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Aquila

When exactly is a Merit Badge considered "earned"?

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According to Merit Badge Orientation Training: Supplemental Adult Leader Training, "When the counselor is satisfied that the requirements have been met, he or she will sign the Application for Merit Badge, keeping the third section and returning the first two sections to the Scout. The Scout turns in both sections of the Application for Merit Badge to his Scoutmaster so the merit badge can be secured."

 

Is the badge EARNED when the MBC is satisfied it's earned, and has signed off on it? Or is it EARNED when the SM signs off on it?

 

I've always thought it was the former, but our SM's wife is insisting it's the latter. We have a Scout in the troop whose parent was the MBC for a badge. The troop policy is that when it's the parent, there must be an additional Scout working on the badge (as an aside, is that kosher?). The second boy decided not to work on it after opening it, and the SM wants to review it with the first boy before signing it.

 

My concern is precedent, since after reading the story about the Scout who recently completed all the badges (Dalton or something, up in Utah), he's decided to hit them hard. I'm the counselor for eight or nine of them. While I hope others might want to do them, too, I certainly don't want to have to scramble and recruit a Scout to do so. Our troop is mostly boys 13- who are working on one or two badges.

 

Can someone please point me to something official stating when the badge is earned?

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The merit badge is earned when a registered counselor signs the blue card. The SM's signature is just an acknowledgement that the card was turned in.

 

" (as an aside, is that kosher?)."

 

Not really. There are no rules about parents couseling the children.

 

Like most BSA things, interpretations are hard to find but if you read the cards and advancement rules, things become clear.

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With regard to the requirement that a second scout attend - no, that's not in the MBC rules anywhere. THere is a requirement that there be no one-on-one contact but the second person could be anybody, doesn't even have to be a scout (or a youth, for that matter). That said, I know many troops who try very hard to avoid having parents serve as MBCs for their own boys, for obvious reasons, even though technically there is no prohibition on that scenario.

 

On the main question, I'm in agreement with GW that the MB was earned when the MBC said so. If in doubt you could also float this question with your district advancement chair.

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"Can someone please point me to something official stating when the badge is earned?"

 

You won't find anything more specific that what you already quoted. It's obvious that a MB is not earned until the work is done and the counselor signs the card as complete.

 

You might politely ask the SM to point to where there are additional MB requirements beyond what is in the book. Or ask why he needs to question the competence of the counselor.

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You can question the card if you have reason to believe that fraud was involved. "Johnny, give me $100 and I'll sign off on Citizenship in the Galaxy." Or if you know that the boy didn't do any of the work.

 

A few years back the Sports merit badge was offered at Summer camp. The requirements for Sports involve playing organized sports. But at camp they just said, "have you ever played a softball game?" Boom! Boys who were never on a team of any sort or competed in any sport got a signed blue card.

 

The SM called the boys together and said, "I know that you didn't really earn these so I'm not going to accept them and pass them on to the Advancement guy."

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"... the SM wants to review it with the first boy before signing it."

 

"The "man-Scout" Master has a war story to support every departure from the program. If the problem is an incompetent counselor, delete that counselor from the list. Adding another layer of administrative review is not a solution, it'a just another problem.

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Yah, hmmm...

 

Aquila, what's your role in this troop? One of da things we have to model as adults is when somethin' properly is between two individuals and not our responsibility. I'd suggest that if yeh aren't the troop advancement chair or the CC, this is one of those times, eh?

 

It's hard if you're not in one of those positions to know the real "history." There might well have been history within this troop of problems with parent MBCs, or even problems with this parent MBC. Dat's fairly common, eh? While it's easy to say "well, then the MBC should just have been removed from the position," most folks are reluctant to go file a complaint with the DAC and create all dat drama. Lots of times, they might more gently say "Hey, from now on, we want you to have another scout or troop adult present if you're counseling your own son."

 

Da SM has to sign off on the MB before the scout begins. It may well be that the SM said "you should do it with Mr. Jones and not with your mom" or said "you can do it with your mom only if someone else takes it with you, so it doesn't look like you're gettin' it easy."

 

In terms of official answers, there are two:

 

1. The responsibility for merit badges shall rest with the merit badge counselor approved by the local council and district advancement committee... The merit badge counselor shall prepare and qualify youth members. (R&R X c13)

 

2. I (the SM/CC/TAC) certify that the following record of advancement is correct and that it meets the standards and requirements of the Boy Scouts of America. (Advancement Report Form)

 

So common sense suggests that the merit badge counselor is the one with primary responsibility, but that doesn't mean that the unit leadership can't check up on things now and then.

 

And if da boy really did earn the badge, where's the harm? The kid should be dyin' to talk about what he knows and can do! I'd expect a kid who just finished Lifesaving MB or Cooking MB or whatever to be delighted to talk about it and show off his skills. Ain't nuthin' but positive reinforcement for his achievement unless there's somethin' amiss.

 

Beavah

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" If the problem is an incompetent counselor, delete that counselor from the list. "

 

Hard to do at summer camp.

 

We should be able to expect the boys to do the right thing but all too often their parents encourage them to take shortcuts because the prize is more important than the process.

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Can't help thinking that we are looking at two different questions.

If the question is:

"When exactly is a Merit Badge considered "earned"?"

That has been asked and answered!!

If however the question is:

"What should be done if you (The SM) feels that the requirements weren't met?"

That's a different question.

I suppose the book answer is that someone, somewhere goes about and takes whatever action is needed to have that Counselor removed from his or her counseling job.

However IMHO which really isn't worth that much and is not backed up by the BSA.

I can see that a lot of different things do come into play.

First off I'd look at what MB we are talking about.

While at Summer Camp I have seen the handwork of some young Scouts working on the Basketry MB. The end results do leave a lot to be desired!! But as a rule the Scouts who take this badge are the younger Scouts and I do feel that they have given it their best effort. The counselor may have been a little - Shall we say open minded.

If the badge is one of the "Big ones" or might compromise the health and safety of others or the Scout, I'm all for removal of the counselor.

This of course doesn't fix the problem of having a MB that while in the eyes of the BSA does count, but might not be all that it should be.

Of course when this happens, we need to remember that whatever happened the Scout is not to blame.

The word "Review" is open to interpretation.

Any sort of retesting is not an option.

I think I'd go on a "Fishing Expedition" Asking friendly type questions. Something along the lines of:

"Hey Tim how was the Pioneering Merit Badge?"

"Great we had a lot of fun"

"That's wonderful, now you will be able to teach the guys how to form an eye splice."

"Well, ugh we didn't really do that, we didn't have enough rope!"

"That's a shame! Still maybe you can bring in your model of a signal tower or a monkey bridge, so the younger Scouts can see it?"

"I can't do that!! Mr Eamonn said that was just silly, so we didn't bother with it!!"

"Hey Tim -What parts did you cover?"

"Mr Eamonn said we only had to demonstrate how to tie two spars together using a shear lashing! I was upset I really wanted to try building that bridge we seen at the last Camporee."

"Tim, there really is a lot more to the Pioneering merit badge than just using a shear lashing, what do you say we go over it again and this time you will get to build that bridge?"

I would of course have a word with the District or Council Advancement chair about the terrible job that Eamonn guy was doing and explain what happened to Tim.

Eamonn.

 

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I would of course have a word with the District or Council Advancement chair about the terrible job that Eamonn guy was doing and explain what happened to Tim.

 

Da world is a complicated place.

 

I'd probably do almost exactly as Eamonn suggests for a summer camp badge.

 

But it gets more complicated with a parent MBC in da troop, eh?

 

What's the parent's reaction likely to be to the SM calling the DAC and reportin' him as a lousy counselor? How likely is it that the boy will remain in the program if dad is "fired"?

 

How much will junior "cover up" for dad in a personal conversation? Do yeh really want to be in a position of encouraging a son to "tell on his parent" for not doing all the requirements?

 

Sometimes it might be best just to have a simple, impersonal rule like no one-on-one MBC'ing within your own family, or a quick double-check on skills, eh? (if not avoidin' parent MBC's altogether ;) ).

 

Beavah

 

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The widely accepted answer is the counselor has the final say.

 

Our council uses the white MB cards and these cards only have one place for the SM's signature. We used to have to use the blue cards when we went to a camp outside our council and I always thought two signatures for the SM was rather confusing. Now most camps accept our white cards.

 

As for lousy summer camp counselors, don't let them sign at the end and find a counselor at home to finish. We have been to camps with some good staffs and some not so good, but my opinion is any troop handing over their advancement program to a summer camp staff gets what they pay for and shouldn't complain.

 

Barry

 

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The world might be a complicated place?

Maybe I have led a sheltered life? But it has been my experience that parents are a lot harder when it comes to dealing with their own kids.

If I really thought an adult member of the unit who was an MBC was handing out unearned badges or someone was signing off on requirements that had not been met. I think my first port of call would be to have a chat with them. Of course I would be as kind and diplomatic as I could be and not come down like a ton of bricks.

To the best of my knowledge our Council has never offered MBC Training's, so I can't say much about them. I would hope that this sort of thing would be covered at that sort of training.

I think I have posted this before, but what the heck!

Some years back I received a phone call from a very upset parent. Her son suffered from an alphabet of challenges, but he had really worked his heart out working toward the Dog Care MB.

Keeping logs and anything that involved picking up a pen wasn't something that came easy to this kid.

When they (His mother and the Lad) thought they were ready they contacted the Counselor (Yes I know that this should have been done first and I did point it out to the Mom and did contact the SM to pass on how it should work!)by phone. He said he was free and they could come by. They got in the car and drove to his house, armed with all the records and good stuff the Lad had worked so hard on, they rang the doorbell. The Counselor came out, asked the Lad if he had a dog? Of course the Lad replied that he did. The Counselor took the blue card, left the Lad standing on the doorstep while he went back in the house and signed the card. Two minutes later the Lad and Mom were driving home.

Mom was upset that her son had done all this what was hard work for her son for nothing!!

At the other end of the spectrum we had a older Scout working in the Nature Area at camp, he was not accepting reports that Scouts had done while working on the Environmental Science MB if there were spelling errors. This led to a lot of complaints from SM's and the Reservation Director told him to ease up a bit. Sadly he eased up a bit too much and this led to a lot of complaints from SM's.

The world might be a complicated place?

Especially if your working up at summer camp and your the MBC working without clear guidelines and direction.

Eamonn.

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The Scoutmaster is in charge of the advancement program in their unit. That is stated in the advancement guide. As a Scoutmaster, I tell the boys in our unit that you may have gotten a requirement signed off, received a BOR, had a MBC sign-off on a merit badge, etc. but until I am aware of that fact, it is not earned.

 

Now, I've rarely* not allowed a requirement that has been signed off to not stand or overturned that fact that a MBC stated that a MB has been earned. But in reality, unless it gets entered into Troopmaster and then sent to the council office it is not "earned."

 

If a SM feels a shoddy job has been done by the MBC, he should report that to his district advancement chair. For Scouts in our troop, I've had MBC sign-off on "blue cards" that I have not signed. I don't like it but I've not vetoed the fact that the boy has completed the requirements (but I could).

 

* - We use to let our 1st Class and above Scouts (preferably PLs) sign-off for Tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st Class requirements. I noticed that a few of the boys "demonstrated water rescue" in the church basement and withheld the sign-off authority for a while but never rescinded that fact that a Scout has the requirement completed. I did however, make sure that he demonstrated water rescue later on (had him teach the requirement). I withheld the fishing MB to some of the Scouts who I know did not even take the MB at summer camp. The MBC wasn't really sure who came and went to his classes all week and just signed a bunch of blank blue cards filling in everything himself. I asked the boys (after I had received their blue cards from the MBC) if they took the class and they stated no. Same went for the canoeing one year. The Scout did not pass the swimming skills so couldn't even take the MB but got a signed off card.

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I withheld the fishing MB to some of the Scouts who I know did not even take the MB at summer camp. The MBC wasn't really sure who came and went to his classes all week and just signed a bunch of blank blue cards filling in everything himself. I asked the boys (after I had received their blue cards from the MBC) if they took the class and they stated no. Same went for the canoeing one year. The Scout did not pass the swimming skills so couldn't even take the MB but got a signed off card.

 

Ah, yes. Da real world :)

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" But in reality, unless it gets entered into Troopmaster and then sent to the council office it is not "earned.""

 

Let's not bring that piece of crappy software into the issue. Troopmaster is neither official nor magical, it's like Windows . .. entrenched.

 

Last time that I checked, Eagle Boards don't go by troop master reports, they go by blue cards. When I did advancement for my son's troop, I had to make more than a few phone calls to get replacement blue cards for Scouts who had lost them and needed them for their Eagle Board. Why was I doing it rather than the Scout? If it was a local counselor, I'd let the "Scout" handle it. For summer camp merit badges, it was far more expedient for me to do it (Hi Becky, Gold Winger here. I need a replacement fingercarving blue card for Jimmy Jones. July 99. Thanks.). Yes, I could have let him do it but Scouts usually have school during the day.

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