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Jackdaws

Merit Badge partials from summer camps and completions

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We have a Life scout who believes that if he starts a badge at summer camp and only receives a partial, that he does not need to find another counselor to finish up the badge.  He can just finish it up at home and submit it.   

Am I mistaken in thinking that is not correct?  From everything I read on here: https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/the-merit-badge-program/ and in the official Guide to Advancement, any partials must be completed with that counselor from camp or a new one is found to complete the badge with so they can receive a signed blue card.  

I have recently become the advancement chair for the troop.  Our new SM also agrees that this scouts impression of the MB process is not correct and is trying to explain that to him.  Its beginning to look like more and more that the senior scouts were just flippantly advanced by the old advancement chair and SM and given MB's by all of the parents in the troop who just signed up for whatever the boys wanted to earn.   :eek:

I have attended the last 2 summer camps and neither time do we receive a signed blue cards.  We get a print out of what is completed.  If a scout completed the badge at camp, we fill out a blue card and attach the print out as proof of completion. 

So now that the old guard is gone and the gravy train has derailed said scouts & his parents are becoming difficult to deal with.  

Calgon take me away! 

 

Edited by Jackdaws

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Stick to your guns, you've got it right!

If the scout does not complete everything with the camp's counselor, then he needs to find another Merit Badge Counselor to complete the requirements.

The only people authorized to sign off on Merit Badge requirements  are those who register with District/Council as a Merit Badge Counselor - position 42 (MBC is not a unit position) and counselors need to be approved for each badge they will counsel. Some badges require specific training --- for example, Rifle Shooting MBCs must have NRA Instructor training, Archer MBCs must have USAArchery instructor training, Scuba MBCs must have PADI instructor training, etc. 

If your Life scout argues about it, just point him to BSA's Guide to Advancement. The rule is clear. 

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Because a registered Merit Badge Counselor -- registered for the Merit Badge in question -- must sign the Blue Card certifying that the candidate has completed each requirement for the Merit Badge, then a registered Merit Badge Counselor is absolutely needed for the "partial" to be completed.  Only such a registered merit Badge Counselor may sign a Blue Card.

From my personal experience since 1981, most council Summer camps cheat (e.g., Personal Management from zero in five, fifty-minute sessions).  Some troops cheat.  I  speak only of the rules, not cheating tolerated by councils and BSA or parental expectations of the "Good job!" generation.

Learning that one must actually perform to get the reward is an important life lesson.

Good luck.

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2 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Stick to your guns, you've got it right!

If the scout does not complete everything with the camp's counselor, then he needs to find another Merit Badge Counselor to complete the requirements.

The only people authorized to sign off on Merit Badge requirements  are those who register with District/Council as a Merit Badge Counselor - position 42 (MBC is not a unit position) and counselors need to be approved for each badge they will counsel. Some badges require specific training --- for example, Rifle Shooting MBCs must have NRA Instructor training, Archer MBCs must have USAArchery instructor training, Scuba MBCs must have PADI instructor training, etc. 

If your Life scout argues about it, just point him to BSA's Guide to Advancement. The rule is clear. 

Most "camp counselors" are minors.  As such, they cannot be Registered Merit Badge Counselors and, so, have zero authority to pass any candidate on any Merit Badge requirement, although a minority are actually knowledgeable, some extremely so.  Nevertheless, the Merit Badge Mills "must' grind on to generate income for councils - THE priority.

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I had a problem with my sons most recent summer camp and the rifle & archery classes he took.   They only marked off 2H for Rifle. I know they did more than that as I went up there on Thursday to watch him shoot.   They didn't mark off a lot of things that you even have to do before you even make it to the firing line.   I called the camp back afterwards and the lady said she can only answer for what was put on the print out.  Really?  Such crap.  So now my son will effectively have to start all over when he decides to find a new counselor for it. 

They also didn't mark off much for Archery.   He made the arrow & bow string and they didn't mark it off along with several other things. :mad:

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37 minutes ago, Jackdaws said:

I had a problem with my sons most recent summer camp and the rifle & archery classes he took.   They only marked off 2H for Rifle. I know they did more than that as I went up there on Thursday to watch him shoot.   They didn't mark off a lot of things that you even have to do before you even make it to the firing line.   I called the camp back afterwards and the lady said she can only answer for what was put on the print out.  Really?  Such crap.  So now my son will effectively have to start all over when he decides to find a new counselor for it. 

They also didn't mark off much for Archery.   He made the arrow & bow string and they didn't mark it off along with several other things. :mad:

In my times at camp, we would get a report on the evening of the night before the last day at camp and they had the counselors available to discuss what is in the report.  If we had any questions, we could talk with them about discrepancies.  

Not a great solution, but it helped.  I would have preferred to see it daily so I could talk to the scouts throughout the week. 

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2 hours ago, mashmaster said:

In my times at camp, we would get a report on the evening of the night before the last day at camp and they had the counselors available to discuss what is in the report.  If we had any questions, we could talk with them about discrepancies.  

Not a great solution, but it helped.  I would have preferred to see it daily so I could talk to the scouts throughout the week. 


This is also what I have seen at summer camps.  Usually Thursday afternoon / evening they make the reports or blue cards available, and the Scouts have Thursday night / Friday to finish stuff up or discuss with MBCs anything that was marked incorrectly.

As for partials, depending on the merit badge, the Scout might be able to finish the requirements at home, but would still need to find a registered MBC for the merit badge in question in order to get the final approvals.

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15 hours ago, mashmaster said:

In my times at camp, we would get a report on the evening of the night before the last day at camp and they had the counselors available to discuss what is in the report.  If we had any questions, we could talk with them about discrepancies.  

Not a great solution, but it helped.  I would have preferred to see it daily so I could talk to the scouts throughout the week. 

Better than no feedback, but no....not great.

The problem is that the report goes to the scoutmaster, who has 20 or 30 scouts in his care. He scans through the report, and hopefully, big problems like a scout only getting one requirement signed off, will jump out at him so he can raise a question.  But there's a lot of socuts in a unit....and most of 'em are trying to earn 4 or more badges during the week....so there will still be problems that fall through the cracks.

As TAHAWK says, in many camps, the "counselors" are actually scouts and the camp or council just "cheat" by pretending that a counselor back in the city is "supervising" the camp merit badge classes. Of course they aren't, which is why camps really need to get rid of all the BAD quality classes in their program. One camp my son's troop went to boasted they offered "over 60 merit badges".  Sad...they would be a better camp if they would just do 20 outdoor-focused badges really WELL. 

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

Better than no feedback, but no....not great.

The problem is that the report goes to the scoutmaster, who has 20 or 30 scouts in his care. He scans through the report, and hopefully, big problems like a scout only getting one requirement signed off, will jump out at him so he can raise a question.  But there's a lot of socuts in a unit....and most of 'em are trying to earn 4 or more badges during the week....so there will still be problems that fall through the cracks.

As TAHAWK says, in many camps, the "counselors" are actually scouts and the camp or council just "cheat" by pretending that a counselor back in the city is "supervising" the camp merit badge classes. Of course they aren't, which is why camps really need to get rid of all the BAD quality classes in their program. One camp my son's troop went to boasted they offered "over 60 merit badges".  Sad...they would be a better camp if they would just do 20 outdoor-focused badges really WELL. 

This is what I encountered.  We got the list at the end of the week and with all of the hub bub of packing up and making sure boys had showers for the trip home it got overlooked till I got home and finally saw the lists from the SM.   I watched my son for one period on Thursday during the Rifle Shooting badge so I know for a fact they went over a lot more that wasn't checked off.  I think the issue was like y'all have said, the youth running the classes are primarily responsible for getting the paperwork to HQ for the week.  The older gentleman who was probably the NRA certified instructor never went over to the instructional shelter while I was up there.  He stayed on the range while the youth went over some of the lessons.

 

As for # of MB's offered.  I imagine it depends on the size of the camps and # of participants that come each week.   My son worked on earning things like pottery, sculpture and leatherwork this summer. The only real 2 outdoor badges he worked on was the rifle and archery.   These 2 seem to be badges that seem like summer camp would be the best place to accomplish them, thus his disappointment of the lack of requirements marked as completed.  So unless he finds another opportunity during this year, he will have to repeat those again at next years summer camp in order to earn them.

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Here in the NCAC, White Oak District,  MBCounselors must be registered with the District MBDean, who lists them with the Council.  Council has taken to checking MBC names and dates on Eagle Applications before the Scout may proceed to the Eagle BoR . There has been gnashing of teeth, to be Biblical,  about this.  

The  MBCounselor needs to fill out two pieces of paper : Adult Scouter Application,  Merit Badge Counselor Application (which details which MBs and who the MBC will see, ?only Troop members or any Scout?) and take about an hour and a half of online training (This is Scouting, YPT,  MBC training). All this is free, no fee required (unlike us Commishers and ASMs ). There is no  requirement to be "expert" in the topic, be it Archery, Nuclear Science or Chess or Basketry, only a desire to BE a MBCounselor.   Oh, and maybe a desire to be "Trustworthy".  

How a Scout teen at Summer Camp can "legally"  fulfill these steps has always caused my head to be scratched in wonder.   So , perhaps, the "activities accomplished"  page is appropriate, unlike the "Partial "  Blue Card I partially fill out during my bemused time as Bugling MBCounselor.  

 

Edited by SSScout

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30 minutes ago, Jackdaws said:

... The only real 2 outdoor badges he worked on was the rifle and archery.   These 2 seem to be badges that seem like summer camp would be the best place to accomplish them, thus his disappointment of the lack of requirements marked as completed.  So unless he finds another opportunity during this year, he will have to repeat those again at next years summer camp in order to earn them.

There might be ways to get partials done on those anyway. 

  • Our local council has a "Shooting Sports Fulfillment Weekend" where they open up the ranges at a nearby camp and provide certified instructors to help the boys --- any scout from any unit is welcome to come. 
  • The council also provides NRA and USA Archery instructor training periodically for adult scouters. We have several adults in our troop who have taken those classes and are now registered as MBCs. They provide qualified instruction for the troop as a group, but also work with individual scouts to complete merit badge requirements. 
  • The troop regularly has a "Shooting" campout at a council-run camp where we either use our own trained scouters, or arrange with council to have an RSO provided to us. Your troop might be able to do that too...depends on your council.
  • ...and of course, the scout can ask the Scoutmaster or use Scoutbook to find a local counselor willing to work with him individually (the classic method of earning merit badges)

Our scouts thus have multiple avenues open to them to finish any shooting sports merit badges.  Check with your local council ---- I would not be surprised if there are more opportunities in your area than you might realize.

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This is easily lost on even the best of us ...

MB completion is the scout's responsibility.

If the scout does not produce a blue card with a counselors signature on the "completion" line, he did not earn the badge.

If the counselor did not remember that a scout demonstrated a skill and therefore did not record it the application, the scout did not demonstrate the skill.

In both circumstances it is the scout's responsibility to ensure that his portion of the properly signed blue card is in his hands -- not on any SMs list. If he chooses to leave camp without that card, then his priority is on getting home and he is leaving his progress in the hands of someone else. If the scout missed doing a requirement, he needs to let his SM know that he needs a counselor near home. If the counselor missed something, he needs to touch base with him/her before he leaves camp. Insisting that things be done this way regardless of the camp's ad-hoc tracking system puts the scout in control of his destiny. The scout makes sure that everything is properly signed, and when the application is complete, divides it for the appropriate parties, and secures his portion in case the counselor's and the unit's record-keeping fails him.

It's scout's advancement -- not the parent's, or the SM's, or the counselor's.

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43 minutes ago, SSScout said:

Here in the NCAC, White Oak District,  MBCounselors must be registered with the District MBDean, who lists them with the Council.  Council has taken to checking MBC names and dates on Eagle Applications before the Scout may proceed to the Eagle BoR . There has been gnashing of teeth, to be Biblical,  about this.  

 

IMHO, the NCAC practice you describe is an excellent demonstration of PITIFUL servant leadership. 

If the scouters in Council were GOOD leaders, they'd be checking "downstream" --- looking at the blue cards or electronic advancement records *WHEN THE SCOUT EARNS AN AWARD AND THE TROOP BUYS THE BADGE FOR HIM*.  That way the scout has an opportunity to correct himself, and the troop can discover their sloppy advancement processes in time to nip future problems in the bud so they don't end up with a years-long procession of non-compliant sign-offs.

Waiting until an Eagle BOR to verify that the person signing a blue card is actually a registered MBC is simply unacceptable. Sad.

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11 hours ago, SSScout said:

Here in the NCAC, White Oak District,  MBCounselors must be registered with the District MBDean, who lists them with the Council.  Council has taken to checking MBC names and dates on Eagle Applications before the Scout may proceed to the Eagle BoR . There has been gnashing of teeth, to be Biblical,  about this.  

 

There's nowhere on an Eagle Scout application for the MBC names, how do they check?  And if the council's official records which are in scoutnet show the merit badge what argument would they have to change it?

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