Merit Badge Venues
The Historical Merit Badge program provides the perfect opportunity to organize exciting activities for Scouts while connecting them with to BSA’s rich past. Badges may be earned by individual Scouts, but districts and councils are encouraged to offer opportunities to work on at least some of these merit badges at summer camp or a special anniversary celebration. Advancement committees should work very closely with camping or activities committees within their council, district, or unit to provide opportunities for every Scout to earn at least one historical merit badge in 2010.
Brainstorm on how these merit badges can be implemented on a unit, district, and council level. Ideas are included below, but you best ideas will come from participants.
- Some units already work on merit badges during their troop meetings. In addition to traditional badges being offered in this fashion, ask them to add the historical merit badges.
- Plan a campout with a historical emphasis, working on one or more historical merit badges.
- Encourage districts to incorporate one or more of the merit badges in their camporee offerings in 2010. This may provide fresh opportunities for experienced Scouts.
- If the council or district holds regular merit badge workshops, either incorporate the historical merit badges into the 2010 offerings or add another workshop dedicated to this program.
- Work with the council’s camping committee and encourage inclusion of the historical merit badges in 2010 summer camp offerings. None of the merit badges requires much in the way of resources, and will provide new opportunities for older Scouts who have been attending summer camp for years.
- If your council, like many, is conducting a large, all-council centennial celebration event during 2010, see that the historical merit badges are part of the program.
- Organize a Scout expo that includes demonstrations of historical merit badge activities in the exhibits area, or incorporate such a demonstration at the council’s Scout fair or Scoutorama.
- Consider offering historical merit badges at council training events scheduled during 2010, such as University of Scouting, showando, College of Commissioner Science, etc. Take advantage of significant gatherings of Scouts by providing opportunities to earn one or more merit badges.
- See if one or more of the merit badge sponsors/hosts described above could hold historical merit badge clinics for the badge they sponsor/host, and provide the training site, materials and resources, and qualified counselors. Might the local union open its training facility and provide the tools and guidance needed for a large group of Scouts to earn the badge? Could the same be done by any of the other sponsors/hosts?
- If there is a local Scouting museum, ask if the museum would be willing to sponsor/host one or more merit badges with a historical merit badge day. Ask the advancement committee for assistance with recruiting volunteers to staff the stations.
- Pick a city park as the venue for workshops offering one or more of the historical merit badges that could be completed in the space and time allotted. This would be a great way to promote uniformed Scouting in your community and provide an accessible meeting place.
Hold a “Meet Our Pioneers” event to promote the Historical Merit Badge program and as a way to reconnect with old-time Scouts. Communities throughout the country have men who were Scouts in the 1930s, 40s, or 50s. Many of them have had little contact with the BSA in a number of years. Their memories of Scouting may be jogged by the Historical Merit Badge program. Create opportunities to attract them to these planned events. Provide them with recognition and ask for their assistance. This initial connection could lead to continued support. Allow Scouts to ask them what it was like when they were Scouts. Ask them to speak at other anniversary advancement events.
- When integrating the program with other BSA 100th Anniversary events, find ways to introduce the badges in a historical manner. Have staff members dress in historical garb. Eliminate all electronic devices from the area. Find and use canvas tents and dining tarps for shelter. Ballpoint pens and computers did not exist in 1910, so break out the pencils and fountain pens. If food is being served during the event, can the historical merit badge staff members do the cooking over an open fire? Have some fun with this program, because it’s doubtful that any of us will be around for the BSA’s bicentennial celebration.
- Use the council Web site to promote the historical merit badges and their venues. Link the council site to the national Web site where the Historical Merit Badge program is highlighted (www.scouting.org/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges.aspx).