Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby alex gregory » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:20 am

The adage "all politics is local" comes to mind with anyone having a problem getting a response from their senator. Send the letter to your congressional rep. instead. Since a congressperson's seat is always in play and there is a more direct relationship to your congressional rep., you'll probably have an easier time getting that response. My guys always end up writing to their senators and always get a response, but I have no doubt that they would get a quick response from their congressional representative.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby maricopasem » Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:42 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote:Guess I took "write online" as in word processing rather than handwritten. But I can see that it would include email. I'll still *strongly* suggest that they be hand-written. It's a good skill for the boys to have, it takes a lot more thought, and my own experience is that the response is overwhelmingly better -- I can't remember NOT getting a response to a handwritten letter.

But while that skill might be good (and ultimately the skill we're referencing here is penmanship -- good writing is good writing whether its medium is notebook paper or typewriter or computer), that's not the purpose of the requirement or the badge.

Besides, you tell any student born less than 30 years ago to "write" a research paper and I believe the number of them who think that means pencil to paper will be incredibly small, if there are any at all. :D
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby ThunderingWind » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:04 pm

maricopasem wrote:Besides, you tell any student born less than 30 years ago to "write" a research paper and I believe the number of them who think that means pencil to paper will be incredibly small, if there are any at all. :D


My daughter graduated high school without ever having to write a major paper requiring research, note cards, one or two drafts etc.. I still have my senior paper from high school.

We had to submit one every year. And they counted on more than just the English class. Our Freshman year, it was a 5 page paper on a Science subject. Our Sophmore year, it was History, our Junior year the Social Sciences and our Senior Year a compare/contrast paper of a subject we knew nothing about. All papers had to include title page, abstract, main body, and bibliography/references.

Not only did we get an English grade, we got a major subject grade based on what year it was. So my Science paper counted as 10 percent of the Science grade that year. The drafts and note card were all part of the grade.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:32 pm

And we wonder why the BSA requirements seem to have thinned down???

But let's not start the 10 miles hike each way uphill in a blizzard to school stories. :lol:
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby alex gregory » Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:18 pm

maricopasem wrote:But while that skill might be good (and ultimately the skill we're referencing here is penmanship -- good writing is good writing whether its medium is notebook paper or typewriter or computer), that's not the purpose of the requirement or the badge. :D


So what is is the purpose of the requirement?

Becoming a better and more confident writer, and being willing and able to express yourself with credibility to a person in a position of extraordinary power, is the point of the requirement.

Sure, a letter written in crayon that looks and reads like something that came out of pre-school will meet the requirement. I sincerely hope that "Eagle" required means a little bit more.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:58 am

Remember this is Cit in Nation, not Communications MB. I don't think the point of the requirement is writing at all. It's learning to formulate an opinion on a national topic after thinking it through. Writing/email/semaphore/morse code is just how the BSA wrote the requirement so that the scout's message gets to the Senator. I know you don't do the requirements in book order but #8 is an excellent last requirement that builds from a number of the others (#1,3,5,7) for sure.

I saw a letter one time who wanted to know why they got so much time off and never seemed to do anything but argue. My son ended picking something else but that's what he really wanted to get an answer on.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby WeeWillie » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:05 am

Page 41 establishes the standard for an EFFECTIVE LETTER. If the intended reader can not understand the letter because of poor penmenship, grammar and spelling how does that constitute an EFFECTIVE LETTER. You can't use schools for an example because too many educators are more concerned about diversity and self esteem to care about penmenship, grammar and spelling. My son's elementary school principal flat out said that at a parent meeting.

MBCs should not be insisting on hand written vice electronic, but rather match the letter to the capabilities and desires of the Scout. Expecting a Scout to write neatly when he hasn't been expected to do so in school is an exercise in futility. Rather, sit down and help the scout write a proper letter. There are so many lessons we can and should be giving our Scouts beyond checking off a Blue Card. Attention to detail, "Do your best", courtesy, clarity.... are all lessons we can and should be be teaching with this requirement.

In my earlier post I challenged everyone to come up with a reason why we shouldn't be using the MB pamphlet as the standard for evaluating MB requirements. So far, no takers. Am I to assume that there is no reason?

SM168 - Blue cards are not required so I didn't require them. This topic came up in yesterday's Round Table. Also, I have noted your comparison of current requirements with those of previous editions. In light of that here is a qoute from the 1967 Scout Handbook, pg360. "Meeting the Merit Badge Requirements. When you have trained yourself in the skills and have prepared the things your chosen merit badge requires and feel yourself ready, you get in touch with your
merit badge councelor again. This time take with you all the materials, statements, articles required, as well as the application properly filled out."
Last edited by WeeWillie on Sat Sep 13, 2008 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby Ursus Snorous Roarus » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:53 am

Absolutely Willie!
Is it too much to ask a teenager to be able to thoughtfully and intelligently write a letter for this requirement? Or do we cower in our corner fearful of angering a parent with the copout of ‘the requirement is the requirement’! If that’s the case, then who cares if it’s carved in stone!? Let’s face this: most Scouts are exceptional or at least very good students. By the time they are working on this level of concepts in a merit badge, they should be able to present something that is comparable to their school level. Do we accept blue cards with misspelled words? Sloppy writing? Next thing you know, you’re getting an Eagle proposal that is illegible because the kid is used to us accepting his chicken scratch…. Hold the standard high and they will rise to meet it. “What would a teacher say if you presented this at school?” (just said that the other night). This is no different of a situation. Come on guys, have some backbone!
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:54 am

WeeWillie wrote:In my earlier post I challenged everyone to come up with a reason why we shouldn't be using the MB pamphlet as the standard for evaluating MB requirements. So far, no takers. Am I to assume that there is no reason?


I see no reason not to use the MB pamphlet. What else would you use? It's an official BSA publication. Of course the same old problem discussed many times is that there is no requirement to have or read the MB pamphlet to do any MB. Although I am putting the "suggestion" of doing both into the registration page of the MB college I am running in Jan.


WeeWillie wrote:SM168 - Blue cards are not required so I didn't require them. This topic came up in yesterday's Round Table. Also, I have noted your comparison of current requirements with those of previous editions.


Obviously I must have not been as humorous as I thought I was on Blue Cards. I have not heard or seen a better way for the scout and unit to manage the MB process and I never been given a reasonable explanation on why they are not required even at JAMBO.

What comparison was I making on requirements?
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:58 am

USR...I have seen some of the Eagle Project proposals you refer to. :cry: Unfortunately they come to me with the Sponsor, SM and CC signatures approving the write up. So which is more sad?
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby WeeWillie » Sat Sep 13, 2008 12:27 am

SM168

Electronic correspondence does not allow for voice inflection or facial expression that otherwise might indicate a joke. I wasn't sure your comment was a joke or not so I answered it straight out. I take my responsibilities seriously, that does not mean I take myself seriously. By the way, T480 uses blue cards. As a MBC, I would not require a Scout from another troop to have a blue card as long as they have some evidence that they obtained their SM's approval.

I may have mistaken you for someone else. About a month ago someone put together a summary of T-1 requirements from the 1965 requirements. I thought it was you. Requirement have not changed as much as some forum members claim. What has changed is the standards by which merit badge skills are evaluated. As you can see from my citation the burden of earning MBs in the 60s was with the Scout, not the MBC. Now, it is the SMs fault that a Scout isn't advancing fast enough to suit parents. That reality has been pointed out to me more than once.

We can not require a Scout to have a MB pamphlet, that does not mean MBCs should not be using them when evaluating Scout performance. The standards for evaluation of merit badge skills should be the same regardless of the MBC, troop, or council. Than can only be accomplished if we are all using the same standard. Unfortunately, we have merit badge mills.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Sat Sep 13, 2008 12:12 pm

Wee....I guess the 2 laughing Icons were'nt enough.

To quote SST Hulka one of my favorite movies, Stripes, Lighten up Francis :lol: :lol:

There is a problem with the MBC holding to the standards in a MBP when the scout never even cracks it open. Not the MBC's but the parents - "how can you hold him to this when he doesn't even have to have the book!" Drives me nuts. Any of you folks ever heard the classic song.."Five Dollar Fine for Whining"

Merit Badge Mills are the fault of the organizers and the MBCs.

There is no more Stalking required for 2nd and Morse Code/Semaphore for 1st. :shock:
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby evmori » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:06 am

smtroop168 wrote:USR...I have seen some of the Eagle Project proposals you refer to. :cry: Unfortunately they come to me with the Sponsor, SM and CC signatures approving the write up. So which is more sad?



Well, since a Scout is permitted to hand write his Eagle project and anything else for that matter, why shouldn't it be accepted?
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:49 am

Ed..it's not the handwriting, it the total lack of details that would allow anyone to do the project and it's still signed off by the troop leadership.

Examples: A building project with no hammer. A collection project with no collection boxes. A conservation project with no workforce except the scout and his Dad. I wish I were kidding.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby evmori » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:58 am

smtroop168 wrote:Ed..it's not the handwriting, it the total lack of details that would allow anyone to do the project and it's still signed off by the troop leadership.

Examples: A building project with no hammer. A collection project with no collection boxes. A conservation project with no workforce except the scout and his Dad. I wish I were kidding.



Got ya & with that I would agree! Lack of details is not good. Thanks for clearing that up.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby mneaglemom » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:14 pm

When my son did his letter to his Congressman, his MBC was OK with him using the contact form on his website. She requested that he print the screen before he sent it. About a week after he sent it, my son received a phone call from the Congressman - they chatted for about 15 minutes. And a week later, he received a follow-up letter by mail.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby maricopasem » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:19 pm

I get the feeling some may have misconstrued what I posted. I stand by my statement that "good writing is good writing" regardless of the medium.

My assertion is that in this day and age writing has become synonymous with using a computer. I frankly don't care what medium a Scout uses to "write" to his congressman -- he can write with coal ala Abraham Lincoln for all I care -- as long as he satisfactorily fulfills the requirement in a respectable way. That includes writing well.

If I Scout comes to me with a letter that is poorly written with grammar and spelling mistakes, I am going to encourage him to correct those mistakes and offer help in doing so because it reflects on him, his family, and the BSA, and he can do better. As an adult leader I'm a teacher first and foremost and I'm going to teach him to "do [his] best" whether he's writing with a keyboard and mouse or a hammer and chisel.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby WeeWillie » Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:28 pm

SM168

I recommend a MBP during the introduction. If a Scout can get MBP, I would help get one. If a Scout does not meet the MBP standards because he didn't want to buy a MBP, or borrow a MBP from the troop library, tough! I have yet to encounter the first scenario.

Interesting you mentioned tracking, trailing and stalking. I plan on introducing them on a future camp out. Maybe this weekend, but we have a 10 mile Hike sceduled. If there is enough interest, I might try semaphore.

You forgot
2nd Class
2a Take 3 hikes on separate days
10b Build a fire with only 2 matches

1st Class
2d On one camping trip carry a pack for 1 1/2 miles
4 Using a compass and step measurement create a sketch map
5 Point out the North Star and 5 constellations
6 Find 5 edible plants and prepare/eat one
10a Show you retained your 2nd Class 1st Aid skills
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:01 am

Of course you couldn't work on T/2/1 all at the same time.

1st class 10a is where the program needs to go back to not just for 1st Aid.

I don't have my book but I also seem to recall the SMC required you to discuss how you were going to work on your next rank.
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Re: Citizenship in the Nation: Letter

Postby WeeWillie » Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:52 am

SM168

Yes about SMC, but we are probably drifting from the topic.

To bring it back on topic and to borrow from another topic:

The Scout Handbook and MBP are written and reviewed by subject matter experts and education specialists to be age appropriate. They have stood the test of time. They have been proven to work. There is no legitimate reason why Scouts and MBCs should not be using them. E-mail or postal is OK
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