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Merit Badge Counselor Orientation The Path to a Quality Program in Scouting Lies in Training our Adult Leaders This Orientation is meant to be read on-screen by an individual. For a group presentation, see District Advancement Chair.
127 Merit Badges. . . Art, Hiking, Archery, Lifesaving, Citizenship in the World, Orienteering, Architecture, Cooking, Small-Boat Sailing, Public Speaking, Robotics, Camping, Theater, Personal Management, Weather, Pets, Pioneering, Family Life, Chess, Nature, Inventing…. . .
Objectives of this Orientation* 1. The BSA Advancement Program ü Aims & Methods. . . 4 -Step Advancement Method 2. The Role of the Merit Badge Counselor ü Who May Counsel ü Coaching and Mentoring 3. Before Beginning to Counsel ü Qualifications. . . Youth Protection. . . Applications. . . Planning It Out. . . Group Counseling 4. The Process ü The Role of. . . Scoutmaster. . . Counselor ü Completing the Merit Badge Card ü “Partial” Merit Badges ü Do’s & Don’ts 5. Troubleshooting 6. Considerations for Special Needs Scouts 7. Unit “To Do’s” * Written for Troops. Venturers and Varsity Scouts who obtained First Class rank in a Troop may also earn Ranks and Merit Badges until they turn 18.
1 The BSA Advancement Program 1 a. The Purpose of the Program The BSA’s Merit Badge program is unique. It’s hands-on educational style uses the EDGE method: Explain – Demonstrate – Guide – Enable Merit Badge Counselors act as Coaches and Mentors. They engage boys who tackle new subjects. Each topic creates new experiences. . . Which help Scouts grow into adults and citizens of good character.
1 The BSA Advancement Program 1 b. The Aims of Scouting offers boys an environment in which they feel secure both physically and emotionally. That sense of security comes partially from competent, trained Adult Leaders. The goal of the BSA is to help boys develop into honorable adults. Scouts have many opportunities to learn about leadership, the outdoors, life. As they progress through the ranks, skills are learned by doing, and by teaching others. Ø Growth in moral strength and character: Confident but not conceited; Good in an emergency; Does his best, even when no one is looking. Ø Learns how and why it’s important to participate as a citizen in America : Pride in heritage; Does regular community service; Respects other cultures; Appreciates the environment and seeks to protect it. Ø “Fitness” growth and development: physical, mental, and moral; Physically fit; Follows good health habits; Strives to be mentally alert; Has good judgment; Learns to be a resourceful problem solving.
1 The BSA Advancement Program 1 c. The Methods of Scouting (The processes that help boys grow into adulthood and leadership) Ø Advancement: Growth into self-reliance; meets challenges Ø Ideals: Words to Live by: Oath - Law - Motto - Slogan Ø Patrols: A small Peer Group with elected leaders, the first experience of a working team. Ø The Outdoors: The Core of Scouting; FUN with a purpose! Ø Adult Association: Boys learn best from watching those around them. An adult who is truly willing to listen will be a great role model. Ø Personal Growth: Daily ‘Good Turn; ’ Channel their energy in productive ways; Unit Service projects; Learns religious values Ø Leadership Development: Practice good citizenship skills; Hold elected positions; Do an Eagle Scout Service Project Ø The Uniform: Helps Scouts identify with the larger group
1 The BSA Advancement Program 1 d. 4 -Steps to Advancement Learning Scouts learn by doing, and, teaching others what they have learned. This slowly but surely helps them develop leadership. Testing The Scout’s skills may be tested by any designated adult or older youth in the Unit. J Merit Badge Counselors test about their topic to see if the Scout has mastered the skills. Reviewing After watching Scouts master the skills necessary for Rank, the Unit will hold a Board of Review for the Scout. J Merit Badge Counselors sign Blue Cards to indicate that Scouts know the topic. Recognition Rank Advancement should be recognized as soon as it is accomplished, and then again at the next Court of Honor (COH). J Merit Badges should be awarded at the next meeting after being earned, and announced again at the quarterly COH. * The colorful badge is a source of pride, but should not be regarded only as a reward. It’s presence on a Scout’s sash tells leaders and other adults that this Scout should be able to demonstrate the knowledge he has learned in the course of completing the badge. This is especially important for the Eagle-Required badges such as First Aid. Many a Scout and former Scout have used the skills they learned during Rank Advancement and Merit Badges to help save lives.
2 The Role of the Merit Badge Counselor 2 a. Counselors May Be…. . . Troop Leaders, former Scouts, Eagle Scouts, parents of scouts, grandparents, uncles, aunts, retirees. . . They may also be: Actors, members of the Armed Forces, artists, astronauts, business owners, CAD designers, career professionals, chefs, chessmasters, clergy, coaches, college professors, community leaders, conservationists, cooks, crafters, doctors, elected officials, engineers, environmentalists, farmers, field guides, fire fighters, fishing enthusiasts, gardeners, great speakers, historians, hobbyists, horse owners, hunters, IT professionals, landscapers, machinists, musicians, naturalists, nurses, Olympic athletes, pilots, sales people, J. H. and H. S. teachers, trades-people, transportation specialists, veterans, veterinarians. . . Any Adult 18 or over may be qualified to do a Merit Badge!!
2 The Role of the Merit Badge Counselor 2 b. Coaching & Mentoring… Ø Merit Badges challenge Scouts to meet and work with new people. The Scout may have picked your name on the list because you live close-by, not because he knows you. Meeting new people, or learning more about people they know from camping weekends helps boys learn to communicate well, a skill they will use all their lives. Ø While working on a badge with a scout, you may experience some great teaching moments; quietly show that while knowledge is necessary, whether he can put what he is learning to work is more important. As you work together, you may be able to give career guidance. Ø Show Scouts how to have fun with the material (the best way to learn!) Ø Merit Badges serve as an exploration into new experiences. Your time together may show the Scout whether or not he has the interest or ability along those lines. Who knows, it may spark life-long interests! Ø Challenge the Scout not to stop learning about the topic when the badge requirements are complete. If they keep on challenging themselves and growing; who knows where ambition will lead them.
2 The Role of the Merit Badge Counselor 2 c. A Little Test A Merit Badge Counselor (MBC) may Counsel only 4 Merit Badges T F A Merit Badge Counselor (MBC) may Counsel only 6 Merit Badges T F An MBC may not coach son/relative unless part of a group of scouts working on same badge T F A Scout may earn no more than 6 badges from the same MBC T F A Scout must complete all requirements for a badge within 12 months, or start over T F There is training for Merit Badge Counselors T F A Unit’s Board of Review may examine a Scout on any part of a completed Merit Badge T F All MBC’s must be registered as “Merit Badge Counselor” with the BSA T F A Scoutmaster or Asst. Scoutmaster who also serves as an MBC does not need to register separately as a Merit Badge Counselor T F A Unit Bd of Review may approve the awarding of a Merit Badge in lieu of an approved MBC T F An MBC may take the Scout beyond the specific requirements of the badge so he may discover more about the subject and continue the learning process T F If weather, locale, or some other condition makes meeting all of the requirements of the badge impractical, the MBC may substitute requirements T F Merit Badge Counselors must be at least 21 years old T F Units may decide which Eagle Req’d Merit Badge a Special Needs Scout may do in lieu of one he cannot accomplish due to his disability T F Find the answers to this little test at the end of this training program.
3 Before Beginning to Counsel 3 a. Are You Qualified? Ø Counselors must be 18, and registered with the BSA (code #42). Ø Counselors must be approved by both District and Council before they begin. [allow 3 -4 weeks for processing applications and completing the background check] Ø It’s a good idea to have an interest in working with youth! Ø Have interest, skills, and/or formal education in the subject-matter. Ø For Canoeing, Climbing, Lifesaving, Rifle Shooting, Rowing, SCUBA, Shotgun Shooting, Snow Sports, Swimming, and Whitewater, Counselors must be certified/trained for the safety requirements of the badge. [See the MB Booklet or BSA Requirement Book (BSA #33215) for more information. ] Ø There is no restriction on the number of Badges you may sign up to Counsel* Ø There is no limit on the number of Badges that may be earned from one Counselor* Ø Counselors may counsel any Scout, including sons and relatives [best done in a group setting] Ø Scouts may do Badges anywhere in the U. S. A. [Ex: Jamborees, summer camps. . . ] * Units may impose a small number of restrictions in their Policy Manuals but the BSA sets none
3 Before Beginning to Counsel 3 b. Are You Current? For new Counselors and adding new Badges: Ø BSA Adult Application (BSA #524 -501) Your position code is “ 42. ” Please remember to sign the back of the 2 nd page, which allows for a background check. ü Merit Badge Counselor Application (BSA #34405) ü Both forms are online at www. northernstarbsa. org > Resources Before You apply to Counsel: Ø Complete the BSA “Youth Protection” training, or update your certificate every two years. * This applies to EVERYONE, even those not registered with a Unit. Print Certificate, keep a copy. Send a copy when submitting the applications. Ø Give/send forms to District Advancement. Contact info is on Website. Ø Follow BSA Policies when working with Scouts Ø Forms should be signed by District Advancement Chair. Ø Registration is currently renewed every 4 th year: Next in 2013 Ø There is no fee. Ø Please notify District Advancement when you ‘retire’ from Counseling No Unit Leader or Chartered Org. Rep. needs to sign. * Online training available at www. northernstarbsa. org/training/
3 Before Beginning to Counsel 3 c. Are You Ready? After you have filled out the Applications and been approved by the Council, what then? ! What is the Scout Motto? Be Prepared, of course! Ø Refer to a recent “Boy Scout Requirements” booklet (BSA #33215). It is updated every year and is more accurate than Merit Badge Booklets. * Ø Badge requirements are found in the front of Merit Badge Booklets. These are available for purchase at area Scout Shops, by going online to www. scoutstuff. org, or by calling 1 -800 -323 -0732. It’s a good idea to keep a “library” of booklets for the badges you Counsel. (Booklets older than © 2000 should not be used. ) Decide which of the Requirements listed in the front of the Booklet would be best to prepare for. [Ex, Oceanography 8 b cannot be done inland, but 8 a or 8 c may. ] Prepare your project ideas, gather the necessary materials and references, search out and plan for off-site events and field trips as appropriate to the badge. * If the requirements have recently changed for a badge in progress, the Scout may decide to use the former requirements, depending on how much of the work he has already completed.
3 Before Beginning to Counsel 3 d. Buddies and Groups As a Merit Badge Counselor, you may be asked to work with one Scout at a time, or with a whole Patrol, or even at a large group event. Ø It is important to give each Scout individual attention. Ø The Counselor must test each Scout to make sure he knows the subject matter before signing the Merit Badge Card. The Buddy System Counselors must never meet alone with Scouts. The Scout should bring other Scouts, a parent, guardian, other relative, or a friend. Group Counseling [Meetings, Weekend Camp-outs, Summer Camp, High Adventure Trips, Jamborees, Camporees, Merit Badge Days, Walligaloo, Skills Seminars. . . ] Working in groups allows for use of specialized facilities: Ø To work on appropriate equipment Ø To tour businesses specializing in the subject matter Ø To meet with expert personnel Ø To give Scouts in rural areas access to Counselors and Badges
3 Before Beginning to Counsel 3 e. A Counselor’s “Helps” Worksheets Optional. Some Scouts think they are too much like school. Others love them. They do help with understanding and organization. If your Badge could benefit from a Worksheet, make one up yourself (include only well-researched info, Scouts will catch inaccurate statements. . . ), or, ask Scouts to use one seen below. Two examples: ü www. meritbadge. org Semi-official. Check out the ‘Resources’ section at the end of each worksheet; it is worth the paper you’ve printed it on! ü “Passports” are available at http: // www. relia. net/~thedane. scouting. html Smaller; perhaps better for younger Scouts, and non-required badges. Other Ø BSA Merit Badge Booklets: Check out the “Resources” section! Ø Library Reference Section, Textbooks, How-to Books & Magazines, Newspapers, Used Bookstores Ø Online (check for accuracy before giving out URL’s) Ø Dictionaries, Atlases s, her good resource If you know of ot re can add them he contact us so we please
4 The Process 4 a. The Process Begins Ø The Scout selects a Merit Badge topic, tells his Scoutmaster Ø The Scoutmaster gives the Scout a blue “Application for Merit Badge” card (BSA #34124). The Scoutmaster may treat this opportunity somewhat like an SM Conference, talk about the Scout’s interests, set goals, etc. Ø Scout fills in info on both sides of card (1) Ø Scoutmaster signs front of Card (2) ü Provides info on Counselors from District Merit Badge List, or directs Scout to a Counselor in the Unit ü Asks Scout to wear his uniform and take a buddy when he meets with his Counselor 1 2 1 1 Ø Scout studies the Merit Badge Booklet* and other resources to familiarize himself with the subject matter * Booklets may be borrowed from the Unit Library, the Counselor, or be purchased from the Scout Shop or online. 1
4 The Process 4 b. The First Meeting. . . The Scout should make first contact to discuss doing a Merit Badge. Plan a meeting at a local restaurant, a park, or at the Unit’s next meeting. Counselors never meet alone with Scouts. The Scout should bring other Scouts, a parent, guardian, another relative, or a friend. The Counselor encourages the Scout to bring: ü A signed blue Merit Badge Card ü Merit Badge Booklet ü Projects in progress, school projects for Show n’ Tell, ideas for which requirements he wants to work on, etc. At the first Meeting Introduce yourself to help put the Scout at ease. Boys text friends many times a day, but it’s not easy to talk with an adult, even if you’ve been camping with the Unit. . . Tell why you like this Badge. Show genuine interest and enthusiasm for your subject! Show the Scouts something special about your topic. [Ex: Special coin for Coin Collecting, great knot for Pioneering or Fishing, older Boy Scout Handbook or patch for Scouting Heritage. ]
4 The Process 4 c. The First Meeting (con’t) Interview the Scout to determine: Ø Preparedness: Does he have a “Blue Card” filled out, and signed by his Scoutmaster? [Counselor should keep the blue card while working on the badge. ] Ø Discuss the requirements: What does the Scout already know about the subject? [may need coaching to better understand the subject. ] Ø Has he studied the Merit Badge Booklet? Ø Has he been researching possible projects? Ø The Scout and the Counselor decide which requirements the Scout will do, plus, discuss projects and goals for completion. Set the Next Meeting Date The Scout works on own or with other Scouts; with help from his Counselor. This may require several meetings, work days, field trips, etc.
4 The Process 4 d. Working on the Badge Ø Counselors should teach required skills; use guided practice on skills as the Scouts learn Ø Encourage Scouts to show others their new skills Ø If a requirement asks the Scout to “show or demonstrate, ” then telling you about it is not enough. Likewise for: “make, list, collect, identify, label, or in the field. ” Ø Expect “no more, no less” than the badge requires. However, if a Scout shows ambition to do more, go for it! Ø Discuss their progress when you date and initial their completed requirements on the back panel of the Card (3). Ø Follow-up on goals; contact Scouts you haven’t heard from lately. 1 a 6 -9 1 b 6 -9 HP HP 1 c 1 d 2 6 -9 HP 3 4 a 4 b 3
4 The Process 4 e. Completing the Badge Ø Ø Ø As the Scout nears completion of the badge, briefly go back over each requirement; test each Scout individually. When the Badge is complete, congratulate the Scout as you hand him the signed Merit Badge Card!! Counselor keeps the “Counselor’s Record” portion of the Card. Use a card file box or plastic baseball card collection sleeves. (4) NOTES: Once the Blue Card is signed, the badge has been earned and cannot be taken away, even if the Counselor did not plan the badge properly. Adults may not penalize youth for the mistake of an adult volunteer. If the badge was begun during a group event, the Counselor may return a partiallycompleted card to the Scout should give this card to the Unit Advancement Chair for safe-keeping, until he is ready to complete the badge. 4
4 The Process 4 f. Completing the Card Scout gives remaining two portions of card to Scoutmaster. (5) 5 6 7 8 The Scoutmaster signs the completed card, gives to Advancement Chair. (6) Advancement Chair records and files Unit’s portion of card, purchases badge (7) Scout keeps center portion, with Counselor’s notation, for future reference. (8) NOTES: Scouts should receive their Merit Badges at the next Unit Meeting, and should be recognized again at the Unit’s next Quarterly Court of Honor. Blue Cards should be kept until the Scout reaches 18. There are many instances of Councils, Districts, and Units searching for missing Merit Badge information in order to complete the Eagle Rank Application.
4 The Process 4 g. “Partial” Cards Partially completed Merit Badge Cards are often brought back from Summer Camps, Merit Badge events, Camporees. . . “Partials” never expire. The Unit Advancement Chair should keep them on file until the Scout is ready to complete the Badge or has turned 18. A good way to organize them is to put each Scout’s partial cards into a plastic baseball card collection sleeve, and keep them in a 3 -ring binder. 1 a 6 -9 1 b 6 -9 HP 1 c HP 1 d 7 -18 2 HP 6 -9 3 HP 7 -18 4 a HP 4 b 7 -18 HP This Scout has two requirements to complete. Troop. Master and other Scouting software may also keep a record of Partial’s. Refer to the “Partial” list before each Court of Honor or long-term camp; this help remind Scouts of badges they could complete.
4 The Process 5. Troubleshooting A Counselor Should Stop Work on a Badge if Ø Scout has no Merit Badge Card, or it has not been signed by the Scoutmaster Ø The Scout comes to the meeting alone. Ø The Scout did not get pre-approval. Some Badges require a parent or Counselor’s permission to proceed with requirements that include off-site visits, or using certain tools and weapons. Ø The Scout is “winging it. ” Never say, “That’s good enough. ” This gives the Scout false confidence that he has mastered the subject. Sign only the requirements he completes to your satisfaction. Encourage him to come back when he has mastered the next topic. Ø A Scout asks a Counselor to sign off on a Badge that was begun at summer camp. The Counselor may sign, but only after the Scout has demonstrated that he has met the requirements of the Badge. Ø A Scout wants a Counselor to begin an Eagle-required Badge 2 -1/2 mo’s before his 18 th birthday, for a Badge with a 3 -month long requirement. . . Ø Scout has made up the required charts, lists, or logs… Ø The Scout’s parent seems to be in control.
6 Special Needs 6. Special Needs Scouts Counselors may accept work from Special Needs Scouts in many ways. Some examples: Giving oral answers, taking photos to illustrate things he cannot draw, recording his answers, dictating to a helper ‘scribe. ’ Scouts may do alternate “Eagle Required” badges as noted in the “ BSA Advancement Guide, ” (BSA #33088). [www. northernstarbsa. org > Resources > Alternate Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badge Application] Ø The Scout or Unit must apply to Council Advancement before beginning to work on an alternate badge. Ø The Scout must do as many badges as possible before applying for alternates for those he cannot complete. Ø Possible alternate badges must take the Scout’s abilities into account. The alternate(s) chosen must be as demanding for the Scout as the standard Eagle-required badges would be. Ø Doctor’s “Statement of Disability” must be submitted with the application. Ø Records of Alternate Badges must be included when submitting the Eagle Rank Application.
7 Unit Advancement 7 a. Unit Advancement “To Do’s” Ø Provide a District Merit Badge Counselor List to Unit Leaders. NOTE for Advancement Chairs: To obtain a list, send an email to the Customer Service person who supports your District Executive. Ask for the current “____ District MBC List. ” You will receive two emails: 1) The List, 2) The Code to open the List. The list may be printed, but for privacy reasons the Council has added coding that will not allow it to be put online. The lists are updated every 2 -3 months, depending on the number of changes during that period. So, in a few months, follow the same procedure to get another new list. Ø Maintain a Unit Merit Badge Counselor (MBC) List Ø Make sure that Scouts are using Registered Counselors Ø Work with the Troop Librarian to maintain the Unit’s library. [There should be no MB Booklets older than © 2000 in the Troop Library] Ø Periodically ask parents to fill out a “Resources Survey, ” available at www. northernstarbsa. org > Resources. Encourage parents of new Scouts to become Counselors: It’s a great introduction to the differences between Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. Make sure that parents of former Scouts (former Scouts, too!) know they are welcome to counsel badges. If there is a Venturing Unit in the area, they may know adults who are qualified in certain fields who would be happy to work with boys in your Unit.
7 Unit Advancement 7 b. Unit Advancement “To Do’s” Provide training and background information for the Unit’s Merit Badge Counselors: Ø “A Guide for Merit Badge Counseling” (BSA #34532) is a very good resource. Ø “Merit Badge Counselor Orientation/Supplemental Adult Leader Training” (BSA #34542) is similar, but may cover different topics. ü An older but still useful publication, titled “Worksheet for Building a Merit Badge Counselor List” (BSA #33991) lists the badges by topic. Look for it in the Unit’s files. Scouts could choose to complete all the badges in a chosen area of study [ex: Animal Science, Farm Mechanics, and Plant Science are in Group 1, Agribusiness] ü There are many websites designed to train Merit Badge Counselors. One of the better ones is at http: //scouting. org/Training/Adult/ Supplemental/Merit. Badge. Counselor. Instructors. Guide. aspx
The Little Test’s Answers (from 2 c) F A Merit Badge Counselor (MBC) may Counsel an indefinite number of Merit Badges. F MBC may coach son/relative individually. But, it’s a good idea to work in a group. F A Scout may earn an indefinite number of badges from the same MBC F Scouts have until the day before their 18 th birthday to complete Merit Badges T There is definitely training for Merit Badge Counselors! You’re reading one version right now. F Scouts may not be re-tested on completed Merit Badges T All MBC’s must be registered as “Merit Badge Counselor” with the BSA F All MBC’s need to be registered as such, regardless of other registrations with the BSA F Only a Merit Badge Counselor may approve a Merit Badge T An MBC may indeed take the Scout beyond the specific requirements of the badge. Have fun with those Scouts who wish to learn more! F No one may substitute requirements for Merit Badges at any time F Merit Badge Counselors must be at least 18 years old T Units, with the Scout’s and Parents’ input, decide which Eagle Req’d badges a Special Needs Scout may do in lieu of one he cannot accomplish due to his disability. The Application for Alternate Merit Badges must also be approved by the Council Advancement Committee.
The Path to a Great Program Lies in Recruiting and Training Adult Leaders We hope this presentation has been helpful. Feedback is always welcome. For questions and/or suggestions, contact the District Advancement Chair at [email protected] com 2012, Many Waters District, Northern Star Council BSA