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Who chooses the Merit Badge Counselor? Leader or Scout?

In the past, per the instructions on the blue card, our troop would have the scoutmaster sign the blue card, and provide a list of MBCs with contact info from a local list maintained by the Advancement Chair, and the scout was encouraged to choose, contact, and work with one of the counselors, complete the blue card, and return the finished card.

The blue card shown in the 2021 Guide to Advancement ( https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf ) on page 40 looks just like what we’ve used, and certifies “I have discussed this merit badge with this scout and have recommended at least one merit badge counselor. – Signature of Unit Leader”

With Scoutbook, and council vetting and control of MBCs, it isn’t clear how to provide the list of counselors to the scout. Scoutbook’s MB Counselor list doesn’t seem to have a way (other than by screenshots) of providing a list of counselors and their contact info, or to trim the returned list down to a small set of recommendations.

How is the process supposed to work with Scoutbook?

As Advancement Chair, in Scoutbook I can run the MB Counselor list and get a list of MBCs for a badge sorted by distance. And I can also go to the scout/Advancement/Add badge/Invite counselor and it produces a list of the scout’s connections, unfiltered by badge or distance. What’s a Scoutbook user supposed to do?

Also, the Scoutbook “MB Counselor List” doesn’t appear to be searchable by many of the troop’s adults. Is the MBC list visible to only Troop Admins?

its a collaboration by both the scout and the leader. The scout should go to the scoutmaster and say " i want to take x badge" where the scoutmaster should have a list of counselors. What I usually do is give the scout a few names of couselors that I know from around the district that I know that teach that badge and i belive will work well with that scout. The reason I give a few names is just in case the MBC isn;t available to teach.

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When a Scout needs a MBC, I use the Merit Badge Counselor Search function in Scoutbook then have the Scout either write down the names and contact information for several or, if I’m on my phone, I screen shot them and send them to the Scout and her parents.

If the Scout already knows of an MBC for the badge, she is free to select that MBC. If she needs help getting contact information, I will certainly help her get it.

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The process has not changed, at least from the way it’s nominally supposed to work, as a result of the “migration” of MBC lists into Scoutbook. The requirements are basically the same, which is that the unit leader (i.e. scoutmaster or their designee) meets with the scout, discusses the merit badge they want to start/contact a counselor about, then provides one or more names to the scout. Generally, I ask if the scout already has a merit badge counselor they want to work with (e.g. someone they have worked with before or from a merit badge weekend), then dig up a couple of names with contact information. The scout should have something to write the info down with (not on the blue card), then it’s up to the scout to contact the MBC to coordinate with the MBC. I remind them that they need to comply with no one-on-one contact (i.e. have a parent around on the phone or cc them on any emails) with the counselor. I also let them know that if they don’t hear anything back from the counselor in a reasonable period of time, to come back to me and we’ll either try hitting up the counselor together, or I can provide other alternatives.

I haven’t had a problem with that. As far as I know, the SM and all of the ASMs can search the list. I don’t know if all of the committee members can, but that’s not necessarily what I understand the intent to be.

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So you give the scout a choice from a selection of a few names.

A big problem with Scoutbook is the “have a list of counselors” part – Our scoutmaster defers to me as AC to give the list, and at a meeting the best I can do is screenshots out of Scoutbook MBC List, which at one contact per screen is terrible on a phone.

The usage I’m used to is sort of “inviting a select few MBCs” and letting the scout choose one and work through the blue card. In Scoutbook it appears there is only one official “invite”, and someone other than the scout makes that contact and that choice.

SM and ASMs sound reasonable – We haven’t used ASMs for blue card leaders, and heaped it on the SM, with the SM pointing at the troop’s old excel spreadsheet of MBC contact info by badge. Prior Admins used to make the ASM an Admin so they could do needful stuff in scoutbook. Opening blue card writing to our ASMs would help distribute the work better.

David,

After the Scout tells me which MBC they are going to work with, I connect the MBC to the Scout in Scoutbook.

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like i mentioned in my first post I give them 2 or 3 names just in case the first 1 or 2 cant help them out. I tell the scout to send the prospective MBC an email with me ccd on the email and if the MBC starts helping them out ill assign them as their counselor.

That’s a good idea, @JeremyPenner. I’m going to add that to the “bag of tricks”. :grin:

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So after the scout selects the MBC, how does it circle back into Scoutbook?

Does the AC/SM/ASM add a new MB to the scout’s advancement page when the leader gives the approval? Does the chosen MBC initiate a Scoutbook invitation from their end? Does the scout/parent tell the AC/Troop Admin/SM/ASM to do the invite/connection as the MB is in process? Can a parent invite a MB connection?

When the Scout tells me they are going to start working on a MB, I add it to her profile and set the initial unit signature. I give the Scout the name and contact information of several MBCs and ask her to let me know which one she will work with. Once she tells me which MBC she is working with, I connect the MBC to the scout.

A parent that is not a leader can also add the MBC but cannot use the MB Counselor Search function.

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Also a Scout can start a MB on their own at any time and if they have a SB account, add it to their SB user.

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Are you a SM/ASM? Or is that AC work?

Is the connection a two step process of adding a connection and then searching for one of the existing connections with the proper MB and changing their permissions? Can one use the Scoutbook MB Counselor List to do this somehow?

I am the Scoutmaster.

If you have the Feature Assistant Extension for Chrome and Firefox installed there will be a Search & Invite button on the Scout’s MB page, otherwise, you must first search for the MBC, write down the name or e-mail address, go to the Scout’s connections page and manually add the connection.

If the Scout is already connected to the MBC for another reason, just edit that connection, turn on the MBC setting and select the MB.

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OK, at the MB Counselor List you could click on their email addresses and cc them together into an email for the scout & parent & give them all a heads up.

I’m the AC, and our SM/ASMs are happy to defer all the computer stuff to the AC & don’t know why we can’t just have a list of MBCs for them. I’m trying to figure out how I should be asking them to change.

If you have the Feature Assistant Extension for Chrome and Firefox installed there will be a Search & Invite button on the Scout’s MB page, otherwise, you must first search for the MBC, write down the name or e-mail address, go to the Scout’s connections page and manually add the connection.

That’s awkward on the phones we normally have at meetings.

If the Scout is already connected to the MBC for another reason, just edit that connection, turn on the MBC setting and select the MB.

Maybe for our more popular MBCs, it would be good to connect them to all our scouts and then scouts/parents could look through their connections for MBs.

They can get a list off of my.scouting. Roster>Reports>Council Merit Badge Listing

my.scouting.org Menu>Troop>Roster>Reports>Council Merit Badge Listing looks pretty helpful – You can filter by MB and get a CSV or PDF file. I might run a report and give it to our scribe to make accessible to our troop.

Per the Guide to Advancement, Scouts are not to be given direct access to the MBC list. The Scoutmaster or adult designee must hold on to the list and only provide a Scout with the names of a few MBCs for the MB the Scout is working on.

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That’s an excellent reason to not do it.

Scoutbook does seem to expose a partial list to the scouts through the scout’s Connections list.