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Adamcp

Merit Badge Counselors

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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.

What most don't even realize is that the real advancement is in knowledge, skills and experience. The checklist, sign-off, and badges are a token meant to represent the real advancement. It appears many have come to believe these tokens are the advancement, instead of simply a symbol. Without true advancement in knowledge, skills and experience, the symbol is meaningless in and of itself.

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Yes, we have experience with that. We are in the largest council in the country, and our district at one time was the largest district in the council. Plenty of resources, right? Well, if so, they weren't spending them on tracking MB counselors.

 

Our CC is a very detail oriented guy. We routinely recruit MB counselors and have a fairly large number of them. And he spends a LOT of time correcting District and Council on who our registered counselors are. They miss people who have signed up, they wrongly take them off lists, they also aren't always good at purging people no longer participating.

 

It's a mess.

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Posted (edited)

I mentioned in a post above that I had never received a phone call from a scout.  Well, that changed, although it was kind of a strange call.

 

It was from a scout who I had counseled at a museum event over a year ago, and already signed off.  He told me that his troop advancement chair didn't accept the blue card because I hadn't filled out the back listing the individual requirements.  So I told the scout that the easiest way to handle it would be to just ask his scoutmaster for a new blue card and send it to me.

 

A few days later, he sent me the new blue card, along with the old blue card I had previously signed.  He included a nice note thanking me, and telling me that he enjoyed the event.  He even included a self-addressed stamped envelope, even though I didn't ask for one.  So I signed the new blue card, and dutifully filled in the back of the card, even though it's on the scout's copy, and the front of the card contained my signature that he had done all of the requirements.  I also filled in the back of the old card, so between the two cards, the advancement chair should be happy.  If not, I let the scout know that if the scoutmaster or advancement chair had any questions, that they should contact me, and gave my phone number and e-mail address.

 

Now, the only reason that I'm not 100% sure that the advancement chair is excessively nitpicking is the fact that I signed the card over a year ago.  Maybe they examined it more carefully because the scout took so long to hand it in.  But other than the delay, the scout did everything he was supposed to do.  He gave me a blue card signed by his scoutmaster, he did all of the requirements, and he had me sign the card.

 

Also, as far as I can tell, I did everything right.  The back of the blue card is the scout's copy, so theoretically, he doesn't even need to hand that in.  The front of the card says that he successfully completed all of the requirements.  But I guess in the future, to keep the writer's cramp to a minimum, I'll have the scouts write down the numbers 1-9 on the back and write the date 9 times so I can put 9 sets of initials.  But it would be a lot easier if the advancement chair wasn't so nitpicky. :)  If the advancement chair had any questions, he could have called me himself, since my number was right on the card.  And believe it or not, I actually had the counselor copy of the original blue card.

 

By the way, yes, this was a merit badge "class," but it was one of the relatively rare merit badges that can be meaningfully completed in one day at a "class".  But no, I don't normally like the idea of "classes" either, so please don't nitpick me about that.   :)

Edited by clemlaw

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I have wondered what percentage of scouts do not turn in their completed blue cards. :huh:

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MBCs should fill out ever area they are required to. The fields are there for a reason. Fill them out, avoid problems.

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I don't have a complete blue card in front of me right now, but it was my understanding that the section listing the individual requirements was for the scout's and counselor's use to keep track of which requirements they had finished.  In this case, he did them all in one day.  The front of the card contains my signature that he had completed all requirements.

 

In some cases, I remember that I have just written "all" and put the date an initials one time.  Maybe I'll just keep doing that.  This particular card was blank.  And RememberSchiff, yes, I've wondered that, too.  In one case, a scout showed up without a blue card, so I gave him my address and asked him to mail me one.  I saw one of his adult leaders and also mentioned it to him, but I never got a card to sign.  So there's at least one scout out there who did all the work and never got the badge.

 

This was a non-required merit badge, and I recently realized that my son, who is Second Class, has almost as many non-required merit badges as he will need for Eagle, and that seems to be true of most scouts.  So unless they decide to collect a bunch of palms, it doesn't really matter.  (I've been careful not to mention this to any scouts, since the merit badge program can expose them to a lot of interesting stuff, so I encourage them to get a bunch of interesting ones, even if they don't really matter as far as advancement.)

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Ustabe the Scout would READ the handbook, SEE what he needed to do, or pick out the things he WANTED to do and plan accordingly.  "hey, Aviation Merit Badge.  Neat.  ummmm, , I could do that....  I build models...   Dad?  who do I contact for this?   " 

 

Now , it seems the Scout WAITS for someone to ask him to earn a badge, and TELL him when he can earn it on this weekend, and  like that.  

 

Or am I wrong in my observation?  

 

Scouts that come to a Bugling Merit Badge Class without a horn, without any practice, without the Merit Badge Book or printed Website sheets.....

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Scouts that come to a Bugling Merit Badge Class without a horn, without any practice, without the Merit Badge Book or printed Website sheets.....

 

If that be the case, then we're going to have a "who blinks first" game gong on for a while.  I would think that "Be Prepared" would apply to MB's, too.

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The Blue Card has a line for the Counselor to sign, confirming that the Scout "met all the requirements for the... ____ merit badge."   There is also a line for the Counselor to sign attesting to the "completion" date.  Signatures on those lines is all that is required. 

"A merit badge counselor—once he or she is satisfied a Scout has met all the requirements—signs in two places: on the reverse of the Application for Merit Badge (to the left) and on the Applicant’s Record (in the middle). These two parts are returned to the Scout."

B.S.A., Guide to Advancement at p. 43.

 

The spaces for individual requirements are for recording "partials" conveniently on the one document, rather than requiring a separate document.

"If the Scout did not complete all the requirements, the counselor initials those that were fulfilled in the spaces provided on the back of the Applicant’s Record part. This is called a 'partial.'â€

Id.

 

No one is authorized to require more without consent of the National Council.  Specifically, save for a determination of a unit leader that a MB cannot, in fact, have been earned, once the card is signed by the Counselor, the MB has been earned for all purposes.

"A Scout who has earned a merit badge from a registered and approved counselor by actually and personally fulfilling the requirements as written will have met the purpose of the merit badge program and the contribution to the aims of Scouting. The badge is his to keep and count toward his advancement."

Id. at p. 52.

 

Now if  someone is will to work at the council or district level, work openly scorned by several on this forum, the Committee member in question might be trained to do her or his job properly instead of inventing invalid personal rules on the fly.

 

 

"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."

 

Lamenting past policies is of doubtful utility for the present and future unless you are prepared to work to make change.  That also would require scouting outside your unit. 

 

Lamenting a past that never was is even more useless.

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Posted (edited)

 the Committee member in question might be trained to do her or his job properly instead of inventing invalid personal rules on the fly.

 

 

That's basically the way I saw it.  But as I told the scout, the easiest way to solve the problem would be to send me a new card on which I dutifully wrote the numbers 1 through 9.  Chances are, the complainer doesn't even know how many requirements there are.   :)   (If he's really on the ball, then he'll ask whether the scout did 9(a) or 9(b)).

 

In fairness to that troop, maybe the card got more scrutiny than normal because it was over a year old.  But the scout seemed to be pretty conscientious when he contacted me, so it wouldn't surprise me if he handed it in in time and they sat on it for a year.

 

I don't think it's ever been the case that a scoutmaster was an automatic counselor for everything.  One of the purposes of the program is to get scouts to talk to experts.  It would make sense for the scoutmaster to sign off on camping, etc.  But it doesn't make quite as much sense for atomic energy, dentistry, hog production, etc.

Edited by clemlaw

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I don't think it's ever been the case that a scoutmaster was an automatic counselor for everything.  One of the purposes of the program is to get scouts to talk to experts.  It would make sense for the scoutmaster to sign off on camping, etc.  But it doesn't make quite as much sense for atomic energy, dentistry, hog production, etc.

 

Don't assume that outright.  There are quite a few Eagles out there that had multiple partial MB"s signed off by the SM in my neck of the woods.  On troop in particular NEVER had a MB that wasn't from Summer Camp, MB Day programs or taught by the SM/ASM in the troop.

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SM can be registered as a Merit Badge Counselor.

 

SM can also cheat in the same manner as the many Scout Executives who run Merit Badge mills.  We should have a Merit Badge Mill thread.

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While all the above is correct, and that section need only be filled out when the merit badge is a "partial" ...

1. If the merit badge is not completed in a single meeting, it's a good idea to complete that section and return the card to the scout - so that the scout can move on to a different counselor if something happens.

2. In many areas it seems to be tradition (both what I saw as a youth, what I did with the summer camp staff that worked for me, and what I see on most of my son's merit badge cards now - different councils, different decades) that if all the requirements are completed, the counselor will just write "all requirements completed" or similar across that section so that there is no ambiguity.

 

When filling out a partial, I know some counselors only fill out the requirement number and initial for the completed requirements - and I can understand why; however, With my summer camp staff I would encourage them to number all the requirements in order (1, 2a, 2b, 3a, ...) , even the ones that were not completed, so that it was easy to see what still needed to be done and what had been completed.

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If acting as an MBC for someone outside my troop I fill out the WHOLE card. I fill out the center portion of the top card below for ALL requirements and sign it. Then I completely fill out the appropriate fields in the back. If the badge is complete I keep the MBC copy for my records.

 

It literally takes less than a minute to do this AND it has saved time down the road if there were ever a controversy. In 15 years I have only had one...and it was in my own troop for a lost card.

 

SampleBlueCard_120.jpg

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