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Learning Fest at Fall 2015 Merit Badge University

by Angel Martinez for the Alamo Area BSA: November 15, 2015

Alamo Area Council Provides Youth Career Exploration on Path to Scouting’s Highest Rank- the Eagle Scout 

The Boy Scouts of America, Alamo Area Council hosted Merit Badge University (MBU) on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at St. Philip’s College. Scouts explored 43 career fields ranging from Chemistry and Robotics to Communications and Radio where many earned merit badges on their path to reach the highest rank in Scouting – the Eagle Scout. This year, 1,000 scouts and 450 adult Scout leaders from 112 Scout troops throughout Texas were in attendance. [ event photos can be viewed on Council Flickr page by clicking HEREExternal Link ]

 MBU is a bi-annual event hosted by the Boy Scouts of America, Alamo Area Council that gives Scouts, ages 11-18 years-old, the opportunity to earn up to four merit badges ranging from recreational activities like Photography and Horsemanship to Eagle Scout required merit badges like Communications and Sustainability. The opportunity to earn these merit badges help the Scouts to earn their Eagle Scout rank and serve our community. In 2014, 340 Boy Scouts in the Alamo Area Council achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, contributing over 56,829 service hours with a value equaling $1,329,814 (million) invested into our local economy and community. 

Watch the Event Video

“MBU is all about making a difference in a young person’s life through learning and career exploration,” says John Haines, Chair of Merit Badge University. “It is also an opportunity to learn about life skills that will help you later on in life.”

MBU, the largest organized event put on by the Boy Scouts of America, Alamo Area Council, has over 75 volunteer counselors who teach a wide range of topics from hobbies to life skills. Their teachings, provide the Scouts the opportunity to practice the Scouting Slogan, “Do a good turn daily,” by making a difference in the lives of citizens in our local community. All MBU counselors are required to have a background check, be qualified, and have a strong passion in their career field.

“We spend a lot of time finding the right teachers with the right skills and the right knowledge and ones that love to work with these kids and have passion about the topic they are teaching,” says Haines. “MBU is about being prepared for life and learning, it is an opportunity for Scouts to learn with a purpose by exploring careers, hobbies and skills that can used throughout their lives.”

For more information or to support the Alamo Area Council’s Merit Badge University program, contact John Haines, Chair of Merit Badge University, at (210) 913-6022 or email

Mr. Haines expressed his thanks to his volunteer instructors after the event.  Here is an excerpt from his letter:

A heartfelt thank you and a standing applause to you!   We had approximately 950 Scouts representing 115 Troops attend the Alamo Area Boy Scouts Merit Badge University this  Fall.   There were 31 towns and cities throughout Texas represented at this event.  This started out as only a small local scouting event, but has turned into so much more.    Professionals, experts, community leaders, college students and Scout leaders all have a taken time and effort to help conduct the most amazing scouting event in San Antonio.

You are our most cherished asset in leaving a lasting impression upon our Scouts.   You are changing the world with one youth at a time.    You are changing how the future will unfold.   You are a hero for taking the time and effort to share your knowledge and experience with a Scout.  

Here is some of the feedback we have received:

  • Just want to say "Thank You" so much for all the hard work everyone did to put all this together.  It really paid off.  There were so many smiling faces and just sitting in the Chemistry Class with my son, he learned a lot.  Wish you could have seen their expressions and “aahhss!!".
  • Amazing reptiles!   Ball Python, Gilas, Snakes, Tree Frogs, and Lizards.    How could it be any better?   Have more animals….
  • Robots are just cool!   Can I take the class again!
  • “I want to make paper for a Christmas card for my Mom”  - From the Pulp and Paper class
  • The Geology class was interesting and fun!
  • The horses were so much fun!   Can I take it again?
  • The programming and radio classes were definitely the best!
  • Good event and good program you put together.
  • St. Philip’s was wonderful and their staff was so nice. 

Some information about our event and how you made an impact:

There were 45 Merit Badges offered which ranged from Bugling, Chemistry, Electronics, Robotics, Climbing, Railroading, Mining in Society to Citizenship in the Community, Family Life, Chess, and Emergency Preparedness to name a few.    Experts from the various Merit Badge disciplines were recruited so that real-life experts could provide instruction to our Scouts.   This is what makes our program unique and provides an exceptionally rich learning environment.    

St. Philip’s College Staff Council provided food for all Scouts and adult leaders with ease.   The breakfast donuts and coffee was a big hit with the adults and lunch was provided in a quick and efficient manner.   This is a wonderful partnership that has helped both the Boy Scouts have a good reliable lunch menu, but also provides a good fundraiser to the St. Philip’s College Staff Council to help with their events throughout the year.  

 Overall, there were over 100 volunteers to help plan, coordinate and conduct this event.

A very heartfelt and sincere thank you to each of you,

John Haines, Chairman of MBU


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