Ivy League Learning: Boy Scout Style

Submitted by Paul Gendreau, West Wind Senior District Executive

The hallowed halls of Harvard University will once again provide the setting for the 2016  Merit Badge University. The program, a community service project of the Harvard College Friends of Scouting, will be offered for the 16th time this spring. Here, scouts will have the opportunity to earn up to three merit badges over two Saturdays. Some of the offerings will include labs or field trips that will occur between to two formal dates. Participants will receive the current printing of the pamphlet for each merit badge he is attempting on the first  morning and a commemorative patch for the University on the second afternoon.  This year, the event will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 and Saturday, April 9, 2016. Registration will open on January 23, 2016 and will close on February 5, 2016.

When a Scout seeks to earn a particular merit badge, he is participating in one of the nation’s original mentoring programs for youth. The merit badge program is one of the earliest features of Boy Scouting and it serves to connect a Scout with an adult who has expertise in that field.  It is a frequent occurrence that a Scout begins a lifelong journey in a field that becomes a vocation or avocation. Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that Stephen Spielberg developed his interest in movies by earning the Photography Merit Badge? His family’s camera was broken and his counselor allowed him to make a movie. The rest is history. Will you be the next Spielberg? How about the next Bill Gates or the 2026 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry? You never know!

Who are the professors for the university? Affiliates of Harvard, usually Harvard students, team up with the best qualified merit badge counselors that we can find. In some cases these are individuals who helped “write the book” for the badge being offered. Others are equally well versed in their respective fields and they most often have spent their careers in that area. Make sure your scouts register promptly as many of these small-group sessions sell out quickly. Visit the council website when registration first opens to check out this year’s offerings and register for this program. Whenever you draw on knowledge gained at the university, you’ll be able to say, “I learned this at Harvard!”

For more information about MBU-16 @ Harvard, go to:  http://scoutspirit.doubleknot.com/event/1717938