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SHSU Profs To Give Scout Lessons

The ultimate goal for any Boy Scout or Girl Scout is to earn an Eagle or Gold Award, the highest award possible for each respective group.

Scouts in both groups work oftentimes for several years to complete the requirements and earn the merit badges or interest project patches in order to be qualified for these awards, according to Marilyn Butler, a Girl Scout and lecturer in the College of Business Administration.

Last year, Sam Houston State University became one of the first institutes of higher learning to open its doors to both Boy and Girl Scouts and have professors from across campus help the scouts toward their goals of earning these awards at what was called Merit Badge/Girl Scout Interest Project University.

More than 450 students, approximately 200 more than the first year, aged 11 to 18 and from a 21-county area will be visiting the campus on Feb. 25 for the renamed Scout Saturday at Sam.

“The purpose of the event is to promote the leadership development in both the girl-scouting and boy-scouting programs,” said Butler, who has coordinated the event for the past two years with organizer David Payne, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The event, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, allows scouts to earn up to two interest project patches for girls or two merit badges for boys. Check-in and an opening ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. in the Criminal Justice Center’s Killinger Auditorium.

The university has enlisted the help of more than 60 faculty, staff and administrators this year to teach scouts the necessary information to earn a patch in three- to six-hour sessions, depending on the badge the scout is trying to obtain. Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to choose from 15 different patch topics, and Boy Scouts will have 14 badge topics.

“We’ve taken the curriculum that the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts already have developed, and we engage the authority or the specialist--someone who has a PhD or a master’s degree is a specialist—to teach it to the scouts. So they are getting one of the best-of-the-best to teach them that patch or that badge,” Butler said, adding that sometimes scouts have to seek out specialists on their own in order to complete a patch.

The purpose of the event is two-fold from the scout’s perspective, according to Butler.

Not only do they get to earn a badge or patch relatively quickly from a scouting standpoint (some badges/patches can take up to six months to earn), but they have the opportunity to visit a college campus and experience what college life looks like, which is also beneficial for SHSU, Butler said.

“It’s a look-and-see for the young scout who is just beginning to make those decisions (about college),” she said. “One of the things that we find when we look at statistics about especially young women, (through national research conducted by the Girl Scouts organization) is that the young woman of today starts making those decisions by the time she is a sophomore or junior.

“Last year on the evaluations, that’s what they said they liked most: the professors and the campus, and that it was really great to experience that,” Butler said.

Because of that, Scout Saturday at Sam is playing up the “college feel” of the event this year, allowing scouts to register online for sessions in a manner similar to how college students register for classes and granting scouts more access to people affiliated with the university.

Former scouts and now-SHSU students will serve as “Scout Ambassadors,” helping students get to classes, giving directions and driving golf carts for those who have physical limitations, Butler said.

“They’ll just be here to help, but they’ll also be ambassadors,” she said.

In addition, this year students will be able to register to have a round table lunch with the professors teaching the classes.

Butler said professors will be divided up by colleges and students will eat at the college in which they have a potential career interest.

“We want it to be based on what they are interested in for college,” she said. “Professors are going to be able to answer career questions, such as what do you need to be doing right now, where should you be looking, what kind of opportunities for jobs do you have?

“It’s an opportunity for us to tell about the great things that we have going on at Sam Houston State University,” she said.

While their scouts are hard at work, the more than 50 parents expected to attend will be able to attend an adult training course similar to the university’s SAM 136: Introduction to Collegiate Studies class and will be able to dine with professors at the round table discussions as well.

“Parents need that just as much as students do to get their students ready for college,” Butler said.

Events similar to this are held across the nation, but only for Boy Scouts.

“This is really a pretty new model and a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Girl Scouts that we have at Sam Houston,” Butler said.

Because of this, members from the San Jacinto Girl Scout Council, the largest in the nation, and possibly council members from New York, will also be on campus that day to observe the event and consider using SHSU’s program as a model for similar nation-wide events in the future, Butler said.

“It’s a real service to the community. These people are our future leaders, and to me that’s the most important thing,” she said. “They are our hope, and we want to invest in them.”

Girl Scouts interested in participating can register for sessions at, and Boy Scouts can register at Registration is still open for both groups.

For more information, contact Butler at 936.294.1266.




SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Feb. 20, 2006
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Director: Frank Krystyniak
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
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Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834