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Are Blue Cards Being Phased Out?

I would think this is a camp thing. Our camp provides them and puts a nice camp stamp when completed at the end of the week. Our council is different council than where we attend summer camp runs a Merit Badge University however they send a summary of what was completed no blue cards. We still put them on blue cards when completed.

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Had a conversation with someone at our Council office who just spoke with the National Council and they have no intent of ending blue cards at this time. Apparently, Boy’s Life Magazine advertised a camp with NASA (?) that kids could earn a merit badge for attending. A bunch of Scouts went and they got letters from the event manager that they had earned the merit badge. NOPE. National Council will only recognize signed blue cards from valid merit badge counselors. One of my Scouts broke 4 fingers at Summer Camp and had to leave early but had Climbing and Archery near completion, now I have to go back to the Camp and get signed blue cards OR have to find a MB counselor who is registered for these course and have them accept the Camp’s electronic document on what is complete.

The print function in Scoutbook for Blue Cards is for Scout Master and other MB Counselors in a unit to be able to print the cards once completed and sign them.

Perhaps the National Council can be clear and post something to their website that Blue Cards are the record of truth for Merit Badges.

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From the Guide to Advancement

For very large events—such as the national Scout Jamboree—the National Council may approve an alternative format and sizing for the blue card. This is done through the National Advancement Program Team.

Though it may not have been clearly stated in the past, units, districts, and local councils do not have the authority to implement a different system for merit badge approval and documentation. In any case, through the years, many councils have created new forms and approaches to the process, some including IT components. In an effort to gather and consider these potential best practices, councils are now asked to submit descriptions and copies of their blue card alternatives to the National Pilots and Program Development Department.

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And also:

7.0.0.2 About the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”)
It is important to note the “blue card” is the nationally recognized merit badge record. It has been updated from time to time and carries the information needed for proper posting and for evidence and reference as needed later. The card has three parts: the actual “Application for Merit Badge” portion, the “Applicant’s Record,” and the “Counselor’s Record.” It requires a total of four signatures—two each from the unit leader and a merit badge counselor. The unit leader signs first on the front of the Application for Merit Badge portion and gives the entire blue card to the Scout. See “The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader,” 7.0.0.3.

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Doubleknot is a another program that uses a report instead of the blue cards. The main reason for the camps going the digitized route… Since most blue cards are finished up on the last day of camp activities (Friday), our staff which is already working “(unpaid) over-time” is expected to stay up until the wee hours of the night every Friday to finish checking off and signing blue cards. Yes, they shouldn’t wait until the last minute, but most are young. It’s easier for the Scoutmaster to review a daily report to see how their scouts are doing AND hopefully find any issues before Saturday morning.

The units can fill out their own blue cards and the camp will stamp them if asked nicely. There is always a work around!

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My camp doesn’t have internet, and only spotty cell service. There is no way we could move to a all digital tracking method.

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When I went to our local scout shop to get awards for our CoH, when I asked for the merit badge pocket cards, our manager said that he no longer had loose ones, he could only get those as printable sheets. He is happy to tear them apart for folks who do not want the sheets.

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A national BSA Scout Shop website search for “merit badge cards” results (on 2019-08-29) include::

  • “Merit Badge Application Card 100/pk”, Item: 646956
  • “Merit Badge Application Card 25/pk”, Item: 646957
  • “Scoutbook Merit Badge Card, 3-sheet”, Item: 649857 - “for use with Scoutbook”
  • “Boy Scout Merit Badge Pocket Certificate, 8 Pack”, Item: 33414
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There is an easy solution to the partial. The print function from Scoutbook allows you to print a partial on the official blue card blank. When printed, it shows what is done. Just like a classic blue card.

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FYI - you can print the blue cards on regular paper. We had a number of scouts taking the Automotive Maintenance MB class the person that usually prints the blue cards was on vacation. I printed them at work on regular blue paper. Just have to make sure that you print double sided.

On another note…is the information that the scout camp inputted in each supposed to transfer to Scoutbook or are we supposed to enter it manually?

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@FlorenceWeiner The Feature Assistant Extension has capabilities to import from Black Pug.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4bXAHBshADYVUlHV01xTllYM00/view

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You can import it or enter it manually. I will have to circle back to the Camp and get a letter saying the sheet represents what was finished. Then get blue cards signed by another counselor who did not observe the work but can accept it from another merit badge counselor who says they did.

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This is something that has been going on for a while. My own council provides a report and no blue cards. Of the four summer camps my troop has been two half did NOT use blue cards. One of them printed the blue cards on blue colored standard printer paper. One had software that will provide a blue card to print out on standard paper for completed badges and a couple report formats for the partials.

I have found where National authorizes other means, but nothing had EVER been provided to indicate what is approved. I think this is a matter of the professionals telling the volunteers that we must do one thing and they choose to go another direction on convenience.

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This is the second summer we have run into this. My son is making his run at Eagle this year and if he gets to a board of review and they say “sorry… those don’t count” that would be a real tragedy. Adults always seem to find a way to complicate this program. I advised him to get the blue cards signed by another counselor.

Unfortunately I am sure this kind of thing happens. The best defense is to read (and re-read) the Guide To Advancement. It is simply NOT the Eagle Board of Review’s place to say what merit badges count and what doesn’t. National clearly reserves that for themselves and they learn VERY far toward the scout’s favor.

Last year I helped a young man through the Eagle application and board process after he was being intimidated (intentionally or not) by someone in his district. I don’t know that all councils follow the same process, but can say what Circle Ten does. The first stop after filling out the application is that it should go to Council. They then verify merit badges and rank achievements from their records and stamp the application with a signature and date to show they have done this. Then it goes to the District’s Eagle BOR committee who schedules the board. (They often take care of getting the verification step.) Then the board is held and the application is signed by the Board. The application then goes back to council who forwards it to national.

If you have concerns, I would highly recommend you call of visit your council office. The people at my council’s offices are great. When I had a transfer from out of council, the person answering the phone was great. I a most certain that they will gladly help you out with the process.

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I guess I don’t see the reason, with scout book tied directly into the advancement any person , leader , parent , scout ( council office from their end can the scouts advancement anytime. We were just discussing this tonight when are scout master took our first eagle application in to council they printed out the advancement of said scout and double checked it. (Which is no problem) he made the comment to coucile as he watched them do it that’s the same sheet that I printed out for him at home and it was.

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Kirk have a question about the process ( this maybe getting off subject) going threw our first eagle ( ran into some the the problems who posted about addressed them in another post) any way we were told that after council verifies the application they send it to national who okies it and then sends it back to coucil and they then scudule a board ( witch is were our scout is waiting to hear when his board is) that night after his review he should have his rank. …as I hinted at our coucil I think has a tradition of keeping the whole process kinda secret.

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Just two weeks ago my son took a merit badge that he needed to finish after a Hornaday Campout and because the Council only provides a spreadsheet to the unit of which scouts finished what and the troop printed something from some program other than Scoutbook the Merit Badge Counselor refused to accept anything he had already done and forced him to redo the entire merit badge. I thought this was very unfair and asked our Council office to either issue a statement of the standard in our Council or to start using blue cards. Unfortunately Alamo Council stays silent when asked to address issues like this. From now on I’ll be getting him to insist that they make an exception for him and sign the blue card since we are military and will be moving possibly before he finishes his Eagle rank.

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That wasn’t done last year. And given the communication record of BSA, I won’t begin to guess if it has changed.

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How much to accept from a previous counselor is up to the counselor. Should it happen again, have your scout ask his SM for another counselor. Choice of counselor is the scout’s according to the Guide.

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