Too Much Free Time Award
My son's Troop went on a ski outing a few weeks ago with members of a number of neighboring troops.
Serendipitously, a local Snow Sports Merit Badge Counselor was skiing that day and agreed to review the
Then, as follow-up, most of the same group of Scouts met together at the local library, and finished up the
academic part of the Merit Badge's requirements.
The MB Counselor signed off their blue cards, and dropped them off at my house about a week later. I personally
saw that all the cards were completed properly for all the Scouts, respectively.
For those of you not ensconced in Boy Scouts, the Merit Badge process is akin, at least conversationally, to
CAP's SET program for ES. People who are SMEs, but not necessarily Scouts, are approved and registered
as Counselors, and test and task Scouts on the requirements for a given badge. They are approved at the Council Level
or higher (i.e. unit agnostic), and their sign off(s) is supposed to be accepted by Achievement Chairs
regardless of which local Council the unit is a member of. A blue card is similar to the SQTR.
Scout Troops have regular "Courts of Honor" where Scouts are promoted, and receive Merit Badges and other
awards, patches, etc. It's usually a quarterly(ish) celebration of what the Troop has done.
Word came back to us today that during their Court of Honor, another Troop's Scoutmaster publicly proclaimed.
"You know those Snow Sports Merit Badges you though you earned? You didn't earn them..." This was in front
of the whole Troop and clearly intended to embarrass not only the Scouts, but their parents and the Troop committee.
I had to ask my wife twice to clarify the situation - this is akin to a Unit CC standing up and announcing
to the Squadron that "Cadet Bago here thought he earned 'x', but NO HE DIDN'T..." Seriously, can you imagine?
Suffice to say the result was a shouting match in front of the Scouts, which just made things worse.
I explained to my kids tonight that this is exactly the way you get people to quit an organization like the BSA or
CAP. This Scoutmaster called into question the integrity of the MB counselor, the parents, the Achievement Committee
(which is really the arbiter post sign-off), and worst of all, the Scouts, and he did it publicly, and
without any explanation or apparent justification.
I can't begin to imagine what was going through the leader's mind, but apparently this is par for the course. The proper action
would have been to discuss this with the committee, contact the MB Counselor, or simply defer the badges until any
concerns were alleviated, not point and yell "FAILED! at 14 year old kids. We all know how hard it is to get kids these
days to do much of anything, let alone follow-through with "academics" of any kind outside of school. These kids did
all that was expected of them, and then their leader decided to...well...I don't know what he intended.
Praise in Public, Correct in Private, especially with volunteers, and doubly so when you are dealing with adolescents.
There is discussion now of a number of Scouts moving to a different Troop, and or filing complaints with the District, as things have been run
"a certain way" for quite a while, and not unlike some struggling CAP units, people are starting to crack the regulations and are finding that "the way" isn't.
Seriously, the only thing I can think of is that the leader hit his head in the bathroom just before walking out to present awards.
I figured if anywhere, many of you could appreciate this situation.