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Scouting Forums

Who chooses the Merit Badge Counselor? Leader or Scout?

It is not about whether the MBC is qualified to teach the badge or not. This is in place for the safety of the scout and the MBC. A MBC that is not registered is not trained and tracked like a registered adult is. That puts the scout at risk and the adult at risk. Just because something has a been done a certain way does not make it the right way.


What do you do with a scout that starts a MB with a registered MBC, and then the MBC loses their MBC registration? Should the scout check scoutbook before each meeting and not go if they aren’t still connected as the assigned MBC? Should we not give them credit for the not-actually-compliant MB? Per GtA (on positions of responsibility) if the scout thinks they are meeting the responsibilities it’s unfair to penalize them if leadership fails them. I’m not sure there is something in place to make sure scouts aren’t still working with de-listed MBCs. Is there a mechanism for the scout or parent with a blue card to check if the scout’s MBC is still on the registered MBC list for their badge? In scoutbook, under Advancement/(badge) it might be that they no longer have an assigned counselor, and you may pick it up using the Partial MB report.

I don’t know that there’s guidance based on whether or not they appear in Scoutbook, per se, but there is clear guidance at the end of of the Guide to Advancement on how to handle a scout who knowingly has someone who is not a registered counselor sign-off on their blue card. There is also clear guidance in as to how to handle the case of a scout who unintentionally works with someone who is not registered.

Perhaps a thorough read of the current Guide to Advancement would clarify for these leaders what does and doesn’t need to be done in this area? A lot of the questions you’re raising are covered in there.


@DavidForrest - you were provided a way of finding MBC outside of scoutbook. I also noted that you need not use scoutbook for the purposes of merit badge counselors or that practice. I would suggest that you work your process as you have previously. I can say for my troop that most scouts have not used scoutbook for this purpose


I agree. Many counselors that we work with don’t counsel many badges and don’t work at the unit level. So, forcing Scoutbook on them may not be the best.

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The Guide to Advancement explains how to handle a case where a Scout believes the person they are working with is an MBC. Since registrations only end once per year, having an MBC drop should not be a big problem.


I can assure you that when I was a scout having to work with granite tablets was a huge problem and thankfully the phoenician people decided that clay tablets could work


I have completed 15… Oy! 10… 10! requirements!



Yes, the GtA sections on Merit Badges help.

I think this is the key part in the GtA about what we’re doing wrong–Section

In cases where it is discovered that unregistered or
unapproved individuals are signing off merit badges, this
should be reported to the council or district advancement
committee so they have the opportunity to follow up. But it
is also the responsibility of unit leaders to help Scouts
understand that only registered and approved counselors
are to be used.

To use Scoutbook to cover the “should” and “help scouts understand…”, I can see two process changes for our troop: I think our AC should run a Troop Reports/Incomplete Merit Badge Report periodically and ask the SM negotiate with scouts to reassign MBCs for badges that don’t have counselors. I think this could help ensure we have visibility of which scout is working with which council-registered and approved MBCs and helps close the loop on de-registered or de-approved MBCs. The report also gives visibility on what MBC coverage the troop might need to work on. Second, when copying blue cards into Scoutbook, the AC should attempt to connect the blue card’s MBC to the scout in scoutbook so we can check registered and approved status for YPT and trained followup with council.



I am happy that we were able to help you find resolution to your issue.


I had something similar happen with a Scout working on a Supernova with a person who was not qualified to be a Supernova Mentor. I linked him up with a Supernova Mentor who was Council approved. The Mentor then went back throught the requirements to make sure he did them correctly.
For a few of the requirements the Mentor had to explain to the Scout that the work needed to be done a bit differently. Once the Scout understood the problem he was ok with doing the work correctly. Most kids want to do the right thing.
The process was helped by the Mentor being very good at what he does.


Our council has been tight on finance and staffing, and many of our merit badge counselors have had a hard time getting the paperwork updated properly. One counselor reported sending in their paperwork 14 times already, and they are currently listed as having no MBs approved. On my part, the MBCI renewal/add forms I turned in in March were finally completed this week. We are hoping the renewal process for 2022 will work more smoothly.

Both the scouts and the MBCs want to do the right thing. As AC, I’d like to do the right thing as well, too know where things are falling through the cracks, and how to help the unit leader keep tabs on who’s working with whom.

The Incomplete Merit Badge Report looks like a good tool to help with that.

The advancement committee needs to help. Our registrar only does the registration of the MBC. The rest of the vetting of skills and tracking of what MB’s the counsel are done by volunteers.

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I’m having that problem too. Parents marking off completed items from a merit badge that I’m not aware that scout has started and no counselor attached. I get a huge list of “needs approval” that i don’t know what to do with

Some parent training would help – I’ve found that once parents understand the MB process, this happens much less frequently.


@KathyKnight Scouts / parents should be allowed to track stuff in Scoutbook. Even though Scouts may benefit from reviewing requirements with a MBC before starting work on a merit badge, a Scout may begin the effort on any badge at any time after registering in Scouts BSA. It is the MBC’s decision whether to accept work or activities completed prior to any meeting with the unit leader or the merit badge counselor. (BSA Guide to Advancement section The Scout, the Unit Leader, and the Merit Badge Counselor)

A blue card is not needed until a Scout is ready to meet with a merit badge counselor (and after meeting with the unit leader or assistant unit leader). I mostly ignore these on the Needs Approval Report until the end of the process and I get a completed and signed blue card back from the MBC (virtual or paper copy).

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It would be nice if they would segregate the MB requirements from the rest of the needs approved items if this is the intended mechanic. It would make it a lot easier for the unit leaders that are approving items.

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@JohnGeiser - it actually does… just checked a scout and the need approval starts with merit badges, then merit badge requirements, then awards then rank.

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It does if you report by scout. However, the unit-wide or patrol-wide reports don’t segregate “Scout A - Awards” “Scout A - Rank advancement” and “Scout A - Merit Badges”.

I agree that having the MB requirements mixed in with other things can make it challenging sometimes to avoid unintentionally approving something that’s not yet approved by a counselor (or at least for which the scouts hasn’t yet submitted a signed partial or complete blue card). It has caused some heartburn for me in the past when I missed something in the report due to reading the list too quickly.

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One thing that has helped this somewhat for our unit is having a couple adult leaders at every meeting with Scoutbook up and running to catch updates as they happen. It’s not perfect, but reminding the kids to stop and talk to the AC after getting a requirement signed off makes the Needs Approval list more manageable.