What is the purpose of merit badge program? From MacScouter Merit Badge Counselor Orientation:
The merit badge program is one of Scouting's basic character-developing tools. Earning merit badges gives a boy the kind of self-confidence that comes only from overcoming difficult obstacles to achieve a goal. Through the merit badge program, a boy is introduced to skills which may help him choose his adult vocation. Use Spielberg or other examples—Scouting introduced Spielberg to movie making, look where he took this. Other merit badges help a boy develop physical fitness, or discover "outside" interests and hobbies, encourage citizenship and generally become a more well-rounded person. Many youths are uncomfortable dealing with adults they are not familiar with. Working on a merit badge with an adult should provide a super environment to help youth overcome this discomfort. It can be a excellent opportunity to help the youth build confidence.
The following are the Troop 23 guidelines on how to work on Merit badges.
- The Scout should discuss with other Scouts and then with the Scoutmaster if the merit badge is appropriate. If the Scoutmaster approves, the Scout asks the Advancement Chair for a Blue Card.
- The Scout completes the basic information on the Blue Card as directed by the Advancement Chair. The Advancement Chair suggests a Merit Badge Counselor or Counselors to the Scout. Merit Badge Counselors may come from within the Troop or outside the Troop. They must be a registered merit badge counselor or organization approved to provide merit badge training.
- The Scout asks the Scoutmaster to sign the blue card.
- After the Scoutmaster signs the card, he returns it to the Scout.
- It is the responsibility of the Scout to obtain the Merit Badge booklet. The merit badge booklet provides not only a list of up-to-date requirements but also the information needed to complete the merit badge. The Troop maintains a library of some merit badge booklets. Contact the Troop's Librarian about availability of a particular merit badge booklet. If another scout has the Troop's merit badge booklet, the second scout may have to buy himself a merit badge booklet.
- The Scout contacts the Merit Badge Counselor, arranging a date and time for the initial meeting. Scouts should not begin working on the badge requirements before meeting with the assigned Counselor. Any work done on a merit badge prior to meeting the Merit Badge Counselor cannot be used by the Scout.
- A merit badge counselor should not begin working on any merit badge with a scout unless he has a blue card signed and dated by the scout's Scoutmaster.
- With a buddy or a parent, the Scout meets with the Counselor to discuss the merit badge requirements. The Scout brings his merit badge booklet to every meeting with the counselor. At the meeting, the Merit Badge Counselor and Scout make the necessary arrangements for completing the merit badge requirements.
- Once the Scout completes all the requirements to the satisfaction of the Merit Badge Counselor, he or she signs off and dates the card. He or she takes the Counselor section of the Blue Card and the Scout takes the other two parts to the Scoutmaster who signs the card.
- Once signed, the Scout gives the 2-part merit badge card to the Advancement Chair. The Advancement Chair completes the Troop 23 records and is responsible for transmitting the information to Flag Plaza. The Advancement Chair picks up all the merit badges and prepares them for distribution at a regular meeting or at a Court of Honor. Scouts should be in uniform to receive a merit badge or rank advancement. The Advancement Chair returns the Scout portion of the Blue Card to the Scout along with the merit badge.
Blue cards are important and should be stored in a safe place. They are the Scout’s record of completing the merit badge. It is suggested that from the first day in Troop 23, a scout invest in a three-ring binder to keep blue cards and other Scout related items in one place.
The procedures for Summer Camp merit badges are similar to the one described above.
- Scouts should select the merit badges they would like to work on during Summer Camp.
- At a regular meeting, Scouts complete Blue Cards and give them to the Scoutmaster to approve or not approve.
- They keep the Blue Cards until they arrive at Summer Camp. (If the Scout does not have the Blue Card he cannot take the merit badge.)
- The Scouts give the Blue Card to the Counselor in the designated area on the first day of classes.
- The Counselor keeps track of completed requirements. Scouts should also keep a record for themselves.
- The counselor returns all Blue Cards to the Scoutmaster at the end of the week.
- The Scoutmaster must approve merit badges as being completed. Incomplete or partials should be completed by the Scout during the following year. For more information regarding partials, see below.
- If the Scoutmaster agrees the Scout completed the requirements, he signs the cards and gives them to the Advancement Chair to process.
- In addition to age and rank requirements, the Troop may have restrictions regarding Scouts taking certain Merit Badges at summer camp. The Scoutmaster has the final say if a merit badge can or cannot be taken at summer camp.
The Troop celebrates the Scout’s Summer Camp achievements at the Fall Court of Honor.
Partials are merit badges that are not completed
- Scouts are encouraged to finish merit badges in a reasonable amount of time. If the requirements change before a Scout completes a merit badge, the Scout may choose to complete the requirements he started or to complete the requirements for the new merit badge.
- If a Scout changes merit badge counselors, the second merit badge counselor reviews the completed requirements to satisfy himself that the Scout has indeed completed the project or learned the material.