STEPHENVILLE (February 17, 2015) — More than 400 Boy Scouts and adult leaders from across the state attended the 25th annual Merit Badge Seminar this past weekend at Tarleton State University.
Sponsored by the Texas Trails Council based in Abilene, the annual Tarleton Merit Badge Seminar is hosted by the local Old Comanche Trails and Pecan Valley Districts. Participation in the event has grown from approximately 100 in 2009 to more than 400 this year.
Within a matter of hours on Friday evening a tent city was erected on Tarleton’s Vance Terrell Intramural Complex fields, where more than 200 Scouts and leaders camped for two nights. Other troops in attendance either commuted or stayed at the city of Stephenville’s Recreation Hall.
The significance of this year’s seminar was emphasized by co-coordinator Dr. Eric Morrow, interim head of the Tarleton Social Sciences Department and Scoutmaster of Troop 14 in Brownwood. “It is not only a great opportunity for our Scouts, but also for Tarleton,” he said. “For many of the Scouts in attendance this is their first visit to a college campus, and some will most likely return to Tarleton for college.”
The event was an opportunity for Scouts to earn merit badges toward rank advancements and to meet and enjoy fellowship with Scouts from other troops. Scouts participated in classes on required badges for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, such as citizenship in the nation, family life, communications and cooking. Most of the classes were taught by Tarleton faculty from departments and programs throughout the university.
Scouts also had the opportunity to choose electives in many topics including law, dog care, reading, weather, chemistry, computers, horsemanship and sustainability among others. Adult leaders attending the event helped with classes and transportation, attended training sessions and visited with other leaders during the event.
Co-coordinator Dr. Jeff Justice, assistant professor of political science at Tarleton and Commissioner for the area Scouting District, emphasized the important contribution the university makes to this event. “The Tarleton Merit Badge Seminar not only provides a great occasion for learning and advancement for our Scouts and Scouters, but also is a fantastic opportunity for the university community to showcase its best programs. These Scouts and their leaders are the very audience to which we want to market ourselves, as Scouting very much has Tarleton’s core values at its own core through our Scout Oath and Scout Law.”
The event opened on Saturday morning with a general assembly led by the coordinators of the event, Drs. Justice and Morrow, and by Gabriel Kelly, a Tarleton alumnus and the new Scouting Executive for the Old Comanche Trails District based in Stephenville.
Following a full day of classes, Scouts had a range of activities, including games and climbing in the Recreation Sports Center, games on the intramural fields and an evening movie. Classes continued on Sunday after a morning chapel service, and the weekend concluded with a convocation and group photo.
After the event, District Executive Kelly offered a thank you on behalf of Scouting. “The Texas Trails Council wishes to convey its warmest and sincere gratitude to Tarleton State University for partnering with us in this event,” he said. “Having the opportunity to learn from professors, staff and students who have real-world experience gives our youth the chance to gain a deeper knowledge of the subject matter that they may not have had otherwise.”