Boy Scouts Merit Badge

Piedmont Division Boy Scout Merit Badge Crew Has Been Busy

John Stevens, Boy Scout Clinics Chairman

Photos by Bill Boyd

The Piedmont Division Boy Scout Merit Badge Crew has had a busy quarter. The Crewmembers attended two functions in a three week period. The first function was a Science Night at the Berkeley Lakes Elementary School. One of the coordinators for this program had visited the Choo Choo in Chattanooga this past spring. She thought it would be neat to have something about model railroading at the school program. She contacted a SER Committee Chairman, who contacted the Piedmont Division.

Crewmembers Rick Coble, Joe Gelmini, Howard Goodwin, and I attended the function. Howard Goodwin brought the display that he uses to show scale/gauge. Joe and I brought the FRED, the sound machine, and the layout. Rick was going to bring a powerpack Unfortunately, I forgot that Ed Jahns usually supplies the locomotives for the layout. I didnít remember this until Joe and I were almost halfway to the function. Joe and I frantically called Howard and Rick. We couldn't reach Howard but did get Rick and asked him to bring a locomotive. I got the dreaded "Sorry, Iím an N scaler".

This was a predicament, since the layout is HO. I asked Rick to go by Trainmaster Models and buy a locomotive if he had to. Upon arrival at Train Master, he found Piedmont Division members Kathy Devaney, Scott Chatfield, and Paul Voelker. After a little ribbing by Scott and Paul about our situation, Kathy let us borrow a locomotive.

Once we got to the school, we unloaded everything and moved into the music room. After setting up, we were escorted to a break room where the school had sandwiches, chips, cookies, and drinks. We returned to the music room where we entertained over 100 visitors over the next 90 minutes.

The second function the Crewmembers attended was a Railroading Merit Badge Day held at the Southeastern Railway Museum on November 6th. This is the first time that we have held the program at this location. Everyone involved thought this was a great location.

Once again, I had assembled a great crew to teach the scouts various aspects of prototype and model railroading. For the fifth time, Howard Goodwin, Charlie Brown, and Rick Coble manned their respective teaching stations. Ed Jahns and Joe Gelmini also returned to man their stations. We also welcomed newcomer Bill Matthewson. Due to a last minute cancellation, I brought my son, John, along to help Ed with the layout station.

We initially had 20 scouts sign up for the day. Six of those scouts did not show, although we had one scout who attended who had not signed up. This gave us a total of 15 scouts. This is fewer than I was hoping for, but it worked out fine with us being in an unfamiliar environment.

We have divided the merit badge into eight stations. After a short introduction, the scouts watch a 20 minute video produced by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad that serves as an introduction to the day. The scouts were then divided into three groups, and they started cycling through the teaching stations.

The scouts were able to complete three stations before lunch. After lunch, the scouts returned for another five stations. Since there were only three groups, the instructors had plenty of free time to explore the museum. Some of the instructors managed to make it over to Train Masters, and one even managed to get to the Greenberg Show.

At the end of the day, the scouts gathered in one big group to receive their scout paperwork, and their parting gifts. Once again, we gave each scout copies of "The Worldís Greatest Hobby" pamphlets. We also gave them copies of the latest Railroad Model Craftsman donated by Carstens Publishing. We finished in time for the scouts to take a ride on the Museumís train.

We have now presented our program five times, and have had 131 scouts complete the merit badge. Currently, we are presenting the program at the Southeastern Railway Museum in the fall and with the Flint River Council in the spring. After each session, we evaluate our program, and we have some plans to make our program even better.

We are always looking for more instructors for this program. To complete the merit badge in one day requires eight instructors. I have been able to identify three benefits to the current program. The first is the opportunity to help promote the hobby of model railroading. The scouts are usually quite enthusiastic (sometimes too enthusiastic) about taking this merit badge. These scouts are the future modelers that will help drive our hobby. The second benefit is the opportunity to spend the day with fellow members of the Piedmont Division.We have become a close knit group that is having a great time promoting our hobby. The third benefit is the fact that members earn points toward the Association Volunteer Certificate for every month they are instructors, and for every scout that gets the merit badge. I completed my requirements for the certificate through this program, and I know three fellow modelers who finished their requirements through this program. If you are interested in signing up for the program, please contact me at

Merit Badge Clinic Photo Gallery

Once again, Ed Jahns manned the operating model railroad. His scouts produced scale trackplans of the railroad. In the background is the G&T, built by Len Purdy and maintained by members of the Piedmont Division.

Scouts demonstrated an ability to plan a train trip using an Amtrak timetable. Instructor Rick Coble assists a scout plan a trip on the Empire Builder.

Veteran instructor Howard Goodwin and his scouts discussed model railroad scales and gauges. Howard also demonstrated techniques for maintaining model railroad equipment.

Joe Gelmini set up shop outdoors on a beautiful November day to explain the roles of different kinds of modern railroad cars. In the background is ex-Clinchfield lounge car 112.

The scouts had the run of the museum and took full advantage of the opportunity. Ex-Georgia bay window caboose 2866 was used to carry passengers in mixed train service on the road's Athens branch line.

The clinic wrapped in time for the scouts to take a ride on the museum's train. A perfect ending to a busy day at the Southeastern Railway Museum.

^ Top