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The more I get involved the more discouraged I get

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As a way to promote the Ship we have discussed holdiing Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge classes this summer.


To do this we first need to get one of the leaders registered as a MB councilor.


I thought this would be pretty easy to do but no one in my district can tell me what I need to do to get someone registered as a MB councilor.


I know that an adult application needs to be filled out.

I am told that there is another form that needs to be filled out but no has a copy or knows how to get one.

The council web site says to contact your district advancement chairman but our district doesn't have one.

I can't even call our DE as he left and his replacement isn't starting for another month.


Our DC didn't know what was needed and told me to call council.

But he wasn't sure who I needed to talk with there.


I though that registering as a MBC would be straightforward instead I have to spend all sorts of extra time trying to track down how to do this.


It's no wonder why our council is struggling when it is difficult just to find out something simple as this.

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What you need is a Merit Badge Counselor Application form. This gets filled out and submitted along with the adult application. The adult app provides the WHO you are, references, and the permission to do what we fondly refer to as "the FBI check". The MBCA is where you let the council know what qualifies you to counsel a particular merit badge.


The one my council uses is here:



I did a quick Google and came up with a different one used by another council:



Certainly someone in your council's registration office should be able to get you the form they want you to use. If you don't have a DE, work your way on up the chain of command: Field Director? Council Executive?


I occasionally got some pretty shoddy service at my council until I started making quiet (polite) noises in high places about their being the Council SERVICE Center and my being the CUSTOMER.


It's not hard to get registered as a counselor. Good luck!

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Ditto oldsm.


In our Council, we have a noble personage known as the

"Merit Badge Dean". He/she keeps track of who is the up to date MBC for a particular subject. You might poplitely beat on doors until your Council Advanvement Chair tells you who it is ( if there is one), or perhaps if your District has some umph, you might have a District MBD.

But be forewarned, you may be asked to BE the MBD!


Godspeed , YiS

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SSScout, I'm envious. Sadly, this council is in similar condition to that described in the original post. I think, from reading these forums, that a majority of councils do a fairly miserable job of organizing the MBC force.

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I had sat on our District Committee for a number of years, hearing and knowing that list just didn't work.

Over the years more and more names had been added, but none had ever been removed.

Some of the Counselors listed had moved, some were no longer in Scouting and a few had gone up to visit the Great Scoutmaster.

There are very few restrictions on MBC's.

As we have discussed in the forum, a MBC can be the MBC for his or her son and is allowed to be the MBC for any number of badges.

We had one guy who was MBC for over 30!!

The list was past saving.

We decided the only thing to do was scrap it and start fresh.

We bought the Troopmaster Merit Badge software found a willing Dean of Merit Badges and had anyone who wanted to be a MBC apply.

We also explained that the term of office was a year and if they didn't contact the Dean, they would be removed from the list. The Dean also sends out reminders via a postcard.

We also recommended that no one be allowed to be the MBC for more than 5 badges.

While this all went well and continues to do well, the sad thing is that the staff in the Council Service Center claim they don't have time to check the blue cards. So a blue card signed by Father Christmas will get through.

If you are willing to take the time the people you need to talk to are the Council Advancement Chairman and the Council Vice President of Program. Explain the problem to them.

I'm a firm believer in volunteers talking to volunteers, involving DE's and the other pros is not the way to get things done. In fact a lot of the time they really have no idea of what should be done, how about getting it done and in the end they end up talking or asking a volunteer anyway.

A note to the District Chairman or better yet having your COR attend the next District meeting to express the units disappointment that the District is failing to serve the Scouts in the District by not having an active Advancement committee might be what's needed to get things moving.

Be careful not to go yourself as you run the risk of being asked to become the Advancement Chair and if that happens it will take you away from the Ship.


PS- You had me worried! When I seen the title and then your name I thought you were ready to give up the Ship!!

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Yah, CNY, da trick is to realize that some paperwork is important, and some just isn't, eh? Stuff that isn't gets put by the board for higher priorities as often at the district as it does at the unit. Eamonn's experience has been the same as mine at multiple councils.


So all yeh need to do is have your MBC fill out a standard adult application (registering as MBC is free) - mostly so that you do your due diligence of calling references and doin' a background check. Then make sure you train 'em in how the MB program works and what you expect. Twist their arm to do on-line YPT. Observe/coach 'em for a bit to make sure they do a good job. You know, all the things you'd do for any adult leader, eh? ;)


Then let 'em go at it. No other paperwork required until someone asks for it, which is probably never. It's your unit's job to select good MBCs so that you're honest when you sign the Advancement Report sayin' that the badge was earned according to standards.



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I now understand why we have so many units that do little or nothing to support our council in the way of FOS, popcorn sales or even attending District events.


It seems that our council has its own form to use for MBCs.

You have to keep trying to you find the right person who has it.


Council level volunteers are much help.

All I get from them is to contact my District.

And around and around it goes.


I think a lot of this has to do with the DE leaving.

He did everything.

Now that he is gone no one else has any idea what to do.


Beavah, this is what I had in mind when doing this.

The Ship Mate (assistant Advisor) has been sailing for 45+ years.

She is fully trained both Venturing and Sea Scouts.

She does need help with the First Aid part of the MB which I am in the process for getting certified in both First Aid and CPR along with BSA Lifeguard so it will a joint effort to put this together.


Eamonn, Im not giving up the Ship just yet.

I just got an application for one of the parents to be on the Committee so we have enough leaders to recharter on time and make Quality Unit.



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One of the more interesting things I get from the Forum is a sense of the diversity the Scouting Program has throughout the country. Just because it's done a certain way in a Council or District doesnt mean thats the way its done everwhere, and sometimes it's hard to remember that.


Now, in my Day Job, I am a Medicare Chargemaster Compliance Consultant. I help hospitals understand Medicare rules and guidelines regarding billing practices and since Medicare uses the same guys who author the IRS tax code, the clarity I would like is not always present.


Every once in awhile there are specific rules written and while a hospital may not like it, its my job to let them know what the rules are, whether or not they follow it is between them and the GAO.


So in that spirit, I offer the following:


According to BSA Publication 33088, "Advancement Committee Polcies and Procedures" it is the District/Councils' responsibility to recruit merit badge counselors, train merit badge counselors, and maintain the merit badge counselors list.


I maintain the list for the District I serve as I am on the Advacnement Committee. Another person on the Committee reviews the Advacement Reports from our District and notifies Troops if they are using non-registered Merit Badge Counselors so in our Distrct, this is a "big deal".


I would hate for future readers of this thread to think all Councils/District are as haphazard as has been described.


I also have a full understanding of John Spartan's advice to Edgar Friendly and the Police Chief.


Isnt fun to compare how things are done in other places?

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While I agree that seeing how things work or don't work?? Elsewhere is interesting.

I do get a little shall we say peeved? That we as an organization are supposed to have a system in place which is supposed to work.

As I have posted I'm not a great lover of tweaks and people making alterations to the program.

No!! I'm not going to mention Fast Food or hamburgers!! But it irks me that so many Councils and Districts have for some reason decided that they know best and opt to do their own thing.

Of course there will be times when things just don't seem to work.

But surely we have systems in place to know when something isn't working?

If the District doesn't have a an Advancement Chair?

Someone has to know. If they know they need to do something.

When I was Council Training Chair. I knew all the District Chairs. If a District didn't have one we pushed till we found one, at the same time myself or a member of the Council Training Team stepped in and made sure that the job was being done.

The people working with the youth need and deserve what they are promised and these promises are found in the publications that the BSA puts out.


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Yes, there are parts of the program that are chaotic. Things aren't done by the book in our council either, as far as MBCs go. We decided to try to get ours all registered officially, but after awhile you realize that council doesn't make the process easy, and can't really help you very much (e.g. they can't tell us which counselors are currently registered), and they don't really seem to care.


So, we don't care either. That's not to say we don't care about the program. We do. We just don't care if all the paperwork is perfect. We find good qualified instructors and let them do the MBC role.


And we don't get discouraged about the rest of the program. BSA has been this way ever since I've been around. Just focus on what you can do as a unit. That's where all the good stuff happens anyway.


Oak Tree

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Our District has an Advancement Chairperson that has been attempting to do her job to the best of her ability. She has taken the outdated District MBC list and has tried to update it but with little success. We have 30 units that are dispersed over an area that takes 60 minutes to drive E-W and 45 minutes N-S, this does not include time delays in-town or other directions not included. Most units use their own MBCs that have not offically signed with the District or Council. When a Scout sends in his Eagle packet, the names are not checked with current lists due to the fact that it would be impossible to do so.


As for quality control that takes into account a passing knowledge of the specific MB, little exists and is an area probably best left to the honesty of the individuals involved. This also includes MB's earned at Summer Camp which generally are taught by young persons that may possibly have read the MB book or may have invested some time in a hobby or craft which qualified them as MBC's.


As for simply doing what is stated in the requirements, there appears to be gray areas there as well.


I believe that personal ethics based on the Scout Law/Oath curtails many of the abuses. We still see many Eagle candidates that appear to be well qualified despite flaws in the system. not to worry. fb


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We have the same problem here with Council being very outdated on their MBC list. Our District works around the Council.

Our District Adv. Chairperson also has a MBC guru. The way they run things at the District level goes as follows:


1.)Prospective MBC's fill out the MBC application and Adult registration form if they are not already a member of Scouting. This of course covers the background checks.


2.) DAC then talks with the applicant about their background in the subject matter and why they want to be a MBC, if they are restricting themselves to only their Troops or are open to the District. He then sets the applicant up with any training that may be required.


3.)The applicants are then to return the applications to the DAC who sends the appropriate paper work to the appropriate place. (What happens to it after that, flip a coin?) At least the DAC has a list of MBC for the District. If there is not a MBC for a particular MB for the District, the DAC usually has a name of a MBC from a neighboring District on the list that is willing to help.


4.)When a scout is ready to do a MB, they are to use a name from the District list, or contact the DAC as to why they wish to use a MBC from somewhere else and get the DACs permission. DAC HATES WHEN A SCOUT OR TROOP GOES TO A MB MILL FOR A 2 NIGHT CAMPOUT AND COMES HOME WITH 4 NEW BADGES THAT SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A FEW WEEKS TO DO!! DAC just wants to make sure that the MBC is on the up and up and that the scouts are getting a quality MBC.


5.) The blue card then goes to the Guru. He does actually check them. Helps to be semi-retired I guess.


6.) DAC requires that the MBC acknowledge his wish to continue as a MBC every year. He sends out a reminder. If the MBC doesnt re-up the name is dropped, If it is someone that DAC knows, he will ask in passing or might make a "just checking" call to see if the MBC forgot or is dropping off the list. The MBC's that DAC doesn't know he takes off the list. He has had situations in the past where a good intentioned scout calls a name on the list to have a spouse answer and inform the scout that the MBC has passed, making it awkward for everyone involved.


DAC's Special Considerations:


1.) If the Troop is going to do their own High Adventure Outting out of District or Council, say a 50 Miler, or a week of Whitewatering and Climbing at a qualified facility/outfitter that has MBCs on their staff, then he'll allow for those MB's. DAC really would like the scouts to do their MB's individually, but realizes that sometimes the MB has to be done as a group as not to have the MBC tied up for 7 or 8 nights trying to pass 10 or 20 scouts off on a badge where the MBC is the only MBC around.


2.) If the scout fulfills requirements for a badge at school and one of his teachers is a MBC from out of District or Council, and signs off, DAC won't argue the point.




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ASM915, it sounds like your district has things pretty much in order. Mine sort of runs the same way, except that the DAC doesn't check blue cards until an EBOR, trusting the units to be sure that the MBCs are/were valid at the time.


One thing I like is the training of MBCs. We don't do that. I'm not talking about topic knowledge, because the MBCs usually know the subject matter far better than other people. What I am talking about is the basic of counseling MBs. Things like YP, adding to requirements versus enhancing the experience, how blue cards work, etc. I recently signed up a group of parents to be MBCs in several sorely needed areas. They were all green. I got them together and did a 2-hour training session with them. They all left with a good understanding of their role as MBCs, the "do's and dont's", and the process.


How do you get all of your MBCs to attend a basic MBC training session?

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Ok, I'm curious. How does the District Advancement Chair get a blue card to look at? There are three pieces to the blue card. The Merit Badge Counselor keeps one, the scout keeps another and the unit keeps the third. No piece of the blue card is supposed to be turned in to council/district. What is turned in is an advancement report. My understanding is that there is no place for listing the merit badge counselor that was used on the advancement report either.



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Part 2.) to my previous post: "any taining needed" is refering to YP and the "Does and Dont's" that you describe. As far as I know, Dac does it pretty much the way you do for new MBC's. In Feb. at our BPI, one of the classes is on "Being a MBC: Does and Dont's" that our DAC proctors.


As to the Blue Cards,

Our District has the scout turn in the part for the troop to the troop advancement committee member. Some how the card is forwarded to the GURU who checks them and gets them back to the troop. That way the District can keep tabs on what is happening within the District. That way Dac and the GURU can make see if a former MBC is still functioning under the radar and contact him about re-upping. Also, this way DAC and Guru can see if any MBC's that were pulled from the District list by the District due to problems (YP, bending requirements, etc), are trying to run under the District's radar,and take appropriate action as needed to reign in the rogue MBC. Hope this claifies things. It just might be a local varience.

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