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Group Instruction of Merit Badges.

The question arises as to whether it is permissible to have Scouts earn merit badges in groups. Many subjects may be presented to groups of Scouts without defeating one of the purposes of the merit badge plan, working closely with a qualified adult.

It is acceptable—and sometimes desirable—for merit badges to be taught in group settings. This often occurs at camp and merit badge midways or similar events. Interactive group discussions can support learning. The method can also be attractive to “guest experts” assisting registered and approved counselors. Slide shows, skits, demonstrations, panels, and various other techniques can also be employed, but as any teacher can attest, not everyone will learn all the material. There must be attention to each individual’s projects and his fulfillment of all requirements. We must know that every Scout—actually and personally—completed them. If, for example, a requirement uses words like “show,” “demonstrate,” or “discuss,” then every Scout must do that. It is unacceptable to award badges on the basis of sitting in classrooms watching demonstrations, or remaining silent during discussions. Because of the importance of individual attention in the merit badge plan, group instruction should be limited to those scenarios where the benefits are compelling.

Frequently the skills of a subject can be taught to several Scouts at one time. This has a time advantage for the Merit Badge Counselor. However, the completing of the requirements always must be done on an individual basis. Scouts may not qualify for merit badges by just being members of group that is instructed in skills. They must qualify by personally satisfying the Merit Badge Counselor that they can meet all the requirements.

 The National Executive Board has approved this policy statement on group merit badge counseling:

To the fullest extent possible, the merit badge counseling relationship is a Merit Badge Counselor-Scout arrangement in which the Scout is not only judged on his performance of the requirements, but receives maximum benefit from the knowledge, skill, character and personal interest of his Merit Badge Counselor. Group instruction and orientation are encouraged where special facilities and expert personnel make this most practical, or when Scouts are dependent on only a few Merit Badge Counselors for assistance. However, this group experience should be followed by attention to each individual candidate's projects and his ability to fulfill all requirements.

 In summary, a Merit Badge Counselor can coach more than one Scout at a time, but only one Scout at a time can satisfy the Merit Badge Counselor that he can meet the requirements.

Advertising Within the District

Scout units are constantly seeking program material for meetings. If the Merit Badge Counselor would like to expand interest in the Merit Badge Counselor's subject and to attract more Scouts to earn the merit badge, contact unit leaders at a District Roundtable and offer to come to a troop or team meeting to "sell the Merit Badge subject." All Scouts won't be interested in the subject so plan to present an exciting 10 to 15 minutes designed to capture the Merit Badge Counselor's audience then offer contact information to those Scouts who are really interested in working in the Merit Badge to start the process (as described above).

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