How to verify "completed" merit badges?

Upon reviewing one of our Scout’s advancement in Scoutbook, out of six merit badges pending approval, only one has been marked as complete by an MBC. The other five were marked as complete, either by the Scout or his parent.

How do other troops handle self reported merit badge completions, prior to marking them approved? Do you ask the Scout and his/her family to "show your work’ such as completed worksheets, etc.?

@SteveHanson - well how would you verify a merit badge completed prior to any electronic methods?

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A blue card signed by a merit badge counselor.


Then give the Scout a Blue Card - not all MBCs use Scoutbook


If a Scout (or Scout’s parent) marks a merit badge as completed in Scoutbook, then I would take that to mean that the Scout is ready to be tested by a Merit Badge Counselor for that particular merit badge.


@SteveHanson did they start the merit badges before talking to a merit badge counselor? Our Troop is transitioning away from blue cards. The Scouts only use blue cards if the merit badge counselor they have spoken to doesn’t use Scoutbook. In our troop if a parent or Scout has marked the requirement completed we remind them it is their responsibility to contact their MB counselor for approval. We have a few merit badges in limbo as well.

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They can mark “complete” anything and everything.

But ONLY a MBC should be marking it “approved”, with the limited (and I mean limited) exception where some other person is noted “approved” because there’s only a paper blue card; an advancement chair for example who marks “approved” and then notes in the notes section “Blue card signed by MBC Jane Doe”.


Why would it be so limited? Many MBCs don’t use Scoutbook.

What I mean is that it is limited to a) a Key-3 or b) an advancement chair to input as “approved” where the MBC doesn’t use Scoutbook. It is not something where anyone and everyone (like parents) can just go in and do it.

Parents can’t mark anything approved anyways…


All counselors should be using scoutbook. It is the only easy way to verify that they are actually registered counselors. If they are not in scoutbook, I don’t normally allow my scouts to work with that person unless I call the scout office and confirm they are counselors.


Being in scoutbook is not the same as using it. At least around here. Our council has all counselors in scout book but not all use it and those will still use paper blue cards.

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Should is a pretty strong word in this case. It would be nice if they did, but by no means something I would encourage them to do if they aren’t interested.

As Scoutbook is very unit focused, many MBCs never have a reason to use Scoutbook. So, while they will be listed, their skills may be lacking.

All approved counselors are listed in Scoutbook and a key-3 can check. So there is no need to call the scout office.


My council requires that YPT be current though end of the calendar year. Also, councils in California may be removing MBCs that have not meet a California law and related regulation requirements.

  • California Scouting.” Boy Scouts of America Inc., accessed 2022-02-05, (Additional youth protection training, LiveScan (digital fingerprinting), and FBI criminal background check required by BSA and California Assembly Bill 506 website).


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I assume those councils are keeping Scoutbook updated. My point still stands.

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@scouter11 It would make my life easier if all MBC’s used Scoutbook but unfortunately they don’t. I too check that the MBC is verified and then scan the card and attach to their merit badge in the comments.
With the advent of Facebook and the numerous groups and pages forming that advertise a virtual, google class or zoom merit badge earning opportunity, I worry how many Scouts are “earning” merit badges by folks claiming to be MBC’s. I haven’t had a Scout present a blue card from an unknown MBC but I’m sure the day is coming.


What happens if a unit just doesn’t use Scoutbook at all, let alone the MBC?

We use blue cards as primary, scoutbook as backup.

We are having some hassles as we’ve absorbed the youth win a troop that did not continue its charter and had 11 crossovers.

Once the dust settles, maybe by summer camp, we’ll rely more on SB, but those blue cards will still be the mainstay.


That is a good question. A troop doesn’t need to use it, but if a district/council doesn’t provide the MBC list via other means, the SM may need to use Scoutbook to look up MBC names and contact info.

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There are several summer camps that are moving away from blue cards. What the scouts (and unit) gets at the end is a data file that can be uploaded to Scoutbook.

There are also units where the SM/unit leaders are not issuing blue cards anymore and doing it 100% Scoutbook.

I don’t think MBCs and units really, truly grasp just how monumental the 2021 change to Guide to Advancement is with respect to blue cards and not just the validity of electronic records but how that will be the practice moving forward.

Prior to 2021, Guide to Advancement was clear as a bell: blue cards were THE official and definitive source.

This was GtA in the 2019 version

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.

That language is gone.

Now, the 2021 revision reads that blue cards “CAN play an important role” and “Councils are encouraged to take advantage of innovations such as the Boy Scouts of America’s Scoutbook system or various computer-generated spreadsheets, etc Units and other councils are expected to accept these alternative forms of documentation as long as the documentation provides the information necessary to track and record the Scout’s progress.”

MBCs who continue to say “I don’t use SB” are going to find very quickly that they’ll have to when scouts show up without blue cards.