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swilliams

Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

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I would first call the registrar for the council in which the merit badge was earned. They should be able to tell you if the counselor for the badges in question is actually a registered counselor. 

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Since you're new to the role, I think you have to ask yourself - "is what the Scout did in line with how things are typically done?"  DId the prior SM require signatures ahead of time?  Did the prior SM question the qualifications of the counselor?  Did the prior SM review the dates and progress on the MB?  Did the prior SM permit family members as MB counselors?  If the prior SM was the laid back type and if you have not changed the process, then you have to recognize that the Scout and family probably thought this was all fine.  If the prior SM was a by the rules type, then this Scout and family may be taking advantage of your newness here.  I would encourage you to be consistent in the rules you apply on retroactive work.  It should be the rules in place when the Scout was doing the work.

Given the size of the what was just turned in, it is most probably outside the bounds of what has been done before.  So, you have the right to question.  If a Scout walked in with 100 merit badges signed off we'd all question it.  While 9 is not 100, it still a lot.  It is certainly open to some questioning.  It's part of the personal development and adult association methods of Scouting.

Now, @David CO makes a very good point.  This may come back again when others look at it.  So, even if you are comfortable with everything till now - you still need to do some due diligence with the Scout.

To me, the bigger question is - "Is this how you want to run things as SM?"  While you may have to let something like this go, you have every ability to establish how you will do things going forward.  Requiring that all Blue Cards to be signed prior to work starting is a good practice.  Let your Scouts know that they need to use approved MBC and that their names need to be recorded on the Blue Cards prior to you approving.  You can certainly let the Scouts know there is a new Sheriff in town.  I'm a big fan of being firm, clear, fair, and compassionate.  

  • Let the Scouts know you'll enforce the rules
  • Make the rules clear
  • If the Scouts follow the rules, then don't look for reasons to "fail" them.
  • Understand this is life and it's a youth program.  Stuff will happen and so exceptions are OK.  But, they need to be that - exceptions.

 

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To the point about the signatures, all the blue cards have a unit leader signature on the front, whether mine or my predecessor’s. The counselor signatures are done. The final unit leader signature would either be myself or our current SM, and neither of us has signed at this point, given the concerns we have. 

In our unit, since we have a fair number of scouts, the blue cards are issued by the SM’s appointee - me - and typically I’m the one who goes over the cards with the scout when they’re completed, though on occasion the SM goes over them and gives them to me to enter and purchase the corresponding badges. 

The troop, following guidelines, discourages having MB counselors who are family members, but I did hear back from our CC and he says he and the old advancement person had given approval to the scout to use family for “a couple” merit badges. CC and I agree that at a minimum, the scout needs to request a new blue card for cooking; the card where the original subject was crossed out and cooking written in.

While waiting to hear from the CC, I called the council for the town listed on the counselor’s address line. They do not have this person listed as a MB counselor for any MB, and he’s not currently registered with that council.

Spoke to the SM last night, and our first step will be to simply ask the scout which council the counselor is registered with.  I’ll also let him know that he’ll need a new blue card for the cooking. There’s a counselor near him who is very responsive, so hopefully we can resolve that one quickly.  

So here’s one more question. In re-reading the guide to advancement, I was paying close attention to the part about not retesting the scout or having the scout prove that they did the work. I would think that questioning the counselor’s eligibility doesn’t fall into that category, but if it’s determined the signatory of the card is not a counselor, where does that leave the unit and the scout in terms of the retesting?

Edited by swilliams

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44 minutes ago, swilliams said:

... So here’s one more question. In re-reading the guide to advancement, I was paying close attention to the part about not retesting the scout or having the scout prove that they did the work. I would think that questioning the counselor’s eligibility doesn’t fall into that category, but if it’s determined the signatory of the card is not a counselor, where does that leave the unit and the scout in terms of the retesting? 

It's not a retest if the scout has no credible evidence of passing in the first place.

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48 minutes ago, swilliams said:

While waiting to hear from the CC, I called the council for the town listed on the counselor’s address line. They do not have this person listed as a MB counselor for any MB, and he’s not currently registered with that council.

If the person who signed the card is not registered with BSA in any way, and is thus not a registered MBC, you are not retesting, you are saving this scout a lot of potential heartache down the road if anyone questions the validity of these merit badges.  They are not legitimately earned if the signature is not that of a registered counselor.

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I will note that MBC applications are the most easily lost pieces of paperwork.

But, if the scout doesn't have his former SM's signature on the card, then he really does need to square away with a recognized counselor. If he's asking his current SM to sign, the SM better be comfortable with what happened with each badge.

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Just now, qwazse said:

I will note that MBC applications are the most easily lost pieces of paperwork.

True.

I have not seen an update to our district list since 11/18.

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Okay, I'm re-reading. So, you're saying for each MB ...

  • The scout turned in his copy and the unit copy. (We assume the counselor has 9 of his portion of the application.)
  • The counselor signed the scout's portion and the unit's portion.
  • You or another SM signed once? Was that the applicant's portion?
  • And now the scout is giving you the unit portion? And you're trying to decide if you should sign-off on "checked and recorded"?

 

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My pedantic mind always goes into logic mode. 

Sure, the MBC isn't registered at council this year. The cards are all dated last year by the MBC Signature. Was the MBC listed in the BSA last year and during that time period, were they registered as MBC for those badges. If they weren't, the whole set of blue cards aren't valid. Which is a tough thing to tell the Scout. 

If they were, you can't retest. All you can do is advise that this will be noticed again and could be questioned. You have to accept the cards as valid (with the exception of the one card with the subject line crossed off). 

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My thoughts the other day (in another thread) about having unit-only merit badge counselors doesn't sound so bad now, does it? :rolleyes:

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59 minutes ago, David CO said:

My thoughts the other day (in another thread) about having unit-only merit badge counselors doesn't sound so bad now, does it? :rolleyes:

It still sounds like a bad idea.

One of the time-honored "methods" of scouting is adult association.  Staying within the same small circle of known adults severely limits a scout's opportunity to learn new ideas and experience different subjects with people who are true "experts" in their field.  I would not let my kid join a troop that insisted on using unit-only counselors.  Our troop does have a couple counselors who are real "experts" in badges they counsel....but we don't have 'em all, and I'm very grateful that there were fair-minded scouters in other units with the altruism to offer their expertise to all scouts.

 

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5 hours ago, ParkMan said:

'm a big fan of being firm, clear, fair, and compassionate.  

  • ...
  • If the Scouts follow the rules, then don't look for reasons to "fail" them.
  • ...

Well, Park, I'm with you on the spirit of fairness, but I sure wouldn't support any "rules" that are not in crystal-clear black and white.  If it's in the merit badge requirements, great, then the "no more, no less" guideline applies.  If it's in the BSA's official "Guide to Advancement", great, that's the rule that should be followed.

Beyond that, it's a slippery slope that really shouldn't be defended.  

Scoutmaster (or committee) imposed "rules" or "policies" should be thrown out. In my years of scouting, I have yet to see ANY rule proposed or stated that has actually been a good idea. I'm not sure there exists a wise, fair "unit policy".

There's a couple reasons I feel this way:

* scouts and their families join scouting to get "the scouting program".  The scouting program is defined by the National Council.  Deviations from that of any kind dilute the scouting program and cheat the scout out of getting the same scouting program that thousands of other scouts around the country enjoy.

* scouters should be there to help the scouts succeed. This is described in ILST, NYLT, Wood Badge, etc. as "servant leadership".  The idea is that a high quality leader will "open doors and remove obstacles".   ANY arbitrary rule is, by definition, an "obstacle", since no such impediment exists for most scouts in BSA...only to those unfortunate enough to have landed in the afflicted troop

Unit policies are really contrary to the spirit of scouting. They're unfair, they're an unnecessary obstacle, and they sow confusion because they're inconsistent with national policies followed by better-run units.

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

My thoughts the other day (in another thread) about having unit-only merit badge counselors doesn't sound so bad now, does it? :rolleyes:

@David CO, I have a stinking suspicion that this counselor was so close to the scout's former unit that nobody ever thought to ask if he/she ever registered!

I'm tempted to take a guess that the CO of the scouts former unit ... betting that it's "former" based on a recent decision of the CO's parent organization ... but that might come off as stereotyping.

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34 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

* scouts and their families join scouting to get "the scouting program".  

That's nonsense.  Most boys join scouting just to have fun.  They neither know about or care about the details of the scouting program.  It's only the most die-hard scouters (who eat, breath, and sleep scouting) who care to scrutinize and religiously adhere to every nit-picking detail of the program, making scouting activities boring and tedious for the rest of us.  

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Do your due diligence and keep good documentation for each badge on what the story is.

Let your council advancement committee know what's happening 

Follow the guidance in the Guide to Advancement paragraphs 7.0.4.6 and 7.0.4.7

share what you find with us. 

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