At the Merit Badge College, which was held at North Surry High School on Saturday, Boy Scouts from several troops took part in classes which allowed them to complete most of the requirements for a merit badge in their chosen field. Some of the Scouts used the day to get ahead or to work towards getting their Eagle Scout rank.
There are 11 required badges to become an Eagle Scout and a minimum of 21 badges must be earned. Some of the badges require more concentration than others. The one-day crash course allows scouts to focus all of their attention on the project at hand for one day.
“It gives the Boy Scouts a chance to earn merit badges very fast with a one-day crash course. They can get a majority of the requirements out of the way in just one day,” said Dr. Daniel Robinson of Troop 545, who was conducting the veterinary medicine and animal science course. “It’s a way for us to give the kids the opportunity to get a merit badge in a hurry. We super-saturate them.”
There were 12 merit badges up for grabs during the day as students chose to participate in different lessons. Of those, nine were requirements for Eagle Scout.
Around 135 scouts showed up to participate in the college. The majority are from the Old Hickory Council, Dogwood District, but there were scouts from other districts.
Christian Cail and Sam Brown have been Scouts for almost three years but had not attended a merit badge college before. They both chose to take the first aid class where they learned about the signs of dehydration and how to deal with seizures, strains, sprains and head injuries during the three hour morning session. During the afternoon, they were looking forward to learning about CPR.
“It’s pretty sweet. I might save a life one day,” said Cail of the class. “We learned how to take care of people when they’re sick.”
“We learned how to make a stretcher,” added Brown, who along with Cail has attended the Boy Scout summer camp before.
Andrew Mills also chose to take a first aid class because it is a requirement for Eagle Scout honors. He has been involved with the Boy Scouts for seven years.
The Scouts could also take courses on citizenship in the community, in the nation and in the world as well as communications, personal management and emergency preparedness.
In the personal management class, Scouts learned how to be financially responsible by starting to budget their money now when they receive allowances or gifts of money. Each Scout in the class learned how to fill out a budget form similar to a check book register where they would write down deposits and withdrawals and keep up with the balance.
Yancey Simmons served as an assistant instructor for the emergency preparedness course and has previously participated in four merit badge colleges.
“You learn how to survive in an emergency situation,” he said of the course he was instructing. “It teaches you everything you need to know. Then you have to build your own response kit.”
The courses can also serve to allow the Scouts to experience things that they normally would not. It opens the door to other opportunities or perhaps something the Scouts may be interested in becoming more involved in.
“We try to give the kids exposure to something new,” said Robinson. “It might get the wheel turning to something they’re interested in.”
Scouts and parents find days such as the merit badge college helpful in that it brings together people from across the county who are united around a central goal, to help the Scouts succeed.
“I think it’s a good deal. It helps the kids who get behind because they get the opportunity to catch up or get ahead,” said Tim Moutos, the parent of a scout in Troop 561. “The people who put the Scouts together give their time. They’re volunteers and it’s obvious they enjoy it. It’s a great organization especially for kids. It’s a good place to get some guidance.”
The day consisted of a three-hour morning session, a break for lunch and a three-hour afternoon session. Completion slips for the merit badges earned during the day will be given out at the April Scoutmasters’ Roundtable.
Contact Morgan Wall at email@example.com or 719-1929.