I am a registered leader in my sons’ troop, and I am also a counselor for several different merit badges. As a teacher at a very small school, I teach English, history/humanities, and p.e. The subjects I teach qualify me for counseling a lot of merit badges.
One of the merit badges I am registered to counsel for is Personal Fitness. I am new to the troop (just crossed over with my younger sons last month), but I have been registered as a MB counselor since last fall.
There is another adult in our troop that has been the go to guy for Personal Fitness for several years. He’s beyond qualified and is a fantastic leader. However, he has had some other obligations the last few months and hasn’t been able to attend the weekly troop meetings for the last 4-6 weeks. I’m going to call him Mr. D.
Our court of awards is next week, so a lot of the boys have been trying to get partials finished up and signatures on completed requirements these past few weeks.
One boy in the troop had all of his PF requirements signed off by Mr. D. - except for the completion of his fitness plan. He asked me last week to sign off that last piece, so we went over his plan, his progress, what he felt the program did for him, and how he planned to continue his healthy lifestyle. I signed it off and he turned it in.
A second boy, who happens to also be my oldest son, completed all of the PF requirements about 6 weeks ago. He has been at every troop meeting since, but has not been able to get his blue card signed by Mr. D., because of the absences (and I want to make it clear that I don’t blame Mr. D. - he’s an awesome guy and has every right to take a break). My son asked me to sign of his PF badge, but I was reluctant to, because I didn’t want anyone to question the validity of the work.
Now, I know that he did the requirements. While I didn’t consider myself his counselor while he was working on it - all along, he intended to meet with Mr. D. - I was with him for much of the work, and there is no question in my mind as to whether or not he has earned the badge.
However, to cover his bases, I spoke with one of the ASMs in the troop about the situation (he has been involved in scouting for 40+ years and is very well respected in our troop and council). They said it’s not ideal to have a parent sign off on the blue card, but given Mr. D.'s situation and the pending court of awards, he told me to go ahead and sign off on it.
The Advancement Chair heard about this conversation and sought me out. He advised that there would likely never be an issue with me signing off on merit badges for my sons, unless they were Eagle required badges. He advised that I not sign off on the PF (or other Eagle badges), because it may be questioned down the line. I wasn’t sure who he thought would question it. I told him that I completely agreed with him and thought that my boys should all work with counselors other than myself when possible, but explained that my son had been waiting 6 weeks to get the badge signed off and the ASM told me to go ahead and sign it. The AC expressed that it would be different if I were working with a group of boys, but since I wasn’t (even though technically I did sign off another boy who did a lot of the work for the badge with my son) it might not be considered kosher.
Now I’m torn as to what to do. We only have a Court of Awards every 6 months, so I find it a bit unfair that my son would have to wait over 7 months after completing a merit badge to actually receive it (especially one that’s as time consuming and difficult as PF) - but I also do not want my signature to call into question the hard work and effort I know that he put in towards that badge.
So, my questions are… Is the AC’s concern warranted? Is there a risk down the line when my son goes for Eagle that his Personal Fitness MB be called into question if I am the one (as a registered MB counselor) that signed it off?
He’s only 13 now, but I don’t want him to be 17 and a half years old and find out that his PF MB doesn’t count and he doesn’t have time to redo the entire fitness plan for 3 months. I also don’t want his integrity to be questioned. But I know how much work he did this winter, and I feel he deserves to receive the award and wear it on his sash now.