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Email for completion of merit badges

I am advancement chair for our troop (fairly new to the position). A Scout forwarded an email to me & the SM from his MBC. The MBC states that the Scout had completed the requirements for a MB. No blue card included. I emailed the Scout back and asked for a scanned copy of the completed blue card (since we’re not able to get together to exchange them in person these days). His dad (who is our former SM) stated that in the past the troop and district have allowed such email confirmations without exchanging a blue card.

My question—is this OK, or typical of troops/districts to allow? The MBC in question is our district’s advancement chair, so I should assume she knows what she’s doing, but somehow this doesn’t feel right.

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my unit RARELY uses Blue Cards. I will give one, but most units use them wrong anyway.

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From the BSA’s Guide to Advancement:


@JenniferOlinger’s reference addresses the technical requirement, and @DonovanMcNeil’s response covers what is a common occurrence. We use them exclusively for the official record, although I have done my best to track it in parallel through Scoutbook.

I’ll be honest and say I’d kinda love to see blue cards go the way of the dodo (given the number of times I have to sign a new one for scouts), but I’m not sure that’s practical for scouts/counselors/units that are not capable of going fully digital.



Would appreciate a comment on how you think Units are using blue cards incorrectly.

When I’m working with a Scout I will have them put all the requirement numbers on the back of the middle part and then initial and date as they complete individual requirements.That will become a record for a partial if it’s ever needed.

And, I really found this post so I could ask you a question. I don’t see a way to do that in this system. On a reply to my post about Hornaday you wrote about the numbers of Silvers awarded. I have asked National about the numbers for awards and was told that National only keeps track of ranks, not awards. I’m wondering how the number of Silvers is known. I’d like the numbers of the different Supernovas and the National Outdoor Activity Medals. The STEM branch says they don’t know the numbers of SNs.
The excuse for not knowing is that all rank must be inputted by Councils, not all awards are inputted.

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Many units give the whole card back to the Scouts as opposed to the MBC getting their section, the unit their section and the scout their section. On Hornaday I think it was a Boys Life article

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The Scout should never be without the Scout’s section except when handing it to someone to fill out. When the Scout completes the MB, the MBC should immediately sign the Blue card and take off the MBC’s section. The Scout should then hand the remaining two pieces to the unit leader who signs and returns the Scout’s section to the Scout and keeps the unit’s section. I have seen units keep both the unit’s piece and the Scout’s piece until Court of Honor when the Scout’s piece is returned.


Our troop uses blue cards. Like Donovan said, though, most MBC’s don’t keep their par as we see a 3 part form come back. We do make sure the Scout keeps their 1/3.

As SM, I have (even if it is small) discussion with the Scout. I like the concept of blue cards both from the discussions they trigger and the physical backup they provide.


Though stated earlier in this publication, it bears repeating here: No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement requirements.

And yet… I have taken scouts to four different camps in four different councils and have received blue cards once.

One doesn’t “receive” blue cards from a camp. One brings a blue card, it is either signed complete or the partial is marked, and it is returned. It would be hard for them to give back what wasn’t given.

I would recommend discussing with the SM and Committee chair to verify what the troops policy is (at least moving forward). While many will lay out chapter & verse of BSA policy, one of the realities with merit badges & “blue cards” is they are pretty loose in how people get from one end to the other. Out troop uses blue cards mostly, most councils usually provide some form of a merit badge completion / partial completion report(s). Our unit uses Troopmaster for it’s advancement needs and it tracks badges in-progress well and our Advancement Chair enters is the info from our summer & winter camp MB reports. In the case of the onesie & twosie MB, It’s important to have a unit process which everyone is on the same page.

Here is a great read on the whole topic.

While I can’t address your question about Silvers, if the Supernovas are not being inputted then they are not being done right. Supernova awards require submitting an application to the district STEM committee or Council Advancement committee for approval. They even need to be signed by the Scout Executive. The council should have some idea how many Supernovas there are. That said, my council has never had anyone apply for a Supernova at the Scout BSA or Venturing level – and I would know as I am the council STEM/NOVA coordinator and sign all the applications.

As a member of a council advancement committee, all I can tell you is blue cards have become an important form of documentation in a few Eagle appeals I have been a part of. The scout says they have earned a particular badge, but they don’t have a blue card and the troop has no record… Upshot the scout has not earned the badge. I’ve also seen the reverse where the scout had the completed blue card and the troop and council had no record. Upshot – scout has earned the badge. Despite all our electronic record keeping the reality is that the signed handbook and signed blue cards are still at the moment the final word on whether or not something is completed. If the scout has the hard copy then we consider the requirement, rank, merit badge or award done.

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I tear off my section when I do the final signing. And then hand the other two sections back to the scout. Then I have a ziplock bag at home that they get put in.

It’s also good practice to have the scouts keep the card in a small ziplock bag. I’m thinking of my son’s Aviation card that still hasn’t been replaced. It went through the washer. At least his pants were washed after a trip.

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I have Council names, and numbers. It’s numbers for National that can’t be had.
We have had a grand total of five Scouts earn the SN. At the Pack level it’s about 150. Other Councils have similar ratios.
Qiuck question, as I don’t know how to do this outside of this method; Are you under the Adv Comm, or seperate from them?

You clearly live in a different world than I do.

I guess the point I am making is that it is up to Scouts/Scoutmasters to bring the blue cards to camp. Camp won’t give any back if you don’t bring them. This is the process as prescribed in the guide to advancement and the one our troop follows. Any other process isn’t the program as designed by national. It is up to your troop and Scoutmaster to follow it or not.

  1. A Scout chooses the MBs to work at camp.
  2. The Scout meets with the Scoutmaster, discusses the choices, and a Scoutmaster supplies the blue cards.
  3. Scouts bring the blue card on the first day they meet with the counselor.
  4. The Counselor then either signs the completed card or the partial at the end of the week. The counselor keeps their 1/3.
  5. The Scout brings the 2/3 card back to the SM.
  6. The SM signs the card, gives the Scout their copy and gives the other 1/3 to advancement coordinator.

I guess I feel the need to reply, I am not sure how your camp runs but the ones I i familiar with the scout master or one of the leaders is the one ( after talking to the scouts to get what badges they wish to take) signs the scouts upon line after or as they pay for the scout to attend. If the scout master or leader is the one signing the kids up be at camp or a merit badge day he is acknowledging that he knows the scout is taking that badge whoever over is supplying the blue cards troop or event should be immaterial.

The process I am talking about isn’t our Troop’s or council’s. It is the process for earning merit badges.

Even if someone else registers for a MB online, the process is still for the Scout to have a conversation with the Scoutmaster and for the Scoutmaster to provide a blue card. This is all independent of the camp. This is started
and carried out by the troop.

This is all detailed out in the guide to advancement. A couple of good quotes are:

“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.”

“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.”

“Because of the counseling opportunity involved, it is the unit leader’s responsibility to sign blue cards. In the role of giving leadership to the delivery of the troop program, a Scoutmaster, for example, has a better opportunity
than other leaders to get to know the youth. This background with the Scouts allows a unit leader to add greater value in the discussion and counseling intended to take place with the signing of the card.”

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