The Benefits of Merit Badges*
There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur regularly. It all begins with a Scout’s initial interest and effort in a merit badge subject, followed by a discussion with the unit leader or designated assistant, continues through meetings with a counselor, and culminates in advancement and recognition. It is an uncomplicated process that gives a Scout the confidence achieved through overcoming obstacles. Social skills improve. Self-reliance develops. Examples are set and followed. And fields of study and interest are explored beyond the limits of the school classroom.
*From the Guide to Advancement – 2015


Q:     Do merit badge counselors need to take Youth Protection training?
A:     Yes. A merit badge counselor is a registered volunteer position.

Q:     I want to be a merit badge counselor, what do I need to do?
A:     You need to:
1.    maintain your registration with the Boy Scouts of America as Merit Badge Counselor
2.    remain current in your Youth Protection Training
3.    complete the Merit Badge Counselor training, and
4.    be approved by the Glacier’s Edge Council Advancement Committee for each badge you wish to Counsel.

Q:     Once I submit the paperwork, how long before I can start counseling?
A:     When your paperwork is received by the District or Council Committee, your request will be reviewed within 30 days.

Q:     Do I need to have a Scoutmaster, Unit Committee Chairman, or Chartered Organization Representative sign my adult application form?
A:     No.

Q:     I am already registered in a troop. Do I still have to submit an adult application?
A:     Yes. A separate application is required, because “Merit badge counselor” is not a Unit Position, such as committee member or assistant scoutmaster. If you were a Den Leader with the Pack, and an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Troop, you would need to submit a separate application for each of those positions. In the same way, you are applying for a new position: Merit Badge Counselor, which needs its own separate application.

Q:     Does someone who is not already registered as a Scouter in a unit have to pay the registration fee?
A:     No, there is no fee to be a Merit Badge Counselor.

Q:     I have a copy of my Adult Application and Disclosure Form from when I registered for my unit position. Can I just submit a copy of that in lieu of a newly filled out adult application?
A:     You could, but the position code will be different, so it might be easier to use a new application.

Q:     What Position Code do I use to registers as a Merit Badge Counselor?
A:     Position Code “42” and “Merit Badge Counselor”.

Q:     Can I counsel only boys in my son’s unit?
A:     No. The Council asks that you provide your Counseling expertise to boys within your son’s unit, and those outside his unit as well. When asked, you are not under any obligation to Council Scouts if they are too far away, or your schedule does not provide you an opportunity to Council them at that time.

Q:    How many Merit Badges can I counsel?
A:    Up to 20. Although you may be qualified to counsel more, one of the objectives of Scouting is to provide a Scout the opportunity to meet and interact with a variety of adults. The Merit Badge Counselor Information form has room for the first four merit badges. You can use a separate piece of paper for up to an additional 16 badges.

Q:    Can I change, add, or delete merit badges from my list?
A:     Absolutely. Simply complete a new Merit Badge Counselor Information form, indicating which merit badges you would like to Add (A), or Delete (D).

Q:     Do I need to re-submit all of the paperwork every year?
A:     No. You are required to keep your Youth Protection up to date, and you will be asked to re-submit the Merit Badge Counselor Information form annually, to ensure we have your current personal contact information, and are correctly listing your counseling expertise for the merit badges you have chosen.

Q:     I have been on the Merit Badge Counselor list for several years now. Why am I being asked to submit a new Merit Badge Counselor Information form?
A:    The BSA now requires Merit Badge Counselors to complete Merit Badge Counselor Orientation, the official supplemental adult leader training for counselors. The Merit Badge Counselor Information form has a box near the bottom which you must ‘check’ to acknowledge the completion of the training and your acceptance of the current policies.

Q:    Will I have to attend a Merit Badge Counselor Orientation training?
A:    No. Although the training is only 60-minutes, and you are welcome to attend the training when offered in our Council, a copy of the Merit Badge Orientation training will be provided to you. Once you have read, and thoroughly understand the components of the training, the Council accepts your word for having completed it.

Q:    How will Scouts find me?
A:    The Council has an online system that Scoutmasters will use. They will log in to site on our Council web page, and the system will e-mail them a passcode to their e-mail which is on file. That passcode will allow them to then access the Merit Badge Counselor database.

Using simple drop-down boxes, the Scoutmaster will indicate which badge he is seeking a counselor, and the system will provide a list of those counselors closest to his area. After selecting a counselor, your name and contact information will be made available to the Scoutmaster.

Q:    It sounds like there are several steps the Scoutmaster will need to go through. Why can’t the Scoutmaster simply get a list of all Counselors?
A:    This system has been designed to provide the highest possible level of confidentially for all Merit Badge Counselors. Only registered unit leaders will have access to the system, and only enough data will be provided to the Scoutmaster, to connect the Counselor with the Scout.

Q:    I no longer wish to serve as a Merit Badge Counselor. What action do I take?
A:    None. If the Council does not receive your completed paperwork, your name will be removed from the system.

Q:    I am not directly involved with any specific unit. Can I still become a Merit Badge Counselor?
A:    Absolutely. Your services are a welcomed addition to our dedicated group of Counselors.

Q:     Are there any guidelines available to help set up a Merit Badge Clinic or event?
A:    Yes. The Council has a new guidebook called the “Merit Badge Event Guide” which will help you sent up a successful Merit Badge event.

Q:    Some of our Scouts completed part of a merit badge at camp. Can the Scoutmaster ‘sign off’ on the requirements they did not complete?
A:    Only if the Scoutmaster is currently listed as a Merit Badge Counselor for that Merit Badge

Q:    Is there any way to automatically approve unit leaders as merit badge counselors?
A:    Unfortunately, no.

Q:    Is there an official BSA publication that further explains the guidelines for being a Merit Badge Counselor?
A:    In addition to the Merit Badge Orientation training, Section 7 of the Guide to Advancement has information The Benefits of Merit Badges About the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”) The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader About Merit Badge Counselors Qualifications of Counselors Sources of Merit Badge Counselors Venturing Consultants as Merit Badge Counselors Counselor Approvals and Limitations Registration and Reregistration Training for Counselors Merit Badge Counselor Lists Getting Started Web-Based Counselor Lists Unit Counselor Lists The Process of Counseling The Buddy System and Certifying Completion Group Instruction Partial Completions Merit Badge Miscellany New Merit Badges Revising Merit Badges What to Do When Requirements Change Discontinued Merit Badges Earning Eagle-Required Merit Badges for Star or Life Rank Once It Is Earned, It’s Earned Limited Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges Unofficial Worksheets and Learning Aids Merit Badge Opportunities With Non-Scouting Organizations or Businesses Charging Fees for Merit Badge Opportunities About Merit Badge Prerequisites

You can download a free copy of the Guide to Advancement, from http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf