scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: Merit Badge Procedures
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Tue Mar 14 2000 - 15:53:39 CST
<Ted Holz wrote>
I do have one question though - why did a counselor get "assigned"? Part of
the process is for a scout to find a counselor on an approved district or
council list and make the initial contact.
<Katherine Coates wrote>
I thought the merit badge counselor was "recommended" to the youth. By that
I mean, the SM gives the boy a copy of the MBC list to look up the MBC's for
a particular badge.
As others have noted, the SM assigns a merit badge counselor from the
approved list. That does NOT mean that a Scout can't ask for a particular
counselor, or even suggest a counselor (especially if one doesn't exist for
the badge). BSA publications are very clear, have been for some time, that
the counselor is supposed to be assigned by the SM.
The process begins with the Scout expressing interest in completing a merit
badge. At that point, the SM is supposed to make sure the Scout understands
the process for earning a merit badge and has read the requirements. The SM
may give the Scout a merit badge application to fill out, but the blocks
pertaining to the counselor are for the SM to fill out. The Scout can help
determine who the counselor will be, and may even recommend someone they
know, but the decision is up to the SM.
The SM's signature on the front of the card indicates that he or she is
aware that the Scout is working on the badge, and knows who the counselor
is. The date on that signature effectively is the start date of the merit
badge (and the counselor should pay close attention to that date).
The first thing the Scout is supposed to do is contact the counselor to set
up the initial meeting. Hopefully, he's already read the requirements and
has an idea which options he wants to do. The initial meeting is for the
counselor and the Scout to come to an agreement on what the requirements are
asking for, what things the Scout has already done can be counted toward the
requirements, and what the counselor expects from the Scout.
<Peter Murphy wote>
Am I being too rigid in my interpretation of merit badge procedures?
My son has a couple of merit badges he wants to finish in the next couple of
weeks. ... I've explained that he's required to contact the counselor BEFORE
he begin working on the merit badge. ... My son seems to think that keeping
a log of the workouts he's done for cross-country and track is all he needs
to do and in the end he'll take it the counselor and ask him to sign off on
It's important for the counselor and yourself to follow the process. You may
feel bad for your son when he finally talks to the counselor and finds out
that everything he kept logs on doesn't count, but that's part of life. As
you said, you explained the process to him, now it's up to him to follow it.
I would, however, try one more time to explain to your son what could happen
if he doesn't contact the counselor ASAP.
The counselor is a degreed and professional physical therapist and personal
trainer. He's also a personal friend of mine. However, he's real new to
being a merit badge counselor and has asked for my guidance now that he's
working with the first couple of Scouts that I have sent his way. I want to
advise my friend on the correct way to be a counselor for this badge. Should
I advise the counselor to adhere to the written sequence? Should I tell him
it's O.K. to accept already completed work if the Scout can produce fitness
test results from gym class?
The counselor should take a look at the requirements and interpret them
based on his knowledge and experience. Keeping in mind the wording of the
requirement, the counselor should be able to come up with a good quideline
for the badge - a suggested course of action that will be the least painful.
You may also want to discuss some "what if" situations with him to give him
a chance to decide how to handle them when they come up. For instance, what
if the Scout does all of the work for the badge, writes down everything, and
THEN meets with the counselor (handing him a stack of papers three inches
thick) and expect him to sign off the badge. If it were me, I'd sit the
Scout down and talk to him about what he knows about the merit badge process
and then come to an agreement as to how to complete the badge without
throwing out everything he has done.
On one hand, I do not want to set higher standards for my son than I do for
the other Scouts in my troop. I can solve this by asking the counselor to
adhere to the written requirements for all Scouts and to make sure they are
doing things according to the proper procedure. But I have greater
visibility to what my son is doing or not doing than I have with the other
Scouts in my troop.
Peter, chances are pretty good that there are other Scouts in the troop who
have misunderstood the merit badge process. It might be a good subject for a
Scoutmaster's Minute, or PLC training session. You may have explained the
process to them before, but it's something that should be addressed at least
once a year.
A. J. Mako, email@example.com, SM Troop 381 http://www.Scouts381.org/
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
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