Troop 868 in Action
MERIT BADGE UNIVERSITY
(February 25, 2012)
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Troop 868's Merit Badge University program celebrated it's 10th anniversary with a program that offered scouts a record-breaking selection of 86 different merit badges on which to work.  Just over 1,200 scouts from more than 100 different units attended MBU 2012.  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."  With team-teaching and multiple sections being offered for many of the more popular merit badges, the teaching faculty consisted of more than 200 counselors.  

Government 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 and the Shepherdsville Fire Department supplied counselors.  Private companies and foundations such as Blue Lick Airport, United Parcel Service, Dogwood Homes, and Bernheim Forest hosted classes or permitted tours 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 was able to work on 2 different merit badges --- one during the morning and one during the afternoon.  Class time varied according to the subject, so boys could sometimes work on 3 or 4 merit badges --- or only 1 --- depending on the subjects they selected.  Completion was not guaranteed and many badges required boys to complete paperwork or projects in advance.  Boys who did the required pre-requisites were generally able to complete the merit badge; others received a "partial" for whatever requirements they were able to complete at MBU.

Class sizes are limited to a number of students that is appropriate for the subject being studied.  Classes may be as small as 8~10 students or as large as 24~30 students if the subject matter requires less "teaching" and more "hands on" project work.  Typical class size is 12~14 and some classes also have age, grade, or rank restrictions to try and insure that boys have the experience and/or maturity to fully comprehend some subjects.
Bullitt County Judge-Executive Melanie Roberts checked a scout's work in the Citizenship in the Community class that she counseled. Scouts taking Engineering MB worked in pairs to design a paper "helicopter" then tested them to see which team's design would "hover" the longest.
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 classes involve some "hands on" activity.  Leatherworking is one example.  Another is Plumbing where scouts use a pipe threading die to thread an iron pipe ... and learn that it's not as easy as it may look!
Most counselors have detailed outlines for their classes and many provide worksheets for scouts to complete as they cover the various requirements.  MBU is very much like a day in school and this structure is both comfortable for the scouts and effective.
Counselors check provide assistance to scouts doing individual project work.  Keeping classes small makes is very difficult for an unprepared scout to "hide" and avoid doing the required work.  We encourage counselors not to pass boys who aren't putting forth their best effort.  MBU is not about "giving away" any MBs. Scouts in this Communications MB class used the Internet to research and prepare the next talk they had to give before their peers.  It's a pretty intense class, but one that most boys really enjoy.  Those that prepare in advance and complete the required prerequisites are able to complete the merit badge at MBU.

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