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Merit Badges Eleven questions, 120-plus subjects.

friends at my church that might donate something for the kids or pay registrations or buy uniforms.

HOW DO YOU RECRUIT IN AN ENVI- RONMENT WHERE MANY KIDS HAVE BARELY HEARD OF SCOUTING? Once a year, we take our kids to Tuskegee, Ala. The first time I did this with these kids, they came back and told more kids, and I had kids coming out of the woodwork wanting to sign up for Scouts. They wanted to be a part of the things we were doing.

HOW DO YOU GET YOUR SCOUTS INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY? I have them march in the Mardi Gras parades here. The older kids volunteer at Penelope House, a home for bat- tered women. And we have a couple of kids that are starting to visit nursing homes to learn respect for their elders. It has been great. You might think they wouldn’t want to do that, but once they get there and see what it’s all about, their whole attitude changes.

AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE IN SCOUTING, YOU RECENTLY COMPLETED WOOD BADGE TRAINING. WHY? We had eight adults go through Wood Badge from Scoutreach. To better ourselves for our kids, that was my philosophy. I figure the more I learn, the more I can teach them. Wood Badge was an honor for me. ¿

MERIT BADGES LIE AT the heart of the Boy Scout advancement program. Almost every Scout earns at least a few, and a few Scouts earn them all. While merit badges cover a diverse range of subjects, they’re all earned the same way.

WHO CAN SIGN OFF ON A MERIT BADGE? Only a registered merit badge counselor may sign off on a merit badge. He or she must be at least 18 years old, a registered Scouter, and qualified to teach the subject. Counselors must also receive the approval of the council advancement committee.

CAN’T SCOUTMASTERS APPROVE BADGES WITHIN THEIR TROOP? They can, but only if they’re also merit badge counselors. Similarly, a council must have approved a counselor even if he or she only works with Scouts in a single troop.

ARE COUNSELORS LIMITED TO JUST SIX BADGES? No, a council may approve counsel- ors for as many merit badges as they’re qualified to teach.

IS THERE A LIMIT TO HOW MANY BADGES A SCOUT MAY EARN WITH ONE COUNSELOR? No, although leaders may encourage Scouts to work with a diverse group of adults.

I’VE HEARD THAT MERIT BADGE COUNSELORS CAN’T WORK WITH THEIR OWN SON. IS THAT TRUE? No, counsel- ors may counsel their own children. However, it’s a good idea to include other Scouts in the process.

DO SCOUTS HAVE TO EARN MERIT BADGES IN GROUPS? Not exactly. A buddy must accompany a Scout at counseling sessions, but that buddy can be a parent, sibling, or other non-Scout.

HOW MUCH FLEXIBILITY DO COUNSELORS HAVE FOR INTERPRETING BADGE REQUIREMENTS? Each Scout must complete the badge requirements exactly as written. For example, if he’s supposed to demonstrate a skill, he can’t just describe it.


requirements. However, they can offer additional, optional learning opportunities such as a workplace tour or hands- on activity to enhance the experience.

IF THE REQUIREMENTS IN THE MERIT BADGE PAM- PHLET AND BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS DIFFER, WHICH SET SHOULD THE SCOUT COMPLETE? Scouts should use the requirements in the current edition of Boy Scout Requirements. However, if the requirements change while a Scout is working on a badge, he may complete the badge using the previous requirements.

ARE THE RULES DIFFERENT FOR SUMMER CAMP? The same rules apply at summer camp. Staff members under age 18 may assist with instruction, but they can’t serve as merit badge counselors.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION? Reference the “Guide for Merit Badge Counselors” at scoutsource/boyscouts/guide formeritbadgecounselors.aspx. ¿


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