What is a community? It’s a group of people living together, sharing things like interests, activities, or even just the neighborhood park. Your community might be as close-knit as your family or as expansive as your city. In the United States, we’re part of a big patchwork of communities, each one unique.
These local communities are more than just groups of people; they’re the building blocks of our country’s government. Each community may be different, governed by its unique history, size, and geography, but they all have one thing in common: here, people get to make decisions about their community through self-government.
Whether your community is rich with history or just starting to blossom with new homes and neighbors, you have the chance to help make it better. Through earning the Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge, you’ll explore ways to be an active and good citizen, ready to make a difference right where you live.
Let’s start this journey toward understanding and contributing to your community!
Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge Requirements
|1. Discuss with your counselor what citizenship in the community means and what it takes to be a good citizen in your community. Discuss the rights, duties, and obligations of citizenship, and explain how you can demonstrate good citizenship in your community, Scouting unit, place of worship, or school.|
|2. Do the following:|
(a) On a map of your community, locate and point out the following:
– Chief government buildings such as your city hall, county courthouse, and public works/services facilities.
– Fire station, police station, and hospital nearest your home.
– Parks, playgrounds, recreation areas, and trails.
– Historical or other interesting points of interest.
(b) Chart the organization of your local or state government. Show the top offices and tell whether they are elected or appointed.
|3. Do the following:|
(a) Attend a meeting of your city, town, or county council or school board; OR attend a municipal, county, or state court session.
(b) Choose one of the issues discussed at the meeting where a difference of opinions was expressed, and explain to your counselor why you agree with one opinion more than you do another one.
|4. Choose an issue that is important to the citizens of your community; then do the following:|
(a) Find out which branch of local government is responsible for this issue.
(b) With your counselor’s and a parent’s approval, interview one person from the branch of government you identified in requirement 4a. Ask what is being done about this issue and how young people can help.
(c) Share what you have learned with your counselor.
|5. With the approval of your counselor and a parent, watch a movie that shows how the actions of one individual or group of individuals can have a positive effect on a community. Discuss with your counselor what you learned from the movie about what it means to be a valuable and concerned member of the community.|
|6. List some of the services (such as the library, recreation center, public transportation, and public safety) your community provides that are funded by taxpayers. Tell your counselor why these services are important to your community.|
|7. Do the following:|
(a) Identify three charitable organizations outside of Scouting that interests you and bring people in your community together to work for the good of your community.
(b) Pick ONE of the organizations you chose for requirement 7a. Using a variety of resources (including newspapers, fliers and other literature, the Internet, volunteers, and employees of the organization), find out more about this organization.
(c) With your counselor’s and your parent’s approval, contact the organization you chose for requirement 7b, and find out what young people can do to help. While working on this merit badge, volunteer at least eight hours of your time for the organization. After your volunteer experience is over, discuss what you have learned with your counselor.
|8. Develop a public presentation (such as a video, slide show, speech, digital presentation, or photo exhibit) about important and unique aspects of your community. Include information about the history, cultures, and ethnic groups of your community; its best features and popular places where people gather; and the challenges it faces. Stage your presentation in front of your merit badge counselor or a group, such as your patrol or a class at school.|
1. Understanding and Demonstrating Good Citizenship in Community
Citizenship in the community refers to the role of a person as an engaged and contributing member of their local society. Being a good citizen means actively participating in community activities, showing respect for laws, and fostering a spirit of cooperation and shared values. The components of good citizenship can be broken down into rights, duties, and obligations, and can be demonstrated in various contexts, such as community, Scouting unit, place of worship, or school.
- Freedom of Speech and Expression: This allows citizens to voice their opinions and ideas without fear of reprisal.
- Right to Education: Ensures access to educational resources for personal and professional growth.
- Right to Vote: Grants the ability to participate in the democratic process by electing representatives.
- Obeying Laws: Complying with the rules and regulations that govern society.
- Paying Taxes: Contributing financially to the common welfare of the community.
- Serving Jury Duty: Participating in the legal process to ensure a fair trial for peers.
- Social Responsibility: Actively seeking to improve the community through volunteer work or other positive contributions.
- Environmental Stewardship: Taking care of the natural surroundings by recycling and conserving resources.
- Civic Engagement: Engaging in political activities, such as voting or advocating for issues that matter to the community.
Demonstrating Good Citizenship
Here’s how you can demonstrate good citizenship in different aspects of life:
|Aspect||Ways to Demonstrate Good Citizenship|
|Community||Volunteer for local charities, support local businesses, participate in community events.|
|Scouting Unit||Follow the Scout Law and Oath, contribute positively to group activities, and help others within the unit.|
|Place of Worship||Respect the beliefs of others, contribute to religious community events, follow the guiding principles of the faith.|
|School||Show respect to teachers and peers, engage in extracurricular activities, adhere to school rules, and strive for academic excellence.|
Also Read: Citizenship in Society Merit Badge
2. Mapping Community Facilities and Understanding Local Governance
Understanding the layout of your community and the organization of local or state government is a fundamental aspect of being an engaged citizen.
Identifying key locations, such as government buildings, emergency services, recreational areas, and historical landmarks, helps to connect you with the infrastructure and heritage of your area.
Charting the structure of the government, including the top offices and how they are filled, provides insight into how decisions are made and who holds responsibility. This knowledge empowers you to actively participate and make informed choices in your community.
A. Locating Community Landmarks and Essential Facilities
The task of locating and pointing out various key facilities and landmarks in your community helps you understand the structure and essential functions of the place where you live. By identifying these locations, you can appreciate the roles they play in daily life and how they contribute to the well-being and cultural richness of your community.
Below, the required information is categorized and detailed:
Chief Government Buildings
- City Hall: This is the central administrative building, where local government officials operate.
- County Courthouse: The courthouse serves as the venue for county legal matters and hearings.
- Public Works/Services Facilities: These include buildings that manage and provide essential public services like water treatment, road maintenance, and waste disposal.
|City Hall||[Address or location on the map]|
|County Courthouse||[Address or location on the map]|
|Public Works/Services||[Address or location on the map]|
Emergency Services Near Your Home
- Fire Station: Provides fire-fighting services and emergency rescue.
- Police Station: Offers law enforcement and public safety services.
- Hospital: Provides medical care and emergency treatment.
|Fire Station||[Address or location on the map]|
|Police Station||[Address or location on the map]|
|Nearest Hospital||[Address or location on the map]|
- Parks, Playgrounds, and Recreation Areas: Offer spaces for leisure activities, sports, and relaxation.
- Trails: Provide walking, running, or biking paths for exercise and enjoyment of nature.
|Parks and Playgrounds||[Addresses or locations on the map]|
|Trails||[Addresses or locations on the map]|
Historical or Other Interesting Points of Interest
- These include museums, historical landmarks, art galleries, and other culturally significant locations that add to the community’s identity.
|Point of Interest||Location|
|[Name of Interest]||[Address or location on the map]|
|[Name of Interest]||[Address or location on the map]|
Mapping these locations allows residents to have a comprehensive view of their community’s layout and the essential services available. It fosters a sense of connection and awareness, reinforcing the importance of various institutions and recreational spaces that enrich daily life.
B. Exploring Local and State Government Structure
Utilizing the official locator provided by usa.gov, individuals can easily find detailed information about their local and state government structures. By navigating to the designated state’s page, typically found under the ‘government’ section in the header, one can explore the various governmental agencies and the hierarchy of offices.
The top offices usually include key positions like the governor, lieutenant governor, mayor, and attorney general. These offices are responsible for critical decision-making and administrative functions within the state or local government.
Understanding whether these positions are elected or appointed helps in comprehending how the democratic process or expert selection shapes the governance of a region.
Here’s a chart that may represent the typical organization of a state or local government:
|Governor||Elected||The head of the state oversees the executive branch.|
|Lieutenant Governor||Elected||Typically the second-highest official in the state.|
|Mayor||Elected (usually)||Chief legal officer represents the state in legal matters.|
|Attorney General||Elected (commonly)||The chief legal officer represents the state in legal matters.|
Note: The specifics may vary depending on the state or locality. Therefore, referring to the exact web page related to one’s jurisdiction is essential for accurate information.
Also Read: Citizenship in the Nation
3. Attending Local Meetings and Understanding Opinions
Being an informed and socially active citizen is an essential part of community involvement. The process of attending a local meeting and understanding the various perspectives presented offers valuable insights into how community decisions are made.
A. Attending a Meeting or Court Session
Local meetings, whether they are city, town, or county councils, school boards, or court sessions, are platforms where community issues are discussed and debated. To find a suitable meeting, you can use a simple Google search or ask your merit badge counselor for recommendations. Observing these gatherings offers you an opportunity to see governance in action.
- School Board Meeting: Understanding policies regarding education, student welfare, and school budgets.
- City Council Meeting: Discussions about urban planning, local taxes, community safety, and more.
- Court Session: Observing how justice is administered and understanding the legal process.
B. Analyzing Divergent Opinions on an Issue
Choosing an issue from the meeting where different opinions were expressed helps you develop critical thinking skills. Here’s how you might break it down:
- Identify the Issue: For instance, the school board is discussing whether to implement a new policy on school uniforms.
- Understand Different Opinions:
- Speaker A: Argues that uniforms create a sense of equality among students, reducing peer pressure based on clothing.
- Speaker B: Believes that uniforms suppress individuality and creativity, limiting students’ self-expression.
- Analyzing and Choosing a Stance: Based on the understanding of each speaker’s background, their goals, and the logic behind their opinions, you might find yourself agreeing more with one stance over the other.
Here’s a simple table representation:
|Issue||Speaker A’s Opinion||Speaker B’s Opinion||Your Stance|
|Implementing School Uniforms||Creates equality among students||Suppresses individuality and creativity||Agree with Speaker A/B|
4. Exploring a Local Community Issue
Investigating an issue that matters to your community fosters a sense of citizenship and connection. Here’s how you might approach this task:
a. Identify the Government Branch Responsible
First, choose an issue. It might be something discussed at a city or school government meeting, as these often focus on vital community concerns. For example, the issue could be “Improving Local Parks.” Research and call ahead to understand which branch is responsible for this issue; in this case, the local Parks and Recreation Department.
b. Interview a Government Official
After attending the meeting with your parents, you could introduce yourself to one of the speakers, explaining your purpose and politely asking for a short interview. Inquire about what’s being done regarding the chosen issue and how young people might contribute. Here’s a possible conversation:
- You: “Hi, my name’s [Your Name]; I’m a scout from troop [Number]. I’m working on my Citizenship in the Community merit badge and found this meeting about local parks very interesting. Could I ask you a couple of questions?”
- Speaker: “Certainly!”
- You: “Which branch of government does this program connect to? What’s being done to improve local parks? How can young people like me help?”
- Speaker: Provides insights and information.
A summary of the interview might look like this:
|Which branch of government is responsible?||Local Parks and Recreation Department|
|What’s being done to improve local parks?||New facilities, regular maintenance, community engagement programs, etc.|
|How can young people help?||Volunteering, participating in community meetings, sharing ideas, etc.|
c. Share What You’ve Learned with Your Counselor
Finally, present your findings to your merit badge counselor. This sharing fosters a deeper understanding of how local government functions and how citizens, even young ones, can actively participate in shaping their community. It’s an empowering experience that promotes responsible citizenship.
5. Learning Community Values Through Cinema
Movies can be a compelling way to explore complex themes like community engagement, empathy, leadership, and personal sacrifice. The film you choose to watch, with the approval of your counselor and a parent, should demonstrate how the actions of one or more individuals positively impact the community.
Here are some examples of movies that fit the criteria:
|Follow Me Boys||1966||2hr 11min||7.2|
|Pay it Forward||2000||2hr 3min||7.2|
|He Named Me Malala||2015||1hr 28min||6.9|
|Remember the Titans||2000||1hr 53min||7.8|
|The Blindside||2009||2hr 9min||7.6|
|Facing the Giants||2006||1hr 51min||6.6|
|Hidden Figures||2016||2hr 7min||7.8|
|Mr. Holland’s Opus||1995||2hr 23min||7.3|
|Dark Waters||2019||2hr 6min||7.6|
|The Kite Runner||2007||2hr 8min||7.6|
|The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind||2019||1hr 53min||7.6|
After watching your chosen film, take a moment to reflect on the protagonist, their mission, the sacrifices they made, and the broader message about community involvement. Write a brief summary and be prepared to discuss these aspects with your merit badge counselor.
If you watch Zootopia:
- Protagonist: Judy Hopps
- Mission: Promote harmony and solve a mystery
- Sacrifices: Personal struggles, overcoming bias
- Community Message: The importance of empathy, understanding, collaboration, and respecting diversity.
By engaging with these films, you’ll learn about different facets of community involvement and citizenship. These insights can inspire you to recognize and act upon opportunities to contribute positively to your community, reinforcing the principles of good citizenship.
6. Community Services Funded by Taxpayers
Taxpayer-funded services play a crucial role in the overall well-being, safety, and growth of a community. By investing in these essential facilities, the community ensures that its citizens have access to educational, recreational, and safety services that promote unity, prosperity, and overall satisfaction. The importance of some of these common services is highlighted below:
|Service||Importance to the Community|
|Libraries||Promotes literacy and lifelong learning; provides access to books, computers, and other educational resources.|
|Recreation Centers||Offers activities that promote physical health, well-being, and social interaction; fosters community engagement.|
|Parks||Provides green spaces for relaxation, exercise, and social gatherings; enhances the aesthetic appeal of the community.|
|Public Schools||Ensures access to education for all children; prepares future generations for success in various fields.|
|Road Repair Work||Maintains infrastructure for safe and efficient transportation; helps prevent accidents.|
|Emergency Response Services||Provides immediate assistance during emergencies, such as medical crises or natural disasters; saves lives and protects property.|
|Art Installations||Beautifies public spaces; fosters creativity and cultural appreciation; can attract tourists.|
|Public Landscaping||Enhances the visual appeal of community areas; promotes environmental stewardship.|
|Community Recreation Activities||Encourages community bonding and inclusivity; offers enjoyable leisure opportunities.|
These services, funded by taxpayers, are fundamental in creating a thriving community where individuals feel connected, safe, and proud to be part of. They foster growth and cohesion, ensuring that the community continues to prosper and adapt to the changing needs of its citizens.
Also Read: Eagle Required Merit Badges
7. Volunteering and Community Engagement
Engaging with the community through charitable organizations can provide a transformative experience for both individuals and their communities. These organizations often rely on volunteers to carry out their missions and create positive change.
By identifying and aligning oneself with groups that serve the community’s needs, individuals can play a part in improving the lives of those around them.
The following details will outline the process of identifying organizations that resonate with your interests, researching one in-depth, and participating through volunteer work, thus allowing you to contribute directly to the betterment of your community.
A. Identifying Charitable Organizations in Your Community
Charitable organizations serve as the backbone of many community support systems. They offer unique opportunities for individuals to volunteer and make a tangible difference in the lives of others. Here are three such organizations where community members can come together for the common good:
- Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens: These places are often in need of volunteers to help distribute food, collect supplies, and assist guests. The selfless act of providing basic necessities to those in need fosters empathy and community connection.
- Local Libraries: Volunteering at a library can be an enriching experience. Tasks may include reshelving books and assisting visitors in finding resources. Libraries often act as community centers, offering education and entertainment to people of all ages.
- Humane Societies and Adoption Centers: For animal lovers, these organizations present a wonderful opportunity to help. Connecting animals with loving homes is a rewarding way to contribute and ensure the well-being of local animal populations.
|Organization||Roles & Responsibilities||Community Impact|
|Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens||Distribute food, collect supplies||Provide sustenance and comfort to needy|
|Local Libraries||Provide sustenance, and comfort to needy||Promote education, community engagement|
|Humane Societies & Adoption Centers||Help in adoption, care for animals||Connect animals with loving homes|
These organizations offer varying paths to contribute to your community. By aligning your interests and skills with the right organization, you can be a part of impactful change and foster a sense of community spirit.
B. Selecting a Charity for Volunteering
Selecting a charitable organization for volunteering is not just about offering your time; it’s about aligning your passion, skills, and values with an organization that shares similar goals. Here’s a guide to help you pick and understand more about a charitable organization:
- Research Online: Begin by researching the organization’s mission, methods, and community impact. Websites, social media platforms, and online reviews provide valuable insights.
- Locate the Headquarters: Use tools like Google Maps to find their local branch or office.
- Contact the Organization: Call them up and have a conversation with an employee. Here are some questions you can ask:
- What are the responsibilities for new volunteers?
- How does your organization benefit our community?
- What is the process to start volunteering?
- Assess and Plan: If the organization aligns with your interests, plan out 8 hours within the next three weeks to volunteer.
|Step||Action & Questions||Purpose|
|Research Online||Explore mission, methods, impact||Understand organization’s core values|
|Locate the Headquarters||Use Google Maps, find contact||Ease of communication, personal approach|
|Contact & Inquire||Responsibilities, benefits, volunteering||Get detailed information, assess fit|
|Assess and Plan||Schedule 8 hours of volunteering||Commit to service, align schedule|
Taking these steps ensures that your volunteering experience is not only fulfilling but also closely aligned with your interests and values. It prepares you for an engaged and effective role within the organization, contributing positively to the community.
C. Volunteering Experience and Reflection
Organization Selected for Volunteering: ABC Charity
Stage 1: Understanding the Task and Preparing
- Responsibilities: Assisting in various activities, monitoring personal preferences, and tracking hours.
- Expectations: To notice what tasks I enjoyed, to understand how my work impacts the community, and to complete 8 hours of service.
Stage 2: The Volunteering Experience
- Activities and Personal Reflection:ActivityHours SpentEnjoymentImpact on CommunityServing food3 hoursLikedFed 100 people in needSorting donations2 hoursDislikedOrganized essential itemsAwareness campaigns3 hoursLikedEducated the public
Stage 3: Post-Volunteering Reflection
- How did the organization promote good citizenship within the community?
- Encouraging community involvement
- Providing essential services to those in need
- Educating the public about important issues
- How did my work directly impact the community?
- Directly assisted people in need
- Contributed to organizational efficiency
- Raised awareness
- Plans for Future Volunteering: Yes, I plan to volunteer again and focus on areas I enjoyed.
Volunteering at ABC Charity has been an eye-opening experience. I was not only able to offer my time and efforts to a noble cause but also gain insights into my preferences and inclinations toward certain tasks.
The reflection process allowed me to understand how the selected charitable group promotes good citizenship and how my work directly impacted those in need. It has brought a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, knowing that those I helped value my efforts.
I also learned valuable lessons about myself, which will be instrumental in my future career choices. The experience has further ignited a desire to continue contributing to my community.
Also Read: Citizenship in the World
8. Creating a Community Presentation
To effectively develop a public presentation about the unique aspects of your community, you can utilize digital tools like PowerPoint or Prezi. Start by gathering information on the history, cultures, ethnic groups, best features, popular gathering spots, and challenges faced by your community. Libraries and the Internet are great resources for this research.
Research is the backbone of your content. Dive deep into the annals of your local library or explore online archives to understand the history of your community. Address its inception, key historical events, and how it evolved over time. Highlight the diverse cultures and ethnicities that enrich your community’s fabric. This paints a vivid picture of its multifaceted nature.
Don’t forget to showcase popular landmarks and gathering spots. These are the heartbeats of any community, often serving as common grounds for events, celebrations, and daily interactions. However, no community is without its challenges. Address this head-on, discussing issues like infrastructure needs, cultural tensions, or economic challenges.
For a clearer representation, you might consider tabulating some of this information:
|History||Brief on the formation, key events, and growth of the community.|
|Cultures & Ethnicities||List down the major cultural groups and their unique traditions.|
|Popular Spots||Mention parks, museums, theaters, or any popular gathering spots.|
|Challenges||Discuss any infrastructure, economic, or social challenges faced by the community.|
Once your presentation is ready, rehearse it to ensure a smooth delivery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Citizenship in the Community merit badge is a part of the Boy Scouts of America program, focusing on educating Scouts about civic responsibilities, understanding their community, and encouraging active participation in community improvement.
Requirements include understanding community roles, volunteering, learning about local government, exploring community history and culture, and more. Specific guidelines are provided by the Boy Scouts of America.
Scouts can explore local charitable organizations, community centers, schools, and religious institutions to find volunteer opportunities that align with the requirements of this merit badge.
Scouts can research online, talk with community leaders, visit local libraries, and engage with community members to gain insights into the challenges faced by their community.
Acceptable presentations can include videos, slide shows, speeches, digital presentations, or photo exhibits, creatively showcasing the community’s unique aspects.
Volunteering at local non-profits, community clean-up projects, assisting in shelters, or working with educational institutions can fulfill the requirements.