What is the purpose and rationale for the scoutmaster to sign a completed blue card?
The first signature is to tell the Merit Badge Counselor that the Scoutmaster had a discussion with the Scout regarding the Merit Badge. The Scoutmaster cannot prevent a Scout from working on any Merit Badge the Scout chooses. The second signature is for the discussion the Scoutmaster had with the Scout after the badge is complete and serves as a receipt saying the unit has received the Blue Card.
I would also say that the second signature is not a board of review it is just saying hey I got the blue card and I will process it. Too many Scouters think it is a way to stop the MB Factory from happening.
From the Guide to Advancement
18.104.22.168 Once It Is Earned, It’s Earned
A Scout who has earned a merit badge from a registered and approved counselor by actually and personally fulfilling the requirements as written will have met the purpose of the merit badge program and the contribution to the aims of Scouting. The Scout may keep the badge and count it toward advancement. See “Personal Growth Is the Primary Goal,” 22.214.171.124. The same holds true if a Scout, without intent to violate national BSA procedures or policies, fulfills merit badge requirements with someone who is not registered and approved as a counselor. This could happen, for example, if a Scout, in good faith, contacts someone who has inadvertently been dropped from a unit or district charter or otherwise has an expired membership, but who remains on an approved list of counselors.
I’m confused to why you are asking the question. Are you aware of the process or do you just have an issue with the unit leader signing the Blue card? If you go by the rules, the unit leader should have a discussion with the Scout while considering a merit badge before starting one. Not to dissuade, but to have a quick review of what’s to be expected. If you have a new Scout that just crossed over wanting to take “Lifesaving” and clearly doesn’t have the physical ability to perform that merit badge, this is something to discuss. A Scoutmaster putting his or her name on that Blue Card is verifying that certain processes have been completed.
126.96.36.199 The Benefits of Merit Badges
There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur regularly. It all begins with a Scout’s initial interest and effort in a merit badge subject, followed by a discussion with the unit leader or designated assistant, continues through meetings with a counselor, and culminates in advancement and recognition. It is an uncomplicated process that gives a Scout the confidence achieved through overcoming obstacles. Social skills improve. Self-reliance develops. Examples are set and followed. And fields of study and interest are explored beyond the limits of the school classroom.
The Scoutmaster signs at the end to say yes the troop has received the blue card and we will report it. That is it. It is not a board of review, it is not so you can take it away,
RE: Guide to Advancement 188.8.131.52 Once It Is Earned, It’s Earned
Transferred in Scout provided me Blue Card for First Aid completed 10 months ago at Merit Badge Fair. Not signed by old SM, but signed by Counselor at MB Fair. Contacted counselor who remembers Scout and has his copy of blue card. Counselor says he was not completely satisfied with course because it was overcrowded and he could not provide individual attention to practice skills.
The Guide to Advancement states I must honor this blue card and award the Merit Badge. However, Scout has not passed off his First Class First Aid per his handbook. Do I just sign off his First Class requirement? The first requirement for the Merit Badge states “Demonstrate to your counselor that you have current knowledge of all first-aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.”
What do I do? How can I question this Scout’s First Aid abilities without questioning his earning of the First Aid Merit Badge? How can I justify signing off his First Class First Aid requirement? How do I bring his First Aid knowledge up to an acceptable level?
@SteveKenzer Even though the requirements are the same, you are not required to accept the First Aid merit badge as proof that the Scout has learned the skills, because Scoutmasters decide who is authorized to test and sign off on rank requirements. So it is at the Scoutmaster’s (or Scoutmaster’s designee’s) discretion whether to accept it or not.
Also, section 184.108.40.206 Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity says:
Where matching requirements are oriented toward safety, such as those related to first aid or CPR, the person signing off the requirements should be satisfied the Scout remembers what was learned from the previous experience.
Another option you have is to ensure that opportunities are made available to the Scout to practice or teach the skills. This can be done in a way that does not single him out.
If a unit leader believes a Scout has not learned the subject matter for a requirement that has been signed off, he or she should see that opportunities are made available for the Scout to practice or teach the requirement. Thus the Scout may complete their learning and further develop the related skills.
As a First Aid MB counselor and ASM, I treat the MB demonstration and the rank demonstration as two different requirements.
Just because a scout has previously demonstrated the skills to the satisfaction of the designated examiner for rank, doesn’t necessarily mean that the scout still recalls them now that he or she is working on First Aid MB. On the flip side, just because a scout demonstrated the relevant skills to me for First Aid MB doesn’t mean that their SM/designee is obliged to sign off the rank requirement. If one of the scouts in my unit demonstrated the skills to me, and said at that time “I need to get this signed off for both rank and First Aid MB,” I wouldn’t make them do it twice in a row. If they came to me a significant amount of time later, though, I would make them demonstrate the skills again for whichever one they were asking to have signed now.
I recognize that could be seen as being in conflict with the G2A (i.e. not counting something that the scout has already done), but I see this particular skill set as important enough to err on the side of verifying skills, in keeping with the section of the G2A that @JenniferOlinger noted above.
It is to satisfy the craving of the so many who love to place controls and/or need stuff to do.
Honestly, I tell the scouts that it’s so that they can tell us “Nope, I definitely gave it to you. That’s your name right there…”
This is Exactly right!
Unless mandated by your council, the blue card only needs a unit leaders signature. Here is a great read on the whole topic.
I’m a little bit confused by this statement, @DavidProvenzano. From the link you posted:
This is consistent with my understanding from the Guide to Advancement: merit badges can only be approved by a merit badge counselor who is registered and approved for that particular merit badge. Scoutmasters and other leaders may not approve merit badges, unless they are also registered as a merit badge counselor for that particular merit badge.
Maybe I misunderstood what you meant?
I also use the second signature requirement as a time to review the Merit Badge Counselor’s performance with the Scout.
- “Jimmy, did the counselor have you complete all the requirements as stated?” If “No”, then I need to have a discussion with the MBC, and find a way to encourage the Scout to complete the actual requirements. This is my biggest challenge with MB’s as a SM, especially those from Summer Camp. This process usually ends up with me filing a report https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-800_WB.pdf
Yes, it is extra work…But this process does not get fixed unless YOU fix it! There are, unfortunately, secondary negative consequences to going this route…
“Jimmy, did the counselor require you to do more work than was stated in the requirements?” If “Yes”, see above. This is rarely the case.
“Jimmy, if you were the Scoutmaster, would you recommend this counselor to other Scouts?” You will sometimes be quite surprised at the discussion you get here…
“Jimmy, what did you enjoy least/most about this merit badge?” Learn more about the Scout’s interests. Use this to enter into a discussion about what the Scout will do next. Rank requirements, merit badge, or some award…
Time permitting, throw in a few more of your favorite discussion items and sign this off as a Scoutmaster Conference!