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Time for Merit Badge Requirements

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The advancement report states that MBCs must be registered as MBCs.


However, the form does not require the name of the MBC, so there is actually no way the Council will know who was the MBC and thus no way to verify the MBC's registration, unless the Council asks the Scout or the unit for that info.


As for MBCs not counseling out-of-council Scouts, I wasn't aware of that limitation. It certainly makes sense but it must also be true that an exception is made for summer camp MBCs.

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The BSA "policy" stating that parents may only teach their own son in a group setting, that coastalscouter is referring to is currently only a blurb on the new National Web site. It is in a FAQ under Merit Badges, and is not supported anywhere else at this time (that I can find).


Most of the links on the new site are broken. The link to the supplemental training for Merit Badge Counselors is one of those broken links. This training had stated that while the use of a variety of adults as MB Counselors was preferred in order to best utilize the Adult Association method, the only restriction for parents counseling their own son was that they must still use the Buddy System.


It could very well be that BSA is changing it's rules on this point.


Coastalscouter, if you wish to use that FAQ as BSA policy to keep your new parents from turning Merit Badges into Cub Scouts go right ahead.


I would also reccomend that first you explain the Boy Scout program to these parents. Then enforce the (well documented) BSA policy that all MB Counselors, have the skills necessary for the MB's they wish to teach, be registered and approved by your Charter Org and council, and complete Youth Protection training. You might also require them to take MB Counselor training, BEFORE, they are allowed to counsel any of the boys in your Troop.


Adding documented BSA rules to Troop bylaws is unnecessary.

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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.


Yah, I reckon this is one of those silly Scoutin' urban legends, eh?


When a council registrar signs off on an Eagle application, all he/she does is check the app against the ScoutNet records (and advancement report forms when ScoutNet loses stuff, as it usually does). There's no record of da name of the counselor or whether the counselor was registered, so there's no way to check.


Now the council or district can check if they demand a merit badge app be turned in with the advancement report before it gets entered into ScoutNet, eh? Problem is blue cards are not required, so what a unit or camp uses for a merit badge app is goin' to be different. And then I'm not sure how the council is supposed to check a scrawled signature, or a badge from an out-of-council camp or outfitter, eh? And those are certainly allowed. Happen all the time. Yah, I've seen a few districts try to do this. They almost always give up after a few months. Ain't worth the time or effort.


So really, the one and only place verification of a MB counselor happens is at da unit level. Like almost everything in Scoutin', whether advancement is used effectively or not really just depends on the local folks and the guy or gal wearin' the SM hat. That's as it should be.


Stick by your guns, coastal. The SM decides on the MB counselor and on whether a lad is ready to take a MB at all. Many fine scoutmasters out there won't endorse "Merit Badge University" work or other stuff that really is contrary to BSA policy and common sense. Use parents when yeh have to and when they really are the best available for the badge, but otherwise give the lads the real experience of seeking out an expert who isn't mom or dad. Cub scouts is over, eh? ;)




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One of the biggest headaches I had back when I was serving as District Chairman was the darn MBC List.

It hadn't been up-dated for a very long time, so long that the first three people named were dead and in the grave!

Some people had moved, some had quit.

It was a real mess.

One Troop had a guy who was listed as the MBC for over 35 badges!

The "Rules" say that this is OK!

Working with the Advancement Committee and the Dean of Merit Badges we came up with the only solution that we thought would work.

Scrap the list and start over.

We gave several months notice and said that any Scout who was actively working on a MB could continue.

Applications were send out to each and every Troop and people we knew who were on the list and active ere invited to re-submit a new application.

We reminded everyone that the term of office for a MBC is a year.

The Dean of Merit Badges armed with a program that I think came from the guys who do Troopmaster listed all the names of the people who had been approved by the Advancement Committee.

We asked that the Council Registrar check the names of the MBC against the District list. She wasn't overjoyed about doing so, but her boss gave her a friendly nudge.

The Advancement Committee (Normally the Dean of MB's) does check the list of MB's when a Scout sends in his Eagle Scout Application and does check the blue cards making sure the people who signed off are people on the District list.

The Registrar has had a few cards with strange names on. When this happens she calls the Advancement chair and he contacts the unit for an explanation.

So far this seems to work well. As far as I know only a few cards have been signed by people who were not on the District list.

I would hate for a Lad to arrive at his ESBOR and be asked "Who did you do First Aid Merit Badge with?" and it be discovered that the person was never on the list.

As for:

"Yah, I reckon this is one of those silly Scoutin' urban legends, eh?"

No it's no legend -eh??



Eamonn.(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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No it's no legend -eh??


Perhaps not. But if I remember right, you're in a small district in a small council, right? Seems like they're the only ones out there who even make the attempt. And then only rarely. Da situation with the MBC list consisting of dead people is far, far more common. :p


I'm curious what you'd do in the case you describe, eh? A lad comes to his EBOR and says that his first aid MBC was Dr. Jones 4 years ago. Then someone on the EBOR pulls out da list of counselors from four years ago? Can't say I've ever seen anyone bring da last seven years of lists to an EBOR, but I hear new stuff every day in these forums!


So you've discovered Dr. Jones wasn't on the list. Then what? You're goin' to deny a fine Eagle candidate because of some adult paperwork snafu?


Me, I've seen those blue cards, eh? I'm lucky if I can read one signature out of three. I can't imagine a "Dean of MBs" or anybody else sittin' around tryin' to decipher 'em and compare them against years-old lists, only to try to trip up a lad coming for an EBOR. Especially when out-of-district, jambo, camps and units that don't use blue cards and whatnot are all thrown in too, and they won't be on your district list.


But to each his own. :)




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Not to one up you but we had a merit badge counselor from our troop who signed up for 85 merit badges. He was a bit of a renaissance man and showed some qualifications for all of them. Everyone thought it a bit much but no one could find a rule against it. No one felt that they had the authority to say "no" (I was the CC and I should have been the first to say it). This was the kind of guy who would not accept no unless you could show him the rule and maybe not then.


Problems eventually emerged. He signed off on something like 15 merit badges for his son, some scouts complained that he had signed off on requirements they hadn't done. It was alleged that merit badges were completed in less than required time. It caused a lot of issues and arguments on the district level.


Ultimately, the district dropped him as a MBC and instituted a rule that no MBC would be listed for more than 5 badges. Committee chairs were told that we were the first line of defense against the overreaching MBC candidate and that we would be supported by the merit badge dean.


We also learned that the SM was the gatekeeper for merit badge work. No scout should begin work without a blue card signed by the SM. The SM can and should dictate which merit badge counselor the scout should work with. This is all sounds easier than it is when you have an ambitious parent who wants to see their son reach Eagle... soon.


At a district RT there was a discussion of who should counsel merit badges and specifically should a parent counsel his or her son. One of the scouters said something like, "we're inside the Beltway and most of us either work for or with the government. We should all understand the concept of 'avoiding the appearance of impropriety'". I thought this summed it up rather well.


Who loses when there is an "appearance of impropriety"? That's easy, the scout. At the same RT another Scoutmaster talked about a reunion of his troop's Eagles. 20 some years before a previous SM in the troop had signed off on many of the merit badges for his two sons. At the reunion this scouter overheard other Eagles from that generation talking about how these two guys had not really earned their Eagle awards. Was it true? Who knows? It very well could be that those two boys worked twice as hard to satisfy their dad but to the other scouts it just looked wrong. Rightly or wrongly and whether they know it or not, these two men's Eagles are tarnished in the eyes of their peers. That's sad and so unnecessary. It never would have happened if the operative question had been "does it look right?" rather than "is there a rule against it?". Maybe that is the lesson we should be teaching our scouts when we talk about the Scout Oath and Law.






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The guy we had with the long list was and maybe still is? A HS Band Director, he is no longer involved in Scouting. In fact the Troop has folded.

I don't know what badges he covered or if he really was qualified for all of them..

He was within the rules.

When I asked the Council Advancement Chair about this he explained to me that the reason for not having a limit was to ensure that Scouts in remote areas would still be able to participate fully.

He was an ASM in the Troop that OJ first joined.

OJ quit because they were just giving away merit badges.

I have posted before how I got a call from a very upset parent. Her son was working on the Dog care badge. He it seems was doing everything right. They made an appointment to meet with the SM of this Troop, he came to the door, asked the Lad if he had a dog?The Lad said that he did and then and there without anymore ado he signed the card and sent the Lad and his mother on their way. Mum was upset that her son had done all the work for what to her seemed for nothing.



Your right about the District I serve being small.

Everyone seems to know everyone.

Very few of the SM's have less than ten years in and a lot have been around for what seems forever.

Like most Districts we have a couple of really wonderful Troops that tend to do things mostly by the book.

We have a lot of Troops that on the whole do a good job.

While no one is asking me I tend to think that maybe they have become a little stale and rely on doing the same old same old, but for the most part the kids that join and stay do get a fairly good program.

Then we have a couple of Troops that at times make me wonder if they belong to the same organization that I do?

One or two of these do tend to do their own thing when it comes to advancement and merit badges.

The Troop OJ first joined held regular MB classes in place of Troop meetings. The only requirement to get the badge was to turn up for the class. (I attended the class they offered on the then Atomic Energy Badge. The guy they had recruited was talking way above my understanding, not that I'm that bright! The Scouts clearly had no idea what he was talking about, a the time OJ was 11 or 12. But at the next COH 16 Scouts all got the Atomic Energy badge. I think the guy did know what he was talking about?? But he had never been approved as a MBC.)

While a Lad from Troop 123, a Troop that has a history of doing things right will show up for a ESBOR and rightly or wrongly the Board will kinda know that everything is in order, a Lad from Troop 567, a Troop that has a history of playing fast and free with things will attract a closer inspection from the Board.

In the District I'm in we have the ESBOR in a District setting with a committee member from the Troop invited to attend (Sometimes a ASM or another warm body shows!!)Questions about who did what and when that haven't been addressed before then are directed at him or her.

I would hope that no one would deny a Scout something that he has earned because of a paper-work mix up. But when it becomes clear that a Troop (The adults in the Troop) are not playing by the rules these adults need to be held accountable for their actions.

If no one is going to be held accountable? Why have a system in place to start with?


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I understand that the challenge of having enough counselors in rural areas is why there are not national rules putting a lot of limitations on merit badge counselors. We don't have that problem.


Our district covers the smallest county in the US (Arlington, VA) and an adjacent town (McLean, VA) with a combined population of about 250,000. The counselor list is really long with multiple choices for most merit badges. While some counselors limit themselves to scouts from their own troop there are still plenty to go around. A limit of 5 per counselor should not pose a hardship here.


The district requires the units to update the the unit lists every two years but I suspect that the units often do not check the lists they submit. When my son was working on Eagle he called a couple of counselors who were on the list but no longer active.


On a related note: At an RT there was a discussion of finding counselors. Scouts most frequent complaint was that counselors who didn't return phone calls. Counselors most frequent complaint: scouts who did not clearly say their name and phone number when leaving a message. Funny how that works out.



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Direct from #33088, Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures --

"There is no restriction or limit on the number of merit badges an individual may be approved to

counsel for, but they must be approved by the committee for each specific merit badge.

There is no limit on the number of merit badges a youth may earn from one counselor.

An approved merit badge counselor may counsel any youth member, including his or her own son,

ward, or relative.

Older Venturers, age 18 or older, make excellent counselors."


It appears that the person writing the FAQs put in his own bias. #33088 is the rulebook, not a newly posted FAQ webpage.

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