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Merit badge coordinator?

I have seen references in some troops online but does anyone have a template or position description they’d be willing to share?

Thanks.

When I think “merit badge coordinator” I think “district merit badge coordinator” who is normally a member the district Scouts BSA advancement sub-committee. However that may be incorrect. This coordinator may be a member of the council advancement committee.
(This post revised 6/6/2020)

Guide for Registrar (2019)

NON-UNIT REGISTRANTS, p. 25
Merit badge counselors … are registered and approved on the district level and all applications must be approved by the district merit badge counselor coordinator before the application is entered into the BSA membership system.

Reregistering merit badge counselors must complete a new Merit Badge Counselor Information form annually for approval, but a new application is not required.

Council Advancement Committee Approval

Processing This Application
Merit badge counselors must register as adult Scouters and be approved by the council advancement committee for each merit badge listed on this Merit Badge Counselor Information form. A merit badge counselor does not have to pay a registration fee, but must complete an Adult Application for position code 42, fill out this form, and complete BSA Youth Protection training. Submit the Adult Application with the Merit Badge Counselor Information form to your council. Counselors may wish to associate with a particular unit but are encouraged to serve any Scout from any unit.

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Some units have a committee member or other adult who helps keep up-to-date information in the hands of the unit leader and assistant leaders regarding MBCs who are associated with the unit (e.g. unit parents/leaders who are also registered MBCs), or who work with scouts in the district. It’s more of a facilitator role helping unit leaders stay current with lists that are available from the council or district, rather than having to check the official list every time they make a MBC referral. It was much more relevant when district/council lists were not available electronically, and updates might only be distributed at roundtables quarterly.

The coordinator might also arrange to help unit leaders with load balancing (e.g. tracking how many scouts have been referred to which MBC) so that the unit leader doesn’t overload the same MBC by sending scouts to him or her all the time.

Sometimes I’ve seen this be the same adult leader who advises the troop librarian, so that they can also provide a conduit from the librarian to the committee on what MB pamphlets are available/need replacing/getting heavy usage. Other units have a separate dedicated adviser.

I don’t have a position description I could share, but these are some of the tasks with which I’ve seen a coordinator assist.

ETA: I’ve also seen such a role serve as an informal recruiter for new MBCs. “Hi, new parent Mary. I see you’re a doctor. Have you ever considered being a merit badge counselor for First Aid or Medicine merit badges? You don’t know what a merit badge counselor does? Well, let me describe how they help the scouts…”

We used to have one that maintained MBCs for unit members and handled all Merit Badge College registrations

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@CharleyHamilton: That is pretty close to what I am thinking we need for our troop. The other 10% was MBC quality control and trying to address issues when scouts are sped through merit badge mills.

Thanks!

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No worries, @WilliamsburgScouter. What is “MBC quality control”? Isn’t that a district/council function?

What is “MBC quality control”? Isn’t that a district/council function?

This is in reference to when a scout comes back from one of these camps (virtual or otherwise) when scouts are sped through merit badge mills. Major worry.

I guess it kinda depends on what you mean by “QC”.

Putting aside what seems to me to be a potential conflict with the Guide to Advancement, it seems like it would be extraordinarily difficult for a single person to perform true QC on the potentially vast number of merit badges that are offered. It’s tough enough to have a single person qualified to counsel large numbers of merit badges, particularly those that require specialized skills (e.g. Engineering, Law, Medicine). I can’t imagine trying to do QC reviews for every scout and every badge that comes back from summer camp or a merit badge weekend.

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It’s a major worry that’s addressed clearly in the Guide to Advancement, section 7.0.4.7. Unless you have some very specific concern – not a generic “I don’t like MB weekends” feeling – you have no recourse. You may not re-test a Scout to see if they “deserve” the MBs from a camp or MB weekend.

And, like @CharleyHamilton noted, I don’t see how one person could “QC” all of the MBCs in a district effectively. A quick check in Scoutbook lists over 100 registered MBCs within 10 miles of our Troop’s HQ – and that really doesn’t cover all of our District…

With that said, part of the advancement process for Scouts is to talk with their unit leaders. I could certainly see “What did you think of the Merit Badge weekend last month?” as an appropriate discussion topic during a Scoutmaster conference.

It’s possible that @WilliamsburgScouter really means QC “so that we can provide appropriate feedback using 11.1.0.0 Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns”

Yeah, that was kinda why I hedged my response. If that’s the goal, then I can see value to tracking the information and providing the feedback to the district/council. It still seems like a lot of work for one person to take on, especially for badges that require more unusual or field-specific skills (e.g. I couldn’t really QC Basketry, not being particularly skilled at it).

Even in those cases where there is an apparent issue with what was done, I would still be pretty hesitant to withhold a badge under G2A 7.0.4.7 except in the most extenuating of circumstances (e.g. Camping MB where the scout has clearly not completed 20 nights of camping), rather than something more subjective (e.g. a case where I judged a that the MBC couldn’t have personally have reviewed each scout individually).

Consider the "adequate time for review example. I take a lot longer to review work that scouts have done on Cooking MB (i.e. have longer discussions with the scout) that some other Cooking MB counselors that I know. However, I’m not in a position to say those counselors are not doing an adequate job, just because they’re faster than I am, or talk less. I also couldn’t highlight which scout got adequate attention, and which one just got the “Yeah, OK, we’re running out of time. Let me sign that so we can get out of here…” treatment.

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The core problem is “how do you evaluate a MBC unless you observe them counseling?”

Quickly following that, as @CharleyHamilton noted, was, how do you break apart differences in counseling style from effective counseling? Am I more effective as a counselor because I accept outside work for the Communication MB than another counselor that doesn’t?

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There’s no conflict with GtA: as others have noted there is recourse with the unit leader/SM able to avail themselves of the options under 7.0.4.7 or 11.1.0.0.

But this places the SM/unit leader as the heavy denying scouts after the fact. It shouldn’t happen in the first place and there needs to be more vetting of these MBCs. A unit level coordinator can do that or could do that.

We have entire councils now telling scouts in these virtual merit badge colleges they can directly violate GtA and skip the unit leader/scoutmaster conference prior to starting the merit badge. (“Scoutmaster approval is not OFFICIALLY required, but it is a REALLY good idea.”) If these councils and national won’t step up, it falls to the units be default.

Thanks to you all for your input.

I think you are missing the point of the GtA. The Scoutmaster’s responsibility and limit of authority is clear in paragraph 7.0.0.3.

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout, may work on any of them at any time. Before beginning to work with a merit badge counselor, however, the Scout is to have a discussion with the unit leader. That a discussion has been held is indicated by the unit leader’s signature on the Application for Merit Badge, commonly called the “blue card.” Although it is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identified from those approved and made available, the Scout may already have one in mind with whom he or she would like to work. The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be. Lacking agreement, the Scout must be allowed to work with the counselor of his or her choice, so long as the counselor is registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee.

There is NO Scoutmaster approval. Group Instruction, as described in paragraph 7.0.3.2, addresses your concern directly. It is not the troop’s job, nor does a troop have the authority, to deny a badge to a scout who has earned it.

It is sometimes reported that Scouts who have received merit badges through group instructional settings have not fulfilled all the requirements. To offer a quality merit badge program, council and district advancement committees should ensure the following are in place for all group instructional events.

Among those items that a council or district advancement committee must provide,

… a mechanism for unit leaders or others to report concerns to a council advancement committee on summer camp merit badge programs, group instructional events, and any other merit badge counseling issues— especially in instances where it is believed BSA procedures are not followed.

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Our troop coordinates giving out MBC info between our SM, our CC, our Advancement Chair and our Eagle Mentor. Our District has a person who is “the keeper of the MBC’s” as the gentleman says. He keeps the lists, renews the counselors and gets the new counselors signed up.

On the topic of virtual MB classes, a scout I know sent an email to his SM a few times and the SM never responded to the scout before the class. And did not respond after either. This was not our Troop, it was another Troop in the area.
One of our MBC was willing to teach a MB via Zoom. We had a great turnout, 29 of our 55 scouts earned the MB over 3 sessions.

On the subject of MB Days, our Council instituted a program a few years back where the unit has to go through a training and has to have approval before hosting a MB Day.

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After being an MBC for some time and taking scouts to a few summer camps and watching this in a few different units, I think I have resolved myself to realizing that on every scout’s journey there will be some merit badges that they got perhaps too easily, and others they put in way more work than normal. While each individual MB they earned on the way to “21” may not be identical to someone else, on the aggregate it all seems to even out by the end.

E.g. for Scout A, their xxx MB may have been a bit of a gimme, but on yyy MB they put in a lot more work than others scouts seem to have (with the differences being who their MB was, which route it was taken (summer camp vs. mb weekend vs. local mb class, etc.). However on the whole, the effort they put in to earning 21 badges is pretty much the same as most other scouts have had to.

Hope that makes sense, am still on my 2nd cup of coffee…

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I recently had a conversation with another SM in my area. He said his troop always assigns an adult to scouts as they take a MB. The point of the adult is an attempt to ensure that scouts actually earn the MB. His troop is much larger than mine and I could easily see myself going a similar route.

Here is the thing - I speak with each of my scouts about their MB before and after. In my troop, scouts are very open about the quality of their experience. I have had scouts express a desire to rework portions that they are signed off with. And in a very mixed emotion situation after last year’s camp had scouts ask to not receive a badge for which they were signed off. The mix is because it is sad that they would receive such poor instruction. But it feels great that they showed honesty and integrity.

In the end it is about attitude and intent. If you are helping scouts get the best possible experience while living out the Oath and Law great. If you are trying to force them into meeting some quality standard well not so great. My experience is that people (youth in particular but most people) want to live in a situation where they are expected to live up to an ideal. But this doesn’t happen through brow beating.

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That sounds dangerously close to re-testing, which is a no-no.

It really comes down to attitude and approach. And m this case I am comfortable because I know him and his leadership. Having said that, for all too many troops this would go sideways. Kind of like the number who think they need to start with a set of bylaws.