How many open merit badges

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Postby mhjacobson » Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:22 pm

The signature requirement is really opening the opportunity for the SM to do some couseling for the scout. There are some cases where the scout is really unready for the badge (for example why would a SM sign off on a Lifesaving MB blue card when the scout has not first earned nor requested a signature on the Swimming MB blue card). This creates the opportunity for a helpful scoutmaster conference.
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Postby ASM-142 » Thu Sep 27, 2007 7:50 am

If I remember correctly Swimming MB is not a requirement for Lifesaving MB. It may be possible that the scout is a very strong swimmer and has earned Hiking MB and could not fit the Swimming MB into his schedule
If it is not written down then it is not an official rule
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Postby DadScout » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:58 am

Right, swimming MB hasn't been required for life saving since '01. However there's lots of requirements in there referring to 2nd and 1st class swimming requirements so the logic is still there. The SM or AC should be aware before assigning it out.

The outstanding (or taking too long) MB's only drive me crazy with my own sons. Two years to do Family Life because he kept failing to track his chores. Now 6 months running on Personal Fitness because he doesn't track the exercise...and he's on a school team the works out 6 of 7 days a week. It kills me, but it's his MBs.
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Postby RWSmith » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:01 am

Please excuse me while I pull up my preaching stump.

Bill, let me say this up front... I'm not picking on you, or singling you out. But, I'd like to take your last post and relay some of my impressions, based on this board's history (and my experiences in Scouting, both as a youth and adult) and preach for a minute to all who may be interested...

DadScout wrote:Right, swimming MB hasn't been required for life saving since '01. .... The SM or AC should be aware before assigning it out.

I don't think Swimming MB has ever been a pre-req. for Lifesaving. Regardless, you can earn Lifesaving before earning Swimming.

BTW... Here's another often misunderstood example, although First Aid MB is req. no. 1 for Emergency Prep., it none-the-less may be the last requirement completed. IOW, you can complete all requirements for E-Prep., except for First Aid MB, and then, once completing First Aid, you can get them both signed off at the same time. (Well, within a matter of seconds. IMHO, Scouts should be allowed to take both these MBs simultaneously at Summer Camp. In fact, I believe that taking these two MBs together cumulatively strengthens their importance.)

It really tears me up is when a SM (or his/her specifically appointed designee -- an ASM) refuses to give a Scout a BC. :evil: :evil: :evil: Scouting is not without risks; but, the MB Program was designed so that each and every Scout may individually work toward, and succeed (or fail, and hopefully try again) at his own pace. Every time a SM refuses to give a Scout a BC, I believe he's actually cheating that Scout out of opportunities to grow! Examples:

  • The opportunity to succeed where he not only amazes himself; but, the SM, too... even if the SM doubts the Scout's ability (at the time the BC was requested), for whatever reason(s); and
  • The opportunity to fail... And, in so doing, he's cheating the Scout out of the opportunity to make the decision to keep trying, or give up. And, in the case of the latter, the Scout should be counseled to try again, maybe next year, or whatever. But, the SM needs to remember this and follow-up w/ the Scout sometime down the trail. (More on this, later.)
The Advancement Committee Guide - Policies and Procedures states, "One of the greatest needs of young men is confidence. There are three kinds of confidence that young men need: in themselves, in peers, and in leaders." Can a SM refuse to give a Scout a BC? Yes. (I used to say no; but the latest edition of the SM's Handbook says otherwise. I may not personally agree with that; but, it is what it is.) But, IMO, every time he does, he is failing that boy on all three counts. [Just think about it from the boy's perspective when you're telling him he "can't" do whatever.] If the SM feels the boy isn't ready, then he should counsel the Scout on ways to overcome the perceived concerns; it may be time; it may be strength; whatever. But, I say, ALWAYS give the Scout the BC and ALWAYS encourage him to try his best, even if it takes longer than, quote unquote, normal. Now, with that being said, I'd be remiss if I didn't say there may be legitimate times to say "No." I just can't think of any. Well, just one: Climbing and Rappelling. Although not specifically prohibited w/i the Climbing MB requirements, there are recent changes to the G2SS regarding Climbing and Rappelling, which must be obeyed. (See also, Climb on Safely, No. 20-099 and Topping Out: A BSA Climbing/Rappelling Manual, No. 32007.) Otherwise, I say, NEVER TELL A SCOUT THAT HE CAN'T !!!

And the SM should NEVER refuse to give a Scout a BC because he has too many open BCs. To me, that's just plain "adding to the requirements."

The AC (Advancement Coordinator, Troop Committee member), nor anybody else on the Troop Committee for that matter has any business handing out BCs. The only exception to this rule is the CC; and then, only in the SM's absence... and even then, it really should be another Unit Leader, which means an ASM, specifically designated by the SM. Two reasons:

  • First, through a variety of sources, you'll find that nothing --and I mean absolutely nothing-- that's advancement related happens for any Scout w/o it first going through the SM... No one else, just the SM. Now, with that being said, the SM has the authority to (and usually does) specifically designate ASMs, or even Scouts, the authority to sign-off on certain advancement requirements. But, it's solely by the SM's authority or his/her appointed designees that ALL advancement occurs. The SM (or his/her designee) even selects the specific MBC to be used each time a BC is requested; and, he/she also contacts the AC to set up BORs.
  • Second, it's not the Troop Committee's job to do ANYTHING advancement related with the Unit's Scouts, except conduct BORs. (Committee members may, of course, serve as MBCs; but, so can parents and ULs.) At any rate, the Troop Committee itself, as a whole, is not otherwise directly involved in a Scout's advancement. And, conversely, the ULs do NOT ever sit on a BOR. There's a reason for that... It builds integrity into the advancement process.
DadScout wrote:The outstanding (or taking too long) MB's only drive me crazy with my own sons. Two years to do Family Life because he kept failing to track his chores. Now 6 months running on Personal Fitness because he doesn't track the exercise...and he's on a school team the works out 6 of 7 days a week. It kills me, but it's his MBs.

I may seem hypocritical here, but I'll risk it... On the other end of the spectrum is the "hands-off" or, "it's-all-on-him-now" perspective. Listen, you're his Dad. There's absolutely nothing wrong with your giving him some parental incentive (i.e., a swift kick in the pants -- figuratively, of course), er, I mean mentoring.

Just as important as it is for ULs and parents to mentor younger Scouts, once a kid makes Star, or (especially) Life, if not already done, it's imperative that somebody ULs (SM and ASMs) and/or the Scout's parents sit down with the kid and help him make a plan, in writing, and stick to it, as best he can. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a Life Scout getting half a dozen SMCs; that's what they're there for... just one of many tools to help the kid get to the next level. If you want to help a kid who's struggling, but really wants to get over that last hump to Eagle, ask an ASM and a Committee member to volunteer to meet with the kid and one of his parents on a regular basis. Do that, in addition to your SMCs, and this kid will be more likely to gain the extra confidence he may be needing to make it.

Along those same lines, the vast majority of kids on the trail from Scout to First Class get most of their initial training (and mentoring) from their peers--their fellow Scouts, and Senior Scouts, too. Once a kid gets up into the Star and (especially) Life ranks, the number of available youth (peer) mentors usually dwindles to near nothing. And, in my experience, some Troop's adults also mistakenly tend to back off way too far; and, that's the real reason why most of them fall through the cracks. I believe this is exactly where we adults need to step up. We can blame it on par-fumes and car-fumes all we want; but, I don't think that's the real problem. Least ways, not most of the time. Just because a Scout makes it to Life, or is 16 or 17, does not mean he is no longer entitled to "help." No, we don't want to carry the ball for him. But, that's not what I'm saying... Let's face it; he's still just a kid. So many times, too many times, I've seen SMs leave their Scouts that have gotten over onto the "Life Scout for life trail" just hang in the breeze. Albeit, unintentionally... hanging, nonetheless.

On occasion, we'll hear about a Troop that has a much higher than normal (there's that word, again) Eagle rate. Some call them Eagle mills, or something like that. Well, maybe some are. But, I've seen some that were clearly not... All of their adults were well trained, and their responsibilities were spread out pretty evenly, and the lines of communication were pretty amazing. And, --here's the key-- the single most important thing a SM can do in making Eagles, it to initially get one or both of a new Scout's parents level of belief (not the boy's--there will be plenty of time for that, later) up to the total buy-in level. If the boy likes Scouting, he'll stick with it as long as his parent(s) support him, even if it's only moral support. If the kid doesn't like Scouting (typically, that would be the camping part), and some just don't take to it, then why press him to continue with something he doesn't enjoy. In such instances, he should always first try another Troop. Alternatively, maybe when he eligible, he could try a Venture Crew. But, it's our job to redirect him, or to follow-up and offer him an opportunity to get back in at a later time.

Okay; I'm sorry... this was way longer than a minute.
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Postby PaulSWolf » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:17 am

RWSmith wrote:
DadScout wrote:Right, swimming MB hasn't been required for life saving since '01. .... The SM or AC should be aware before assigning it out.

I don't think Swimming MB has ever been a pre-req. for Lifesaving. Regardless, you can earn Lifesaving before earning Swimming.

Swimming MB was very specifically a prerequisite requirement for Lifesaving MB from at least 1979 through 2000. I just looked through MB Requirements 1979 and Boy Scout Requirements 1982 through 2001, and the very first requirement for Lifesaving in each one through 2000 was in the format:
1. Before doing requirements 2-15
a. Earn Swimming merit badge.

In 2001, it became:
1. Before doing requirements 2 through 15
a. Complete Second Class requirements 7a through 7c and First Class requirements 9a through 9d.
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Postby Fibonacci » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:18 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts & experience. I think our troop is one that doesn't offer enough adult support to the Life Scouts, and your guidance & ideas will be shared with the troop adult leadership.

One slight difference we do, and I think for the better. The Scout is the one who asks for a BoR, not the SM. For the Tenderfoot rank BoR, the SM physically stands behind the young Scout and coaches him through the question, but he makes the Scout ask.

Thank you again for sharing your experience, which enriches the Scouting adventure for all of us.
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Postby RWSmith » Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:32 pm

Fibonacci wrote:One slight difference we do, and I think for the better. The Scout is the one who asks for a BoR, not the SM. For the Tenderfoot rank BoR, the SM physically stands behind the young Scout and coaches him through the question, but he makes the Scout ask.

I like it! (Yeah, I've seen that as pretty common... I guess my point would be, that the SM makes sure it gets done.)

And Paul, I didn't know that. :oops: Dooh! (Thanks!)
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Postby joat » Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:36 am

Fibonacci wrote:One slight difference we do, and I think for the better. The Scout is the one who asks for a BoR, not the SM.


This seems to be not an uncommon practice. I've always wondered why it is practiced. It should be obvious to the SM that after having a rank SM conference that the boy is ready for a board of review. What purpose is served by forcing the boy to come hat in hand and ask permission for a board of review? Since the answer is never going to be "no", why make the boy ask?

The boy's handbook tells him "Once you have accomplished all the Tenderfoot rrequirements and have participated in a Scoutmaster conference, your Scoutmaster will arrange a board of review for you."

So, group, to those that do this, what is the reasoning behind adding this lttle requirement?
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Postby RWSmith » Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:25 am

I like to think the premise is that the Scout be present; it's like an affirmation, a pronouncement even -- a real psychological boost for the Scout. E.g., Scout says to Mr. AC, with his SM at his side, "I'm ready for a BOR! [Woo hoo!]" Or, the SM says to Mr. AC, with Scout at his side, "Mr. AC, Master Scout is ready for a board... How soon can we get him set up?" And Mr. AC says something like, "Great! How about 6:30 PM, next Monday? To me, "who" asks, is not adding to the requirements. But, I agree that if it's just put off on the Scout, and left solely up to him whether or not a board gets scheduled... Well, that's just not acceptable.
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Postby Mrw » Sun Sep 30, 2007 9:12 am

In our troop, when boy has his SM conference, the SM then points to me across the room and tells the boy to come see me to get on the list for BOR's. With over 40 active boys, we keep a running list and they are done "first in-first out," as soon as we can get them done. Often same day, but more often the next week. On rare occasions, it takes longer than that and I am then sending e-mails to everyone who might be involved to make sure it happens.
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Postby wagionvigil » Sun Sep 30, 2007 9:24 am

Back to the Swimming and Lifesaving. I started Counseling these in 1967 and the first Requirement for Lifesaving was always you Must have completed Swimming MB and the Second was Before attempting or completing any other requirement you must swim (I think) 1/4 Mile without stopping.
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Postby mhjacobson » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:16 pm

Sorry to differ with one of the previous posters, but it is not the responsibility of the SM to select the MBC for the scout. The SM may assist the MBC for the scout. There is some conflicting wording in the SM Handbook (on the same page). The first section states that the "SCout obtained from his Scoutmaster a signed merit badge application and the name of a qualified counselor for that merit badge."

Later on, the Handbook states: "Wehre can scouts find merit badge counselors? Troop leaders can identify poetntial counselors . . .Many troops assemble a list of approved counselors . . .Each district advancement committee is responsible for developing a merit badge counselor list, keeping it current, and providing copies to every troop in the district."

In my council, the list of the approved merit badge counselors, and contact information, is located on the council web site so that the scouts can select a merit badge counselor from the list. In my troop both the SM and the ASM for Advancement (me!) will assist a scout in the identification of a MB counselor. This opens up the second growth skill in the scout -- we can lead him to water, but do not force him to drink, by, once we provide him with the resources of who the counselors in the area are, leave it to the scout to select and then contact the counselor.
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby fritz1255 » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:59 pm

To address the question of not having couselors available, we have gotten all of our troop committtee members certified so that all the Eagle required badges are covered. That way if a scout comes home from summer camp, merit badge college or whatever lacking one or two requirements, it is relatively simple for one of us to sign off when they are completed.
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Re:

Postby evmori » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:39 pm

mhjacobson wrote:Sorry to differ with one of the previous posters, but it is not the responsibility of the SM to select the MBC for the scout. The SM may assist the MBC for the scout. There is some conflicting wording in the SM Handbook (on the same page). The first section states that the "SCout obtained from his Scoutmaster a signed merit badge application and the name of a qualified counselor for that merit badge."

Later on, the Handbook states: "Wehre can scouts find merit badge counselors? Troop leaders can identify poetntial counselors . . .Many troops assemble a list of approved counselors . . .Each district advancement committee is responsible for developing a merit badge counselor list, keeping it current, and providing copies to every troop in the district."


"Later on in the handbook" is the key here. Initially, it states the Scout obtains the name of a MB counselor from the SM and the SM handbook has similar language. Selecting a registered and qualified MB counselor is part of the SM's job description.
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby wagionvigil » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:47 pm

Ed you are correct BUT he cannot say you Must use Mr. or MS So and So. What he can do uis here is the list of counselors for XX MB you make the call to the couselor you wish to work with. He cannot say you must use Mr. or MS so and SO. If they are on the list the kid can choose that is part of the process
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby mhjacobson » Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:24 pm

In fact, when I do is to provide a scout who requests a BC a list of two or three local MB counselors who are available. This not only gives the scout the option to select a counselor, but gives him some backup if the initial counselor is not available.
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby smtroop168 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:29 pm

We're back to the "a" counselor vs "the" counselor discussion. The 2010 BSA Requirements book says "the". A look at the 1989 book doesn't say "the" but says the SM will have a list of counselors for the badge the scout picks. I think the "the" goes back when there might have only been "the" counselor and now there are council and district lists with multiple MBCs.

If we really want to tighten this all up we can go back to the 1935 HB where Scouts had to undergo "Merit Badge Examinations given by the Court of Honor of the Local Council. In no case shall a MB be awarded unless the scout has personally appeared before at least 3 members of the Court of Honor and demonstrated to the satisfaction of the COH that the requirements prescribed by the executive board have been complied with in satisfactory manner."

And who said Eagle was easier back them???? You needed 50 days and nights for Camping MB too!!!!
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby wagionvigil » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:42 pm

When I was doing Star Life and Eagle we had BOR on a district level 4 times a year. Thst would have been 60-63. They would question us on the MB's.
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby FrankJ » Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:00 pm

wagionvigil wrote:When I was doing Star Life and Eagle we had BOR on a district level 4 times a year. Thst would have been 60-63. They would question us on the MB's.


Was it Seton or West that ask you the most questions?
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Re: How many open merit badges

Postby Cowboy » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:06 am

It says "the" name, not a name, not a list of names. Be honest folks, we have all seen MB's come through that the boy had no clue what he was suppose to have learned. We can all name a few MBC's that we would not want counseling a cat to scrape in the litter box. Easy answer: Have them removed from the list. Has anyone ever tried this?
A) Makes for a lot of enemies in the district & unit;
B) Almost impossible to prove that he/she is not doing the job. Who is going to point a finger? The boy who knows that he did not do the work but accepted the MB anyway? No.
It is much easier and actually feasible for the SM to direct the boys to a "good" counselor, than to have a "bad" one removed. I have seen far too many boys receive an unearned MB from a lousy MBC to have faith in the "list and pick" system.
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