Thanks to the efforts of over 30 volunteers this year more than 350 Boy Scouts earned the Graphic Arts and the Pulp and Paper Merit Badges at the International Printing Museum.
The last of four “Merit Badge Days” was held this past Saturday, October 29th, at the International Printing Museum in Carson, California where 8 teams of 11 boys completed 21 requirements at 9 stations around the museum property. They made their own paper, silk screened their own T shirts, printed their own cards, learned about careers in our industry, and about the colleges in the area that offer graphic arts programs. They also learned that, contrary to popular to belief, paper is actually good for the earth and our forests.
News of the event went out to scout leaders in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area in February of this year and since then the word has spread across the region and across the country. One boy, George Blackwell of Troop 1457 in Fairfax Virginia, contacted Mark Barbour curator of the Museum, to sign up when he heard of the event from a blog he read online. George and his family planned their vacation around the October 29th event so he could earn these two unique merit badges.
According to Frank Ramirez at the Boy Scout Headquarters in Irving, Texas these two merit badges are among the most seldom earned among the 121 Merit Badges offered. In 2010 Pulp and Paper was earned by 5,547 boys while only 3,093 earned Graphic Arts. This year there were over 350 boys that earned both those merit badges just at the Museum.
Earning these two merit badges not only helps the boys on their path to become Eagle Scouts but it also helps plant the seed about future careers in the Printing Industry. When questioned about why they decided to spend their Saturday at the Museum most of the boys said it was because they were interested in “how stuff gets printed”. Trevor McCarthy of Troop 479 in San Diego stated “This is so cool, we never get taught this kind of thing in school. I had no idea how any of this stuff got printed and fun it is.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as most school districts across the country, discontinued teaching trades such as printing and woodworking in schools decades ago. Here the boys learn that they can earn a good living working on the on printing plant floor without a college degree. Those that do go on to college may choose a school like Fullerton College or Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo where they can study printing management where there’s a good chance of being recruited into the industry right after graduation.
Another side benefit of all these boys spending four Saturdays at the Museum this past year has been exposure for Museum’s other programs. According to Mark Barbour several families have come back for other events at the museum and have made plans to bring other scout groups including the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts next year.
Word will go out in a few months about four more “Merit Badge Days” scheduled for 2012 on February 18th, April 28th, August 25th, and October 20th. Already there are 80 boys signed up for the first event in February. If you have the time, please consider volunteering for the day, you will be making a difference in a boy’s life and perhaps influencing his choice of a career in the graphic arts or paper industry.
Go to the International Printing Museum’s Facebook Page for more pictures.