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Merit Badge Counselors


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#21 StillLoomans

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 01:36 PM

In Dan Beard Council (Greater Cincinnati) we are fortunate that somebody took the time to compile a very thorough listing. Organized by districts, merit badges, anyway you want it really. I suspect it simply takes somebody willing to put in the time and effort. Easy enough to maintain once it is first in place.

 

This is a recent change. When my eldest son first joined a troop, the list was outdated, difficult to navigate and held behind a password. Users were told that the list was not to be shared with scouts, but MBCs could be selected by the SM or Advancement chair and given to the scout. Then the password-protection was dropped but the list was not updated. I actively recruited MBCs from our troop, acquaintances, anyone who I thought would work well with youth and had the background to mentor a merit badge. Most applications were not approved. Not rejected, either, they disappeared into the black hole. My MBC app took my DE personally walking it through the process for me to gain approval the third time I tried. Council finally has its act together and the list is as you described, and a joy to use.

 

I have long suspected that the difficulty in getting MBC information led to troops creating their own corp of counselors and relying heavily on summer camp and merit badge challenges to help their scouts earn merit badges. Now that understandable response is undermining the process itself. It's a shame, really.


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#22 T2Eagle

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:17 PM

My understanding is that the crux of the issue about the The List of MB counselors lies in the decrepit computer systems that BSA uses.  Our council sends out a PDF about every two months  that has been sorted by District, and then sorted by MB, so what you receive is a list of the MBCs in your district.  It's generated from Scoutnet, so you have to be registered in Scoutnet as a MBC to be on it.  

 

In our council, if you are already a registered scouter there is a form/application you fill out if you want to be a MBC; you can indicate on the form that you want to be Troop only, and that info prints out on the list, but very few people limit themselves that way.  Once Council receives the form the registrar then has to go in and "Multiple" register you as a MBC.  It is possible to be registered as just a MBC, but then you register, and are approved for BSA membership, by the District. Just like all other types of BSA membership you have to be re-chartered every year as a MBC, and this has to be done independently of your unit membership.  We used to get an email once a year with a new form asking if we wanted to again be MBCs, if you didn't respond you were dropped as a counselor.  I suggested to a couple people on our Council advancement committee, and I probably wasn't the only one, that if somebody remained registered with their unit we should just recharter them as MBCs, and this year they finally made that change.

 

So, in a nutshell, the list has to come from someone going into Scoutnet and first Multiple registering you as a MBC, then every year someone has to re-charter you as a MBC or you drop off the Scoutnet system.  As you can imagine there are a lot of ways for that process to go wrong, including everyone thinking/hoping it's someone else's responsibility to keep it up.  Oh, and one more quirk in the system, it doesn't capture email addresses.


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#23 T2Eagle

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:32 PM

My first post was long enough that I decided that I should do a separate one for some more observations on the MBC, counselor list, MBs topic.

 

For better or worse, and I think it's worse, most summer camps these days are merit badge heavy. even if your camp has a solid program that does a good job being sure the requirements are met, most scouts come away from summer camp with at least 3 and some years as many as 5 MBs, either full or partial.  Take out some of the required badges that really don't fit at all well with a camp experience, like Communications, Family Life, Personal Management, and maybe one or two others, and a scout that goes to summer camp every year from when they're 11 through age 15, will already have somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 MBs, and have probably earned all the non-required badges they need for Eagle.  So outside of the required MBs there is almost no demand at all for counselors or for MB work other than at camp.  I think this is not good for many reasons, including narrowing the list of MBs that most scouts even consider, and limiting the Adult Association that used to come from MB work in the community rather than at camp.

 

A last thought, whenever possible I try to steer my scouts to a MBC outside the troop rather than them working with the same group of adults they already see regularly.  I mentioned above that The List doesn't capture emails; if I present my scouts with an option to initiate contact with an adult they don't know by calling them on the phone rather than first emailing versus them meeting with someone they'll probably see at a troop meeting or at least will have an email already, which do you think they most often choose?


Edited by T2Eagle, 03 February 2017 - 02:34 PM.

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#24 TAHAWK

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:59 PM

My understanding is that the crux of the issue about the The List of MB counselors lies in the decrepit computer systems that BSA uses.  Our council sends out a PDF about every two months  that has been sorted by District, and then sorted by MB, so what you receive is a list of the MBCs in your district.  It's generated from Scoutnet, so you have to be registered in Scoutnet as a MBC to be on it.  

 

In our council, if you are already a registered scouter there is a form/application you fill out if you want to be a MBC; you can indicate on the form that you want to be Troop only, and that info prints out on the list, but very few people limit themselves that way.  Once Council receives the form the registrar then has to go in and "Multiple" register you as a MBC.  It is possible to be registered as just a MBC, but then you register, and are approved for BSA membership, by the District. Just like all other types of BSA membership you have to be re-chartered every year as a MBC, and this has to be done independently of your unit membership.  We used to get an email once a year with a new form asking if we wanted to again be MBCs, if you didn't respond you were dropped as a counselor.  I suggested to a couple people on our Council advancement committee, and I probably wasn't the only one, that if somebody remained registered with their unit we should just recharter them as MBCs, and this year they finally made that change.

 

So, in a nutshell, the list has to come from someone going into Scoutnet and first Multiple registering you as a MBC, then every year someone has to re-charter you as a MBC or you drop off the Scoutnet system.  As you can imagine there are a lot of ways for that process to go wrong, including everyone thinking/hoping it's someone else's responsibility to keep it up.  Oh, and one more quirk in the system, it doesn't capture email addresses.

In my oldest council, the lists were kept by district "Merit Badge Deans" on their own computers.  They gathered the information from council and other sources, such responses to questioning at roundtables and district events.  The lists were printed out in hard versions and distributed at district events AND were available on district websites.  They would contact you each year to see if there should be any changes in your listing or if you knew of any prospects who might agree to serve in that capacity.

 

When BSA imposed the new "privacy policy" a couple of years ago, the district-created lists stopped being kept. Now, the only list is the restricted-access list at Council.  The SE at the time said he had no explanation for the change in policy and was aware of no complaints from Counselors about being contacted by Scouts regarding MB work - hardly a surprise.

 

As a measure of the reliability of the council list, until recently I was listed as having completed SM training in 1910 and being a District Chairman of a district for three years before I was born and before such a district existed. In fact, every single entry on my record was incorrect.


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#25 T2Eagle

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 03:10 PM

I will say one thing about the privacy issue.  Several years ago we put the MBC list up on our website, didn't really give it much thought.  A few months later one of the counselors, in hindsight probably rightly, called Council and raised holy heck.  Turns out she was a teacher and we had inadvertently published her heretofore unpublished phone number and address.  We dropped the list from the site the same day, but it was a lesson learned for us in what was then the early days of having a troop website.


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#26 clemlaw

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 11:47 PM

Perhaps my council is thinking of improving things.  As I mentioned above, one of the district leaders (I think he's District Chair) is in our troop, and I know that he has a copy of The List if anyone needs to see it.

 

Coincidentally, I just received an e-mail from Scoutbook stating that I am being given an account because I'm a MBC.  Currently, there doesn't seem to be anything on that site that's of much use to me, but it does have my merit badges correctly listed.  So I'll go on the assumption that they're trying to figure out some way to look up counselors.  

 

Here's the e-mail I received:

 

Your council has recently updated its list of approved merit badge counselors
and shared that information with unit leaders on Scoutbook.
 
According to this information you are approved for the following merit badges
and have selected to work with Scouts in the following districts: ______
District
 
Merit Badges: ___, ___, ____, and ____
 
Our records indicate you did not have a Scoutbook account so your council has
created one for you. Please visit Scoutbook.com and login with the following
email and password:
 
Email: ________
Temp Password: ________
 
If this information is incorrect, please contact your council service center.
 
So I'll take this as good news, and hope that this initiative isn't abandoned.

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#27 Col. Flagg

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 12:57 PM

According to the BSA technology "road map" they plan on making ScoutBook the platform for councils to manage MBC lists. Now, whether that is a suggestion or a mandate is anyone's guess.

 

It is an interesting read, if not amusing at times.


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#28 Venividi

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 08:15 AM

In the district that I used to be involved with, they did an excellent job of keeping MB counselor list up to date.  Even with that, I did not receive calls from a scout except for a (rare) call to finish a partial from summer camp.  Although the purpose of MB program as stated by BSA includes the benefit of calling an unknown adult, working with a caring adult with a knowledge of a subject area, etc., in reality, opportunities to get MB's at adult planned events (summer camp, MB weekends, in troop MB sessions, etc., there is little incentive for a scout to make a call to a MB counselor to arrange a meeting.

 

The beginning of the end for me was when a highly respected scouter asked me to teach first Aid MB on a Saturday at district event.  I agreed, because the person that he had previously lined up had fallen ill.   I was shocked that the expectation was that the format was to show the scouts a skill,  have them repeat it, then sign off on the related requirement.   The long time, highly respected scouter that organized the event shrugged his shoulders and said that although he didnt agree with it, that was just the way it was now.   I felt bad that I participated in a program that had little benefit to scouts.   At the same event, another MB counselor who was leading another MB workshop, bragged about how he had all the pieces required for a project prepared in advance, leaving a small section of wood uncut for the scout to finish, thereby technically meeting a MB requirement to cut wood for the project with a saw.

Some time later I had a committee chair call me to set up a First Aid MB class at their troop meetings.  I turned her down.

 

I believe that adults want to help there kids advance, and are doing so by taking away anything that might possibly be an obstacle to advancement.


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#29 Col. Flagg

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:20 AM

I was shocked that the expectation was that the format was to show the scouts a skill,  have them repeat it, then sign off on the related requirement.   The long time, highly respected scouter that organized the event shrugged his shoulders and said that although he didnt agree with it, that was just the way it was now.   I felt bad that I participated in a program that had little benefit to scouts.   At the same event, another MB counselor who was leading another MB workshop, bragged about how he had all the pieces required for a project prepared in advance, leaving a small section of wood uncut for the scout to finish, thereby technically meeting a MB requirement to cut wood for the project with a saw.

 

We try to steer our Scouts away from MB "colleges' or other such programs that do this. We have one locally that did First Aid in 8 hours of Powerpoint. One of our moms (a physician) picked up her son, heard the story and then got with out TC to hold a class for the boys who went. Each boy spent 3 hours with hands-on First Aid. It was better than the ARC basic course. That was the beginning of doing our own First Aid MB course. Colleges? Never again.


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#30 Lurking...

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 05:30 PM

MB schools and summer camp schools are nothing more than adult inventions to speed up and guarantee Eagle rank for the boys.  It is a racket in my book.

 

While it was not a MB, I have had boys receive the Totin' Chit and when asked what they did to get that piece of paper, they don't really know.  That's really a poor commentary on the quality of "instruction" going on at scout organized activities where advancement and MB's are involved.


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#31 DuctTape

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 05:45 PM

 
I believe that adults want to help there kids advance, and are doing so by taking away anything that might possibly be an obstacle to advancement.


What most don't even realize is that the real advancement is in knowledge, skills and experience. The checklist, sign-off, and badges are a token meant to represent the real advancement. It appears many have come to believe these tokens are the advancement, instead of simply a symbol. Without true advancement in knowledge, skills and experience, the symbol is meaningless in and of itself.
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#32 Ankylus

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 10:34 AM

Yes, we have experience with that. We are in the largest council in the country, and our district at one time was the largest district in the council. Plenty of resources, right? Well, if so, they weren't spending them on tracking MB counselors.

 

Our CC is a very detail oriented guy. We routinely recruit MB counselors and have a fairly large number of them. And he spends a LOT of time correcting District and Council on who our registered counselors are. They miss people who have signed up, they wrongly take them off lists, they also aren't always good at purging people no longer participating.

 

It's a mess.


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#33 clemlaw

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 01:14 AM

I mentioned in a post above that I had never received a phone call from a scout.  Well, that changed, although it was kind of a strange call.

 

It was from a scout who I had counseled at a museum event over a year ago, and already signed off.  He told me that his troop advancement chair didn't accept the blue card because I hadn't filled out the back listing the individual requirements.  So I told the scout that the easiest way to handle it would be to just ask his scoutmaster for a new blue card and send it to me.

 

A few days later, he sent me the new blue card, along with the old blue card I had previously signed.  He included a nice note thanking me, and telling me that he enjoyed the event.  He even included a self-addressed stamped envelope, even though I didn't ask for one.  So I signed the new blue card, and dutifully filled in the back of the card, even though it's on the scout's copy, and the front of the card contained my signature that he had done all of the requirements.  I also filled in the back of the old card, so between the two cards, the advancement chair should be happy.  If not, I let the scout know that if the scoutmaster or advancement chair had any questions, that they should contact me, and gave my phone number and e-mail address.

 

Now, the only reason that I'm not 100% sure that the advancement chair is excessively nitpicking is the fact that I signed the card over a year ago.  Maybe they examined it more carefully because the scout took so long to hand it in.  But other than the delay, the scout did everything he was supposed to do.  He gave me a blue card signed by his scoutmaster, he did all of the requirements, and he had me sign the card.

 

Also, as far as I can tell, I did everything right.  The back of the blue card is the scout's copy, so theoretically, he doesn't even need to hand that in.  The front of the card says that he successfully completed all of the requirements.  But I guess in the future, to keep the writer's cramp to a minimum, I'll have the scouts write down the numbers 1-9 on the back and write the date 9 times so I can put 9 sets of initials.  But it would be a lot easier if the advancement chair wasn't so nitpicky. :)  If the advancement chair had any questions, he could have called me himself, since my number was right on the card.  And believe it or not, I actually had the counselor copy of the original blue card.

 

By the way, yes, this was a merit badge "class," but it was one of the relatively rare merit badges that can be meaningfully completed in one day at a "class".  But no, I don't normally like the idea of "classes" either, so please don't nitpick me about that.   :)


Edited by clemlaw, 04 March 2017 - 01:16 AM.

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#34 RememberSchiff

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 07:01 AM

I have wondered what percentage of scouts do not turn in their completed blue cards. :huh:


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#35 Back Pack

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 07:20 AM

MBCs should fill out ever area they are required to. The fields are there for a reason. Fill them out, avoid problems.
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#36 clemlaw

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:17 PM

I don't have a complete blue card in front of me right now, but it was my understanding that the section listing the individual requirements was for the scout's and counselor's use to keep track of which requirements they had finished.  In this case, he did them all in one day.  The front of the card contains my signature that he had completed all requirements.

 

In some cases, I remember that I have just written "all" and put the date an initials one time.  Maybe I'll just keep doing that.  This particular card was blank.  And RememberSchiff, yes, I've wondered that, too.  In one case, a scout showed up without a blue card, so I gave him my address and asked him to mail me one.  I saw one of his adult leaders and also mentioned it to him, but I never got a card to sign.  So there's at least one scout out there who did all the work and never got the badge.

 

This was a non-required merit badge, and I recently realized that my son, who is Second Class, has almost as many non-required merit badges as he will need for Eagle, and that seems to be true of most scouts.  So unless they decide to collect a bunch of palms, it doesn't really matter.  (I've been careful not to mention this to any scouts, since the merit badge program can expose them to a lot of interesting stuff, so I encourage them to get a bunch of interesting ones, even if they don't really matter as far as advancement.)


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#37 qwazse

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:49 PM

All MB's matter! :p
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#38 SSScout

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 04:35 PM

Ustabe the Scout would READ the handbook, SEE what he needed to do, or pick out the things he WANTED to do and plan accordingly.  "hey, Aviation Merit Badge.  Neat.  ummmm, , I could do that....  I build models...   Dad?  who do I contact for this?   " 

 

Now , it seems the Scout WAITS for someone to ask him to earn a badge, and TELL him when he can earn it on this weekend, and  like that.  

 

Or am I wrong in my observation?  

 

Scouts that come to a Bugling Merit Badge Class without a horn, without any practice, without the Merit Badge Book or printed Website sheets.....


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#39 Lurking...

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:25 PM


Scouts that come to a Bugling Merit Badge Class without a horn, without any practice, without the Merit Badge Book or printed Website sheets.....

 

If that be the case, then we're going to have a "who blinks first" game gong on for a while.  I would think that "Be Prepared" would apply to MB's, too.


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#40 TAHAWK

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:28 PM

The Blue Card has a line for the Counselor to sign, confirming that the Scout "met all the requirements for the... ____ merit badge."   There is also a line for the Counselor to sign attesting to the "completion" date.  Signatures on those lines is all that is required. 

"A merit badge counselor—once he or she is satisfied a Scout has met all the requirements—signs in two places: on the reverse of the Application for Merit Badge (to the left) and on the Applicant’s Record (in the middle). These two parts are returned to the Scout."

B.S.A., Guide to Advancement at p. 43.

 

The spaces for individual requirements are for recording "partials" conveniently on the one document, rather than requiring a separate document.

"If the Scout did not complete all the requirements, the counselor initials those that were fulfilled in the spaces provided on the back of the Applicant’s Record part. This is called a 'partial.'”

Id.

 

No one is authorized to require more without consent of the National Council.  Specifically, save for a determination of a unit leader that a MB cannot, in fact, have been earned, once the card is signed by the Counselor, the MB has been earned for all purposes.

"A Scout who has earned a merit badge from a registered and approved counselor by actually and personally fulfilling the requirements as written will have met the purpose of the merit badge program and the contribution to the aims of Scouting. The badge is his to keep and count toward his advancement."

Id. at p. 52.

 

Now if  someone is will to work at the council or district level, work openly scorned by several on this forum, the Committee member in question might be trained to do her or his job properly instead of inventing invalid personal rules on the fly.

 

 

"Our Scoutmaster was just discussing MB counseling the other day, lamenting on the days when Scoutmasters were automatically counselors for all merit badges.  I'd never heard that before, and my Scoutmaster growing up was never a counselor for every merit badge by default, so I'm not sure the veracity of that statement."

 

Lamenting past policies is of doubtful utility for the present and future unless you are prepared to work to make change.  That also would require scouting outside your unit. 

 

Lamenting a past that never was is even more useless.


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