More than 270 Boy Scouts from western Illinois and eastern Iowa will gather at Monmouth College on March 16 to hone their skills during a day-long Merit Badge University.
This is the second year that Monmouth College has hosted the Boy Scouts of America’s annual conference, which is for boys who are working toward their Eagle Scout rank by earning merit badges. Nearly 100 more Scouts will be in attendance this year than the college’s inaugural MBU in 2012.
“All scouts will work on one merit badge selected from an identified list of 29 merit badges that are possible to complete in one day,” said MC staff member Kathy Mainz, who is helping to organize the event in her role as chair of the local MBU committee.
A merit badge indicates competency in a certain subject area, ranging from first aid to topics such as law or nuclear energy.
“In order for a scout to earn a badge, they explore their interest with an adult who is an expert in that area,” said Mainz. “Our merit badge counselors will work with small groups of scouts and guide them through a booklet of information on their particular topic.”
Boys attending will be joined by more than 70 adults. Monmouth College faculty and staff who will serve as instructors include Tom Best (American heritage), Steve Bloomer (citizenship in the nation), Chris Goble (cinematography), James Godde (citizenship in the world), Jeff Rankin (citizenship in the community), Tim Stiles (electricity and energy), Tim Tibbetts (nature), William Urban (genealogy) and Craig Vivian (chess).
Both Tibbetts and Urban are Eagle Scouts, as is one of the MC students instructing, Nick Mainz. Other Monmouth students in instructor roles are Brittany Havens, Kortney Rupp and a group of physics majors.
Scouts will also have an opportunity to earn merit badges in automotive maintenance and plumbing – traditionally difficult badges to complete – thanks to the cooperation of the service department of Cavanaughs’ Motors and Monmouth plumber Ken St. George.
A co-sponsor of the event, the college’s office of admission will conduct campus tours, provide a lunch and present information on its Eagle Scout Scholarship, a $2,500 renewable annual award scholarship available to any entering freshmen who have received the Eagle Scout Award or Venturing Silver Award. The other co-sponsor is the Inali District of the Illowa Boy Scout Council.