Saturday, September 26, 2009

Scout School

This is our fourth real year as a Scouting family, though I did do some things fairly informally with the boys before that... we just hadn't yet found a pack to join.  As the years go on, I'm finding more and more ways to integrate Cub Scouts, and now Boy Scouts, into our homeschooling life.

Scouts and homeschooling is a great combination.  As homeschoolers, we have the ability to set our regular coursework aside for a day or two to focus on engineering for a Webelos activity badge instead of reading our biology.  Or to set Physical Science aside for a couple weeks to focus on the Environmental Science merit badge.

Science is one perfect place to do Scout School.  There are science related requirements or electives through all the levels of Cub Scouts.  But in Boy Scouts?  Wow!  I think a science plan that I will have for all my boys in late 5th (when they cross over from Cubs) and 6th grade is for them to choose three or four science related merit badges, and for us to use those as a spine for our "transitioning to junior high" science program.  I'll even do the same for my daughter... the merit badges are that good.

Science badges Connor (my only Boy Scout) has earned, include:  Nature, Insect Study,  Dentistry, and First Aid.  He is working on Radio, and starting Environmental Science soon.

Other science badges he could earn, though, include:
  • Natural Sciences, 11 total (archeology, astronomy, various types of animals, geology, weather)
  • Physical Sciences, 7 total (from Chemistry and Computers to Nuclear Science and Space Exploration)
  • Professions, 7 total (Architecture, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Medicine, Surveying, Veterinary Medicine)
  • Conservation, 4 total (Environmental Science, Fish & Wildlife Management, Forestry, Soil and Water Conservation)
  • Miscellaneous, stuff like Animal Science, Composite Materials, or Gardening
The merit badge pamphlets, which cost less than $5, make fantastic textbooks regardless of whether or not you are a scout.  Sonlight used to use the Oceanography merit badge book as part of their Science 7 program, which I am fortunate enough to own (they no longer create -- or sell -- that level).

For almost all the Boy Scout merit badges, I can also add in belt loops, pins, rank requirements, or rank electives for my Cub Scouts too.  So when Connor chooses a merit badge to work on, one of the first things I do is to see what related requirements there are for William or Thomas... and either all three do the activities together, or I have Connor teach the appropriate material to his brothers.  For some merit badges, one requirement actually does involve teaching others... so Connor visited his brother's Webelos den to teach the Heimlich Maneuver, for instance.  All those boys met one Readyman requirement, and Connor finished the last thing he needed for the First Aid merit badge.

I'm in the midst of a Citizenship unit based on scout requirements... maybe I'll talk about that next week!


Johanna said...

Wow! That is so cool. My oldest just started Cub Scouts this year. I am so excited about it, and we started it largely because of all the wonderful things you have written about Scouts on the Sonlight homeschool yahoo group!

Unknown said...

We were in Scouts for awhile and thought it was a good program for our boys. Now that our girls are older, we ended up joining 4-H. Each child can focus on what their interests are. At the end of the year, they can submit their projects into the county fair. Great experience!


Debra said...

Johanna -- Oh, I do hope cubs goes well for your boys!! Cubs can be so very chaotic, but we get so very much out of it. And it gets better every year.

Mimi -- we have been looking at 4H too. We're absolutely going to be joining when Trina is old enough, but we keep thinking about doing it sooner. Richard could join this year. Decisions, decisions, decisions... :)