To me, one of the most underused parts of Boy Scout advancement is the merit badge program. Oh sure, our Scouts earn lots and lots of merit badges. But outside of summer camp and merit badge fairs, I’m not sure many do it the old-fashioned way by working one on one with an expert in the topic.
When a Scout uses a highly qualified counselor—instead of a troop leader with a passing knowledge of the subject—he typically learns a lot more. He may also enjoy perks like factory or lab tours, and he most certainly gets to practice important life skills like picking up the phone and calling a stranger.
Of course, merit badge counselors have to be recruited and registered, and they have to complete Youth Protection training, which puts the burden on the troop or district. Recently, the BSA has made this burden a little bit easier by creating a new PDF version of the Merit Badge Counselor Application. You can find this form at http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34405.pdf.
The first thing you’ll notice about this version is that applicants can fill it out on Acrobat Reader, save it, and email it. But there’s more to the new form than that. It includes a page of detailed information for potential counselors, including links to useful information on the BSA website. It also clarifies the requirements to be a merit badge counselor and gives counselors a chance to update the list of badges they counsel.
I would encourage you to link to it from your troop website and send the link to potential counselors you know. (That’s better than uploading it to your website; when you do that, you miss out on revisions to the form.)
Local Wanderings: Fay Bainbridge Park
Kirk’s coworker let me in a little gem, on the waterfront, on Bainbridge Island here in Washington State. A tiny park, wedged in between beach homes called Fay Bainbridge Park....