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Global Citizenship and the Boy Scouts

October 15, 2012

The Boy Scouts of America is an organization well known for local charitable involvement, and is one of the largest contributors of community service hours in the nation. After more than a decade in that group, volunteerism becomes second nature. I was fortunate enough to have been able to work my way all the way up to Eagle rank, the highest rank the BSA offers. Typically, the majority of that time is devoted to developing a strong moral foundation, since it encompasses the early teenage years where self-discovery is so important. After that, it teaches you a wide range of skills so you can figure out where your natural interests and talents are. Aside from the obvious hiking trips, the Boy Scouts educated me on things like photography, personal finance, sailing, engineering, fingerprinting, personal fitness and nuclear science. I’m only touching the surface here, but a more exhaustive list can be found on this wiki page.

Accepting a donation to work on my Eagle Project (a community service project required for the rank).

Many of the merit badge options are directed toward improving yourself, but the mission of the BSA is to help people take what they learn and direct it toward making a positive impact. Generally this is on a local level. Things like picking up trash or helping little old ladies cross the street. But what I want to focus on today is how scouting helped me apply that philosophy on an international level. Now, I haven’t yet figured out a way to pick up the garbage on the side of every highway on earth, although Maddy’s scholarship idea in her December 25thpost reminds me a lot of a service project applied on an international level, and I’ll definitely do my best to help her with that project however I can.

My Eagle Scout badge and my merit badge sash, featuring my Global Citizenship badge (second from bottom on the right).

What I mainly mean, though is that it helped shape a philosophy that in many ways served as the inspiration for our mission statement and list of goals: even if you never leave the country you can still take a big step on the path to global citizenship simply by adjusting your perspective and adopting a global mindset (although actual travel is still very much encouraged). By thinking of your daily actions in the context of how they impact the world on a whole, you can modify your lifestyle in such a way that you reduce your negative impacts and increase your positive ones.

Perhaps you are not eligible to join the boy scouts due to your location, gender or age, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a valuable tool in learning how to structure your own behavior and attitudes. So I have a homework assignment for you.

The following is a transcript of the requirements for the Citizenship in the World merit badge, which is one of the prerequisites for earning your Eagle Scout rank. So Boy Scout or no, see if you have what it takes to earn one of their most important patches!

Citizenship in the World merit badge requirements
  1. Explain what citizenship in the world means to you and what you think it takes to be a good world citizen.
  2. Explain how one becomes a citizen in the United States, and explain the rights, duties, and obligations of U.S. citizenship. Discuss the similarities and differences between the rights, duties, and obligations of U.S. citizens and the citizens of two other countries.
  3. Do the following:

a. Pick a current world event. In relation to this current event, discuss with your counselor how a country’s national interest and its relationship with other countries might affect areas such as its security, its economy, its values, and the health of its citizens.

b. Select a foreign country and discuss with your counselor how its geography, natural resources, and climate influence its economy and its global partnerships with other countries.

  1. Do TWO of the following:

a. Explain international law and how it differs from national law. Explain the role of international law and how international law can be used as a tool for conflict resolution.

b. Using resources such as major daily newspapers, the Internet (with your parent’s permission), and news magazines, observe a current issue that involves international trade, foreign exchange, balance of payments, tariffs, and free trade. Explain what you have learned. Include in your discussion an explanation of why countries must cooperate in order for world trade and global competition to thrive.

c. Select TWO of the following organizations and describe their role in the world.

1. The United Nations

2. The World Court

3. World Organization of the Scout Movement

4. The World Health Organization

5. Amnesty International

6. The International Committee of the Red Cross


  1. Do the following:

a. Discuss the differences between constitutional and nonconstitutional governments.

b. Name at least five different types of governments currently in power in the world.

c. Show on a world map countries that use each of these five different forms of government.

  1. Do the following:

a. Explain how a government is represented abroad and how the United States government is accredited to international organizations.

b. Describe the roles of the following in the conduct of foreign relations.

1. Ambassador

2. Consul

3. Bureau of International Information Programs

4. Agency for International Development

5. United States and Foreign Commercial Service

c. Explain the purpose of a passport and visa for international travel.

  1. Do TWO of the following and share with your counselor what you have learned:

a. Visit the Web site (With your parent/guardian’s permission) of the U.S. State Department. Learn more about an issue you find interesting that is discussed on this Web site.

b. Visit the Web site (With your parent/guardian’s permission) of an international news organization or foreign government, OR examine a foreign newspaper available at your local library, bookstore, or newsstand. Find a news story about a human right realized in the United States that is not recognized in another country.

c. Visit with a student or Scout from another country and discuss the typical values, holidays, ethnic foods, and traditions practiced or enjoyed there.

d. Attend a world Scout jamboree.

e. Participate in or attend an international event in your area, such as an ethnic festival, concert, or play.

If anyone actually wants to take this seriously, I would be happy to act as your counselor. Technically speaking I’m not actually qualified to act as a merit badge counselor, but since you’re not actually earning it for real I think we can bypass those technicalities.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2013 12:57 am

    Hi there, I check your blogs daily. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

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