Andrea sent in this question:
Can we talk about age requirements? Maybe this has been going on for a long time, maybe it is new. But my 12 year old 1st class scout is now starting to work on several merit badges in order to prepare for the next few ranks. And I am finding more and more classes that put an age requirement (i.e. minimum age) for taking the class. I am strongly opposed to this as I feel it is adding to the requirements, something that I KNOW none of us are allowed to do. So can we discuss?
I have heard this question several times in various forms. Here is my take on it.
The age limit for a merit badge “class” is not a requirement for earning the badge. It is a requirement for doing the badge in that particular group setting. An instructor might only want to work with older scouts in a group due to maturity level. Or perhaps there is limited space and he wants to give older Scouts the first opportunity for the allotted spaces. Or he needs to limit the participants due to availability of equipment. There are a number of reasons why the counselor might need to put limits on the group he is instructing, rather than just taking everyone who wants to participate.
So your son can still earn the badge, just not at that specific event. He can always contact a merit badge counselor and set up an appointment. As a bonus, earning a badge this way can be a better experience for a Scout than being in a class or clinic. Note what the 2015 Guide to Advancement says about large group instruction:
The sort of hands-on interactive experience described here, with personal coaching and guidance, is hardly ever achieved in any setting except when one counselor works directly with one Scout and his buddy, or with a very small group. Thus, this small-scale approach is the recommended best practice for merit badge instruction and requirement fulfillment. Units, districts, and councils should focus on providing the most direct merit badge experiences possible. Large group and Web-based instruction, while perhaps efficient, do not measure up in terms of the desired outcomes with regard to learning and positive association with adults.
So small scale instruction is preferred over larger merit badge classes.
Readers, what do you think? Add your comments below.