February 27, 2020

On February 15, Hampden-Sydney’s ninth annual Merit Badge College Day brought together more than 350 scouts from Virginia and North Carolina. This year’s event, hosted in partnership with the Heart of Virginia Council, fostered both the development of individual skills and camaraderie among the scouts.

Boy Scouts being instructed by a Hampden-Sydney studentClasses such as American Heritage, Chemistry, Crime Prevention, Dentistry, and Citizenship in the World enabled scouts to earn up to two merit badges and an event patch over the course of the day. To make the event a success, student volunteers from several fraternities joined current H-SC Eagle Scouts to assist with setting up, guiding scouts to and from events, and teaching merit badge classes.

History major and Eagle Scout Daniel Marsden ’23 taught American Heritage. Teaching a merit badge class for the first time, Daniel enjoyed the chance to give back to the next generation of scouts. “I’ve taken a lot of merit badge classes in my time as a scout and it was really fun to experience the role reversal of teaching,” Daniel reflected. “We had relatively small class sizes, and being able to engage with the scouts one-on-one was rewarding.”

Daniel was actually introduced to the College during his time as a scout. “I think there’s more than just an overlap between the scouts and Hampden-Sydney. For example, Hampden-Sydney’s Honor Code lines up closely with the ethos of being a scout,” he explained. “There’s a natural progression from boy scout to Hampden-Sydney man.”

Accompanying the scouts were over 100 dedicated troop leaders who were able to join in the fun as Will Franck ’69 taught a Wilderness Survival Seminar just for the leaders. A former scout and trained survivalist, Franck taught the leaders to start bow drill fires and to build shelters. “In my mind, reverence is the single most important tenet of Scout Law because it is foundational to all other scout qualities,” Franck said. “Young boy looking at a world mapWorking with natural elements such as fire is a gift. Knowing that you can’t eat or protect yourself from the wild unless you learn to work with nature is a great way to teach humility and gratitude.”

The merit badge day was organized by H-SC Director of High Adventure Scott Schmolesky. “Scouts and parents alike love Merit Badge College Day,” Schmolesky said. “I’ve spoken with several current students and alumni who told me their first exposure to H-SC was attending the Merit Badge College Day as middle school students. The event is great exposure for students who might consider applying to Hampden-Sydney when they’re older.”

A long-time believer in the mission of the scouts, Hampden-Sydney offers a yearly scholarship to all Eagle Scouts, $20,000 a year for new students beginning in the fall 2020 semester. Approximately 13% of the College’s student body has achieved scouting’s highest honor.

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