Answer: A Merit Badge Day hosted at the International Printing Museum
Over 100 Boy Scouts signed up within 24 hours of an announcement that the International Printing Museum in Carson, California was to host a Merit Badge Day on Saturday May 7th for boys to earn their Graphic Arts and Pulp & Paper merit badge. Within five days of the announcement, we had an additional 100 boys on a waiting list!
For the past eight years I have been a merit badge counselor for the Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper merit badges. During that time I received only one call from a boy interested in getting his Graphic Arts merit badge; and he never showed up for the appointment. Witnessing the demise of graphic arts education in our school system over the past generation and watching the public condemn paper as an evil tree killer I was not too surprised that today's youth did not seem interested in our industry. Yet as the father of an eagle scout (and one myself) I knew that scouts jumped at the opportunity to further their rank advancement during "merit badge days" held throughout the city.
For the past year or so, Mark Barbour, curator at the Printing Museum, and I kicked around the idea of creating a Merit Badge Day at the museum. Recently with help from Dan Freedland of Southwest Offset, and Ethan Lipton, professor at Cal State LA, we developed a program which will be held on Saturday May 7th, the day before mother's day. Flyers were printed up and calls were made to the five Boy Scout Councils in Southern California to promote this event and a week later we were sold out with another 100 boys on a waiting list (why isn't printing this easy to sell?)
The boys will spend all day at the museum completing 21 requirements at 12 stations around the museum property. They will make their own paper, silk screen their own T shirts, and print their own mothers day card; along with earning 2 merit badges in the process. They will learn about careers in our industry and about the colleges in the area that offer graphic arts programs. They will also learn that, contrary to popular to belief, paper is actually good for the earth and the forests.
To accommodate the backlog of scouts already signed up, we have decided to offer a second Merit Badge Day on June 18th. As long as there continues to be interest by the Boy Scouts in earning the Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper merit badges, the museum will continue to host a Merit Badge Day. We currently have about 20 volunteers lined up but we still need another 20 from our industry to help out that day.