Merit Badge Counselors from Out of Council?

From the March / April 2022 Advancement News, the official organ of the Advancement Team

Questions are arising regarding councils limiting Scouts to the use of only in-council merit badge counselors (MBC) for the Citizenship in Society merit badge. The Guide to Advancement puts this in a fairly grey area, as it defines the council as making the MBCs and defines MBC as a council position.

Short answer: Councils can set their own rules for approving merit badge counselors for Citizenship in Society, or any other merit badge. However, once a counselor is approved by their home council, they can counsel and approve requirements for any Scout registered in the BSA, anywhere in the world.

For a more detailed explanation, there are two considerations:

1. Approving counselors:

The Citizenship in Society counselor document mentions on page 2, that Counselors should be both skilled in listening and in guiding discussions, and knowledgeable in the subject matter (as determined by their local council) before meeting with Scouts.

The GTA section 7.0.1.4 says "In approving counselors, the local council advancement committee has the authority to establish a higher minimum, reasonable level of skills and education for the counselors of a given merit badge than is indicated in “Supervisory Qualifications and Certifications,” 7.0.1.1. “

GTA section 7.0.1.4 says:

"Council advancement committees have the responsibility to implement an approval procedure that assures merit badge counselors have the necessary skills and education to offer quality experiences in the badges they counsel. “

While the GTA is specifically referring to the “risky” merit badges, that section applies to all merit badges, including Citizenship in Society.

So yes, each Council can set their own requirements and policies for approving counselors for this (and every other) merit badge, and they can be more stringent than what national suggests.

2. Working across Councils

GTA Section 7.0.0.1 says "Lacking agreement, the Scout must be allowed to work with the registered and approved counselor of his or her choice. “ and "It is acceptable for a counselor registered in one council to approve merit badges for Scouts in another. “

This happens at Jamborees, when troops travel for summer camp, when individuals travel for merit badge universities, and so on. Citizenship in Society is no different from any other merit badge in this regard.

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