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welding also lets Scouts’ creativity flourish — except instead of handing the boys markers and crayons, artwork is created with a sparking welding machine. Some welders go on to become intricate artists, creating sculp- tures large and small, realistic and abstract. In addition to the hands-on training and education established in the merit badge program, Scouts channel their inner artist when they make an eagle from precut steel pieces. “The Scouts are going to wonder,


Sparks fly as Antonio Escareno welds his eagle’s wings to the body. Also at the Welding Merit Badge College, instructor Candace Ortega (below), a Troop 120 committee member, shows Michael Reynolds of Troop 120 how to position the “gun” while making a weld.


‘What’s in it for me?’” says Lincoln’s Greg Connors, before displaying the 10-inch-wide steel bird that each Scout will take home as part of earning the merit badge or as a separate project. There’s the answer: something to show Mom, Dad and everyone back home. Not to mention the seed of a new skill that could one day develop into a career.


FRANK MYERS, AN ASSISTANT SCOUTMASTER from Southlake, Texas, had never welded before the train-the-trainer event, but aſter the session he says he looks forward to making welding his 46th merit badge counselor certification. He says he thinks it will be popular among Scouts and will rank up there with his other favorite merit badges to teach: Automotive Maintenance, Wilderness Survival and Pioneering. “It’s back to the basics of what


Scouting is: giving the boys knowl- edge of how to do stuff,” Myers says. This “stuff” includes the appeal of a skill that a Scout can learn to perform with the same equipment used by the men and women building airplanes and boat hulls.


34 SCOUTING ¿  


As a leader, if you’re interested in


seeking Welding merit badge counselor training, reach out to your council. Cross, who serves as Lincoln’s BSA coordinator, adds, “[Lincoln] has also been able to work with councils and individuals to partner with skilled trade unions and technical schools for train- ing activities.” Just as it’s presented in the merit


badge curriculum, safety tips begin with the necessity of protective gear and proper ventilation. One warning is never to tuck your pants into your boots while welding so flying sparks can’t find a way down to your feet. To earn the merit badge, a Scout must demonstrate proficiency in applying two types of welds to three different types of joints, in addition to welding his initials on a 3-by-3-inch steel pad. Scouts are also expected to read a


Lincoln Electric booklet on welding and watch nine educational videos on Lincoln’s YouTube channel prior to using the equipment. (These two activities are easily completed at home.) They’ll also learn the relevant safety requirements and demonstrate the first-aid applications relevant to a welding environment. Read all of the Welding merit badge requirements at boyslife.org/meritbadge. Counselors can enhance Scouts’


experience by explaining the scientific side of the process: what goes on in an actual weld as atoms move around at a high temperature and new molec- ular bonds are formed in “the molten puddle,” as it’s called. A layer of exter- nal gas protects the puddle from the atmosphere and impurities that lead to porous, flawed welds — the “Swiss cheese” inspectors are trained to spot.


ISTOCK BY GETTY IMAGES/PALI RAO


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