Merit Badges and the Summer Camp program

Some view Summer camp as an event to earn merit badges. While the merit badge program is a part of the Summer camp program, it is not the objective of summer camp.

Summer camp is an opportunity for the Scouts to spend a week with their friends, participate in some adventurous activity, relax, learn and grow….away from home, cell phones, and X box’s.
Summer camp is a time for boys to be goofy, to strengthen friendships, to develop a sense of independence.

The Summer camp program does offer merit badges for the Scouts to work on and earn, and while much is made of the opportunities to earn those merit badges, there should be no pressure on the Scout to “take as many as he can” for the sake of earning badges.

I would rather see a Scout sign up and earn one merit badge and have the time of his life at camp than see him work himself into a merit badge frenzy and leave Summer camp with nothing but merit badges. No great memories of the water front, or hanging out by the camp fire, no stories to tell about a hike they took while others toiled away in leather craft or the fish they caught…but it got away.

Summer camp is all about the experience…not the badges. My fondest memories of Scouting are of Summer camp. I remember days at the waterfront canoeing or purposely trying to roll the row boats. A hike that a buddy of mine and I took that found us on top of a peak over looking Camp Freedom and beautiful view it rewarded us with.
Hanging out at the campfire till we could not see straight anymore… and having the Scoutmaster finally tell us to hit the rack. The friends that were forged over Summer camp are what every Scout remembers for a life time.

I am glad that my Scoutmaster let us go to camp and have fun. And now I do that with my Troop. I only “Make them” take one merit badge.. and usually it is an Eagle required one that they may not have… or it is simply one that they may be interested in. The rest of the time I want them to have fun.

If you are not having are doing it wrong.

Happy Scouting!

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