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#268459 - 03/21/14 08:40 PM tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Ok, so I may or may not have mentioned this before, but DS has moved up to a boy scout troop, I am an Assistant Scout Master, and have been "volunteered" to run/organize/teach the wilderness survival merit badge. I had had a copy of the merit badge pamphlet since last spring, and have been looking at it with much closer scrutiny in the last few months trying to figure out what materials we would need and what would be the best way(s) to teach the material. At first the requirements appeared to be rather random and willy nilly, placed in the order that they are in the pamphlet. When I really got to looking at each requirement, I realized that one of the twelve requirements is the BSA's seven survival priorities, and there were seven more requirements related to each priority for a total of eight of the requirements. Another requirement is putting together a survival kit (based on the BSA's outdoor essentials, and other items geared toward helping them accomplish the seven survival priorities) which also ties in nicely with the logical progression. The other three requirements also make good sense, one is about the steps to survive in different environments, one is about the proper clothing to wear, and the last one is how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles and bears.

All good stuff. So I have created an outline of the order I want to teach the material, survival priorities first, then details of each priority in the same order, creating a survival kit based on all the relevant information, and finally the proper clothing, steps to survive in different environments, and how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles and bears. It was when I started getting into the details of how to teach each requirement and sub-requirement that I started running into trouble. First, there is just too much material to teach it and do it right in one weekend, so I want to break it up into chunks that will retain the most continuity but still be manageable. Second, there is more to teaching each requirement than one might realize. So here is where I am needing some help.

Any suggestions on how to split the material up, without losing the continuity, but keeping it manageable? We'll likely have at least a good full day (like a saturday) or more likely a full weekend for the chunks.

Any suggestions for teaching the requirements? I do plan to use as much hands on teaching as possible, i don't want to just have the boys sitting around listening to me or another scoutmaster droning on about the requirement in question. I'd like plenty of opportunities for the boys to learn the skills and then demonstrate them. I will be getting the other scoutmasters/parents involved (our troop is fortunate to have four very active leaders and two others that will hopefully also be there and pitch in one way or another) by having each one teach at least one of the requirements. I did find several older threads on this subject, but any new or additional tips or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#268463 - 03/21/14 09:19 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1546
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
from a retired high school teacher...

when you make up your lesson plan, look at the lesson plan template from your local school district... the Scouts should be familiar with that form of presentation

about 45 minutes is all the lecture you should attempt without some form of a break
you might modify a "Frayer Diagram" (change the names on the quadrants) to organize your packets if you plan on any note taking from the Scouts

when you do your hands on, and if you use groups... one Scout will become the leader... don't let one do all the work, make sure everyone gets a chance to show their skill level

basic mantra.... tell them what you are going to tell them... tell them objective 1, tell them objective 2, tell them objective 3... tell them what you told them

make sure the rubric of what is necessary for award of the merit badge is understood to assure there is no misunderstanding (it's been a long time, and I only made it to Star, so don't know what the BSA uses)

#268469 - 03/22/14 01:09 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
It's been a while so no practical help, but don't let them build their overnight shelter on an anthill ....

#268471 - 03/22/14 03:51 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1093
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Many merit badges take more than one weekend. It is why gaining advanced rank is such a big deal.

Lots of doing is better than lecture or power point.

Some fun stuff for lesson plans.

Teaching cotton vs wool for wet weather insulation. Have kids stand in tray of shaved ice with a bit of water while wearing a wool sock and a cotton sock.

Fire starting with real flint and steel (not mischmetal). Take a worn out file and strike it again a large chunk of white quartzite, or chunk of chirt, or flint, into steel wool.

settling water pre-purification. Find some pickling alum and smash it to powder. Have two small glasses with equal amount water. Add a big spoon of dirt and stir. Then stir in alum in one. See which settles first.

#268472 - 03/22/14 04:47 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
buckeye Offline
life is about the journey

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 153
Loc: Ohio
+1 on Les' recommendations.

I would consider interspersing lecture, demonstration (where practical) and the boys doing their work or orating back (as that fits the outline) while keeping each lecture shorter; perhaps 20-30 minutes max for each where possible and coupled with a 5-15 minute demonstration where appropriate and practical.

I did some similar volunteering for both my DS's and DD's troops several years back and I swear (and this is just my perception) that young people's attention spans gets a bit shorter every year.

You'll be able to gauge after the first one or two talks to know if you need to go longer or shorter.

As I have done just a little bit of instruction at the university level over the years I learned way back then that there are several different learning types: auditory, visual, self-reading, experiential, etc; and most people learn best with some combination of them. Not sure if you're working with 5 or 50 kids but you'll probably be able to pick up on their preferred style(s) as you go along.

I used to be mainly an auditory style learner, so I wouldn't make a lot of eye contact with the teachers. I would tend to look down at my desk with an ear towards the front of the classroom. Many times I was told to "Pay Attention!" (no "Please" or "Thank You" back in those days eek )and early on I was confused because that is what I was doing, just more with my ears than my eyes. Looking back, I think averting my eyes was my way of cutting down on the visual stimuli and focusing more on the auditory. Over the years I learned become more visual.

I believe the following is attributed Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Good Luck and have fun with it.
Education is the best provision for old age.

I have no interest in or affiliation to any of the products or services I may mention. Should I ever, I will clearly state so.

#268473 - 03/22/14 04:56 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
Deathwind Offline

Registered: 02/01/14
Posts: 310
Could you teach them small lessons during the weekly meetings to prepare them for the basics? That would allow more time for labor intensive classes in the field, like shelter building, primitive fire making, water sterilization by boiling, etc.

#268475 - 03/22/14 01:50 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1472
Loc: North Carolina
As a scout master who has taught this, and a retired SF soldier that has attended several survival schools, I will say that the Boy Scout wilderness survival program is very good. As you have seen already, teaching in the order of the seven priorities makes it very logical and digestible. As Les said, limit you lecture time and do more hands on practice, this is always better, for everyone not just adolescent boys. Find several techniques for each priority, most are listed in the pamphlet, and let them practice over and over.

The merit badge pamphlet is right in line with Peter Kummerfeldt's book and with Cody Lundin's book. It is designed to teach them to survive until rescue, and to aid the rescue by being found more easily. It is not geared toward primitive technology or long term wilderness survival. It is very practical, realistic, and effective, for 99.999% of the population.

As for building a survival kit, I can point you to some of the items I have found that are effective, cheap, and small. I have mine build their kit based around a fanny pack so it is easy to attach to a backpack, carry on their person and is not cumbersome. Compact and light is key to ensure that the scouts actually have it with them when they may need it.

I also taught emergency preparedness soon after wilderness survival as these two have many overlapping and mutually supporting skills. It helps to ensure long term memory. I also encouraged parents to participate in both as much as they liked. This spreads the knowledge. As the scouts are likely to actually encounter emergency situations as either part of a troop or with their families it also helps to increase the chances of survival.

#268512 - 03/24/14 03:52 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: LesSnyder]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
awesome tips les, plans are to keep lecture times short, no more than 20 minutes, I want our scouts doing, not sitting, I've seen too many merit badge sessions where the adult drones on and on to the boys, and then claims they completed a requirement that clearly says "demonstrate ... " or "explain ... " , not "fall asleep during an adult's lecture and get credit for ... "

when it comes to the hands on, that is where, for each section, all the adult leaders will get involved so we can split the boys into smaller groups to practice/demonstrate/explain.

we'll also be using the EDGE method for instruction ... Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable

Edited by Mark_Frantom (03/24/14 04:22 PM)
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#268513 - 03/24/14 04:04 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: MDinana]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
haha definitely good advice there MDinana, here we really have to watch for snakes (copperheads and the occasional timber rattler) and black widow spiders are a possibility, so during the shelter session, we'll plan to talk a bit about site selection

the shelter session is one of my concern areas, esp the part where they have to build a natural shelter to spend the night in ... to reduce the environmental impact, i have already collected shelter poles from trees close to my home that were being cut down, the plan being to have them construct a debris hut type shelter like this, the main ridge pole and some smaller branches for the "ribs" are what I have already collected

I thought it would be easy to do, but am starting to wonder, it looks like there are some awfully big gaps between the "ribs" for the debris to just fall right through on their shelters, any suggestions or insight on this?
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#268514 - 03/24/14 04:17 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: clearwater]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
thanks for the advice and all the tips clearwater

at first glance the WSMB looked like it would be no problem to do in a weekend, but after coming up with a tentative schedule, and having only 30 minutes for some of the more detailed and complex requirements like fire and shelter, it became obvious that we could not do it, and do it right, in just one weekend so I've asked for (and been granted) more than one weekend to do it, and I also hope to be able to teach some of the requirements in their meetings beforehand so we can just briefly review them during the weekend events

and yes, I want them doing, and demonstrating, and explaining ... I don't want them to be lectured to and then given the merit badge

fun is definitely the goal, our boys LOVE to camp

if i can find it we'll definitely do the flint and steel but I have the firesteels as backup for now as i hae misplaced my flint and steel set
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

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