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ScoutMom22

Blue card refusal?

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Hi! Forgive me of this has been asked before, but I have a question.... My son got an opportunity to work on the lifesaving merit badge over the Christmas holiday. He called his Scoutmaster 5 days ahead of time to get approval for the blue card and to discuss the badge. (He is 11 and was EXTREMELY nervous about having to call him.) The scoutmaster didn't answer his phone so my son left him a very detailed message about what MB is was, who the counselor was, what date he wanted to do the badge, where, and who his buddy was. The SM never called him back and since this was an opportunity he didn't want to miss, my son went ahead and did the MB, and fulfilled all the requirements. Now the SM is refusing to give him a blue card for it under the reasons that he believes that no one younger than a third year scout should earn the MB. My son is extremely upset, so we have had to go to the committee with our questions. (The SM referred us to the committee when we questioned his ruling.) The committee says that they are going to uphold the SM's decision. I was under the understanding that a SM could not withhold a blue card, or refuse to sign it as long as the counselor said he met the requirements? (The MB counselor is an 18 year old certified BSA AND Red Cross lifeguard, Eagle Scout, and approved by council to be a counselor. Since he is under 21, the MB instruction was also supervised by a certified lifeguard that is over the age of 21.) What should I do?

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You and your son have a tough decision to make. The SM is clearly wrong, and so is the committee. You can find the rules that show this in the Guide to Advancement. You can probably push the issue and get the merit badge approved, but you are probably going to sour some relationships so think hard about it. How committed are you and your son to this troop? Is it the right fit for you? Are there other troops in the area that are an equal or better fit for you?

 

I am a big fan of the SM counseling the scout about what might be a good match for MBs and counselors. But the idea that it is up to a SM to determine that "no one younger than a third year scout should earn that MB" is a big red flag for me. That kind of broad generalization indicates someone who doesn't recognize that scouts can come in a lot of varieties and probably also someone who has a very narrow definition about what is the one right way to experience scouting. It is doubtful that this is his only quirk, and you are probably going to see a lot of my way is the only way issues.

 

If your committed to the troop, for whatever reason, and/or if you are OK with my way or the highway stick with the troop, if not do you and your son a favor, save some a lot of future aggravation, push the MB because your son earned it, and go find another troop now while he is still early in his scouting adventure.

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What should I do?

Encourage your son to learn from this and continue. You should step back and watch. This is scouting, boys learn from their mistakes and move forward. He will earn Lifesaving MB the right way.

 

1. The scout talks to his Scoutmaster first and seeks his/her approval to start work on a MB. Sometimes I do not return calls/email if I am traveling on business, particularly if the issue is better discussed in detail at the next scout meeting. For the scout, if a call/email is not returned, call/email again or seek a face-to-face meeting.

2. Approval is not automatic. A SM may reject the idea and deny a card but he/she will state the reasons. For Lifesaving, I think scouts need more upper body strength and maturity than the average 11 yr old. If your SM have been given the opportunity, he/she would likely have directed your scout to other scout activities or merit badges.

3. The 18yr MBC was wrong in allowing your son to take the class without a SM signed blue card.

4. This was the SM's call, the Troop Committee supports the SM decision not approves it. I think you misunderstood or were misinformed of their involvement.

 

Usually troops have a new parent meeting early on where advancement and a myriad of other program specifics are explained so everyone is on the same page.

 

Hopefully lessons learned for the next merit badge.

 

My $0.02,

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You need to refer to Guide to Advancement, the BSAs advancement rule and policy book, particularly section 7 which covers the merit badge program. http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

 

First, the Scoutmaster is out of line with requiring that a scout be a third year Scout. The GTA is quite clear on the matter of adding to the requirements.

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements.

 

You really need to review topics 7.0.0.3 and 7.0.4.7 in the GTA. No where in the GTA does it say that a Scoutmaster can withhold an Application for Merit Badge, AKA Blue Card. Since the counselor was registered and the activities were properly supervised then I would suggest that the young man be awarded the merit badge. He made a good faith effort to contact the Scoutmaster, and other than getting it the merit badge application signed off by the Scoutmaster to start with, everything was done correctly. I hope the Scoutmaster did not call the boy back to simply deny a Blue Card by inaction.

 

If the scoutmaster and committee do not budge, I would recommend sending in a Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns from, 11.1.0.0 in the GTA, to the council advancement committee.

 

Two articles to read from the Scouting Magazine Blog would be

http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/201...e-card-issued/

http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/201...equirement-10/

 

Below is a quote from the second link by the head of the National Advancement Team of the BSA:

 

Unit leaders do not have the authority to refuse to give a Scout a blue card. ​The signature on a blue card signifies, simply, that the unit leader has had a discussion about the badge with the Scout and that the Scout has been provide the name of at least one registered and approved counselor.

 

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Although your son should have followed up on his request with the Scoutmaster in person, I don't think you son has made any real mistakes. He did what he was supposed to do and the Scoutmaster dropped the ball by not calling back (presumably because he didn't want to issue the blue card) and then by imposing his own rules.

 

The Scoutmaster and Committee are wrong. Scoutmasters cannot deny a blue card. The BSA Guide to Advancement provides:

7.0.0.3 The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader

 

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise a
ny registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at any time.
Before he begins working with a merit badge counselor, however, he is to have a discussion with his unit leader. That a discussion has been held is indicated by the unit leader’s signature on the Application for Merit Badge, No. 34124, commonly called the “blue card.†Although it is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identified from those approved and made available, the Scout may have one in mind with whom he would like to work. The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be. Lacking agreement, t
he Scout must be allow
ed to work with the counselor of his choice
, so long as the counselor is registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee.

 

***

 

The discussion a Scout is to have with the unit leader is meant to be a growth-oriented and positive conversation. The unit leader should discuss any concerns related to working on the merit badge and provide appropriate counseling.
It is then the Scout’s decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge.
The process is intended to inform the Scout about what he may encounter along the way, and perhaps to give him suggestions on how the work might be approached. It also has the purpose of keeping the unit leader up to date with what the members of the unit are doing.

You can find a copy of the Guide to Advancement here: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf and the cited sections are on page 45.

 

There is no discretion on the Scoutmaster's part. He has the discussion with the scout and then signs on the blue card.

 

I would recommend giving this information to your son and having him bring it to his scoutmaster asking for reconsideration. That would be the best learning lesson for him -- standing up for himself when he is right.

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1. Find the appropriate passages in the Guide to Advancement.

2. CALMLY discuss this with the Committee Chair in a private setting.

3. IF the CC continues to uphold the SM's decision in spite of the GtA:

3a. Calmly discuss with the District Advancement Chair

3b. Start search for new Troop.

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Wow these responses woke me up faster than my coffee.

 

Chapter and verse, it looks like I was wrong, wish I wasn't though. What I am reading is there is no longer any real need for the Scoutmaster or a "signed blue card" in the current merit badge process. A scout can just go take a merit badge any time, place, or counselor.

 

Next up: Scout motto "Be Prepared" replaced with "Ready or Not"

 

Refund $0.02 but not Cheerfully

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Schiff. Scoutmaster must sign the card if asked. It's his chance to talk to the kid about the badge. If he's got reservations about it (say 50 pound 11year old kid trying to do lifesaving) he should bring up that up. If the Scout still wants to do it, that's the Scouts choice and the Scoutmaster should sign and recommend a counselor.

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I had an erudite reply, but the forum locked-up before I could send it.

 

Who can you talk to besides some guys spending lots of time on the internet? Well, you should have a district or council advancement chair. That person keeps up to date on the requirements. If the supervising counselor is convinced that your boy really is worthy of the badge in no uncertain terms, he could give the SM a call as well.

 

But, what was really lost here?

Well some communication. And, that's a pity because communication is what builds trust in the long run. The only fix is that son learn how to plan a little bit more in advance and try to close those communication loops between him and the SM.

Then there's a patch. That's it, the boy doesn't have a little round patch that can be sewn on a sash. But the SM seems to indicate that that's only a matter of time. And, good news! There are 130+ other patches to earn in the meantime. I think his next move is to ask for a conference about what MB (or two) he should work on next.

 

What's gained?

Skills! There are precious few young men who know how to safely perform water rescues. You now have the peace of mind that your son now has some sense of what to do (or refrain from doing) when a day threatens to turn very bad. Combine that with good judgement and some assertiveness, and he may have a hand in forestalling death. Then, you may talk to your district/council advancement chair about Medal of Honor paperwork!

 

If he stays in shape, in three years he can take the BSA guard course ... make sure he picks the biggest buddy he can find to be his practice victim!

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This was new when the site locked up for me last night. Still . . .

 

​Merit Badges are a Council program to be run according to BSA rules The unit does not control the program or make the rules.

 

 

The Scout is to discuss his desire to work on a Merit badge before seeing the Merit Badge Counselor. Neither the Scoutmaster or the Committee have authority to deny a Scout the opportunity to earn a Merit Badge after the discussion. No age or length of registration requirement may be applied.

 

"A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Boy Scout . . . may work on any of them at any time. Before he begins working with a merit badge counselor, however, he is to have a discussion with his unit leader. That a discussion has been held is indicated by the unit leader’s signature on the Application for Merit Badge, No. 34124, commonly called the “blue card.†Although it

is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identifi ed from those approved and made available, the Scout may have one in mind with whom he would like to work. The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be.

 

Lacking agreement, the Scout must be allowed to work with the counselor of his choice, so long as the counselor is registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee. However, see “Counselor Approvals and Limitations,†7.0.1.4, for circumstances

when a unit leader may place limits on the number of merit badges that may be earned from one counselor."

 

BSA Guide to Advancement at p.45.

 

 

 

 

The Merit Badge Counselor may accept work done before the Blue Card was issued as counting towards earning the badge, It is not clear that work done before the discussion is counted, but the Council is likely to allow it if it feels that the Scout made a goof faith effort to have the discussion.

 

"Typically after the unit leader signs the blue card, the Scout contacts the merit badge counselor and sets an appointment. While a boy may begin working on a merit badge at any time after he is registered, it is the counselor’s decision whether to accept work or activities completed prior to the issuing of the signed blue card." BSA Guide to Advancement at p. 44.

 

 

Be gentle but contact your Council office. Calm is good. Think about what outcome is best for your Scout. What's the lesson for him?

 

Another troop may be in order.

 

Guide to Advancement http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

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Schiff. Scoutmaster must sign the card if asked. It's his chance to talk to the kid about the badge. If he's got reservations about it (say 50 pound 11year old kid trying to do lifesaving) he should bring up that up. If the Scout still wants to do it' date=' that's the Scouts choice and the Scoutmaster should sign and recommend a counselor.[/quote']

 

Well the good news is I am not a SM as I would not sign anything if I thought it was the wrong thing to do. I believe as adults we can say NO to children if that is our best judgment.

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ScoutMom22,

 

I too have been locked out for a couple of days. Here is my response as of two days ago.

 

As a long time Scoutmaster and given the situation as presented, I would congratulate the Scout on completing a difficult merit badge at such a young age. I would verify the qualifications of the merit badge counselor in case the other Scouts would like to contact him. What did the counselor give your Scout upon completion of the merit badge? Anything?

I would also encourage this Scout that getting a blue card in advance is the better way to go. Scoutmasters, believe it or not, are not required to be available for immediate communication. We have lives and responsibilities outside of Scouting. I don't mind the occasional phone call, but texts, tweets, e-mails, phone calls, facebook entries, etc., etc., is impossible to keep up with. I personally make sure our Scouts know the preferred communication method we all can use. Keeps it simple. Almost everything can wait until the weekly meeting.

Scoutmasters aren't the gatekeepers of the blue cards, and I would never turn down a request. I would ask for a few details and encourage their efforts. And yes, your Scoutmaster and Committee are breaking the rules by adding their requirements to the BSA advancement program. It's documented in the advancement guide (or whatever it's now called). I'd find another troop that follows the program. These folks are not going to change. We want your son to stay in Scouting. Take some friends with him.

 

Take care,

 

sst3rd

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Well the good news is I am not a SM as I would not sign anything if I thought it was the wrong thing to do. I believe as adults we can say NO to children if that is our best judgment.

 

 

Have you ever encountered an adult who needs to hear "no" regardless of how firmly and sincerely he clings to his or her belief? I suspect the answer is "yes."

 

An experienced Scouter with a decent relationship with the Scout can usually influence his decisions. I have talked Scouts into things - like taking Camping and Backpacking before taking Wilderness Survival (although the last is my favorite MB).

 

At the end, if the Scout legitimately passed the MB, who was incorrect, the adult or the child?

 

And if we say "no," and B.S.A. says "yes," what collateral damage may result?

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Responding to Tahawk. This is somewhat hypothetical as I am not a SM or this particular SM.

 

1. Everyday and twice as much on Sunday.

 

2. Not as much these days. The dark forces of parental or peer pressure are growing stronger.

 

3. So the end justifies the means? The scout did not have a signed card, the 18 yr MBC proceeded anyway. Two wrongs make a right and that's okay. If I was SM, I would have a conference with the scout about what it means to be Trustworthy. What happens the next time when an activity that he is interested requires SM approval, will he do another end around?

But as the rules have changed (eroded the traditional MB process), I see no point requiring a SM to sign the blue card. If the scout wants advice then ask, if not fine. He's got an automatic green light no matter what.

 

4. The collateral damage is that scouters leave the BSA. Adults are harder to recruit if they know their judgment is not trusted and their decisions are not supported.

 

My $0.02

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Hi everyone! Thanks for all the responses. I have been locked out the past couple days as well and couldnt even see any of the responses, much less respond myself. In the meantime I have purchased a copy of the Guide to Advancement and have several of the items, 7.0.0.3, and the article from Scouting Magazine (thanks for all the links!) etc., highlighted and am planning on taking several copies of it to our next committee meeting. My son and his buddy that did the merit badge with him will be attending the committee also and presenting their case to the committee, and the MB counselor plans to be there as well. I have also placed a call to the District Advancement Chairman to notify him of our intention to dispute the ruling if the committee withholds the SM decision after being presented with the Guide to Advancement policies. Schiff, maybe you are in need of a little clarification to help you understand the situation. In the troop my son is in, the Scoutmaster typically NEVER has blue cards on him at a troop meeting, so when a Scout approaches him to ask for the blue card, he is usually just told to go ahead and do the merit badge (with no counseling) and the SM will get him the card at a later time. If the Scoutmaster isn't at the troop meeting (which has happened ALOT lately), the Scouts are told to have their patrol leaders call him on the phone with any details that they need to tell him. My son IS the patrol leader for his patrol, so therefore he is the one who made the call. It is not unusual for the SM to not answer his phone, and he is notorious for NEVER returning phone calls. Nothing that happened with this MB was out of the ordinary for any Scout, except for the blatant refusal AFTERWARD to give him the blue card. Since this was during Christmas vacation and the SM does not work, 5 days notice should have been plenty of time for any ADULT to return a phone call to a youth and counsel him if he felt the need. The merit badge counselor is the same counselor that the troop always goes to for First Aid requirements for rank, First Aid MB, Lifesaving MB, and Swimming MB since he has been on the Aquatics staff at summer camp for the past 4 years and his job when not on staff at camp is a lifeguard at a local rec center and is also a volunteer fire fighter. The MB counselor, in doing the MB, was not doing anything that had not been done in the past, since as I stated previously, the SM typically doesn't give out blue cards until after the MB has been done. My son has said that he doesn't want to leave the troop because a lot of friends have been made there but we are afraid that there may be a possibility for retaliation in the future (such as withholding ranks, etc. *which they have done in the past to other scouts who have questioned his "ruling"). I am saddened by the actions of the SM and the Committee because they have frustrated two scouts who have chosen on their own, to focus on trying to get their Star rank before the end of the school year.

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