Badgeworthy Art: Boy Scouts Get Artistic

with the help of UW-Stout students the Scouts are learning some of the basics of design, graphic arts, and screenprinting

by Jerry Poling

A group of young men recently inched closer to living out the imperative that guides them and has guided other young men like them for more than a century: Be prepared.

The Chippewa Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America brought 13 boys from seven troops to UW-Stout’s graphic communication labs for three nights to help them earn their merit badges in graphic arts.

Although learning the intricacies of printing doesn’t fall into the category of being prepared for an emergency, it helped the Scouts develop a deeper understanding about a part of the world that they might otherwise take for granted.

How are printed products designed and produced? What might a career in this field be like?

“We wanted to introduce young people to a high-growth career pathway that is vibrant and changing,” – Shaun Dudek, UW-Stout assistant professor.

“This was one way to inform and educate the Scouts about our program and assist them with earning their badge.”

Vern Caturia, Council Advancement Committee chair for the Chippewa Valley Council BSA, was happy to see Scouts learn methods of printing for publication and, at the same time, learn from young adults who aren’t much older than the young men themselves. The Scouts ranged in age from 11 to 17.

“The experience was very hands-on. Many merit badges are lacking that. Also, I think it is very important for the young Scouts to see these young college students teaching and leading the course,” Caturia said.

When the course finished in late March, the Scouts were wearing colorful T-shirts – screenprinted in a campus lab – that they helped create and produce while earning their badges.

They also worked with the latest Adobe Creative Suite software to produce covers for a sketch book, which was bound via a Standard Horizon Perfect Binder. Additionally, Scouts created and printed personalized memo pads for the badge requirement on a digital press.

UW-Stout student Nick Egan, left, helps Austin Gjestson, a Boy Scout from Menomonie, with screenprinting during a merit badge class.
UW-Stout student Nick Egan, left, helps Austin Gjestson, a Boy Scout from Menomonie, with screenprinting during a merit badge class.

They also learned through lectures, presentations, and demonstrations about printing methods and processes, including an offset press demonstration; the differences between tone, line, and halftone artwork; the differences in typefaces; how to create and store digital images; career opportunities; and other aspects of printed communications.

“My hope is that this is a start of many more events like this at UW-Stout. I believe this is a great way to teach Boy Scout merit badges because our Scouts are put in an environment that allows learning at a slower and controlled pace,” Caturia said.

He had support with the project from the Chippewa Valley Council’s Matthew Diegner, Central District executive; and Catherine Keys, council registrar.

This is the first time in many years area Scouts have come to UW-Stout to work on the badge, Dudek said. Dudek and Caturia worked for about seven months to prepare the curriculum for the classes to make sure it met badge requirements.

UW-Stout Professor Ted Bensen and lab specialist Chad Nyseth also helped throughout the project. Dudek and Bensen completed Boy Scouts of America paperwork and training to become badge counselors.

Thirteen students from the Stout Typographical Society volunteered. Lead organizers were Samantha Keller, of Goodhue, Minnesota, and Emily Thomas, of Middleton.

“The UW-Stout students had the opportunity to share their passion for their major, share their expertise with the Scouts and develop leadership skills. A few of the students have also expressed interest to one day teach in a program like ours, and this gave them first-hand experience,” Dudek said.

UW-Stout’s graphic communications undergraduate program, which recently changed its name from cross-media graphics management, prepares university students for management careers in industries associated with graphics, printing, marketing, and imaging.

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