Speaking about Adult Training, Baden-Powell said “Don’t be content with the what, but get to know the why and the how.” I believe this is integral in our delivering a good program to our Scouts. For example, a Scoutmaster should not only understand how to tie a knot, but understand that by teaching knots to scouts, we are teaching them a demonstrable skill in which they can develop from the simple (square) to the intricate (Monkey Bridge) to develop confidence and self esteem, a skill they can master and teach to others thereby developing their communication and leadership skills, a skill that they can use in practical (and non-practical) ways developing their ability to problem solve and think creatively, and so on. This is lost many times in translation as many scouts and leaders simply see knots as a task to overcome on the way to advancement. It is our job to not just make sure they learn the knots, but provide an environment in which the rest of the benefits can be realized. This myopic view of things is also translated to Merit Badges, especially, Eagle Merit Badges, which are the most common at the Merit Badge fairs and Summer Camps. Sure they are requirements that need to be knocked out, but they can be so much more… Ok, time to get off my soap box and onto the point:
Seems to me that there are a number of Scouts, who upon attaining Life Rank, have no idea what their Eagle Project might be. After 3+ years of Service, Good Turns, etc. they still don’t know what their calling is, my guess is that they haven’t been intentional about what they’ve done so far.
Citizenship in the Community, besides being a primer for a Scout to learn more about civic responsibility, provides a great opportunity to test the waters for the Eagle Project. If used intentionally, Requirement #7 (Find out about a Charitable Organization and volunteer 8 hours) can help a scout develop a relationship with an organization in the community and discover something he might be passionate about.
The last part of Requirement 7 is to discuss with your Merit Badge counselor what you have learned about the organization after having volunteered for 8 hours.
What a great resource an active Cit in the Community Merit Badge counselor within the Troop, Council or District could be for a Life Scout! Even if the relationship didn’t take with the charity the scout worked with for his Cit Merit Badge, after interviewing all of those scouts, for hopefully a diverse assortment of charitable organizations, a good counselor should have the inside track on organizations in your area that are scout friendly, and have a pretty good idea of what their needs are.