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The first-ever East Central University Boy Scout Merit Badge Fair on Dec. 5 [SATURDAY] will offer scouts ages 11 -18 the opportunity to either begin or complete three merit badges on the ECU campus.

"Merit badges are meant to be educational, fun and an opportunity for career exploration for boy scouts," said Dr. Pat Fountain, ECU professor of business administration, Eagle Scout and an active scouter. "What better place than a college campus to give scouts a chance to see facilities, perform experiments, do projects and meet with folks who work or will work in the field the merit badge explores?"

The merit badge fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and is sponsored by the Arbuckle Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and ECU's Center of Continuing Education and Community Services. The cost is $10 per scout.

ECU faculty, staff and students will serve as merit badge instructors. Much of the merit badge fair is being coordinated by the ECU Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team. Claudia Gamarra, a senior business administration major from Asuncion, Paraguay, is the SIFE Team project leader. Her biggest job has been to select merit badges to be offered and to line up organizations and individuals to serve as instructors.

"For scouts to earn three merit badges in a day is a rare opportunity that we hope to give them this year and in the future," Gamarra said. "With 18 different merit badges being offered we think there will be plenty of variety for new scouts as well as those who have been around for awhile."

"With the work Claudia has done," Fountain said, "and the efforts of Charlee Lanis in the Center of Continuing Education and Community Services, this is really looking like a great ECU event that will benefit a lot of scouts."

Fountain also is ECU's service learning director who is always looking for opportunities for ECU students to participate in projects that meet the needs of the community while allowing them to reflect on their experiences and learn something related to their field of study.

"We have identified merit badges relevant to student organizations at ECU and asked these organizations to serve as instructors as a community service," said Fountain. "So, the merit badges will be taught by folks who are well qualified and excited about what they are doing."

Fountain hopes to draw other scouts in addition to those from the local Arbuckle Area Council. Scouts may attend as individuals or as a part of a group. Inquiries have already been received from leaders of scout troops in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Oklahoma City.

While several of the merit badges can be completed at the merit badge fair, others will allow scouts to leave with all but a requirement or two completed. Many of the badges require work to be done for time frames ranging from a few hours to a few months and will need to be done at home. The scouts' home leaders will sign off on the parts done at home either before or after the merit badge fair. ECU merit badge instructors will sign off on the things done at ECU in the same way that many summer camp merit badges are done, Fountain said.

"Getting what is known in the scout world as a 'partial' is nothing to worry about," he explained. "The guys will just get home and get the last of the requirements done so they can receive their merit badges."

Merit badge classes will be offered in art, American labor, chemistry, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, composite materials, computer, disability awareness, entrepreneurship, environmental science, fingerprinting, journalism, law, leatherwork (with additional $10 fee), painting, salesmanship, scholarship and sculpture.

Student organizations involved include the Art Club, Chemistry Club, Young Democrats, Environmental Health Sciences Club, CPU (Computer) Club, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team, The Black Thread Society (formerly ECU Students with Disabilities), Alpha Phi Sigma and Lambda Alpha Epsilon criminal justice honor societies, ECU Journal, Legal Professions Association and the Collage dance ensemble.

A registration form and more information about the fair are available at For more information, contact Fountain at 580-559-5270 or Charlee Lanis at the Center of Continuing Education and Community Services at 559-5457 or

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