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Thread: Badges.

  1. #1
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    Badges.

    So this was discussed recently with 'line management'.

    We don't do them. We joke with kids when they come up from Cubs, that the badges they get at that point (when we get round to doing it), will be the last badges they receive as Scouts.

    We took the view, that kids are tested up the wazoo at school, they do so many activities and each has it's criteria that must be met - a standard to which things must be done. We didn't want to add to that. That's our/my argument for not doing them. They still learn all the same stuff, (and to a decent standard, I can't say they fulfil the badge requirements exactly, but they're 75% of the way there for the most part. We do the odd 'proficiency badge' (or whatever they're called now), but only if the criteria matches what we're doing.)

    Arguments for doing them were, seeing the look on a kid's face when they got a badge for doing something, the satisfaction of having a tangible thing to show off...

    I think there are a range of thoughts on this, in this case, I got the impression that the badge would be given for participation in the activity, not in carrying it out to a certain level. That's fair enough, but does that not nullify any value in giving the badge out? Does it not devalue the badge for those who really excelled or made an effort? Because as soon as you start giving them out selectively, then you're setting standards - or targets.

    I also said leaders didn't want to be continually scoring the kids, or be seen to be doing that - for much the same reasons. I mean we have standards, they're just not that high (basically wear a shirt and necker and make sure the former is buttoned up and the latter is on the right way round). I said we didn't want to be walking around with a clipboard... As an aside, the notion of the spoken metaphor seems to be dead. I was told that was an old fashioned view. Yes, I know, it's a metaphor. Sitting at the end of the night, or later at home, checking boxes in OSM is the same exercise, somewhat updated.

    I almost thought I wasn't going to get Delivering a Quality Program signed off... (After 20-odd years of leadership...)

    So, badges or no badges. And if we acquiesce to line management's urging that we do them, does that remove the ability of groups and leaders to be individual or unique in their offer?

    And... GO!


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    ASL wealdbrook's Avatar
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    I have some sympathy with your view - particularly at the Scout age it has been a struggle to get them interested in doing badges unless they are spoon fed.

    It does not help that most of the challenge badges tend to take quite a time to complete so for the first year they don't get any badges and then loose interest.

    But a year ago things changed and all of a sudden they were interested in some of the activity badges - perhaps just to have something to do. We have also managed to finish off a few challenge badges for some of them with them having to be self motivated!

    We do try and plan around the challenges but like to leave at least one element that they have to earn by doing it themselves.

    I think that badges do motivate some Scouts, don't motivate some Scouts and everything in between. At times getting them interested is like pushing water up hill but we often find that in the last 6 months they suddenly get interested in trying to finish off the last few bits (and yes we did award one Gold CSA in lockdown).
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Well, we don't do badges.

    We asked the kids when we started (aged 10 plus so Scout age) and they gave a unanimous and emphatic "No!"

    When we started Junior Navigators there was no desire from the parents for a uniform, and we just never offered badges - I am sure some would like them, but from experience, most get binned the older the kids get.

    In Scouts - Beavers - even there some of the kids would get badges and no-one would sew them on their sweatshirts - oh, I know, teach them to sew - get real, there is more to life than teaching a Beaver to sew a badge on. In Cubs, some would get them sewn on or glued on. In Scouts most Proficiency badges never got sewn on unless the Scout had a pride in achieving them - so, the 11 year olds who became Pioneer Instructors would wear those badges ( I was never their assessor and I know the assessor who gave them the Instructor award was very concerned about 11 year olds getting an award that many 16 year olds could not achieve - but they met the criteria so he passed them*), but give them their Hobbies badge for, making model aircraft and they would lose it.

    I stopped "doing" badgework of any sort. Instead, we had a chart and when we did something, those who took part got points marked off for their Awards. They did them and achieved them without actually going out to get them I only ever had one lad who suddenly realised that being able to say he got an Award would look good on his CV, who chased me to give him the Award, he missed the point that he actually had to earn it though.

    When we did do badges, we would find that our standards were different from those of other Troops - I was perhaps somewhat stricter in application than others (quelle surprise!) and that had the impact on the kids, in that if they worked for their badge and their mate along the road got the same badge for simply turning up, that devalued the badge they received.

    Latterly, we worked on people gaining what they wanted, getting out of Scouts what they needed.

    Does applying the badge scheme/ awards scheme remove ability to be unique? Only if you want it to. You still offer what you offer in the way that you offer it. The badge/awards scheme is only limiting if you allow it to be limiting, it is rather, surely, a guide, a source of ideas, a template to start from?

    I can't recall exactly what the situation was, but I remember looking at, I think it was probably the Paddlesports/ canoeist badge or similar and thinking what? Is that it? (at the time) So we went used the Star Awards ( no badge Police around) and we would have kids with two or three start (at the time) who would meet Scouts with the Canoeist badge, and they took great pride in having a "proper" award ( it also meant that they were better skilled to achieve that award - then the latest BC self assessment personal pathway route is just rubbish for kids - fine for adults and maybe for kids who are single minded, but it is pooh for developing kids who are out for the fun and the experience. (We award our own old BCU equivalent Awards now - BC can sort out the gradings if the kids want to move on).

    It was the same with some of the requirements - the Musician's badge, well if a Scout was doing music, it was easy for them to get the Musician's badge, so we turned the "performance" part into doing a show where they performed for a real audience. We had some stunning events that way.

    Community - sheesh, there was some odd stuff in that requirement - I had and still have a thing about kids picking litter - how can we hel in the community - Oh, we need a little pick done. Have you spoken to the football club? No? So we would create community events and the kids had to play their role in making them happen to get their Community badge or element of an Award.

    You can make the badge system a tick box exercise and hand them out like toffee, or you can use them to help form a really active and valuable experience for kids. I suspect I know which way you would lean.


    *Two of those Pioneer instructors were my son and daughter aged 11. My only input on their Pioneering was what we did at Scouts - so there was no favouritism when the Instructor Award was made.
    Last edited by Bushfella; 08-03-2021 at 12:58 PM.
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    Most of our scouts couldn't care less about the badges. They would far rather build a fire, play a wide game or go on a camp than do their IT activity badge..... I ask what our scouts what activities badges do you want to achieve and you only get blank faces!


    The only badges I focus on is the challenge badges so scouts can earn their Chief Gold Award and don't bother with the activity badges. Even with the challenge badges, there are so many 'non-scouting' requirements that means I either fake they have achieved this or do a 5 minute game to tick it off.

    At the moment, these are the pointless tasks required to complete the CGA:
    - Personal challenge: More of a tick box exercise and hard to manage with large scout groups
    - Skills challenge: Diet, sleep, smoking, 4-6 weeks physical exercise
    - World challenge: Speak with scouts from another country (so hard to do....), gender & disabilities, values
    - Create challenge: Internet safety...


    I would rather they focus on the outdoor aspects of scouting, camping, hiking, doing lots of fun activities, lots of volunteering...


    Plus the activity badges are so hard- all of them should be achievable by an average group in 2-3 sessions with their resources.

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    Don’t get me started with badges and explorers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon11 View Post

    At the moment, these are the pointless tasks required to complete the CGA:
    - Personal challenge: More of a tick box exercise and hard to manage with large scout groups I used this to see if they could improve themselves - quite a broad brush and it sort of gave a bit of a goal. Other times I had to be creative.
    - Skills challenge: Diet, sleep, smoking, 4-6 weeks physical exercise Skills Challenge - Never thought that was pointless - develop and grow a skill - so they might learn how to cook a full meal, budget for a camp, learn to use firestaff.
    - World challenge: Speak with scouts from another country (so hard to do....), gender & disabilities, values This was not pointless, but almost impossible - even on a camp in Belgium - not even the Leaders wanted to talk to each other. We used to have them look at Global issues.
    - Create challenge: Internet safety... Now that is Pointless because they will do whatever they do - I discovered that they could bypass security settings on the HQ computers


    Hah Escouts didn't like that approach to a response :-)
    Ewan Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    Don’t get me started with badges and explorers.
    When I was a Venture Scout Leader in a Joint Venture / Ranger Unit we had very little interest in badges. We did quite a lot of camping, some climbing and walking but only one person ever got the Queens Scout Award. members of the unit were keen on activities but not on badges.

    When my wife ran a Scout Troop we had a bit more interest but it was often only because we laid on activities that ended in a badge eg rock climbing or camp cook.

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    Because of the way we do things we get a lot of the DofE and CSA done, even a few QSA though usually completed after they leave explorers. Any other badge comes from the doing things for their CSA / DofE.

    What we don’t have are badges that easily fit into unit night meetings.

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Hi all

    Been a little while, lots life happening, trying to get back into places like this now...

    So badges... Funnily enough our troop have always been quite into them. The kids want to do them so we've done them. Although there is a balance to it.

    For the Challenge badges we don't set out to do them as such (exception of Expedition and Personal which you have to), it's simply a case of we tick bits of them off as the kids do them in the program. We also use the contents of them to help guide the PLC in planning the program. It just seems to work for us.

    For activity badges we have traditionally offered these in the spring term, when between them the adults run 3 or 4 badges and each scout choses one to work on, and also at summer camp where we typically put a day aside for them to do one (best time was we had an engineering student leader with an utter rust bucket of a car he brought to camp, ran the mechanics badge on it), again it just seems to work.

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    Hmmm...

    I thought there would be a lot more support for badges... Or perhaps the lack of support is for the way they're structured just now?

    I'll admit, (get your pelters ready), the last system I was familiar with was the Pioneer/Explorer badge system, (so long ago those are the two I can recall. I remember doing those myself (sort of) in scouts...)

    I agreed with the line manager, kids know what they know. Ours don't expect badges because we've never done badges. I understand the cub section do them, so there probably is an expectation there would be more, (we've even had keen beans transferring their cubs badges on to their scout uniforms - we had to tell them that's not how it worked...)

    For us, this is an ethos thing. Our group has always been a bit wayward - although I would say, we're a lot more strict in terms of behaviour now, some of the kids who used to be in wouldn't be in now - they would've left. Our numbers have doubled and our attendance is (was) up. So what we're doing (was) working. (Ha! Covid tenses kicking in...) Parents also appreciated the absence of pressure and focus on fun.

    Be that as it may. I have no illusions, line management would certainly prefer that we do badges.

    The only (mildly digressionary) thing I'd say about that is... District here are big on recruitment. They actually let slip about how they want to increase leadership numbers to increase the number of sections - but not necessarily to alleviate existing pressures, but we'll put that to one side. You can add the usual arguments for/against that at your leisure. But I can't help but think it's also because if they do it, they'll get the leaders District want, and not a continuation of the leaders groups might want. I will admit, I'm a wee bit suspicious of that just now.

    For the past 40-odd years all bar one of our SL's have been home grown - they were a scout here. (The one that didn't was thoroughly indoctrinated before he took over - took about 20 years...) None of us - going back to when I was a scout - took the badge system overly seriously, it's always been a trait. I mean I wouldn't burst into tears or anything, but I'd hate for our troop to lose that essential bit of its character.

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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    I found the ld challemnge badges before the most recent incarnation were pretty good. Any troop running a decent programme would meet just about every requirement for a scout who attends regularly.

    The new one is far too labour intensive for the leaders, i reckon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    Don’t get me started with badges and explorers.
    Or lack of acheivable badges thereof

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post
    I found the ld challemnge badges before the most recent incarnation were pretty good. Any troop running a decent programme would meet just about every requirement for a scout who attends regularly.

    The new one is far too labour intensive for the leaders, i reckon.
    I entirely agree, we used to tick off most items just from our usual Troop Programme but didn't used to do the Expedition Challenge but it was possible to achieive the CS Gold Award without doing that. Since the last set of changes we have not had a single Chief Scouts Gold achieved as the requirements are just too prescriptive and you have to do all of them for every single challenge badge (we can and have done the expedition but its extra work and isn't something all the Troop can realistically do at the same time so its an extra weekend for Leaders to supervise to benefit 4 to 6 Scouts which is not a good ratio of Leader effort to Scout benefit IMHO)

    There is also the problem that some of the challenge badges now include Leadership and/or teamwork aspects despite there now being specific Team Leadership and Teamwork Challenge badges where these requirements would better sit and are actually basically duplicated. These requirements can act as a blocker to younger Scouts achieving the challenge awards until they also get the Team Leadership and/or teamwork badges.

    e.g.
    Outdoor Challenge
    3. Lead, or help to lead, a group of Scouts to set up a well-organised site. It should include sleeping tents, food and equipment stores, a fire or stove, kitchen and eating area.

    Team Leadership Challenge
    1. Successfully lead a Scout team at a camp or all day event
    Skills Challenge
    5. Take part in at least three activities that require a number of problem solving skills.

    Teamwork Challenge
    3. Take part in at least three teambuilding activities that you have not tried before.
    If I could do one thing to the badge scheme it would be to reverse most of the last changes (including getting rid of the personal challenge) but keep the teamwork and team leadership challenges as they were a welcome addition.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 08-03-2021 at 07:01 PM.

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    I think the expedition badge is not too bad and not too challenging to do?

    It just requires one leader to oversee and support scouts preparing for their camp in advance at a few meetings.

    We use a site with a full time warden/ crew on site. During the weekend itself, one leader assists them on Friday to ensure they reach the campsite, then you have 1 leader pop in on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon (may not be required if they are well) and then finally Sunday afternoon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    So, badges or no badges. And if we acquiesce to line management's urging that we do them, does that remove the ability of groups and leaders to be individual or unique in their offer?

    And... GO!

    Some scouts seem motivated by them, but we are never 100% convinced whether it is them or the parents.

    In general, badges are what get issued when we realise we can tick off requirements based on the programme for the scouts. They are not an end in themselves, although if we programme something and realise that 5 minutes covering topic X means we tick all the requirements for a badge, we might do that.

    The challenge / staged badges are something we occasionally look at if we're looking for inspiration for something to slot in the program, and 9 times out of 10 the response is "how on earth are we supposed to do that?" and give up, and think of something more fun to do (more fun for us and the scouts). e.g. we're doing first aid, so we might look through the staged first aid badge to see if we're going to cover nearly all things at a level, and add in the missing one or two.

    Very reluctant to spend scout time doing stuff (internet safety, diet, drugs) that many do at school, where they likely have better materials for it.

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    By and large badges are something we stumble across as we go, and then use OSM to log what we can- from there we can fill in any gaps if possible.
    Badges are not the reason for the program and are not the be all and end all of things.
    Theres stuff like the year badges, hikes away and all the other ones they can get just for existing but a vast majority of stuff its upto the individual if they want to get something or not

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