What does a Merit Badge Counselor do?
"As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher and mentor to the Scout as he works on a merit badge and learns by doing. By presenting opportunities for growth via engaging activities like designing a Web page (Computers), performing an ollie and a wheelie (Snow Sports), or fabricating rope (Pioneering), you can pique a young man's interest in the merit badge subject. Just think: Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult."
-- Guide to Merit Badge Counselors
To become a Merit Badge Counselor:
- Please note that you may not work with Scouts as a Merit Badge Counselor until you are registered and approved.
- Complete Youth Protection Training and print your certificate. Include this with your application.
- Complete a Merit Badge Counselor info form, and include this with your application.
- Complete a BSA Adult Application, either using the fillable PDF or the paper registration form. The position code for this role is "42" - Merit Badge Counselor.
- Submit the application, your Youth Protection Training certificate, and your Merit Badge Counselor information form to Pine Tree Council, 146 Plains Rd, Raymond, ME 04071
- Upon completion of your registration, your District Merit Badge Coordinator will be provided your contact information and will let you know you are now able to serve as a Merit Badge Counselor.
Where can I obtain training?
All leaders within Scouting should be trained to deliver excellent program. Merit Badge Counselor Training is offered several times per year. The latest Training offerings for Scout leaders are shown on Training at a Glance.
If you do not see a Merit Badge Counselor training course convenient to you, please contact your District Merit Badge Coordinator to request training.
Online training for Merit Badge Counselors is not yet available, but is expected later in 2017.
Where are the rules and instructions?
The Merit Badge Program is administered according to Chapter 7 of the Guide to Advancement. The Guide to Advancement provides details of the Merit Badge Program for Merit Badge Counselors, Advancement Coordinators, Scoutmasters and the District and Council Advancement teams -- everyone uses this guide.
The Guide for Merit Badge Counselors (at meritbadge.org) may also be a helpful resource for new Counselors, however the Guide to Advancement is the authoritative resource on policy and procedure.
Whose permission is needed for a Scout to begin a Merit Badge?
A Scout will obtain a signed blue card from their Unit Leader (e.g. Scoutmaster) before beginning a Merit Badge. The signed blue card from the Scoutmaster must be presented to the Merit Badge Counselor.
How do I renew my membership as a Merit Badge Counselor?
Youth Protection Training must be refreshed annually by repeating the Youth Protection Training course.
The District Merit Badge Coordinator will reach out to you annually to obtain an updated Youth Protection Training certificate and to coordinate your renewal.
If you have not heard from your District's Merit Badge Coordinator by November 15th, please contact them directly, or contact the Commissioner Team for assistance.
Where can I obtain a list of Merit Badge Counselors?
A list of Merit Badge Counselors is available to Scoutmasters, Venturing Advisors, Skippers and Lone Scout Counselors by District Merit Badge Coordinator.
Merit Badge Counselor lists are not available to parents or Scouts directly; please coordinate needs with your Unit Leader.
While this list has been provided in CD form in the past, as of 2017 Pine Tree Council is pursuing an initiative to move the list to an always-updated online format which is accessible to Unit Leaders directly.
Can a Scoutmaster instruct Merit Badges?
The role of Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster does not inherently give a leader the credentials to instruct a Merit Badge. All Merit Badge Counselors must register as a Merit Badge Counselor and be approved prior to counseling a Merit Badge.
Can a parent assist with, sign off on, or instruct Merit Badges?
The Merit Badge Program is designed to encourage Scouts to broaden their horizons and make connections with adult leaders within the community. Scouts should be encouraged to reach out and not earn all badges with their own parents, Troop leaders, or in a Troop setting.
The role of the parent in Boy Scouting is to encourage, mentor and support the Scout. Parents may serve as Merit Badge Counselors.
Except as stated in Merit Badge requirements (as in the case of Home Repairs Merit Badge), the role of a parent who is not serving as a Merit Badge Counselor does not permit them to sign off on Merit Badge requirement completion.
What materials are available to support Scouts working on a Merit Badge?
A number of resources are available to Scouts working on a Merit Badge:
- The Merit Badge Counselor is a subject matter expert, and may be an excellent source for guidance.
- BSA publishes Merit Badge Pamphlets available through your Troop library, BSA Supply, and the Pine Tree Scout Shop.
- Unofficial resources on each Merit Badge are available at meritbadge.org
How does group instruction work?
Through a number of events operated at the District and Council level, opportunities to earn Merit Badges are made more accessible to Scouts.
Most Districts run 1-2 Merit Badge Colleges per year, the Council has specific Merit Badge events for Engineering, and other functions such as an Aviation Camporee may present specific Merit Badge opportunities. A Scout should work on Merit Badges independent from these settings, but the District and Council works hard to make the Merit Badge program more accessible.
When Merit Badge instruction is delivered in these group settings, or at a Troop level, it is important that all Scouts complete each requirement as written. Merit Badge requirements are completed per Scout and Merit Badges are earned by each individual Scout.
Where can I get help?
If you have questions about the Merit Badge Program, contact your District Merit Badge Coordinator or the Commissioner Team.