Scouting Forums

Helping too much?

I have an opinion question here.

I was a Boy Scout as a youth from an inner city Ghetto troop. No one ever made Eagle in our troop. As a SPL it was difficult on the best days to work together for any kind of effort. Also I was the old Scout at 13 because any youth older than me had quit out. I fell 3 merit badges short of Eagle.

Our Scoutmaster did not offer a single merit badge class. Nor did he help or encourage us to rank up. We did not have an assistant.

I almost quit my troop to move on to a better one, but felt loyal to the Ghetto.

FfWD 25 years. I am a Den Leader for my son’s pack. As a Cub Leader I do all I can for the youth. I have a few years to until we move to the Boyscout troop. But I want to offer merit badge training soon. And I want to help the youth make their advancements.

I am understanding that I can’t do it for them. I am wanting to offer a path to meet halfway as a leader.

I have seen great troops offer a great program. Is it a bad thing that I want to offer a great program? Is it supposed to be hard?


This is a bit of a tricky question, because troops are youth led. It is not a bad thing to want to offer a great program, but our role as adult leaders in troops is different than it is in Cub Scouts. Adults guide, coach, and mentor (primarily the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters), but the Scouts decide their activities through the SPL and the Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC). You can definitely make yourself available as a merit badge counselor and offer encouragement.

1 Like

I will pave the way, install florescent lighting and neon signs, I will paint the bricks yellow, and do everything possible to make sure the scout has the opportunity to walk that path on their own.


Sounds to me like you are ready to take Woodbadge


There two of us who got there eagle in 1980, soon afterwards the troop folded. My scoutmaster then is a large sussporter to the troop now that we restarted. I asked him some of the reasons you stated we didn’t have the abities, he’s answer was it wasn’t available, merit badges were done at camp and had no training to offer them at the troop level. Show like you started a merit badge program that we do campouts at meetings. ( I didn’t even know at the time about merit badge college which are great but instead of showily depending on them we use them in combination with offering merit badges locally) I believe it keeps the kids more ingaged


I plan on doing it 2020 at Philmont.

I’m about 90 percent convinced that I did Baloo with you in Waco last December. That was a great experience and I reference how nice your troop is while trying to help organize our Cub pack.

Longhorn Council Philmont Woodbadge is the best course and the SM and SPL in 2020 are Top Notch - yes Baloo was at my Troop Hut in Waco.

Be glad to talk anytime to bounce ideas or thoughts - you can always call Cris at Hurst for my phone number. @MichaelZemball

1 Like

Is there a difference between Philmont Woodbadge and regular Woodbadge?

@JeanannGoss I am Glad you ask - Longhorn Council Philmont Woodbadge is a one week thru Woodbadge Course held in the Back Country of Philmont - it is no relaxing at the Philmont Training Center - it is 100% Back Country. We traditionally start at Rayado (home of NAYLE) for the first 3 days then move to Zastro (which is the Original Gillwell field of Philmont to end the course.) Having done WB in the one week format I personally cannot imagine another way to do it.

When I did this in 2016 we had Scouters taking the course from 5 states I believe.

All Woodbadge courses use the same syllabus. The biggest difference is many outside of Philmont split Woodbadge into 2 weekends separated by about a month. My Woodbadge course and the 4 I have staffed were all the 2 weekend format. As Donovan can’t imagine doing a split course, I can’t imagine doing it in one week :smile:

Any idea for a date for the Longhorn Council Philmont Woodbadge for 2020? It would be nice if my son could do something at Philmont that week too. He is 14 and doing his first Philmont trek this summer.

1 Like

no date yet - you can watch the URL above


Will do. I keep your book in my Scout back pack. Was reading/ singing some of the songs to my wife this morning. Love it.

1 Like

It is not a bad thing and it is only as hard as the youth want to make it. Our job as Scout leaders is only to get you to first class. A good program is run by youth. Also you can’t earn a merit badge unless you are in scouts. Hope this was helpful.

The only reason for you to wait on becoming a merit badge counselor is time considerations. I consider that to be a personal decision. Otherwise you can be a counselor starting as soon as you get your application in.

I am an Eagle and will say that it would not have happened without a LOT of adult involvement along the way. While I am sure there are some Eagle Scouts who did it without adults prodding them, they are rare. Every Eagle I have spoken to had an adult or two give them some prods along the way. My SM’s wife didn’t earn the badge for me, but without her regular checkups I don’t know that I would have made it.

I know this doesn’t fit the “Scout led” mantra, but when you see a poor program, it is a reflection of the adult “leadership.” The adults should be leading the scouts in learning to lead their program. Far too often adults use the “Scout led” mantra to abdicate their responsibility.

In my opinion, a great SM reaches the scouts where they are today pushing them to become leaders of leaders tomorrow. It is a process and they adapt to the ever changing terrain of the troop. Scout led is a continuum and not a single point. Some days it is pushing a scout to lead an opening or closing. Others it is cheering them on as they leave you sitting in a chair.



There are a lot of opinions about this, here’s mine.

In my personal experience as an Eagle Scout (1992), Troop meetings never involved MB classes. We got them at summer or winter camp, or any one shot event that came up. As mentioned above, the meetings should be boy led, and Scouts should be making a reasonable effort to contact MB leaders/adults outside their normal circle.

In my first year as Committee Chair , and one of the first things I did was limit the reliance of the Troop leaders to use MB classes as meeting subject material. Especially when the Scouts were very novice at basic Scout skills. So now they’re limited to planning 1-2 meetings/quarter around MBs.

My one last bit of advice is to not approach MBs like Cub Scout adventures. Cub adventures are structured to be exposure to different topics. MBs require the Scouts to learn and demonstrate knowledge. If that is pushed too much too fast, the Scout may be turned off as it feels too much like school. Let the Scout earn the MBs at their own pace.

So I think we’ve struck a healthy balance…at one end, we’re not an MB mill that does nothing but MBs (I heard they exist), and we don’t deny them some ability to earn them at a meeting. We do highly, highly, highly, encourage them to go to camps and other events to earn the MBs. In fact, my son wanted to go to earn his Ice Skating MB sponsored by the local rink, and is going in a few weeks.

Some things we’re considering…1) MB classes outside of meeting times. 2) Joint MB classes over spring/fall/summer breaks with other troops.

Hope this helps.

For context, I’m a 1992 Eagle, 5 five year Den Leader (to include my son and daughter), 3 year Cubmaster (concurrent with DL), and current Committee Chair for the Troop my son aged into and current DL for my daughter. During my tenure, we rebuilt the Pack, and now we’re rebuilding the Troop.

One of the toughest things to do as a leader, is let then make mistakes. In very “young” units, it takes effort to keep the balance between “too little” and “too much”.

Even when the boys aren’t leading, let them look like they are. Pull the SPL aside and remind him that ASM Smith will be at next weeks meeting to work on ABC merit badge. “Make sure the Scouts know they need a Blue card, paper, pencil and to do step 6a as a prerequisite”.
So much about Scouts is the chance to lead.

I assume you mean for the youth. In which case, my answer it is supposed to be challenging.

This has all been helpful. Thank you.

I like the idea of focusing on “Scout Craft” as a leader. I do that with my son as a Cub.

My 5 year old can put out a campfire 3 different ways. And I safely have him do it.

Some kids do not have support at home. I don’t want to glass over them by relying on “youth led” when they clearly need a little adult wisdom.

I’m trying to prepare myself for that Dad and Leader balance. As a father, when my son wants to learn —-X—- then I am happy to teach him all I know. I think to some degree as he gets older I am supposed to deny him part of my knowledge and wisdom to encourage him to arrive at his own conclusions.

I believe it would be best to treat all the youth in the troop with this same mentality.