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SHEPHERDSVILLE -- By 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, more that 1,100 Boy Scouts had gathered at Bullitt Lick Middle School to attend a Merit Badge University program. Following a brief orientation session, scouts were soon seated in classrooms working on merit badges ranging from American Heritage to Woodworking with some 70 other options in between.
This marked the program’s eighth year. The event is hosted by Shepherdsville Boy Scout Troop 868 and is the largest single-day event for Boy Scouts in the state of Kentucky. Scouts who attended this year’s program came from more than 100 different troops and represented six states.
The event is highly structured and very well organized. All class assignments are pre-registered and scouts receive schedule cards telling them where to report throughout the day to work on merit badges they have chosen.
With 72 different merit badges being offered, finding adequate classroom space is a major challenge. Scouts filled nearly every classroom at Bullitt Lick Middle School, Shepherdsville Elementary School, and the Bullitt County Technical School.
Scouts were also transported by buses and vans to nearly a dozen other locations such as the Shepherdsville Community Center and Bernheim Forest.
Troop 868 Scoutmaster Bob Meek organizes the event. Detailed planning begins in early November with the recruitment of qualified counselors. The troop provides lunch and all needed materials for whatever merit badges a scout chooses to work on for a nominal fee of $15.
Scout leaders and parents from participating troops provide manpower throughout the day to prepare and serve lunch, monitor the hallways, and provide general supervision.
The Shepherdsville Police Department provided counselors for three merit badges related to law enforcement and the Shepherdsville Fire Department provided counselors for the Fire Safety merit badge. The Kentucky Department of Forestry, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, the Bullitt County Health Department, the American Red Cross, and the Kentucky Geological Survey all provided counselors for badges in their respective disciplines.
Pioneer News editor Tom Barr counseled the Journalism merit badge and Bullitt County Judge-Executive Melanie Roberts spent the day counseling Citizenship in the Community.
Shepherdsville First Baptist Church provided overnight lodging in their gym for out of town troops who wished to drive in on Friday night.
Scoutmaster Meek praised BLMS Principal Johnda Conley, SES Principal David Pate, BCTS Principal Brady Southwood, and the faculty at all three schools for their willingness to host the program. Meek said schools are ideally suited for this event because of the need for multiple classrooms and access to A-V equipment.
Meek acknowledged that anytime an outside group uses a school, it’s an inconvenience for the faculty. He said the scouts do their very best to minimize the disruption and make sure that classrooms are clean and ready to go on Monday morning. This year’s MBU ran very smoothly and neither he nor any of the three principals received even a single faculty complaint.
Meek estimated that 60-70 percent of the merit badges worked on were fully completed. Some merit badges require projects or outside work that can’t be done in one day, but scouts in such classes received certificates indicating partial completion for the work accomplished at the Merit Badge University.
Boy Scouting is open to boys aged 11-17. Troop 868 conducts an extremely active year-round program and new members are welcome to join any time of the year. Troop 868 meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Shepherdsville Community Center. Information can also be found on the troop’s website, www.troop868.com.
For boys in elementary grades 1-5, Cub Scout Pack 868 meets on Thursday evenings at the Community Center. Information on that program can found on www.cubpack868.com.