Boy Scouts return to campus for merit badges


Photo by Ian Young

President Rochon speaks to Boy Scouts visiting USI for their Merit Badges.

Ian Young and Quinton Watt

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) returned to campus for Merit Badge University on Saturday. After going virtual for the last two years due to COVID-19, the Scouts were excited to get back.

The event has been held annually for 27 years to help members of the Scouts receive merit badges. These events are held at USI and Vincennes University and are some of the biggest ways Scouts earn their badges. 

“I think USI is the jewel of Evansville,” said Gael Cooper, leader of the event. “The university is a great opportunity and resource the Scouts and their families have.”

Cooper said it was great to be back on campus. 

“We are better off face-to-face and working through the problems of this pandemic,” Cooper said.

With the events going remote or being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scouts were unable to receive badges as quickly as they normally would. This especially affected those who were trying to receive their Eagle Scout title. Scouts are required to achieve the title before the age of 18, which prevents many people from reaching it.

“Being able to have these large council events is definitely changing scouting for the better,”  Andy Hardgrave, lodge chief of the Arrow lodge in the Buffalo Trace Council, said. “Coming to cool places like this is much better in person than virtually.”

Faculty helped the Scouts earn their badges in many different areas including journalism, radio, television, engineering and communications. The event was divided into two sessions with one in the morning and one in the evening. 

 It consisted of introductions and tours where faculty worked with Scouts to get them more comfortable with campus and their badge of interest. The Scouts can only earn one badge per event.

In between sessions, The Loft provided lunch to all the scouts and volunteers with an assortment of options, such as chicken strips, burgers and pasta. 

President Ronald Rochon also spoke to the Scouts about what being a Scout could do to their future and how being a Scout can greatly affect their way through life. Rochon said, “It’s important to do these things right now. What you’re learning and practicing right now is going to come into your years of high school and college.”

In the afternoon session, the Scouts got to work on the things they learned in the morning. Learning to apply these topics is crucial to being a Scout. In journalism, the Scouts learned how to interview, write and edit. For radio and television, they got to speak live and edited videos. 

Rochon said how excited he is to see the Scouts back on the campus. He said, “the excitement you get seeing these kids on campus makes it feel alive again.”

The BSA is scheduled to come back to campus next year for another Merit Badge University.