Michael S Kauffmann -- Service to the Boy Scouts

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Hands-On Scouting Work

When my son was born, I thought Boy Scouting would be a great program for him. I was so determined that I started working with the Scouts when my son was only two years old. (Boys can't join until first grade.) Prior to my son's involvement, I worked with Troop 626, Troop 552, and Pack 108. After my son got involved, I worked for Pack and Troop 179 where he spent his entire Scouting career.

About half way through my son's time in Scouting, my commitment to the program was recognized and people began suggesting that I begin working with adult training. From the early 90s to around the turn of the century, I spent most of my time working with and training adults. I did this both as a member of many training staffs as well as in support positions such as Unit Commissioner, Roundtable Commisioner, and District Camping Chairman. During this time, not only did I train others but I received a significant amount of training in how to teach others.

Eventually I returned to working directly with boys as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 108. I took over as Scoutmaster during the summer of 2004 and currently still serve in that role. For more information about my Scouting career, go to http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/User:Optimist.

Scouting Web Development

I began messing sround with web sites in the mid 90s. My orginal web site was called the Optimistic Connection and it contained information about my two favorite programs, the Optimist Club and Boy Scouts. Since my Boy Scouting info was extremely popular, I decided to create a web site totally devoted to it and in 1997 MeritBadge.com was born.

MeritBadge.com was a huge success and it grew exponentially. My workload increased and I began to receive lots of email, as many as 100 messages in a day. Needless to say, being just a volunteer running a volunteer web site, I didn't need to be the be-all/end-all resource for people in the Scouting program. Because of this, I created discussion forums. In 2004, I moved those forums to their own web site, MeritBadge.net.

In the end, because of MeritBadge.com's huge growth and popularity, I decided I had to come up with a way to work with others as a group. With the popularity of Wikipedia, I decided that might be the right way to go. I set up MeritBadge.org as a test site and invited some friends and associates to lend a hend. The test was a huge success and in early 2005 I officially unveiled MeritBadge.org to the world. I eventually shut down MeritBadge.com in favor of this replacement.

The above three sites represent my most significant contributions to Scouting on the web. My site is generally recognized as one of most popular privately owned Scouting related web site in the would, sometimes beating out but generally running a close second to the U.S. Scouting Service Project. I enjoy a great working relationship with the guys at U.S. Scouts and we provide mutual support.

In addition to the above, I authored several other Scouting sites. The Atlanta Area Council's camping committee advertised for someone to develop the council's first official web site to promote Summer Camp. I took this project on and simply converted their printed materials (which were substantial) into web pages. The original site was abandoned when the council decided to create a web site promoting all of their activities. However, they eventually went back to using a seperate web site for summer camp promotions.

In 2002, I suggested Troop 108 start its own web page which I then developed. I suggested the same for Pack 108 a few years later, developing a starter page, but they really never showed any interest. Eventually, the troop's web site was converted to a wiki similar to my MeritBadge.org efforts. I also developed my district's web site.

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