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thrifty

blue card refusal in '17 guide to advancement?

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I'm looking at a PDF of the '17 guide to advancement section 7.  I do not see anything indicating a scouter may or may not deny a blue card.  Am I missing it?  Is it elsewhere?  Is it inferred?  I'm familiar with the older forum posts and previous links to Bryan on Scouting but those are all several years old.  What current item can I reference to clearly indicate denying a blue card is prohibited?

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I don't think there is any official reference that I remember. Our Council uses the White MB Cards that only have one line for the SM signature, which is required before the scout starts working with the counselor. The White Cards don't provide any administrative path for a denial. I always wondered if the 2nd SM signature on the Blue Cards was specifically to provide a path for denial. Once a scout gets the SM approval on a White Card to start working the MB, there is nothing to stop the awarding of the badge after the counselor signs off the completion.

Barry

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Posted (edited)

I think the answer is stated clearly enough in the sentence I have bolded below from section 7.0.0.3 of the BSA's Legal Code on Advancement Guide to Advancement 2017.  I have included exerpts of other parts of that section to provide context:

Quote


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

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any 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, 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.

[Paragraph omitted]

A unit leader should consider making more of the process than just providing a signature. The opportunity exists to provide inspiration and direction in a young man’s life. Preliminary merit badge discussions can lead to conversations about talents and interests, goal setting, and the concept of “challenge by choice.” The benefits can be much like those of a well-done Scoutmaster conference.

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.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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Read the MB application. The 2nd signature on the scout's portion (i.e. the portion that should never leave his possession) is to attest that the scout "... has given me his completed application ..." for the badge. The scout's section of the the blue card is his reciept that

  1. The counselor has a record of the boy completing the badge (one that says the SM did talk to the boy before working with the counselor), and
  2. The troop has a record (attested to by the SM's second signature) of the boy turning in his paperwork.

THERE IS NO LANGUAGE ANYWHERE ON THE BLUE CARD THAT AN SM MAY DENY A BLUE CARD.

 

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There is language in the GTA about the exceptional case when the SM has evidence that the counselor approved the badge without confirming the scout had demonstrable skills.

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Hmm. So, would you say then that the 2nd signature is just to prevent the scout from turning in the paperwork to the council by himself. Since I've never used the Blue Card, I'm trying to understand the overall purpose of the 2nd signature? 

Barry

 

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38 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Hmm. So, would you say then that the 2nd signature is just to prevent the scout from turning in the paperwork to the council by himself. Since I've never used the Blue Card, I'm trying to understand the overall purpose of the 2nd signature? 

Barry

 

The 2nd signature is not about "PREVENTING" anything.  It's about allowing the scout to have a signature to show he really turned it in.  It's like a carnival ticket where the customer gets one part and the sales booth as the second part.  It's an accounting thing.  

IMHO, it's a broken process when the scout turns in his part of the blue card with the expectation he will get his part back at the court of honor.  Rather, the scout should walk away with his part signed by the scoutmaster or designee as proof he handed it in.  THE ISSUE IS ... what if it's lost in between when the scout hands it in and the court of honor?  That's the reason for the scoutmaster signature.  It's to have proof the scoutmaster really signed it to protect the scout against an adult losing it.  When the scout hands in the badge, it should be signed at that moment by the scoutmaster/designee and the scout should be able to keep his stub.

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21 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Hmm. So, would you say then that the 2nd signature is just to prevent the scout from turning in the paperwork to the council by himself. Since I've never used the Blue Card, I'm trying to understand the overall purpose of the 2nd signature? ...

It's a sad state of affairs when our first instinct is to think that it's all about controlling the scout.  The MB application is about the scout maintaining control of his advancement.

This bit is about making sure the troop is accountable when a scout completes a MB. If he never gets awarded a badge, he has, in his section of the blue card, proof that the unit received the record of his advancement. Scoutmasters go AWOL never to return and their shoe-box of unit copies of blue go with them (as my brother's did in the 50s). Councils loose records. Foreign agents hack electronic storage.

If the scout has done all his work, and doesn't have the counselor's signature, then that's his next-to-last step ... making sure the counselor has a record of his accomplishment (the right half of the card). Then the scout may stash the card in his vault until one day (hopefully soon after that final exchange with the counselor) as he mulls over his collections of other cards and memorabilia he notices, "Oh, the SM's signature is not on that card. The unit doesn't know I earned that badge! No wonder my bling bag at the last court of honor felt a little light!"

The boy, shows the SM the card -- never letting it out of his sight. SM sings that he received it, returns the scout's section to the boy, and takes the unit portion to the advancement chair for prompt ordering.

Standard triplicate record-keeping. Just follow the instructions on the card!

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The old forum posts had links to the Bryan blog where it is clearly said.  There may be no writing that says a blue card can be denied but there's no writing saying it can't? 

Here is the link to the blog that addresses this but it's 2013. I don't have a copy of '13 GTA and if it is directly said in that publication, why would it not be included in '17?

https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/12/23/ask-the-expert-mailbag-merit-badges-blue-cards-first-class-requirement-10/

The excerpt from Chris Hunt, advancement team leader for the Boy Scouts of America.is below.

"The policies regarding blue cards changed with the release of the 2013 edition of the Guide to Advancement. See topic 7.0.0.3. 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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Posted (edited)

The language NJ quoted pretty clearly states the SM can't deny a blue card, or more particularly his signature on a blue card, or in any way prevent a scout from working on a merit badge with a counselor of his choice when he wants to work on it.  The SM can/should have a discussion with the scout, but after that discussion proceeding with the mb and the counselor is left up to the scout.

Want to enlighten us as to what may be going on in your unit?

ETA If we are really talking about not being able to get a physical blue card, they are available for sale from scoutstuff and probably at the council office.

Edited by T2Eagle

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55 minutes ago, qwazse said:

There is language in the GTA about the exceptional case when the SM has evidence that the counselor approved the badge without confirming the scout had demonstrable skills.

  • Refer to BSA GTA 7.0.4.7 Limited Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges
  • To make sure we are saying the same thing, the scoutmaster does NOT to ask the scout to demonstrate a MB skill before accepting the badge.  If the scoutmaster has a concern, it's address through friendly discussion with the scout, but not discussion such as "show me how to ..." or "how would you handle ...".  It's discussion more such as "How did the MB counselor cover this requirement?"  ... "I don't see how the MB counselor covered the meal planning requirement for the camping merit badge.  Where was that covered in the summer camp course?"
  • Qwazse's statement is clear when using "exceptional" ... i.e. rare.  If we find ourselves too often wondering this, then we are off base with our roles and our emphasis on badges and ranks.  Badges and ranks are the tool to create a positive outlook toward trying new things and growing skills.  If we find ourselves wondering too often about did the scout really earn it, then we are creating a system that will poison scouts on the scouting program.
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44 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

The 2nd signature is not about "PREVENTING" anything.  It's about allowing the scout to have a signature to show he really turned it in.  It's like a carnival ticket where the customer gets one part and the sales booth as the second part.  It's an accounting thing.  

IMHO, it's a broken process when the scout turns in his part of the blue card with the expectation he will get his part back at the court of honor.  Rather, the scout should walk away with his part signed by the scoutmaster or designee as proof he handed it in.  THE ISSUE IS ... what if it's lost in between when the scout hands it in and the court of honor?  That's the reason for the scoutmaster signature.  It's to have proof the scoutmaster really signed it to protect the scout against an adult losing it.  When the scout hands in the badge, it should be signed at that moment by the scoutmaster/designee and the scout should be able to keep his stub.

The white card provides 3 copies, one for the scout, one for the counselor and one to turn into the council. All the scout needs is a copy by the counselor.

I like our system better because the scout is done with unit checks after the SM signs it. But that is also what I'm used to.

Barry

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45 minutes ago, qwazse said:

It's a sad state of affairs when our first instinct is to think that it's all about controlling the scout.  The MB application is about the scout maintaining control of his advancement.

 

Yes,  I've said several times on this forum that I like the idea of the administrative part of the MB process being completely out of the hands of the unit, thus giving the scout more independent control of advancement. I think that was possible 25 years ago, but not with todays youth protection culture. 

Barry 

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I agree that the recourse is for exceptional circumstances. However I disagree that exceptional is synonymous with rare in this usage. I think it meant as "deviating from the norm" or "outside of accepted practices". It should be rare, but if the circumstances move beyond rare it could be an indication that the council is not doing its due diligence in vetting and/or assuring quality of the mB counselors.

 

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2 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

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

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any 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, 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.

Emphasis added.

Assuming that we are talking about a Scout getting a blue card at the beginning of the process (before working with a merit badge counselor), then I think this is the part of the Guide to Advancement to really look at.  This also assumes that this isn't a merit badge with some kind of restriction.

Did the Scouter give a reason for denying the blue card @thrifty?

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