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MB Counselor Issues

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Just one more voice for the majority opinion...


If your son does not have another option for a MBC for this badge, then go ahead. But try to not to do this more than once or twice. It will not look good for him when/if he is within reach of Eagle.


In our troop, we try very hard not to have the boys do the Eagle-required MBs with their own parents. The SM won't approve an Eagle MB with a parent MBC unless there's no other option. In addition, the SM tries to have the Eagle Required MBs done with a variety of different MBCs, so even if it's not the boy's parent it's also not the boy's best friend's parent for all of them. The only MB I've done with my boys is one that I'm doing now as a group because we had almost 20 boys want to do it and I just can't do them all individually.


If there's another MBC who can do it, I'd send the boy there. That doesn't mean you can't help him with learning the material he needs to fulfill the requirements. The MBC signs off to show that your son has met the requirements; in most cases, he/she does not have to be the one who does the teaching. So I'd say, go ahead and get started with your boy, have fun, and if at all possible have him demonstrate what he's learned with you to another MBC for his badge.



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"I agree it just does not look real good if they get to a District Eagle BOR and their parent is MBC for a majority of their badges."


And just HOW is the District (or any other) EBOR going to know this?


BSA does NOT ask for the name of the Merit Badge Counselor on any official form. The only place the Counselor's name might be, is on the "Blue Card". However, BSA specifically states that it is NOT mandatory to use a "Blue Card", and many units/councils do not.


Although some BOR's require a Scout to bring all "Blue Cards" with him to a BOR, this is NOT a BSA requirement for advancement or a BOR, and can be considered adding to requirements if a Scout is denied advancement simply because of this.


VCREW66, you are a registered MB Counselor (you did not state if you have taken MBC training). Despite what others say, BSA policy allows you to counsel your own son.


BSA does NOT require Merit Badges to be worked on as a group. It DOES require that the Scout have a "buddy" with him, however, the buddy does not have to be another Scout.


There is also no BSA restrictions on where a Merit badge is taught.


Teaching at home is fine. I do not think there should be a problem with YP and the buddy system in this instance. However, if you want to go by the book, then have your wife, or another family member, sit in on the MB sessions.




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I do not know how things work where you are but around here a scout must produce every blue card along with the MB award card each and every rank card as well as full documentation for each and every service hour a well documented project with all the proper signatures at all the right times along with pictures to get through the district advancement person let alone the BOR. All of the dates on each and every piece of documentation must be in agreement with the councils computerized record. God help you if some counselor at summer camp their first year did not know what the date was. Of course all the local SM and ASM know this so we start them out at star with I want to see each blue card and the letter from the outfit you did your service hours for and get them to start building the book they will need down the road.

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  • 1 month later...

I was doing some research on another MB issue and I happenned upon this quote from the FAQ at scouting.org




>>>>Question: Can merit badge counselors coach their own sons or close relatives (for instance, a nephew)?

Answer: Yes, but only if the young man is part of a group of Scouts who are all working on the same merit badge. Approved counselors may coach any Boy Scout who contacts them through the proper procedures.

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I am over 1000 miles from my copy of ACP&P and Requirements. It's an eldercare thing.


I've just read the links Ms Jo posted, and she's right, as far as that goes.


Can someone please walk the dog as regards what the latest ACP&P says? Those words do not read like I thought they did a few weeks ago.

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Hello CubScoutJo,


The site you found is part of the official National BSA website, so I believe it should be considered authoritative.


Having said that, there is more than one person at National and it is entirely possible that one person wrote the information on the website and another the AC&P with a different "flavor" to what was written. But the information you got was "official" from the National Council.

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Our advancement person has a hard copy of the Advancement guide and it says:


"An approved merit badge counelor may cousel any youth member, including his or her own son, ward or relative"


BUT her copy is dated 2004. Does anyone have the most current copy?





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Thanks for the online 2008. That'll go in my bookmarks :)


Reading them, the National policy is pretty clear: Any registered Counselor may counsel any youth member. Period.


The comment on the National website implies they want the youth member to go through the same procedures as any other Scout when Mom/Dad counsel the badge.


EVEN SO, my own experience deems it wise for a parent not to counsel their own child. The natural exception is where the Counselor is the only one in a fairly wide area. A SM may choose. to let a parent counsel their own child. In this case, imo the parent must bend over backwards to ensure his child has at least as much challenge as any other Scout.



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  • 2 years later...

A search finds a number of threads on the parent MBC issue. This one contains what may be the best response... the CalicoPenn post earlier in this thread is sound judgment stated with eloquent brevity.


Having a parent MBC can be good time and resource management. A scout is thrifty - with gas, time, money, energy. He does not always organize a big logistical song and dance to accomplish something he can accomplish more economically.


But most of the posts in this and other threads that raise the issue are against parental MBCing. Then again, folks are down on plenty of other venues for MBs too. Search this forum and you'll learn all about the turpitude of Eagle Mills, Summer Camp MB Mills, MB Univerisities, MB classes, and the like.


So here's a review of the anti-MBC arguments from a contrary perspective:


1. Adult association:

A quote from this forum from a poster making the adult assoc argument against parent MBCs:


"That concept takes away from what the MB program has to offer the boy. It is not just about earning an MB, it is about going out into the world and working with another person that they do not even know (which is my preference when I give out names for MBC's to our Troop). The personal growth of the boy is all part of the experience and making that phone call, finding another boy to work on it with them and then going to meet different people with different ideas on how it should be done are a huge part of earning an MB as far as I am concerned..........I can't even fathom doing it any other way. How can you teach life skills and leadership if your son only sees you? It's mind boggling!"


Don't let it boggle you, man. Don't assume that having a parent as an MBC means that "your son only sees you." Parents serious enough to serve as MBCs, are likely serious enough to ensure their sons develops these other skills as well.


Another quote from this forum about adult association and parent MBCs:


"Just make sure you are not circumventing the learning process of how to call complete strangers and ask for their time and help.. It is a great learning process that will help him as he matures and needs to do just that.."


That is excellent advice. In addition to not circumventing it, let's not make a fetish of it either. Let's not add it to the requirements of every MB, and let's not assume that it isn't happening unless the SM has Helicopter-Scouted it.


2. Suspicion of cheating:

A relevant quote from a post on a different forum:


"but if the scout goes for Eagle and he sits before his Review Board with his merit badge cards (which his own parent has signed off the majority of)...it kind of raises some questions."


Indeed. Ask those questions. Perhaps there are good answers. But why wait for the Eagle review board? There are reviews prior to that. These reviews should be events in which the scout learns to communicate and independently represent himself confidently. If there are anomalies (or perceptions thereof) in his record, should he not have answered for them in earlier? Maybe at his first and every subsequent review board? That's good adult association.


If a parent helps the boy "earn" recognition the boy hasn't earned, both will know they've cut corners. Will some parents actually do that? Sure. But the same thing can happen with non-parent MBCs. We find in this forum whole threads on such problems as Summer Camp "MB Mills" complaints about "Eagle Mills," MB classes, Merit Badge Camps, offering the "wrong" MBs at camp, and MB focused troop meetings. So what do we do? Make policy based on the bad exceptions? Or do we conduct ourselves as adults concerned more with what we can control (our own integrity), that with what we can't control (other people's integrity)?


Anyway, the biggest problem most parents serving as MBCs for their own sons will likely have is the polar opposite of cheating; it's that they'll have to take care to remember that they can't add requirements and that they must be willing to sign their son's card when he meets the MB standards even if he hasn't met the higher standards they'd prefer.


3. Overdoing it:

Another critic asks:


"whats to stop a person from being the primary counselor on all the merit badges he wanted to?"


What's to stop it? Integrity. Or perhaps not wanting to counsel on MBs for which he knows he cannot teach or judge up to the standards required. Or maybe his son specifically wants a different counselor or has a special opportunity to work with another particular high quality adult role model. And if he is serving as the primary counselor on all the merit badges he wants to (whatever that number may be) and he's doing a competent job of it, ensuring the scouts meet all requirements, pointing them in the right direction when they are lost, or providing instruction and advice where appropriate, what's the problem?


4. Parent is not qualified:

A relevant quote from the forum:


"In over 30 years of experience and nearly 100 Eagle Scouts none had more than 3 done by a parent. I cannot imagine anyone other than DaVinci having talent enough in so diverse a field of skills as the MB selection to act as a counselor in so many areas."


Well, some folks are more capable than others. By "Da Vinci," presumably the writer means Leonardo. The man was an autodidact. He had some mentors for some of his areas of expertise. But for much of what he did, he had no MBCs (maybe his parents signed off the requirements for him). Sure, some MBs clearly require counselors with very specific and special qualifications. But there are other merit badges that a dedicated scout could learn on his own from reading and doing and would only need a literate adult willing and able to verify that the scout has mastered the material up to the requisite standard. There are some MBs that are mostly studies (and some that even have "studies" in their names). Any literate person could pick up the MB pamphlet and start with that as a guide to finding other resources (library, online, local institute or organization involved in that area) and learn the material and do the projects beyond the standard required. Independent learning is a vital skill - although "independent" may be a misnomer as it's usually based on resources (books, pamphlets, videos, etc) that others have produced.


5. Offended Egalitarianism:

another poster complains:


"At almost every COH his kids haul in the badges."


This is likely because his kids are earning those MBs by doing and learning the things required. Apparently either the MBs or the learning and doing that goes into them (or both) are a priority in their household. Maybe he'd be happy to MBC for others too. Would it be good judgment for the SM to forbid this because it's unfair to scouts who don't have MBCs as conveniently available to them because their parents either cannot or will not serve as MBCs for them? In the interest of egalitarianism should the SM forbid parental MB counseling and assign the scouts counselors who are less available to them, whose schedules are less flexible, who live across town? By this logic, if a scout has a small sailboat, would it be wise to forbid him from using it for the small boat sailing MB... in order to be fair to scouts who don't have sail boats? In addition to the standard requirements for the Small Boat Sailing MB, do we need to add an extra requirement for this scout to ensure he gains the experience of finding a sailboat to use and interacting with sailboats other than his own? And scouts who live near bodies of water must use more distant bodies of water when they earn the Canoeing MB so as to be fair to scouts who don't live near a body of water?


6. They're not doing it the way I do it:

Relevant quote from the forum:


"...home schools his kids.... teaches the merit badges at home as if they are "lesson's" ... we on occasion also used lessons that would include some merit badge requirements that related to the lesson at hand. But we kept it to a minimum."


OK, you kept it to a minimum. He doesn't. Your behavior may be a wonderful example, but you aren't the only wonderful example and you aren't his example. Don't fret. You and your family set your homeschool curriculum and he and his family set his. For homeschool, as long he's within the applicable state law, what's the problem? For scouting, as long as he's not violating BSA policies and his sons are growing in the intended dimensions and really are learning and doing what's necessary to earn the MBs they are awarded, what's the problem? Nonconformity to what?


7. Limited Imagination:


"I can't even imagine being my sons merit badge counselor!"


Then don't. But don't expect the limits of your imagination to be the limits of what others do.


8. Mistaken Assumptions:

Another quote about a parent MBC:


"If he's homeschooling 10:1 a big reason for Scouting is to expose his son to other people and boy is he fouling that up... ...except in a 'Lone Wolf' situation or a lousy troop there is no call for it."


It's a common misconception that homeschoolers are in danger of being deficient in "socialization." Just google "what about socialization?" and you'll learn that plenty of homeschoolers think it's a misinformed question. Plenty of homeschooled children experience more interaction with a more diverse set of people than many government schooled children do. We shouldn't assume that homeschooling parents see scouting as a venue where their children will make up for a deficiency in socialization. They may be thinking more about the ideals embodied in the Scout Law - or maybe the kid just likes camping and the outdoors. Or, as is commonly suspected maybe the parents are encouraging the kid to build his resume - as long as it's built honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. The boy's parent MBC may not be concerned (and maybe you shouldn't be either) about whether or not Counselor ABC, the exemplary adult who counsels many scouts on MB X, interacts with his son or not. If Counselor ABC's schedule doesn't line with the scouts' sched, or if Counselor ABC lives across town, and if the father can handle the material and/or the boy and his parent MBC can also enlist the aid of a knowledgeable relative, neighbor, friend, or professional... why make an issue of it? Life goes by fast. Why wait until counselor Y has time to meet with you about X, when you can learn and perform the MB requirements without that specific counselor?


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For some, it's the destination. For others, the journey.

If Scouting is viewed as one large check-off list, then grease the skids to make it as easy as possible. Have Dad counsel all 120 merit badges. Let troop meetings be geared to "achievement" just as in any other school.

Merit badges are not just about the requirements. There are hidden lessons involved. By showing individual intiative in seeking a mb, as well as intereacting with total strangers, A Scout is being prepared to interact with the world at large.

Mommy & Daddy can't interview for a good job for you, ask for a deserved raise on your behalf, or solve your problems for you when they are gone. The earlier a boy/young man learns to interact with the adult world of strangers, the better off he'll be

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As a former DAC & MBC Trainer, I am going to make some assumptions here.


1. Your approval was by the DAC or CAC.

2. You have attended the MBC Councilors Training.


That being said, in the MBC Training Course it tells you that the MBC may train thier own relatives and that "groups may be instructed but Scouts must be tested individually".


Individual Councils and Districts, as well as Troops, have made thier own rules (such as number of merit badges that a MBC may teach, teaching relatives,...) but the National standard is what I teach by.


I agree that if there is another MBC in your area that teaches the same MB that your SM should reccomend your son go to the other MBC if at all possible for the "Association with Adults" and learning how to deal with others that we teach in Scouting.


But to answer your direct question: NO, BSA prefers that your do NOT teach in groups and YES, you may Council your own relatives. As to the other person present, it is a requirement of BSA for MBC's and Outings but can NOT be enforced for family only (if it was, parents could NOT drive thier Scouts to the meeting as they would be one-on-one...LOL)


My $0.02 for what it is worth.



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Youth protection rules apply to EVERY Scouting situation, EVERY. Meetings are not excluded from the rules. Merit Badge sessions are not excluded from the rules. Specifically, one-on-one contact is prohibited between adults and Scouts.


To avoid one-on-one contact, two deep leadership is required for merit badge sessions, whether held in your home or during a scout meeting.


An exception: when it's your own son. You no more need to have a second adult present when you are teaching your son than you need to have a second adult present when your having breakfast with your son.


Perhaps it's time to review the rules:




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Correct on no one-one-one. Incorrect on Two-Deep for everything. Scouts going to see a MBC must have a buddy with them.


A Scout first expresses an interest in a particular merit badge by letting his unit leader know. To get him started, the leader may give him a signed Application for Merit Badge (blue card) along with the name and telephone number of a district/council approved merit badge counselor. The Scout then contacts the merit badge counselor and makes an appointment. The merit badge counselor sets a date and time to meet with the Scout and his buddy, ( emphasis mine and may suggest the Scout bring the merit badge pamphlet along with the blue card.






Have a Scout and his buddy present at all instructional sessions. from http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34405.pdf




Use the buddy system for counseling. ;



A Scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a

merit badge counselor. A Scouts buddy could be another

Scout, or be a parent or guardian, brother or sister, relative or

friend. The Scout obtains a signed Application for Merit Badge

and the name of the appropriate merit badge counselor from his

Scoutmaster. The Scout sets up his first appointment with the

counselor. At this first meeting with the Scout and his buddy,

the counselor should explain to the Scout what is expected to

start meeting the requirements. When the Scout knows what is

expected, he can start to learn and do the things required. The

counselor will help the Scout learn the things he needs to

know or do.


When the Scout is ready, he should call the counselor again

and make an appointment for him and his buddy to meet

with the counselor and begin to meet the requirements. He

should take along with him the things he has made to meet the

requirements. The counselor will ask him to do each requirement

to make sure he knows his stuff and has done or can do the

things required. ;


The Scout, along with a buddy, makes an appointment

with the counselor and works on the merit badge with the

counselor during one or more visits.;


Encouragement to wear the official uniform when he

visits the counselor with a buddy ;


and a bunch of other locations in this doucment



Hope that helps clear up a very common misconception.

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