Each fall, Scout Leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share their time and talents as they host our annual Merit Badge Clinic. This is always held on the second weekend of November. Although this event is sponsored by Latter-day Saints, it is open to all Scouts. The majority of Scouts attending this event are not LDS
A Few 2017 MBC Statistics:
- This was the 10th anniversary of our annual LDS Merit Badge Clinic.
- The event was hosted by the Raleigh, Apex, and Raleigh South Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- 72 different merit badges were offered.
- 1,021 Boy Scouts registered to work on 2,167 merit badges.
- They came from 212 different Boy Scout Troops from AL, GA, SC, NC, VA, TN, MD, NY, NJ, PA, DE, IA, & Washington DC.
- The staff was made up of 240 adults including both LDS and non-LDS volunteers.
- The event was held in eleven locations around the Triangle including Raleigh, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Zebulon, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Pittsboro, & Henderson.
- The event is free, but we do ask Scouts to donate non-perishable foods for the local food banks.
This year we collected 4,368 pounds of food from our eleven venues. This food was given to several institutions who provide food to those in need. These included the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Tri-Area Ministries Food Pantry, Loaves & Fishes in Warrenton, Holly Springs Food Cupboard, West Chatham Food Pantry, Fuquay-Varina Food Pantry, Garner Community of Hope, Knightdale United Methodist Church Food Pantry, Dorcus Ministries, and the Zebulon United Methodist Church Food Pantry. Since 2010, we’ve donated over 11.7 tons of food to local food banks and pantries.
Our counselors are dedicated to providing quality instruction and experiences for our Scouts. All counselors are registered with the BSA, current with Youth Protection Training, and have been through the required D76 Merit Badge Counselor Orientation. This year, D76 training was available online so it was not necessary to provide multiple training sessions to our new counselors as we had done last year. Our success in attracting qualified instructors has led to continued growth of the LDS Merit Badge Clinic.
Friday night and Saturday morning sessions of the clinic are started with an opening consisting of a flag ceremony, prayer, and brief remarks from a church leader, Scout volunteer, or local dignitary. This year we again focused on honoring our Veterans. Wake Forest Mayor, Vivian Jones shared a short message at the Friday night opening in Wake Forest.
Each year, we try to include the new merit badges introduced by the BSA. Exploration launched in December of 2016, but we were unable to find a counselor to teach that merit badge. We again offered both of the new merit badges from 2015: Signs, Signals, & Codes and Animation.
We also offer some dual merit badge sessions where Scouts can work on similar or connected merit badges. These include Welding/Farm Mechanics, Architecture/Landscape Architecture, & Traffic Safety/Truck Transportation. This year we were able to offer some merit badges not previously taught at our merit badge clinic: Fire Safety, Home Repairs, Plant Science, Railroading, Surveying, & Skating (rollerblade option).
Our website at www.LDSMeritBadgeClinic.com contains links to various sites that are helpful to merit badge counselors as well as current details about the LDS MB Clinic. Since last November, our website has been visited over 7,200 times. (Since April, 2016: 12,900 times). When we began using the online registration system at www.meritbadge.info, Scouts from other states started attending our event. To date, we have had Scouts attend from 15 states and Washington D.C.
Possible changes for next year include offering early registration for units who provide three or more merit badge sessions taught by an adult member of their unit (unit leader, committee member, or parent). Since Scouts come from so many different states, it’s been suggested that we offer an area for patch trading perhaps during our lunch break or at the end of sessions Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
I’ll also provide enhanced communication to more quickly resolve any issues. (We had a parent unable to find a venue and one leader who didn’t get the message about a cancelled session.)
The purpose of our merit badge clinic is to provide advancement opportunities for Scouts. By working on merit badges, the Scouts learn to set and achieve goals. They investigate areas of skill and knowledge that may well become their career, trade, or lifelong avocation, learn a bunch of new things, and have some fun. We are happy to provide that opportunity to our LDS Scouts and our many non-LDS Scouting friends.
I’m very grateful for the support of our Stake Presidencies and for the Bishops who open their buildings for our use each year. This event is only so successful because of the dedicated counselors, building captains, and Scout Leaders who support this endeavor. And of course, I must acknowledge tremendous blessings from Heavenly Father as we host this event each year.
LDS Merit Badge Clinic Director
Raleigh South Stake Asst. Director of Public Affairs