Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Thank You! Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,724 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,486 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Young Cultivator Each Other/Thank You! Beginner Level Merit Badge, I enlisted my handy-dandy, go-to, MBA newbies, Piper and Andy. No, it wasn’t just that they were the only two whippersnappers in my circle; it was actually their mother’s idea.

You see, she had noticed a bit of … well, negligent and perhaps slipshod behavior in her sweet little angels as of late.

Okay, I candy-coated it. What she really said was,

These gremlins who live with me and call me Mom have become entitled, selfish Twerpensteins with ATTITUDES. Suggestions?

Suggestions? Boy howdy, was I the farmgirl for the job!

You see, I too, have struggled with being negligent and slipshod an entitled, selfish Twerpenstein, and have recuperated nicely.

Hello, my name is MBA Jane and I am a recovering gremlin-with-an-attitude.

Hello, Jane!

I knew the root of the problem with the rugrats lay in their lackadaisical, cotton-pickin’ hearts. They needed a job, a purpose, a sense of thankfulness.

And maybe a cookie.

photo by Jason Lam via Wikimedia Commons

(Because everything—including jobs, purposes, and merit badges—go better with cookies).

In order to earn their Beginner Level badge, they simply needed to start a Gratitude Journal.

Easy peasy, lemon squeasy, righto? I mean, come on. Who doesn’t like to journal things in cute, little, cloth-bound booklets?

Evidently, Piper and Andy, that’s who.

You’d think I was pulling their teeth or forcing them to drink kale juice. The sounds of whining coming from my kitchen table practically made my ears bleed, I kid you not.

“But Auntie!” they cried, in unison, “It’s SUMMER! School is over! We refuse to learn anything! Bloody murder! I won’t do it! The pencil hurts my fingers! The paper smells weird! I need more cookies! This will give me Black Lung! You’ll be sorry when we’re dead!”

Yadda yadda yadda, etc. etc. etc., blah blah blah.

Trust me: I’ve toughened up since becoming an auntie. It’s not a job for the faint of heart. You need a will of iron, a spine of steel, a big heart, and a whole lotta chocolate chips.

After they realized I was not going to back down on this (and that their mother wasn’t going to let them come home until their attitudes changed), they cracked open their journals and buckled down. Well, sorta. Andy banged his head on the table a few more times for good measure, but after it made his eyes cross and I didn’t soften (but did hand him some ice), he sighed and got to work.

They were kind enough to let me read their lists:

  • Cookies
  • Summer vacation (or lack thereof, Auntie)
  • Wifi
  • Puppies and kittens
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Snacks
  • Mom and Dad
  • Friends
  • Slumber parties
  • Toenail polish
  • Outdoor barbeques with the neighbors
  • Horseback rides
  • Shopping
  • Holidays
  • Tree climbing
  • Blanket forts
  • Movie nights
  • Andy (don’t tell him I said that)
  • Piper (don’t tell her I said that)
  • Swimming
  • Pets
  • Pizza nights with the family
  • Vacations
  • Staycations
  • Back to school outfits and supplies
  • Lemonade stands

I thought it was a lovely list.

P.S. I may have forgotten to mention they have to write in these journals for two weeks to earn their badges.

photo by Danni Suplicki via

Ahem. Pray for me.

And send chocolate chips.


Leave a comment 2 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a comprehensive list coming from the little gremlins! Attitude journaling is also a great idea if you can get cooperation and having them take it seriously. The journal shown is beautiful and an inspiration to write in. Let us know how the project goes and if a cookie celebration day is enjoyed. I think you have an edge here;I mean very few people I know won’t work for homemade chocolate chip cookies, including me!!

  2. Krista says:

    I really like this merit badge. It seems to have even more power with Thanksgiving just right around the corner. A gratitude journal is a great way to get youngsters to come to terms with the things they truly are grateful for and potentially get them started on writing. And who can turn down cookies! Especially those chocolate chip cookies. I hope they can continue to write in their journals for 2 more weeks without as big a fuss.

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