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When Do You Refuse a Merit Badge?

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I'll play. I'm assuming that you mean that the card was signed by the MB counsellor.

When the blue card was not initially signed by the SM?

when fraud was involved?


So much is situationally dependent, that I doubt it is useful for people to guess or speculate the nature of your situation.(This message has been edited by venividi)

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If the signature was fake or forged, if the Blue card was not approved to start with or if it was a camp MC class that you have undesputable proof was done absolutely wrong.


Other than that, if it has valid signatures...you accept it golden....wether you like it or not.



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I am on our Councils District Advancement Comm. and run a Merit Badge Trail Drive for my District, but I have run into this on occasion.



I'm with Scoutfish, a "signed" Blue Card by an APPROVED Merit Badge Councilor is technically earned. Whether you accept it or not (or signed it as the unit leader).


You can easily confirm with the District approved Merit Badge councilor list that the Councilor is APPROVED or not. That would give you an opportunity to challenge the badge... the Councilor can just re-apply and get APPROVED.


You can contact the councilor if they are APPROVED and ask if they have their 1/3rd of the card as a record for confirmation if there is some question on validity of signature.


But lets say a Scout transfers into your Troop from a council where you can't confirm the Councilor status or the Councilor is a Parent/Leader (not outside the realm of possibilities, and permitted by the BSA Merit Badge Counciling Guidelines)... and he presents you with Per. Mgt, Life Saving, Per Fitness, etc.... with the same Councilor.


In that case, I would refer to the Advancement Comm. chair... but have reservations about accepting any....



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I hate questions like that. No offense, but it seems like you have an opinion formed and you want someone (anyone!) to give you a reason. You don't provide details probably because you know that if we had the details, the answer won't be what you want.


If a blue card is signed by an approved MB counselor, there is no reason to refuse it. If you suspect forgery, you better be prepared to back it up.

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Let's go right to the guide: "Once a registered and approved counselor has passed a Scout on requirements for a merit badge, it cannot be taken away. Nor does unit leadership have the authority to retract approval, or take the badge away."


I can think of only one case in which I would refuse to award a merit badge:


1) If I could prove that fraud was involved - that a Scout has forged an MB Counselor's signature (not getting the SM's signature in advance is not fraud but forging the SM's signature on the card would be). Important key here - the ability to PROVE fraud was involved - if I suspect fraud, but can't prove it, the benefit of the doubt favors the Scout.


I was tempted to suggest two cases with the second being a person who wasn't registered as an MBC as below:


2) If the person who signed the blue card as the Merit Badge Counselor was not a registered Merit Badge Counselor. Only a Registered MBC can sign the blue cards (for most summer camp staffs, it is common practice for the department head to be the registered MBC for that department's merit badges and for him/her to sign all of the applications, even is s/he wasn't the person doing the actual badge work with the Scout).


However, checking the guide again, it has an interesting little note: "Even if a merit badge counselor were found to be improperly documented, it would be a rare occasion when a Scout would be penalized for the mistake of an adult volunteer." Reading this confirms a thought I had nagging at the back of my mind the whole time based on my often-stated view of advancement and giving youth the advantage of the benefit of the doubt and that would be, as SM, I would work with that unregistered MBC to get them registered, get a new blue card signed after registration, and welcome a new MBC to the fold.


It's tempting to say that if the Scout hasn't gotten the Scoutmaster's approval to work on the badge first that the badge could be refused but, and I'm going by the book here, the new guide to advancement makes clear that if the application is signed as earned by a registered Merit Badge Counselor, then the badge has been earned and cannot be refused. The guide says nothing about what happens if the application hadn't been signed by the SM in advance and since there is an absence of direction in that case, you have to go with what rules have been presented, and the overriding rule is that once a badge has been signed off by a registered MBC, the badge is earned - that's not a "technical" answer - that is the only answer.


If the issue is a missing SM's signature, you have a conversation with the Scout about being Scoutlike and being Trustworthy and Loyal enough to pass it by the SM first - and make a note of who the counselor was so you can have a conversation with the District Advancement Chair about possibly reminding the MBC's to check to make sure the Scoutmaster signature is present on the blue card when meeting with Scouts.


I'd also make sure to take into account the circumstances - if it's a buddy of a Scout who had no intention of earning the badge but went along with a Scout to a counselor as his two-deep buddy, and decided since he was there, may as well complete it too, or a Scout who had an unexpected opportunity to earn a merit badge while on a family trip, I'd cut the lad a little bit more slack.


But really, if you turn it down because you didn't initially sign it, there is nothing to prevent the Scout from getting a signed blue card, going right back to the same counselor (you can make recommendations, you can't insist they use a specific counselor if the Scout has a counselor in mind) and getting the card re-signed by his MBC.


You weren't very forthcoming as to your situation so it's hard to know what fits. However, a fairly common situation is a Scout coming to you with a signed MBC and you, as the leader, somehow "knowing" that the Scout didn't meet all the requirements, or can't duplicate a requirement that the MBC said he did for you. There is a simple answer to that - and yes, life isn't fair so deal with it - there is no retesting of Merit Badge requirements at the Troop level before a Scout is awarded the badge - there is no Board of Review for a merit badge before a Scout is awarded the badge - there is simply" Once registered MBC has signed the blue card that the merit badge has been completed, the merit badge has been earned and awarded - the only thing left for the Troop to do is enter it on the Scout's advancement records, and present him with the merit badge.


Oh, and I disagree a bit with dg98 on accepting merit badges on transfer or from a parent - I wouldn't have any reservations at all - the guide specifically states that a Scout can use a counselor from another council if he wishes, provided they were registered, and it's usually not that difficult to find out if they are if you know what council it is and want to take the time (and really, who wants to do all that work). A Scout transfering to your unit from another council? It's be pretty rare for a Scout to transfer into your unit with a blue card signed by an MBC that hadn't already been given the merit badge - we don't make transfer Scouts redo the badges (rank or merit) he's already earned when he transfers. As for parents? If they are a registered MBC for specific MBs and have signed the blue cards, then regardless of "reservations" one might have, the merit badge is earned, just as if the MBC wasn't a parent. No ifs or buts.


To summarize all that? Unless you can prove fraud, then you never refuse to award a merit badge when presented with a MBC signed blue card - the award is already earned and awarded.

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I initially denied a scout Wilderness Survival MB. He took it at summer camp but missed the over night sleep in a shelter he built requirement because that evening he decided to participate in another camp activity. At the end of the week he had a completion on the MB. I asked the counselor why he signed off, the MBC said the scout said he built a shelter at his camp and spent the night in it, which he did not do. I withheld the MB until he built a shelter and spent the night in it which was several months later.

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Is there an Official process or flowsheet somewhere????


My understanding of the process is

1. scout desires take a merit badge

2. Scout asks SM for permission to take the merit badge.

3. SM gives scout a signed blue card and merit badge councilor list.

4. Scout calls makes appointment with one of the MC

5. Scout meets MC and completes requirements

6. Once MC is satisfied the scout has completed the requirements he signs the card and returns 2 parts of it to the scout.

7. Scout turns Blue card into the SM or advancement chair to get it recorded and awarded.



Is that about right?????


I would not accept it if the SM did not sign it in advance and some extreme circumstances.....


How about the dad or mom that goes to the Scout shop and buys a stack of merit badge cards? Signs up to be a MBC and then starts signing cards for scout son??? Would you reject them???? On what grounds?????

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Yah, hello there Reasonable Rascal.


I think the core of this question is not found in books on procedure, eh? The core of the question is found in doin' what's right for the boy and the program. As a Scoutmaster, you're there because your Chartered Organization and a whole mess of community representatives and parents decided you were the best person to trust and rely on to help develop the young people in your community. So yeh use your best judgment to do what is best for the boy and the program.


Is the boy pulling a fast one, as Eagle732 reported? Then of course you don't recognize him in front of the community and have others applaud his "achievement", because that would be the wrong lesson for the boy and for the other boys, eh? It would teach them that the easiest road to public acclaim is to cheat.


Did the counselor not live up to his/her end of the bargain, by testing the boy individually and ensuring he was proficient on each requirement? Then yeh sit with the lad and talk honestly about honor, and how an honorable man refuses to wear awards that he didn't truly earn, and yeh find him a new counselor who will help the boy really learn what's expected for the badge. And then yeh make sure to fix the system by speakin' to that MBC or to the district, and not usin' him/her again.


Is it somethin' that's "on the edge" in some way? Then yeh trust that the MB counselor has the expertise that you don't, and yeh recognize that sometimes the right lesson is to teach all the boys to trust in the system. We have to trust our fellow adults to make judgment calls, eh? So yeh honor the badge even though yeh have misgivings, rather than playin' "gotcha".


Is it somethin' where the parents went rogue? Then perhaps what yeh need to be doin' is dealing with the parents' behavior directly, rather than through the boy in the middle.


The point is it ain't about signatures and forms and cards and guidebooks. It's about character development and mentoring youth. Keep your eyes on the prize and not on the paperwork and yeh won't go far wrong.




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The only item a troop has to do with the merit badge process is the Scoutmaster signing the card, then reporting the results.

As many troops have in house merit badge councilors, some blurr the lines of "who does what".


Merit badges are the purview of the District. Once a merit badge is signed by a registered merit badge councilor, it is a done deal. We all know of troops that won't "allow" some merit badges to be taken at summer camp or MB fairs, but they are outside of the correct process.


My questions are 1) did the Scoutmaster sign the card to begin with?

2) has he called the councilor and verified he is a properly registered Mbc?


As a Scoutmaster, I have a pretty good handle on who is working what merit badge.


One of my pet peeves is what I call "trail blazing"? I'll spin that one off.


I'll tell you one where I didn't award a merit badge; when the scout announced in front of everyone that he didn't do any of the work for the badge! I asked him if it was proper then to accept the badge. I never did find out how the card got signed....summer camp badges!




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Having dealt with this issue within my Troop, the first thing that came to mind was whether the blue card was signed off by a relative of the scout who happens to be a registered MB counselor for the MB the scout needs. Simply solution is in the future, MB counselors must be MB counselors by the SM/Troop leaders from a Troop MB approved MB counselor list. Call in another MB counselor and have then go through the requirements and see if the scout did the actual work. Sign off should not be given by the SM if actual work on the MB was not done even if the relative MB counselor signed off on it. 'Morally straight' is in the oath for a reason. And a scout must practice the 12 points for character building: trustworthy, loyal and etc.

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I purposely did not provide details in order to stimulate a variety of responses, basically to see if there were valid reasons (i.e. more than one), and if so what they might be in general, rather than focused on one instance. I was deliberately vague for that reason only.


Here's the situation: local troop holds a MB clinic. They decided ahead of time what MB's to offer, and then tried to sign up counselors to fit their pre-determined offerings.


Scout comes to the clinic 45 minutes late, looks over the schedule of MB offerings and jumps in. No pre-signed BC's. I was there teaching first aid, which Scout already has, so I know exactly when he arrived and when he left.


2+ hours after the Scout arrives we break for lunch and after he has his pizza he shows me 4 (5?) signed off BC's. Woodworking, Communications, Chess and another one or two, and then departs. He then leaves.


The clinic finishes about 2:00 PM (he left between 12:15-12:30).


Here's the problem: his cards have been signed by the MB counselors, who were themselves basically fill-ins rather than registered for the MB's. His father, when approached at the weekly meeting, brags how his son essentially ended up teaching two of the MB's (Woodworking and Chess) because he purportedly knew more on the subject than the counselors. True or not I cannot say.


I did ask one of the counselors, who was the SM of the troop offering the clinic, if the signed cards meant the Scout had indeed completed the MB's, and his reply was it was up to the SM to make that determination.


I know for a fact the scout did not A. read the MB books (he had no way of knowing what was going to be offered, and he hadn't checked anything out from the MB library in any case), and B. did not get BC signed before starting the MB's, unlike the two other boys from my troop who were present from the start and stayed until the end.


The cards were signed but the completed requirements were not particularly noted, and the counselor section was still attached though completely filled in.


In response to M2C's statement: "No offense, but it seems like you have an opinion formed and you want someone (anyone!) to give you a reason. You don't provide details probably because you know that if we had the details, the answer won't be what you want." ..... Not so. But I will say I was disappointed to not see what to me is the key point: No one may add or subtract from the requirements. The Scout is asked to do no less, and may not be required to do more.


I await to see if any of the responses change, or not.


BTW< my MB session stretched the entire time from start to finish and I did not sign off the 2 boys who took it because they could not complete 2d, 6 and 7 at the clinic. but they were told how they could finish them and how to contact me to get their cards signed off when they did. I even provided materials to get them started on on requirement 2d.



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Wow...that sounds like a 1980's MB clinic...that is disappointing. I wouldn't think something so ad hoc would go on these days, or hoped it wouldn't. I thought most MB clinics were supposed to be very narrow in focus. Here in my city there is one put on by the fire department once per year that focuses only on first aid and fire safety (http://www.wect.com/story/17022200/boy-scouts-earn-merit-badges-in-first-aid-and-fire-safety). And most of the other opportunities in our council also seem fairly narrow and focused.

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