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Venturing, MBs, and the SM's role

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I need some advice from you old heads out there.


I recently began forming a Venture patrol, with a newly-registered ASM (Eagle and enthusiastic) heading it up. Still forming, he met with their parents during last week's troop meeting (I found out later it wasn't his idea, it was asked for by a couple parents). After the meeting, he asked me if he could also register as an MB counselor. I told him sure, gave him the paperwork, and told him we'd get it up to council after he completes it.


Yesterday, I was at a troop bake sale, when our advancement chair, who is also a mom of one of the venture Scouts (Life who's started his Eagle project and a squared-away Scout), pulled the venture Scouts aside and started asking them what MBs they wanted to earn, Eagle-required and "fun" electives. Neither she nor the Scouts had MB requirements with them, but I did,so I ran down the badges, and they came up with a list of five. So far, so good, although some of the Scouts already had some of the badges, and others were partially complete with other Eagle-required badges that weren't on their short list. Then, advancement chair tells the Scouts to download the worksheets from meritbadge.com and do as much as they can before next week's troop meeting. That's when I reminded them before they begin working on an MB, they need to get a signed blue card from me with an assigned counselor.


Advancement chair told me the venture ASM was going to be the counselor for all of them, and he could take care of the blue cards at the meeting, and hold the blue cards until they're complete. When I tried to show advancement chair page 185 in the Handbook that outlines how a Scout earns a MB, off to the side, things really went downhill and I'm left standing alone with the Handbook.


I called the venture ASM afterward. He told me the parents wanted the meeting, and he thought it was to be about Venturing activities, not MBs. He said he felt "leaned on" to counsel MBs, and while he's not averse to doing that, he doesn't want the venture patrol turning into a group MB patrol (nor do I). Moreover, he admits he's not qualified to counsel some of the MBs on their list (Family Life for example -- he's an early 20's single guy).


I'm very aware from experience that the SM's sole input into the MB process is at the front end when a Scout says he wants to earn a badge. That's when we talk about advancement goals, available time, smart choices, and counselors. As soon as I sign that blue card, it out of my hands and in the counselors'. Therefore, I pay very close attention to that front end of the process and didn't appreciate what I saw as an attempt, however well-meaining, to "hijack" it.


For background, the advancement chair and I don't see eye-to-eye on some things anyway. Aside from annual YP, she's untrained and hasn't attended offered/available training courses. I guess you could say I'm the "Bob White" of our troop, 'cuz I'm usually the one insisting the rules be followed, the program adhered to, and the boys make decisions and run things, even if it's messy. Therefore, I sometimes get eye-rolls and air-leaks from, again well-intentioned, "lets-take-a-shortcut" types.




- Is my vision for the Venture patrol on track, or is the Venture patrol the forum for them to focus on "old Scout" and/or Eagle-required MBs?


- Am I being hyper-sensitive about the SM's role in the MB process, or is my attention level appropriate?


- Are the advancement chair's actions appropriate, too involved, or not involved enough?


I appreciate any feedback/advice you can give me.



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Your Advancement Committee person needs to be trained in her specific position. She does advancement paperwork and awards, but also makes sure that merit badge counselors are qualified, trained, registered, and available. There is a specific form to register merit badge counselors. The form speaks for itself. I'm not aware of a specific limit on how many merit badges you can teach, but the qualifications to teach a specific merit badge is high (professional or serious hobby). This in itself, keeps this young ASM from teaching whatever merit badges the Venture Scouts might want.

The young Eagle ASM needs to concentrate on the Venture Patrol and their program. So many choices to bring to the Scouts attention. This Advisor (ASM) should not be teaching merit badges, but training his youth leaders in the functions of the Venture Patrol program.

KS, keep tight control on the merit badge process and INSIST that advancement procedures be followed.

And what was the need for that special parents meeting???? Was it to lean on this young ASM to demand that he teach merit badges to get their Scouts to Eagle fast???? That's what it sounds like. Merit badges are 100% up to the Scout. Just make sure that your Advancement Committee person has qualified resources available.

Looks like you'll need to recruit a new Advancement Committee person who will follow the Scouting program.



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Thanks for the quick reply. I use the MB counselor worksheet along with the leader app. and our US Army-required background check consent form when I register MB counselors.


I agree with you, there's no limit on the number of badges a Scout can work on simultaneously, although there is a practical upper limit that's determined by the Scout, the badges, and his ability to juggle it all.


I think that was the purpose of the parents' meeting, although I don't live in their heads so I can't be sure.



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I would meet with the same parents and let them know you appreciate their participation but that the program administration is your responsibility and the advancement program will be operated according to the standards of the Boy Scouts of America to insure their sons have a quality scouting experience. Anyone who would like to help with that process will first need to attend tarining to learn what the correct methods of scouting are. Have the Committe Chair tell them that the SM manages the use of Assistants SM and any suggestions on how that is done needs to go through the Scoutmaster.


Good Luck,

Bob White

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