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Latest update to merit badge list in my scouting tools is, once again, broken

As the saying goes “your mileage may vary”. In our district we have all but 7 MBs covered by a registered MBC (all of whom are <8 MBs); and those 7 are covered somewhere in neighboring districts.

There is a lot to say about getting rid of the MBC restrictions and lists and letting the SM do what s/he thinks best; and sometimes, with a well-connected SM that would work. But more often than you think many MBC’s would read the pamphlet 10 minutes before meeting with the Scout.

On the other hand IF the district has actively developed a cadre of MBCs and vetted them for their knowledge, the Scout will definitely have a better experience and get more out of the MB system.

Peter,

One of the issues when you limit people is making them decide which badges to sign up for and which to leave out. I had a person apply in my council who was an airline pilot. He stated, in his letter, that he would drop aviation because few asked for it and he preferred to work with more Scouts. What an incredible loss to the Scouts who wanted to work on aviation. That’s what happens when you artificially limit people.

As far as qualifications, I know many people with a wide array of skills and hobbies. Let me use myself as an example.

My vocation is computer science. I’ve worked as an adjunct professor of computer science at a local university. I’ve worked for several startup companies. I’ve started and run my own company for over two decades. I hold two patents for inventions I created. One of the companies I worked for specialized in GPS hardware and software.

I volunteer with an emergency services group for amateur radio. I have a ham radio license. I’m an assistant Scoutmaster and frequently backpack, camp and hike both with the Scouts and my family. I’m an instructor for wilderness first aid (wilderness first responder), CPR, etc. I’m a certified open water SCUBA diver. I was the volunteer technical director for our local high school theater department for over a decade. I volunteer as the flag etiquette consulting for a multi-million dollar stadium fireworks production. I’m an NRA certified instructor and RSO.

My hobbies include amateur radio, photography, astronomy, robotics, coin collecting, archery, shooting sports, flag etiquette, geocaching, biking, chess, camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mentoring, music (I play bugle, harmonica, clarinet, etc.). I’ve had pets my entire life. I have been registered with BSA for over 50 years starting as a Cub Scout.

I believe that background qualifies me for (at least) the following badges …
American Heritage
Archery
Astronomy
Backpacking
Bugling
Camping
Canoeing
Chess
Citizenship in the Community
Citizenship in the Nation
Coin collecting
Communication
Cooking
Cycling
Digital Technology
Electronics
Emergency Preparedness
Entrepreneurship
Family Life
First Aid
Game Design
Geocaching
Hiking
Home Repairs
Inventing
Kayaking
Leatherwork
Moviemaking
Music
Nature
Orienteering
Personal Management
Pets
Photography
Pioneering
Programming
Radio
Reading
Rifle Shooting
Safety
Scholarship
Scouting Heritage
Search and Rescue
Shotgun Shooting
Signs, Signals, & Codes
Theater
Wilderness Survival

Given my qualifications above, which of these do you feel I’m not qualified to counsel? Which would you have me drop?

Edited to add: No one suggested 130 MBs. I was pointing out that the lame excuse offered of “you can’t fit that much text in one field” was completely bogus. I did this by putting every possible badge in one field.

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The biggest problem we have in our council is the SMs who think they can counsel any badge by virtue of being an SM. I strongly disagree with your assertion that we should do away with subject matter experts being registered with BSA so they can be found by those who are interested in that badge.

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That’s exactly how the system is supposed to work. If it isn’t working that way in your district / council then do what I did. Volunteer to be the merit badge counselor coordinator and make a difference in your area.

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JameBrown13 said:
One of the issues when you limit people is making them decide which badges to sign up for and which to leave out. I had a person apply in my council who was an airline pilot. He stated, in his letter, that he would drop aviation because few asked for it and he preferred to work with more Scouts. What an incredible loss to the Scouts who wanted to work on aviation. That’s what happens when you artificially limit people.

Given my qualifications above, which of these do you feel I’m not qualified to counsel? Which would you have me drop?

To your first comment, I never ‘artificially’ limit people. You use your good sense. If 10 fits the situation instead of 8, thanks to the guy with that skill.

To your other comment, there are none that ‘you are not qualified’ to counsel. But there are lots that are adequately covered by others. I have an entire page in my list of counselors for each of the 3 Cit’s, Communications, Family Life, and 10-20 for a few others. I don’t need you to cover those, even if you are well qualified. On the other hand you might be the only one for Theater or Bugling in the entire area.
I could easily narrow you down to 10 without depriving any Scout of a ‘qualified’ counselor.

If you have qualified counselors that you are rejecting because of some arbitrary number, you are artificially limiting people. Words mean things.

Well now you do! At least according to your latest response. I guess you can scratch that off your bucket list.

If that’s true, why aren’t you letting me be a counselor for them?

“I don’t want to be a counselor in your district / council. You are going to artificially limit me to the 10 badges that are the most unusual. That means I’ll see maybe one Scout every 5-10 years. I’m not willing to waste hours recertifying in YPT and other nonsense to stay a counselor if I’m not going to be seeing Scouts.”

That’s not an exact quote but it captures the feelings of counselors I’ve interacted with who have a breadth of experience. They want to work with Scouts regularly, not wait for that one kid who wants Dentistry, Aviation, Bugling, etc.

You are driving away good people and I believe that’s a huge mistake. Scouting needs all the “friends” it can get right now. We don’t need to offend good people. It doesn’t hurt a thing to have one more Citizenship or Family Life counselor on the list, especially if I get some obscure badges added at the same time.

Just my $0.02

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Quoting from the 2021 GTA 7.0.1.4 “… Note that the National Council does not limit the number of merit badges an individual may be approved to counsel. It is permissible, however, for councils to do so—as long as Scouts’ choices, especially in small or remote units, are not so limited as to serve as a barrier to
advancement.”
In my council [District Advancement Chair for a physically large area (~ 3000 sq mi) small population (~100k)] the rule is for the District Advancement Chair to approve any MBC who wants to counsel a large # of MBs (> maybe 8), Council send E-mail to DAC for approval, e-mail back and done.

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We do the same. Balances verifying people with many badges are qualified with getting sufficient counselors. We have the same situation as far as geography. Some districts are hundreds of miles across.

For DAC here is the policy letter and the limit is 15.20210223.pdf (108.5 KB)