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Adamcp

Merit Badge Counselors

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I don't think they actually enforce the "Troop only" policy

 

At one time you could specify that you were a "Troop only" MBC and it showed that on the MBC list.

 

You can no longer specify this.

Our council has a form you fill out to be a MBC.

It basically asks why you are qualified to be a MBC for a MB.

It also says that you must be able and willing to see Scouts from outside your unit.

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Our council limits counselors to 15 merit badges, only 6 of which can be Eagle required.

They also eliminated the "Troop only" stipulation last year, although in the notice that went out announcing that fact, they simply said you can just decline to work with someone outside your Troop if asked.

Like CNYScouter, our council has a form you fill out annually.  The renewal letter we get every July lists all the badges we are registered for, and whether we want to make any changes.  We have until August 15 to return the form.  They ask for your qualifications, but to my knowledge, they'll take just about anything as far as qualifications go: vocation, special interest, "I just like the subject", etc.

For Climbing, Rifle, Shotgun, Scuba and Whitewater, you must submit your up-to-date certifications in order to be counselors for those badges.

 

Our Scoutmaster was just discussing MB counseling the other day, lamenting on the days when Scoutmasters were automatically counselors for all merit badges.  I'd never heard that before, and my Scoutmaster growing up was never a counselor for every merit badge by default, so I'm not sure the veracity of that statement.

 

Outside of Summer Camp, I don't think any of the Scouts in my Troop now have done any merit badges with counselors outside the "troop counselor" list.

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Wow. I always thought that our merit badge counselor issues were just due to our own Troop limitations and weaknesses. It is amazing to hear how many others have similar experiences. Frankly, I am having a hard time understanding how something so central to Scouting could be such a mess.

 

Well, I guess not THAT much of hard time .....

 

But still

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Wow. I always thought that our merit badge counselor issues were just due to our own Troop limitations and weaknesses. It is amazing to hear how many others have similar experiences. Frankly, I am having a hard time understanding how something so central to Scouting could be such a mess.

 

Well, I guess not THAT much of hard time .....

 

But still

 

Have you logged in to my.scouting during recharter to check your members' training history? 

 

If so, this should be no surprise.  :D  ;)

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All the factors are identified above: summer camp MB mills; troop lists; looking for the easy way out (Did anyone mention district or Council  "Merit Badge Midways" or the like?  :( )

 

I have been a MB Counselor for a long time, and the work gradually dried up. 

 

I have never had to do YPT more than once every two years despite holding multiple unit, district, and council jobs.  ( The online version testing for YPT screams "slapdash."   Which of the correct or which least incorrect answer are they looking for? )

 

BSA's decision to sharply restrict access to MB counselor lists on the grounds that MB counselors would be offended by being contacted by candidates is just nuts.  Furthermore, the imaginary issue would be solved by having the counselor paperwork contain his/her agreement to the publication of the list and receipt of contacts from candidates.  Once again, the people in the "risk management" "bubble" are operating without regard to the "business" as a whole.

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In Dan Beard Council (Greater Cincinnati) we are fortunate that somebody took the time to compile a very thorough listing. Organized by districts, merit badges, anyway you want it really. I suspect it simply takes somebody willing to put in the time and effort. Easy enough to maintain once it is first in place.

 

This is a recent change. When my eldest son first joined a troop, the list was outdated, difficult to navigate and held behind a password. Users were told that the list was not to be shared with scouts, but MBCs could be selected by the SM or Advancement chair and given to the scout. Then the password-protection was dropped but the list was not updated. I actively recruited MBCs from our troop, acquaintances, anyone who I thought would work well with youth and had the background to mentor a merit badge. Most applications were not approved. Not rejected, either, they disappeared into the black hole. My MBC app took my DE personally walking it through the process for me to gain approval the third time I tried. Council finally has its act together and the list is as you described, and a joy to use.

 

I have long suspected that the difficulty in getting MBC information led to troops creating their own corp of counselors and relying heavily on summer camp and merit badge challenges to help their scouts earn merit badges. Now that understandable response is undermining the process itself. It's a shame, really.

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My understanding is that the crux of the issue about the The List of MB counselors lies in the decrepit computer systems that BSA uses.  Our council sends out a PDF about every two months  that has been sorted by District, and then sorted by MB, so what you receive is a list of the MBCs in your district.  It's generated from Scoutnet, so you have to be registered in Scoutnet as a MBC to be on it.  

 

In our council, if you are already a registered scouter there is a form/application you fill out if you want to be a MBC; you can indicate on the form that you want to be Troop only, and that info prints out on the list, but very few people limit themselves that way.  Once Council receives the form the registrar then has to go in and "Multiple" register you as a MBC.  It is possible to be registered as just a MBC, but then you register, and are approved for BSA membership, by the District. Just like all other types of BSA membership you have to be re-chartered every year as a MBC, and this has to be done independently of your unit membership.  We used to get an email once a year with a new form asking if we wanted to again be MBCs, if you didn't respond you were dropped as a counselor.  I suggested to a couple people on our Council advancement committee, and I probably wasn't the only one, that if somebody remained registered with their unit we should just recharter them as MBCs, and this year they finally made that change.

 

So, in a nutshell, the list has to come from someone going into Scoutnet and first Multiple registering you as a MBC, then every year someone has to re-charter you as a MBC or you drop off the Scoutnet system.  As you can imagine there are a lot of ways for that process to go wrong, including everyone thinking/hoping it's someone else's responsibility to keep it up.  Oh, and one more quirk in the system, it doesn't capture email addresses.

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My first post was long enough that I decided that I should do a separate one for some more observations on the MBC, counselor list, MBs topic.

 

For better or worse, and I think it's worse, most summer camps these days are merit badge heavy. even if your camp has a solid program that does a good job being sure the requirements are met, most scouts come away from summer camp with at least 3 and some years as many as 5 MBs, either full or partial.  Take out some of the required badges that really don't fit at all well with a camp experience, like Communications, Family Life, Personal Management, and maybe one or two others, and a scout that goes to summer camp every year from when they're 11 through age 15, will already have somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 MBs, and have probably earned all the non-required badges they need for Eagle.  So outside of the required MBs there is almost no demand at all for counselors or for MB work other than at camp.  I think this is not good for many reasons, including narrowing the list of MBs that most scouts even consider, and limiting the Adult Association that used to come from MB work in the community rather than at camp.

 

A last thought, whenever possible I try to steer my scouts to a MBC outside the troop rather than them working with the same group of adults they already see regularly.  I mentioned above that The List doesn't capture emails; if I present my scouts with an option to initiate contact with an adult they don't know by calling them on the phone rather than first emailing versus them meeting with someone they'll probably see at a troop meeting or at least will have an email already, which do you think they most often choose?

Edited by T2Eagle

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My understanding is that the crux of the issue about the The List of MB counselors lies in the decrepit computer systems that BSA uses.  Our council sends out a PDF about every two months  that has been sorted by District, and then sorted by MB, so what you receive is a list of the MBCs in your district.  It's generated from Scoutnet, so you have to be registered in Scoutnet as a MBC to be on it.  

 

In our council, if you are already a registered scouter there is a form/application you fill out if you want to be a MBC; you can indicate on the form that you want to be Troop only, and that info prints out on the list, but very few people limit themselves that way.  Once Council receives the form the registrar then has to go in and "Multiple" register you as a MBC.  It is possible to be registered as just a MBC, but then you register, and are approved for BSA membership, by the District. Just like all other types of BSA membership you have to be re-chartered every year as a MBC, and this has to be done independently of your unit membership.  We used to get an email once a year with a new form asking if we wanted to again be MBCs, if you didn't respond you were dropped as a counselor.  I suggested to a couple people on our Council advancement committee, and I probably wasn't the only one, that if somebody remained registered with their unit we should just recharter them as MBCs, and this year they finally made that change.

 

So, in a nutshell, the list has to come from someone going into Scoutnet and first Multiple registering you as a MBC, then every year someone has to re-charter you as a MBC or you drop off the Scoutnet system.  As you can imagine there are a lot of ways for that process to go wrong, including everyone thinking/hoping it's someone else's responsibility to keep it up.  Oh, and one more quirk in the system, it doesn't capture email addresses.

In my oldest council, the lists were kept by district "Merit Badge Deans" on their own computers.  They gathered the information from council and other sources, such responses to questioning at roundtables and district events.  The lists were printed out in hard versions and distributed at district events AND were available on district websites.  They would contact you each year to see if there should be any changes in your listing or if you knew of any prospects who might agree to serve in that capacity.

 

When BSA imposed the new "privacy policy" a couple of years ago, the district-created lists stopped being kept. Now, the only list is the restricted-access list at Council.  The SE at the time said he had no explanation for the change in policy and was aware of no complaints from Counselors about being contacted by Scouts regarding MB work - hardly a surprise.

 

As a measure of the reliability of the council list, until recently I was listed as having completed SM training in 1910 and being a District Chairman of a district for three years before I was born and before such a district existed. In fact, every single entry on my record was incorrect.

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I will say one thing about the privacy issue.  Several years ago we put the MBC list up on our website, didn't really give it much thought.  A few months later one of the counselors, in hindsight probably rightly, called Council and raised holy heck.  Turns out she was a teacher and we had inadvertently published her heretofore unpublished phone number and address.  We dropped the list from the site the same day, but it was a lesson learned for us in what was then the early days of having a troop website.

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Perhaps my council is thinking of improving things.  As I mentioned above, one of the district leaders (I think he's District Chair) is in our troop, and I know that he has a copy of The List if anyone needs to see it.

 

Coincidentally, I just received an e-mail from Scoutbook stating that I am being given an account because I'm a MBC.  Currently, there doesn't seem to be anything on that site that's of much use to me, but it does have my merit badges correctly listed.  So I'll go on the assumption that they're trying to figure out some way to look up counselors.  

 

Here's the e-mail I received:

 

Your council has recently updated its list of approved merit badge counselors
and shared that information with unit leaders on Scoutbook.
 
According to this information you are approved for the following merit badges
and have selected to work with Scouts in the following districts: ______
District
 
Merit Badges: ___, ___, ____, and ____
 
Our records indicate you did not have a Scoutbook account so your council has
created one for you. Please visit Scoutbook.com and login with the following
email and password:
 
Email: ________
Temp Password: ________
 
If this information is incorrect, please contact your council service center.
 
So I'll take this as good news, and hope that this initiative isn't abandoned.

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According to the BSA technology "road map" they plan on making ScoutBook the platform for councils to manage MBC lists. Now, whether that is a suggestion or a mandate is anyone's guess.

 

It is an interesting read, if not amusing at times.

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In the district that I used to be involved with, they did an excellent job of keeping MB counselor list up to date.  Even with that, I did not receive calls from a scout except for a (rare) call to finish a partial from summer camp.  Although the purpose of MB program as stated by BSA includes the benefit of calling an unknown adult, working with a caring adult with a knowledge of a subject area, etc., in reality, opportunities to get MB's at adult planned events (summer camp, MB weekends, in troop MB sessions, etc., there is little incentive for a scout to make a call to a MB counselor to arrange a meeting.

 

The beginning of the end for me was when a highly respected scouter asked me to teach first Aid MB on a Saturday at district event.  I agreed, because the person that he had previously lined up had fallen ill.   I was shocked that the expectation was that the format was to show the scouts a skill,  have them repeat it, then sign off on the related requirement.   The long time, highly respected scouter that organized the event shrugged his shoulders and said that although he didnt agree with it, that was just the way it was now.   I felt bad that I participated in a program that had little benefit to scouts.   At the same event, another MB counselor who was leading another MB workshop, bragged about how he had all the pieces required for a project prepared in advance, leaving a small section of wood uncut for the scout to finish, thereby technically meeting a MB requirement to cut wood for the project with a saw.

Some time later I had a committee chair call me to set up a First Aid MB class at their troop meetings.  I turned her down.

 

I believe that adults want to help there kids advance, and are doing so by taking away anything that might possibly be an obstacle to advancement.

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I was shocked that the expectation was that the format was to show the scouts a skill,  have them repeat it, then sign off on the related requirement.   The long time, highly respected scouter that organized the event shrugged his shoulders and said that although he didnt agree with it, that was just the way it was now.   I felt bad that I participated in a program that had little benefit to scouts.   At the same event, another MB counselor who was leading another MB workshop, bragged about how he had all the pieces required for a project prepared in advance, leaving a small section of wood uncut for the scout to finish, thereby technically meeting a MB requirement to cut wood for the project with a saw.

 

We try to steer our Scouts away from MB "colleges' or other such programs that do this. We have one locally that did First Aid in 8 hours of Powerpoint. One of our moms (a physician) picked up her son, heard the story and then got with out TC to hold a class for the boys who went. Each boy spent 3 hours with hands-on First Aid. It was better than the ARC basic course. That was the beginning of doing our own First Aid MB course. Colleges? Never again.

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MB schools and summer camp schools are nothing more than adult inventions to speed up and guarantee Eagle rank for the boys.  It is a racket in my book.

 

While it was not a MB, I have had boys receive the Totin' Chit and when asked what they did to get that piece of paper, they don't really know.  That's really a poor commentary on the quality of "instruction" going on at scout organized activities where advancement and MB's are involved.

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