The Boy Scouts are asking AAPG Members to volunteer for the National Scout Jamboree, a special event held once every four years for Scouts across the nation and around the globe.
Set for next July, the event will welcome more than 35,000 Scouts to a beautiful setting in Beckley, W. Va. that will be filled with adventurous activities for everyone to enjoy.
Those activities include whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock-climbing, bouldering and mountain biking. Scouts will also have the opportunity to learn outdoor skills, get to know one another, see new technology in action and earn merit badges.
There are 130 different merit badges that can be earned in the Boy Scouts, about 70 of which will be available during the event. This is an important opportunity for Scouts with limited access to so many badge opportunities, due to their location.
One of the badges will be the Geology Merit Badge, noted Ron Hart, coordinator for the badge.
He explained that the AAPG Foundation has been a great support for the badge since the 1930s by maintaining the requirements and description of the badge. In fact, the AAPG Youth Education Activities Committee used to be called the “AAPG Boy Scout Committee.”
Beginning in 1993, the Foundation has helped support a team of geologists, mostly made up of AAPG Members, in attending the Jamboree to teach the badge.
“The AAPG Foundation has generously funded the teaching team once again with a gift from the E.F. Reid Scouting Fund. E.F. ‘Bud’ Reid was a president of AAPG in the early 1980s and was active as a volunteer and philanthropist in the World Scouting Organization. His vision created the E.F. Reid Scouting Fund so there would be a long-term endowment to support teaching geology to Scout groups,” said Hart.
He added, “The AAPG Foundation sees value to putting a positive message about careers in geology, and specifically petroleum, in front of 35,000 Scouts and their families. Also, we want to meet the best and brightest kids and expose them to geology as a career.”
Earning the Badge
To earn the badge, Hart explained, “A Scout must learn and understand principles of geology, and must complete several activities showing what he has learned.”
During the Jamboree, Hart said that Scouts learn the process of the scientific method. They will be asked to either organize and describe a collection of 25 rocks and minerals and understand the economic uses of each, or learn to construct a stream model by taking field measurements around the property to create stream gradients, valley profiles, etc.
“In learning field work, a Scout must learn to note important observations and check his map location using GPS or other technology.”
The merit badge program is designed to introduce Scouts and their families to hobbies and career options.
“Most of these Scouts are only exposed to earth science through middle school teachers and never have the chance to visit with a professional geologist. We all know the oil industry has the coolest toys and offers an exciting career, and we need to share that information with the next generation,” said Hart.
Of all the badges in the program, the Geology Merit Badge ranks 28 out of 135 in popularity and more than 22,000 Scouts sought to earn it last year.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to educate these Scouts and their families about the science we use to find oil, and we have a chance to debunk the many myths and junk science that surrounds the petroleum industry as seen by politicians and the media,” Hart added.
The badge wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers to teach geology to the Scouts. AAPG Members continue to be heavily involved with the badge and it is hoped that more Members will volunteer for the upcoming Jamboree.
“During the day, team members will either teach a rock identification class or take a small group on a short hike to study erosion and steam patterns,” he said. “We work from a duty roster that guarantees we have full staffing at peak times, but all team members are given time away from the merit badge tent to fully experience the Jamboree activities.”
Hart noted that the event is very rewarding for everyone who volunteers.
“Talking to kids about geology helps me focus on my own career and life accomplishments. Too many times we work on the same tasks every day in an office and forget why we got into geology in the first place,” he said.
“I love to watch the light come on. Most Scouts are not interested in a geology career, but it seems every group has one or two who begin to look at science (and geology) in a new way. We want to meet that Scout. By nature, Scouts love the outdoors and it’s natural for them to become interested in geology,” he added.
Volunteering begins by registering with the Boy Scouts of America as a merit badge counselor. The only requirement is that the volunteer is a U.S. citizen and is excited to help the Scouts.
For more information about volunteering, contact Hart. To discover more about the event, visit www.summitbsa.org.