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    I recently had a scout go to a meritbadge weekend and returned with a signed blue card for the Communications meritbadge.  The problem lies in that when talking to him he couldn't tell me what his 5 minutes speech was about when I asked who he interviewed for that requirement he looked at me like I was speaking another language.  I know for a fact that he has never planned a troop court of honor, campfire program, or interfaith worship service.   After talking with him more it's clear that he didn't complete all of the requirements.  I suggested that we sit down with one of our committee members who are a registered comminutions MB counselor to figure out what he still needs to complete and work with him on finishing it.  I got an angry email from his father stating that he has a signed card so he is done and won't be meeting with anyone about this meritbadge.   He stated the Guide to Advancement - 7.0.4.6 Once It Is Earned, It’s Earned then I replied with it also states that "personally fulfilling the requirements as written" which clearly hasn't been done and by shortcutting meritbadge requirements he isn't doing his son any favors.   I am not sure how to proceed with this scout and his parents?

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The relevant section of the GTA is 7.0.4.7 Limited Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges

https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/the-merit-badge-program/#7047

Quote

In most cases, with a fair and friendly approach, a Scout who did not complete the requirements will admit it. Short of this, however, if it remains clear under the circumstances that some or all of the requirements could not have been met, then the merit badge is not reported or awarded, and does not count toward advancement. The unit leader then offers the name of at least one other merit badge counselor through whom any incomplete requirements may be finished. Note that in this case a merit badge is not “taken away” because, although signed off, it was never actually earned.

This is all theoretical to me.   You'll need to have someone else tell you how to handle the angry parent.

Edited by Treflienne
By the way, read the entirety of that section, not just this snippet

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I doubt many people will agree with me, but if this is an isolated incident I think you award the merit badge to the Scout.  This sort of thing happened to my son with the cooking merit badge at summer camp.  The counselor was very slack about requirements, and it was clear that he and another Scout from our troop only sort of completed some of the requirements.  Our advancement chair considered it, and said that since he had a signed blue card (i.e. not a partial) there was no reason for my son to re-take the merit badge.  Over time, he's completed the missing requirements over and over, so I'm okay with it I suppose.  One thing I will say is that the troop pitched a fit about it to council, and that counselor never taught that merit badge again.

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A conversation with the MBCollege/weekend folks would seem to be in order.  You spoke to the Scout. Did he seem to think he had "met" the requirements?  A Scout is Trustworthy.  The parent is correct (is he a lawyer?) , and so the MB is "passed".  But perhaps you and the Scout know the truth of the matter.   

As a MBC for Bugling,  I am no longer surprised , only disappointed, by the number of Scouts who will come to the MBCollege with a new Bugle  (or no instrument) still in it's wrapper with obvious expectation they will "learn" and "earn"  the Merit Badge in one three hour session.  Did you read the Pre-requisite page on the sign up page?  er, yea.... Did you read thru the MBBook?  I've got the worksheet here....  But did you read thru the Book?   Did you read the requirements ?

Out of ten Scouts, average, one will be prepared (there's that annoying phrase again) . one will be able to pass the requirements the first meeting.  Another two  will call me up and make another appointment and play the calls (it is a PERFORMING requirement Merit Badge) after some practice.   The rest can't even make a noise with their horn.  *sigh*.  So I make a few "Partials" that never call me back.  What happens with them, I never know. 

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@my_three_sons Might I ask what your position is? Are you by chance the Scoutmaster or an ASM? 

The reason I ask is that I don't really know if it's the job of a Scout's leaders to test a Scout and "prove" whether or not he has completed the requirements for a badge after he comes to you with a signed card.

Of course he's going to forget parts of what he did when you start asking a bunch of questions. Kids have a natural aversion to being tested. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have spent an hour working with Scouts on a few simple activities, and then when I ask them "what did we JUST work on today?" I get stares and vapid, drooling faces without a clue in the world that they just spent an hour working hard and getting things done. It's in there, trust me, but at this age the adolescent mind takes a long time to incubate new information and experiences. 

But more to the point, the boy came to you with a completed, signed card, and he (and his father, though he's actually pretty irrelevant to this situation) says he has completed it. It's not really fair to him for a leader to grill him on what he did after it's supposedly complete, except for extenuating circumstances. We are trying to teach these boys that their word of honor means something. Part of that means trusting them now and then so they have the opportunity to prove what that's worth.

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The scout needed another Eagle-required meritbadge to rank up to Star so I am sure this is part of the motivation to get this meritbadge. He didn't want to go to summer camp this year so all of the other scouts in his grade have already ranked up except for him.  Yes, he seemed to think he did enough to earn the meritbadge but I don't think he fully understood all of the requirements. 

If this was a regular meritbadge I would let it go but we have a group of scouts that have been working on the Communications meritbadge for close to 3 months.  The scouts made a list of who planned past COH and fire programs so it won't take them long to question why this scout received this meritbadge so rather than having one angry parent I might have a handful.

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3 minutes ago, The Latin Scot said:

@my_three_sons Might I ask what your position is? Are you by chance the Scoutmaster or an ASM? 

The reason I ask is that I don't really know if it's the job of a Scout's leaders to test a Scout and "prove" whether or not he has completed the requirements for a badge after he comes to you with a signed card.

Of course he's going to forget parts of what he did when you start asking a bunch of questions. Kids have a natural aversion to being tested. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have spent an hour working with Scouts on a few simple activities, and then when I ask them "what did we JUST work on today?" I get stares and vapid, drooling faces without a clue in the world that they just spent an hour working hard and getting things done. It's in there, trust me, but at this age the adolescent mind takes a long time to incubate new information and experiences. 

But more to the point, the boy came to you with a completed, signed card, and he (and his father, though he's actually pretty irrelevant to this situation) says he has completed it. It's not really fair to him for a leader to grill him on what he did after it's supposedly complete, except for extenuating circumstances. We are trying to teach these boys that their word of honor means something. Part of that means trusting them now and then so they have the opportunity to prove what that's worth.

I am the Scoutmaster and was surprised that he went to the MB university since it was a few hours away so I was just asking about the meritbadge. I have had 3 sons complete the mb so I know its not the type of mb that 20 scouts knock out if 4 hours in a classroom without a bunch of prerequisites completed beforehand. 

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This situation happened with my oldest when he attended his first, and only,  MB College. He was given a MB. I found out about it when I asked him about it. In the discussion with him I found out he completed NONE (emphasis) of the current requirements. Looking back at previous requirements for the MB, I discovered the MBC was using 10 year old requirements, AND still was not doing all of the old requirements.  It took a while to make him understand, but he decided to hold off on getting the MB until he actually earned it. Since he started with older requirements, his SM and the two of us decided to let him use those requirements to finish. and in all honesty 2/3 of the missing requirements were still in use.  He earned the MB 2 months later, and the SM sent a letter to council about the situation. 

What is ironic is that the situation I talked to him about, a Scout being given a MB that my actually earned or was working on, occurred. And just as in my example, My son was steamed about the situation. He now refused to even complete the partial because of the gimme. He says it is not worth it..

 

3 minutes ago, my_three_sons said:

If this was a regular meritbadge I would let it go but we have a group of scouts that have been working on the Communications meritbadge for close to 3 months.  The scouts made a list of who planned past COH and fire programs so it won't take them long to question why this scout received this meritbadge so rather than having one angry parent I might have a handful.

My advice would be 

1) Have a second adult with you when you talk to the Scout and his dad.

2) Ask him about the requirements again, and also show the paperwork the other Scouts did to show he didn't truely earn it.

3) Come up with a plan with him to finish the missing requirements.

4) If this will cause problems with the rest of the troop, and I have seen it happen when done, I would give him the MB, and a copy of his records to search for a troop that will better serve the Scout since the dad does not approve of how you are working with the Scouts. It may seem harsh, but I have seen what giving advancement away can do to a troop. It is not pretty.

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12 minutes ago, my_three_sons said:

The scout needed another Eagle-required meritbadge to rank up to Star so I am sure this is part of the motivation to get this meritbadge. He didn't want to go to summer camp this year so all of the other scouts in his grade have already ranked up except for him.  Yes, he seemed to think he did enough to earn the meritbadge but I don't think he fully understood all of the requirements. 

If this was a regular meritbadge I would let it go but we have a group of scouts that have been working on the Communications meritbadge for close to 3 months.  The scouts made a list of who planned past COH and fire programs so it won't take them long to question why this scout received this meritbadge so rather than having one angry parent I might have a handful.

It's a tough merit badge. If I were the SM, and I knew he didn't do it (and he admitted that), I wouldn't sign it either.  

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Cover all bases by first contacting the MB Counselor and find out what they might have skipped. Tell angry parent that you want  the best for this scout and that means getting him some experience doing communication i.e. getting a chance to run a campfire program and other speaking skills experience. 

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I REALLY wish there was a good, effective way to find the short-cutting MBCs and get them out of the scout program.

To be fair, sometimes the real culprit isn't the MBC, but the camp director or even worse, the council program staff. 

 

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It's been stated in another reply above. But the appropriate response is in several points.

  • He has a signed card saying he's earned it. You have to accept that card. There's nothing you can do to stop that from happening. You will get shot down by council or national if you try and do nothing but build resentment with everyone. 
  • You could explain why the requirements weren't fully completed, but you'll likely get gruff for it from the parent. Better yet to determine how each requirement was or was not met, to feed into the next bullet...
  • You definitely should complain to the merit badge college etc that the MBC did not do their duty with details.

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“There’s a form for that!”

Under section 7.0.0.2 Merit Badge Program

In the event unit leaders or other volunteers discover that any merit badge counselors are not following mandated procedures regarding the use of blue cards or working with the requirements as they are written, they should complete and submit to the council advancement committee the Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns form (found in the appendix) link-PDF.gif. Unit leaders should regularly review the policies and procedures related to the merit badge process with Scouts, parents, guardians, and leaders, and counsel them on proper methods as the need arises.

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If he has a signed blue card, from a district or council approved Merit Badge College, as scoutmaster myself, I would just accept it and award the scout. 

Doesn't mean that the district or council lead on the event wont get an earful from me. I would also ask the scout about his workings to make the requirements.  This may influence the scout to actually work towards his next one properly.  But I would never stop the scout from earning the this one.

 

My son took Camping Merit Badge at a MBC.  I know he worked hard on the requirements, but when it came to the cooking part, the counsellor allowed the group to use previous troop camping experiences to get it signed off and didn't ask for proof of their nights camping.

My son still received the merit badge completion at the end.  But we had a talk about how he got a "free pass" when other scouts have had to do the cooking part on upcoming campouts after they started the badge.  I wasn't going to argue with a group setting merit badge.  If they felt they covered the requirements and signed the blue card, thats on them.  I did make mention of it to the Merit badge coordinator for the event, and the district advancement chair as well. 

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7 hours ago, my_three_sons said:

... If this was a regular meritbadge I would let it go ....

... but we have a group of scouts that have been working on the Communications meritbadge for close to 3 months.  The scouts made a list of who planned past COH and fire programs so it won't take them long to question why this scout received this meritbadge so rather than having one angry parent I might have a handful.

I would not differentiate that much between regular merit badges and eagle required merit badges.  We naturally do, but the advancement rules apply equally to both.   The scout has a signed MB card.  You can provide feedback to the MB counselor and/or council, but it's not the scout's fault.   Also, the MB card should have the MB counselor name, address, phone and email.  Call and ask if you have questions.  That's why the MB card has contact info.

I would absolutely not consider the efforts of other scouts when deciding how to handle this scout.   Advancement is an individual effort and should be considered individually.  ... Plus, this scout will benefit as much as the effort put in.  Receiving the MB patch is hopefully the minor benefit.  Hopefully, your other scouts will benefit from the three months of MB work.   But don't penalize the one scout because of the different path taken by this group of scouts.    Also, it could be argued that three months on communications MB is over the top and not reflecting the individual independent requirements.  For example, there is no requirement for a scout to listen to the five minute speaches of the other scouts ... or participate in any of the requirements of the other scouts.   

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