Jump to content

Time for Merit Badge Requirements

Recommended Posts

I have some leaders/parents who feel that requirements for merit badges are completed as long as the boy was in scouting; not when he began working on the merit badge. Also that me as the scoutmaster has no right to approve or disprove of meritbadge workshops universities ect. simply because they have been blessed of by council or district. Also they feel it is ok for them as parents to sign off on merit badge requirements as registered counselors even when BSA policy states they can not unless it is part of a group. Any resources or suggestions to help me out. Opionions or similar experiences? How would any of you resolve this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pick up a copy of Advancement Committee Policy and Guidelines at the scout shop. That will have the references you need.


There was a recent thread (a month or two ago) about the Scoutmaster's role as the gatekeeper to the merit badge program. As the process of earning a merit badge begins with the Scoutmaster issuing and signing a blue card, the SM does have control over how and where the badges are earned.


But I believe you will find there is no prohibition against a parent serving as a MB counselor for his or her son. Our troop tries to avoid it for Eagle required MBs but there are some MBs we only have one counselor for, so it's unavoidable. Again, when the Scout asks you for a bluecard, that is your opportunity to steer them toward a counselor other than their parent.


As far as timing, I think I understand your question to be can a scout receive merit badge credit for an activity he did before getting the blue card. I would say that would be a call for the counselor to make.

Link to post
Share on other sites





Regarding parents acting as Merit Badge Counselors for their Scouting son(s) as part of a group, I concur with Twocubdad, I have never seen a prohibition against it.


A standard, the Scout must ask the Scoutmaster for a Merit Badge Application "Blue Card", before beginning a Merit Badge.



Here is how my troop and district has handled it....

Within my district and council we have a difficult time maintaining Merit Badge counselors, due to the families and professionals that frequently move. The troops in my community usually allow registered Scouters to counsel merit badges regularly and ask (non-registered) parents to just fill out the application selecting the MB Counselor code.


Most of the troops in my community, and at least my troop, do not have an issue with parents (Scouters or newly registered) counseling their own sons, as long as the Scout has first requested the MB application. We advise all parents that Merit Badges are about 1/4 education and about 3/4 performance. We only request that the parents announce to the troop that a MB training session will commence, if their own son is the only participant, so be it. The offer to counsel a Merit Badge was given to the entire troop or district.


Good Luck!


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is clear that there is a lot of variation in how MBs are handled from place to place. In my council, there is a central MB list (by council and by district). Boys have to use a registered counselor to complete a badge. If they do not, then they run the risk of the council not giving them credit for that badge (which comes back to bite when they are up for Star/Life/Eagle). Our troop advancement chair and scoutmasters have all made this clear too. No registered counselor, no badge. Our boys also do not tend to do classes, sessions, or big group counseling. Most MBs earned (outside of summer camp) are done on an individual basis (with a buddy, who may or may not be another scout).


Some SMs are more proactive than others about guiding a boy towrd (or away from) a particular counselor. I see this as part of the adult association aspect of scouting and prefer it when the SM plays a bigger role. It is also a quality control check, since there are a few people on our district list who have not been known to hold a very high standard (or who make up all kinds of extra hoops/requirements) when working with our boys in the past.


Does work count if it is done prior to receiving a blue card? In our troop the answer is usually not. This is the counselor's call though. We have a camping MB counselor who is also an active troop adult leader. He typically will give the boys credit for the 20 days requirement even if it has been completed prior to starting formal work on the camping badge.


Regarding parents. Your description makes me wonder if the questions are coming from recent crossovers' parents. These sorts of things sound a bit like how advancement is tracked in cub scouts (parents are Akela and sign the books, leaders take parents at their word). If that is the case then you might want to think about how your troop introduces new parents to boy scouting - and not just how you introduce the new boys to the troop. And while parents can counsel their own boys, there are good reasons to encourage boys to reach out and form connections with other adults in the community too. That's the best reason to try to avoid this. There are also favoritism issues (real or perceived) that can make a mess of things sometimes, depending on the troop dynamic.


Get a copy of the advancement guide, and/or the guide for merit badge counselors. You may also find this website to be useful (I like the FAQ, which begins with one of the questions you asked).


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thankyou all for helping, This is how I am trying to handle the situation but am still getting resistance, and yes Lisabob they are newer crossover parents. I am trying to get them into indoor/outdoor basic. They both helput and are very supportive of the troop. The only other question is BSA policy states that parents can teach family memebers but only in a group setting, should I have how we want to handle this taken to the commitee and then placed in the by laws. I appreaciate the help. This job is certainly harder than the advertised one hour a week.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Are these new crossover parents registered MB counselors?


They need to understand that Boy Scouts is very different from Cub Scouts. The SM is in charge of advancement & the parents are not permitted to sign their son's books unless they have the permission of the SM. And if they aren't registered MB counselors, they are not permitted to sign off the requirements for any MB.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Welcome! You came to the right place. I hope we can all give you some useful information on this subject.

Let me first address the issue of counselors.  Check out page 127 of the Scoutmaster Hanbook.  It clearly states, "The scout obtains from his Scoutmaster a signed merit badge application [most councils use a 'blue card'] and the name of a qualified counselor for that merit badge..."  The next paragraph says, "Scouts may work on any merit badge at any time, assuming they have the approval of their Scoutmaster." 

Either alone or together, these statments clearly indicate that it is the Scoutmaster's responsiblity to help manage scouts and merit badges.  One example, if a scout's parent is an RN and is registered as a First Aid MBC, and a committee member (non parent) is an EMT and a MBC as well, I may send that scout and likely his close friends to the EMT to work on the merit badge, while I may sent other scouts to the parent/RN.  Likewise, I try to get to know a merit badge counselor a little before I allow any scout to meet with them.  As such, I have a reasonable sense of which scouts may work best with which counselors.  I fill out and choose who will be the counselor for which scout. 

As for training, I believe that every counselor should go through the MBC Orientation course.  A good friend of mine and I deliever training for the district, and for troops who requrest it.  As Scoutmaster, it is my policy to only assign and utilize trained counselors for merit badges in our troop.  [if you want a copy of the Powerpoint I use for our troop MBC Orientation, please PM with your email and I will gladly forward you a copy.]

There has been much discussion on the forum about completing and interpreting requirements for merit badges.  As an example, Camping MB requires a certain number of overnights to qualify, or for Pioneering MB requires that a scout participate in a troop pioneering project.  Look at how this requirememt is phrased.  That will give you a clue as to whether or not it could have been completed before beginning the MB.  On the other hand, read the project requirement for Citizenship in the Community, which requires a scout to pick an organization then with the MBCs apporval, complete a project, which suggests it cannot be done before starting on the MB.

I hope that helps.  If you have any additional questions, just ask.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Re. counting things prior to getting the blue card, at the very least, I would not count anything done prior to joining Boy Scouts. A kid who took a school trip to the state capitol in 6th grade I would likely count towards Cit in the Nation, that same trip in 4th grade no way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the bylaws thing - no, I wouldn't recommend that. In places where BSA policy is already clearly stated, there is no need to replicate that in the bylaws (which can grow to unmanageable size if you do that). Just refer these parents to the existing BSA documentation. Additionally, there is a strong temptation for committees to tinker with bylaws. Sometimes that's ok but more often, what happens is that people think they have hte right to change whatever the bylaws contain. In cases of BSA policy, troop committees actually do not have that authority to make changes though. So, down the road you may end up in a situation where your troop bylaws have been amended numerous times in ways that conflict with BSA policy.


There are numerous online merit badge counselor orientations. There's an outline for a supplemental MB counselor training. There's also your local council or district training staff. There's also (hopefully) your unit commissioner. If you are the SM, your focus should really be on running the program with the boys. Use these other resources, including your committee chair, to manage the adult/parent end of things more effectively so that you don't become over-burdened.



Link to post
Share on other sites



1) As twocubdad said, you may find reading "Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures" #33088 useful. It's a policy level document.


2) If you don't have BSA Requirements #33215 (or know how to access the requirements at the scouting.org website), you need it.


3) Within ACP&P, there is explicitly no prohibition against parents counseling their own children. That said, Adult Association is a method reinforced by the MB program. The Scout should be encouraged to meet new folks, and discouraged (in general) from having his parents be his Counselor. The exception is the occasional low density MB where Mr X is the only Counselor in the whole Council.


4) As far as MB programs go, couple of points to keep in mind: A Counselor is supposed to work only in his own Council. Some Councils can be pickier than others, especially when the Scout gets to endgame (Eagle or Palms). So, if you are in the Three Rivers Council in Columbia, MO, and you want to take your kids to the SAC Museum in Nebraska, you're supposed to provide your own Aviation MB Counselor! That's one way to keep a quality check on external programs. Another way is to work with and through the PLC. As they explore trips, tell them that you will endorse MB apps after the trip. It's to be learning and fun.


5) If you think Mr Jones is going to be a problem Counselor (aka a Candyman) in giving away the MB, have a friendly cup of coffee with your District Advancement Chairman. I'm sure there's a way to lose the paperwork between the MB Counselor training and the Council Registrar's office.


Yes, I am an advocate of the Scoutmaster being the gatekeeper on the advancement process and the advancement resources used by a Troop.


HTH.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

Link to post
Share on other sites

"The only other question is BSA policy states that parents can teach family memebers but only in a group setting ..."


Be careful about believing "stuff" you hear. BSA policy is found in BSA publications. All else is hearsay, opinions, and "should-be". This forum included. Troop bylaws mean squat.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, that's a good point. I don't think BSA policy actually says anything about teaching family only in a group setting. That is a common practice in a lot of troops, but I haven't seen anything from BSA specifically saying that. If you have, could you let us know?



Link to post
Share on other sites

There is NO prohibition against parental MBC's as John in KC stated. As he also stated, part of the MB program is to get teh boy out from under the people he sees every week and work with other adults.


I am having this problem show up with people wanting to only work with their Troop.


Scoutmasters are the gatekeepers. A boy can NOT work on a merit badge (at camp or university either) without SM approval. Let the parents teach and rage all they want. If the SM has not signed off, the blue card is useless. If he has signed off and the parents are NOT registered "and approved" MBC's the blue card is again useless. Some people forget that District/Council has to approve each MBC.


As to the "candyman MBC", I think a polite letter of thanks for previous service and that his services will no longer be required would be the proper way of dealing tiht the problem vice losing the app. If you don't want them, stand up and say so. Do not be deceiving in your ways. Be polite but firm.


My $0.02 as DAC.





Link to post
Share on other sites



That's a viable option especially for MBC who are beyond their training phase. I was thinking about new folks who show up and take MB Counselor orientation, but who the SM knows are going to give the badge away.


In my District, the DAC controls the Counselor roster by delegating training authority to two people: Himself and I. I teach orientation at RTs and if a group gets 10 or more Scouters together for a workshop.


Troops are not given the discretion to train MB Counselors.


Again, this is how my District does business only.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems that you have got a lot of good information from the forum members! (Stick around and after a while you will find the people that you want to take notice of!!)

It is worth mentioning that all MBC should be approved by the District. As a rule by the District Advancement Committee.

Some Districts do have a Dean of Merit Badges.

Others don't.

Having people who are not approved and o the District MBC List, does have the potential of maybe causing problems at a later date. I'm think of when a Lad makes his Eagle Scout Application.


Some of the stuff you think you knew???

Is not right.

Reading the stuff that others have said you should is a good idea, you might also want to have a chat with your District Advancement Chair.

It is also worth bearing in mind that our role as adults is to help and support the Scouts we serve.

Not try and place hurdles and obstacles in their way.

Doing the right thing is of course always the way to go.

I'm not at all in favor of Troop Rules, bylaws and that sort of thing, as I believe the BSA does a good job of outlining the stuff we need.


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...