Spending time with your Scouts on C.O.P.E courses is a wonderful experience. Scouts are challenged to step away from what they know is comfortable. The team building exercises and challenging tasks push Scouts to push themselves, not only for the sake of pushing themselves, but for the sake of the team. Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience courses test the Scouts to do their best.
The other thing that C.O.P.E teaches is the idea that Scouting is among other things a “Personal Experience”. Now it is wrapped up within Patrols, Troops, and buddy teams, but at the end of the day, it is up to the Scout to demonstrate self-reliance and have an attitude that he is willing to accomplish any task that he gets the personal experience. Our Method of Advancement is one way that is completely a personal experience in Scouting.
The Scout is responsible for his advancement. If he wants to be an Eagle Scout, there is nothing in his way except for himself. The requirements are clearly outlined in his handbook, he has the support of his Adult leadership, and he is driven to complete the task. Advancement is up to him. Not his buddies, his Scoutmaster, or parents.
The merit badge program is much like the advancement method in that it to is a personal experience for the Scout. There are required merit badges, but by and large with the large amount of badges spanning every vocation, hobby, sports, and skills, the Scout can pick and choose what he likes, wants, and needs to move forward with his Scouting experience.
Last night I talked with many of the new parents about Summer camp. They had questions about merit badges and what we expect the Scouts to do… more so… what merit badges I expect the Scouts to earn while at camp. My answer was received better by some parents than others. My answer was that it was up to the Scout on what he earns and how many merit badges he try to earn. My expectation is that they have fun at Summer camp. If that means 6 merit badges or no merit badges I am ok with that. “But we are paying a lot of money for summer camp” a parent said… yes I understand that. What do you think you are paying for? In my opinion we pay for the personal and shared experiences that are found only at Summer camp. Summer camp is a week-long C.O.P.E course. There are challenges, skills, and tests all week. How the Scouts handle those both as individuals and as a team determines the success of the week at camp. Merit badges and how many the Troop can earn is not the measure of success. In the end, not one merit badge will lead to a memory that they share. I can tell you stories all day long about the summer camps that I attended from 1978 to 1984. But I can only tell you 1 story about a merit badge, and it really had little to do with the badge, it had more to do with me falling asleep and getting lost while trying to earn it. My expectation is that the Scouts have fun and build a catalog of memories. I want them to have a great Personal Experience in Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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