Jump to content
seattlescouter

Blue Card- MB counselor only lists requirements "needed", not completed

Recommended Posts

I received a blue card and the MB counselor only wrote on the requirements sections "Needs #4", but did not list and initial/date any of the requirements that the scout completed.

Can this be considered sufficient, or do I need to track the counselor down to get it filled out correctly?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Seems the first person you should ask is the scout.

Why? Because

  • You and your SM don't have time to train every counselor that signs off on your scouts. If you teach your scout how paperwork should be done, he'll become a trainer for the next counselor he meets.
  • Your scout can tell you if he did the other requirements, and how. A scout is trustworthy. That will give you an idea if this counselor was a good one who just slipped up on paperwork, or somebody who ran a massive class and was to lazy to fill out partials for everyone who didn't bring whatever was needed for prerequisites.
  • If your scout is clueless, you can suggest he take a clean blue card to a counselor who you trust to make sure the partial is filled in correctly -- i.e., your training the boy to keep track of his work as he progresses.

If this is a counselor who you know and maybe is a little new to this whole thing, you might want to track him/her down and go over how the paperwork should be completed. But, if it's some mystery instructor from some MB university, you might want to let the district commissioner know of your disappointment.

Bottom line: Deal with the scout first, counselor later.

Edited by qwazse
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Qwazse was right and well written.  Deal with the scout as an honest individual who can represent himself.  Be friendly, not inquisitive.  Looking for understanding, not laying down the rules.  

My area of emphasis would be different though.  I'd ask ... Why do you have the blue card?  Give it to the scout.  Incomplete MBs are the scout's responsibility, not yours.  Maybe take a picture just in case the kid loses it.  That's just being helpful.  The point is incomplete merit badges are between the scout and his counselor.  If that counselor is now gone (MB fair or summer camp), then help the scout find another counselor.  Beyond that, it's between the scout and the MB counselor.  Plus, It's up to each individual counselor to decide what is complete in a MB.  If I were a MB counselor receiving a scout with a partial MB, I would probably sit with the scout to understand if and when he completed the previous requirements.  

STRANGE ... After all these years, I'm just now realizing a contradiction I've always had without realizing.  Ranks earned / reviewed are done.  You don't undo awarding ranks.  Further, rank requirements that are learned, tested and signed off in the handbook are sacrosanct in my view.  They are done.  Not to be undone.  They are only revisited for repetition, reminder, learning, competitions, etc.  ... The contradiction ... is that I've always thought of the merit badge as the requirement and not the individual MB requirements.  I've always been comfortable when a scout changes MB counselors that a new MB counselor can revisit requirements.  The scout has the option to find another counselor, but I've always viewed MB requirements as a soft more flexible baseline.  Essentially, once a scout earns a MB, it's done.  But individual MB requirements for incomplete MBs were always a grey area.  

So ... in my view.  The card says "Needs #4".  That's a personal note for the counselor to remind him what's left.  Don't make it your job.  Relax and have a cup of coffee.

Edited by fred8033
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fred8033 says it best...   

As a MBCounselor  (Bugling mostly), I always list the correctly completed elements, and  note the "Incomplete"  areas.  

The Scouts that can't even make a noise on their horn often are chagrined but nod in acknowledgement at this.  I give them my cards and contact info and SOMETIMES they call back to complete it with me.  Once they leave my company, I have no control over what they do about the incompleteness of that card.  Could someone else sign off on the rest of the requirements? Absolutely.  "A Scout is Trustworthy".   A MBC should be also.... 

"" Needs #4"" to me means the Scout has fulfilled everything else, he needs  #4.  If the Scout came to me, I would certainly review  the other requirements, but he needs #4. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, seattlescouter said:

I received a blue card and the MB counselor only wrote on the requirements sections "Needs #4", but did not list and initial/date any of the requirements that the scout completed.

Can this be considered sufficient, or do I need to track the counselor down to get it filled out correctly?

Thanks!

My Life scout has 44 MBs from all over the state and I can tell you that each counselor will do things differently.  It can be frustrating sometimes but it's not the scout's fault and I don't think it's the scout's responsibility to demand a blue card is filled out in a certain manner as long as the counselor signature and the date it was completed are included or in this case noted that requirement #4 still needs done.  Was the counselor info filled out?  Your example is odd.  Usually when my son had a partial, the counselors put initials on the requirements he's done and leave the counselor info blank for the last counselor to sign off when fully completed.  The counselor that finishes the MB with him fills in the counselor details, signs and dates complete.  I would be concerned that a counselor helps the scout with #4 but doesn't want to sign off the blue card as completed if everything else is blank.  It shouldn't be too hard for the scout to track down the counselor and get an email confirmation of the situation to provide to any future counselor of #4 versus having to schedule a meeting and driving back to wherever they went.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The scout is my son, I am the Troop Advancement Coordinator.  The counselor for this badge was from a merit badge clinic 1 yr ago. I know my son completed all but those listed as "needed". My son is trying to contact the counselor, to no avail.

My question was not about teaching the scout but more a matter of procedure. When the blue card comes up for review at Eagle, will the validity of the card be questioned. Is the way in which counselors sign off cards to be adhered "letter of the law" or is flexibility allowed. If we went by "a scout is trustworthy" I guess we wouldn't need blue cards at all.

I have processed many blue cards at this point and the counselors are typically quite good at itemizing requirements and noting which have been completed and which haven't, which is what made this one seem so aberrant. 

Our troop's normal practice is to have partials signed off by the counselor that did THOSE requirements. The remaining incompletes are fulfilled with a new counselor with a new separate blue card. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, seattlescouter said:

My question was not about teaching the scout but more a matter of procedure. When the blue card comes up for review at Eagle, will the validity of the card be questioned. Is the way in which counselors sign off cards to be adhered "letter of the law" or is flexibility allowed. If we went by "a scout is trustworthy" I guess we wouldn't need blue cards at all.

EBORs will never see the physical blue cards unless the scout chooses to bring them.  I've been on many boards and never seen them brought or people ask to examine.  The EBOR wants to see that BSA national has a record of the MB being earned.  That's it.  The rest of the record keeping is between the scout and the troop.  

With scouts and MB counselors, we need to keep our "procedures" flexible and supportive.  

If you want to find the procedure details to implement, read BSA's Guide To Advancement, Section 7 The Merit Badge Program.  That's what's expected and that's what we can hold the scout accountable to doing.  No more.  No less.  Hopefully, it's consistent with the scout's handbook and the wording on the physical merit badge card.

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

Edited by fred8033

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

@seattlescouter, this is what I hate about partials being valid for more than six months. Little things like this wind up causing undo anxiety. This is really a simple task of your scout meeting with a new counselor in your neighborhood, explaining his situation, and being prepared  to cover what he's done before if the new counselor feels that's what is needed. If the problem had been addressed in a matter of months, not years it would have been less stressful. If being a year out, the scout just had to meet with a different counselor "starting from scratch" but with some old notes, that would be less stressful too. Wondering how gracious some bean counter will be ... that's stressful for no good reason.

At the end of the day, how the partial was documented is secondary. If the new counselor is satisfied enough to sign the scout's portion and retain his portion for record keeping, and the troop accepts the unit copy ... the SM attesting to that fact by his signature on the scout's copy, then all that is needed for evidence of an earned MB is in the appropriate hands.

Edited by qwazse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Similar matter here.  I had a scout contact me because his MB counselor hasn't been getting back to him.  We just found out the MB counselor is sick - terminally ill.  The counselor has the blue card, and none of us is comfortable with attempting to get the counselor to return it, given the circumstances.

I figured I'd just issue a new blue card to the scout and have him contact a new counselor.  I'm sure the scout would rather get the original back, but sometimes things happen, so maybe a good lesson in being flexible?  I would hope that the new MB counselor would take the scout's word as to what he'd already done, but do you think a head's up to the new counselor would be appropriate?  Wait for the scout to contact him and see what transpires?

I took over advancement for the troop a while back, but am new to this part, having only issued a single blue card so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, qwazse said:

@seattlescouter, this is what I hate about partials being valid for more than six months. ...

I assumed you were making a point that I missed.  Partials have no expiration except the scout turning 18.  

BSA Guide To Advancement, Section 7.0.3.3 Partial Completions ...  "Partials have no expiration except the Scout’s 18th birthday."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, fred8033 said:

I assumed you were making a point that I missed.  Partials have no expiration except the scout turning 18.  

BSA Guide To Advancement, Section 7.0.3.3 Partial Completions ...  "Partials have no expiration except the Scout’s 18th birthday."

When I was a scout, our blue cards stipulated that partials had to be completed within six months. Now, they last for a scout's tenure. It solves some problems, but causes others.

16 hours ago, swilliams said:

... The counselor has the blue card, ...

This really is mistake #1 for most people. I don't believe counselors should ever hold blue cards. The scout show the card to the counselor ... maybe to get on a course roster. Then, once he completes the requirements the scout lets the counselor sign off on any requirements or sign off on the badge and take his copy for filing. At no time should a counselor be in possession of the "unit" or "scout's" portion of the application.

At least @seattlescouter has a card that travelled with the scout. It can therefore be addressed by the scout and the unit.

@swilliams situation is more problematic because responsibility for advancement was taken out of the scout's hands.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our troop has a policy where they ask that merit badge counselors who retain blue cards return them to the advancement chair for safe keeping if a long period of time goes on between when it was started.  Thus, if you are holding a blue card for six months and no scout contact, turn it in to the advancement chair for safe keeping.

I do not hold blue cards.  I feel that is a scout's responsibility.  Plus, if they have a blue card in the zipper pouch of their book, then they know what they have to work on as a visual reminder.  If the scout forgets to bring his blue card, I know what should be signed off the next time we meet with it in hand because I keep records.  A quick email to a scout with a cc to the parent with requirements completed or needed is a good electronic record in case someone loses their card or I lose my records (as in we are going to cover #5 this week fyi, here's what you have done and if you want to work on anything else in between, bring it with you to the meeting for review).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×