Boy Scout summer camp presents many opportunities for our youth, including how to live outdoors, how to manage money, how to make and stick to a schedule, and how to live and work with a group. Camp also presents them with choices in merit badges—most notably, which and how many to take.
So, who decides what merit badge(s) a youth will take at camp?
The answer is simple: the decision is the youth’s. But that doesn’t mean that adult leaders and parents should not be involved. Some camps might require a minimum age to participate and some badges may have prerequisites. Many camps identify merit badges that they consider appropriate for younger campers. While some of these recommendations are health and safety related, they might also take into account skill sets or progression on ranks or other merit badges.
The Guide to Advancement topic 22.214.171.124 explains the process. Before a Scout begins working with a merit badge counselor, he is to have a discussion with his unit leader. This discussion is meant to be a growth-oriented and positive conversation. The unit leader should bring forth any concerns related to working on the merit badge and provide appropriate counseling. It is then the Scout’s decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge.
A good example: Shooting sports merit badges are very popular at summer camp, but often difficult to complete. So if an 11-year-old wants to take Archery merit badge, what should you do? Could you have an 11-year-old expert archer? Of course. Does every 11-year-old have the upper body strength, aim, or skill required for Archery merit badge? Probably not.
First, find out what the youth intends to achieve. If he just “wants to shoot,” enrolling in Archery merit badge may not be the only option. Open program periods might also be available for youth to shoot.
Second, explain to the Scout (and his parents, if appropriate) that while he may be receiving archery instruction and practice time, Archery is a skilled merit badge requiring a minimum score to pass. Attending every class and doing any supplemental work does not guarantee completion of the badge.
Third, always let the youth know the decision is his, and you will support him whatever he chooses.
Author: Boy Scouts of America | Advancement News