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Scoutmaster as Merit Badge Counselor? To have another ASM sign off completed card?

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  • Scoutmaster as Merit Badge Counselor? To have another ASM sign off completed card?

    I'm a new MBC coordinator for our District. Of course, it's after hours and I have a very good question from a leader that I cannot answer. Hoping someone here can help (of course, it's Fri evening!).

    Here's the question: ~~Do you know if there are any limitations or restrictions for the merit badge process when a SM is also a MBC? For example, should another unit leader (Advancement Chair or ASM) sign the final approval on the blue card if the SM served as the MBC? Or, should a SM not serve as a MBC for Scouts in his troop?
    I looked through the Guide to Advancement and did not see anything that covered this situation. Thanks.

    Anyone have a penny for this thought? I'm completely baffled, as this has never come up in our Troop in the 5+ yrs I've served as Committee Chair.

  • #2
    So the idea behind the "Adult Association" piece of Scouting is for the Scouts to see how lots of different Adults practice leadership, the Oath & Law and etc. In my personal view as an SM, I will not counsel Merit Badges. The Scouts have plenty of chances (probably too many) to see me in "action." Both I and our Boards of Review strongly encourage the Scouts to not come forward with books showing only one or two Adults are signing off on all their Advancement Requirements. I have recently started giving our Scouts a list of 5 potential Merit Badge Counselors which includes only one Adult from the Troop and a bunch of Adults in the District who have signed up for that Merit Badge.

    Now, none of that answers your question - but as far as I know there is absolutely nothing that prevents a Scoutmaster from also serving as a Merit Badge Counselor. I just think it's a bad idea. I'd encourage you to talk with your SM about that aspect going forward, but certainly not to delay getting the Blue Card processed of course.

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    • #3
      My personal opinion is that NO MBC should be Unit Specific. If you are unwilling to Teach a Merit Badge to all Scouts you should not be teaching. However there is no rule against it..

      Is there a Rule preventing a SM from being a MCB..No
      Does it call into question the SM integrity if he only teaches a MB to his Scout...to me yes, especially if it is a required Eagle.

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      • #4
        I tend to think differently. Of the folks in your neighborhood, is the SM the ideal counselor for the badge? That really should be all you need to know.

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        • #5
          I agree with Qwazse. The important thing IMO is for the Scout to get the best experience at that badge. If his SM is the best teacher, most knowledgeable, etc, that is an ideal situation. Our district does have a rule no counselor can counsel more than 5 badges, and only 3 Eagle-required badges. I think it is a good policy.

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          • #6
            Former SM has a ski boat and would have an outing at the lake every year. Seemed natural for him to be a Watersports MBC. Also at our summer camp any unit leader can serve as a Cooking MBC, does not even need to be registered as a MBC.

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            • #7
              As a SM and counselor I have a general rule of thumb for myself regarding the badges for which I am listed. If it is non-Eagle, I will counsel my own scouts, though they may find I am harder than another might be. While I am listed for 3 citizenships, I try to NOT do those unless a very unforeseen issue arises, which has happened only a couple of times related to one requirement and original counselor unavailable. I DO try to be the normal approver for Camping, as I see that as one I really need to do. But, I could sign any of them, but it would not look good if all my scouts had citizenships signed by me. I also do reading, Scouting Heritage, and scholarship.

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              • #8

                Thank you all for chiming in. I appreciate your answers more than I can express.

                I finally found somewhat of an answer in the Guide to Advancement - where it does state on page
                45, section 7.0.0.3 (the gray sidebar on the right column) which essentially states that a SM can delegate authority
                to a knowledgeable ASM or other unit leader for preliminary MBC duties (advising Scout, interviewing for interest, recommending MBC, etc.). This individual would then sign the blue card in lieu of the SM.

                I have further discovered the question is posed by a incoming SM, who is already advising a Scout or two on MBC he is already MBC for. Makes sense now that the full back-story has been revealed to me!

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                • #9
                  I don't think the "delegate" applies directly to your question. GTA "delegate" statements are so that the scoutmaster is not over burdened in a big troop or so that scouts are not delayed if the scoutmaster is absent.

                  Strictly speaking, there is no issue.

                  --- The pre-signature is not an "approval". It's just that the scout is registered in the unit and can work on the badge.

                  --- The MBC signature is absolute in reflecting the MB is complete. If the scoutmaster is good with the topic, great. He can register as the MBC and teach it. Plus, it's a nice way to get to know your scoutmaster better.

                  --- The post-signature is also not an "approval". It's proof. The troop returns the "applicant" section of the blue card to the scout (immediately) with the unit leader signature, Then if the troop loses their part, the scout can show his portion with the unit leaders signature to prove he handed it in and that they received it.

                  I'd hope that every MB is not counseled by the SM, but, one or two, fine.

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                  • #10
                    Fred, I think, is correct. I also agree with jpstodwftexas regarding willingness to counsel other boys in the district. I can say that I never earned a single MB with a troop leader of any kind. All of my MB efforts involved me calling a counselor from the district list, mostly persons I'd never met, and arranging their agreement to counsel me on that badge and when and how to meet. Then my parents drove me to the home or other location of the MBC. Later when I could drive, I drove myself. Most of them were earned outside of summer camp too.
                    Things seem to have changed greatly since then.
                    I am on the district list of counselors for all the natural history stuff. I have never been asked by a single scout from any other troop to counsel them. Heh, heh, with respect to Environmental Science, the word is out on me for that one...I'm hard. I actually require the 'requirements'. Instead,.take it at summer camp where you can basically sleep while your high school buddy on the staff signs off on your MB. Fine by me. Things have sure changed.

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                    • #11
                      Ideally the SM should not be a MBC for his own scouts. If the SM needs to be a MBC for his own scouts the ethical thing would be to have an ASM, or MBC who is not the subject matter expert for this MB, verify completion and sign off as MBC with the SM signing his usual spot.

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                      • #12
                        The SM's responsibility is to provide a program of growth. If being a MBC is the only way a SM can fill a void for a scouts growth, then I think it is within their duties. Barry

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                        • #13
                          Barry, I agree, but there are checks and balances for a reason. Ethics dictate that he also act to preserve the checks and balances.

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                          • #14
                            What are National's published checks and balances for a SM being a MBC? Barry

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                            • #15
                              There right there on the Blue Card ... it requires signatures of separate people for a reason.

                              In the case in question it's likely no one's taking advantage, and that thought never occurred. However, it's important to prevent in the appearance of impropriety.

                              If the SM is the only choice for MBC for a specific badge, where's the downside in having an ASM handle the typical SM part of the transaction? The up side is everyone's behinds are covered. For an official ruling on how to do things go to the District Advancement Chair.

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