Merit Badges for Everyone

Merit Badge for being busy as a bee

People love to be recognized for what they have done and learned–earning badges is one of the things people remember most about having been in Girl or Boy Scouts. A while back I read a short article about badges on Neatorama, and it wasn’t terribly long ago that Mozilla announced Open Badges, which prompted a slew of chatter until the project stopped moving forward and I think people have begun to forget about that.

Earning awards is one of the the things I miss about being an Adult Girl Scout. We have some awards, but you have to be part of a strong Service Unit or town that is dedicated to recognizing the service we give and the learning we do. Often, there’s not enough money, so you have to pay for it yourself after being given a voucher by the local Coordinator. There are a few Council awards, but those are VERY hard to come by and don’t actually recognize your learning, only your service (which is still incredibly important). Boy Scouts does a much better job of both giving and recognizing training, but alas, I cannot join because of my identity as a lesbian.

I think this is why I am such a big proponent of the Adult Enrichment Project (although it’s very much geared towards adults working with younger children). Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, once said,

“Every badge you earn is tied up to your motto. This badge is not a reward for something you have done once or for an examination you have passed. Badges are not medals to wear on your sleeve to show what a smart girl you are. A badge is a symbol that you have done the thing it stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to BE PREPARED to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and willing to be called on because you are a Girl Scout. And Girl Scouting is not just knowing…..but doing…..not just doing, but being.”

I have always tried to incorporate this into my professional life. I don’t believe in half-assing my work, and as I think of it, I don’t believe in half-assing my play either. I collect pins from places I visit–by doing something (like touring the Ben & Jerry’s factory), I allow myself to take home a souvenir that shows I know the topic at hand. When I went to the Trapp Family Lodge, my friends handed me a pin, knowing I collected them–I didn’t buy it because I didn’t stay there, and we hadn’t yet gone to the brewery, so I hadn’t felt like I deserved it.

I wonder about the possibilities of incorporating this into my work; Open Badges may not be active yet, and most people probably aren’t interested in the topics covered by AEP, but a quick internet search shows that badges are important to people and here to stay:

  • Etsy: the Neatorama article linked to Etsy where there are a myriad of made-up and vintage badges available
  • Mama Merit Badges: to recognize all that moms do, “Pregnancy,” “Diaper,” “Shopping”
  • Nerd Merit Badges: we’ve all earned one or two of these; “Family Tech Support” or “Homonyms.” this site even offers a laptop sash for displaying your badges!
  • Boy Scout Store (not affiliated with BSA): badges for grownups such as “Adult Beverage Drinking” or “Disorienteering”

Yes, I’ll be making posts about my AEP endeavors, but I think this might be something I explore more…


2 thoughts on “Merit Badges for Everyone

    • J.L. Robinson says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’ve earned the Email basics (which I’ll publish next week), and just wrote to you about a couple more! I love your project and what you’re doing with it.

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