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Problem with scouts not awarded merit badges

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>>Are you certain about that? The signature by the SM is permission to start work, and he's to give the name of a registered MBC, but I don't know anywhere where it is stated that the SM has to approve the selection of the MBC.

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I would agree with Barry that the signature of the SM is approval to start work on the MB, but not approval of the MBC. That is not the SM's call. The MBC the SM puts on the blue card should already be approved by the DAC. The SM is indicating he is approving the Scout's use of this counselor.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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In the Introduction to Merit Badges found at http://www.scouting.org/boyscouts/resources/32215/mb/index.html it says that, "your Scoutmaster will give you the name of a person from a list of counselors..."


It doesn't say who manages that list but the Introductory Guide for Merit Badge Counselors located at http://www.scouting.org/boyscouts/resources/mbc/ says that counselors must register through, "[their] BSA local council."


If someone knows of a specific policy that says a Scoutmaster must not limit the list of counselors to a subset of those registered through his local council that are in his unit, please reference the policy.


I'd have to agree with earlier comments that the unit really needs to do a good job communicating that they will only accept blue cards from merit badge counselors who are ***ALSO*** registered with their unit. However, I'm not finding anything that says this is a violation of national policy--they're still applying the aims and methods.


I personally can not endorse a policy like this because I do not believe a single unit can register enough individuals whose vocation/avocation qualifications and special training make them experts in all 132 topics offered by the program (my council is the GSLAC and it can't even do that) and I think it would limit the boys' access to a wealth of knowledgeable resources out there and their ability to explore those topics.


I would prefer to use the list provided by my council and do the necessary research to match the right counselor to a boy in my unit interested in a merit badge.

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There are two sides to this equation. I do understand the troops concern and the adult leaders should be showing up at summer camp MB's just to have a look see. I would however be in extremely displeased if a troop denied a scout a shooting sports MB. All of these have specific scores that need to be achieved to qualify. While some scouts find them very easy others struggle and struggle to qualify. Most troops lack the venue, trained personnel and equipment to do any of these on their own. All of us must remember that a MB is an introduction to a subject. A little longer and more detailed than a simple introduction hoping to strike a cord in a young man of an interest which may become a lifelong vocation or avocation. The idea is to expose them to different disciplines and along the way different adults that are masters or journeyman at that discipline so they may find something that they excel at. To expect a young man to master any of the merit badge disciplines is a stretch. For example the young man that shoots 5 qualifying targets for rifle merit badge has done so from the least demanding position under close to ideal conditions. Is that young man ready to be a rifle team member or a range official? Not yet but if he is interested and continues to learn and improve maybe some day down the road.

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I would however be in extremely displeased if a troop denied a scout a shooting sports MB.


Around here, it's most common for SM's from very active, effective troops to limit a few summer camp MB's. First Aid is common. So are badges like Citizenship in the Community which shouldn't be offered at camp in the first place. Shooting sports isn't really an issue.


But if a unit had an excellent in-troop archery or rifle instructor, where's the harm? The boy does his qualification rounds at camp, but gets a double-check and extra reinforcement on firearm safety and handling back in the troop, because da troop cares a lot about making sure that's done well. Up here in da great white north, it's fairly common for Boy Scout aged lads to go hunting, and be using a rifle in non-range environments. How is a kid harmed by gettin' an extra dose of safe handling checkout that isn't done immediately after the original instruction - so that it actually has to be remembered for somethin' longer than 10 minutes?


I've been at camps where the archery instructors were either inept or just overwhelmed. Now I'm fairly well known 'round these parts, so I took 'em over and recruited a few other folks to help. The young "counselor" was relieved. But that option doesn't help an average unit.


Point is, the place to start is to begin by imaginin' our fellow scouters are good guys and gals, and that they might actually have a good reason for doin' what they're doin'.





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Complaining to your unit commissioner is premature, based on the fragmentary information we are all opining about. The unit may well be within its rights to reject sign offs by some merit badge counselors and for all I know the merit badge program at the camp in question truly stinks. That does not excuse the troop from failing to communicate its policy before the troop went to summer camp and the boys signed up for merit badges. At a minimum the scoutmaster owes you a very specific conversation about all this. If he or she will not talk to you then you work your way up the ladder. I tend to agree with some posters that the policy and apparent attitude of the troop is questionable, but none of us has enough information right now.


Some folks have dismissed merit badges as just pieces of cloth. That is an unfortunate attitude. We have to take these thinks seriously. We either believe in BSA and its methods or we do not. If we do not take these things seriously the boys will not either.

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We're all concerned about merit badge factories and this troop found a way to deal with it. Is it the best way? Who knows?


But it sounds like their implementation is a problem (3MB were awarded for 25 scouts; you didn't know until the CoH). So, you found a troop that doesn't run perfectly. Welcome to the club.


What to do now? Try to change everything at once? Piss off the leaders by coming in with a flame thrower?


I joined a troop years ago that had some issues, but what troop doesn't? I lived with it and slowly made positive changes. Those changes were welcome because I registered, took the bad with the good, and put in time helping the troop wherever it needed help (not focusing on my scout). I earned their trust and then made polite suggestions. Now I'm a driving force instead of the guy spitting into the wind.


Unfortunately, our human instincts often send us on a course of animosity. This is outrageous! Call National! Teach him a lesson! Whenever you find yourself plotting to put someone in his place, think long and hard.


You could start by offering to help with the implementation process, not trying to kill the whole thing (at which you'll likely fail).


So now you have a decision. Take the long view or find another troop. Only you can judge which is right for your situation.


Good luck.

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Having been taken to the woodshed in a PM, let me apologize for my unfortunate choice of words. I agree, my comment was un-scoutlike. Not having actually seen the Leaders' Stanford-Binet IQ scores, I have no idea if they are "morons" or not, which is a specific medical diagnosis.


Let me just state that we have no such "rules" in our Troop, nor would I be associated with any troop that does. If the scout follows the prescribed process and produces a signed blue card, that's all I need to present the "worthless piece of cloth". A Scout is Trustworthy and if he says he completed the requirements, and the registered MBC agreed, then it's done. That's the BSA program, as I learned it.


One of the unstated "ground rules" of this forum is that we respond to the "facts" we are presented with, realizing that there is always a "backstory" that we are not aware of. The original poster chose the name of FoxPatrol, from which I perhaps incorrectly inferred that he was a beaded Wood Badger and knew from whence he spake, rather than being a new, naive over-protective "helicopter parent" as Beavah assumes. Could be that both of us are wrong. OGE and eisely have eloquently echoed what I was thinking, in my own not-so-PC way.


He stated, "Turns out he was not awarded them because the Troop does not recognize any completions from any counselors outside the Troop because they DO NOT trust anyone other than their own counselors. This goes for all BSA Summer camps, Merit badge universities or any other counselor outside the troop. Whatever merit badge the scout works on at either camp or merit badge university they are required to prove to the troops own counselors that they completed the requirements."


So this was apparently not an isolated case of a particular camp staff's proven lack of competence. This is a blanket troop policy which assumes that ALL MBC not registered and controlled by the Troop are not worthy of working with their scouts, who must be retested to the troop's satisfaction. Following Beavah's logic, why would they not assume that a counselor is a well-intentioned, competent, all-round good guy/gal who does it all right until proven otherwise? After all, they are all fellow registered Scouters, worthy of our trust, are they not?


I was hoping we were not returning to the days of BobWhite where there was only one correct answer and the rest of us were just background noise. Perhaps I was wrong and I need to just take a breather from the forums. Perhaps from Scouting as well. It's all getting too bizarre for me.

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What we have here... is a two-edged sword.


If this Troop follows the guidelines in ACP&P/BSA Requirements...

- Tags a MB Counselor with the responsibility

- Issues a Blue Card to the Scout with the Counselor's Name and Address info filled in


... then a Scout is Trustworthy, I expect the Scout to go to Counselor X.


If this Troop tells its Scouts... "Take the training at Camp, but we will issue the MB Card and do the review phase when you get back home", then they are, as far as I can tell, inside the program.


If this Troop signs a blue (white, whatever) card, but does not accept it back at the end of camp, then there's a quality control issue in the advancement program.


I keep asking what is the backstory; I don't think I have enough info to make a decision.


I do have to wonder why this Troop uses a Camp where they believe its advancement program is not worth the time of its Scouts, though...

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I've never seen anything like this in my years of scouting involvement. my sons have been in a total of six different troops.


Usually, when the boys go to summer camp the MB's they take are talked about with the SM in terms of what they know about the program and were the boy is in his advancement. If you don't think the MB program at summer camp is any good, then why are they going?


As a MBC, if I have a scout come to me with a partial, I will review what he has already signed off and then go forward.


Since this parent just found out, I would suggest, a first step is to have the scout ask the SM who in the troop does the MBs that he did at summer camp.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow..I just spent about half an hour reading all the previous response to the original thread!


I can write on this topic with some authority. I spent 3 years as our district's advancement chair and I can tell you that I have seen both sides of this story. My guess is that the reason they developed their "Our counselors only" policy is because they had a bad experience at camp some where along the line.


I can tell you that trying to ensure that the counselors at summer camp are following the proper BSA merit badge policies can be a daunting task even for the Council Advancement Committee! Every year we conduct merit badge counselor training for the entire camp staff (even those under 18 not eligible to be MBCs). Most of our camp counselors are ~ 18 - 21. About 10% of what we teach sinks in at the training and registration class (yes we ensure that all the counselors at camp are properly registered as such with BSA). Once they leave the training there is no way to determine if any of them are following the rules until it's too late.


Last year (September 2006) my wife counseled a scout working towards Eagle. He worked on Family Life and Personal Finance at Eagle week at summer camp. This young ~14 year old scout came to her to finish the badges. These are both 90 day badges. First off they were never in the original MB offering at camp. But that's a whole different thread. When this scout started working with my wife, she asked to see what he had done at camp. The scout was unable to produce the written work that he should have had from camp. So my wife would not sign off that requirement until he produced it. After two meetings he still could not produce written work and told my wife that he did it at camp orally with the counselor. After the second meeting the boy's mother called my wife very upset that my wife would doubt her son's word. My wife explained that as the MB counselor she had the responsibility to ensure that all the requirements are met. Mother didn't like this reponse and implied that she had no right to do that and that since she paid for her son to attend Eagle week she EXPECTED that he would earn the badge.


But back to the orginal thread.........What the troop is doing is against advancement policy and for the scout and parents not to know that in advance is unfair to the boy. I would suggest asking the Scoutmaster, Committee Chair and the UC for a meeting to discuss how, when and especially why the troop set that policy and hope for a reasonable answer. My guess is that they will say that they have no confidence in the camp counselors that they are doing what they are supposed to do. My suggetion is to err on the side of the scout. It isn't his fault that he wasn't aware of the policy and it isn't his fault that the counselor MY NOT have known what they were doing......the scout should get his MB.

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My suggetion is to err on the side of the scout.


Yah, I agree with everything my fellow commish says above. Like GLD, I wish we could do a better job with summer camp MB quality. But it's tough, eh?


I especially agree with GLD on this last bit:


"We should err on the side of the scout."


To me that means we should err in favor of making sure the scout has the best, most rich and rewarding scouting experience. We should make sure he really gets a first-class experience in Lifesaving. That he really develops great skills in First Aid, that Art MB really engages him in the requirements because that just might be a lifelong hobby or future career for the lad, if it's done properly. We should make sure he really understands climbing rope systems because he might be called upon to help with a troop climbing outing, or pioneering because as a PL he might need to lead his patrol in such a project.


By all means, err in favor of the scout! But err like an adult: don't necessarily give him what he wants, give him what he needs and deserves. Make sure he always gets a quality experience, not just a patch.




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Some camp merit badges are done well and some are done poorly. I provide feedback on the ones that are done poorly and they usually seem better the next year. I also try to attend each merit badge class at least once during camp to see how it is going. I also talk to the boys in the evening to see how they like their classes.


Even though I have seen some classes that I didn't think met all of the requirements, I believe the boy should get the badge if all of the requirements are signed off. The scout has no control over the quality of instruction he receives. If the troop is unhappy with the quality of merit badge instruction they should find another camp or volunteer to counsel merit badges at camp.

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If the troop is unhappy with the quality of merit badge instruction they should find another camp or volunteer to counsel merit badges at camp.


Volunteer to counsel?....


Be proactive??


You mean....actually HELP in a positive way???


The parent and son should get an apology from the SM for the poor communication on the front end.


The parent learns a lesson in " nothing's perfect."


The son learns a lesson in " life isn't fair."


The parent and son decide whether to pitch in and make it better or pack their lunch and eat at another table.


The DE or other appropriate entity should ensure that the Troop is operating within BSA guidelines.


Sounds as if they are that serious about MB awards then maybe they care about the rest of the program as well.


I'm still wearing the blue epaulets but I guess I have all this to look forward to next year when my two Webelos move up!


Again, and you will find this a common theme in many of my posts...IT'S BETTER WHEN IT'S BEEN FIXED RATHER THAN WAITING FOR IT TO BREAK!!! That goes for people as well.


Time to get INVOLVED!



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