his blue card. I make it a point to ensure that the scout shows me his prereq stuff at least two weeks prior to camp. Also if you are leery of some of these badges, let your scouts know upfront that you are going to scrutinize these closely.

A good non-advancement SMC with the boys who "earned" these badges is in order.

My other recommendation is to send a letter to the council exec of the camp's council with a copy to your CE. These guys do talk about this stuff amongst themselves.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby alex gregory » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:26 am

The pre-requisite verification issue is never a problem, e.g. verify that you have completed all TTFC First Aid Requirements before you are signed off on First Aid Merit Badge; that's how it's supposed to be done.

Once a Scout is given a signed blue card by a MBC there is virtually nothing that can be done.

The Scout that got his personal fitness in one week at summer camp is particualry irksome, since the 12-week personal fitness program is a fundamental point of the entire MB.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Billiken » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:44 pm

At the camp we attend, 7Ranges (Buckeye Council), E-Prep and Personnal Fitness are offered.

Both have extensive pre-requisites.
For example, for E-Prep the scout must bring his family's emergency kit to camp.
Obviously, he can leave at home the drinking water and emergency cash.
SM must attest that Scout has earned First Aid MB.

For Pers. Fitness, the 12-week fitness program must be completed/documented and signed off by a troop leader or MBC before arrival. The class at camp covers the rest of the requirements.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Fibonacci » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:04 pm

I agree that camps should not give a Scout a signed off blue card when the requirements have not been completed. It has happened around here.

My usual procedure when this happens (I'm the Adv Chair): I sit down with the Scout and show him the actual requirements. I point out the one requirement in question (Camping MB 20 nights of camping when he's only camped with the troop 3 times, for example.) We have a conversation about whether or not he feels he really completed all them. If he has the MB patch on his sash, the other Scouts in the troop will believe that he has met all the same requirements that they did, and I ask him how he would feel if he knew he didn't do the work required. I let him know that BSA tells me he could be awarded the patch, but that I am willing to hold on to the blue card until he feels has actually completed ALL the requirements. He can sit down again with another counselor for that MB or he can just let me know (usually he wants an actual re-signing by another MB counselor.)

So far, all our Scouts are honorable and ask me to hold the Blue Card for them. Each boy has completed the work.

This, of course, does not address the issue of poorly taught requirements, just the issue of requirements not done.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby smtroop168 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:37 am

Fibonacci wrote:I agree that camps should not give a Scout a signed off blue card when the requirements have not been completed. It has happened around here.

My usual procedure when this happens (I'm the Adv Chair): I sit down with the Scout and show him the actual requirements. I point out the one requirement in question (Camping MB 20 nights of camping when he's only camped with the troop 3 times, for example.) We have a conversation about whether or not he feels he really completed all them. If he has the MB patch on his sash, the other Scouts in the troop will believe that he has met all the same requirements that they did, and I ask him how he would feel if he knew he didn't do the work required. I let him know that BSA tells me he could be awarded the patch, but that I am willing to hold on to the blue card until he feels has actually completed ALL the requirements. He can sit down again with another counselor for that MB or he can just let me know (usually he wants an actual re-signing by another MB counselor.)

So far, all our Scouts are honorable and ask me to hold the Blue Card for them. Each boy has completed the work.

This, of course, does not address the issue of poorly taught requirements, just the issue of requirements not done.


I've seen/heard of this approach before. Good way of doing it.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby kwildman » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:13 am

our summer camp requires that the SM sign off on prerequisites for merit badges like camping, etc. I print out a list of each scouts nights of camping log and highlight which ones meet the extremes. I also verbally confirm with the instructor which other pre-reqs are met.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Quailman » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:44 pm

Do you guys ever post feedback to online camp databases? I don't even know if there's one at meritbadge.org, but usscouts has one. http://usscouts.org/databases/camp/ocd.cgi. That's the kind of thing I'd like to know about when selecting a camp. (There's other stuff, too. One camp we had heard great things about had a director change two years ago and the program and food went downhill.) There aren't a ton of comments there, and some are quite old, but it's really helpful.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby biglou » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:26 pm

Ok, I hate to burst everyone's bubble here. But there is no such thing as a pre-requisite! You can complete the requirement with another counselor prior to going to a resident camp but that has to be accepted by the counselor finishing the merit badge.

I know I am going to catch alot of flack on this.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Mrw » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:45 pm

Our camp merit badge listings always list some requirements as "pre-work" and the boys are told that if that much is not done or prepped before camp that they are not likely to be able to complete the badge and will have a partial.

Hiking and personal fitness are on the list of badges offered at our camp, but it is made clear that they can either start or finish the badge there, but cannot possibly do the entire thing there.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby FrankJ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:52 pm

biglou wrote:Ok, I hate to burst everyone's bubble here. .


I think this is a matter of semantics. Typically camps will list what requirements that will not be covered at summer camp. So if you want to complete the merit camp at camp they must be done before. Hence the term prerequisite. No flack intended.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Quailman » Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:22 pm

I just served as a MBC at a Hornaday Weekend (20 of 21 MBs offered). I was the Bird Study MBC. Everyone who signed up was given a clear list of what they were to do beforehand. I called them prerequisites. Those who showed up with them were able to earn the badge, those who did not weren't.

As it turned out, one troop brought a lot of boys, and an ASM signed everyone up. He neglected to let the boys know about the prereqs. All the others finished in the alloted four hours. One prereq was to "contact the local Audubon Society or library and get results of nearest Christmas Bird Count." I gave the website and which count was nearest their district. It's not something they can do very well while sitting in an outdoor pavilion.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby biglou » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:42 am

There is no such thing as pre-requisites! :lol: You gotta do them with another counselor to complete the badge otherwise you get a partial!
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby FrankJ » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:17 am

Quailman wrote: One prereq was to "contact the local Audubon Society or library and get results of nearest Christmas Bird Count." I gave the website and which count was nearest their district. It's not something they can do very well while sitting in an outdoor pavilion.


These days, you never know. Young scout whips out his I-phone and there it is. :) Technology has its uses.
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Re: Merit Badges "Earned" at Summer Camp

Postby Quailman » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:20 pm

biglou wrote:There is no such thing as pre-requisites! :lol: You gotta do them with another counselor to complete the badge otherwise you get a partial!


I see what you're saying. They could still do the partial work that was possible during the four hours allotted, which they did. It wasn't a prerequisite to participate, it was a prerequisite if they wanted to go home with a signed blue card.
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