Econ Lowdown resources can help your Boy Scouts earn the Personal Management merit badge, one of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout. (This page was formerly titled "Econ Lowdown Videos Featured in Boy Scouts Merit Badge Pamphlet.")
Download the St. Louis Fed Personal Management Merit Badge Resource Guide for lesson plan ideas and links to videos designed to equip leaders with resources to engage scouts and teach them valuable financial literacy skills.
Quick links to resources in the guide:
Below is a full transcript of the audio. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.
Narrator: We’re talking today with Don Bertier of St. Louis. His 12-year-old son, Duncan, is a Boy Scout who recently earned his merit badge for personal management. The St. Louis Fed makes available all sorts of educational resources, including videos, for the scouts who want to earn this merit badge, one of the most difficult to acquire. The boys must fulfill 10 requirements, on such things as saving, budgeting, time management, investing, project management and career planning. In Duncan’s case, the work toward this badge culminated in a half-day session at a Boy Scout STEM University, where he had to prove he deserved the badge. The class was run by several St. Louis Fed volunteers, including Rich Harper.
Don: I saw the materials about the personal management activities on the Boy Scout website last summer, and then when it was a class offering for the STEM University for the fall, Duncan wanted to do it. The counselor, Rich Harper, from the Fed contacted Duncan shortly thereafter that pointed him toward several of the materials that would be some pre-work for the class. I think it was the first exposure I had to any of the public domain stuff from the Fed for education purposes, and I thought it was pretty cool how the videos were scripted. They were put on to not only inform, but to entertain to a degree. You could tell there’s a lot of effort put into making them short and meaningful. I also liked how there was the test associated with the material. I think the youth in general will do better if they know there’s going to be some accountability. And so, there were kind of two phases here. The first phase was the on-the-spot test associated with each of the video lessons, and then the second piece was when they attended the class in December and had to actually review some of what they learned in person and talk about it. That was probably the best class I’ve seen put on. They started the session off the bat, very impressively, by trying to drill home to the boys that this wasn’t about a merit badge, it was about life skills. And they went through a really good exercise that helped explain to the boys how getting good education across the board would basically give you the tools necessary. Trying to associate that the tools that you have, especially with financial literacy, and math, and science, and things like that, are going to give you better success overall in life. And then they went into the different piece parts of the merit badge. Being in small groups, having dialogue, asking the boys for their input, feedback, and what they had learned. And it was also really cool how they were very thorough about making sure the boys had done their pre-work and had fulfilled the requirements.
Narrator: And what did your son learn from this?
Don: It was his first toe in the water with some of the financial sides of the world. Candidly, middle schools, even high schoolers, nowadays don’t have a whole lot of appreciation for having to have a budget, having to plan for expenses. So, out of the gate, we looked at a three month plan of what was reasonably going to come up and what we thought was going to be needed for Duncan specifically in his interest and we had to put together, basically, a budget to meet the requirements that Rich Harper had sent out and then had to track it on, basically, a daily basis. And so, if Duncan bought something at the school cafeteria, it had to come off of his budget. And I think he learned a lot about where some of the money goes. So, time management was another good life lesson if you will. One of the things that they had to do as a pre-work exercise and then talk through was planning a schedule and then seeing where the schedule didn’t work according to plan and how you had to adjust on it. I think the stocks one was also kind of a new area of territory for him. He’s heard of stocks for a long time, but he’s never picked five companies of his own interest and gone in and done research on them and then had to talk through it with a stranger like Mr. Harper to explain why he would choose based on the information gathered on a 52 week high and low, current price, things like that, why he would choose one stock over another as a potential investment. So, I think he has better awareness of things now. Some of the stuff that he applied from the personal management gives him a little better foundation for when there’s dinner table talk about the stock markets going up and things like that.
Narrator: And what did you learn from this experience?
Don: Probably the realization that I should have probably done a better job before now of getting some of these concepts to my kid. Some of the stuff that your tools deference aren’t things that are natively being taught to kids until they probably get higher up into high school nowadays. I think getting those seeds planted earlier is probably a very important thing.
Narrator: To watch the same videos that Duncan and other Scouts have watched to earn this merit badge, go to stlouisfed.org/education and search for the words Boy Scouts.