Scouts earning their way to more merit badges

Watts Mason of Troop 1650 holds Wink, a bearded dragon during a Merit Badge Clinic. Mason took a class to receive his reptile and amphibian badge.  - Seraine Page
Watts Mason of Troop 1650 holds Wink, a bearded dragon during a Merit Badge Clinic. Mason took a class to receive his reptile and amphibian badge.
— image credit: Seraine Page

When it comes to Boy Scouts, it is all about the badges. But in order to obtain those badges, it takes a whole lot of work as some scouts found out over the weekend.

On Saturday, local Boy Scouts flocked to the Orca District Merit Badge Clinic for the opportunity to choose to earn three of the 35 badges offered.

Badges offered varied from chess to journalism, reptile and amphibian study, to salesmanship and scholarship. According to the Boy Scouts of America website, there are more than 130 badges that can be earned.

Adrian Kollodge of troop 1566 has 19 badges so far. Over the weekend, Kollodge spent a day working on his electronics badge where he had access to a soldering iron and other materials.

“I think I like being in the classes because I’m able to learn stuff. It’s a pretty big opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s pretty fun, but it can be a bit challenging to understand. I’m pretty sure I’ll get it.”

Along with homework, sometimes there are additional requirements for the scouts to follow up on once the clinic is over. The once-a-year clinic is a chance for scouts to receive individual attention for badges that are often difficult to earn on their own, clinic volunteers said.

Whether learning about oil spills or reptiles, each class was taught by a counselor, who has some sort of expertise in the field they are coaching the scouts in.

Additional volunteers stepped in when needed, like Tracy Purser, who brought along her bearded dragons for the reptile and amphibian class.

She brought Heila and Wink for scouts to ask questions about and hold if they wanted.

Purser, who owns three lizards, brought the pair to the clinic for show and tell to explain the importance of reptiles in the ecosystem.

“Amphibians and reptiles play an important role in the environment. They control pests and plants.” she said. “As a scout, they need to learn to respect and learn about the world around them.”

Along with earning some badges, the overall goal is for scouts to explore a variety of unique experiences, said Pete Ross, assistant merit badge counselor.

Ross, a Boeing assistant engineer, helped out scouts in the electronics classroom.  He assisted scouts in using soldering irons.

“They’re exposed to different hobbies and careers,” he said. “It’s kinda the Boy Scouts way to get them interested in careers.”

For the last 20 years, local scouts have had the clinic at their fingertips to earn badges that might otherwise be a little more difficult to obtain.

The clinic, hosted by Orca district, had participation from 27 different troops in the area. In total, 264 scouts enrolled for the opportunity to participate in various sessions to earn badges over the weekend.

“To me, it’s just a great community bonding and sharing opportunity,” said Theo Cragg, clinic assistant master. “It’s an opportunity for the boys to get a variety of merit badges that can be classroom-centric.”

While some classes were filled with lighthearted topics, others covered more serious issues, such as oil spills.

Troop 1506 Scout Jack Corley, 12, just joined Boy Scouts a mere six months ago. As a first time clinic attendee, he was hoping to earn his environmental badge.

Corley worked with other scouts to try and remove vegetable oil from water, simulating how difficult it is to take oil out of the ocean during an oil spill.

It wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be, but felt it to be a good learning experience.

“I learned how to take care of oil in a real life spill. ‘Cause future generations will suffer if we don’t (take care of it),” he said. “I had fun learning about this.”

For more information on Boy Scouts of America, visit to learn how to get involved with a local troop. The site has information for parents, scouts and leaders.


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