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SeattlePioneer

Managing Merit Badge Blue Cards and Advancement

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I have occasionally thought it might be worthwhile to "issue" a new Scout with a collection of Merit Badge cards when he becomes a new Scout. Often, troop activities allow Scouts to meet merit badge requirements, but no blue card has been issued and the opportunity for credit is lost.

 

If that collection of Merit Badge cards is maintained by a Troop Advancement Chair, those requirements could be recorded easily enough. Loss of blue cards would be minimized.

 

As an example, our Troop got a nice tour of a major naval fueling depot last summer. "Visiting a Federal Facility" is one of the optional requirements for the Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge, if I'm recalling correctly. With the system I describe, those Scouts would have that requirement completed and recorded, even for a Tenderfoot Scout who hasn't begun to think about that Merit Badge.

 

Comments?

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The merit badge counselor should approve any work on the badge before any work no the badge can be started. Part of the process is for the scout is first talk to the adult and plan what he needs to do to earn the badge, not how fast he can finish the requirements.

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SeattlePioneer, your plan may make a lot of sense if there are counselors who will not count activities done before the blue card is issued--as we've heard some do for camping for example. Rather than "issuing" the cards, though, I suppose you could just suggest that scouts may want to obtain blue cards for MBs that upcoming activities may relate to.

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I just finished posting a reply to another thread in which I said that I felt we shouldnt allow semantics, wording, or punctuation interfere with delivering the Scouting Program. Now Im about to get back into something Ive struggled with since I first became a Merit Badge Counselor in 1970. Can a boy begin working on a merit badge BOFORE he meets (talks to) an approved merit badge counselor for that badge? We all have our personal positions but what is the BW (no offense intended Bob) answer to this question? Ive called, written , emailed (first two back in the 70s the latter just recently) National for some black and white, down on paper so I can hand it to who ever it is Im dealing with this time, answer to this question. The official Requirements book #33215A, page 22, below the header, in italics to set it off, has the following; "On the following pages, in alphabetical order, are the requirements for all the current merit badge subjects".  Further down the page in the section titled Call the Counselor it says( out of context) "The counselor may ask you to come see him so he can explain what he expects and start helping you meet the requirements. (Paragraph) When you know what is expected, start to learn and do the things required." Seems clear to me that this says the boy must contact a counselor before working on the badge. Now we get into the semantics, wording, punctuation, intent, letter of the law part. From everything Ive been able to pry out of National, the things written on page 22 with the exception of the italicized first paragraph are only suggestions and not intended as additional requirements to those listed On the following pages as it where. We cannot add to, take away from, nor change the requirements as written. No where under any merit badge heading does it say the boy has to contact a merit badge counselor before he starts work. Refusing work already done solely because the boy didnt speak to you first is improper. What Ive been told is that if the work presented would have been acceptable had the boy spoken with you first then not having spoken with you doesnt change the quality of that work it should still count. Of all the loop holes, and things left to interpretation this is the ONE thing I was National would once and for all state in clear bold face type so there could be no possible doubt or interpretation of Nationals position.

LongHaul

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Just to add a few points to what LongHaul said:

1. A number of specific MB requirements explicitly state that the MBC's approval is needed before doing them. That implies that this is not the case for the others.

2. For a number of requirements, it would be clearly unreasonable to require them to be done after the Blue Card is signed (such as study a foreign language for a year, or serve in a school band for six months). Yet there is nothing to set those requirements apart from others, suggesting that there is no limitation on recognizing work done before the blue card was signed.

3. BSA knows how to make it crystal clear that work is not to be done before approvals are received--look at the requirements for the Eagle Project.

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While I think The Scout's comment that Scouts should have the responsibility of managing their own cards and advancement requirements has merit, that's not, strictly speaking, a requirement for obtaining a merit badge.

 

Hunt and Long Haul's posts lend support for my bright idea of issueing and managing blue cards for and on behalf of new Scouts. If requirements specify that work must be performed after talking to a MB counselor, that should obviously be respected. But it doesn't appear to be a requirement, and helping Scouts get merit badge requirements signed off as they are done, even when the boys aren't aware of the advancement implications of the things they do seems well established as a good Scouting principle.

 

I appreciate the carful thinking and analysis of the people who posted.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

 

 

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When in doubt ...

Think about our mission, and the aims that support fulfilling that mission.

Then do the right thing.

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Seattle Pioneer, I'm having a little trouble following the benefit of what you're suggesting. It's my understanding that a scout would have a blue card and the MBC would note completion of requirements as he/she approves the work, and then, when all requirements are met, sign the blue card. I fail to see how the advancement chair (or whomever) marking requirements as complete on a blue card can suffice. I as a MBC will not sign a blue card as complete if a scout shows me one with all the requirements marked off by someone else. What I will do, is talk to the scout, go over the requirements one by one and when I am satisfied that they are met, I will record them on the card. As a MBC, that's my job, not somebody elses. This in no way implies the boy must redo the requirement again, just that the boy must show, to my satisfaction, that the requirement has been met.

 

SWScouter

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"I as a MBC will not sign a blue card as complete if a scout shows me one with all the requirements marked off by someone else."

 

When I help with uniform inspection I ask the boy "Are you wearing Scout socks?" Usually the boy pulls up his pant legs to prove that he is indeed wearing his Scout socks. I respond by telling him "I didn't ask you to pull up your pant legs. I trust that you will give an honest answer without having to prove it".

 

The message we give a boy by verifying MB requirements already completed and signed off is that we don't trust him, and we don't trust the counselor that signed the card. If we distrust our boys, we have failed in fulfilling our mission.

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Seatle Pioneer, I know it is not a requirement for scouts to keep track of their own blue cards, but I do not see any reason why you should not make them.

 

 

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At a recent Disrict meeting, we had a discussion about terminal Life scouts (the "Life for Life" syndrome). One opinion was that "we simply don't PUSH them enough...everyone, SM, ASM, and parents need to PUSH them and NAG them to complete their Eagles."

 

I, for one, disagree. If a young man can't make Eagle without having someone PUSH him, or having his SM manage his blue cards for him, then perhaps he's not Eagle material. This is the same discussion I had with my own sons, neither of whom chose to complete their Eagle on time. Their decision, not mine.

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Again--

 

Let me set the scene I am concerned about.

 

Last summer, we had a nice tour of a major Navy refueling Depot.

 

The Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge has as an option visiting a Federal facility as a requirement.

 

 

It seems to me perfectly reasonable for the Advancement Chair to have a Cit/Nation blue card for each Scout, even a Tenderfoot, and note the date that this requirement was completed.

 

Perhaps they'd want to make an additional note that describes in a bit more detail how the requirement was completed.

 

It's fine to suggest that boys should do this for themselves, but it would be a rare Tenderfoot Scout who would be aware of all the different Merit Badges and be able to imagine all the requirements they might be completing.

 

We did a boat camping trip a couple of weeks ago. Scouts completed several of the Motor Boating Merit Badge requirements in the course of the trip, but unfortunately it wasn't an organized part of the outing. Those achievements will likely go unrecognized.

 

Many Merit Badges have different typoes of requirements. Some kinds of requirements amount to basic theory, others ask to demonstrate practical ability with basic skills, others ask for performance based experience.

 

If a Scout completes a 25 mile bicycle trip on an outing, is there really anything really wrong with making a point of recording the date of that achievement so the Scout receives credit for that when he gets around to seriously earning the Merit Badge?

 

In summer camp, a number of Merit Badge classes routinely issue "partials" because while the basic theory and skills have been demonstrated, the experience type requirements can't be met in camp. If the boy brings a blue card with those requirements already clearly met, it should make the honest completion of the Merit Badge easier to certify.

 

 

In our recent district Merit Badge Jumboree, the basic skills and knowledge needed for bicycling was taught, but the experience requirements for 25 and 50 mile bicycle trips could not be met, so partials were given. I'll bet if the instructors had good evidence that those requirements had already been met they would have been glad to sign off the Merit Badge as being completed.

 

I'm not suggesting this approach to the basic theory and skills training that is commonly a part of Merit Badge requirements. There is no reason not to demonstrate those.

 

But the experience requirements e.g. 50 mile bicycle ride seem like naturals to keep track of so that Scouts receiove credit for requirements they have completed.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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"It seems to me perfectly reasonable for the Advancement Chair to have a Cit/Nation blue card for each Scout, even a Tenderfoot, and note the date that this requirement was completed".

 

SeattlePioneer unless the Advancement Chair is a Merit Badge Counselor than he/she can not sign off that a requirement has been met. Only MBC's can sign off on requirements. If you look at the blue card it says "date of approval" and "counselors initial".

 

What you could do is print off the appropriate page from a MB workbook and record dates,places,etc in the workbook.

 

FScouter it is not about trust. It is about what we as MBC's are attesting to when we sign an application for Merit Badge.

"and demonstrated to my satification the he has met all requirements for the"

It is our name,address,and signature that goes below that statement on the application for Merit Badge not someone elses.

 

"A Guide to Merit Badge Counseling" BSA pub 34532c is a source of information.

 

Merit badge workbooks can be found at

www.meritbadge.com

 

 

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Thank you ljnrsu, that is what I meant.

 

SeattlePioneer brings up another great example of my point. He wrote, "If a Scout completes a 25 mile bicycle trip on an outing, is there really anything really wrong with making a point of recording the date of that achievement so the Scout receives credit for that when he gets around to seriously earning the Merit Badge?"

 

Requirement 8 of the bicycling merit badge is:

Avoiding main highways, take two rides of ten miles each, two rides of fifteen miles each, and two rides of twenty-five miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates, routes traveled, and interesting things seen.

 

Requirement 9 is: After fulfilling requirement 8, lay out on a road map a fifty mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours.

 

Here, recording that a scout went on a 25 and 50 mile ride doesn't meet the requirements.

 

SWScouter

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