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Merit badge approval

I have a huge problem with the way merit badges approvals are set up in Scoutbook. A merit badge can be marked completed and approved without the merit badge counselor marking anything. Currently, I have a mother, not an adult leader, that has marked all items completed. The badge is now in the “needs approval” report for the scoutmaster. This badge will be approved for awarding without the merit badge counselor having a say.

This is not right. When blue cards were being used, this could not happen. There needs to be more barriers put up to present this.

Not all Merit Badge Counselors use Scoutbook. Because of this there must be a way for Unit Leaders to approve a Merit Badge on behalf of the MBC. What I suggest is that no leader approve a Merit Badge or any requirements in Scoutbook until the Scout has presented a signed Blue Card or the Merit Badge or requirement has been marked Counselor Approved.

No leader should approve anything in Scoutbook without first holding a discussion with the Scout, either to sign something off in the handbook or receiving a Blue Card.

A requirement marked complete is telling the leaders that the Scout is ready to be tested on that requirement. Since not all families feel their Scouts are mature enough to use Scoutbook, parents have the ability to mark items complete on behalf of the Scout. This is no different than a Scout or parent putting a check mark in the left hand column of the rank tables in the Scout’s handbook.

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I understand the challenge of some MBC not using Scoutbook. This challenge should not dismiss the need for the badge to be counselor approved. The unit leader should not mark the approval for the MBC and also for themselves. The advancement chair or someone that would not mark “leader approved” should have to mark a checkbox for the existence of a completed blue card and counselor approval.

A requirement marked complete is not telling a “leader” that a scout is ready to be tested; it is telling a **merit badge counselor ** that he is ready to be tested. This process has been modeled after the rank requirements without regard to the fact that only one person, the merit badge counselor, can test. It is specifically stated in scoutbook for each merit badge that “Merit badge counselors are the only adults authorized to approve work on merit badges.” Leader approval should not be able to happen without counselor approval.

This system has the ability to prevent a leader approval without counselor approval instead of risking human error. I do not disagree that your answer is absolutely correct. I have two right MB now that I have to unapprove and caught one yesterday that I was able to contact the MBC to correct. Having to undo erroneously approved merit badges undermines the scout’s feeling of success.

Actually, it doesn’t, unless all MBCs are required to use Scoutbook. Your proposal to have the Advancement Chair intervene in the process does not remove opportunities for human error. In principle, an Advancement Chair or Unit Key 3 could mark a badge “approved” in IA2 without ever possessing a blue card.

I personally would like to see a solution that functions more generally. For example, a warning dialog to indicate that a MB has not been Counselor Approved in Scoutbook would be a method to prompt any leader who is ticking Leader Approved to actively verify that a blue card exists. The leader would need to tick a box indicating the signed card exists to continue. Not all units route blue cards to the Advancement Chair for the final Unit Leader signature. In principle, units don’t need an Advancement Chair at all to operate. I think that locking in that model for all units would create a bigger problem than it solves.

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@Mary_An - I think it is a bit more control and gatekeeping than needs to exist. For our unit it had been typically that the final completion was entered into the system (much like using IA2) but that seems to be an evolving thing. There are scouts that will enter completions and have no MBC linked and those where an MBC is linked and approves and then the ones where the MBC is linked and either does not approve or waits to the end. As Charlie noted you will be adding controls to troops who do not function in the same methodology you do. A touch extreme in those cases.

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