In his brief time as a Scout, Ken George of Hilliard, Ohio, earned just two merit badges. To make sure today’s Scouts have more opportunities, he runs a free regular event called Merit Badge Super Saturday, which concludes its 10th program year in August.
How many Scouts have you served since you started out?
It’s been 3,083 unique participants in 1,022 clinics (badge classes). Over the past 10 years, we’ve had Scouts from every council in Ohio, every neighboring state — and Texas, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina and more.
What’s your goal for the event?
The goal of Merit Badge Super Saturday is to help Scouts get a good running start at a merit badge. It’s not to send them home with a signed blue card. If a Scout comes in and completes two requirements but they know how to get the other 10 done, then we’ve done what we needed to do.
Why hold quarterly events?
People like consistency, and it makes your life easier. Monthly doesn’t work. Not only are you going from event to event to event with literally no downtime, but also it’s real easy for a Scout to go, “Oh, I’ll just catch the next one.” There’s no urgency to it.
How do you pick the badges to offer?
We’ve got a regular rotation of 11 required merit badges: three in February, four in May and four in August. Then I’ll go through and look at what I’ve seen requests for. I’ll take suggestions from Scouts; I’ll take suggestions from leaders; I’ll have counselors say, “I want to teach this merit badge.” If there’s a unique merit badge and I know someone who would be good for it, I’ll reach out to them specifically.
How do you handle clinic sizes?
Clinic sizes are limited to the lesser of two numbers: 15 Scouts or a number the counselor provides me. If the counselor says they can handle 20 Scouts, OK, 15’s your limit. If the counselor says, ‘I only want seven Scouts in this clinic,’ seven’s the limit.
What should someone who wants to start an event like this do first?
Review the Guide to Advancement. You need to know exactly what that says when it comes to merit badge events. For example, some people think you can use them as fundraisers, and you can’t.
Have fun! Most of the work is done before the event even starts. The day of the event, ensure things are going smoothly, but just have fun with it. Take the time to chat with the parents and leaders who are hanging out — get their input on what they’d like to see.