…“I want to counsel ALL the MBs” I’d give him the side-eye. MBCs are supposed to have some expertise in the fields they’re counseling, not just try to stay a page ahead of the scouts."
I’d agree almost all the time, but in some situations, this may be more appropriate. When we lived in Italy, the next closest unit was about an hour and a half away. The District, rather than being a few counties, like here in Texas, was the entire country of Italy. That limited the Scouts’ ability to find merit badge counselors locally, like here in the USA.
I became a merit badge counselor for almost all merit badges. The key distinction was that I wasn’t going to be able to teach them all. I can’t teach a Scout to play a bugle, but I could definitely verify if the Scout met the requirements. I also had the resources to meet up with a local band director who might work with me if needed. My expertise wasn’t truly being an expert in bugling (or any other badge), but in helping the Scout find the resources to complete the requirements as written.
Swinging the pendulum to the far left, in California (did I mention far left?) the Council limited counselors to 12 merit badges. The District Merit Badge Counselor Coordinator had strict timelines for applying to be a counselor, then he would interview the applicant, then add them to the next quarterly MBC list. After hearing how he grilled an 18-year combat-experienced fighter test pilot for 30+ minutes to see if he was really qualified to counsel Aviation merit badge, a few of our interested MBCs said “forget it,” and never even applied.
Back to Italy: whenever a Scout opened a blue card with the parent as counselor, we got with the parent and asked if they’d counsel multiple Scouts at the same time. Sometimes telling “little Johnnie” that there’s a group working on a particular badge together is enough to get them going. It also encourages the MBC to counsel the group in a consistent manner.