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Scott Butler Teaches Archaeology at the 2013 Boy Scout Jamboree

Aug 08, 2013

Scott Butler, Branch Chief of our Atlanta office, is not only an archaeologist and historian, but also a father to two Boy Scouts and a long-time scout leader. Mr. Butler merged his many roles this year at the 2013 Boy Scout Jamboree, where he and others helped teach the requirements of the Archaeology Merit Badge (MB).

At other Jamborees, the requirements for the Archaeology MB were taught by non-archaeologists.  Though volunteer efforts are always appreciated, Mr. Butler, and Jeanne Moe, BLM public education archaeologist, observed the efforts at the 2010 Jamboree and concluded that scouts would benefit from being taught by professional archaeologists. Ms. Moe is Director of Project Archaeology, a program funded by the Bureau of Land Management, based out of Montana State University in Bozeman. Project Archaeology uses a three-barreled approach to forward the cause of archaeology, by developing archaeology coursework for classroom teachers and museum educators; conducting workshops in using archaeology in the classroom; and providing ongoing regional mentoring between professional archaeologists and educators.

Following a request by Jeannie Moe, Robert King, BLM archaeologist from the Anchorage, Alaska office, Teresa Moyer, archaeologist from the Washington D.C. office of the National Park Service (NPS), and David Fuerst, New River Gorge National River (NPS) staff archaeologist, also volunteered to help sponsor and staff the merit badge booth in 2013.  The 2013 Jamboree was located at the new 10,600 acre BSA Summit Bechtel Reserve near Bleckley, West Virginia. The event spanned ten days (July 14-24) and had 40,000 participants. With so many days to cover, and scouts to teach, staffing the Archaeology MB booth was a team effort. Mr. Butler and Ms. Moe volunteered for the entire Jamboree, while Mr. King, Ms. Moyer, Mr. Fuerst, and others assisted throughout the event.

Over the course of nine days, the merit badge staff provided an incredible 240 scouts with 6 to 8 of the 11 archaeology merit badge requirements. The activities were offered in two hour sessions, and four sessions were offered on most days. The activities at the 2013 Jamboree provided the scouts with a substantial introduction to archaeology.  The requirements included:

·    Differentiation between archaeology and similar fields of study including geology, paleontology, history, and anthropology (Requirement 1).
·    The steps of archaeological investigation (Requirement 2).
·    Describe how archaeologists determine the age of archaeological sites (Requirement 3).
·    Archaeological stewardship dilemmas (Requirement 6a).  This activity was taken from the Intrigue of the Past (Smith et al., 1996) curriculum guide.
·    Make a list of items to include in a time capsule (Requirement 7a).
·    A “mock” excavation site for the scouts to learn how archaeologists investigate sites and draw conclusions from their data (Requirement 8c). This activity was adapted from the Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter (Letts and Moe 2012) curriculum.
·    Two types of primitive fire making; flint and steel, friction fire starting with a bow drill and spindle (Requirement 9b).
·    Investigation of careers in archaeology (Requirement 11).

In addition to teaching MB requirements, the Archaeology MB booth was often busy with interested visitors wanting to observe and participate in the activities. Ms. Moe estimates that the Archaeology staff had at least 250 additional scouts, scouting staff, and parents who visited the booth. Given its success this year at Jamboree, Mr. Butler and Ms. Moe would like to expand the number of staff at the next 2017 Jamboree, and look forward to continuing a strong partnership with NPS and other interested agencies and organizations.


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