Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A funny thing happened on the way to the merit badge counselor

The other day, the day before a Court of Honor, in fact, I took my son to see his Communications merit badge counselor to finish all his requirements. On several prior occasions I’d asked him if he had completed all the requirements, if he had done everything that was written. For example, had he WRITTEN a REPORT of his city council meeting? (No.) Had he interviewed a family member? (No.) Clearly, he wasn’t ready to complete his badge…

So, off we went to keep his appointment. It was the last merit badge he needed to complete his Star rank. The meeting unfolded much as I’d expected it to. When the MBC asked to see his report, B proceeded to tell him what happened. Then the mbc pointed to where the requirement says, “present an objective report” and reminded him that it means ‘written’ and I kept my comments to myself while B scribbled out some points remembered from a city council meeting last December. This was between him and the MBC, any I-Told-You-Sos at this point wouldn't do any more good than they had before.  As for the interview which he hadn’t done, and which was clearly laid out in the available online worksheets (his plan was to interview the MBC at the meeting), the MBC told him to write some questions to ask me, and he’d trust him to finish it, while signing the blue card.

So, did he complete the merit badge or not? That was the discussion I had with him afterward, with questions like, “how do you feel about your preparation for the meeting?” (I wasn’t prepared.) “What can you do better for the next merit badge?” (Read and understand the requirements, do all the work beforehand.) We had a good discussion and I took the opportunity of his skating by to help him do a better job for himself next time around. Here are some of our discussion points:

  • Give yourself enough time, whatever that may be, to complete the requirements
  • But give yourself a deadline, or it just goes, and goes, and goes
  • Breaking it down into modules helps by setting smaller goals that help accomplish the larger ones
  • Take the time to understand the whole requirement. Read them all thoroughly. Underline key words and “deliverables
  • Note action words like Discuss, Explain, Present, Write…

So, he got the badge (ughhhh, did I just say that?) and finished his Star rank, but we’ll probably have several similar discussions in the future. For me though, the important thing was our debriefing, where he came to recognize that his own responsibility in this whole thing goes beyond 'just show up and get the badge;' that he had just squeaked by and wasn't satisfied with that kind of effort or performance, even though he got what he wanted. That realization, I think, is a successful outcome.

It also underscores why a MBC is best not the kid's mom or dad, because as an external authority figure, she can say the exact same things a mom or dad would, but get a much different result.

Prepared. | For Life.™

1 comment:

Fishgutts said...

No he has not completed the merit badge. Yes this is an awesome teaching opportunity for B. Yes this is a great teaching opportunity for you to talk to the MB counselor and for you to make a mental note to get rid of this MBC or not send boys to him.

I have a Crew member who is working on his Eagle Project who I know didn't fully complete the requirements for his Golf MB (He told me "It started raining during hole #3 and we left but the old Scoutmaster (the MBC) signed the card anyways.")

I am still unsure what to do if anything.