Boy Scout Troop One is chartered to First Baptist Church, 1670 Shatto Avenue, Akron, OH 44313 (map)
in the Old Portage District of the Great Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America

All About Merit Badges

How Do Merit Badges Work?

The 3 Step Process
I have had a couple of questions on how merit badges work and I want take a moment to comment on that.  Any scout can take any merit badge regardless of rank by following the 3 steps below.

The Purpose of the Merit Badge Program
The purpose of the Merit Badge Program is that scouts get to meet adults in different careers rather than just hearing from the same old adults every week.  The merit badge program is not a troop program, it is a process of individual advancement and individual responsibility.  If you have a career or hobby that lines up with a merit badge, please contact the advancement chairman and volunteer.  You can find the full list of merit badges at meritbadge.com or on the TroopOneAkron's advancement page (click on MB requirements) ( http://trooponeakron.org/advancement.html).


Step 1:
There is a "blue card" that is the Application to Take a Merit Badge that the scout secures from the Scoutmaster or the Advancement Chairman.  The scout fills it out and takes it to the scoutmaster to get his signature.   The scoutmaster verifies that this is a good badge for the scout to take, that the MB counselor is listed on the card, and then signs the card.  At this point and not before the scout is "taking" the merit badge.  Before the date of this signature the counselor or the scoutmaster can refuse any requirement done.

I will not approve some badges for some scouts at some times, for example, the medicine MB is so difficult I would normally want someone in high school to attempt it, and especially if they were interested in a career in medicine. Others are so easy that brand new inexperienced scouts can benefit.

Step 2:
With the blue card in hand, the scout contacts the MB counselor to begin to work with that counselor.  The scout should have the latest requirements and buy or borrow the current merit badge book.  The scout an the counselor will work out a plan to do the requirements (no more and no less than the current requirements.  Scouts can find the requirements in the Boy Scout Requirement book they can buy at Council office or at scoutstuff.org ( click on the book to see the order page)
2008 Boy Scout Requirement Book

You can also buy individual merit badge books at council ( or by clicking here).

Important:
When a merit badge is presented in the troop meetings or at camp, that is all it is -- presented.  The scout must still get the blue card and talk to the counselor and finish all the requirements with that counselor.  Just being at the presentation is not enough. 

Step 3:
When the counselor believes the scout has completed all the requirements up to the scouts ability, he or she signs the blue card and the scout takes it back to the scoutmaster.  Also on the advancement page is "How to be a Merit Badge Counselor" and a training for counselors "Merit Badge Counseling."

The scoutmaster then will sign the card and thereby accept the completion (or refuse to sign and tell why).  Once accepted, the scoutmaster records the merit badge in the computer and turns the card over to the Advancement Chairman (the advancement chairman) who will get the badge and plan for its presentation to the scout by the SPL at the next Court of Honor.

I am sure you may have more questions.... I am always available to answer...

Merit Badge Primer Video

The Merit Badge Primer is a video that lets you know what to do to get started earning Merit Badges. It explains the method, and gives some tips on how to work on any Merit Badge. A good resource for younger Scouts and a great reference for older ones. This WAS embeded from the national website at BSA National Introduction to Merit Badges web page.


The Merit Badge Primer Video is missing from the national scouting webpage. If you find it, let us know.
More Questions & Answers:

What is the best resource I can get?
Answer: The Boy Scout Requirements 2011 book
2011 Requirement Book


Who gets to be a merit badge counselor?
Answer:  Any adult who has a special skill or knowledge from their work or hobby can be a counselor.

To let us know what your possible skills are to help with the troop and merit badges please print out this Troop Resource Survey ( http://old.scouting.org/forms/34437.pdf) and return to the advancement chairman.   Knowing your abilities leads to greater program planning as well. 

To sign up as a merit badge counselor you can fill out this form and bring it to the advancement chairman ( http://www.scouting.org/forms/34405.pdf ).

What does a blue card look like?
Here is what the blue card looks like ( http://www.meritbadge.com/files/bluecard.pdf).

Who are currently registered merit badge counselors?
This is available by contacting the scoutmaster or advancement chairman.  A printout of this list is on the advancement bulletin board and a link might be available through Yahoo Groups via the advancement page ( http://trooponeakron.org/advancement.html) .

Do the counselors have to be registered in Troop One?
All counselors have to be registered with the Great Trail Counsel, they may agree to work with youth from their troop or youth from any troop.  It is imperative that only registered counselors approved for that merit badge for that scout sign merit badge cards.

How can I buy the merit badge books?
The scout shop on Scout Main Street or during summer camp at the Summer Camp Trading Post (but with no guarantee that you can find what you need) and at scoutstuff.org at the link above.  Boys should read the merit badge book for each badge. 

Can a Tenderfoot Scout work on an Eagle Required merit badge?
All scouts regardless of age or rank may work on any merit badge.  The Scoutmaster will interview the scout seeking the blue card to determine interest, enthusiasm and preparedness.

My counselor says the requirements printed in the current merit badge book are wrong and wants me to do more or different requirements.  Is this allowed?
NO NO NO.  The rule is the counselor may ask the scout to do no more than the stated requirements and may accept no less than the stated requirements.  That is the scout does no more and no less.

Do merit badges have to be earned only at scout events?
No.  Scouts can earn merit badges anywhere and at anytime, under the guidance of their merit badge counselor.  Most counselors prefer to work with the scouts away from the noise and confusion of a meeting.  Camp outs are a good time, but not all merit badges can be earned that way, for example, Citizenship in the Community wants you to attend a school board meeting while Chemistry wants a visit to a chemistry lab.

Can parents vouch for their scouts that they have completed requirements?
Well yes and no.  Of course a parent can vouch for their scout that they have completed a requirement.  It is up to the counselor to accept or not the parents vouching, this should be made clear at the first meeting with the counselor.  Even if the parents vouch, the counselor has a right to have the boy demonstrate that they know the requirement.

I understand that last answer, but many times the scouts do things in school and sports and other activities that seem to qualify for the merit badge.  Can't this count for the scouts?
Absolutely.  So many things you do in "life" qualify you for individual requirements so read the requirements book and check off things you have done.  If you are in HS chemistry -- take the Chemistry merit badge.  If you are in band -- take the Music merit badge.  If your class visited the state or national capitol -- take Citizenship in the Nation.  If you help in the family garden -- take Gardening merit badge.  If you and your family backpack on your own -- take the Backpacking merit badge.  If you and your parents have traced back your ancestors -- take Genealogy merit badge.  If you have good grades or have recently brought your grades up -- take the Scholarship merit badge.  If you help out a lot around the house -- look at Home Repairs merit badge.  If you have an animal -- Dog Care or Pets merit badge.  If your parents make you paint a room -- take Painting merit badge.  If you are reading this on a computer -- take Computers merit badge.  If you are on an organized team -- take Sports merit badge.

Can my scout meet with a counselor alone?
No.  Scouts always use the buddy system and the scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a merit badge counselor.  That buddy can also be working on the badge or not.  If a scout isn't available as a buddy,  a parent or non-scouting friend or an other adult can be the buddy.  This protects both the counselor and the scout.  No one-on-one meetings in Scouts.

I was looking for a counselor in the lists and none is available, now what?
Ask your scoutmaster, he might know of someone.  Do you know of someone?

Maybe I could be a counselor, but I don't know if I am qualified?
Ask the advancement chairman

Can a parent be their son's merit badge counselor?
Sure, talk to the advancement chairman.

How can I be a counselor?
If you are 18 or over, go see the advancement chairman.  You might want to read the two entries on the advancement page as well.

How often should a scout earn a merit badge?
That is up to the scout, but if they earned only one at each court of honor they will have 21 when they turn 18.  If they add an additional 2 or 3 for each summer camp they will have over 35 merit badges, probably be an Eagle Scout and have the silver palm.  (Bronze palm for 5, Gold palm for 10, and Silver palm for 15 merit badges more than the 21 necessary for Eagle.)

Do I have the right merit badge requirements?
If you got them online, probably, but the only valid guide is the latest published merit badge requirements as published in the current years issue of Boy Scout Requirements.