Merit Badge FAQ

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Postby WeeWillie » Fri May 09, 2008 4:42 pm

If you are going to hold SMs responsible for the quality of the troop's program then you have to give him or her the authority to insure that quality.

How specific do our requirements have to be? Close one loophole and another pops up just like hammer & peg toy we give toodlers. What purpose is served if a Scout picks and choses what counselor he uses. I select MBCs I know that will fairly administer the MB. There are some that I won't. For example.

Several years ago another troop invited me to send Scouts to Citizenship University. All three Citizenship MBs. Citizenship University was held Thursday night at the City Council Meeting and then all day Saturday. The university consisted of a series of lectures, a trip to the post office, and international lunch, and the obligatory letters to the editor / government representative. What do you think the Scouts got out of the experience besides 3 ER MBs? I politely declined.
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Postby smtroop168 » Fri May 09, 2008 6:19 pm

Wee.....I don't think letting a scout pick a MBC from an approved list of counselors is giving up my "authority". I can still recommend a MBC based on experience but Craig point is that it is dictatorial in nature and I (and others) don't read it that way. I have no "authority" to approve/qualify a MBC, that's council's job. Letting the scout have a choice off a list, particularly in the scenarios I described allows the scout some ownership in his advancement process. Please don't forget the Troop Committee is responsible for the troop program and the SM works for them.

If you know of MBCs that are not abiding by the rules or not fairly adminstering the MB, then you should use your "authority" to report this to your district/council. You will need to tell them what you base your concerns on and if warranted, they can yank them off the list just as quickly as they added them.

Your Citizenship University as you described it is a valid concern and also should be reported to your council. The scouts could not have completed all the requirements on Thursday/Saturday as the scouts must do 8 hours of community service for Cit in Comm (#7) or Watch the news for 5 days for Cit in nation (#3) unless there were prereqs done before the 1st Thursday.
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Postby WeeWillie » Fri May 09, 2008 6:35 pm

Pre-Cit in the Community 8 hr Community Service.

Once a MB is approved by a qualified MBC is can not be revoked. It was the 1st and last Citizenship University.
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Postby smtroop168 » Fri May 09, 2008 8:39 pm

Wee...No argument about revoking a MB (or rank either). Rules are clear...A card laid is a card played...we do not penalize the scout for the stupidity of the adult.

However...was there any other fall out as far as revoking counselors?

Was this an approved District or Council event or did a unit go it alone?
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Postby kwildman » Sat May 10, 2008 12:59 am

I think that it falls in the SMs responsibility to make sure that the scouts go to qualified MBC especially for ER. As busy as councils are I dont think they really check too closely on who is qualified as a MBC. Isnt the MBC program run at the District Level?

I work for an Environmental Engineering firm and as such am a Env. Sci MBC...I have seen lists of "approved" MBCs that have stay at home mom's listed as Env. Sci MBCs. So I guess that Env. Science can be a Hobby????
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Postby smtroop168 » Sat May 10, 2008 1:28 pm

Kwildman..welcome to the forum.

I don't disagree that the SM should take care of his guys but all counselors on the list are qualified counselors (some more than others I guess but I don't have total knowledge of all there qualifications) or there are processes in place to remove them. The one that's coming to a head shortly for all the oldtimers is that all must have YPT. In our troop, all ER MBs are covered by at least one adult.

In our district, a new MBC counselor is interviewed by our MBC coordinator to ensure they understand the program, their personal reponsibility and their qualifications. She asks for more than "I'm a parent so I can do Family Life."

The BSA MBC application require a counselor to be proficient in the subject by vocation, avocation, or spec. trng. So in your case, vocation fits. My ASM ran the Nature lodge at a NY summer camp for 6 years so he's a "spec trng" guy.
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Postby maricopasem » Mon May 12, 2008 2:47 pm

smtroop168 wrote:Your Citizenship University as you described it is a valid concern and also should be reported to your council. The scouts could not have completed all the requirements on Thursday/Saturday as the scouts must . . . Watch the news for 5 days for Cit in nation (#3) . . .

You left off half of the requirement:
OR read the front page of a major daily newspaper five days in a row.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but they could have had a week's worth of newspapers for the boys to use for the second option.
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Postby Quailman » Mon May 12, 2008 4:02 pm

Yeah, that's how my son did it. We collected them and read them together on the w/e. Before he went to discuss it with his MB counselor, we talked about what qualified as news from day to day. Sometimes it was pretty pathetic what made the front page.
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Postby scoutaholic » Mon May 12, 2008 6:56 pm

maricopasem wrote:
smtroop168 wrote:Your Citizenship University as you described it is a valid concern and also should be reported to your council. The scouts could not have completed all the requirements on Thursday/Saturday as the scouts must . . . Watch the news for 5 days for Cit in nation (#3) . . .

You left off half of the requirement:
OR read the front page of a major daily newspaper five days in a row.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but they could have had a week's worth of newspapers for the boys to use for the second option.


If collecting a week of newspapers to read all at once can count, then you could also record the nightly news and do a week in one day.

However, that is not the only requirement for the Citizenship MBs that takes some time outside of a classroom.
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Postby smtroop168 » Tue May 13, 2008 10:52 am

The point is that their process for covering all three ER MBs in this way was a little thin considering some of the requirements. Maybe that's why it is no more.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby Cowboy » Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:06 pm

This may be covered elsewhere, but it seems to fit into this discussion pretty well:

Scenario: Where is the line drawn with finishing MB's in relation to the councilor? We know that there is no time limit, but what about bouncing from councilor to councilor? Example: A scout starts Cit. In World at a MB Clinic. It is expected that he may finish it with his local MB councilor if he is from a distant Troop. What if the MB Councilor conducting the clinic is from his home troop? Can he then "jump" to a councilor that he likes better? We have had a boy who did this. Most of his MB's were started in clinics, and then he showed up with completed cards "out of the blue" several years later (4 years for a couple of them). Some of councilors had moved, and some you could not even read the signature, so there is no way to verify who it was that signed them. Is a MB, once started with councilor A, only valid with councilor A unless prior arrangements are made? We all want to trust that a Scout is honest, but we also have all run into some that were not.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby RWSmith » Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:04 pm

1. If the BC is turned in w/ an approved MBC's signature, then that's as far as it goes... old or not.

2. What is an approved MBC? If the MBC was on the District's or Council's list during the year in which the MBC dated his sig. on the BC, then it's approved. Period. I.e., If the old MBC is no longer contactable, for whatever reason, that does not detract from the obvious. An approved MBC's sig. is (darn near) final -- wrote in stone, so to speak. Only if the Scout's trustworthiness is an issue, then it's the SM's responsibility to investigate (appropriately and discretely, of course) the matter. And, even then, unless there is clear evidence (in a matter such as this, it had better be in writing) to the contrary (the signed BC's face value) if it's appealed, the Scout will win.

On a personal note, I would not consider a 4-y/o BC, in and of itself, immediate cause for suspicion. However, like you, I'm no dummy either... I would question, of course, the Scout (and possibly, his parent) as to the delay, simply as a matter good governance. (Sorry, I couldn't think of a better word.)

As I've said here many times before, ALL ADVANCEMENT AUTHORITY flows from/to/through the SM. Always. However, even with that being said, the SM cannot EVER overrule an approved MBC's decision that Scout "A" has successfully met the requirements of MB "X". The only exception would, of course, be the SM being able to prove the BC is fraudulent.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:49 am

A Scout can switch MBCs mid-stream. But the new MBC is not obligated to accept the previous work (mine learned this the hard way). This Scout is apparently searching out the "easiest" counselor, right? If the counselor is not asking the boy to actually do the requirements of the badge, that's the fault of the committee that approved him. I would certainly bring it to their attention. They may not know.

As far as illegible signatures, I wouldn't accept them. Trust, but verify. It's not too awful difficult for the Scout to make certain he has the name and information of the counselor correct. Summer camp excepted because that's not practical.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby Cowboy » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:51 am

Yes. The MB gets started at camp or a clinic, and the blue card is given to the Scout with several items initialed. Several years leter the card shows up with it completely checked of and an illegible signature. Yes, he does seek out the "easiest" councilor. It is also the issue of after a couple of years how does a councilor remember what the scout did or did not complete? The "replacement" councilor also has no way of knowing what was actually covered without double checking and hoping that the original councilor can remember.

This leads to the next question: When the BC comes into the Advancement Leader and he/she notes a discreptancy (sp?) what steps are taken? Simply bring it to the SM attention? Bring it to SM and TC attention? Call a TC meeting with the Scout present? If the Scout is preping for his EBOR notify the EBOR also?
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby alex gregory » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:09 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote:A Scout can switch MBCs mid-stream. But the new MBC is not obligated to accept the previous work (mine learned this the hard way).


The new MBC has to accept previously approved requirements, regardless of when they were completed prior to age 18,
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby FrankJ » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:13 pm

I see two different issues:

1) partials: that is between the current MBC & the scout. the MBC should be reasonable about this.

2) Completed merit badges. The advancement person need to be able to identify the MBC. (How else can you tell if they are an approved MBC) The BC has space for more than just the signature of the counselor. If the counselor cannot be identified, I think it reasonable to tell the scout that he needs an identifiable MBC to sign the card. Once it has been turned in & accepted, it is a done deal. It is not subject to further review.

This only applies if you do not buy into the theory that the SM assigns the MBC & the scout cannot use another MBC.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby alex gregory » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:15 pm

Cowboy wrote:Yes. The MB gets started at camp or a clinic, and the blue card is given to the Scout with several items initialed. Several years leter the card shows up with it completely checked of and an illegible signature. Yes, he does seek out the "easiest" councilor. It is also the issue of after a couple of years how does a councilor remember what the scout did or did not complete? The "replacement" councilor also has no way of knowing what was actually covered without double checking and hoping that the original councilor can remember.


A MBC should maintain his or her separate records precisely for this reason. A spreadsheet is painfully easy to develop and maintain. MBC record-keeping is actually more important in case the blue card gets lost (or more accurately WHEN the blue card gets lost).

If a scout presents a blue card with illegible signatures (which I assume are otherwise questionable for some reason) the test of trustworthiness will come when the scout is asked to provide the name of the MBC and somebody actually bothers to verify.
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby wagionvigil » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:28 pm

Remember Blue Cards are not required So what happens if there is no Blue Card?
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby FrankJ » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:14 pm

If you do not use blue cards, the same information should be on the napkin, vellum, paper, or whatever your troop chooses to use. :wink:
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Re: Merit Badge FAQ

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:40 pm

alex gregory wrote:
AquilaNegra2 wrote:A Scout can switch MBCs mid-stream. But the new MBC is not obligated to accept the previous work (mine learned this the hard way).


The new MBC has to accept previously approved requirements, regardless of when they were completed prior to age 18,


Alex, can you provide a source for this? My son's MBC is telling him otherwise, and having him completely redo a camp partial.
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