Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Merit Badges Requiring 3 Months of Tracking

As a mother of 3 Eagle Scouts, I can tell you that the hardest Merit Badges for Scouts to earn are the three that require 3 months of tracking.  Tracking any one thing for that long is difficult!  Three? Really?

The way we managed this successfully was to track all three together.  Think about doiung all three over the summer when the family could focus a bit better on tracking all three.  Or maybe being in school is a better idea, when routines can easily stick.  Whatever the timing, choose a 3 month block of time that you think you can knock these off.

1.  Familiarize yourself with the requirements by visiting and print out summary sheets for each Merit Badge:  Family Life, Personal Fitness, Personal Management

2.  Remember to start each Merit Badge with the approval of your Scoutmaster and Merit Badge Counselor (MBC).  Get a blue card ready and get the Scoutmaster to sign it and you're ready to let the MBC know you are starting.

3. Get a physical examination from a health-care practitioner.  Use the BSA Annual Health and Medical Record Forms. Here's a link:   BSA Annual Health and Medical Forms  (If your forms are up to date-- you've had a physical in the last 12 months-- then you can just proceed.)

4. Print out this Three Month Merit Badge Tracker.  Or make your own.

Adapted from
As you set goals and work out the daily things you need to track, you can write them in this tracker and check them off daily.  Once you've written down what you are tracking, you can copy it two times so you have three months worth of tracking space.  Consider taping these to the kitchen cabinet or putting them on the fridge so you'll see them daily and won't forget what you need to do to knock out these merit badges.

5. Let's started with Family Life.  Look over the requirements for Family Life-- specifically #3.  Write your chores in the Three Month Merit Badge Tracker under the Family Life section.  If you don't have at least 5 daily chores, work with your parents to choose 5 appropriate chores.

6.  Now let's look at Personal Fitness.  Print out the Personal Fitness MB Tests sheet below and take the fitness tests at the top half of the sheet. Fill in the boxes with your results.  Using that information, devise a fitness plan to improve in each area and discuss it with your Personal Fitness MBC and/or parents.  Use requirement #8 as a guide.  Write the daily exercises in the Don't start on any fitness program until you have gotten approval from your MBC and your parents.

Charts courtesy of
Where it describes using a sit and reach box, you can easily measure without one by placing a ruler out from the wall with zero touching the wall.  Put your feet against the wall and reach toward the wall.  Have someone standing above you note where your hands reach on the ruler.

Note that there is a place to record the fitness test information every two weeks.  That's a great way to track your progress towards your final fitness goals.

7.  Now let's work on Personal Management.  Look over the requirements for Personal Management, specifically #2.  Print out a Sample Budget Plan sheet or make one up like it.

8.  Prepare a budget using the Sample Budget Plan or something like it.  Write in your estimates on the 'weekly' line then multiply that by 4 for your projected monthly amounts in the next columns.  As the months go by, add the 'actual' numbers into the boxes for actual amounts.
Courtesy Paul Murray of
9.  Print out the Check Register above or make a similar log sheet.  Count up your piggy bank.  Put the amount in the first line and write it down as 'Opening Balance.' Every time you earn or spend money out of your piggy bank, write it down on the Check Register and do the math to find out how much money is in your piggy bank.  Now using your Three Month Merit Badge Tracker again, write down the categories you think you'll see the most action in,the Personal Management section.  If you spend money, put a minus sign; if you earn money, put a plus sign.  This shows your attentiveness to your budget while the details can be kept on the Check Register.

10.  For the next 3 months, do your chores and exercises, and write down your financial transactions. Meanwhile, consider doing the other requirements in these three Merit Badges, so when you finish the trackers, you can receive the badges at once!

11.  After all is done, meet with your MBC for evaluation.  As with all other Merit Badges, give your signed blue card to the Advancement Leader for awarding.

Armed with this collection of paperwork, you can complete all three of these Merit Badges at the same time with about the same effort as doing one.  Boo-yah!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

An Awesome Organizational Binder

Boy Scouts-- it's your job to keep track of your Scout Handbook.  That's the place where you gather all of your signatures and dates for your progress through Scouting.  What if you lose it?  You can have a scout leader recreate the record in a new Scout Handbook if you kept your Rank advancement cards and Merit Badge cards.  But where?

What if there was a binder that had a place for these important papers and more?  Troop 55 came up with a great binder that helped my three older sons organize their stuff.  I want to share it here so everyone who wants this can easily print out each sheet and put it together.  All you need is a white/clear loadable front binder, two sheets of baseball card pocket holders and a color printer.

Download the following images, considering the explanation below each.  Remember that this is your back up plan; your Scout Handbook is the first repository and the one that you'll bring to each of your Boards of Review, including your Eagle.  So leave this binder at home!

This is the outside front cover.  Write your name at the bottom and Troop name and number.

This is the first page.  Don't you love the pictures of adventure?

This is a letter to your parents.  It briefly explains how things work.  Let them read it...

When you get a uniform, this will help you place your patches in the right places.  

 This record sheet is awesome!  Use it to record the important dates in the boxes outlined.  The second page is particularly useful as a back up.  

This might be my favorite sheet of all!  It's a cheat sheet for all you need to memorize as a Scout.  This one will be a big help to you.  Thanks to Cedar Hills Utah Troop 1138 for sharing.  

This is a great 'at a glance' list of the Ranks to Eagle.  I love this because it's so complete and yet it's just one sheet of paper!  This is a great reference for you and your parents.  I found it at  

This is another great reference sheet, listing all of the available Merit Badges offered through Boy Scouts of America.  Just love these!  This one is also from

At this part of the binder, put in a couple of pages of Trading Card holder sheets. They look like this.  They are the perfect size to hold your Rank Advancement cards and your Merit Badge award cards.

After this, put your Merit Badge pages that are in progress.  That will help you find them when you get back to them.  When you finish them, tuck them into the very back of the stack.  Then you can find them if you need them, but they won't be as important as the ones still in progress that are in the front of the stack.

Consider printing out copies of the Duty to God tracking sheets you use online at and keeping them in this binder as well.  Again, if you lose your Duty to God book, this will serve as a back up.  Just remember to sign things off in the book and in this binder.  

Also consider putting a copy of your most recent Health and Medical Record in this binder. Then if you need it for another use, it's easily found and copied.  

  I used this as the back of the binder.  It's an amazing statement about how accomplishing great things as a Aaronic Priesthood holder and a Boy Scout will prepare you to be a super Missionary and wonderful leader in the future.  It hopefully will help you remember why we use Boy Scouts as the Activity arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Certainly you can pick and choose which pages you like and want to print out for your binder.  Hopefully you will find this binder helpful to keep track of your important Scouting and Duty to God papers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Merit Badge Counselors-- Information

November is the month we round up new Merit Badge Counselors and renew interest in previously serving MBC's.  The boys benefit from having active, trained and interested MBC's.  Thanks for your willingness to help them.

New Merit Badge counselors need to be willing to do the following to serve:

Register with the BSA using an Adult Application in triplicate.  Be sure to fill it out completely and fill in the release for a background check section as well.  It's not on the main page, so look for it.  Use '42' as position code for MBC and use 'Sweetwater' for District.  Sign the bottom-- you don't need any other signatures since it's a District position.  And it's free!

Fill out a MBC Information Sheet.  Be sure to fill in the parts showing your skill set.  Read the informational page and familiarize yourself with the procedures involved with registration and the short explanation of what Merit Badge counselors do.

Take Youth Protection Training.  Print out a certificate showing the training was completed and attach it to the application.  This needs to be renewed every two years.

These packets need to be turned in to Jefferson BSA offices,  If you want to give them to the Troop Committee Chair, he/she would probably be glad to send it off.

Look for training opportunities once you have signed up. Often Districts hold training at Advance-arama.  There is a wonderful power point online here.  Merit Badge Counselor Power Point Training  Let your Troop Committee Chair know that you have completed this training, so he/she won't trouble you further about training.  If you could do this power point at the same time you do the Youth Protection, your Committee chair would be pleased!  A report to the District on your forms that you are trained and no further actions (aside from registering you) are required will be welcome!

Lastly, be willing to confirm each November your continued willingness to serve.

If you're already a Merit Badge Counselor, thanks for your service.  The District requires a renewal of former MBC's to ensure that the list is always updated.  Your Troop Committee chair will contact you each November to confirm you are still willing to serve.  Please make sure your Youth Protection training is still up to date at this time.  It is critical to keep that training fresh.  This training needs to be taken each 2 years, so don't let it lapse.

Little Philmont Training Opportunity

In March, the Atlanta Area Council is putting on a training for LDS leaders called 'Little Philmont.'  When I have attended this training in the past, I have been impressed with the excellent training in coordinating church policies with BSA policies.  I expect this training to be no different.  I urge all leaders to attend this training to get this vital information.  We can learn this on our own through years of making mistakes and stumbling into misunderstandings.  Or we can get it all in a few hours at this training.


March 21, 9 am to 3 pm.
Atlanta Area Council offices at
1800 Circle 75 Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30339

Not sure if there is pre-registration but will update as I find out.

Hope all of our local leaders can be there.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Scout Leader Training Opportunities

One of the most under-appreciated aspects of working in Scouting is the training that is available. Local Councils offer excellent training at reasonable pricing that applies to much more than just working with boys.  Leadership skills like those taught in these training opportunities apply in professional settings and in the home.

Beside the basic training, BSA offers other training that arm people with other broadly applicable skills.  For example, these titles show the breadth of training available:  Preparing for Hazardous Weather, Climb on Safely, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, and Wilderness First Aid.  In the latter, CPR/AED certification and First Aid Certification is accomplished-- training that many managers take in business settings.  Registered parents are able to sign up for this training-- and then they can be the 'go-to' parent when the Troop goes on an applicable camp out!  Applications to the troop?  If you like rappelling and want to be included in all the rappelling trips, take 'Climb on Safely' and you're the man!  If you like to waterski and want to be included in all the boating trips, take 'Safety Afloat' and expect the phone call.  If you just want to invited to go to all the campouts, take CPR/AED and you'll be a great resource.  (You may get CPR/AED and/or First Aid Certification training at your employment-- tell your Troop leaders for the same effect.  They need the date of certification and the training agency name.)

For Scout leaders, the first training is Youth Protection, which can be taken online.  One must have a certificate stapled to his/her Adult application in order apply to serve as a leader.  That should be followed with Fast Start, which can also be taken online.  After that, one is able to get started but this leader is not considered 'trained.'  He's just basically bare-bones trained.  A wise leader will set his sights on Adult Leader Training, the appropriate training for his position.

Adult Leader Training (ALT) is 8 hours of class work provided by the District.  It can be 4 weeks of 2 hour instruction with an extra make-up night, or one full 8 hour day of instruction.  It is followed up with a weekend of camping-- Individual Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS).  This combination of ALT and IOLS qualifies the leader to be considered 'Trained' and wear a trained patch and knot on his/her uniform.  This is offered in this combination once yearly, although if you can find a nearby district with dates that work, take that and credit will be noted.

Being 'Trained' is a big deal.  You will know how to magnify your calling as a Scout leader and really make the Scouting program beneficial to the boys in the troop.  Without this essential training, you will be left to your own devices, on your own to stumble through the motions of creating a good program for the boys.  Eventually you may learn the 'hard way' through your experiences in trial and error how to create that excellent program for your boys.  Buy why do that when you can get up to speed quicker by availing yourself to the excellent training available?

Once trained, you qualify for the icing on the cake as far as training is considered-- Woodbadge.  One recent attendee called it 'the best leadership training available for the price.'  He said, "It's fun!  And it can be applied to all other aspects of life-- business, church, etc."  And if you are a member chartered through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (like our Troop) the Church may help pay for it.  This is a wonderful training goal for leaders-- to get to Woodbadge and complete it. 

The opportunities for training available to Scout leaders and parents are amazing.  Hopefully we aren't missing them but are making good use of these opportunities for the good of the Troop.

Important links:
Youth Protection Training
Fast Start Orientation Training
Adult Leader Training ALT + IOLS

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Emergency Preparation Merit Badge List...

One of the most challenging merit badges to earn is the Emergency Preparation Merit Badge.  Only a few people are qualified to serve as counselor to this badge as well.  That makes it doubly difficult to earn, although it is a Eagle Required Merit badge.

That said, parents can make this merit badge easier to earn by helping their son gather the supplies needed to put together the two required emergency kits.  Without parental support, this merit badge may take months or years to complete, especially if the counselor has limited time to review supplies.

The first list is the Family Emergency Kit (on the left side.)  Our Merit Badge Counselor wants to see each item on the list.  This is challenging, with the water requirement especially, but not impossible.  Consider allowing your scout to load up the family vehicle with these items.  This would allow the MBC to see each item quickly without having to move the items in and out of the building.  The MBC can see the items in the parking lot when you bring your scout to activity night.

The second list (on the right) is for the individual scout mobilization.  Again, consider allowing your scout to load your vehicle with the items and show the MBC without much fuss. 

What about expensive items like crank powered radios?  Consider buying one, keeping the receipt and leaving the packing intact, and returning it to the store for a refund upon completion of the merit badge.  The important thing is that your scout becomes familiar with the items he might need to pack in each scenario. 

Help out your son by helping him gather these supplies and have them ready to bring to activity night sometime in September.  It will make things a lot easier.

Why Fill out the Annual Health and Medical Records???

Three long pages of detailed information!  And a visit to the doctor?  Why do I have to fill all of this out for my Scout?

It may take some time to fill out the forms, but the paperwork have the potential to save your scout's life!

The first page, Part A, is a consent form allowing the leaders to seek medical treatment for your scout in the event of an emergency.  Without it, your child might be denied treatment.

The second and third pages, Part B, allows you to inform the leaders of any medical conditions your child has, what medicines he takes and other concerns.  Allergies are noted so that treating physicians will know what treatments should be avoided.  Immunizations allow treating physicians to know whether they are up to date.  Where tetanus is concerned, this is valuable information.  Your insurance card information is entered here, also allowing the treating hospital to expedite admissions. A copy of your insurance card is requested too.  Most importantly, medications your child takes is noted with dosage information is recorded here.  As a parent, you will be able to sleep soundly knowing that your scout's leaders are aware of your son's needs.

The fourth page, Part C, is a physical administered by a doctor, nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant.  This one verifies that your son is able to handle the rigors of camping for more than 72 hours.  This part is only needed for camp-outs that last that long-- 72 hours or more.  Summer camps and High Adventures usually qualify, as well as many BSA District level camps.

The Scoutmaster will keep the records in a notebook along with the group during campouts and scouting activities should an emergency occur.  The original will be kept with the Committee Chair in case the notebook gets wet or is otherwise compromised.  The Committee Chair will keep the original in a confidential file so privacy will be respected.  A print-out of only pertinent information will be given to the Scoutmaster and/or his assistants.  This way they will know what medicines need to be taken daily or what to do for severe allergic reactions, for example.  They need to know this information before an emergency occurs.

Since it is an 'Annual' record, each Spring our Scouts' parents are asked to update it.  This is a good idea, since dosage of medicines may change as your scout grows and immunizations need to be updated as they are given.  Why risk another tetanus shot if your son just had one?  Without this update the attending physician wouldn't know. 

Why not be proactive?  If you take your son to a yearly well-child check up, bring along Part C and have the doctor fill it out and sign it before you leave.  Better yet, bring along Part B and update immunizations when the office prints out the immunization record for school.  It got into this habit and it saved me trying to remember.  I just keep the forms in my medical notebook and get it done at this appointment each year.

To find the latest version of the Annual Health and Medical Record, click this link:  Annual Health and Medical Record BSA

To get all parts, download the one at 'Are you going to camp?'

Not convinced?  Scroll down to the bottom of the link for the Annual Health and Medical Record BSA and watch the short video BSA made explaining why it's important. 

Another resource is this link to a Fillable Annual Health and Medical Record BSA  You can type the information in the blanks, print it out and sign it. Easy!

I still remember the look I got when I handed my forms to the Committee Chair in May one year.  He hadn't even started asking parents for the forms yet, even though summer camp was coming up.  It was a mixture of surprise and relief.

It all boils down to what's best for the boys.  Leaders can best care for the boys when they are armed with permission to treat and necessary medical information.  These forms provide that.  Let's fill 'em out and turn 'em in.