The great scout leader, Mayor William A. Dixon, as I remember him so well. Leading us all on the big week-long Delaware River trips.
The Priceless Realization
By Richard Mabey Jr.
The other day, a priceless realization dawned on me. I had not really thought about the connection, until just the other day. From about 1980 till around the year 2000, I served as a Merit Badge Counselor for the Journalism Merit Badge. While a lot of my students, working to earn this rather difficult merit badge, were from Boy Scout Troop 170; many of the scouts were from other scout troops throughout the Boonton District.
The Journalism Merit Badge, how it looked during the era from 1965 till around 1975.
I used to set up the timing of the Journalism Merit Badge classes to have at least four classes. Each class lasted about an hour an half long. I remember when I would set up a Journalism Merit Badge class program, I would usually set up the classes for Wednesday evenings; from seven o’clock till eight-thirty.
The Journalism Merit Badge, how it looked during the era from 1975 till around 1987.
Journalism Merit Badge is not an easy merit badge for a scout to earn. I definitely did not “give out” this merit badge. In fact, I remember getting into some deep hot water from some angry parents, because they felt that their boy should be “given an easy break.” Life just don’t work that way.
The Journalism Merit Badge, how it looked during the era from 1987 till the present.
I used to hold the Journalism Merit Badge classes in the basement of the old Mabey Homestead. Originally, the old homestead had a coal bin. It was this area that was walled off from the rest of the cellar. Well, the coal bin went out of use around 1963, yet remained standing in the old basement. It made a perfect classroom.
Developing the skill of writing articles and stories, has always been an integral part of the scouting movement. Particularly for scouts to be able to publish their own scout troop newsletters.
What I did, was to have each scout who was studying for the Journalism Merit Badge, put up one of his stories or articles on the “classroom wall.” The scouts loved this. Over the years, the walls of the little classroom became filled with stories and articles that the scouts had written. A lot of the stories and articles were exceptionally well written.
The Journalism Merit Badge booklet is filled with good, practical information on developing the skill of good writing.
Well, to get to the point here. The other day, I realized that I had set up my little classroom, very similar to the way that our Troop Committee Chairman of Boy Scout Troop 170, Mayor William A. Dixon Jr. had set up his classroom for the many merit badges that he taught. Amazingly, Mayor Dixon had set up his little merit badge classroom in the basement. I earned five merit badges from Mayor Dixon. They were: Citizenship in the Home, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Public Speaking, and Reading Merit Badges.
Mayor Dixon had a profound, positive affect upon my growing up to become a good citizen. I had the distinct honor to work with him for one full week, when I served as Youth Mayor for Lincoln Park.
At 62, I look back and realize that Mayor Dixon taught me a valuable lesson. He taught me the value of helping boys to grow in intellectual and practical ways through being a Merit Badge Counselor. But, it wasn’t until the other day, that I realized that I had set up my little merit badge classroom, in much the same manner as Mayor Dixon had. Right down to having my merit badge classroom set up in my basement!
I firmly believe that the scouting program is a great medium to help a boy grow to become a good citizen.
I always did my best to be a good Journalism Merit Badge Counselor to the scouts who went through my journalism classes. Over the years, I had well over a hundred scouts successfully earn the Journalism Merit Badge. I truly hope and pray that I played some positive role, no matter how small, to help these boys grow to become good writers. Even if it was just to write a well written letter to their Aunt Martha.