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Best practices for doing merit badge sign offs

Our troop is trying to formalize and standardize how we are using Scoutbook. I thought I understood but as we are testing we noticed that there are so many different “approvals”. What is the best way to handle a MB from the SM saying it is ok to work on it to it being awarded? Who marks the requirements as complete? Who approves them? Thanks for the help.

First, read the Guide to Advancement regarding Merit Badges. The Scoutmaster does not tell a Scout it is OK to work on a Merit Badge. Merit Badges can be started at any time after the Scout is registered. The Scoutmaster signature on the Blue Card (or the initial signature in Scoutbook) is saying the Scout and Scoutmaster have discussed the badge and the Scoutmaster has provided the Scout with the names of one or more Merit Badge Counselors.

What I suggest is Merit Badges operate the same as any other award. Ideally the Scout will mark a requirement complete then after meeting with the MBC, the requirement will be marked Counselor Complete. If the MBC does not use Scoutbook, a physical Blue Card will be signed.

Anything marked Counselor Approved, except for the final MB, can be marked Leader Approved at any time.

For requirements not marked Counselor Approved, the unit should wait until the Scout presents a Blue Card, either partial or complete, before marking them Leader Approved.

The final Merit Badge should be marked Leader Approved after the Scoutmaster has the final discussion with the Scout about the MB experience.

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I don’t know that it’s a “best practice”, but our process is generally:

  1. Scout approaches SM or designated ASM and indicates interest in starting MB.
  2. Adult leader signs front of physical blue card or “starts” the MB in Scoutbook and marks the initial unit leader signature.
  3. Adult leader provides contact info for one or more MBCs to the scout.
  4. Scout selects a MBC and contacts them.
    4a. …and notifies adult leader to connect them in Scoutbook.
  5. Scout works on requirements and MBC signs-off requirements on blue card as they are reviewed.
    5a. …MBC marks requirements Complete and Counselor Approved in Scoutbook.
    5b. Designated adult leader marks requirements Leader Approved in Scoutbook.
  6. Scout completes MBC requirements and MBC signs-off MB on “back” of blue card.
    6a. …MBC marks MB as Complete and Counselor Approved in Scoutbook.
  7. Scout provides signed blue card to designated adult leader who verifies counselor has signed badge as completed, and signs the final leader signature line.
    7b. …MBC, scout or designated adult leader “prints” blue card or otherwise provides notice to designated adult leader that MBC has signed badge as completed in Scoutbook. Adult leader marks badge Leader Approved.
  8. Advancement Chair adds MB to PO in Scoutbook by marking it Complete and Leader Approved (if not already done as part of electronic process).
  9. Advancement Chair marks MB Awarded when badge is issued to scout.

I think I caught everything there,but let me know if it looks like I missed a step.

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Take the online training course (available at my.scouting.org) that’s specific to your role, and review the section of the Guide to Advancement that addresses merit badges: https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/the-merit-badge-program

Everything you need to know about merit badges is in the Guide to Advancement.

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Thank you. This was exactly the kind of information that we are looking for. We have questions about who and when Scoutbook gets updated. The wording on the approvals have changed and it has just made us more confused. Our Advancement Chair has approvals to do that go back multiple years because they weren’t being done. To add to the questions in our group the permissions in Scoutbook don’t line up with their current roles.

This was very helpful and some good ideas here.

Thank you. Sorry I didn’t word it well about the SM sign off. This was very helpful information. I will it add it into my process development.

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