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Can parents serve as merit badge counselors for their scout?


Best Answer The Latin Scot , 09 September 2017 - 09:34 AM

Absolutely; it's not "recommended," per se, but its absolutely permissible. Here's the link: 

 

https://blog.scoutin...dge-counselors/

 

Just as an added note, the blog at scoutingmagazine.org, "Ask Brian" is one of the best sources for information out there. Many of my questions have been answered after a quick sweep of his posts. Just like searching here! Hope this is helpful.  ;)

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#1 ItsBrian

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 08:48 AM

I couldn’t find anything saying that they can’t, but if you guys do or know please let me know.

I really want to do the cycling merit badge with my mom since it’ll make life easier ( and I’d rather not do 50 miles with someone I don’t know ).
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#2 The Latin Scot

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 09:34 AM   Best Answer

Absolutely; it's not "recommended," per se, but its absolutely permissible. Here's the link: 

 

https://blog.scoutin...dge-counselors/

 

Just as an added note, the blog at scoutingmagazine.org, "Ask Brian" is one of the best sources for information out there. Many of my questions have been answered after a quick sweep of his posts. Just like searching here! Hope this is helpful.  ;)


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#3 ItsBrian

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 09:44 AM

Absolutely; it's not "recommended," per se, but its absolutely permissible. Here's the link:

https://blog.scoutin...dge-counselors/

Just as an added note, the blog at scoutingmagazine.org, "Ask Brian" is one of the best sources for information out there. Many of my questions have been answered after a quick sweep of his posts. Just like searching here! Hope this is helpful. ;)

@The Latin Scot Thanks so much!

Edited by ItsBrian, 09 September 2017 - 09:45 AM.

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#4 The Latin Scot

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:01 AM

My pleasure! That's what the boards are for.  :cool:


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#5 qwazse

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 08:42 PM

One caveat, troops sometimes do make specific rules against it. Sons' troop insisted that no more than three, and no more than one non-required could be earned from a parent. In our case, that was because our district advancement chair said he questioned any set of blue cards with similar signatures that matched the boy's last name.

 

So, check with your SM. If it's a problem and your mom can't be your counselor, there's no reason she can't do that 50 miler with you. You could treat her to a nice lunch somewhere 25 miles away, then swing by the counselor's house on your way back to get that blue card signed.


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#6 mashmaster

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 09:58 PM

There is nothing wrong with the scout doing things with their parent and documenting it.  Then discussing it with a different merit badge counselor.  Nothing says that a counselor has to be the one that did it with the boy.


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#7 The Latin Scot

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:23 PM

It bears repeating and should be noted that if you read the Advancement Guide at 7.0.1.4 it states emphatically

 

"Approved counselors may work with and pass any member, including their own son, ward, or relative. Nevertheless, we often teach young people the importance of broadening horizons. Scouts meeting with counselors beyond their families and beyond even their own units are doing that. They will benefit from the perspectives of many “teachers” and will learn more as a result. They should be encouraged to reach out."

 

So for unit leaders to impose limits on their Scouts, stating that they can't receive a merit badge from their parents when they are council-approved counselors, seems to go against what is stated in the official materials. They may "encourage them to reach out," and "teach the importance of broadening horizons" - but they can't compel them to do so. Regardless of the lessons we want to teach the boys (which are indeed good and important lessons), technically it's not in their power to insist such. And I am always wary of Scoutmasters or advancement chairs who power-play by placing limits like that on their Scouts. I don't feel it's their place to make such rules. The Advancement Guide is clear: "Approved counselors may work with and pass ANY member" (my emphasis). There is no caveat to that. In my humble opinion (others may disagree), leaders should abide by that counsel as much as is possible and reasonable, even while teaching and guiding their Scouts towards a broader point of view.


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#8 RememberSchiff

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:57 AM

I couldn’t find anything saying that they can’t, but if you guys do or know please let me know.

I really want to do the cycling merit badge with my mom since it’ll make life easier ( and I’d rather not do 50 miles with someone I don’t know ).

 

What does your Scoutmaster advise? Merit badges aren't about easy, they are about personal growth through adult association - learn a skill, learn how to communicate and work with adults (other than your parents)

 

Who knows there might be a local MBC who rode the famed Tour de Donut

 

:)


Edited by RememberSchiff, 10 September 2017 - 07:04 AM.

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#9 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:22 AM

So for unit leaders to impose limits on their Scouts, stating that they can't receive a merit badge from their parents when they are council-approved counselors, seems to go against what is stated in the official materials. They may "encourage them to reach out," and "teach the importance of broadening horizons" - but they can't compel them to do so. Regardless of the lessons we want to teach the boys (which are indeed good and important lessons), technically it's not in their power to insist such. And I am always wary of Scoutmasters or advancement chairs who power-play by placing limits like that on their Scouts. I don't feel it's their place to make such rules. The Advancement Guide is clear: "Approved counselors may work with and pass ANY member" (my emphasis). There is no caveat to that. In my humble opinion (others may disagree), leaders should abide by that counsel as much as is possible and reasonable, even while teaching and guiding their Scouts towards a broader point of view.

 

With all due respect Latin Scot, multiple BSA sources say units, specifically the SM, Skipper, Coach or Adviser, can indeed limit who the Scout or Venturer has as a MBC by designating a specific counselor for them to use.

 

From  http://www.scouting....selorGuide.aspx

 

"A Scout first expresses an interest in a particular merit badge by letting his unit leader know. To get him started, the leader gives him a signed Application for Merit Badge (blue card) along with the name and contact information for a district/council approved merit badge counselor. " ( bold for emphasis here and after)

 

Also check out http://councils.scou...de.aspx?print=1

 

"When a Scout has decided on a merit badge he would like to earn, he obtains from his Scoutmaster the name and phone number of the district/council-approved merit badge counselor."

 

From here:

http://councils.scou.../pdf/18-125.pdf

 

"3. The Scout indicates his interest in a merit badge to his Scoutmaster, who gives him a. An interview to determine interest, enthusiasm, preparedness b. A signed Application for Merit Badge c. The name and phone number of the council/district approved counselor."

 

 

From here:  http://councils.scou...e/pdf/34405.pdf

 

"Instructions to Counselors • The unit leader (Scoutmaster, Varsity Coach, crew Advisor, or Skipper) recommends and provides the name and contact information of at least one merit badge counselor to each Scout desiring to work on a merit badge."

 

So if the SM doesn't want the parents to teach the MB, then the SM assigns a different MBC to use.

 

And I can understand why a unit would not want the parents to be their son's MBC. They can be too easy or too hard.

 

Sadly their was an issue in my council a number of years back with one "Eagle." With the exception on MBs earned at summer camp, all MBs were done with Grandpa, Mom, and Dad, who held CC, SM, and ASM positions in the troop. They just signed them off, giving them to him. The issue  became known at the Eagle BOR. Long story short, he was denied his Eagle, and given a plan to rectify the situation. Family appealed all the way up to national. In the response from national granting him Eagle on appeal, the comment "You do not penalize the Scout for the errors of the adults involved." As a result, the entire district advancement committee resigned in protest. When I talked to the "Eagle" a few months later, he was like a deer in the headlights when I asked him about some things he should have done for multiple MBs. I was not trying test him, but being new to the area and a Indian Lore MBC, I was trying to get sources for local Indians. From that conversation, I could see why the Eagle was originally denied.

 

On the opposite extreme, you got the hardnosed parents who demand more from their Scouts than others. I admit that is me. When my son got a partial from summer camp for a MB he actually completed (found out another Scout was in the same boat), I worked with him to complete the missing requirement and let him talk to his SM to finish it off instead of me. SM commented how I was harder on him than the other Scouts I worked with on the same MB. And really that goes all the way back to the first MBs he earned. He went to a MBU and took 2 MBs. One he legitimately earned. The other they gave him. Not only did the MBC use out of date requirements (8-10 year old if memory serves), the MBC didn't even do ALL of the requirements. I discussed the situation with  my son, and had him complete the missing MB requirements. He was not happy with me at the time. But he understands why I did it. He's upset that folks have "earned" one particular MB at summer camp without completing all of the requirements. His MBC at home wants him to truly earn it. It's been 2 years since he started it, and now that he actually finished the one missing requirement, he has a blase' attitude about it since so many "earned" it.


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#10 The Latin Scot

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 10:41 AM

I notice that in ALL of the examples you provide, it either states simply that the unit leader gives information for a merit badge counselor or recommends the name of one to the Scouts. In NO instance does it say that the unit leader can deny a boy the right to work with a different counselor. Yet all of them mention the phrase "district/council approved merit badge counselor," which implies that the power to make that approval decision lies in their hands, not the unit leaders'.

 

The Scoutmaster has the power to offer and recommend names, but ultimately he cannot approve or disapprove of a counselor - only the district or counsel wields that kind of authority, as made explicit in the very examples you give. If a boy wishes to use a counselor other that the one suggested by his unit leader, that is his right. Regardless of the unit leader's fears that a parent might be too easy or too hard, it is still outside of his power to prohibit his Scouts from working with them on merit badges. If he were to try to invoke such a privilege, the boy could easily dispute it at the district or council level, since they are the ones with the power to decide - and they are not likely to cede that power to the unit level except in rare and unusual cases. 


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#11 ItsBrian

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:33 PM

Basically some of you are talking about PERSONAL experience. Not everyone is the same right?
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#12 Col. Flagg

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:06 AM

Depending on the person, the parent might be harder on their own kid than on the average Scout. Generally my son did NOT take MBs from me to avoid any perception of favoritism.
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#13 Hawkwin

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:31 AM

For me, I signed up to be a MBC for those badges that we can't seem to find anyone locally. That way, my son/scout will not be limited by having a single MBC for the entire District (as we have found with Scuba) that is not responsive to emails or phone calls (he probably quit).


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#14 jeanvaljean

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:02 AM

my 2 cents, I had to teach one MB for our troop since no one was willing or qualified to do it (a more technical one), my kid did sign up, my rule was to teach the whole thing for a group, it went well, since 7 out of 10 finished and got their blue cards signed. I also, to be transparent, wrote on my son's record, done in a group, so in case there is a problem, at least it will be known that it was not a one on one with just my son. Hope this helps ...

 

Besides of that, I am finding it extremely hard for troops to give their scouts the opportunities to earn MB, it seems like it is always capped or frowned upon, which I really don't understand why ....


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#15 Torchwood

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:55 AM

Just my 2 cents: Your job as a MBC is NOT to "teach" a Merit Badge. If you look at the requirements, very often they say "discuss with your counselor" or "do the following". In none of these cases is there any expectation that the MBC is lecturing to a group of Scouts. The Scouts are supposed to become familiar with the subject matter through things like reading the Merit Badge pamphlet, or looking things up on the Internet. Your job as a MBC is to then make sure that they know the information. Now, you can certainly use the EDGE method for things- a perfect example would be Home Repairs. But lectures and tests should remain in school. As for Troops giving Scouts opportunities to earn Merit Badges, these are supposed to be in addition to the Troop Program, not an integral part of it. If you take a way the Adult Association method by having Scouts work either individually or in twos or threes with trained MBCs, you aren't part of a Boy Scout Troop


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#16 Col. Flagg

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:19 AM

Just my 2 cents: Your job as a MBC is NOT to "teach" a Merit Badge. If you look at the requirements, very often they say "discuss with your counselor" or "do the following". In none of these cases is there any expectation that the MBC is lecturing to a group of Scouts. The Scouts are supposed to become familiar with the subject matter through things like reading the Merit Badge pamphlet, or looking things up on the Internet. Your job as a MBC is to then make sure that they know the information. Now, you can certainly use the EDGE method for things- a perfect example would be Home Repairs. But lectures and tests should remain in school. As for Troops giving Scouts opportunities to earn Merit Badges, these are supposed to be in addition to the Troop Program, not an integral part of it. If you take a way the Adult Association method by having Scouts work either individually or in twos or threes with trained MBCs, you aren't part of a Boy Scout Troop


Hmmm, I get the spirit of what you mean but I think the concept of not "teaching" the MB is incorrect. I am MBC for all shooting sports MBs, as well as many of the outdoor skills MBs (pioneering, orienteering, wilderness survival, etc). Many of those MBs have skills that must be taught for safety reasons. It's not something you want to leave to laymen, well-meaning (but unskilled) adults or some Scout googling the answer or using Wikipedia to find their answer.

An MBC *can* "teach" an MB and still put the onus on the Scout to dig deep and learn, even teach himself...but it takes preparation and time.
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#17 qwazse

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 10:08 AM

Basically some of you are talking about PERSONAL experience. Not everyone is the same right?

Well, that is why you need to talk to your SM.

We don't know the people in your troop or district, and he may have had to deal with issues in the past that would want him to send you to a non-parent.

No SM or Advisor likes to get a phone call from the council registrar questioning their scout's rank application. My first post on this forum once upon a time was about our registrar challenging Son #1's position as a crew president on his eagle application because he was filing the application through his troop.  When the boy's SM heard about it, he went livid until I told him a call to national then and there corrected the staffs' assumptions.

 

On the other hand, your SM may have been wanting your mom to be a cycling MBC for a while. And, even if you don't need to have her counsel you for this badge (we cleared that up in my previous reply), you're just the "excuse" he needs to get her signed up so that other boys will have someone he trusts available to counsel them.

 

Honestly, you won't know until you ask him his opinion. And despite all of the rule parsing (which we will no doubt continue long after you make rank), respecting his opinion is probably the most efficient way to knock out this badge.


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#18 Torchwood

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 12:07 PM

Hmmm, I get the spirit of what you mean but I think the concept of not "teaching" the MB is incorrect. I am MBC for all shooting sports MBs, as well as many of the outdoor skills MBs (pioneering, orienteering, wilderness survival, etc). Many of those MBs have skills that must be taught for safety reasons. It's not something you want to leave to laymen, well-meaning (but unskilled) adults or some Scout googling the answer or using Wikipedia to find their answer.

An MBC *can* "teach" an MB and still put the onus on the Scout to dig deep and learn, even teach himself...but it takes preparation and time.

 

There are certainly exceptions to what I said, but the rest of them should be exploring a subject area. The MBC can guide the Scout to find the answers without lecturing...


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#19 Recycle

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:15 PM

I couldn’t find anything saying that they can’t, but if you guys do or know please let me know.

I really want to do the cycling merit badge with my mom since it’ll make life easier ( and I’d rather not do 50 miles with someone I don’t know ).

 

As others have pointed out, your mom could certainly be your Cycling MB Counselor.  But even if she is not acting as the MB Counselor, she could still ride with you on the any of the rides.  It doesn't matter if the route is one of your own design or if it is the 50 mi. route of an organized ride.     You must to report to the MBC on the rides.  The MBC is not required to accompany you. (Though I think he or she should,)

 

 

 

From the Cycling Merit Badge Pamphlet  .  Requirement 7.A.
7.  A. Road Biking
(a) Take a road test with your counselor and demonstrate the following:
[snip]
this was about road rides, so the road test demonstration and explanation requirements aren't quoted here
[/snip]
 
 
(b) Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates for the routes traveled, and interesting things seen.
 
(c ) After completing requirement b for the road biking option, do ONE of the following:
 
(1) Lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours.
 
(2) Participate in an organized bike tour of at least 50 miles. Make this ride in eight hours. Afterward, use the tour’s cue sheet to make a map of the ride.

 

When counseling, I accompany the scouts and buddy(ies) on the 50 mi. ride plus a couple of the 15 or 25 mile rides because I want to ensure they're riding safely ... but  it's not required.


Edited by Recycle, 11 September 2017 - 07:20 PM.

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#20 jeanvaljean

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:51 PM

Just my 2 cents: Your job as a MBC is NOT to "teach" a Merit Badge. If you look at the requirements, very often they say "discuss with your counselor" or "do the following". In none of these cases is there any expectation that the MBC is lecturing to a group of Scouts. The Scouts are supposed to become familiar with the subject matter through things like reading the Merit Badge pamphlet, or looking things up on the Internet. Your job as a MBC is to then make sure that they know the information. Now, you can certainly use the EDGE method for things- a perfect example would be Home Repairs. But lectures and tests should remain in school. As for Troops giving Scouts opportunities to earn Merit Badges, these are supposed to be in addition to the Troop Program, not an integral part of it. If you take a way the Adult Association method by having Scouts work either individually or in twos or threes with trained MBCs, you aren't part of a Boy Scout Troop

 

maybe teach was not the right word, but the meaning is the same, when a scout is looking for a nuclear science, or digital tech etc MB, they can't just grasp the concept by reading or researching, as a MB I think it is my duty to explain, guide and yes sometimes lecture so they can understand the concept.

 

Maybe you are right and I am wrong. I don't know, I just volunteer to help the scouts learn about something new and hopefully one day it will be their job or a hobby.


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