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Merit Badge Counseling

Why

  • Help scouts explore subjects and areas of interest
  • Give scouts new skills and the confidence to use them
  • Give scouts experience working with other adults
  • Meet requirements for rank advancement

Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 (21 for some high risk merit badges)
  • Must be proficient in the subject of the merit badge
  • Must be able to work with scouting-age boys
  • Must be registered as a merit badge counselor for the badges taught
  •       Use merit badge counselor registration form
  •       First time must also include adult registration form
  • Must have current Youth Protection Training
  • Some badges have additional certification and age requirements

Responsibilities

  • Assist scout in planning the required projects and activities
  • Coach/teach scout required skills
  • Never meet one-on-one with the scout
  • Follow the requirements as stated – no additions or deletions
  • Renew registration yearly (procedure depends on district)
  • Youth Protection Training must be current

Procedure

  1. Scout gets approval to work on merit badge (scoutmaster signs blue card and assigns counselor)
  2. Scout contacts counselor to set up first meeting
  3. Scout meets with counselor to discuss and plan completion of requirements
  4. Scout completes requirements, often through additional meetings with counselor
  5. Scout meets with counselor to review projects
  6. Counselor completes blue card – keep the counselor section
  7. Scout turns in rest of blue card to Scoutmaster for registration

Where to meet

  • At your home
  • At camp
  • At a scout meeting
  • At place of business
  • Anywhere, especially if applicable to the badge being counseled

Testing

Scouts must be tested individually, even if group instruction is used

Requirements must be completed as specified (e.g. worksheets do not meet a requirement of discussion)

If requirements change after beginning, use old requirements unless requested to change by scout

 

Hints

  • Sell your area
  • Make presentations to groups interesting
  • Emphasize future value of experience
  • Expand on areas where scout is interested (but you can’t expand the requirements)
  • Show interest in scout and his advancement
  • Relate badge to careers and educational requirements for careers

 

Blue Card

  • Certification scout is ready to begin
  • Can be used for tracking completion
  • Official record for scout – submitted to Council to get badge
  • Counselor should keep his part for several years

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is there a limit on the number of badges a counselor may register for?

No, but a counselor must be qualified for each badge by training or experience and approved by the council/district.

 

Is there a limit on the number of badges I may sign-off for a scout?

Not from the BSA. However, unit leaders may set a limit as long as that limit applies to all scouts in the unit.

 

Can I counsel my own son?

Yes, but consider suggesting he use another adult to broaden his experience.

 

Is there a time limit on how long a scout has to complete a badge?

No.  (That is until the scout reaches 18.)  Requirements may only be accomplished while a registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout.

 

I have a scout with physical or mental limitations. Can I modify the requirements to meet his abilities?

You may neither add, nor subtract from the requirements as stated.  For scouts with permanent disabilities (will last beyond age 20), an “Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Award Merit Badges” must be filed with and approved by the Council Advancement Committee before any rank requirements are changed.  Merit badge requirements may not be changed.

 

Can a badge once awarded be taken away from a scout?

No, as long as the counselor was registered at the time of badge completion.

 

I am a scoutmaster/assistant scoutmaster, aren’t I automatically a merit badge counselor?

No. Scoutmaster training may qualify as the required training for certain merit badges, but you must still register as a merit badge counselor.

 

I am already a registered leader, do I need to include the adult registration form with my initial merit badge counselor application?

Yes, this is required by the BSA.Your Youth Protection Training certification must also be up to date at time of submission.

 

Do I really have to reregister each year?

Yes. (The procedure depends upon the district.)  Your Youth Protection training must be current at time of reregistration (July for Three Fires Council).

 

Is a background check done on merit badge counselors?

Yes, the same check is performed as for other registered leaders; the council office will also verify completion of Youth Protection training.

 

I have been asked to finish a merit badge partially completed with another counselor (a “partial”). Must I accept the previously completed requirements?

In signing the blue card, you are certifying that the boy has completed all the requirements. Thus, you need to be comfortable that the boy completed any requirements signed off by someone else. This may mean talking to the other counselor, talking with the scoutmaster, or discussing how the requirements were completed with the scout.

 

May I accept requirements completed before the blue card was signed?

Except where noted in the requirements, a counselor may (at his/her option) accept requirements completed before the blue card was signed as long as the boy was a registered boy/varsity scout or venturer at the time of completion.

 

May I accept requirements completed before the blue card was signed?

Except where noted in the requirements, a counselor may (at his/her option) accept requirements completed before the blue card was signed as long as the boy was a registered boy/varsity scout or venturer at the time of completion.

 

What if I have a complaint about how a merit badge was approved?

See Chapters 7 and 11 of the Guide to Advancement for reporting procedures and options.

 

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