Jump to content

How long can boys take to complete a merit badge?

Recommended Posts

CalicoPenn writes:

"Scouts may work on a merit badge with one, two, three (as many as he wishes) counselors. If a Scout already has some requirements completed and signed off on in his blue card, those requirements have been met and the new counselor can't retest on them - though s/he can spot quiz - but upon spot quizzing, can't remove a requirement from the completion column if the counselor isn't happy with the answers."


Is there some statement in BSA literature supporting this idea? I don't find it in the Guide for Merit Badge Counselors (at least the online version I was looking at). What I find is that the MBC must be "satisfied" that the requirements have been met. If a MBC is not satisfied by an illegible sign-off from an out-of-council summer camp three years ago that the scout can't really remember, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask that the requirement be done for the new counselor. Similarly, if I know that Mr. X recognizes nights camping in the back yard for the Camping MB and I don't, I may not accept Mr. X's signoff on that requirement without a bit more discussion. I certainly agree that a new MBC shouldn't require a scout to start over or redo a requirement just because it was done with a prior MBC--but I can't agree that the new MBC can't retest a signed-off requirement when he isn't satisfied that it has been done.

Link to post
Share on other sites

With respect to acceptance of signed off requirements on "partials", I think much depends on the paricular MB. For a MB like basketry or riflery, I see little value in requiring the scout to make another basket, or to shoot another round, if those requirements have been initialled by another counsellor. I counsel the first aid MB. I do not believe it is in a scout's best interest to accept signoff on First Aid individual requirements if it is apparent that the scout does not know the skills. Sure, he may have been able to apply a splint to a particular injury or to identify the signs of a heart attack 9 months ago as part of a large group at summer camp going through the requirements en masse. But he may have not learned the skill, and I as a counsellor have done him no favors if I don't make sure that he knows those skills.

Last year I did work with a scout that had worked on First Aid MB at summer camp. For some reason that I don't know; the boy's blue card was missing. He asked me if I would sign a blue card for him. The tact I took was in the initial meeting, I explained that I believed that scouts were trustworthy, and if he said that he had completed the requirements at camp, I believed him. I went on to explain that I as a MB counsellor was also expected to be trustworthy, and when I put my signature on the card, BSA is trusting me to have verified that everything was completed. We worked out an agreement where the scout could have the opportunity to demonstrate the requirements to me without going through lessons, and then I would help him learn those skills that he could not perform. He agreed. Unfortunately, he knew very few of the skills that had been taught at his classes at summer camp. Fortunately, this was an opportunity for the scout to really learn important skills.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scouts may work on a merit badge with one, two, three (as many as he wishes) counselors. If a Scout already has some requirements completed and signed off on in his blue card, those requirements have been met and the new counselor can't retest on them - though s/he can spot quiz - but upon spot quizzing, can't remove a requirement from the completion column if the counselor isn't happy with the answers.


Yah, that's just not accurate, eh? There's no provision in any of the BSA program for a boy to work with more than one counselor. Nor would we want boys to be counselor-hopping.


"To the fullest extent possible, the merit badge counseling relationship is a counselor-Scout arrangement in which the boy is not only judged on his performance of the requirements, but receives maximum benefit from the knowledge, skill, character, and personal interest of his counselor." - National Executive Board (quoted in #33088D).


The purpose of the MB program is to develop a relationship between one counselor and a boy.


In describing the process, #33215B states:


"The counselor may ask you to come see him so he can explain what he expects and start helping you... when you know what is expected, start to learn and do the things required."


In other words, each counselor has what he expects... his interpretation and expectations for each requirement, which a boy should know at the beginning of the relationship. Those might differ between counselors, or not be clear from the written text.


"The counselor will ask you to do each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required. When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application."


The counselor in that relationship will make sure you can do the things required, and only when he is satisfied that you have met each requirement will he sign your application.


No provision for partials. Nothing about having to accept another counselor's signoffs; no statement about not retesting.


It's all about developing a mentoring relationship that challenges a boy so that the Scout gains "the kind of self-confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal, and learns career skills, develops socially, and may develop physical skills and hobbies that give a lifetime of healthy recreation."


"So-called partials" aside, the main question was just how long do you give a Scout to earn the badge they started working on? BSA regs are clear on this - they have until they are 18 - and councils, districts and troops can't change that rule.


Yah, sure, they have until they're 18 to finish anything, eh? But when was the last time you set aside a project for 4 years and then came back to it? It's pretty much like startin' from scratch. Then think about how much the boy has changed in those 4 years. It's certainly not the kind of mentoring relationship and learning that the BSA is talkin' about when it lays out the MB program.


So there's nothin' wrong with a counselor or a unit usin' "soft" deadlines to help boys recognize the underlyin' reality and spurrin' them to move along. It's what we call "teachin'".


And when workin' with a counselor who's giving his time for you, stayin' in touch and being timely is also what we call "courteous."



Link to post
Share on other sites

The only time that there is a time limit is when national changes the requirements, and decrees that you only can use the old requirements until a certain date. They do not do this very often. Usually if a boy starts with a set of requirements, he can finish with them. If they change in the mean time he can choose to use the old ones, or start over with the new ones.


MB's like rifle and lifesaving can take two summer camps to earn. He still has an open shotgun, which I don't think he'll ever get enough "good" targets to finish.


Link to post
Share on other sites

All I can tell you is what they taught me at PTC this summer.


Partial Merit Badge work is fine. It is very acceptable to think that a boy could start a badge with a staff member from a summer camp (that might actually not be from his Council) and then get home and find a counselor for that badge so he may finish. This relationship is to only work on those items the Scout has not yet finished. The conselor may retest on previously completed items only when he feels that there might not be a working knowledge of the prerequisite items that are still left unsigned.


This could help motivate a Scout to finish up, since if the Counselor turns up an area where you are exposed to doing more work again, wouldn't it be better to finish this up??


Hope this helps.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...