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  • The scoutmaster and merit badges...

    Does the scoutmaster have carte blanch over merit badges or does it still have to go through a counselor? For example - let's say a scoutmaster wants to sign his own son off on several things for camping. He isn't the registered merit badge counselor for camping - can he do this as scout master?

    (The fact that this is his own son is another matter entirely - while I know it's not "forbidden" by BSA, many troops frown upon that practice)

  • #2
    I should add that the things he signed off completed the badge...


    • #3
      Only a counselor registered through the council for that particular merit badge can sign off on MB completion.


      • #4
        Actually, the Scout could probably go to any MB couselor registered for that particular MB, regardless of which council they are registered with (in the U.S.).


        • #5
          Yah, hi bearshark.

          Kenk gave yeh the correct answer. Technically, only a registered MBC for that badge can approve any requirements.

          Practically speakin' I reckon a fair number of units are a bit looser than that, particularly when it comes to something like Camping MB. Lots of the requirements for Camping MB are goin' to be stuff that the SM sees in person, eh? And stuff that the MBC might not be around for. So particularly for that badge, when there are a few remaining requirements like nights camping or goin' on a campout that did some rappelling or whatnot, I expect it's fairly common for a SM to sign for those residual requirements and just submit the badge as complete. No harm no foul.

          Now generally speakin', I think it's a bad idea for parents or other close relatives to ever sign anything off for a lad in Boy Scouting. Just raises too many issues, and deprives a lad of the experience workin' with other adults that the other boys are getting. Some troops effectively forbid it unless dad is really the only available counselor for a rare badge like Atomic Energy. But it's not forbidden by the BSA.

          But carte blanche? for any merit badge? No.

          (This message has been edited by Beavah)


          • #6
            "He isn't the registered merit badge counselor for camping - can he do this as scout master? "

            Short answer: NO.

            Slightly longer answer: That fact might not stop him. At that point, it might fall on your district and/or council advancement committee to intervene, which may or may not happen.

            Somewhat off-on-a-tangent answer: It seems logical that most SMs could be camping MBCs. Maybe the better approach here is to get the guy registered so that he can legitimately sign off on this badge.


            • #7
              In my district all SMs can sign off on certain MBs, usually the basic scouting ones like camping, hiking, backpacking, etc. While in previous years, they didn't haev to registered as MBCs, we now require them to be registered as an MBC.

              Which reminds me, gotta update the MBCs I can teach, they don't have me on the list for First Aid.


              • #8
                hmm - ok, camping wasn't the best example... Maybe Physical Fitness would have been a better one... But I understand your consensus..

                You all are a wealth of information!


                • #9
                  I have signed off on a number of merit badges over the years for my sons. However, I always got them to get some of their friends together so a group of them (say 3 or 4)could work together. That way there is no suggestion of playing fast and loose with the requirements and it makes it more fun for them.


                  • #10
                    bearshark, the answer to your question is still no. SM's are no different in this than anybody else - they are supposed to be registered as merit badge counselors if they want to have the authority to sign off on any particular badge.


                    • #11
                      Yah, there can be other things in play too, eh?

                      Some councils put limits on the number of merit badges individual MBCs can counsel. They just don't accept application for more than five or whatnot. I think it's silly myself, and no doubt within a few minutes of this post someone will holler that ACP&P says there is no limit on the number of badges a person can counsel, but the world is a big and diverse place, eh?

                      Sometimes in such an environment a Scoutmaster might be perfectly qualified to counsel Personal Fitness, but won't be signed up for it because da troop needs a Snow Sports MBC and that fills out his five, eh? So Mr. Jones signs up for Personal Fitness, but he accepts Mr. Scoutmaster's word on fulfillin' those requirements as gold. Again, no harm, no foul.

                      I like da council that did the obvious thing and just signed up all SM's as counselors for core outdoor MBs like Camping. Seems to make sense.

                      So bearshark, it just depends, eh? Gold standard is whether the lads get the full benefit of the experience and mentoring of someone who knows the topic well. Everything after that is just bureaucracy and paperwork.



                      • #12
                        I have only signed one badge for my son and it was for Pioneering which I taught to 12 boys over a weekend campout and a couple of meetings.

                        I've managed to avoid signing anything else to avoid the appearnace of anything improper. My son complains he has to earn each badge twice. Once for me and once for the MB counselor.

                        Our troop used to be real loosey goosey with badges, but over 3 years we have managed to change the culture where now we actually follow BSA policy for MBs. I hear stories about other troops earning badges super fast. That is just shortchanging the kids IMHO.(This message has been edited by knot head)


                        • #13
                          Unless the SM is a merit badge counselor, the answer is no.


                          • #14
                            In our council, all SM's are automatically camping counselors unless they choose not to be. It is recognized that most of the times they are the most qualified for this particular badge. May be that way in other councils, or might not.


                            • #15
                              If the council registers all SMs as Camping MB Counselors then they can legally sign off on requirements but bottom line is that MBCs sign completion of requirements, SM signs for readiness to start the MB and acceptance of the completed blue card from the counselor. An SM signing off requirements on the blue card should be doing so with his MBC patch on, not his SM patch.

                              I will take notes from others claiming the Scout did certain requirements (like nights camping, visitation to public official, etc.) but will spot check to make sure the Scout did the requirements to my satisfaction. If I find holes, I go back through all requirements with a fine toothed comb.