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Scoutmasters as Merit Badge Counselors?

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I've been told twice recently in my troop that Scoutmasters are disallowed from being merit badge counselors. I think these adults mean well but are mistaken. There could certainly be an argument to made against the practice but in fact I bet it happens all the time, like, constantly.

 “For example, Scoutmasters must register as merit badge counselors and be approved for any badge they wish to counsel or sign off in their troop.” https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/the-merit-badge-program/  

“Can’t Scoutmasters approve badges within their troop? They can, but only if they’re also merit badge counselors.”   https://scoutingmagazine.org/issues/1009/d-advance.html  

We are launching a program that will be awesome and just happens to fulfill a merit badges' requirements. The Scouts may as well pick the MB along the path, since we're going that way anyway.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong but I think I'm right. Please advise.

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I have never seen anything prohibiting a scoutmaster from also being a merit badge counselor.  Pretty much every SM I know has at least a couple that they are counselors for.

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As long as the Scoutmaster is registered and approved as a Merit Badge Counselor (position code 42) for the particular merit badge(s), then there is no problem.  Guide to Advancement section 7.0.1.1 Qualifications of Counselors.

There seem to be a lot of folks who think that Scoutmasters are automatically MBCs and can sign off on any merit badge.  But Scoutmasters have to be approved as MBCs by the council / district, and they have to be approved for particular merit badges.

Edited by Thunderbird

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There is no prohibition. I applaud the focus on adventure where advancement (specifically T-fC ) is a by-product and not the goal. However I would be cautious about  the "launching a program..." because this sounds like an adult designed, adult planned, and executed program. The scouting program us supposed to be planned and executed by the scouts at the patrol level. Advancement, specifically mBs are supposed to be chosen, planned, etc... by the individual scouts. 

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I am both SM and MBC. I signed up for a few that I just sign off on like Climbing and Cooking because either the instructor was not one or there were minor requirments that needed to be done after we came back from camp or a campout. Our scouts planned a cycling program feature and they hit many requirements so I signed up to help finish off the last few and sign their cards (only a handful of takers).

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I encourage SMs to counsel the badges in areas that they are better than anyone else.

I earned Music from my SM.

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I picked several merit badges that I felt qualified to do and were ones our scouts typically have an interest in doing, particularly some Eagle required badges like personal fitness and hiking.

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There used to be a belief--I don't know if it was ever true--that Scoutmasters were automatically Merit Badge Counselors for every merit badge, just by the fact that they're a Scoutmaster. Many long-time Scoutmasters still hold that belief. I have been to events where I have had Scoutmasters proclaim this, only to be told by practically everyone else in the room, "no you aren't!"

That may be where that thinking came from.

There are many who believe that Scoutmasters (or Assistant Scoutmasters, or Committee Members, etc.) should not counsel their own child on Merit Badges (or sign off on rank requirements, perform Scoutmaster Conferences, etc.). The GTA does not prohibit this, although I know a number of leaders who do follow that practice so they are not potentially accused of taking it easy on their own kid.

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SMs NEVER were automatically MBCs.  My documentation on this goes back to the 1930s.   In fact MBCs were not required to be registered either.  And for many years required to be men.

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I am a Skipper(SM of a Sea Scout Ship) now, used to be a Scoutmaster for a troop.  I have always been a MB counselor for a small set of MB's.   Never for my kid unless he was part of a group MB activity.  Advancement and MBs are marked by an ASM or Mate (ASM of a Sea Scout Ship).    

SM's can't possibly be a MBC for every MB, some require specific qualifications to be the counselor, like Canoeing or Rifle.....for and example.

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I have been told that some committees apply additional rules on their troop. One such rule was that a scout in that troop could not earn more that 5 badges with one counselor. I don't know if that was appropriate for the committee to do. If it was, I could see a committee enacting rules about scoutmasters for their troop being MBC. I'm not saying that they should, but I could see it happening.

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@prof,  the GTA does permit a troop to limit the number of badges a scout can earn from one counselor   (and also the council can limit the number of badges a single counseleor counsels. )

From the Guide to Advancment 7.0.1.4   ( https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/the-merit-badge-program/ )

 

Quote

It is permissible for councils to limit the number of badges that one person counsels.

Quote

The National Council does not place a limit on the number of merit badges a youth may earn from one counselor. However, in situations where a Scout is earning a large number of badges from just one counselor, the unit leader is permitted to place a limit on the number of merit badges that may be earned from one counselor, as long as the same limit applies to all Scouts in the unit.

 

Edited by Treflienne
typo
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18 hours ago, MikeS72 said:

I have never seen anything prohibiting a scoutmaster from also being a merit badge counselor.  Pretty much every SM I know has at least a couple that they are counselors for.

Most of the SM's I've met wouldn't want to be MBC.  They have enough to do as it is.  

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3 hours ago, Cleveland Rocks said:

There used to be a belief--I don't know if it was ever true--that Scoutmasters were automatically Merit Badge Counselors for every merit badge, just by the fact that they're a Scoutmaster. Many long-time Scoutmasters still hold that belief. I have been to events where I have had Scoutmasters proclaim this, only to be told by practically everyone else in the room, "no you aren't!"

That may be where that thinking came from.

There are many who believe that Scoutmasters (or Assistant Scoutmasters, or Committee Members, etc.) should not counsel their own child on Merit Badges (or sign off on rank requirements, perform Scoutmaster Conferences, etc.). The GTA does not prohibit this, although I know a number of leaders who do follow that practice so they are not potentially accused of taking it easy on their own kid.

I've heard both of those as well--that SMs are automatically MBCs for everything, and that MBCs shouldn't counsel their own children.  Neither, of course, are real policies, although the second is a good idea, in most cases.

I was an MBC for most of the Eagle Required (except First Aid, Swimming, and Lifesaving) Merit badges as well as an ASM.  I would not counsel my sons on a MB if there were anybody else in the Troop that I thought could do a good job of it.  I was their MBC for Cooking and for Environmental science for that reason. We didn't have other MBCs for those, and I was tougher on my sons than on another scout. I also wouldn't sign off on any rank advancement that they had that wasn't recorded elsewhere.  I would sign off, for example, requirements of number of outings, etc. for them, but that's because we had that recorded in the advancement record system we were using at the time.  

Our SM had two sons in the Unit.  He never signed off anything for them, and had others do the SM conferences with them.  

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4 hours ago, Treflienne said:

However, in situations where a Scout is earning a large number of badges from just one counselor, the unit leader is permitted to place a limit on the number of merit badges that may be earned from one counselor, as long as the same limit applies to all Scouts in the unit.

That is an interesting restriction in light of the explicit allowance that states a scout may work with any MBC of their choice in the prior sentence. How to square that circle?

"Lacking agreement, the Scout must be allowed to work with the counselor of his or her choice, so long as the counselor is registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee."

I could see this as a potential issue where a parent or guardian is a MBC and assists their scout with multiple MBs. Seems like in such a situation, it would be incumbent on the troop to find the scout an alternative which is not often easy.

 

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