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How to prevent Scouts and Parents from updating Merit Badges

I’ve just learned that Scoutbook allows Scouts to add a Merit Badge to their advancement and then check of requirements, even if they haven’t gotten the unit leader initial signature or connected with a counselor.

Further, I don’t understand why a Scout is allowed to check off requirements, as that should only be done by they counselor.

I found out because I had a Scout in my Troop start an Eagle required badge all on his own without talking to any unit leader or engaging a counselor. He’s been happily checking off requirements in Scoutbook thinking he is working on the badge. While I commend his initiative during COVID-19 lock-down, I’m amazed that Scoutbook let him do this.

Is there a way to prevent Scouts from updating their own Merit Badge advancement?

Am I missing anything?

Scouts are allowed to check off any requirement in Scoutbook the same way they can put a check mark in the left hand column of the rank tables in the Scouts BSA handbook. A Scout checking off a requirement is just the Scout saying he/she has completed the work and is ready to be tested. All requirements for ranks, MBs and awards will have a green check box until they are leader approved, at which time they will get a blue check box.

In addition, MB requirements can be Counselor approved by the assigned Merit Badge Counselor.

Until a requirement has been approved, it is not considered final.

There is no way to prevent a Scout from marking requirements complete. I encourage my Scouts to do so as this is a good way for them to track their progress and notify leaders they are ready to be tested.


Well Let’s start with starting a MB - I suggest you read the Guide to Advancement - second paragraph “Typically after the unit leader signs the blue card, the Scout contacts the merit badge counselor and sets an appointment. Even though Scouts may benefit from reviewing requirements with a counselor before pursuing them, a Scout may begin working on a merit badge at any time after registering in Scouts BSA, or becoming a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout”

Marking things complete is just like a scout signing the left hand column of the handbook or a merit badge pamphlet to say they think they are ready for review.


Ed: Thanks for the description of the colors on the check boxes. That is helpful. I’m used to having two separate boxes in the book, one on the left for the Scout and one on the right for the approver. I now understand how Scoutbook is trying to convey a lot of possible states in one check box, but it is confusing. I think separate check boxes would be easier for all to understand.

I’ve certainly read the guide to advancement. Section is the applicable one here. While it does not say a Scout can’t start working on a badge prior to a discussion with a unit leader, they clearly can’t engage with a counselor until that discussion happens. The Scout has to get a signed “Blue Card” (or “Initial Unit Leader Signature”) before working with an MBC. Typically, this means they don’t work on the badge until they get the unit leader approval, but I see now how ScoutBook lets them track their work if they want. It is then up to the MBC to review their work and approve or not.

Again, two separate check boxes would make this much more obvious.

There actually are two separate boxes if you click on the requirement.


I just had an issue with a scout in one of my Scholarship Merit Badge classes. They marked all their requirements complete, then marked the badge as complete. Their scoutmaster then marked the badge as complete and I couldn’t approve anything.

I got the SM to remove his checkoff on the badge being complete, but when I went in to sign-off on requirements it wouldn’t let me use today’s date, it told me that I had to use the date the scout had marked it as complete or earlier.

To me, this is like in woodcarving merit badge, if a scout carved something on the 2nd of the month and then turned it into the counselor on the 10th of the month, in my opinion it’s not complete until the counselor reviews it and says it’s complete, so the counselors date should override the scouts date. (What if the scout didn’t do something correctly and needed to make a revision)

And to Donovan’s comments, I don’t care if a scout starts work, I don’t want them marking it as complete on their record…this would be akin to them marking it complete on the bluecard, which they aren’t supposed to do.


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As a MBC, you should be able to change the date completed. If all of the sub-requirements are marked as completed, then Scoutbook will mark a requirement as completed. And if all requirements are completed, then Scoutbook will mark a merit badge as completed. Because of this, you might need to remove the completion date of one of the requirements before you can remove the date completed overall. Other than that, you should be able to change the dates of completion (if they have not been approved by you or a leader in the unit).


Can you share a screenshot showing two check boxes? I can’t find them.


Thanks for replying and adding your feedback. I’m guessing that the Scoutmaster could not easily see the difference between a Scout marking a requirement as done (“green”) and a leader approved check mark (“blue”). Since all requirements were green, the SM thought the badge was done.

In short, this is horrible UI design and your experience shows that.

If the Merit Badge Counselor is connected, there will be 3 boxes:

The Scout will only have access to the Date Completed box on this screen.

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I had issues changing that date, I tried, but it gave me an error. I’d try to reproduce it, but I’ve already completed the badge for this scout and disconnected with them.

So, for most of these scouts, I’m not their leader, they are with different troops. I only see the counselor approved box and I’m Red/green color blind, so I’m not sure if there is a color difference between the color box when a scout marks it as complete and the color when I (as MBC) mark it as complete, but that was another issue I had with this, it was hard to determine which reqs I hadn’t marked complete yet. I had to look for the words saying that I had marked it.


That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the check boxes on the badge / advancement screen that are color coded. The color coding is extremely confusing, in addition to being an issue for color blind people. Here’s an example from the Photo MB:


Requirement 1(a) was marked complete by the Scout. It has not been approved by the leader or counselor.
Requirement 1(b) was marked complete by the counselor and approved by the leader.

I’ve had both Scouts and adults in my troop confused by this. Ed’s experience shows this same problem.

These really need to be two side by side check boxes. We should not be depending on color codes to indicate the status of the check mark.

I’m talking about duplicating this design, which has worked well for decades:

A checkbox on the left for the Scout, and a check / initial box on the right for the approver.

It’s that simple!

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There is currently an open item dealing with MBCs not being able to remove completed requirements. I suspect this is what you are running into.

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along these lines, in their handbooks, scouts cannot mark a rank completed for themselves, they can check a box to show that they feel ready to be tested on the requirement or to show leadership they are ready to be signed off…likewise, I don’t like the terminology that a scout can mark a requirement completed. At least for MBs, I would rather that scouts can’t check anything off, that is what their book or worksheets are for, only the MBC should be allowed to check something off as being complete (and an adult leader should be able to approve the final completion of the badge only after a MBC has marked it complete.


Putting the symbol(s) in different locations (e.g. columns) or using different symbol shapes or would improve usability.

Resources for computer programmers and web page designers


A few weeks ago, I had a parent (furloughed from work and stuck at home) check off 99+ merit badge requirements for her son. It was probably more than 99, but I think the data field in Scoutbook is limited to 2 digits. I wish now I had never granted access to the parents. I don’t do that for parents of new scouts.

The way I have handled this in the past is to have the parent go back and clean up their mess. They usually don’t do it a 2nd time.

The BSA will automatically connect any parent on record to the Scout and any parent that the registrar did no enter into ScoutNET can connect to their child via the Scouting app. There is no way to prevent this.

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Ed, Jennifer,

It’s clear there is a usability issue here. How do we get this in front of the Scoutbook product management / development team for review?


-Gary Segal