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swilliams

Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

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7 hours ago, qwazse said:

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"?

 

7 hours ago, Buggie said:

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). 

Your first bullet point - yes he handed me the unit copy and his copy.  Our troop usually returns the scout portion along with the MB patch at a COH.

Second - yes the counselor signed both portions.

Third and fourth bullets - the blue cards that were issued by my predecessor are signed on the unit section, and on the applicant's record.  The ones I issued to the scout are signed on the unit portion, but not the applicant part.  No one ever told me how this was supposed to be done, so I've been signing the applicant's record part upon completion of the MB.  In this case, the scout handed the blue cards to me at the end of a troop meeting, so we didn't discuss anything, and it wasn't until the following morning that I had a chance to look at them closely.

This person hasn't been registered to the council associated with his address for the past three years, and even when he was, he wasn't a MB counselor for them.  Unless he was registered somewhere else in November of last year, it sounds like he's not a MB counselor at all.

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52 minutes ago, swilliams said:

...Unless he was registered somewhere else in November of last year, it sounds like he's not a MB counselor at all.

Well if that's the case, you really can't accept the cards. Even if the culture of the troop has been to operate fairly loosely with this kind of thing before, even this has to be too much. 9 MBs, 6 required for Eagle, all signed on the same date by a guy who isn't a MB counselor at all, let alone a counselor for one or any of the particular badges in question, is that right?

And I'm only saying that about the troop culture with any confidence that it's accurate because the sheer number of badges we're talking about has me inclined to think that the only way a scout would even attempt to put through so many questionable blue cards is because the troop has operated this way for a while, it's not that unusual for the scouts in this troop to do this. Either that or it's just one really brave scout, trying to jam 9 badges through like this. 

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So, under normal circumstances -- which this is certainly not -- I strongly recommend that the applicant's record always stay with the applicant. As soon as the scout presents the card with the counselor's signature, the SM signs it, separates the portions, and returns the applicant record to the scout. Then, as soon as the SM or designee records it in the unit's records, he signs the unit copy. That's the point of that final signature. That's how I believe we can maintain the triple-redundancy intended by the blue card system.

None of that would take away from the serious deficiency in the scout's cards. That is, they lack an MBC's signature until that person can prove his/her credentials. It's possible to be registered in a council outside of your address, but that council should be able to verify it. With or without the unit leader's signature, you need to let the scout know that you can't in good conscience process those cards.

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8 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

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.

You and I agree here.  I'm not suggesting more rules.  The BSA rules are more than enough.

I'm just stating that the SM be clear that he/she is enforcing rules.  We have a tendency in Scouting to let rules side.  We do this for lots of reasons - but the net effect in many units it that the rules are not followed. 

If you've not been enforcing rules, it's a little much so that that paragraph 4 of section 3.2 of the guide to advancement says something.  So, before you're going to start pulling out rule books, you've got to be clear that this is the standard.

Edited by ParkMan
typos

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2 hours ago, swilliams said:

Your first bullet point - yes he handed me the unit copy and his copy.  Our troop usually returns the scout portion along with the MB patch at a COH.

Second - yes the counselor signed both portions.

Third and fourth bullets - the blue cards that were issued by my predecessor are signed on the unit section, and on the applicant's record.  The ones I issued to the scout are signed on the unit portion, but not the applicant part.  No one ever told me how this was supposed to be done, so I've been signing the applicant's record part upon completion of the MB.  In this case, the scout handed the blue cards to me at the end of a troop meeting, so we didn't discuss anything, and it wasn't until the following morning that I had a chance to look at them closely.

This person hasn't been registered to the council associated with his address for the past three years, and even when he was, he wasn't a MB counselor for them.  Unless he was registered somewhere else in November of last year, it sounds like he's not a MB counselor at all.

DId you approve that this person was to be the MBC before work began?  Sorry if you already answered this - but I missed it.

I'm not sure the technical reason about why an unregistered MBC cannot sign off on merit badges.  I agree that having someone not qualified to sign off make absolutely no sense - but I'm not aware if there is really any check on this.  If there were, I have to imagine that many Eagle applications would be returned due to all the council mistakes about getting folks registered.

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5 hours ago, ParkMan said:

 ....  If there were, I have to imagine that many Eagle applications would be returned due to all the council mistakes about getting folks registered.

My experience suggests that this was more common to do when districts were smaller and Eagle applications -- especially at age 17.9 -- were rarer. Then, registration constituted a handshake by the district commissioner, and an "until death do we part" phone list. Our council advancement chair does tell us that applications are flagged when the counselor has the same last name as the scout for too many MBs.

Having MBCs registered is quite new, and the purpose of registration is for background checks, not Eagle applications. The "gate" for scouts is supposed to happen at the time of issuing the card. But even then, the GTA has allowed the scout flexibility to use an MBC other than the one suggested by the SM. And, until now, a scout has not had a good way of checking if an MBC is registered and YPT current. Most MBCs don't even know that they can check their own registration ... they might not even know about Scoutbook.

So, in this case, there is no way of telling which counselor the prior SM or advancement chair suggested for each of these badges, no way of knowing if this counselor was registered and the paperwork got lost, no way of knowing if this person counseled any other scouts. The only actions are to 1) call the counselor, and 2) let the scout know that strangers on the Internet think his blue cards for these badges will get his Eagle application flagged.

The scout needs a do-over. It's that simple.

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59 minutes ago, qwazse said:

So, in this case, there is no way of telling which counselor the prior SM or advancement chair suggested for each of these badges, no way of knowing if this counselor was registered and the paperwork got lost, no way of knowing if this person counseled any other scouts. The only actions are to 1) call the counselor, and 2) let the scout know that strangers on the Internet think his blue cards for these badges will get his Eagle application flagged.

The scout needs a do-over. It's that simple.

Couldn't decide between a 'like' or a 'laugh' here.

 

7 hours ago, ParkMan said:

DId you approve that this person was to be the MBC before work began?  Sorry if you already answered this - but I missed it.

I'm not sure the technical reason about why an unregistered MBC cannot sign off on merit badges.  I agree that having someone not qualified to sign off make absolutely no sense - but I'm not aware if there is really any check on this.  If there were, I have to imagine that many Eagle applications would be returned due to all the council mistakes about getting folks registered.

There are a couple things going on here.  On some, the previous person approved/wrote a counselor, on some it was me who gave the counselor name.  On those cards, the new counselor was written over the top.  On a few, they were issued for summer camp, so no counselor was written in when they were given.

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

2) let the scout know that strangers on the Internet think his blue cards for these badges will get his Eagle application flagged.

Yes, you can do that.  But be prepared for him to tell you that a bunch of people on the internet approved his merit badge.  Turnabout is fair play.

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It might behoove us to review the expectations of the unit leader when first providing the blue card. Most of the time I have seen it go like this:

Scout: I want to do "xyz" mB.

SM: Do you have a counselor?

Scout: Yes.

SM: Ok, here is a blue card. Have fun!

This is NOT appropriate, and the unit leader has signed a card without doing his/her job. 

There should be a significant conversation between the unit leader and the scout at this time. The initial signed blue card should be the unit leader attesting to this conversation. Many (not all) of the issues surrounding mBs could avoided if the process is started appropriately.

The entire process should be reviewed by all unit leaders annually, and involve parents. The PLC should also include this in their annual planning especially when a large group of new scouts joins.

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2 hours ago, swilliams said:

There are a couple things going on here.  On some, the previous person approved/wrote a counselor, on some it was me who gave the counselor name.  On those cards, the new counselor was written over the top.  On a few, they were issued for summer camp, so no counselor was written in when they were given. 

 

44 minutes ago, SSScout said:

*sigh*  The ultimate question is:   Was the person who signed the Blue Card, Approved The Merit Badge,  a bona fide registered in the Council Merit Badge Counselor when the card was signed?  Make the phone call(s).  If the answer to the question is "Yes", shake the Scout's hand and wish him well.   If "No", then smile,  hand him some more Blue Cards and give him a list of approved/registered Merit Badge Counselors for his desired subjects.

I think @SSScout got to the gist of it. You don't really have a difficult message to tel the scout.

At some point the SM should have a chat with him and ask why the rush all of a sudden in November? And what's the deal with the bait-and-switch? Why didn't the original counselors work out?

I halfway agree with @DuctTape, that everyone could stand a little coaching on the MB system. But, even so, a troop will still get cases like this.

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49 minutes ago, SSScout said:

*sigh*  The ultimate question is:   Was the person who signed the Blue Card, Approved The Merit Badge,  a bona fide registered in the Council Merit Badge Counselor when the card was signed?  Make the phone call(s).  If the answer to the question is "Yes", shake the Scout's hand and wish him well.   If "No", then smile,  hand him some more Blue Cards and give him a list of approved/registered Merit Badge Counselors for his desired subjects.   

See you on the trail....

Exactly right.

If the person who signed is, indeed, a legitimate MBC, then the badge is presumed "earned", and the rule is "Once it's earned, it's earned."

If there a suspiscions about the blue cards, the signing "counselor", the number of badges, etc., then the troop leaders should review rule 7.0.4.7 in the "Guide to Advancement" to see whether or not they have legitimate reason to raise questions and what recourse they might legitimately have.  In any case, it should not be presumed that the scout did anything wrong.

"The Guide to Advancement" will provide good guidance ... not well-meaning strangers on the internet (or gossip mongers in your troop) proposing bogus "policies" or other kinds of bad advice. Relying on bad advice that deviates from standard BSA policies will only open you to legitimate criticism.

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Just a question....is this scout pushing 18?   

Which Eagle MBs other than Cooking you mentioned ?

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2 hours ago, PACAN said:

Just a question....is this scout pushing 18?   

Which Eagle MBs other than Cooking you mentioned ?

Of course he is. 

I do think this has shown that it would be a good idea to have the SPL go over blue card procedures at an upcoming meeting.  In addition to this issue, I had a heck of a time trying to get one of the young scouts to understand it. I didn’t have a print-out of the most recent MB Counselor list with me (had come straight from work), and couldn’t get the document to load on my phone. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going to forward the list to him.  He wondered aloud why, if scouts were supposed to be responsible, he couldn’t have the list for himself, lol. 

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22 minutes ago, swilliams said:

Of course he is. 

I do think this has shown that it would be a good idea to have the SPL go over blue card procedures at an upcoming meeting.  In addition to this issue, I had a heck of a time trying to get one of the young scouts to understand it. I didn’t have a print-out of the most recent MB Counselor list with me (had come straight from work), and couldn’t get the document to load on my phone. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going to forward the list to him.  He wondered aloud why, if scouts were supposed to be responsible, he couldn’t have the list for himself, lol. 

I really hate that deadline. Without it, a scout like this would just keep putting off earning the badges until maybe his was 40 and an ASM himself. Sure, it's kicking the can down the road, but it will be at someone else's intersection.

I tried to get one of my scouts who was into theater to draw up a skit that would follow a scout as he goes about earning a fictional MB -- one with two simple, but theatrically funny requirements.For laughs I considered making a prop of the oversize card by painting old dry-erase boards and hinging them together -- and an even larger MB pamphlet! At least make it a little fun! The scout passed, and I'm still trying to get a scout to take it up as an SM--assigned service project. If anyone takes me up on the offer, I'll post the results.

Your younger scout's not wrong. We old-school scouters grew up with the list of district MBC's pinned on the bulletin board. They were all someone somebody know personally because it was a small district. Some of us chose our next MB based on if the councilor was just down the road from us. (Or, in my case, a customer at Dad's beer distributor.) Your scout is a victim of shrinking membership, districts the size of councils, councils the size of areas, and perverse individuals who've destroyed the general public trust.

As far as geographical searches go, ScoutBook's list works quite nicely -- when it works. I get a page with a few counselors for a particular badge, and the cut-and-paste into an e-mail ain't bad. Some of my leaders are MBCs, but they aren't showing up yet. If and when it reflects real life, the whole process will be much more satisfying.

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