It’s New Years Eve, and tradition states that we have to make a resolution – something to make our world better in the coming year, starting with something that WE can do. At parties we share our resolutions – “lose weight,” “eliminate the need to apologize…” But in fact many of us never really make resolutions we plan to follow through on.

If you’re one of those people, listen up. I’m going to make a suggestion: Make 2011 a great year by promising to help 5 Scouts earn at least one merit badge. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. The boys that you help will gain confidence and skills to help others. You will feel good about yourself, and maybe discover some gifts that even you didn’t know that you had.

On Wednesday Dec 29, 2010 I showed up bright & early at the Milwaukee County Zoological Society building with 26 Boy Scouts from 3 different troops from 2 councils.

We began by learning about Tracking. 7 hours later, we had finished Pathfinding. Our group tracked a small child as they walked beyond a fence line, until scooped up and brought back over the barrier. We found evidence of that child being there in the form of a lost glove, and M&Ms on the ground. The boys counted cows, and even found the resident horse. We looked for poop, and feathers, and noticed how the animals traveled down the same trails just like we use roads.

They looked at the Zoo, a place they had probably been many times before, in a whole new way.

My brother Bob called me that night to tell me that 52 merit badges were earned that day! Two kids had a little trouble giving directions, and had to go back and be reviewed twice – but the boys all earned these special recognitions. My hope is that with a little luck, those two special merit badges with the gold borders on them may someday be lost on a very crowded sash.

When I asked why some of the older Scouts had not earned these special merit badges earlier they told me that they just didn’t have the opportunity – “nobody was teaching them.”

Our Troop is going to soon have Carol Voss out to do an adult training to encourage more parents to become merit badge counselors. And while there are many people listed on the website as MBC’s (it’s in the members area and password protected – we’re happy to share it with you but don’t want to post it publicly), the best way to get a boy to keep advancing is to make the resources handily available – one less hurdle that needs to be overcome and he can work on the skills for that badge.

For 2011 please consider offering your services as a Merit Badge Counselor. It’s a New Year’s Resolution you will be glad to keep!

Oh, my son is finishing up the sanding on the table he built for Carpentry! He’s in the next room explaining to his younger brother the difference between grit sizes. I’m going to get the varnish out and teach him how to get started so he can finish tonight!