Troop 868 in Action
MERIT BADGE UNIVERSITY
(February 26, 2011)
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In 2011, Troop 868's Merit Badge University program celebrated it's 9th anniversary.  From the first year when the program consisted of 17 scouts from two Shepherdsville troops working on a choice of 3 different merit badges, the program has enjoyed unbelievable success and growth.  Just over 1,300 scouts attended MBU 2011 and they were able to choose from 85 different merit badge subjects.  With team-teaching and multiple sections being offered for many of the most popular merit badges, the teaching faculty consisted of more than 200 counselors.  Classes were held in 4 different public schools and more than a dozen other off-site locations.  Buses and vans were used to transport scouts to and from classes being taught at locations other than the "main campus."

Governemnt agencies ranging from the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, and the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Shepherdsville Fire Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration supplied counselors.  Private companies and foundations such as the Pioneer News and Bernheim Forest hosted classes related to their businesses and missions.  Local government officials such as Bullitt County Judge-Executive Melanie Roberts volunteered to counsel merit badges in their areas of expertise.  The list of faculty qualifications was truly impressive.

The average scout is able to work on 2 different merit badges --- one during the morning and one during the afternoon.  Class time varies according to the subject, so boys can sometimes work on 3 or 4 merit badges --- or only 1 --- depending on the subjects they select.  Completion is not guaranteed and many badges require boys to complete paperwork or projects in advance.  Boys who do the required pre-requisites can earn the merit badge; others receive a "partial" for whatever requirements they are able to complete at MBU.

Class size is limited for all classes and also varies depending on the subject.  Some classes may be as small as 8~10 students with average class size of 12~14.  Keeping classes small promotes learning.
In certain subjects, some requirements may best be completed by working in groups.  Since each counselor has their own classroom, they also have the flexibility to move desks around to carry out whatever tasks need to be accomplished.
All of the counselors at MBU are true experts in their respective fields.  They can tell factual stories and give their students real-life examples in the subject area they are counseling.  Most have have no trouble holding the boys' attention.
Many bring in films, videos, or slideshows to incorporate into their class presentations and make full use of the technology available in the classrooms, including Internet access.
Most counselors have detailed outlines for their classes and many provide worksheets for scouts to complete as cover the various requirements.  MBU is very much like a day in school and this structure is both comfortable for the scouts and effective.
Many classes involve at least some "hands on" activity.  Coin Collecting is one example.  Another is Public Speaking where the scouts each had to prepare and deliver several talks in front of their classmates. 

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