By Advancement News
Apr 07, 2017

Any Scout, Any Merit Badge, Any Time

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but there are no restrictions on when a boy can begin working on a merit badge. Any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any badge at any time.

Furthermore, although recommended, it is not necessary for a Boy Scout to obtain an Application for Merit Badge, commonly called a “blue card,” before starting work on merit badge requirements. Sometimes leaders misinterpret the requirement for a boy to obtain a blue card to work with a merit badge counselor to mean that the boy must obtain the blue card before beginning any work.

That is not correct. The Scout only needs to obtain the blue card once he is ready to begin working directly with a merit badge counselor.

Consider, for example, a boy who has a pet dog, collects stamps or coins, enjoys fishing or certain sports, or reading. Merit badges related to each of these interests have requirements that the boy can complete without a counselor. If the boy is interested in working on any of these merit badges he should be encouraged to do so, but he should be aware that it ultimately is up to the merit badge counselor whether or not to accept the work he has completed prior to receiving a signed blue card.

If this is true, why is there a requirement for obtaining a blue card before working with a merit badge counselor, even while attending merit badge fairs or similar activities? The simple answer is that a merit badge related meeting is essentially a Scoutmaster conference that provides an additional opportunity for the unit leader to discuss the boy’s interests with him before he provides the boy with the name of at least one registered and approved merit badge counselor with whom he would like to work.

Every discussion a Scout has with his unit leader is meant to be a growth-oriented experience, not a gate through which the boy must pass. Thus, this meeting should consist of more than just providing a name, a signature, and discussing concerns the unit leader might have related to the boy working on a specific merit badge. It should be seen as an opportunity to provide inspiration and direction beyond the subject of the merit badge, especially because it always remains the Scout’s decision whether to proceed or not.

(See Guide to Advancement topics and for more information on this subject.)

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Author: Boy Scouts of America |Advancement News

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