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Samuel

Blue Cards during lockdown time

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My son received many blue cards in different layouts of PDF files for his virtual merit badge programs conducted by various BSA councils.  But my SM is unable to find those counselors in scoutbook. He wants to contact those individual counselors and get additional information. I'm not sure why this is necessary? It is required to identify the individual counselors in scoutbook in order to approve the merit badges? 

I thought blue card PDF is sufficient to enter the merit badge completion in scoutbook. I do not wish to delay the merit badge completion. 

Kindly let me know the right thing to do. 

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Posted (edited)

Not all units and/or councils use Scoutbook. A person could be a fully registered and valid MBC and not in Scoutbook because a) they chose not to be or b) the unit they are associated with doesn't use Scoutbook or c) their Council does not use Scoutbook as its MBC list (they use Doubleknot or some other something or other)

Under the Guide to Advancement, the SM can (and arguably must) confirm that the MBC was registered and valid. In unit that's simple: the SM double checks with the advancement chair. In council that process is simple: just call (or look up) the Council provided MBC list (which as I said may or may not be Scoutbook) or bug/poke the District Advancement chair.

You go outside council things get...murky.

One more thing, and this is extreme: if the SM believes the MBC was invalid or failed to meet the basic minimum standards for the merit badge (read: merit badge mill) they can file a 11.1.0.0 Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns. With so many of these virtual merit badge mills (Central Florida = 999 scouts in a Zoom session? Really?) that is a real concern.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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The councils he got merit badges are all over the country. I'm not sure how my SM is going to verify each of the MBCs. I do not want him to refuse the fully completed digital blue cards. He will be heartbroken. 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Samuel said:

The councils he got merit badges are all over the country. I'm not sure how my SM is going to verify each of the MBCs. I do not want him to refuse the fully completed digital blue cards. He will be heartbroken. 

The SM has an a duty to ensure that the blue card was validly signed by a valid MBC. See Guide to Advancement 7.0.4.7
 

Quote

Upon encountering any merit badge program where BSA standards are not upheld, unit leaders are strongly encouraged to report the incident to the council advancement committee, preferably using the form found in the appendix (see “Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns,” 11.1.0.0).

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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Is this a process issue or a substantive issue for the SM?  It might be he's just trying to bang them in to Scoutbook and without names and contacts he's bumping into issues.  I would explore with him what he's really trying to accomplish.  These things almosy always work out, but when things are done in a way that's different from previous processes (as is everything these days) it can take a bit longer.

If he's concerned about the substance or quality of the merit badge completion that's a different matter altogether.

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1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

Not all units and/or councils use Scoutbook. A person could be a fully registered and valid MBC and not in Scoutbook because a) they chose not to be or b) the unit they are associated with doesn't use Scoutbook or c) their Council does not use Scoutbook as its MBC list

That's right.  But the flip is that a person could be listed in scoutbook and not actually be a fully registered and valid MBC.   How? 

Some council upload the council's list of merit badge counselors.  These counselor then show up in scoutbook with a blue checkmark as "Approved by NNNNNNN Council".  If the MBC has opted to be visible as a "Counselor for any Scout in the BSA" then troops from other councils can see him in scoutbook.com.

But some councils like mine that don't upload the council's list of merit badge counselors into scoutbook.com.   To be able to connect one of our troop's scouts to one of the local MBC's using scoutbook.com,   someone needs to list that scouter as a MBC in scoutbook and upload that MBC's list of badges into scoutbook.   The key3 of a troop can do this for scouters associated with that troop;  then the MBC shows up with a green check-mark in scoutbook,  and lacking the wording "Approved by NNNNNN Council". 

The issue is that the Key 3 of a troop could list someone as a merit badge counselor who is not actually a merit badge counselor,  and give him that green checkmark!  (How do I know this?  Someone from my troop tried it out.)   

For us,  we rely on the pdf list supplied by the council registrar of council-approved merit badge counselors.   But we haven't dealt the issue of checking up on  out-of-council merit badge counselors yet.

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Didn't your scout meet with his SM before requesting a blue card? Weren't these counselors ones that your SM recommended for your scout before he contacted them?

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Didn't your scout meet with his SM before requesting a blue card? Weren't these counselors ones that your SM recommended for your scout before he contacted them?

The SM meeting requires only that the SM provide at least 1 MBC name. The scout is then free to go to any MBC that is valid and registered. There are virtual merit badge colleges being offered literally around the world (Transatlantic Council). I've had scouts who have signed up for the Virtual merit badge college across the country, THEN go to the SM for the blue card meeting before the college started (e.g. Sign up Thursday, Email SM Thursday night, SM does a virtual meeting/virtual sign off, Merit badge college starts Monday).

EDIT: The problem is some SMs are (rightly) openly questioning the valid and registered MBC part. And many of these virtual programs are just badge mills at this point. 999 scouts on a Zoom? Seriously?

 

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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13 hours ago, Samuel said:

The councils he got merit badges are all over the country. I'm not sure how my SM is going to verify each of the MBCs. I do not want him to refuse the fully completed digital blue cards. He will be heartbroken. 

Did each merit badge start with a conversation between the scout and his SM ?  ... email, phone call, socially distant in-person ?   

Every MB starts with the scout letting his SM know .... "Mr SM. I'm going to be joining this MB session in another council to do this MB ...." ..., then I'd hope the SM would make it easy for him.  That's explicit in the BSA Guide To Advancement and the scout's blue card.  It's not about the SM approving the MB situation.  It's about the SM being aware of what's happening.

SMs want to be aware as advancement growth is not about the number of MBs a scout.  Growth is about the process the scout has to do to earn the MBs.  Phone calls.  Efforts.  Doing it himself.  Scouting owning the responsibility.  ... Too often the MB venue or (and my apologies here) the parents subvert the MB program.  And scouts often subvert the program naively (and sometimes not-naively) claiming a MB is done.  

Scout failing to let his SM know about pending MBs is not a blocking point.  But it can raise questions and concerns.  

So my questions are 

#1  Is the SM questioning the MBs ?  

#2  Was the SM aware of the scout working the MBs before? 

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2 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

The SM meeting requires only that the SM provide at least 1 MBC name. The scout is then free to go to any MBC that is valid and registered. There are virtual merit badge colleges being offered literally around the world (Transatlantic Council). I've had scouts who have signed up for the Virtual merit badge college across the country, THEN go to the SM for the blue card meeting before the college started.

Yeah, in my day, the councilor list was hanging on a bulletin board and we'd tell the SM that who we'd like to take the badge from. Same principal, but less global. Of course the SM didn't have to log much -- just stack up his portion of the blue cards then walk them over to Mickey's Men's store, grab a form, and order the badges.

I'm not entirely against scouts using more global resources. But it certainly does slow down the process because the IT Group wasn't prepared to deliver the SM what he needed to be confident of his scouts' counselors the way older, smaller, districts used to be.

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6 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

So my questions are 

#1  Is the SM questioning the MBs ?  

#2  Was the SM aware of the scout working the MBs before? 

#1 SM wants to find the MBC in Scoutbook and he is not able to do so since some of them are not in the scoutbook.

#2 Yes. He has traditional blue card for many of them before the shutdown. For some he got the approval in scoutbook. For some scoutbook gave errors so couldn't get. SM is aware that the scout wants to do all these MBs.

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Posted (edited)

Part of this is (as I understand it) back in the day the SM had much, much more control over the merit badge counselor system and the phase "scoutmaster approved" was used.

Now, GTA says that the SM has to provide a name, but cannot force the issue SO LONG AS THE MBC IS A REGISTERED ONE.

Quote

Although it is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identified from those approved and made available, the Scout may already have one in mind with whom he or she would like to work. The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be. 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.

And that's where the SM may make inquiry: was this MBC "registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee" in their home council? If not, then you got lots of problems up to and possibly included voiding the merit badge under GTA 11.1.0.0.

Edited by CynicalScouter
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2 minutes ago, Samuel said:

#1 SM wants to find the MBC in Scoutbook and he is not able to do so since some of them are not in the scoutbook.

#2 Yes. He has traditional blue card for many of them before the shutdown. For some he got the approval in scoutbook. For some scoutbook gave errors so couldn't get. SM is aware that the scout wants to do all these MBs.

That's great !!!   

From what I'm hearing this is all administrative stuff adults should resolve.  It's not a scout issue.  

If you want to be helpful, you could provide supporting place the SM could use.  But at some point, the SM should say "I trust you and it looks good."

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13 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

You go outside council things get...murky.

One more thing, and this is extreme: if the SM believes the MBC was invalid or failed to meet the basic minimum standards for the merit badge (read: merit badge mill) they can file a 11.1.0.0 Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns. With so many of these virtual merit badge mills (Central Florida = 999 scouts in a Zoom session? Really?) that is a real concern.

I hope SM is not suspecting the legitimacy of the MB or MBC, but I am not sure. During this shutdown period the scouts got lot of time on their hand and took advantage of the online virtual MB sessions. Almost off of them asked the scouts do do the work and submit the proof. I have no concerns on the quality of the sessions my son have attended. But tracking back the MBC after 1 or 2 months will be a difficult task. Some Digital blue cards are issued in the name of the Program or Council without the MBC's personal contact information.

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1 minute ago, Samuel said:

I hope SM is not suspecting the legitimacy of the MB or MBC, but I am not sure. During this shutdown period the scouts got lot of time on their hand and took advantage of the online virtual MB sessions. Almost off of them asked the scouts do do the work and submit the proof. I have no concerns on the quality of the sessions my son have attended. But tracking back the MBC after 1 or 2 months will be a difficult task. Some Digital blue cards are issued in the name of the Program or Council without the MBC's personal contact information.

Yeah, that wasn't suppose to happen. It is an MBC that issues the card. Not a council or such.

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