Boy Scout Photography merit badge pamphet cover.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Gary Nakayama - SF Bay Area, California, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. I was looking at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) merit badge web site, in relation to another forum, and found a photography merit badge.

    But man, talk about sending the wrong message.
    On the cover is a scout holding a Canon with a L lens. A L LENS !!!
    I figure the scout is holding about $4,000 of camera + lens.

    You do NOT need EXPENSIVE gear to shoot photos for the merit badge.

    Granted it was probably a staged photo, and the gear was the photographers.
    But the resulting message is bad.
    This is because the photo is like advertising; this is the gear you need to earn the merit badge.
    I can imagine hearing:
    "Daddy, I need a camera and lens like the one on the merit badge book's cover, to earn the merit badge."

    If the parents don't veto the merit badge, then the merit badge counselor may have to change the equipment expectation of the scout.

    Someone did not really think about the implications of the photo.
    Maybe other than the white L lens looks cool.
  2. It's the wrong message but I'm not sure that it's the one that would register with a scout. They might see the long lens and think "Awesome!" but neither the kid nor the parents will likely know an L lens from something more pedestrian. There's also a compact camera on the front of the brochure. Granted, it's a pretty high end compact but again, to a scout or their parents, it doesn't look much different than a 10 year old P&S that they might have sitting in their closet.

    There's nothing in the actual requirements to get that badge that couldn't be done with pretty much any old camera. There's an optional requirement to take a picture of the same subject with two different DOFs, which would be easier with a better camera, but that's about it.

    It's been a few years since my son's been involved in scouts but it's not that unusual for them to borrow equipment to complete a merit badge anyway. Often you'll have several scouts trying to complete the same badge, and they'll bring in some adult to provide instruction and equipment.
    Norma Desmond likes this.
  3. Just thinking about this a little more, I would hope that somewhere in the process of getting the merit badge, a scout would a get a chance to try a system camera and see the difference between what a wide angle lens does vs a long lens (for example). Earning a merit badge should involve broadening their experience and stretching their knowledge.
  4. I think most people, even most people who use cameras or earn merit badges in photography, are likely not going to care about, notice, or spend money on equipment the way folks in photo forums seem to . . .

    It might even turn out that the average merit badge earner is more sober and thrifty than the average camera and lens enthusiast. :rolleyes:
  5. Has being PC come to the point where we get all atwitter over what camera is shown on a Boy Scout publication!!!
    Come on!!!
  6. But remember, we are adults.
    Kids think differently.
    Think back to when you were scout age. How easily were you swayed by advertising, vs today.
  7. When I was scout age, I don't think I would have paid much attention to what gear was on the cover of pamphlets. I wasn't into photography back then, but I was into playing the piano. When I'd get magazines or reading material on upcoming piano recitals or compositions, I went right to the articles or info that interested me and didn't pay too much attention to the sleek black Steinways I'm sure were featured on the covers. Just breezed right by that.

    Frankly, it's adults who seem more concentrated on materialistic pursuits. Kids are generally having more fun. I mean, I guess Tony the Tiger got to me because I did love me my Frosted Flakes, but they didn't cost much more than Rice Krispies so it wasn't much of a problem!
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  8. The suger trumped the tiger....
  9. I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts on trumped up charges many years ago (the Marines welcomed me in their warm and tender arms years later however) so I am not the best person to respond to this but I will anyway. Most Boy Scouts don't know a Leica from a Holga and could care less. They just want to get a merit badge to sew on their shirt and will use any camera and lens put in front of them.
    john_sevigny|2 likes this.
  10. Yeah, I don't know. We all have an image of what a "photographer" is in our heads and I imagine most people picture someone walking around with a substantial camera. The photo on the cover of the pamphlet plays to that image to be sure. Maybe it makes photography seem unobtainable to a kid from a family that doesn't have much money, - maybe not. It's hard to say. If I had to guess I'd say that Fred is right and they don't give it much thought. They either think photography would be fun or not. If they do, they'll check the requirements to see how hard it would be to get the merit badge and then decide whether to pursue it.

    From what I remember to achieve a given rank, certain merit badges were required and then you had to choose one or more from particular groups. My guess is that photography merit badge would have been more like an elective. If one of the adult leaders has some expertise in a particular area they'll often advertise their willingness to help get scouts get related badges. The scouts tend to focus on required merit badges and ones that they can get help with. My son's troupe had a week long camp every Summer and thats when probably 75% of the merit badges were earned.

    In other words, I think the pictures on the pamphlets have very little impact on whether or not a scout pursues a given merit badge.

    Most scouts are pre-teens and early teens. Only the really motivated ones remain after high school starts. And high schools offer photography classes and provide cameras. So there's opportunities for kids to learn about photography where they know cost won't be a barrier.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  11. Bit of a side note....
    I rember having seen those Cub Scout uniforms on friends at school, All the colorful patches and merit badges made a big impression on me,and I told my Dad I wanted to join.
    “I think we can do better than that”.
    He bought a canoe and the two of us crossed the Mississippi River and camped on a sand bar. Thus began many years of
    “Out scouting the Scouts” in a canoe on that river with a .22 revolver in a holster he made me, exploring endless sandbars, run outs, and bar pits.
    I got to be Huck Finn and in a funny way, have an organization I never joined to thank for it.
  12. Mark
    IMHO, doing that with your father is better than scouting in many ways, primarily in that it builds the family bond.
    And you were lucky to have a father like that.
  13. Gary, thanks, and you are quite right. I need to see if Dad has some pictures from those river crossings back then. I instituted the camera in the canoe thing later with a .50 cal ammo box, until then my parents didn't carry cameras in canoes that I remember.
    I remember we once loaded the pickup on a Friday after he got home from work with canoe and camping gear. Driving from the levee back to the river we got stuck in the black gumbo. An hour later extricated with an axe, shovel, and some driftwood, we proceeded in the dark, loaded the canoe and crossed below Memphis. We pitched the tent on the sand and crashed. Later that night the moon was up and Dad woke me up to see the riverboat "Delta Queen" churn by upstream, fully lit and in the river's moonlight. I'd give a few hundred bucks to have had a camera. An image I'll never forget that didn't get put to film.
    Just one of many childhood memories from those crossings.

    A bit of your local history from a Wikki link

    The hull, first two decks, and steam engines were ordered in 1924 from the William Denny & Brothers shipyard on the River Leven adjoining the River Clyde at Dumbarton, Scotland. Delta Queen and her sister, Delta King, were shipped in pieces to Stockton, California in 1926. There the California Transportation Company assembled the two vessels for their regular Sacramento River service between San Franciscoand Sacramento, and excursions to Stockton, on the San Joaquin River. At the time, they were the most lavishly appointed and expensive sternwheel passenger boats ever commissioned. Driven out of service by a new highway linking Sacramento with San Francisco in 1940, the two vessels were laid up and then purchased by Isbrandtsen Steamship Lines for service out of New Orleans. During World War II, they were requisitioned by the United States Navy for duty in San Francisco Bay as USS Delta Queen (YHB-7/YFB-56).[7] During the war the vessels were painted "drab gray" and used in "transporting wounded from ocean-going ships in San Francisco Bay to area hospitals."[8]

    Delta Queen - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  14. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    when i got my photography merrit badge as a kid, we used kodak brownies.

    when i was a district merrit badge counceler, i loaned the scouts pentax spotmatics, k1000s, nikons, olympus om1.

    as for the add... well im sure the kids know more about cameras than you realize and would love to own a camera like that. they do realize its way too expensive... especially after i take them on a b&h tour.

    btw, my kids learn film before i let them go digital... its more for appreciation n learning to see before they shoot instead of machine gunning thousands of frames.
  15. I think there are many reasons why new photographers being exposed to shooting film is a good thing. It's got to do with the physicality of working with film, the relationship to the craft of photography, knowing some basics you might not otherwise learn, and lots of other things. I'd put avoidance of machine-gunning way down on the list. I only shot film as a vacation shooter before digital came on the scene, never seriously. I only got serious about photography once I had a digital camera. Not once, even in my digital infancy, have I ever machine-gunned thousands of frames.

    Since I didn't learn to see with film, though I can understand it's a very good added way, I learned by watching lots of films, going to lots of museums, and looking not just at photos but at paintings and sculpture as well and reading things by and about visual artists that would give me insights into various ways of looking and seeing.
  16. SCL


    Most young kids, when thinking of photography, think smart phones anyway. I was amazed last year when visiting an art exhibit which was packed with hundreds of kids and adults, that they all had smart phones and were snapping away. In the 3 hours at that exhibit, I was the only person I saw with a "real camera" not also used to text messages.
    bethe_fisher likes this.
  17. When it comes to taking pictures, kids might think smartphone. If they see photography as something more than just taking pictures, then they probably still associate photography with dedicated cameras. My kids do. Not that one can't use a smartphone for actual photography.
  18. none of the scouts i know now or when i was a kid
    pay much attention to the cover of the pamphlet. they
    just see " a kid with a camera" nothing more than that.
    its too bad beekeeping and bookbinding aren't offered anymore ...
    bethe_fisher likes this.
  19. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    just an elaboration on my post about film first... before they get to film, i let them go wild shooting their phones to get them inspired as a fun activity. as we progress to more advanced stuff... i introduce real cameras along the way and also show my work from tge same shoots we did as a group. they start to realize a phone is limited. thats when they advance. it takes time and patience. keep them interested!
  20. My son's a Cub Scout and I'd bet he's the only local one who can even recognize a camera besides a cell phone.
    jnanian likes this.

Share This Page