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Merit Badge Counseling Process

So you've decided to complete a merit badge? That's great!! The merit badge program is one of Scouting's important development tools. Earning merit badges gives you the kind of self-confidence that comes only from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal.

Through the merit badge program, you may learn career skills that could help you choose their lifework. (Steven Spielberg, for example, was first introduced to film making via the Cinematography merit badge.) Some merit badges may also develop physical fitness or provide hobbies that give a lifetime of enjoyment.

Working with a merit badge counselor gives you contact with an adult with whom you might not be acquainted. This is a valuable experience. Many Scouts are shy and fearful in this new situation. This is something that you will have to do for years to come. Counselors understand this anxiety, and will ensure that the counseling session is relaxed, informal, and friendly.

Although at times two Scouts will be working as buddies on the same merit badge. Each Scout will complete the work on his own, and will be judged on his own performance of the requirements. This ensures that each Scout will receive the maximum benefit from the knowledge, skill, character, and personal interest of the counselor.

Here are a few pieces of information that will help you make the merit badge process go smoothly.

Process

Having never done this before, you need to know how to go about applying for and completing a merit badge.

There are four basic approaches that you will use throughout your scouting career for completing your merit badge work:

  1. Individual completion with a Council Merit Badge Counselor
  2. Individual or group completion at summer camp with a Camp Merit Badge Counselor
  3. Group completion at a Merit Badge Clinic with a Clinic Merit Badge Counselor
  4. As part of Troop / Patrol Meetings with a unit Merit Badge Counselor.

Regardless of the approach you are planning to follow for this merit badge, each approach follows approximately the same steps:

  1. You obtain a signed Application for Merit Badge (Blue Card) and the name of the appropriate merit badge counselor from your Scoutmaster.
  2. You set up your first appointment with the counselor. At this first meeting (with a buddy - see below), the counselor should explain what is expected to meet the requirements.
  3. Once you know what is expected, you start to learn and do the things required. The counselor will help you learn the things you need to know or do, and/or make the appropriate resource material available.
  4. When you are ready, you should call the counselor again and make an appointment for you and your buddy to meet with the counselor and begin to meet the requirements.
  5. You should take along the things you have made to meet the requirements. The counselor will ask you to do each requirement to make sure you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.
  6. When the counselor is satisfied that the requirements have been met, he or she will sign the Application for Merit Badge, keeping the third section and returning the first two sections to you.
  7. You then turn in both sections of the Application for Merit Badge to your Scoutmaster so the merit badge can be secured.
  8. When the counselor approves the Scout's application, the Scoutmaster submits it to the council service center and obtains the badge.
  9. As with rank awards, you should be awarded the merit badge at the next troop meeting, and later at the next Court of Honor.

Any registered Scout, regardless of rank, may work on any merit badge and receive the award when he earns it.

Scout Buddy System

A Scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a merit badge counselor. A Scout's buddy could be another Scout, or be a parent or guardian, brother or sister, relative or friend.

Whenever meeting with your merit badge counselor, please make sure that your buddy is in attendance.

Who Are Counselors?

A Scout earns a merit badge by working with a council/district-approved and registered adult counselor, an expert in the chosen subject, who is on the list provided to his troop from the district.

Most Merit Badge Counselors are the parent of current or former Scouts who are sharing their life's experience with Scouts outside of their units.

All Merit Badge Counselors are carefully screened through the Boy Scout Adult Leader application process, and trained on the process of and requirements for coaching merit badge skills.

What Happens if I Start But Don't Finish a Merit Badge at Summer Camp or a Merit Badge Clinic?

This is not a problem. The Application for Merit Badge has places to sign off each requirement. In this happens, you will partially complete the requirements for the merit badge. The counselor will provide you with the partially signed "blue card" at the end of the camp or clinic. You will make arrangements to meet with another Merit Badge Counselor (as described above) and provide the partially signed "blue card" to your next merit badge counselor.  The Merit Badge Counselor will pick up where you left off. You do not have to start over - UNLESS YOU LOSE YOUR "BLUE CARD". Be sure to keep careful track of partially signed off "blue cards".