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Family Life Merit Badge

I have been asked to run a Family Life Merit Badge session as one of our Zoom meeting for 9 scouts.
If anyone has any ideas how to do this so they will all learn and complete the requirements as written I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and stay safe.
John

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Well… That is not a one meeting badge. Scouts should “be prepared” (lol) - figure a few things looking at the requirements and tell them to come ready to discuss these requirements

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I would assume that many of the Scouts don’t have the merit badge pamphlet. Before the meeting, I would recommend sending out an example chore / home duties chart and also examples of special projects (examples of both are in the MB pamphlet). Ask the Scouts to be prepared with their chore chart and special project ideas to the first meeting and explain to them what’s expected for requirements 3 and 4.

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I am currently doing that now with a few Scouts. Just an warning, I prefer to do this individually or only with a few primarily because the topic is important enough that I want them to have to think things through and come up with their own answers instead of just group think. In addition it enables me to engage the parents/guardians directly in the process, which is a large part of what makes this Merit Badge unique.

I should also mention, so you know where I am coming from, that I won’t work with a Scout until they are at least partway through their first year of Senior High. I want them to be beginning to think about what it will mean to exit the family and to have the real possibility of butting heads with their parents/guardians. One of my goals is to help them appreciate their parents in a new light and start a dialogue with them. Cannot guarantee it will happen, but it is one of my goals.

That being said, here are my thoughts -

First, YPT - luckily this works well with Family Life - you must have a parent/guardian participating in the videoconference, just as all email must CC the parent/guardian.

Second - small groups. That means having nine kids can be done but it begins to push the boundaries for me. This is an opportunity, using videoconferencing, to get the parents directly involved. They have to be on the conference, so take advantage of that - help them see where they can help out their Scout in understanding Family Life. I have them involved in practically every aspect of the badge, including sitting down with their scout and talking about why they are important to the family (I shift that toward the end). It can lead to some pretty amazing conversations which I get to hear about. Get the parents/guardians in on the vision of understanding parenting at least a little bit before you actually get to be one.

Third, I have a PDF I give them that is a cut/paste of the requirements and also a tentative timeline. Family Life.pdf (726.7 KB). This gives them an idea of the process. I go over it with them and their parents/guardians, and then we discuss #1. This gives us a outline they can adapt if needed. They drive the schedule - some Scouts take a long time, often due to the Family Meetings which can be pretty intense. Better they take a while and get something out of it, so use it as a suggestion, not something fixed in stone.

Fourth, have them use the Workbooks (that you can download) on their own, but discuss with you during the videoconferences. Family Life is not as much a hands-on merit badge for MB Counselors, as I am sure you have noticed. The key is to talk with them in depth to verify that they have thought this through. If you want external links, they are in your pamphlet, but I prefer to help them process this rather than give rote answers. Writing it down can help them process sometimes.

True story - I had one Scout years ago rattle off what was in the pamphlet, and when I asked where he got it he said - ‘that is what the pamphlet said.’ He really was a great Scout, btw, and was just being totally honest. It led to a great discussion.

If it were me, I would use the first meeting to cover the expectations for #3, the expectation for #4, and cover #1. Then I would follow up with each one’s individual family. More work, but better results.

Not sure if this helps at all. I find that most of the requirements require individual/family discussions, not large groups.

Peace
M

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Thank you Matt

This helps we shall see how it goes

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I would have them work on projects and chore chart during “stay at home” period.

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Before the lockdown, I went over points 1, 2 6a and 7 with our scouts (a group of 10). I told them they needed to come prepared with thoughts on how they would answer each one of those requirements. The discussion of those points plus my “speech” about what constitutes a chore, a family project and an individual project took about 1 1/4 hours. If you didn’t come prepared to participate in the discussion for each point- no credit during that session. I told them they could always come back to me later once they had some thoughts. Honestly, I can’t imagine trying this with more than 10 scouts- there are only so many answers to the requirements. I had a couple of duplicate answers backed up by that is what the scout had written down as his talking points. The larger the group, the more duplicate answers you will get.

For the chores and projects section
Chores- I talked about chores that were too large and really should be broken into components (ie clean the whole house) as well as chores that were too small and really should be one chore (ie gather trash, take can to curb and bring can back in isn’t 3 chores- it is one). We also talked about how small daily chores count equally to large weekly chores (ie daily dishwasher duty vs weekly lawn mowing). Lastly, we set parameters on what constitutes 90 days of recording chores. I interpret the 90 days to be 90 days of recording even if some of those days had zero chores completed; other adults interpreted it to mean that a day wouldn’t count unless a chore was done. I wanted to make sure all the scouts in my group were playing by the same set of rules. I interpreted it as a flat 90 days of recording based on the difference in time individual scouts would need to log if a scout only chose large weekly chores vs a daily chore like care for a pet. It would literally be a difference of 90 days vs 90 weeks.

Individual Project- we talked about the difference between a scout led and a parent led project. The scouts should be doing the planning and implementation of the projects. I told them that their parents were a source of information like google. The example I used was- if a parent wants the deck to be cleaned and painted, the parent determines materials needed and then just uses the scout as labor- that is not a scout led project. IF the parent and the scout brainstorm together and determine that the deck needs work and then the scout plans for materials and does labor- that is a scout led project. We talked about how the requirements say this has to be a home based project. We also talked about what constitutes a report once it is finished. Some adults view a report as only written- however, since the requirements do not specify written, I told my scouts that any type of report would be fine as long as it adequately portrayed how the project benefited the family- written, verbal, photographic, etc.

Family project- I pointed out to the scouts that the family project doesn’t specify that it has to be home based. The project could be a service project, a home based project, a project at grandparents, etc. The only parameters were that the scout had to plan it and various family members had to participate. We also talked about what constitutes family involvement.

Family meetings- we talked about how to run a meeting and we also addressed what happens when two scouts are in the same household and are doing the badge at the same time.

Since that point, I have had two scouts reach out to me to approve their planned projects and look at their chore logs. That is easily done over zoom or any other web based conferencing program. Both of them were younger scouts so we talked about what type of planning they were going to need to do before starting. One scout decided he wanted to seed the yard as his project because it is basically an easy one day project. So I started a discussion about prep and post work- choosing a grass seed based on a combination of climate, cost and availability; shady vs sunny parts of the yard; bare dirt areas vs established grass that just needs over seeding; daily watering dependent on the weather; reseeding if a storm washes away some of the work; how to plan for potential birds eating the seed. His dad was laughing and the light bulb went off for the scout- sometimes things that look simple require more planning than expected. My point is to plan on spending some time with the scout if the project plan isn’t fully realized when they present it to you.

Best of luck to you. This is a great merit badge to work on during the COVID shutdown!

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