Scouting began in Great Britain with the first scout camp held in 1907 by Lord Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell had written a book for boys about scouting and reconnaissance based upon his army experiences in India. He saw the benefits of scouting as a means to build character in young boys. The scouting movement was launched.
It didn’t take long for scouting to reach the shores of the United States. Boy Scouts of America (BSA) 1 of Wichita Falls was formed in short order in 1913. The goal of scouting has been a priority since the beginning. The scout movement supports young people “in their physical, mental, and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society” (“Scouting”, Oct. 2015, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scouting).
One way scouting encourages youth to try their hands at different activities is their scouting badges. Badges are given to participants to recognize their achievements in specific areas. The remainder of this article will be a look at the badges now available for scouts to work towards. Each badge takes a commitment. They are worn with pride when received.
The Badges of Scouting
There are more than 80 badges available for Scouts to work towards. In this article and others to follow, badges will be described to provide the reader with an idea of the skills and commitment it takes to be awarded each badge.
New Badges for 2015:
We start with the new badges added for 2015, which include:
Time on the Water:
To encourage Scouts to be safe on water and to enjoy water and marine environments. Badges are awarded for completing one activity and 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 35 and 50 sessions. Some of the activities deemed appropriate are sailing, canoeing, and kayaking.
To obtain this badge, the Scout must identify and organize a fundraising initiative that focuses on promoting Scouting nationally. Or the fundraising provides funds for the needs of the Scout troop such as new equipment or building repairs. Alternative fundraising can be carried out for another recognized charity.
Included in obtaining this badge is the requirement to present a plan to the Scouting organization. There must also be an exit report detailing ideas learned with full details of the activities completed for the money raised.
When I went through Scouts, no one had even dreamed of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Now there is a badge that focuses on caching GPS to others. This, in a small way, is a good example of how Scouting has adapted to stay relevant. Yet they still maintain the values that have made Scouting such an important part of millions of lives over the past 108 years.
The goal of the Geocaching badge is to demonstrate your knowledge of GPS. The Scout must be able to explain:
• The benefits to society
• How it works and what affects the accuracy
• Who owns and controls the system
• The difference between an Ordnance Survey and Latitude and Longitude coordinates
In addition to demonstrating your knowledge of GPS, you must be able to program a GPS receiver to:
• Enter the GPS coordinates to a local landmark and navigate to that landmark
• Find your GPS location and record it
• Walk on a compass bearing, using the GPS and a map.
• Plan a route using an Ordnance Survey map for a distance of a minimum of 2.5 miles. A minimum of 10 waypoints and completion of the route using the GPS waypoints must be included.
• Sign up to a geocaching website.
• Exhibit your knowledge of caching by submitting a minimum of two caches to the caching website so Scouts can find the caches.
• Demonstrate your understanding of safe and environmental practices relating to geocaching.
• Find a minimum of five geocaches using GPS. At least 3 of the caches must be “multi-caches” with a minimum of two waypoints.
• Plan for and hide a minimum of two caches
This badge focuses on the use of knots. Knots can be handy and applicable to many every-day uses. For the pioneering badge, one must:
• Build a pioneering model to scale.
• Take the lead in building an outdoor pioneering project. Examples are: an hourglass tower or an aerial runway.
During the project, be able to demonstrate the following:
• 10 knots, bends or hitches.
• Four lashings.
• The use of simple block and tackle.
• The use of firm and soft ground anchor points
• Supervision skills during construction
• Able to make two splices
With the Naturalist badge, the Scout must demonstrate an interest in the natural world by:
• Taking an interest and participating in naturalist activities, such as birding.
• Share skills with others and record the natural world around a group of young people.
• Investigate the impacts of human activity on our environment such as deforestation, pollution, and high intensity farming.
• Demonstrate a knowledge of natural history by knowing the names of local animals and plants.
Survival Skills Badge
For this Badge, the Scout must demonstrate a range of skills including;
• Know how to prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and hypothermia.
• Show that you can build a fire using different techniques.
• Demonstrate the use of international distress signals using a whistle, mirror, and flashlight.
• Describe actions required to prepare for not being found for a period of time as well as how to keep safe until you are found.
• Be able to identify edible plants and understand the risks associated with eating non-edible plants.
• Prepare a meal cooked over an open fire.
• Make a survival item that you would most likely require when lost.
• Demonstrate how to filter and purify water.
• Demonstrate being able to find direction during the day and at night without a compass.
• With two other Scouts, take part in a minimum two-day survival exercise. Construct a shelter, cook all meals over an open fire, and cook without utensils or aluminum.
That wraps up the new badges for 2015 for Scouting. There are at least 70 other badges to cover in these next few articles. All badges are designed to ensure a standard of skill in a particular area for the Scouting community. All the activities for earning badges have one goal. The Scout member must “Be Prepared” for many eventualities by building strength of character in every person who passes through the Scouting door.